Tuesday, December 26, 2006


James Brown died yesterday. “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” was also known as “The Godfather of Soul.” And both sobriquets were well-deserved, at the very least. James Brown delivered the funk long before Berry Gordy made Motown into a household word. And James Brown rocked my world by opening up new musical horizons for me around 1958 or so. That was the year I first heard “Please, Please, Please” on an all-black radio station in Atlanta, Georgia. That song (released in 1956) simply wowed me with its sheer musical power, end-of-the-world vocals, and doo-wop backup singing. I’d never heard anything like it, and come to think on it, I don’t believe there’s another song that evokes heartbreak like that song does. James’ “The Cape” routine is simply classic, and was his signature performance in concert. You can see an all-too-brief, early version of The Cape performance (I’d say somewhere in the late 50s) in this 31-second clip. Wow.

RIP, James. And thank you.

Here’s a bit of good news: Court Upholds Saddam’s Death Sentence.

BAGHDAD, Dec. 26 -- An Iraqi appeals court on Tuesday upheld a ruling to execute deposed leader Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity and said he could hang within 30 days.

"From tomorrow, any day could be the day of implementation," chief judge Aref Abdul-Razzaq al-Shahin said at a news conference in Baghdad.

Rumor has it Iraqis are lining up for the privilege of being Saddam’s hangman. The story is behind the NYT’s TimesSelect wall, but Hey!...I believe it. Maybe there will be a lottery…

And here’s Good News and Bad News…British Soldiers Storm Iraqi Jail, Citing Torture.

BAGHDAD, Dec. 25 — Hundreds of British and Iraqi soldiers assaulted a police station in the southern city of Basra on Monday, killing seven gunmen, rescuing 127 prisoners from what the British said was almost certain execution and ultimately reducing the facility to rubble.


When the combined British and Iraqi force of 1,400 troops gained control of the station, it found the prisoners being held in conditions that a British military spokesman, Maj. Charlie Burbridge, described as “appalling.” More than 100 men were crowded into a single cell, 30 feet by 40 feet, he said, with two open toilets, two sinks and just a few blankets spread over the concrete floor.

A significant number showed signs of torture. Some had crushed hands and feet, Major Burbridge said, while others had cigarette and electrical burns and a significant number had gunshot wounds to their legs and knees.

The fetid dungeon was another example of abuses by the Iraqi security forces. The discovery highlighted the continuing struggle to combat the infiltration of the police and army by militias and criminal elements — even in a Shiite city like Basra, where there has been no sectarian violence.


Residents said that people were afraid to challenge the officers because they were backed by powerful militia groups, including the Mahdi Army, which is led by the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr, though the extent of his control is unclear.

The good news, of course, is the effectiveness of al-Sadr’s murderous militia and accompanying death squads have been reduced, if not eliminated. The bad news is that al-Sadr himself still holds significant power. If ever anyone needed killin’…it’s that SOB al-Sadr.

I’ve been playing with the format of the blog over the last couple of days, moving to a new template (“Minima-stretched”) and fine-tuning a few other thingies. The objective is to make the blog more readable and user-friendly. Have I succeeded, or are the changes a step backwards? Enquiring minds wanna know…


  1. I guess Saddam's execution will be too graphic to show on the tele. It's amazing though how they can show our troops getting beaten and dragged through the streets but they will probably opt not to show the execution. They should let a female Iraqi citizen open the trap. Just sayin...

    Huh....help me now! RIP JB RIP!

  2. I like the template on my work computer. That is one thing that annoys me on a lot of blogs, is a skinny text column and the wasted space on one or sometimes both sides. I'll tell you if there is anything less than desireable after viewing from home computer.

  3. Template looks good here as well. I like the AF logo thingy too. Very nice.

  4. Sad about James Brown. He was quite the performer. I remember the first time I ever saw him - probably on the Ed Sullivan show back in the early sixties. It was in black and white, anyway. My parents were quite puzzled by his antics and then shrugged it off as odd. I was mesmerized and I never forgot it. His performance was so outlandish for its day that it was never matched by any other glamrocker who came afterwards. In my opinion.

    Just heard that Gerald Ford passed away! Another sad event this Christmas season. :(

    As for Saddam, well, the human rights activists are on the alert for any signs of abuse or disrespect on the part of the legal system. Do they remember that he and his sons used to throw people into giant shredders?

    Good news about Basra and I certainly agree with you about al-Sadr.

    Your blog looks good, Buck. I like the air force logo thingy, too.

  5. Dale said: I guess Saddam's execution will be too graphic to show on the tele...

    My baser emotions come to the fore here. They really should kill him slowly, and last, after he watches his co-conspirators die horrible deaths. But then again, from what I've read he enjoys watching people die, so maybe not. Industrial-strength chippers come to mind...if they were good enough for Saddam to use on his victims, they would be good enough for him, right? But only after the executioner throws him off a second-story roof a couple of times. And by all means, televise it.

    Laurie: Thanks for the reinforcement on the template. That "skinny text column and wasted space on the sides" bugged me, too. It was the main reason I changed templates.

  6. Wow, Bec...we were writing at the same time...s'funny we both thought about the shredder thing! and we probably saw JB on the same Ed Sullivan Show, too!

    I hadn't heard about Jerry Ford.

  7. Seconds please....
    Buck I heard on the radio this morning, a local DJ saying that they should make the Saddam execution an event where people can pay to see it. Whether it's live or on TV and then have the money go to a charitable need in Iraq, like food, shelter, education, for battered and abused Iraqi women. Pretty sadistic but still not such a bad idea.

  8. William Shatner once said, "Irony, can be ironic..."

    Funny, how the "Human Rights" folks are worried about Saddam getting a death penalty, without the required 20 years of appeals. You know, change the judges, hopefully change the verdict.

    But yet those same Human Rights folks complain when Pinochet dies, under house arrest.

    Industrial shredders good... but first; Ru-Ru!

  9. DC said: Industrial shredders good... but first; Ru-Ru!

    Ru-Ru, DC? Whazzat?

  10. Old joke, probably was passed around when Chesty was checking into Processing Platoon, Parris Island:
    Two guys get captured by some sort of mean native aboriginal types, from some faraway land.

    They are brought to the Tribal Chief, found guilty of being strangers and given a choice of Death, or 'Ru-Ru'. The first man, being brave and tough, says, "Death is so permanent. I'll take 'Ru-Ru'".

    The Chief smiles broadly, and proclaims, "Ru-Ru'!!!!!

    And with that, the man is taken to the river's edge, roundly raped by all, and cast into the waters!

    Well, the second man, being completely disgusted and horrified, is also dragged before the Chief and given his sentence.

    He naturally chooses death, because after all, they can only kill you once, right?

    The Chief ponders the bravery of this man. He proclaims the choice of death. Then he joyously gives his final judgement; "Death!.... Good! But first, 'Ru-Ru'"!!!!

  11. dc said: Old joke, probably was passed around when Chesty...

    LOL! Brings new meaning to the ol' "be careful what you wish for" saw!

    I got to the "I'll take Ru-Ru" bit before the inactive synapses re-connected and I went "Duh! Oh, yeaaah...that Ru-Ru!"

    Dunno if I'd want to watch the execution if Ru-Ru were a featured attraction, tho...

  12. I have been thinking about working on my blog's looks, but fear of totally screwing the whole thing up makes me pause. Last week, I tried to put something in italics and now things are not working quite right.

    Your blog is looking pretty spiffy. Maybe I will try tweaking mine.


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