Friday, March 31, 2006

Heel (professional wrestling)

[Remembering my youthful admiration for the WWF...]
In professional wrestling, a heel is a villain character who is portrayed as behaving in an immoral manner; sometimes they are humourously referred to as 'evil.' In non-wrestling jargon, heels are often "bad guys" in pro wrestling storylines. They are often opposed by a face (crowd favourite). Some tweeners exhibit heel mannerisms....

Common heel behavior includes cheating to win (e.g. using the ropes for leverage while pinning, or attacking with foreign objects such as folding chairs when the referee can't see), attacking other wrestlers backstage, interfering with other matches, and acting in a haughty or superior manner.

Once in a while faces who have recently turned from being heels will still exhibit some heel characteristics for a while. For example, The Naturals in TNA, turning face after the death of manager Chris Candido, still use the ropes for pins sometimes and at times use the megaphone of new manager Jimmy Hart to get victories.

A very good example of a heel is The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, who usually psyches out his opponents with his talks about his wealth. When he wins a match he adds more insult by stuffing dollar bills in their mouths. He is also noted for his evil laugh, which he always does. He is known in wrestling history as one of the most hated heels of all time.

Theodore Marvin DiBiase

Ring name(s) Ted DiBiase
"The Million Dollar Man"
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 260 lb (118 kg)
Born January 18, 1954

Omaha, Nebraska
Billed from Clinton, Mississippi
Trained by Dory Funk, Jr.
Terry Funk
Debut 1974

Hollywood Hogan is often regarded as one of the best heels in professional wrestling. Hogan turned heel largely due to the large amounts of heat he was gaining from the WCW fans (Hogan was still regarded as a WWF superstar and thereofore unwelcome in WCW). Along with turning heel, Hogan's entire image changed. He dumped "Hulk" in favour of "Hollywood", swapped his trunks for tights and dropped the famous red and yellow in favour of black and white. Hogan's character traits included insulting fans, using his nWo allies to attack WCW loyalists, spray "nWo" on his opponents, beg for mercy, refused to either wrestle or continue matches when the tables had turned and lay claim to making professional wrestling so popular. At the height of Hogan's heel run, he was able to stir the fans up so much that his mere presence generated masses of venomous hate.


Whilst being heel is often part of a wrestler's gimmick, many successful heels fall into one or more categories:

Sometimes, a heel can use cheating to his/her advantage to gain appreciation from the audience, thereby being a face with heel tendencies—(i.e., Eddie Guerrero both before and after his 2005 heel period).

Many heels today subscribe to the beliefs espoused by Mick Foley in his autobiography, Have a Nice Day!: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks—that a heel must always believe that whatever they do is justified, and that they are in the right.

Common heel tactics

  • Using the ropes or grabbing the opponent's tights during pinfalls.
  • Sticking thumbs or throwing powder/salt into opponent's eyes.
  • Removing the padding on turnbuckles to expose the steel underneath it, then smashing an opponent's head or face onto it.
  • Use of concealed weapons (brass knuckes, rolls of coins, etc.); some heels are less subtle when they decide to use a weapon, often grabbing a chair from ringside in full view of the referee with no regard for the consequences.
  • Dragging an opponent's face across the top rope.
  • Low blows.
  • Using the outside of the ring to rest, or ducking into the ropes to slow the match down.
  • When defending titles, intentionally getting himself/herself disqualified or counted out to lose the match without dropping the title that they are defending. (Note, however, that this tactic is not used in TNA, because titles change hands on a loss for any reason.)
  • Insulting the fans or mocking the city he/she is performing in during promos. Heels might also mock local sports teams who have suffered disappointing results.

