Frank Oynhausen set up his "Sweet Lord" chocolate Jesus-making business saying he wanted to restore some traditional religious values to Christmas in Germany....
"We're hoping to be able to export them around the world one day," Oynhausen said. He reckons there are parts of the United States where they will be especially popular.[From German churches find 'chocolate Jesus' tasteless - Yahoo! News]
But German church leaders find the chocolate Jesus "tasteless," Reuters reports. Surely that can be fixed.
MONROE, Ohio—Police in southwestern Ohio say a police chief mistakenly shot himself in the thigh after giving his daughter a gun safety lesson.[From Ohio police chief accidentally shoots himself - York Dispatch]
Police raided a 79-year-old widow's cottage - after mistaking her tomato plants for a cannabis factory.
The officers burst in to Lulu Matheson's home in the Scottish Highlands with sniffer dogs and took samples of the plants for analysis, reports the Daily Mail.[From Ananova - Widow's tomato plants mistaken for cannabis]
Keep in mind, in 50 years, the computer you are using to view this webpage will be landfill, but your trusty slide rule will just be nicely broken in![From The Slide Rule Universe, literally everything about buying and using slide rules, sliderules and sliderulers!]
...from a wonderfully funky web site just added for the benefit of hopeless geeks to our Work Avoidance list. I have a couple of slide rules around here someplace, nicely broken in, which, come to think of it, might be worth keeping for the day everybody plugs in their new electric cars at the same time and the entire power grid goes down. At the moment, however, I don't actually use them for anything - they just make me feel warm and secure.
LONDON---- It's not quite the Nobel Prize, but John Updike has a new literary accolade: laureate of bad sex.
Updike, who has a long and graphic history of detailing coupling on the page, won a lifetime achievement award Tuesday from judges of Britain's Bad Sex in Fiction Prize, which celebrates crude, tasteless or ridiculous sexual passages in modern literature.[From Updike wins Bad Sex in fiction prize :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Books]
Well, not my father's anyway. But whatever, the newest Bond escapade, Quantum of Solice, is a terrific movie. It's pretty much a fight/chase scene from beginning to end, but a stylishly-done scene, and it manages to tag all the familiar Bond bases while avoiding most of the cliches. So if you're a Bond fan, Quantum belongs on your list.
The agency I work for is closed today but the other half of the office, the state half, is open so the computer lab is available and I'm off to update my folders of class files, which have been getting a little bit tattered of late. And then Quantum of Solice at the matinee. We'll see what that's about.
I’ve got a better name for it: the BlackBerry Dud.[From State of the Art - No Keyboard? And You Call This a BlackBerry? - NYTimes.com]
...and is spotted by our alert Midwest bureau:
“There are a lot of very, very angry Muslims in India,” Ms. Fair said. “The economic disparities are startling and India has been very slow to publicly embrace its rising Muslim problem. You cannot put lipstick on this pig. This is a major domestic political challenge for India.[From Sophisticated Attacks, but by Whom? - NYTimes.com]
Turgooducochiqua puts local turducken tradition to shame[From Turgooducochiqua puts local turducken tradition to shame - Updates - NOLA.com]
Sex-drenched Renaissance art spices up New York Metropolitan Museum of Art[From Sex-drenched art spices up Met :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Travel]
His first robot took several years to build and could only shuffle along in small steps as it could not raise its legs.
But his designs became more and more sophisticated, and he has built robots capable of climbing walls, serving water, lighting cigarettes, playing musical instruments and writing calligraphy.[From Ananova - Farmer builds robot army]
Plus - his own favorite - a battery-powered robot that can pull a rickshaw.
Re: Auto worker wages...
But then what's the source of that $70 hourly figure? It didn't come out of thin air. Analysts came up with it by including the cost of all employer-provided benefits--namely, health insurance and pensions--and then dividing by the number of workers. The result, they found, was that benefits for Big Three cost about $42 per hour, per employee. Add that to the wages--again, $28 per hour--and you get the $70 figure. Voila.
Except ... notice something weird about this calculation? It's not as if each active worker is getting health benefits and pensions worth $42 per hour. That would come to nearly twice his or her wages. (Talk about gold-plated coverage!) Instead, each active worker is getting benefits equal only to a fraction of that--probably around $10 per hour, according to estimates from the International Motor Vehicle Program. The number only gets to $70 an hour if you include the cost of benefits for retirees--in other words, the cost of benefits for other people. One of the few people to grasp this was Portfolio.com's Felix Salmon. As he noted yesterday, the claim that workers are getting $70 an hour in compensation is just "not true."[From Assembly Line]
...is let the press, not to mention "a member of Congress," manage the economy.
