Brushing your teeth with peanut butter might be worse

As Bruce Schneier and others frequently point out, humans are really not so very good at assessing security risks. A case in point: the Chinese toothpaste flap.

Is this insanity merely proof once again of what happens under “free market” conditions (both here and in China), or is this really a case study in why the Soviet Union never won the Cold War, just because the Russians thought nukes were the battelfield weapon of choice and never even thought of killing all of us (and our cats) with poisoned food and oral hygiene products? Whichever it is, I am NOT brushing my teeth with any more toothpaste from Aldi's, that's for DAMN sure....
...writes Dark Wraith at Pam's House Blend. And yeah, it's true, ethylene glycol in the toothpaste is not a good thing, nor is the melamine recently contaminated pet food in the US and worked its way into the human food chain as well, or other contaminants in food imported from elsewhere, of which there has been much in the news in recent weeks (and much for the FDA to answer for).

But. For all the scariness of food from foreign lands, the most dangerous foodstuff so far this year has apparently been peanut butter manufactured in the US by the US food-manufacturing company, ConAgra.

MINNEAPOLIS (Bloomberg News) — ConAgra Foods’ peanut butter, recalled in February after it was linked to a salmonella outbreak, sickened 628 people in 47 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I'm just pointing out here, for the record. So it's really not necessary here to get too concerned about “free markets” (not something I'm unreservedly in favor of, myself) or “asymmetric warfare” until we deal with quantifiably bigger dangers here at home.

Link: Schneier on Security
Link: Pam's House Blend:: A Short Rant on Free Markets and Asymmetric Warfare
Link: The Buffalo News: World & Nation

Get out more

Get out more, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Visit Look, MA

What, did he have spinach on his teeth?

Kambiz Fattahi (GRD ’08) was sitting in the first row of the commencement audience on the afternoon of May 18 holding a box of cookies for his graduating friend.

But he never got to see her walk across the stage. And he never got to hand her the cookies.

According to Fattahi, about five minutes after historian Bernard Bailyn, the keynote speaker at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ commencement in McDonough Gymnasium, concluded his speech lauding the American traditions of freedom and justice, two Department of Public Safety officers removed Fattahi from the ceremony. Fattahi, who was born in Iran, said that when he asked for a reason, the officers told him that his Middle Eastern appearance was making others at the ceremony uncomfortable and that they had received complaints about his presence.
Link: The Hoya | DPS Removes Student from Graduation Ceremony

Fabulous! Sounds like a pretty squishy word there, Micheal.

He continued, “If I was there with the president of the United States, know what I'd tell him? I'd tell him shut off the press, let the military go do what it does best, kill people and break things. ... Give them some positive news about what these soldiers are doing that are fighting. Yes, they are dying, but they are doing such a fabulous job ...”
Link: The Raw Story | Michael Reagan: 'Let the military go do what it does best, kill people and break things'

If you don't read Indexed...

...get started.

(And look at the nifty list of widgets in the right column.)

Link: indexed

Contagion: An outbreak of familyness sweeps country

Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr.,, saith the NYTimes this morning, is leaving the military in August to “spend more time with his family and pursue other ventures.

White house counselor Dan Bartlett, the other day, resigned ”to spend more time with his family and pursue new career options.“

Paul McNulty, former No 2 lawyer for the ”Justice Department“ bowed out in mid-May citing ”the financial realities of college-age children“.

HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, recently convicted of financial hanky-panky, should not do time in the slammer, his lawyers say, due to ”family circumstances“ (he has a lot of kiddies).

In Safety Harbor, Florida, a controversial Chamber of Commerce head, Cyndi O'Donnell, is resigning to ”spend more time as a family.“

In Barnstable, MA, however, Town Manager John Klimm, under fire for buying an expensive house in an unnamed ”southern coastal state“ - for his family - is not resigning, so take that.