Heel characters are also quicker to get to their feet after hit by their opponent(s). Despite all the information given above, a face can also use some of these heel tactics as well as a form of counterattacking.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Yisrael Beytenu

[Election results in Israel got me looking into the surprising fourth-place finisher...]
Yisrael Beytenu (Hebrew: ישראל ביתנו, lit. Israel Our Home) is a right-of-center political party in Israel with support from immigrants to Israel who came from the lands of the former Soviet Union. It takes a hard line against the Arabs and Palestinians based upon a realpolitik view that the Arabs and Palestinians do not support the right of Jews to maintain a Jewish state in the Middle East. One of its founders and leaders is Avigdor Liberman, a former member of the Likud who is known for his plan to redraw the Green Line border with the Palestinian Authority in such a way that the "meshulash" ("triangle") area of Wadi-Ara (which was transferred to Israel from Jordan as part of the 1949 Armistice Agreement) will return to Arab sovereignty. He justifies his idea of giving up a part of the State of Israel by arguing that the residents of the area are all Arabs who see themselves as Palestinians and therefore should be re-united with the Palestinian Authority as part of establishing two separate national entities: One for Israelis and one for Palestinians. Yisrael Beytenu received 12 seats in the Israeli parliment in the March 2006 elections, but it is uncertain whether it will be an integral part of the new Kadima-led coalition government....

Yisrael Beytenu was formed by Liberman to create a plank for Russian immigrants who support a hard line in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Much of his motivation was inspired by the concessions granted by his former boss when he was director-general of the Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu, to the Palestinian Authority in the 1997 Wye River Memorandum that included the division of the West Bank city of Hebron.

One of the partners in Netanyahu's coalition was Yisrael BaAliya, a new immigrants' list led by Natan Sharansky that also had right-of-center leanings. Liberman himself had resigned from the Likud as a result of the Wye Accord, and he registered great disappointment when Sharansky did not, as did two of Sharansky's colleagues in Yisrael BaAliya, Michael Nudelman and Yuri Shtern, both of whom broke from that faction to form Alia - for a Renewed Israel....

Essentially, the two key principles held by the movement are the creation of an encouraging socio-economic environment for new immigrants to Israel, while at the same time taking a hard line on all negotiations with the Palestinians and other Arab states. Part of the academic argument in the movement's platform are the numerous studies published by faculties in Israel that warn of a danger posed by the rising percentage of Arabs in the state's population to the Jewish character of it. The only solution, argue many of their supporters, is an increased effort to bring more Jews to Israel by immigration, and/or convincing as many Arab Israelis to leave. By giving in to Yasser Arafat's demands, argued Liberman, the government would aggravate the threat by strengthening the Palestinians' resolve to demand the Right of Return of Palestinians to Israeli territory.

The party came to attention in 2005 by proposing the Liberman Plan, an alternative to the Gaza Withdrawal plan that would see large blocs of land in pre-1967 Israel bordering the West Bank and Gaza populated by Arabs transferred to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for recognition of Israeli sovereignity in the larger settlements including Gush Katif which was evacuated by the withdrawal. The areas that were to be transferred to the PA included the "triangle" in central Israel of Tayibe, Tira, and Umm al-Fahm. Although the plan was condemned by most members in the Knesset as racist, it broke with a long tradition on the Israeli far right that saw transfer of minority populations between states as the only solution to deal with a perceived threat of disloyalty by Arab Israelis to idea of a state of Jewish refuge in the Middle East. It was also the first proposal for the transfer of pre-1967 lands to the PA in exchange for peace. The Liberman plan also caused a stir among Israeli Arabs, many of whom identify with the Palestinians as compatriots, yet at the same time call for equal status in Israel as citizens, what Yisrael Beytenu states is a trojan horse for Israel of citizens with dual loyalty and the potential for radicalization by Hamas and other militant elements on the Palestinian side.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006


[Things that don't pop....]
An antibubble is a droplet of water surrounded by a thin film of air, as opposed to an air bubble, which is a sphere of air surrounded by a thin film of water. Antibubbles are formed when water drops or flows turbulently into water. They can either skim across the surface of the liquid, in which case they are also called water globules, or they can be completely submerged in the liquid.

Antibubbles are a common but widely unrecognised phenomenon, in part because of their resemblance to air bubbles, and in part because of their typically transient nature. With certain (soapy) solutions, they can be made to last much longer.

