On the last hot day

On the last hot day, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

If it gets as warm as they say it will today (95º is what they say and we're still 9 degrees short so it might not) this will likely be the hottest day for ten months or so. It might be - I haven't been keeping track too closely and I'm way to lazy to look it up - the hottest day this year. It doesn't get to 95 often here: For us, it's hot.

It's forecast to be ten degrees or so cooler tomorrow.

Sic transit summer.


BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces have rebranded one of the main insurgent groups in Iraq and now use the term "concerned local nationals" to refer to a group that once claimed responsibility for killing scores of Americans.

The updated vocabulary for referring to the 1920 Revolution Brigade, described by a U.S. commander on Saturday, is a sign of the abrupt change in tactics that has seen U.S. forces cooperate with former Sunni Arab enemies.

(What's in a name? U.S. rebrands Iraq ex-insurgents - Reuters)

Commander Guy, seems like, wants to rename the whole place, call it Vietnam - but I think that's taken. Maybe we could work out a swap.


Summaries I never finished reading

SUMMARY: The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary security zone in certain waters of the Upper Potomac River surrounding the motor vessel Odyssey III, a 230-foot passenger vessel. This action is necessary in order to ensure the security of high-ranking public officials and safeguard the public at large against terrorist acts or incidents during activities associated with a dinner cruise held in conjunction with the Global Air Chiefs Conference....


I don't know, Babe, I thought you invited them

(Photo: Lynn Stoller, Seattle Bureau)

Outlaw information and only outlaws will have it

According to the Washington Post, "The Bush administration argued in court papers this week that the White House Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act as part of its effort to fend off a civil lawsuit seeking the release of internal documents about a large number of e-mails missing from White House servers."

(White House office that handles freedom of information requests is free no longer - Raw Story)

Obeying the law? That's totally over, Dude.

Sounds, somehow, like bad news for the Man of Steel

Turns out there's a place in Baltimore County, Maryland, called Lutherville-Timonium. Yeah. What's going on there? I know it's krypton the former Kal-El sweats but maybe this is something new he doesn't know about. I only found out about it myself from reading my blog log - and maybe Superman doesn't have a blog (although that would be pretty hard to believe - doesn't everybody?).

In any event, Timonium doesn't seem to have been so good for former US Vice President Spiro Agnew: He's buried there.

Go figure

Our temps have been hovering in the 60s most of the week and I've been fighting a powerful urge to hibernate; now it's pusing 80 and I feel like taking a nap. It don't seem fair. We're supposed to see mid-90s tomorrow - no doubt the tail of that big heat wave down south - and then it'll be cooling off again, if the weather geeks have any idea.

Autumn draws near. And YAME is planning to bring you every exciting minute of watching leaves fall this year, sorta live and more or less online, if YAME ever gets its so-called act together, which may be soon. Or not.

Watch this space.

Coming soon

Coming soon, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

No hints

Here's an excellent word puzzle from Spiiderweb™.

Flophouse to the stars

Under a federal court mandate to manage jail overcrowding, arrestees sentenced to 30 days or less for a nonviolent offense are usually released within 12 hours, the sheriff's department said in a statement.

(Nicole Richie sprung from jail in 82 minutes - CNN.com)

And if you work it right you could sleep all day and party all night.

First it's the steam pipes and bridges, now it's the freakin' universe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A giant hole in the Universe is devoid of galaxies, stars and even lacks dark matter, astronomers said on Thursday.

The team at the University of Minnesota said the void is nearly a billion light-years across and they have no idea why it is there.

(Gaping hole found in universe - Reuters)

Not much time then, ya think?

President Bush keeps insisting that al Maliki’s tenure in office is up to the Iraqi people. But in light of what happened before Rumsfeld’s departure, Maliki shouldn’t be buying any green bananas for his office fruit bowl.

(Robert Stein at Connecting.the.Dots)

Breakphast phood

A link to the Something Awful Photoshop Phriday collection of breakfast-cereal posters, from Boing Boing: Get your morning started right.

Chicken entrails next week

Pigeon dung examined in bridge collapse

(AP via Yahoo! News)


A buckeye is a nut

Ohio law permits anyone to walk into a county election office and obtain two crucial documents: a list of voters in the order they voted, and a time-stamped list of the actual votes. "We simply take the two pieces of paper together, merge them, and then we have which voter voted and in which way," said James Moyer, a longtime privacy activist and poll worker who lives in Columbus, Ohio.

(E-voting predicament: Not-so-secret ballots - Cnet News)

Dude, can't we do this someplace else?


Recounts, it turns out, might be a good idea after all

As displeasure and impatience with the Iraq war grows, fewer people claim to have supported it in the beginning then actually did. In September 2003, over half of Americans (55%) thought that taking military action against Iraq was the right thing to do, while 32 percent thought it was the wrong thing. When asked today, if at the time military action began, did they think taking military action was the right or wrong thing, under half (46%) say they thought then taking military action was the right thing to do while two in five (39%) thought it was the wrong thing.