Dude, if you've got an off-road vehicle you might as well get off-road once in a while

Off road, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Tommorrow's job: Learning to spell "potatoe"

(Photo stolen from Wonkette)



Stone, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Oh fine

While you weren't paying attention Commander Guy slapped some kind of sanctions on the government of Sudan the other day, and now the Sudanese ambassador to the US, some guy named John Ukec Lueth Ukec, whom the Washington Post's Dana Milbank insists on calling Khartoum Karl - for no other reason, apparently, than that he's into nicknames - is threatening to strike back.

What's more, the good and peaceful leaders of Sudan were prepared to retaliate massively: They would cut off shipments of the emulsifier gum arabic, thereby depriving the world of cola.

“I want you to know that the gum arabic which runs all the soft drinks all over the world, including the United States, mainly 80 percent is imported from my country,” the ambassador said after raising a bottle of Coca-Cola.

A reporter asked if Sudan was threatening to “stop the export of gum arabic and bring down the Western world.”

“I can stop that gum arabic and all of us will have lost this,” Khartoum Karl warned anew, beckoning to the Coke bottle. “But I don't want to go that way.”
That's nasty. I mean, hey, the Russians tested some kind of really evil new missile the other day blah blah blah but this is bad.

Link: Dana Milbank - Denying Genocide in Darfur -- and Americans Their Coca-Cola - washingtonpost.com


Up, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Tourist duck

Tourist duck, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

ATTN: If you live in Boston...

...this is not my fault. All I'm doing here is pointing you to a post on Wonkette. (So that would make this all Wonkette's fault, if you're looking for somebody to sue.)

Back in late January, ever-vigilant Boston officials locked down the city and threw it into a panic after various terrifying Lite-Brites were found planted around town.

A month later, Boston police blew up a stoplight to fight the growing traffic counter menace.

Yesterday, a strip mall in suburban Boston was evacuated and locked down on suspicion of someone faxing a bank some MS Word clip-art.
Read the rest here:

Link: Boston Still Fighting War on Hilarious Cartoon Terror - Wonkette

Milestone: Only 599 more

Yup, the counter turned over at midnight, Bunky (see the bottom of the sidebar) and this morning there are only 599 days left before Commander Guy's term ends.

Ain't that comforting.

OK that pretty much clears it up, thanks

Norman Podhoretz is a contemporary of mine, a gifted editor, a brilliant man and a political horse’s ass.
I was just trying to get my head around Podhoretz's recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal when I ran across this piece by Robert Stein at Connecting.the.Dots.

You go read.

Link: Connecting.the.Dots: If You Enjoy Iraq, You'll Love World War IV

But John McCain says it's still safe to eat there (Lieberman agrees)

Crime of the week: “A manager at a fast-food restaurant was shot several times in the arm early Tuesday trying to protect the chili sauce, authorities said.”
Link: Whatever It Is, I’m Against It: It means you trust you


As Ivy League-educated pediatrician Robert P. Lindeman sat on the stand in Suffolk Superior Court this month, defending himself in a malpractice suit involving the death of a 12-year-old patient, the opposing counsel startled him with a question.

Was Lindeman Flea?
Turns out (wanna guess?) yes, the Ivy League-educated doctor was Flea - a blogger! Worse, he blogged about his own malpractice case. What a dummy, huh? Of course, Commander Guy is Ivy League-educated squared so that should tell you something right there, these guys aren't the brightest bulbs in the string.

“Lawyers in Massachusetts and elsewhere,” the Globe reports, are advising their Ivy League-educated clients they'd better cool it with the blogging if they want to keep getting away with stuff.

Link: Blogger unmasked, court case upended - The Boston Globe

How bleeping bonkers do these guys get?

SPARTANBURG — Sen. Jim DeMint on Tuesday blamed Democratic “wimps” in Congress for American casualties in Iraq, and cited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for special censure.

During a luncheon speech to 100 constituents in Spartanburg, DeMint also took issue with the now widespread belief that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, saying the executed Iraqi dictator had “stockpiles of chemical weapons” that still exist.
No mention of what institution that luncheon was held in, but experts speculate (hey I'm media, I can say stuff like that) one of DeMint's rapt listeners holds the widespread belief he is Napoleon and another hears encoded messages from alien planets through his teeth.