The behavior of antibubbles differs from that of air bubbles in three primary ways, and provides a ready means of identification:

  • Antibubbles are held in place by surface tension, and move rapidly across the surface of the water. They can also be seen to ricochet off other objects in the water (such as air bubbles) and off the sides of a container in a manner similar to that of billiard balls.
  • Antibubbles can be short-lived. An air bubble with a soap skin may last a minute or two. Antibubbles often have lifetimes of a few seconds or less; however, if the electrical potential between the inner and outer fluid is equalized, antibubbles can last as long, or longer, than air bubbles.
  • Antibubbles refract light in a different manner than air bubbles. Because they are water droplets, light entering them is refracted back toward its source in the same manner as rainbows are produced. Because of this refraction, antibubbles have a bright appearance.

Antibubbles are easily created by allowing a tap to drip into a container of water to which a drop or two of soap has been added. The soap reduces the water's surface tension and allows the skin of air surrounding the droplet to remain in place for more than just a fraction of a second.

Just as soap bubbles, with air inside and air outside, have negative buoyancy and tend to sink towards the ground, so antibubbles, with water inside and water outside, have positive buoyancy and tend to rise towards the water surface. But again, just as soap bubbles can be filled with a lighter gas to give them positive buoyancy, so antibubbles can be filled with a heavier liquid to give them negative buoyancy. Using a drinking straw to drop droplets of sugar solution onto soapy water will produce antibubbles that sink.

Antibubbles usually pop when they touch the bottom or the side of the vessel containing the liquid. This can be prevented by tipping a few teaspoons of sugar into the soapy water and giving it some time to dissolve (but without stirring it). This will produce a denser layer of sugary water at the bottom of the container. Antibubbles made from sugar solution will then sink through the water and rest on top of the denser layer at the bottom. Antibubbles made this way can last for several minutes.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Processed cheese

[You're in the store, trying to decide...]
Processed cheese (or process cheese) is a food product made from regular cheese and other unfermented dairy ingredients, plus emulsifiers, extra salt, and food colorings. Many flavors, colors, and textures of processed cheese exist. In the United States, the most recognizable variety of processed cheese is sold under the name American cheese, although this name also has other meanings.

Processed cheese was invented by James L. Kraft and awarded a patent in 1916 [1]. Kraft Foods also created the first commercially available sliced process cheese, which was introduced in 1950. This form of sliced cheese with its derivatives were to become ubiquitous in America, most notably used for cheeseburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches.


Processed cheese has three technical advantages over unprocessed cheese: extended shelf-life; resistance to separation when cooked; and the ability to reuse scraps, trimmings and runoff from other cheesemaking processes.

Traditional cheesemaking inevitably produces 'scrap' pieces that would not be acceptable for supermarket display; production of processed cheese from cheese scrap allows the cheesemaker to add value to otherwise unmarketable scrap. Processing can turn these scraps into new presentable shapes for repackaging and sale.

The use of emulsifiers in processed cheese results in cheese that melts smoothly when cooked. With prolonged heating unprocessed cheese will separate into a molten protein gel and liquid fat; processed cheese will not separate in this manner. The emulsifiers (typically sodium phosphate, monopotassium phosphate, tartrate, or citrate), reduce the tendency for tiny fat globules in the cheese to coalesce and pool on the surface of the molten cheese.

Because processed cheese does not separate when melted, it is used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes. It is a fairly popular condiment on hamburgers, as it does not run off, nor does it change in texture or taste as it is heated.


Processed cheese is often criticized for its small range of flavors, which is far narrower than the range for unprocessed cheeses and normally at the mild end of the flavor range. Processed cheese also normally lacks the range of textures available in unprocessed cheeses; processed cheeses are normally very smooth and medium-firm.

The list of artificial additives in processed cheeses and the higher levels of saturated fats and salts is another subject of criticism.

Sales and labeling

Processed cheese is sometimes sold in blocks, but more often sold packed in individual slices, with plastic wrappers or wax paper separating them.

Due to the processing and additives, some varieties cannot legally be labeled as "cheese" in many countries, including the United States and Britain, and so are sold as "cheese food", "cheese spread", or "cheese product", depending primarily on the amount of cheese, moisture, and milkfat present in the final product.

