New report says Assad still firmly in control

The Global Post reports:

Syria’s army is too large and too well equipped, and recent defections not nearly important enough to slow the growing crisis there, US intelligence experts told The Washington Post today.

Diplomatic pressure on President Bashar al-Assad is having little effect, the officials said, and the only hope for a quick resolution to the bloodshed is economic sanctions.

“That leadership is going to fight very hard,” one official said in The Post. “The odds are against them, but they are going to fight very hard.”

In the most comprehensive, telling comments since the Syrian uprising began a year ago, three senior US intelligence experts said those closest to Assad are “remaining steadfast.”

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This Fan’s Open Letter Will Melt The Heart Of Every “Doctor Who” Obsessive

1. Facebook user Richard Unwin posted this open letter to the one great love of his life and it pretty much sums up why fans get so intense about everything.


Dear Doctor. (An open letter.)

So there’s a big anniversary coming up, and there are a few things that I want to get off my chest. I don’t mention you much in my online life these days – I even sometimes delete stuff from other people that mentions you if they post it on my page. Sorry about that. I suppose I worry about being perceived as a ‘fan’, and all the preconceptions and assumptions that come with that, especially by those people I’ve got to know who work with you in a professional capacity – which is ridiculous isn’t it? One of the many things that you’ve taught me over the years is to not worry about what other people think, so why should I feel the need to play down my relationship with the one man with whom I’ve spent more time than any other over the past 25 years?

There are those who might suggest that it’s because you don’t exist – that for a 34 year old adult to have a genuine emotional relationship with a fictional character is something that he should quite rightly be hiding out of shame – but you and I know that’s not true, not really. As the personification of the creative expression of the very best of humanity, as the result of the combined imaginative outpouring of hundreds upon hundreds of writers and actors and artists, as the avatar for a group belief in an inherent ‘goodness’, you absolutely exist. (Which sounds like it’s verging on religion, and perhaps you do help fill the god-shaped hole left in my life by my staunch atheism. If that’s the case, you do it terribly well – most faiths only have one book of their hero’s exploits – I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of yours!)

The thing is, my coyness about our affair is probably completely futile. I’m sure that anyone who knows me reasonably well is only too aware of how important you are to me. How could I possibly hide a relationship of such intensity? Of course, there have been other men over the years, and oh so many lovers, but I’ve not yet settled down with a long-term companion of my own. To outside observers it may look as though I’ve lived alone for the past decade, but I haven’t, I’ve been with you. And we haven’t been at home – we’ve been all over time and space together. I really must try to stop being disappointed by men who don’t have two hearts…

Now, if we’d just stayed at home playing make-believe this could all be terribly unhealthy. But we didn’t – you encouraged me to walk in the world and try to make a difference. And while I’m no hero, I tried. And am still trying. It’s thanks to you that I got involved in campaigning, and activism, and get to work with people like Peter Tatchell. (Whom, by the way, I think is the closest I’ve ever found to a real world version of you – a true hero who inspires by tirelessly trying to do the right thing. He doesn’t have quite your sense of humour though – I was once interviewing him in a cupboard and he took entirely seriously my light-hearted suggestion that he could auction off his semen for charity. And he has a bicycle instead of a Tardis.)

It’s thanks to you that my childish fascination with all things ‘supernatural’ gave way to a thirst for real scientific knowledge. It’s down to you, via Douglas Adams’ infinite probability drive, that I became aware of Professor Richard Dawkins, another hero who fights for truth in his own way, regardless of how others perceive him. (I met him once, and got him to sign the DVD on which he pops up in one of your adventures. When he asked where he should sign it I told him to scrawl over David Tennant’s face. He sighed and asked, “Which one’s David Tennant?” Which is odd, you’d think he’d know all your faces – you were married to his wife once, weren’t you?)

So I guess my point, if I have one, is just to say thank you for always being there and nudging me in the right direction. When I was younger, making the difficult transition from boy to man, I wandered into a world of debauchery that very nearly consumed me. (I’m SO sorry about that time Tarquin and I took LSD and got you to sign a panty-liner, while you were pretending to be the actor Tom Baker launching his autobiography. You played it completely cool though, didn’t bat an eyelid.