Speaking of which - aliens, that is - the “bulk” of DeMint's comments addressed the current “immigration debate” in the Senate. Must have been really special, those.

The State | 05/30/2007 | DeMint rips war ‘wimps’


It's sad, isn't it?

To put a Batman stamp on the envelope and then have to add two cents more. Like, Batman's not good enough any more? What kind of world are we living in?

Oh, wait.


This'll make a movie, huh?

“Unknown armed men in three civilian cars managed to capture salaries of an Iraqi army unit, 350 million Iraqi dinars, in an ambushed prepared for two army vehicles,” an official, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
He doesn't want to be named because they're gonna take it out of his salary if they find out who he is. Maybe.

Link: IraqSlogger: Gunmen Seize US$240,000 From Iraqi Army


It's like suddenly the ghost of Mike Dukakis is everywhere.

Link: Dependable Renegade: I smell a new series.

In other words, shut up and sit down

[Commander Guy] claimed again that the reduced number of arrests of illegal border-crossers proves that the border is better defended. As we know, he said the same thing when the number of arrests went up.
Link: Whatever It Is, I’m Against It: Think about a system in which there’s tremendous document forgery

Using PayPal? eBay?

Better read this.

A Reg reader has produced screen shots that demonstrate a powerful phishing technique that's able to spoof eBay, PayPal and other top web destinations without triggering antiphishing filters in IE 7 or Norton 360. Plenty of other PayPal users are experiencing the same ruse, according to search engine results.
Link: Strange spoofing technique evades anti-phishing filters | The Register

Don't put that checkbook away quite yet

The Bush gang told the nation that the war in Iraq would be brief. Then they said, repeatedly, that we are “turning the corner.” Then they said there would be a short-term “surge.”

Now they envision a scenario in which U.S. troops are in Iraq, refereeing a bloody internal conflict, for several decades.
Link: The Carpetbagger Report » Blog Archive » ‘The Korean model’

Color us not so surprised

The unclassified summary of Plame's employment with the CIA at the time that syndicated columnist Robert Novak published her name on July 14, 2003 says, “Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for who the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States.”
Link: Firedoglake - Firedoglake weblog » The Campaign For Honest Bobbleheads

New to the Empire

Look MA: Photos From the Summer of Black and White
The link will also be posted at YAME Headquarters and on my profile page. (And the blogsite.org URL is redirected to Headquarters, from which blah blah blah.)

I got back from the grocery store a little while ago...

...with a loaf of Portuguese bread that turned out on inspection to have been one of the original loaves brought over by Vasco da Gama or somebody, I don't know, and that's been the high point of my day so far.

Bah. Remind me not to read so much news, especially first thing in the morning. There's just too much of it, mostly bad.

So if we can't have Ronnie we can get an actor to play him?

Fred Dalton Thompson is planning to enter the presidential race over the Fourth of July holiday, announcing that week that he has already raised several million dollars and is being backed by insiders from the past three Republican administrations, Thompson advisers told The Politico.
Yeah that's exciting.

Link: Fred Thompson will run, advisers say - Politico.com Print View

AlterNet: Rural Communities Exploited by Nestlé for Your Bottled Water

AlterNet: Rural Communities Exploited by Nestlé for Your Bottled Water

Across the country, multinational corporations are targeting hundreds of rural communities to gain control of their most precious resource. By strong-arming small towns with limited economic means, these corporations are part of a growing trend to privatize public water supplies for economic gain in the ballooning bottled water industry.

But at least he didn't have any bottled water

Federal and international officials are tracking down passengers and crew members on two trans-Atlantic flights earlier this month who may have been exposed to a man infected with an exceptionally dangerous form of tuberculosis.
Link: TB Patient Is Isolated After Taking Two Flights - New York Times

Color guard

Color guard, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

From the Gestapo to the White House

Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I'm not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture - “enhanced interrogation techniques” - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.
When George W. Bush and his gang of minions and admirers say 9/11 “changed everything” this is the kind of thing they apparently mean.