In the United States processed cheese is defined, categorized, and regulated by the Food & Drug Administration under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 - Food and Drugs [2]. The definitions include

  • Pasteurized process cheese
  • Pasteurized process cheese food
  • Pasteurized process cheese spread
  • Pasteurized process cheese product


Monday, March 27, 2006

Erotic sexual denial

[Just happened upon this somehow...]
Erotic sexual denial, also known as orgasm denial, is a sexual practice and a form of power exchange where a person is kept in the plateau phase of the human sexual response cycle for an extended length of time. This is usually done as part of a BDSM game. Depending on the nature of the game, they may either be allowed an orgasm at the end (in which case, the orgasm is generally much stronger than normal), or deliberately denied one, in which case they will generally feel strong feelings of sexual frustration.

An alternative form of orgasm denial is the denial of genital stimulation, either for an extended period or separate from a scene. Lack of stimulation is ensured by using a chastity belt or other device that physically prevents touch and/or (for males) erection....

Long term denial

It is said that males can be kept in denial for extended periods of up to several weeks (periods around 2 - 4 weeks each time are often quoted as being safe subject to proper skincare and regular checking), although there will be an emotional and psychological impact from the artificial suppression of such a powerful drive. However most websites also indicate that this is a long period subjectively for most people, and often informally suggest a shorter period such as 3 days or a week between release instead, especially when starting.

The long term consequences for period beyond that are unclear, most sources seem to agree that the body will spontaneously reabsorb sperm, but that the prostate fluids should be removed fully and regularly, if not through orgasm then via internal prostatic massage (known as "prostatic milking") to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and inflammation, atrophy (orgasm involves the prostate muscles) or tissue damage to the prostate. It is also said that if erection is inhibited for long periods the skin of the penis becomes less elastic which may cause pain or other difficulty in the future.

The release felt by a man as a result of prostatic milking against a background of denial, is described as long, drawn out, but not reaching a resolution phase as with normal orgasm. It is therefore said to always leave an edge of not having had full satisfaction, or a yearning for more, as opposed to the "drop" in responsiveness due to satiation after a full orgasm. For people who engage in lifestyle chastity and erotic denial, this may be desirable, since after orgasm a male is sated and released for some days of the tension which builds up with orgasm denial.

For females, the impact of long term denial seems to be mostly emotional and psychological, since there is no equivalent of prostate buildup or erection denial involved.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Pronoun game

[My idle curiosity about lesbianism led me to think about...]
"Playing the pronoun game" is the act of concealing sexual orientation in conversation by not using a gender-specific pronoun for a partner or a lover, which would reveal the sexual orientation of the person speaking. Most often, LGBT people employ the pronoun game when conversing with people to whom they have not "come out". In some situations, where a LGBT person revealing their sexual orientation would have adverse consequences (such as the loss of their job), playing the pronoun game is seen to be a necessary act of concealment.

The pronoun game involves deception without lying, by letting the listener assume a sexual orientation that they would regard as inoffensive. It also involves not drawing the listener's attention to the fact that the sex of a pronoun's antecedent is not being specified. As such, playing the pronoun game involves:

  • re-phrasing sentences such that they avoid the need for third-person singular sex-specific pronouns (e.g. "It was decided that we would eat out." rather than "She decided that we would eat out."), often using circumlocution;
  • using gender-neutral language such as "firefighter" rather than "fireman", phrases such as "my other half" or "my significant other", or the person's name where it isn't sex or gender-specific; and
  • using gender-neutral pronouns that have long since entered common usage, such as singular they, without employing unusual, and thus attention-calling, gender-neutral pronouns such as xe or sie and hir.

Often, people playing the pronoun game regard it as stressful. Often, the blatant concealment of pronoun-gender makes the sexual orientation of the player just as obvious as it would have been, had the game never been played.


Thursday, March 23, 2006


[News of an ETA cease fire prompts...]
Euskadi Ta Askatasuna or ETA (Basque for "Basque Homeland and Freedom"; IPA pronunciation: [ˈɛːta]) is an armed Basque separatist organization that seeks to create an independent socialist state for the Basque people in the Basque Country, separate from Spain and France. ETA is considered by Spain, France, the European Union, and the United States to be a terrorist organization, with more than 800 killings attributed to it.

ETA's motto is Bietan jarrai ("Keep up on both"). This refers to the two figures in the ETA symbol, the snake (a symbol of secrecy and astuteness) wrapped around an axe (representing strength).