It’s funny, years later my good friends Rory and Diana bumped into you in a supermarket, when you were Paul McGann, and the shopping list that they got you to sign for me included an entry for feminine products, so there’s a sort of symmetry there…) But even at my most deranged, when life was precariously balanced upon a never-ending cocktail of drugs and recklessness, you were there, whispering in my ear, guiding me back from such risky adventure and making sure that I returned with my life when there were friends who didn’t. Things got bad, but without you, they could have been so much worse.

Right through my life you’ve been there. When I’ve needed solace or comfort you were always ready to take me away in your big blue box. And although there are those who would claim that your adventures are really for children, it’s as an adult that I’ve appreciated your company the most. And we’re closer than ever these days, now that I write about you for a national newspaper. It’s funny, I go to these big press launches in your honour, and PR people think that they need to bribe us journalists with wine and canapés – just to write nice things about our friend the Doctor! (Oh, and thanks for helping out with my equal marriage campaign, while you were pretending to be the actor Matt Smith.

When you said that it was a cause that you really cared strongly about and I looked you in the eye and said “I thought you would”, I just meant that you are caring and compassionate, not that you’re a closet gay, which is how it sounded.) And remember those several hours that we recently spent sharing a couple of pints in a theatre bar, while you were pretending to be Sylvester McCoy? (I played along and didn’t address you as ‘Doctor’ even once!) You told me in no uncertain terms to give up smoking – always looking after me, even now. (It was better than the first time I met you in that body, when my parents took me to the stage door of the Cambridge Arts Theatre – I was 11 and so overawed that I forgot my own name… sorry about that.)

You can point to almost any part of my life, and there you are, guiding, coaxing, and inspiring. So I’m sorry that I sometimes try and hide our mutual affection, and I’m grateful for all the support over the years. I know that I’ve got many more adventures to come, of both the real and imaginary types, and I look forward to sharing them all with you. It’s your 50th anniversary later this month, but it’s also the 25th anniversary of when we first met and fell in love.

I’ll be thinking of you.

Riccy x

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Community Post: 23 Famous Authors’ Last Words

1. Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley requested his wife to give him an injection of LSD right before death, so he could pass away in a state of mind of his own choosing.

2. Voltaire

Voltaire’s final words in response to a priest asking him to renounce Satan.

3. Hunter S. Thompson

MDCarchives / Via

The final words in his suicide note, before shooting himself in the head.

4. J.M. Barrie

Before his death, Barrie gave the rights to Peter Pan to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital. They continue to benefit from royalties.

5. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Goethe had discussed optical phenomenon with his daughter-in-law the night before his death.

6. Jane Austen

Portrait Gallery of the Perry–Castañeda Library / Via

When asked by her sister what she wanted, this was Jane Austen’s response.

7. Edgar Allan Poe

Poe’s death is a mystery, with still no clear idea of what actually transpired in his last few days.

8. Anton Chekhov

On his death bed, Chekhov requested morphine and champagne from his doctor right before he passed away.

9. Leo Tolstoy

F.W. Taylor / Via

Tolstoy, in his final days, fled his mansion and tried to live amongst the people.

10. Henry David Thoreau

It is unknown what exactly Thoreau was referencing with his final words.

11. James Joyce

C. Ruf / Via

James Joyce died of a failed surgery, in the presence of his wife and son.

12. W.C. Fields

Bain News Service / Via

Carlotta was Fields’ mistress, and also the person present for his final words.

13. Emily Dickinson

William C. North / Via

Emily Dickinson experienced blackouts and was confined to bed for seven months before her death.

14. Washington Irving

Matthew Brady / Via

Washington Irving, author of Sleepy Hollow, is buried in the actual Sleepy Hollow, New York.

15. Lord Byron

Lord Byron died in Greece of a fever, while fighting the Ottomans.

16. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Jonathan Richardson / Via

Although Montagu spent the majority of her life away from England, she passed away in her home at London.

17. Franz Kafka

The last spoken words of Kafka were directed at a doctor who was unwilling to give him a lethal dose of morphine. He was dying of tuberculosis and couldn’t speak in his final days.

18. Elizabeth Barret Browning

Macaire Havre / Via

This was uttered in response to the question of how she was feeling.

19. Eugene O’Neill

Carl Van Vechten / Via

O’Neill died of pneumonia, after suffering from a Parkinson’s-like disease that rendered him physically unable to write for years.

