After a week of bizarro news, we thought a little roundup of bizarro news would fit right in.

You know the bizarro news we're talking about - the New York Post reports it with a front page riff on Truman's famous declaration: The Buck Stops Here.

Meanwhile the Washington Post helpfully informs that...
men and women use different ways to estimate their number of different partners and this dissimilarity is a major reason men report more lifetime liaisons than women, a statistical impossibility.
And also ugly people are more likely to be criminals than the beautiful ones. (These would be the kind of crimes that actually land a person in jail, of course, not the kind that just require a quick call to Karl Rove.) Thanks, WaPo.

From ABC News comes a penetrating (ouch) report on sex education at Yale:
"To get people's attention, we do have to do things a little risque and a little different than other sex education programs," said junior Dain Lewis, who was inspired to direct Sex Week 2006 after attending the 2004 event.
Apparently it takes a lot of effort to turn a Yalie on. Unless, of course goats are involved. (That would be pet goats - don't let your imagination run away.)

And the AP reports that in Amsterdam denizens of the Red Light district have adopted the Gitmo strategy (you can look but you can't talk touch) to burnish their image.
Several topless bars, peep shows and sex show clubs in Amsterdam's famed "Red Light" prostitution district have declared an open house on Feb. 18, hoping to shore up their reputation with local politicians who are calling for a crackdown.
There's no truth to the rumor Congress is planning an open house any time soon.

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Weather gods, I like your style.

Right up through yesterday the forecast was for a nasty cold (and windy) weekend but since this morning the widget has been edging upward and now promises (promises!) highs in the high 20s today and tomorrow (but it's windy still) and mid 30s or better during the week, which is good news. I may not need new socks. OK, well, I already need them but badly enough to go buy them is what I mean. I have a whole drawer full of damn stupid girl socks that are good enough when the weather's warm.

When the last local discount store - that would be the last one of the two who funded the anti-Wal-Mart campaign but then went out of business anyway, the jerks - went out of business I bought two great big bags of socks, men's socks it said right on the bags in big black letters (like that), but when I opened them up they were girl socks, you know the kind that just barely come up to your ankles. And who wants to walk around in the winter with his ankles hanging out. Of course most of the socks I have right now that cover up my ankles leave my toes hanging out but that's not the same thing. You see my point.

And if Spring comes pretty soon then I won't need new socks, will I. So the sooner the better is what I'm saying here. Warm is good. Let's go, warm!

PS after going out to do Saturday errands: Fortunately, I don't believe in wind chill. Wind chill is sort of like the Easter bunny. Or Des Moines. If you don't believe in it it's not there.

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Filed under "Breaking News" at the NYTimes

Competition Catches Up to U.S. Women
Oh well.

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Yearning for vast wealth and universal fame?

You're on your own.

But if, on the other hand, you want to try your luck as a headline writer, here's the place.

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I love you, two babes in Lubbock

Driving 19th Street in Lubbock alongside the sprawling edifices of Texas Tech, the little tin-can car in front of me sported quite a bumper sticker: SORRY WE MISSED CHURCH, WE WERE BUSY/LEARNING WITCHCRAFT AND BECOMING LESBIANS.
One of the great bumper stickers of all time, that's got to be. And two of the great Texans.

Michael Ventura tells the story in the Austin Chronicle.

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I guess I see the point here but it does sound funny, doesn't it?

82 officers punished for excess workload - The Boston Globe:
The Boston Police Department has disciplined 82 officers since August for working too many hours, many of them on lucrative paid detail shifts, police officials said yesterday.
What they're worried about, the story says, is having fatigued cops on the job. In other occupations - pilots and truck drivers come to mind - same thing. (When I worked in a factory in Illinois, in the early 70s, there was a State law limiting hours that could be worked by women. Maybe that was because you don't want a tired broad cooking your dinner. I don't know.) And like that. Understandable.

Still, the idea of punishing people for working too hard sounds vaguely, I don't know, un-American, doesn't it? Or maybe the cops just need better pay.

But don't get me started on that.

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Better than good enough to eat

And then some. Thanks to Boing Boing here's a wonderful collection of photos showing tiny people on food. Yeah I know it sounds funny. Actually it is funny. But it's also outstandingly cool. Go look.

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Well nobody said anything about "expert photographer"

This is my Expert Marksman badge. I just figured I'd start wearing it again just so nobody thinks I'm some sort of, you know, Republican.

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Katie bar the door

Women who are less than nine weeks pregnant can safely have medical abortions at home, according to the head of a government-backed pilot project.
Now now. Don't get all upset. That's the English government they're talking about there.
Abortion services for the 20,000 women who seek a chemically induced abortion every year could be transformed should the Department of Health's official evaluation of the pilot confirm initial findings. But it is also likely to provoke controversy from anti-abortion campaigners who will claim that home abortions would make the procedure easier and therefore lead to more women having terminations.
Or worse, more women having more sex.