The organization was founded in 1959. It evolved rapidly from a group advocating traditional cultural ways to an armed group. On March 22, 2006, the organization declared a permanent ceasefire stating it will commit itself "to promote a democratic process in the Basque Country in order to build a new framework within which our rights as a people are recognized, and guarantee the opportunity to develop all political options in the future...."

ETA's focus has been on two demands:

  • That an independent socialist government be created in the Basque-inhabited areas of Spain and France
  • That imprisoned ETA members currently awaiting trial or serving prison sentences in Spain and France be released.

ETA's terrorist methods include:

As of the end of 2003, ETA had killed 817 [1] people in the name of their political struggle, 339 of which were not members of any armed or police service. [2]

However, during the 1980s, the goals of the organisation started to shift. Four decades after the creation of ETA, the idea of creating a socialist state in the Basque Country had begun to seem utopian and impractical, and ETA moved to a more pragmatic stance. This was reflected in the 1995 manifesto "Democratic Alternative", which offered the cessation of all armed ETA activity if the Spanish government would recognize the Basque people as having sovereignty over Basque territories and the right to self-determination. Self-determination would be achieved through a referendum on whether to remain a part of Spain.

The organization has adopted other tactical causes such as fighting against:

  • Alleged drug traffickers as corruptors of Basque youth and police collaborators. However, the French Independent NGO L'Observatoire Géopolitique des Drogues pointed their finger at ETA for their alleged drug trafficking in 2000 [3].
  • The nuclear power plant project at Lemoiz
  • The Leizaran highway

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Analytic language

[News on the weakness of some hand sanitizers leads to alcohol gel leads to napalm leads to portmanteau leads to fusional language leads to...]

An analytic language (or isolating language) is a language in which the vast majority of morphemes are free morphemes and considered to be full-fledged "words". By contrast, in a synthetic language, a word is composed of agglutinated or fused morphemes that denote its syntactic meanings....

Analytic languages often express abstract concepts using independent words, while synthetic languages tend to use adpositions, affixes and internal modifications of roots for the same purpose.

Analytic languages have stricter and more elaborate syntactic rules. Since words are not marked by morphology showing their role in the sentence, word order tends to carry a lot of importance; for example, Chinese and English make use of word order to show subject-object relationship. Chinese also uses word order to show definiteness (where English uses "the" and "a"), topic-comment relationships, the role of adverbs (whether they are descriptive or contrastive), and so on.

Analytic languages tend to rely heavily on context and pragmatic considerations for the interpretation of sentences, since they don't specify as much as synthetic languages in terms of agreement and cross-reference between different parts of the sentence.

Chinese (of all varieties) is perhaps the best-known analytic language. To illustrate:

"My friends all want to eat eggs."
所有 朋友
suǒyǒu de péngyou dōu yào chī dàn
I all possessive friend(s) all want eat chicken egg(s)

As can be seen, each syllable (or sometimes two) corresponds to a single concept; in addition it can be seen that two words (所有 and 都) cooperate to form the concept of "all", which gives an idea of the syntactical rules that dominate the grammars of such languages. Comparing the Chinese to the English translation, one sees that while English itself is fairly analytic, it contains some agglutinative features, such as the bound morpheme -/s/ to mark either possession (in the form of a clitic) or number (in the form of a suffix).

Outside China, Southeast Asia is home to many analytic languages, such as Thai and Vietnamese.

When compared with a synthetic language, such as German, the contrast becomes clear:

der Mann die Männer
der Mann die Männer
the.masculine.nominative.singular man.singular the.nominative.plural man.plural

Note that the morpheme "der" corresponds to four separate concepts simultaneously, and the morpheme "die" refers to three concepts (German does not distinguish gender in the plural), but the rules relating "der" and "die" in this manner are quite arbitrary, making this set of morphemes fusional in nature. It is worth mentioning that both "der" and "die" also can function as a feminine singular definite article, depending on the case. Furthermore, the word "Männer" corresponds to two concepts and relates to "Mann" through both the plural marker /-er/ and a process of umlaut that changes "a" to "ä" in many German plurals. Thus, the formation of German plurals is a simple, rule-governed inflectional pattern.

As a result, German can be said to lie between the agglutinative and fusional areas of the spectrum of linguistic typology.