AIG, Citibank and a number of other federally bailed-out financial institutions have no plans to cancel hundreds of millions of dollars in sports team sponsorships, even as they take billions in taxpayer support, ABC News has found.
In boom times, the sponsorships were seen as a way to advertise the firms' "brands" and appeal to potential customers. Even today, at least one bank told ABC News that a naming deal was increasing its revenue. But critics, including a member of Congress, say the decision to continue them now is hard to defend.[From ABC News: Citi, AIG Won't Drop Big Sports Sponsorships]
Look. It may well be as, ABC News reports, "some marketing experts" believe sports promotions are a waste of money - unlike, for example, advertising on ABC, which, one imagines, ABC News might not get quite so worked up about - or it may be not, as some other marketing experts no doubt think. But the underlying argument here isn't really about financial payback, it's about unseemliness.
If the real purpose of all this bailing is to put the companies in question back on their feet and not simply to feather the beds of CEO's, then the taxpayers should want what every other investor wants and that, among other things, is aggressive selling. Suggesting that, because taxpayer money is involved, the companies should remain modestly inconspicuous is just plain dumb.
President George W. Bush's Labor Department misled Congress in an effort to prove outsourcing jobs to private companies was more efficient than assigning the jobs to government employees, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday.
The report (pdf here) found that the Department used fictional projected numbers to improve "savings reports" -- even when real numbers were already available. And when the government did find private firms to take a government job, that employee generally was either reassigned to another task with the same title or promoted.[From The Raw Story | Bush Labor Department misled Congress in effort to privatize jobs]
This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.
~Will Rogers[From Government Quotes, Sayings about Governments, Democracy, Bureaucracy]
If you had any doubt at all about the primacy of Wall Street over Main Street; the utter lack of transparency behind the biggest government giveaway in history to financial executives, and their shareholders, directors, and creditors; and the intimate connections the lie between Administrations -- both Republican and Democratic -- and the heavyweights on Wall Street, your doubts should be laid to rest. Today it was decided the government will guarantee more than $300 billion of troubled mortgages and other assets of Citigroup under a federal plan to stabilize the lender after its stock fell 60 percent last week. The company will also will get a $20 billion cash infusion from the Treasury Department, adding to the $25 billion the bank received last month under the Troubled Asset Relief Program....
In return for all the cash and guarantees they are giving away, taxpayers will get only $27 billion of preferred shares paying an 8 percent dividend. No other strings are attached. ...
Meanwhile, more than a million workers in the automobile industry, along with six million homeowners in danger of losing their homes, and a millions of Americans who depend on small businesses and retailers for paychecks, are getting nothing at all.[From Robert Reich's Blog: Citigroup Scores]
What a relief! The free public restrooms operated by the Charmin toilet paper company in Times Square during the holidays have been rolled out for another year....
The plush potties feature flat-screen televisions, attendants dressed in tuxedos and plenty of Charmin.[From NY public toilets feature TVs, tuxedoed attendants]
Smugglers’ Notch announced Saturday at its new employee orientation that resort employees would not be allowed to use two controversial new Burton snowboards when on duty.
The announcement followed last week’s protest at Burton by community members who want the company’s Love and Primo boards taken off the market. Smugglers’ crafted its revised employee policy in early October after objections to the two snowboard models were brought to light, the resort’s spokesperson Barbara Thomke said.[From Resorts ban employees from riding new Burton boards | burlingtonfreepress.com | The Burlington Free Press]
Dude, that's cold.
In various high-level government positions, Timothy Geithner, Mr. Obama’s choice for Treasury secretary, and Lawrence Summers, his choice for director of the National Economic Council, each have demonstrated a capacity for good judgment and good ideas....
Both men, however, have played central roles in policies that helped provoke today’s financial crisis. Mr. Geithner, currently the president of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, also has helped shape the Bush administration’s erratic and often inscrutable responses to the current financial meltdown, up to and including this past weekend’s multibillion-dollar bailout of Citigroup.