Just the other day, Vice President Cheney derided the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions at West Point:

He portrays the Geneva Conventions and the Constitution as devices by which al Qaeda can defeat the United States. The effect can only be to undermine respect for both Geneva and the Constitution among West Point cadets and the military in general. In the current debate, Cheney is using a West Point graduation to urge the military to support his disavowal of Geneva and his interpretation of a unitary executive in which the president has indefinite dictatorial powers with respect to “enemy combatants” in the war on terror. Invoking Geneva and the Constitution in a time of war, Cheney implies, is only something terrorists or terrorist-supporters would do.
Are the Democrats too busy running their election campaigns to notice any of this, too busy trying not to appear “soft” on “terrorists”? Screw them.

A few days ago a WWII vet took me politely to task for a comment of mine he interpreted as opposing all wars, and reminded me of the sacrifices made to prevent us from having to “speak German” today. Well, I don't oppose all wars, and to me as well as to many of my generation WWII is still the Good War. And I hope he, if he reads this, will join me in the sense of outrage and betrayal I feel over the situation we find ourselves in today.

9/11 indeed changed a lot of things - some for the better, some for the worse. But it did not cancel the Constitution, and it did not change what's right and what's wrong.

Link: The Daily Dish: Cheney At West Point
Link: The Daily Dish: “Verschärfte Vernehmung”
Thanks to Spiiderweb™, Balloon Juice


When your curry gets too hot

A stewardess caused £20,000 of damage on a jumbo jet when her curry exploded in a microwave at 35,000ft.
According to an airline (British Airways) memo...

“At first we thought the microwaves were a godsend. But this unfortunate incident has left us with egg on our faces.”
Uh huh, that too.

“No danger to passengers,” said the airline, although the plane, a Boeing 747, needed “days of repairs.”

Is curry a liquid or a gell?

Link: Ananova - Curry explodes at 35,000 feet

Head hurts. Ouch.

It's the Summer of Black and White.

OK, not the ducks, or maybe a few other things, we'll see, but mostly it is. The Summer of Black and White, I mean.

So things are likely to change around here. I'm not sure how. I like keeping original photos on Flickr, mostly because of the way it handles licensing tags but also because it does a credible job of displaying them. (And did you know you can view or download larger sizes? Click around there. You'll see. I've been in the habit of uploading them at 1/2 camera original size, but maybe I'll start putting them up full-size, see how that works. We'll see. Like I said.)

So Flickr then. And maybe post from Flickr to this blog, or maybe start a companion blog just for the pictures. We'll, yeah, see. Or maybe make some new albums somewhere else, expand the Empire.

You can see why it hurts, right?

Maybe tomorrow I'll figure it out.

Which is more important than, well, you, since you ask

The Agriculture Department argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.
Link: My Way News - US to Meatpackers: Don't Do Mad Cow Test

Showing the flag

Showing the flag, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

The wait

The wait, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

The long march

The long march, originally uploaded by tedcompton.



Percussion, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Mustering the troop

Mustering the troop, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Krugman at Pottersville

Here’s the way it ought to be: When Rudy Giuliani says that Iran, which had nothing to do with 9/11, is part of a “movement” that “has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us,” he should be treated as a lunatic.

When Mitt Romney says that a coalition of “Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda” wants to “bring down the West,” he should be ridiculed for his ignorance.

And when John McCain says that Osama, who isn’t in Iraq, will “follow us home” if we leave, he should be laughed at.

But they aren’t, at least not yet. And until belligerent, uninformed posturing starts being treated with the contempt it deserves, men who know nothing of the cost of war will keep sending other people’s children to graves at Arlington.
Link: Welcome to Pottersville: PAUL KRUGMAN: Trust and Betrayal

Tuning up

Tuning up, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

So he's supposed to know everything?

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff dramatically underestimated the number of deaths of US Armed Service-members in the Iraq War. The gaffe came as General Peter Pace appeared on CBS News Monday morning to discuss Memorial Day.

“When you take a look at the life of a nation and all that's required to keep us free, we had more than 3,000 Americans murdered on 11 September, 2001. The number who have died, sacrificed themselves since that time is approaching that number,” General Pace told CBS Early Show's Harry Smith. “And we should pay great respect and thanks to them for allowing us to live free.”
3443. And then - oh yeah - Afghanistan. Imagine that. 390. And contractors, 150 or so. Other nationalities, of course, don't count. But in case you're interested...