Bulgarian is the only analytic Slavic language acquiring this feature from the Balkan linguistic union. This allows us to study the process. In the beginning, cases began to mix sounds; this paved the way for the distinctions between forms to be forgotten. Old relationships expressed by inflected words were, it is supposed, first replaced by prepositional phrases. If a preposition took an inflected word after itself, it was a short walk for the word to lose its declension, because cases after prepositions are in semantically weak positions – that is, replacing one case by another after prepositions doesn't affect meaning as much as does changing the case of a free inflected word (since prepositions distinguish meanings fairly unambiguously from the start).

Pronoun cases always tend to survive better than noun cases, but consider English "Me and him went a long way" or the hypercorrect "The shipmaster saluted Martin and she".


Tuesday, March 21, 2006


[John Carroll's column on lesbians leads one to wonder about...]
Lesbos (Greek: Λέσβος - Lésvos, Turkish: Midilli; see also List of traditional Greek place names) is a Greek island located in the northeastern Aegean Sea; its inhabitants are called Lesvonians (rather than Lesbians) or Lesviotians. Lesbos is part of the Lesbos Prefecture. It is the third largest Greek island and the seventh largest in the Mediterranean. It has an area of 1630 km² (630 square miles) with 320 kilometres (230 miles) of coastline. Its population is approximately 108,000 about a third of which live in the capital city, Mytilene, located in the southeastern part of the island. The remaining population is distributed in small towns and villages. The largest towns are Kalloni, Plomari, Ayassos, Eressos, and Molyvos, the ancient Mythymna. Mytilene was founded ca 1050 BC by the family Penthilides who arrived from Thessaly in mainland Greece and ruled the city until the popular revolt (590-580 BC) led by Pittacus .

The word "lesbian" is derived from the island. This developed from the poems of Sappho of Lesbos, in which love between women was celebrated in song. Because of this association, Lesbos has today become a frequent travel destination of lesbians. This is seen with much skepticism from the Lesvonian authorities, and passenger ships were in part earlier denied entry. Today, the heart of the lesbian scene is located in the town of Eressos, the birthplace of Sappho.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Mechanically separated meat

[News of the death of a poultry innovator inspires inquiry into...]

Mechanically separated meat (MSM), also known as mechanically recovered meat (MRM) is a paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing beef, pork or chicken bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue. Mechanically separated meat has been used in certain meat and meat products since the late 1960s. This product can be contrasted with meat extracted by advanced meat recovery systems.

The act of mechanically harvesting meat that would otherwise be unusable dates back to the 1950s when mechanical hand tools were developed to help remove these scraps and minimize waste. By the 1960s, machines were developed that did this more efficiently and automatically. This allowed companies to cheaply bulk up or extend their products and in turn offer these products to the public for a lower price.

Questions arose in the 1980s as to the safety of mechanically separated meat. In 1982, a report published by FSIS on mechanically separated meat said it was safe and established a standard of identity for the food product. Some restrictions were made on how much can be used and the type of products in which it can be used. These restrictions were based on concerns for limited intake of certain components in MSM like calcium. Mechanically separated meat must be labeled as "mechanically separated beef or pork" in the ingredients statement. Hot dogs can contain no more than 20% mechanically separated beef or pork.

Concerns were brought about again when the BSE (Mad Cow Disease) epidemic was discovered in the United Kingdom in 1986. Since bits of the spinal cord (the part most likely to be carrying BSE) often got mixed in with the rest of the meat, products using mechanically separated meat taken from the bodies of bovines were at higher risk for transmitting BSE to humans. As a result, in 1989 the United Kingdom tightened restrictions to help ensure that pieces of the spinal cord would not be present in mechanically separated meat taken from bovines.

Today, the use of mechanically separated meat taken from bovines has declined. Most mechanically separated meat is now made up of chicken or pork and is used to bulk up or "extend" a variety of other meat products.


Friday, March 17, 2006

A brief history of the debt

[News on the debt ceiling prompts...]
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEBT: The United States has had public debt since its inception. Debts incurred during the American Revolutionary War and under the Articles of Confederation led to the first yearly reported value of $75,463,476.52 on January 1, 1791. Over the following 45 years, the debt grew and then contracted to nearly zero in late 1834. On January 1, 1835, the national debt was only $33,733.05, but it quickly grew into the millions again [4] [5].