Given that history, the question that most needs answering is not whether Mr. Geithner and Mr. Summers are men of talent — obviously they are — but whether they have learned from their mistakes, and if so, what.[From Editorial - Mr. Obama’s Economic Advisers - NYTimes.com]
Gonzales’s March 2001 memo was the opening salvo in a war over information, one that began in the earliest days of the Bush administration and will continue beyond its end. The stakes, which no one could have predicted when the letter crossed Carlin’s desk, are now self-evidently enormous: when Bush hands over the keys to the White House in January, he will leave behind more unanswered questions of sweeping national importance than any modern president. We still do not know how intelligence operatives, acting in the name of the United States, have interrogated suspected terrorists, and how they are interrogating them now (see sidebar: TORTURE). We do not know how many Americans’ phone calls and e-mails were scanned by the National Security Agency (see sidebar: WIRETAPPING). We do not know—although we can guess—who ordered the firings of the U.S. attorneys who didn’t comply with the Bush administration’s political agenda, and we do not know who may have been wrongly prosecuted by those who did (see sidebar: POLITICIZATION OF JUSTICE). There are large gaps in our understanding of the backstories to everything from pre-war intelligence in Iraq to the censoring of scientific opinion at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior. And those are the things we know we don’t know—there are also what Donald Rumsfeld might call the unknown unknowns.
The thought of revisiting this history after living through it for eight years is exhausting, and both President Barack Obama and Congress will have every political reason to just move on. But we can’t—it’s too important.[From Last Secrets of the Bush Administration - Charles Homans]
A theater review in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that's completely...
"A jury on Friday returned guilty verdicts against four people who attempted to arrest former White House adviser Karl Rove during a fundraising appearance earlier this year in Iowa," AP reported Monday.[From The Raw Story | Four found guilty in citizen's arrest of Rove]
If a [job] can be found anywhere, it would probably be here at one of 2,942 one-stop career centers that Congress established 10 years ago. They each play host to a web of federal programs for the needy or unemployed, offering training, job listings and, in most states, access to welfare programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance. ...
Essentially, they are the emergency rooms of today’s sick economy — and they are increasingly overwhelmed. ...
Congress has extended unemployment benefits, which helps, but the Department of Labor also reports that this year’s federal budget for workforce programs was cut by 1.74 percent, to $3.7 billion, continuing a decrease of 14 percent from 2000 to 2007.[From Job Centers See Crush of People in Need - NYTimes.com]
Also the parking places are in short supply.
"The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers, or half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, to rescue the financial system since the credit markets seized up 15 months ago," according to an estimate by Bloomberg News....
Regulators have revealed few details about the recipients of aid under the Troubled Asset Relief Program -- which was supposed to be used to buy up troubled mortgage assets from banks. To date, the package has not been used for this purpose.[From The Raw Story | Bloomberg: US could lend as much as $7.4 trillion]
Hey, I'm not complaining. I'm just hanging by the phone, waiting for the call to see how much I want. And hey, for the record, I don't want much. One measly B ought to do - OK, maybe two. Three tops. So there'll be plenty left for you.
When the weather gets cold and dry I get chapped hands, sometimes to the point of painful, so with winter on the way I decide it's time to lay in a little bit of hand lotion. Usually I use Cornhusker's lotion. It's cheap, it's very, very good, you can find it in most drug stores if you look in the darkest corner of the lowest shelf, and it smells like rose water. Or at least I've been told it smells like rose water. All I know for sure is rose water apparently smells like Cornhusker's lotion. And smelling like rose water, it seems, is old-fashioned to the max.
Whatever. This year, I decide, I don't want to smell like rose water or, for that matter, anything at all. So I buy some stuff labeled "fragrance-free."
Now I smell like some kind of flower.
What, maybe they meant to say "free fragrance"?
Also, just for the record, PS, "non-greasy" doesn't seem to mean much either. Fortunately I only bought a little bit of the stuff. Maybe next year I can go back to Cornhusker's. It's cheap, it's very, very good, and it really is non-greasy. Also - did I mention this? - it smells like rose water.
On Saturday, Michigan largely held its own on defense — except for five big plays.[From Chris Wells' 134 yards, Pryor's 2 TD passes push No. 10 Buckeyes to 42-7 rout of Michigan -- chicagotribune.com]
That's sort of like saying the 20th Century was a pretty peaceful time - except for two world wars.
Yesterday, it seems, was a day of carnage in college football, with OSU beating Michigan 42-7, Penn State beating Michigan State 49-18 (making it a pretty bad day for Michigan all around), Oklahoma smacking Texas Tech 65-21, and Utah posting 48 points to Brigham Young's 24.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Here's some food for thought: If you have nude photos of your wife on your cell phone, hang onto it.[From Nude pics in phone lost at McDonald's; end up online -- chicagotribune.com]
“He’s not looking for people to give him a vision,” said Mr. Axelrod, who will be a senior White House adviser. “He’s going to put together an administration of people who can effectuate his vision.”[From If They Can - Change Is Landing in Old Hands - NYTimes.com]
Tell me it ain't so.