Currently, just over one-third (35%) say taking military action was the right thing to do while 46 percent believe it was the wrong thing.

(Harris Interactive)

Next: Who voted for Bush? A show of hands?

So I'm wondering just how much study this study took

Study finds seniors still sexually active

(USA Today)

Fear fix

Not scared enough yet, Bunky? We're hear to help.

In Mesa, Arizona, a teen's harmless doodle (say the parents) of "what looked like a gun" (says the AP, via Yahoo! News) got the kid suspended from school for three days (reduced from five due to, one hopes, accute - but not sufficient - embarrassment on the part of school officials, who cited Columbine).

Chandler district spokesman Terry Locke said the crude sketch was "absolutely considered a threat," and that threatening words or pictures are punishable.

Meanwhile from Minnesota comes something new to be frightened of - pigeon poop. Yeah, no kidding. It's being blamed for contributing to the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge by electrochemically promoting rust.

"Every time you get a little bit of moisture there, you wind up having a little bit of electrochemistry occurring and you wind up with corrosion," said [chemist Neil] Langerman. "Over a long term, it might in fact cause structural weaknesses."

Of course, let it be said, [chemist Neil] Langerman isn't actually saying it was the pigeons' fault, you understand. "Let's let the highway transportation and safety people do their job," he advises, cryptically. He's just helping us (and, it might be noted, the AP) crank up the fear.

And now back to our regular programming

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - President Bush, scrambling to show he has not abandoned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, offered a fresh endorsement on Wednesday.

"Prime Minister Maliki's a good guy, good man with a difficult job and I support him," Bush said in a speech to military veterans.

(Bush says he supports Iraqi leader - AP via Yahoo! News)


Bookshop, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Commander Guy, from on high, promises hope czar

We'd love to get the small businesses up and running, maybe help to get some shelter down there for people. I'm looking forward to making sure that the right people show up here on the ground. Secretary Peters has been the right person to coordinate this effort for the bridge, and we'll get somebody down here in charge to give the people in your district some hope.

And best of all, football!

There's no doubt in my mind that when I come back to see the bridge open that these communities will be up and running, too, and that state football championship team you were talking about -- (laughter) -- will be winning games again.

(The White House)

(Sorry, FBI, I know that's a bad word but he said it first.)

So then, everything's OK in Minneapolis again.

Iraq: The soap

Don't you just hate it when such a cute couple hits the skids? Just the other day they were so devoted. Then one of them is caught crawling into bed with Iran, probably out of retaliation for the other one arming those Sunni militants. (Here we should probably remind the first one that it has not been that long ago that their paramour didn't even know there was more than one kind of Muslim, and do they need to be reminded that they fell for a dumbass?)

As the curtain falls on their relationship, it is easy to grow wistful. It was just last November, when they appeared side by side in Jordan, having renewed their vows and aWol pledged his fidelity. Nuri Kamal al-Maliki was “the right guy for Iraq” aWol gushed back then.

That was then.

(Maliki can't catch a break - Blue Girl, Red State)

Hell no, we won't go: The timeline gets another tug

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As he awaits a crucial progress report on Iraq, President Bush will try to put a twist on comparisons of the war to Vietnam by invoking the historical lessons of that conflict to argue against pulling out....

"Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields,' " the president will say.

The president will also make the argument that withdrawing from Vietnam emboldened today's terrorists by compromising U.S. credibility, citing a quote from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden that the American people would rise against the Iraq war the same way they rose against the war in Vietnam, according to the [speech] excerpts.

(Bush to invoke Vietnam in arguing against Iraq pullout - CNN)
Welcome to the first post-Rovian spin.


Who woulda thunk #64983

[Federal mine safety honcho Richard] Stickler is a former coal company manager with such a lousy safety record at the companies he'd run that his nomination as head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration was twice rejected by Senators from both parties, forcing Bush to sneak him in the back door with a recess appointment.

In other words, the guy the White House tapped to protect miners is precisely the kind of executive the head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration is supposed to protect miners from. And now Stickler is the one who will lead the "investigation" into what happened in Utah -- unless there is enough public outcry to force a truly independent investigation.

(Karl Rove and the Mining Disaster: Connecting the Dots - TalkLeft)

Lilium michiganense

Lilium michiganense, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

You go to war with the shredders you have

SILVER SPRING, Md. - Boxes of documents containing personal information from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research were supposed to be shredded but instead turned up last week in a trash bin, police said....

The Silver Spring-based institute is the Pentagon's largest biomedical research laboratory and is not directly affiliated with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in nearby Washington. Researchers at the facility work on issues such as tropical diseases and post traumatic stress disorder.

(Army lab documents found in trash bin - AP via Yahoo! News)

What's with "bad enough"?

As if it wasn't bad enough for the Bush Administration already, contempt charges are flying in Montana.

The Administration's top forestry official has been ordered to explain why the US Forest Service failed to analyze the environmental impact of dropping a fish-killing flame retardant on wildfires -- or face contempt of court.