The first dramatic growth spurt of the debt occurred because of the Civil War. The debt was just $65 million dollars in 1860, but passed $1 billion in 1863 and had reached $2.7 billion following the war. The debt slowly fluctuated for the rest of the century, finally growing steadily in the 1910s and early 1920s to roughly $22 billion as the country paid for involvement in World War I [6].

The buildup and involvement in World War II brought the debt up another order of magnitude from $43 billion in 1940 to $260 billion following the war. After this period, the debt's growth closely matched the rate of inflation until the 1980s, when it again began to skyrocket [7] [8]:

Year to
U.S. Govt Debt
US$ billions
1910 2.6
1920 25.9
1930 16.2
1940 43.0
1950 257.4
1960 290.2
1970 389.2
1980 930.2
1990 3,233.3
2000 5,674.2
2005 7,932.7

The public debt briefly started to go down in 2000 when the country had a substantial budget surplus, but began growing again after budget deficits grew large beginning in 2002.

At any given time (at least in recent decades), there is a debt ceiling in effect. If the debt grows to this ceiling level, many branches of government are shut down or only provide extremely limited service. However, the ceiling is routinely raised by passage of new laws by the United States Congress every year or so.

Viewed alternately as a percentage of the GDP, the national debt rose sharply during World War II, reaching about 122% of GDP in 1946. As soon as the conflict ended, the debt began declining, reaching a postwar low of 32.6% of GDP in 1981. The debt then started rising again and peaked at 67.3% of GDP in 1996. It then dropped to 57.4% of GDP by 2001 but began rising again after congress and the George W. Bush administration implemented several tax cuts. In 2004, the debt reached 63.7% of GDP and is projected to continue rising, reaching 70% of GDP in 2010. It should be noted that the debt of United States on par with what it is in many other developed countries, such as Germany and France. In any case, all of the above debt figures can be found in Historical Table 7.1 of the 2006 U.S. Budget. [9]

Modern presidential records

Statistics here are given in both raw numbers and in relation to the debt ratio, an expression of the federal debt as a percentage of GDP. Due to World War II, the national debt spiked to a historical peak of 121.2% of GDP in 1946.

National Debt Summary
President Party Years Increase in Debt Annual Increase Debt as a % of GDP
Jimmy Carter D 4 49.1% 10.5% 33.3%
Ronald Reagan R 8 188.2% 14.1% 52.6%
George H. W. Bush R 4 46.2% 9.9% 65.9%
Bill Clinton D 8 13.7% 1.6% 57.7%
George W. Bush to 2004 R 4 26.0% 5.9% 64.8%

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Radio Caroline

[Psychobilly leads to 1980 leads to ...]

RADIO CAROLINE is a European radio station that originally commenced transmissions as an offshore radio station broadcasting from a ship anchored off the coast of South East England in international waters. Unlicensed by any government for the majority of its life, it was labelled as a pirate radio station.

A number of unlicensed radio stations have been located on ships anchored off Britain's coasts. Radio Caroline was the first such station to broadcast all-day using the English language. This, together with the station's tenacity in surviving for some forty years, has established Radio Caroline as a household name for offshore radio....

In 1974 the Dutch government passed laws to prohibit pirate radio. However Caroline continued broadcasting, this time moving its headquarters and the servicing operation to Spain. But in practice the Mi Amigo was tendered clandestinely from ports in Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Tenders and small boat owners were warned and in some cases prosecuted for ferrying staff and provisions out to the ship. Belgium had outlawed offshore radio in 1962 and its authorities took action to prosecute the advertisers. This cut the station's revenues. In addition, Belgian courts sentenced the owner and a number of DJs to fines and jail terms in absentia — although the prison terms were later cancelled.

The two stations experimented with several different broadcast frequencies. Alongside 259 (actually 253) metres, Caroline/Mi Amigo also tried out 192 (1562 kHz), then 212 (1412 kHz), before settling on 319 metres (actually 312 metres, 962 kHz — the "9" was again chosen because it rhymed with Caroline). In the later 1970s, a daytime service for Caroline was established, while Mi Amigo continued on its own frequency.

