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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Et Cetera

Life of the Party


Newt in a nightie? Dole doing drugs? What do the staunch defenders of America's family values get up to when they gather to blow off steam? Well, according to the videotaped evidence, they pretend to snort cocaine, they force women to strip at job interviews, and they like to mime oral sex beneath an office desk.


All this and more was revealed this week when CNN aired a tape made last year for a Republican National Committee celebration of Christmas. Top party officials enacted skits depicting themselves as drug pushers, bimbos, lechers and panderers.


It's just good clean fun, say the folks who have put out a contract on the nation's permissive, sex-obsessed liberal elite, but a few Republicans are taking a darker view -- namely, three female staffers who have filed a $21.5 million lawsuit against the party, alleging an onslaught of physical groping and ethnic slurs on the job.


The suit, filed before the tape was made public, charged that female employees were improperly touched and that gays, Jews and blacks were routinely ridiculed by party managers. The RNC is contesting the allegations, and said the skits were merely "ridiculing inappropriate behavior," not condoning it.


As Mary Matalin, a former top Bush campaign official who is shown snorting white powder up her nose through a straw, puts it: "You never saw a bunch of straighter people in your life."





Thigh Society


The fat's in the fire again for Britain's self-crowned "Queen of Hearts," who has found herself in a tabloid flap over one of her most fabled assets: her legs.


Soon-to-be-former Princess Diana, a fitness junkie who has often reveled in the flashing of royal thigh, was spotted wearing a calf-length coat -- on the hottest day of the year so far in Britain -- after the Sun published a photo of what appeared to be cellulite on her legs.


Through a spokesman, however, the princess denied the presence of the dimpled skin condition on her royal person, saying the offending marks were made by the cross-hatching of a leather car seat.


Ever gracious, ever tactful, the tabloids have seized on the photos as sad proof that the 34-year-old "glass of fashion" has lost her luster. Quoth the Daily Express: "All those years of pumping iron lay in ruins as she contemplated a future in which she could no longer lay claim to the best legs in the royal family." Those, of course, belong to the ancient Queen Mum and her recently installed new hip.





Top of the Pops


Some great rivalries never fade, they just keep bobbing up again in different forms: Yeltsin and Gorbachev, North Korea and South Korea, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck -- and of course, John Lennon and Jesus Christ.


Lennon once sparked a literal firestorm with his 1966 remark that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus." Beatles records were tossed on bonfires all across America, and the group's popularity suffered a dip for almost 12 or 13 minutes.


Lennon tried to explain that he meant the remark as a critique of the shallowness of mass culture, but the damage was done and the two were cast as rivals.


Now their agon has flared anew on that most modern of battlefields: media hype.


As noted by New York magazine, Holy Week saw the Beatles ascending to the pinnacle of the American charts again with the second volume of their "Anthology" series, which exhumes old outtakes and unreleased live performances from the band's glory days. That same week, however, Jesus scored a rare triple-play, landing on the cover of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report at the same time, each story dealing with new controversies surrounding the nature and meaning of the Resurrection.


It looks like a dead heat all over again.





Appalling Appellation


What's in a name? For one five-year-old Swedish boy, it's 38 letters and five numbers. And that's just for his first name.


Little Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, whom his parents call "Albin" when they want him to come in for supper, ended up in a courtroom in the southern town of Halmstad, where a judge fined the parents 5,000 crowns ($680) for not giving their son a proper first name.


The parents had argued that the name was a "pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation." They vowed to appeal the verdict, saying a court could not make rulings about art.





Mind Games


So now it's official: men do get more stupid as they get older.


Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that men's brains shrink as they age, with tests showing a slowing of response time and a loss of a sense of humor -- assuming one existed in the first place.


The shrinkage apparently occurs only in men and can begin as early as the twenties, according to neuropsychologist Ruben Gur.


Gur did suggest that men may be able to combat the degradation by using their brains in ways different from their normal practices. Lawyers could turn to birdwatching, he suggested; police officers might study languages, and journalists could try painting, sculpture, or some other art (besides that of sensationalizing minor scientific studies for cheap comic effect).


He said the symptoms were probably a sign of the decay of the frontal lobes, which regulate attention. He said the symptoms were probably a sign of the decay of the frontal lobes, which regulate attention.





-- Compiled by Chris Floyd