Katie bar the door
Is that your husband coming home
(I think he's here)
I took it for granted
You were living here alone
(What am I going to do???)
I don't think he'd believe me no matter what I said
Katie bar the door hide me underneath the bed

Katie Bar the Door

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I don't know about you, but there's them and there's me.

I'm listening to this story from a weekend version of the Wall Street Journal about bad news in the condo market - prices are coming down. Maybe, even, the Journal worries, housing prices in general will "cool off."

What a shame.

Meanwhile the NYTimes has a story about a drug called Avastin, currently used to treat colon cancer, emerging as a promising treatment for breast and lung cancer too. Price the maker, Genetech, plans to charge for it: $100,000 per year. In defending their pricing decision Genetech executives cite "the inherent value of life-sustaining therapies."

"Your money or your life" - in a dark alley, wouldn't that be called a mugging?

Well, hey. Turns out there are a lot of things I thought I knew that I don't. Like, behind the guys doing the shooting is the safe place to be. That's the way they did things in Infantry School. But I guess that's not how they do it in Texas.
If the accident unfolded as reported - that Whittington had retrieved a bird and was walking up behind Cheney and another hunter - it violated a standard safety practice that dictates that the hunters walk together in an even line.
At least not when you're in the field with Trickshot Dick. Nowhere's safe then. Unless they're trying to say the <strike>bird</strike> lawyer came up from behind and got ahead.

Thirty yards? In an orange vest?

Well go figure, huh? Maybe Trickshot plays by different rules.

Oh. Right.

I guess I'd better stick to being me. 'Cause the them I just don't understand.

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Vacuum Tube Valley, the mouse test, and ENIAC

Here's a nifty interview from Computerworld with J. Presper Eckert, co-inventor of ENIAC, the first practical, all-electronic computer, built at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-1940s. ENIAC sported 18,000 off-the-shelf vacuum tubes and wiring tested by mice (to see what kind of insulation they were least likely to chew off), and marked the beginning of the modern computer age.
[Co-inventor] Mauchley thought the world would need maybe six computers. No one had any idea the transistor and chip technologies would come along so quickly. It is shocking to have your life work reduced to a tenth of a square inch of silicon.
It's interesting to note Eckert's reference to the Philadelphia area as "Vacuum Tube Valley," so called because most US manufacturing of radios and televisions were located in the area, and Eckert's own interest in electronics as having been nurtured by exposure to this industry. For much the same reason the Connecticut River valley where I live was once the world leader in tool making for its proximity to the Springfield Armory. And the Industrial Revolution took hold in the United States around the knitting mills of Massachusetts' Merrimack Valley. And the San Jose area has become Silicon Valley. Concentrations of industry become breeding grounds of innovation. By "outsourcing" our industries we give up not only jobs for today, but also whole new industries for tomorrow.

Well that's a downer, huh? It's really a charming interview, with Eckert. Go read it. And if you've never seen a vacuum tube you can read about them here - the tubes pictured would be about the size of your thumb. 18,000 of them would not only take up a whole lot of space (forget "laptop") but also throw off a whole lot of heat.

A modern microprocessor chip may contain as many as 10 million transistors.

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So I'm sitting here making some notes about Excel before I give it up for today. I don't like working from a rigid lesson plan and since the people in every class are a little different every class is a little different, and I have to keep notes on what got covered each day so nothing too important gets forgotten. And my present class is a good one, not so much meaning fast as meaning reasonably well matched, which is what makes things go smoothly and makes for covering a lot of information in the allotted time. Which means that if I don't get too distracted along the way I'll have time with this class to do something that involves CONCATENATE. CONCATENATE is my favorite Excel function. CONCATENATE is even more fun to say than Dubuque. Maybe we'll do the "There are nnn days left until Christmas" calculation, which involves concatenating. Yeah. That's cool.

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A long day on the Dark Side is a long, long day

Fooling around with Windows and all that stuff. You know. Although I have to say if you have to do that kind of thing fooling around with Excel is the thing you want to do. Excel is kind of fun. Maybe even useful too if you're a numbers kind of person. But anyway it's fun. You can do some cool stuff with Excel. Not as cool as some other stuff you can do with some other stuff, but pretty cool. If you see what I mean.

Meanwhile, the bare spot is back in the neighbors' back yard, meaning the big snowstorm of '06 "so far" is well and truly over here. It's beginning to look downright patchy, in fact, with temps in the 40s forecast through Friday before it turns cold again this weekend (quite cold, perhaps, on Sunday). By then it will be later and at this time of year later is good. Later is generally closer to warmer, would be the thing.

