Category Archives: Qatar

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World To End

Yeah. We humans have hit bottom. There is no hope left. Our time here was sort of interesting. We came up with Shakespeare, Gershwin, Apollo 11, quantum electrodynamics, Arrested Development, pizza, chocolate, and Gandhi.

All of that has been negated by two very recent developments, both of which are documented by Jezebel.

First, vampire-obsessed author Anna Rice identifies the real victim in the Paula Deen dust-up:

From Jezebel

And as if that isn’t bad enough, violent gangs who identify themselves by their affiliations with boy-bands are now roaming our streets:

From Jezebel

Humanity is survived by no one. It was 4 million years old. Services have not been announced at this time.

Meet The New Boss; Same As The Old Boss

NPR carried a report this morning on the outgoing head of Qatar handing power over to a new leader yesterday. It was, the reporter said, the first peaceful transfer of power in the Persian Gulf sheikdom since it became an independent nation in 1971.

The reins passed from the 61-year-old Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, 33. The now-former emir had himself seized power in the tiny oil nation in a 1995 coup. The fact that the transfer of power took place without the seemingly obligatory uprisings, streets riots, government gassings, air force bombings of rebel strongholds, and assorted beheadings and gang rapes that have become signatures of so many other Middle East upheavals was hailed in the report.

“… [T]he transition — a rarity in a region where leadership changes are nearly always triggered by deaths or palace coups — also sends a message to the wider Middle East. It appears a sweeping response to the Arab Spring upheavals and their emphasis on giving voice to the region’s youth….”

So reads the online version of the report. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Peace. The spirit of the young. The freedom of the Arab Spring.

My response? Cut the horseshit, NPR. Sheik Tamim is the son of Sheik Hamad. The elder boss reportedly is seriously ill. So he decided to allow his kid to sit on the throne a little early. The sole highlight of Sheik Tamim’s resume prior to yesterday’s promotion was the title of Crown Prince. If that’s a “transfer of power,” then the Koch Brothers are social workers.


The Real Qatari King

Here’s a thumbnail description of Qatar’s government: It’s an absolute monarchy with no independent legislature and in which political parties are outlawed. The old man sheik promised to hold parliamentary elections back in 2005 but they were cancelled. No new date has been set nearly a decade later.

So, really, the big news out of Qatar is — not a damned thing has changed.

Almost Heaven

When I was a kid, I actually believed that my Chicago sports teams were ineligible to win their respective league championships. True. My Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls, White Sox, and Bears (listed in the order I cared about them) never, ever once mounted a realistic challenge for the title during the endless years of my impressionable youth.

Santo & the Cat, 1969

It reminds me of a story an old pal who’d grown up in Brooklyn once told me. He said his older sister had a vague awareness of pro sports when they were kids (and, by the way, in a big city, the only sports that count are pro sports; which explains my continued amazement at Bloomington’s passion for the IU Hoosiers teams). This Brooklyn guy said his sister had the understanding that baseball’s World Series, under the sport’s rules, was an annual contest between the best team in the National League and…, the New York Yankees.

Sports Illustrated Photo

They Always Won

Makes sense, no? The Yankees won the American League pennant every year but two from 1949 through 1964. To a kid growing up during that span, that’s pretty much the whole of human history. I mean, when I was seven years old I thought that John F. Kennedy had been president forever. It took me years to wrap my head around the fact that he only was in office for a tad more than three and a half years.

Anyway, my Blackhawks played in the Stanley Cup finals in 1971 and ’73, losing both times to the Montreal Canadiens. I was 15 and 17, respectively. And the ‘Hawks failure to win the Cup those years reinforced the notion that Chicago teams simply would not win championships in my lifetime.

It wasn’t until the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985 that I could enjoy a Chicago championship. I was 28. And, at that, given my indifference to football, the Bears’ big win was pretty much a yawner for me.

Things changed, of course, with the arrival of one Michael Jeffrey Jordan in my town. My Bulls won six NBA titles in eight years during the ’90s. And then, as soon as Michael Jordan went away, so did the Bulls.