20. Charlotte Bronte

Evert A. Duyckinick / Via

Charlotte Bronte had only been married for nine months when she died.

21. Truman Capote

Roger Higgins / Via

Buddy was Capote’s childhood nickname.

22. Lewis Carroll

Hubert von Herkomer / Via

Known for his children’s books, Carroll — a pen name — was also a mathematician and photographer.

23. O. Henry

A. Newcomb / Via

Cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcoholism was thought to be the cause Henry’s death, as well as a leading factor for a decline in the number of stories he wrote toward the end.

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If you teach your kids to use guns, Vince Neil doesn’t want you at his shows

Like many ghoulish celebs, in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre, Mötley Crüe vocalist Vince Neil’s first thought was for the families of the victims … and how their devastation could help him push “Gun Control!!!”

After some Twitter followers took him to task for using the murder victims to prop up a gun-grabbing agenda, Neil lashed out at them for mentioning guns without the word “control” attached.

Why is everyone so concerned with guns? What about the CHILDREN that were MURDERED today! Get your priorities straight!! Come on people!!

— Vince Neil (@TheVinceNeil) December 14, 2012

I did say gun control but I didn’t think 90% of you would care more about your gun than dead children!!!

— Vince Neil (@TheVinceNeil) December 14, 2012

The brutally blunt Twitterverse reminded Neil that perhaps people who spent time in the big house for vehicular manslaughter and DUI shouldn’t throw stones.

“@1michaelray: @thevinceneil This from someone who killed with a car and alcohol… JUSTICE?” Exactly!!!!

— Richard Johnson (@richjohnson83) December 15, 2012

@thevinceneil, who used a car to kill someone while he was FUCKED UP, wants to preach TO US about #GUNCONTROL.SERIOUSLY????? #justsayin 😡

— Joe 30-Pack(D-TX) (@Joe6packradio) December 16, 2012

@thevinceneil seriously dude? Hope u put this much effort into DUI related deaths..oh wait……#hypocrite

— Leon Pennington (@Lpennington7) December 14, 2012

@thepoliticalhat @thevinceneil SCORECARD: Vince Neil’s car – 1// My .38 – 0

— GTJessop (@murgatr0id) December 14, 2012

Maybe when @thevinceneil is done being a hypocrite about #GunControl laws we can talk about the man he killedwhile driving drunk?

— just another mo(@JustAnotherMo) December 16, 2012

Cars don’t kill people; drunk people like Vince Neil behind the wheel kill people. In 1984, Neil was sentenced to $2.5 million in restitution, community service and 30 days in jail after he lost control of his car while driving drunk. His friend, Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle, was killed in the crash.

Neil finished off his rant by letting people know that if they dare to give their children the gift of self-defense, they should go ahead and skip his shows.

FUCK YOU to EVERYONE who puts guns in front of kids!! Do not come to ANY shows! You are sick!!

— Vince Neil (@TheVinceNeil) December 15, 2012

Odd, we didn’t realize Neil was on tour. We wonder who he’s opening for.

Hey Vince, don’t go away mad (just go away).

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26 Things You Will Only See In Los Angeles

“Does this place have valet for bikes?”

1. A 24-hour taco delivery service.

2. Having this valet option.

3. Tropical cellphone towers.

4. This high-class towing scene.

Ashley Zhang @ashleyczhang

“Fifteen minutes can save you 15% or more on your car insurance” Met some lizards chillin on some couches.#onlyinLA

9. These killer “deals.”

10. Mannequins with “generous” proportions.

11. Chronically red traffic maps.

You’re not going anywhere.

12. This easy rider.

13. Stormtroopers hiking in Runyon Canyon.


14. A Mercedes Benz as a learner’s vehicle.

15. Suggestive billborts.

16. Acting jobs for any animal body type.

17. Cryptic parking signs.

18. Sweet, classic rides.

19. This unique exercise option.

This unique exercise option.

View this image ›

Facebook: upflyingyoga

20. A clever alternative to Redbox.

Don’t forget the free wi-fi.

21. This unique institution of higher learning.

22. A “murdered out” Prius with family stickers on the back.

23. The leafiest map you’ll ever see.

24. Canine go-go dancers.

25. Angelyne.

26. And of course, this inspirational graffiti.

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