...apparently, this Pace guy is not.

Link: The Raw Story | Top General underestimates Iraq War fatalities in Memorial Day media appearance

The horns

The horns, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Some questions just do not have answers, Bunky

On the train to Philadelphia yesterday, the guy sitting across from me and his traveling companions (we were sharing one of those four-seat table things) started looking at his bag of peanuts with a quizzical expression. In a heavily accented voice, which made the whole thing even better, he said to them, “Zis is peanuts, yah?” And they looked back and forth from him to the bag blankly and said, “Yes,” politely leaving the “dumbass” off the end of the sentence. He stared at the bag a few seconds more, then said, “Zen why does eet say ‘Warning: May contain peanuts?
Link: Warning: This Blog Post May Contain Blog Posting at Sour N Sweet

“Stunning revelations”

Carl Bernstein’s A Woman in Charge: The Bitchy Life of Hillary Clinton and Her Way: Hillary Clinton is Very Mean and Also a Bitch, by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Netta Jr., are two long-awaited peeks into the secret life of Hillary Clinton, our next president. The Post obtained advance copies of both books, and today presents shocking stories from each of them.


Curbside, originally uploaded by tedcompton.


Parade, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

There'll be more, but not many. The Memorial Day parade here is so short they turn it around at the end of Main Street and march back again, in case somebody blinked.



A West Point graduate and veteran of the Vietnam war, Andrew Bacevich, who opposed our actions in Iraq and then lost a son who volunteered to fight there, writes in the Washington Post:

“Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check. It's roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.”
Link: Connecting.the.Dots: Memorial Day Mockery


Detail, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

After rain

After rain, originally uploaded by tedcompton.


By Ann Wright, US Army Reserves Colonel, Retired.

Thursday, May 24 the US Congress voted to continue the war on Iraq. They called it “supporting the troops.” I call it stealing Iraq’s oil-the second largest oil reserves in the world. The “benchmark” or goal the Bush administration has been working on furiously since the US invaded Iraq is the privatization of Iraqi oil. Now they have the US Congress blackmailing the Iraqi Parliament and Iraqi people: no privatization of Iraqi oil, no reconstruction funds.
Link: What Congress Really Voted For: Benchmark #1: Privatizing Iraqi Oil for US Oil Companies | AfterDowningStreet.org

Only this time it's not a comedy

Condi Rice, Bob Gates and generals at the Pentagon are talking about long-range “concepts” for reducing forces in Iraq, The Times reported yesterday, as a way to tamp down criticism, including from Republicans; it is also an acknowledgment that they can’t sustain the current force level there much longer.

As the Hollywood screenwriter said in “Annie Hall”: “Right now it’s only a notion, but I think I can get money to make it into a concept and later turn it into an idea.”
Link: Welcome to Pottersville: Maureen Dowd: Bush’s Fleurs du Mal

“It can't happen here” just doesn't cut it any more

With parliament unanimously approving the candidature of the 41-year-old president for a second term, and with vocal opponents of the regime locked up, the referendum will inevitably annoint Assad as president until the year 2014....

...we aren't very far from this. Bush does have ability to spy on anyone, label anyone an enemy combatant, refuse habeas corpus and, under the flimsiest of excuses, declare martial law.
Link: spiiderweb™: Syrians vote for president in no-contest poll

And much, much more

One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of Chicken Little to her class. She came to the part of the story where Chicken Little tried to warn the farmer. She read, “.... and so Chicken Little went up to the farmer and said, 'The sky is falling, the sky is falling!' ”.

The teacher paused then asked the class, “And what do you think that farmer said?”.

One little girl raised her hand and said, “I think he said: ”Holy Shit! A talking chicken!“.

The teacher was unable to teach for the next 10 minutes.
A whole collection of these little stories at Spiiderweb™.

Link: spiiderweb™: Children - Where Do They Get Their Ideas From?