Jordan, 1991

By the time I was almost 50, I figured it could only take the all-too-brief appearance of some demi-god to enable a team I rooted for passionately to win in any given year.

The White Sox sneaked into a World Series win in 2005 but, to be frank, that was bittersweet. It mainly reminded me that my Cubs, the one-and-only true sports love of my life, hadn’t won the World Series since 1908. Still haven’t, BTW.

The Blackhawks remain number two in my heart. I wasn’t assumed into heaven when they took the Stanley Cup in 2010, but I did cruise the streets of Bloomington with my radio blaring that night, honking like a nut now and again. Had I been back in Chicago, I would have been one of tens of thousands doing the same thing. Here, I was one. Period.

I sat alone in my garage office last night, chewing my fingernails while listening to the live stream of WGN radio’s broadcast of the game between the ‘Hawks and the Boston Bruins. With just over a minute left to play, the Bruins led 2-1. The ‘Hawks pulled their goalie to put an extra attacker on the ice, usually a desperation move that indicates the game is over. teams pull their goalie when they need a miracle.

My Blackhawks got two miracles within 17 seconds yesterday. They scored twice and won the series, taking the 2013 Stanley Cup. I yelled. I clapped. I pounded on my desk. I put up a pile of goofy, giddy Facebook posts. I was a kid again.

From Facebook

My teams can win titles.

By all rights, I should be assumed into heaven should my beloved Cubs ever win the World Series. Problem is, I don’t believe in heaven. Sigh.

CNN/Bleacher Report Photo

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Sunday II


“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe.” — Carl Sagan



The Republicans are now officially mentally ill.

Eisenstaedt Photo

The 2016 Republican National Convention?

Personal to the GOP: Boys — and I do mean boys — you’ve got to cleanse yourself of the United Nations-hating nuts within your ranks. I mean, honestly, rejecting the UN disabilities advisory treaty because that world body is seen by the madmen within your ranks as some kind of threat to our national sovereignty?

UN Disabilities Convention

Click Image For The Treaty’s Complete Text

By 2016, the Republicans will be the third party in a land that only has two parties. You guys are running yourselves out of business.


And, as long as they keep having “discussions” such as this one:

… they’re going to come no nearer to sanity than this world is to the edge of the Universe.

Dig the one guy who tells the panel that he knows “many, many people who’ve saved their own property because they had a handgun.”

Many, many people.

I’m assuming that anything under ten does not qualify as many.

Many, I would venture, means, oh say, 20 people.

Fair enough?

But he says he knows “many, many people” who’ve brandished shootin’ irons to pertekt their cabin and kin. That means he’s squaring many. Ergo, he knows upwards of 400 people who’ve pointed guns at other human beings and threatened to take their lives if they do not desist from trespassing or otherwise attempting harm.

Where the hell does this guy live, in Gaul at the time of Attila the Hun?

Atila in Gaul


Then again, before we get carried away about how deranged certain folks are in this holy land, let’s consider, say, the nation of Qatar.

Until recent days, the tiny oil sheikdom has been a financial sponsor of several of the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East.

In public, Qatar branded itself the champion of The People Throwing off the Shackles of Tyranny.

Oops. That is until the poet Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami wrote a few verses praising the Arab Spring and — uh oh — referring less than glowingly to the Qatari boss-sheiks. Ajami was tried behind closed doors (and not allowed to attend his own trial) and was sentenced to life in prison.

Despite the madnesses of our Me Party brethren and sisteren, I doubt if even they’d endorse life sentences for the writing of poetry.

At least I hope not.


Try to wrap your mind around the concept of multiverses.

No, the term doesn’t mean a collection of poems. It’s the idea that this great big bunch of everything is really merely one of many great big bunches of everything.

From Space.Com


Maybe even an infinity of them.

And here we are worrying about Kate Middleton’s morning sickness.


This is now The Electron Pencil’s official, traditional Christmas/Hannukah anthem.

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