I was looking at the Duluth webcam just now, speaking of patchy, and it sure looks patchy there too - a lot more like here than, say, NYC. Which seems like a very strange thing. Strange seems pretty normal these days though so who's to say.

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A YAME entertainment special

Crooks & Liars, awesome as usual, provides video of the White House press conference regarding Dick ("The Shootist") Cheney's weekend hunting trip.

Summary: It was sorta like that time when the dikes broke, remember that?

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And all Carter did was whack a bunny

It's up...it's down...it's Wikipedia!

In a nicely done two-part series the Boston Globe profiles Wikipedia - which, by the way, is down this morning with some kind of weird memory error. (Maybe it'll be fixed by the time you look.)
''To me, it's natural and obvious that people should contribute to this kind of project," said Samuel Klein, 27, a programmer and Harvard student. ''My view of a socially efficient and well-connected world is that everyone who learns something new and interesting instantly shares it with people around them. And if they can, with various technology advances, they distribute it to as many people as possible."

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Where it snew, how much.

The Boston Globe wraps the big weekend snow story with a map of the storm's path through Southern New England. Deepest snow (18-24+") fell in a band between NYC and Boston. YAME's earthbound operations are located just over the line, by maybe a micron or two, into the 3-6" band. Local snowfall was a whole lot closer to the 3 than the 6.

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New Yorker gets an early start on sunning in the park

Photo by ukslim (Creative Commons Attribution/Noncommercial/Share Alike). For more storm photos by ukslim visit this Flickr photostream.

Chinese rent pandas to American zoos (heh heh).

Because China retains ownership of the pandas, zoos lease each pair for $1 million a year. If cubs are born, the annual fee increases by an average of $600,000. In addition, each zoo has agreed to pay another million or so each year to finance research and conservation projects in the United States and in China. Taken together, Mr. Kelly says, the contracts are worth more than $80 million to the Chinese government.
Oh no! Zoos want to "renegotiate." Chinese say a deal's a deal (heh heh). Lun Lun and Yang Yang (really!) demand only the best bamboo. A kid'll eat ivy too, wouldn't you?

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You thought maybe geeks don't get out enough?

Well think again. You can't get much more out than this.

(I have no idea.)

We venture out into the teeth of the storm

Well hey. They say weather reporting is the new war reporting because it looks dangerous, but you can only get blown down. Not, dear reader, that that would ever become a consideration at YAME.

And the official measurement on the snow gauge (a vastly improved snow gauge, you will notice, from last year's model) is 53.975 millimeters. (We're going metric here mostly because the number in inches is too small to get excited about but you can convert it yourself if you insist.)

And to round off the morning we went to CVS and were rewarded with a coupon for $2.00 off on - are you ready for this? - AA/AAA-8, C/D-4, 9V-2 Pks.

It's true. Here in the Empire the excitement never ends.

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I don't see why they have to say first major snowstorm - what's with that?

NEW YORK - The region's first major storm of the season slammed the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states with nearly 2 feet of windblown snow early Sunday, canceling church services and shutting down air travel from Washington to Boston.
Come on. Let's just call it the major snowstorm and get on with things, shall we?
Speaking of which, I'm going out for a while and I will conduct a personal investigation my ownself.

(Meanwhile, perhaps not wanting to see Norwegian flags burned too, Peter Jorunn of Oslo is in a diplomatic frame of mind...
Most people stayed indoors, but some were determined to be out and about, including Petter Jorunn of Oslo, Norway, who was visiting New York City. He said he was surprised to see people so affected by the weather, saying New Yorkers are "not wimpy at all, but ill-prepared especially with tires and stuff.")

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Beware the jubjub bird, shun the frumious Baldersnatch. And bloggers.


You heard me. Bloggers. The US government's "Cyber Storm" wargame (they may be dismantling the civilized world but they're having a lot of fun doing it) envisioned responding to terrorist cyberattacks by cracking down on "deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers, online diarists whose "Web logs" include political rantings and musings about current events." (For the record this is more a musing than a rant, although it does have certain rant-like qualities, with overtones of muffled scream.) Not to worry, though.
The Homeland Security Department promised a full report on results from the exercise by summer.
With appropriate deliberate misinformation, no doubt. Meanwhile if you are a blogger and given to rants or muses the Cyber Stormers have their eyes on you.

BTW it snew last night, an inch or two - I will bestir myself anon to investigate this on the ground - and there's still a wee bit of something in the air, not really enough to be called, properly, snow, but more like sno or even sn. The widget temp is 18º as we speak. So no snow day here, even if it wouldn't really be a snow day anyway. (And I did, weather gods, say so far. I trust you notice that.) (And, again for the record, this is neither a muse nor a rant, it's just a report. OK?)

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