By the end of the 1970s conditions on the MV Mi Amigo had deteriorated. The ship was now 60 years old and had been used to house offshore radio stations for 20 years, since its original use as Sweden's Radio Nord in 1960. The ship drifted and went aground on sandbanks in the North Sea a couple of times in the late 1970s. Finally, in March 1980, the MV Mi Amigo floundered in a storm and began taking in water. The crew were rescued by lifeboat, but the Mi Amigo sank. Amazingly, as if in an act of defiance and following the tradition of Radio Caroline, the Mi Amigo's 200 foot mast remained erect, pointing skywards out of the sea for a further six years.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006


[Jheri curl leads to hairstyle leads to quiff leads to ...]
PSYCHOBILLY is a genre of music generally described as a mix between the British punk rock of the 1970s and the American rockabilly of the 1950s. The genre is also characterized by lyrical references to horror films, violence, exploitation films, lurid sexuality and other topics generally considered taboo, sometimes presented in a comedic, tongue-in-cheek fashion. Psychobilly music is generally played with an upright bass instead of an electric bass....

The term "psychobilly" was first used by Wayne Kemp when he penned the Johnny Cash song "One Piece at a Time," a Top 10 hit in 1976, where he makes reference to a "psychobilly Cadillac", although this song has nothing musically to do with Psychobilly. It came into use as a genre a few years later, when the Cramps described their music as "psychobilly" and "voodoo rockabilly" on flyers advertising their upcoming shows. Although the Cramps rejected the idea of being a part of the psychobilly scene, they, along with artists such as Screamin' Jay Hawkins and the Stray Cats, are considered important precursors to psychobilly. Musically speaking, there are also antecedents in the garage rock scene of the 1960s and the pub rock scene of the 1970s. The very first verifiable psychobilly band is considered to be the Meteors in south London in 1980. With one member being part of the rockabilly subculture, another being part of the punk subculture, and the last being a horror movie fan, their musical ideas overlapped to begin psychobilly as it exists today. The Meteors also invented the concept of psychobilly being apolitical, by encouraging their shows to be a "politics-free" zone in order to avoid disputes among fans, as was becoming common in the punk rock scene of the time. To this day, almost no psychobilly songs are political, but turning more and more fashionable. This Subgenre is called Fashionbilly, first named in late 2004 by Kim Nekroman (Nekromantix, Horrorpops).


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Jheri Curl

THE JHERI CURL was a popular hairstyle in the African American community in the early to mid 1980s. The Jheri Curl gave the wearer a glossy, loosely curled look. It was touted as an "wash and wear" style that was easier to care for than the other popular chemical treatment of the day, the relaxer.

A jheri curl was a two-part application that consisted of a softener (often called a "rearranging cream") to loosen the hair and a solution to set the curls. The rearranging cream used pungent chemicals, causing the naturally tight curls to loosen and hang. The loose hair was then set on perm rods and a chemical solution was then added to the hair to permanently curl it.

Besides the fact that it eventually went out of style, the jheri curl's decline in popularity probably occurred because of the damage it caused to the wearers hair and its labor-intensive and expensive upkeep. The harsh mix of chemicals required to make the style caused the wearer's natural hair to become extremely brittle and dry. To maintain the look of the jheri curl, users were required to apply activator and heavy moisturizers several times per day and to sleep with a plastic cap on their heads to keep the hairstyle from drying out. These products were expensive (a typical bottle of activator was small, retailed anywhere from $3 to $6,and was quickly depleted.) The activator in particular had the undesireable side effect of being very greasy; this would often stain clothing and anything that came into contact with it.

Washing the hair cleansed it of the styling products but also exposed the damage done to the hair by the chemical process. Also, as the hair grew out, the wearer would be forced to return to the hair salon for a touch-up, further adding to the overall expense.

The jheri curl products wore by singer Michael Jackson were rumored to have contributed to the serious scalp burns he received during a mishap that occurred while filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984.

The style is named for its originator, Jheri Redding, a Chicago-based hair stylist and entrepreneur who is also credited as the inventor of hair conditioner.