(Top Bush forestry official faces contempt, possible jail - Raw Story)

Healthy Hoosiers

At the Indiana State Fair deep-frying in oils with trans fats has been banned. I say banned. And that starts with "b" and that rhymes with "c" and that stands for Combo Plate.

Combo Plate? Is that what you're asking, Bunky? Well, a Combo Plate is one Snickers bar, two Oreos, and one Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, all deep-fried. You can get one at Jerry Orme's stand, which also features deep-fried Ho-Hos, Milky Ways, and Pepsi Balls (served with cinnamon sugar, drizzle Pepsi syrup, and whipped cream).

“This was an issue we wanted to tackle,” said Cindy Hoye, executive director of the fair, which spent the winter months testing various oils and, despite the fears of some concessionaires about possible changes to taste or costs or tradition, concluded that trans-fat-free oils created what Ms. Hoye called a better product.

National fair officials say Indiana and at least one other fair, the Western Washington, have led the way on a health issue that is only now creating a buzz in the fair industry. During a national convention of fair officials in Las Vegas this November, Indiana representatives are to offer a workshop, “Going Trans-Fat Free,” which, the convention program promises, will answer the question “What is all the craze about?”

(Yes, Deep-Fried Oreos, but Not in Trans Fats - NYTimes)

"Craze," we're just pointing out here, also starts with "c."



Sill, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Eight from the 82nd write to the NYTimes

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

(The War as We Saw It - NYTimes)

A: Times Square, the Louvre, and a pile of rocks

Q: What bores Brits?

London - British visitors have put the boot into some of Britain and the world's best-known tourist attractions, branding the likes of Stonehenge and the Eiffel Tower dismal let-downs in a survey released on Friday.

A top 10 list of the "most disappointing sights" in Britain was topped by Stonehenge, the mystical, 5 000-year-old standing stones in Wiltshire, south-west England....

On the international list of let-downs, the Eiffel Tower in Paris is ranked the worst, followed by the nearby Louvre museum and Times Square in New York.

(Eiffel Tower 'disappointing' - News24)

Well, Stonehenge possibly. I've never seen it myself. The Louvre? OK, maybe they just can't find the Dan Brown gallery. And, you know, there's all that art. But Times Square? Bunky! What are these guys thinking anyway?

Turns out they'd rather gawk at some flooded street in Venice. Go figure that.


2 hp

2 hp, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

This team was entered in the horse pull event at the Heath Fair yesterday. While I was watching they were pulling a 3500-lb. sled and acting like they didn't notice it was there. There were four or five other teams in the competition, all behaving the same way. I don't know what the weight topped out at: As far as I know they're still up there on the mountain, pulling.

Bad news for R's: Effete snobbery invades Midwest

Today, for the first time in its history, [Chicago] has three supertall skyscrapers -- those 1,000 feet or higher -- under construction simultaneously. And owing to shifts in both physics and aesthetics, they aim to become icons of a new post-industrial, post-lunch bucket city -- less about old-fashioned machismo than new-age elegance.

(How to build today's supertalls - Chicago Tribune)

If you ban foie gras can elegance be far behind?


The high temperature in Memphis was 101 on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, and Sunday's high could reach 102, despite earlier forecasts that weekend temperatures would dip slightly.

(Southern heat wave death toll reaches 44 - AP via Yahoo! News)

OK, "weird" is not quite the word for a heat wave like that. What's weird is that it's 65º here at noon (according to Accuweather) and was in the mid 40s last night. Yesterday I was up in the hills (we call 'em mountains) and it was so chilly there I had to dig the hoodie out of my car. We've been having that kind of weather for nearly a week and it's expected (by Accuweather again) for two weeks more. And then September.

Of course, this being New England, no lucky break goes unpunished. But how can we be punished for an exceptionally cool summer - by an exceptionally warm winter? Oh no! Not that! Of course we had an exceptionally warm winter last year, so maybe the cool summer is punishment for that.

Yeah, just wait. We'll pay for it.

Can purple people eaters be far behind?

(Photo: Ohio River from Cincinatti's Purple People Bridge - Phil Compton, Midwest Bureau)

Somehow this does not seem good

First increased enlistment age, then lowered recruiting standards, and now, for the hat trick, this:
FORT MONROE, Va. -- The US Army, struggling to cope with stepped-up operations and extended deployments of its soldiers to Iraq, has shortened the duration of several of its bedrock training courses so that troops can return to fighting units on the front lines more quickly, according to senior training officials.

(Army cuts time spent on training - Boston Globe)

This time a million boots and counting

BANGOR, Maine - Volunteers who offer troops hugs, handshakes, drinks and cell phones celebrated a milestone Saturday, greeting their 500,000th service member passing through Bangor International Airport while headed to or from a war zone.

(Maine troop greeters salute 500,000th - AP via Yahoo! News)

The Bangor troop greeting program was started during the first Gulf War.

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Say, don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?

("Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney (1931))