At least that's something

[Microsoftie David] Gainer said Excel makes mistakes multiplying 77.1 by 850, 10.2 by 6,425 and 20.4 by 3,212.5, but the program appears to be able to handle 16,383.75 times 4.


Turns out Excel 2007 has a little problem doing math, but not with all the numbers so if you don't use them all, well, no problem then. Microsoft, says Gainer, is working hard to fix the problem.

And in the meantime you can always count on your fingers.

So they have a sense of humor, at least

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's parliament on Saturday approved a nonbinding resolution labeling the CIA and the U.S. Army "terrorist organizations," in apparent response to a Senate resolution seeking to give a similar designation to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.


Climate conference winds up on a chilly note

A senior European diplomat attending the conference, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the meeting confirmed European suspicions that it had been intended by Mr Bush as a spoiler for a major UN conference on climate change in Bali in December.

"It was a total charade and has been exposed as a charade," the diplomat said. "I have never heard a more humiliating speech by a major leader. He [Mr Bush] was trying to present himself as a leader while showing no sign of leadership. It was a total failure."

John Ashton, Britain's special envoy on climate change, who attended the conference, said: "It is striking here how isolated the US has become on this issue. There is no support among the industrialised countries for the proposition that we should proceed on the basis of voluntary commitments.

(Guardian Unlimited)

Sounds a little kinky to me

CINCINNATI — After four months of clawing out, crawling back and maybe even fighting off a little history near the end, the Cubs finally popped their cork Friday night in Cincinnati.

But hey, go Cubbies! And let's try not to think about the goat.

The late, great Mike Royko used to predict the World Series by calculating what he called the Cubness factor of each team and picking the team employing the fewest ex-Cubs to win. He was almost always right, even in a few cases all the "experts" picked the other team. Of course it's still a long way to the Series. But who knows? And the way I figure it, the Cubs aren't ex-Cubs yet.

Ya think?

PHOENIX - It sounds like science fiction but it's true: A killer amoeba living in lakes enters the body through the nose and attacks the brain where it feeds until you die....

"This is definitely something we need to track," said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational waterborne illnesses for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(AP via Yahoo! News)

Yeah, track that sucker! Sure sounds like a recreational waterborne illness to me. Not that it sounds recreational much.

In case you're wondering...

People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers.

Pretty helpful, huh? The only thing they left out was the runny nose. Just about every painfully fatal illness I've ever heard of starts out feeling like a common cold. 

(If you're coming down with a cold, Bunky, sorry I mentioned that.)

Not all that much different from us then

BEIJING (Reuters) - Days after banning "sexually provocative sounds" on television, China has now stopped networks showing "saucy" adverts for push-up bras and figure-hugging underwear ahead of a major Communist Party meeting next month.


In the US, of the ten most frequently challenged books of 2006, according to the American Library Association, nine were cited for sexuality and/or homosexuality.

The Republicans don't have as much power as the Commies yet, but they're working on it.

It's Banned Books Week

Through October 6. Which gives you plenty of time to go get one and read it.


Fenceline, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

A remainder from the Summer of Black and White.

No more Disneyland for them

The US administration on Friday slapped visa bans on more than 30 members of the Myanmar junta and their families, the State Department said.

"In response to the Burmese regime's continued crackdown, the State Department has designated more than three dozen additional government and military officials and their families as ineligible to receive visas to travel to the United States," department spokesman Tom Casey said in a statement.

(AFP via Raw Story)

Those guys really play tough, don't they?

He really did

Former Arkansas Governor (what is it with these guys from Arkansas anyway?) Mike Huckabee, now a member if the Republican presidential pack, revealed in a speech to the NRA the other day:

"I'm pretty sure there will be duck hunting in heaven and I can't wait."

Whoa. That puts a whole new light on things, doesn't it? I mean, I never figured a person would have to sit around playing a harp all day. They probably have other things to do, like, I don't know, maybe Bingo games, shuffleboard, Early Bird Specials. But duck hunting? Woohoo! That's awesome!

Of course, maybe it's only for the Rs. Maybe they have special sections: Duck hunting for the Rs, pot-smoking, free-love singalongs for the Ds. (Doesn't seem like such a tough choice when you think about it that way, does it?)

I wonder if they have a waterslide.


Such a dainty bunch, those Germans

A German woman has been evicted from her home because of her noisy lovemaking.



Local officials in Indiana are having a tough time explaining how federal dollars designated for counter-terrorism could be used to buy a hovercraft designed for all-weather rescue missions (short answer: It won't, unless you're expecting terrorists on water skiis).

In Indiana, why not?


Machine II

Machine II, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

This is a mowing machine of some kind. It balances on a single axle, has a cutting blade at the front, a metal seat at the rear, and a hand brake. You can see the hand brake, vertical, at the left of the picture.

Oh, I bet!

Woolly Mammoth Hair Yields 'Fantastic' DNA

(Live Science via Yahoo! News)

Weak leaders need not apply

UMass to seek strong leader

(Springfield Republican)

The university's search committee is looking for someone with a "track record," the paper says. Also - I'm just guessing here - someone who works well in a fast-paced environment.

That's something just about every want ad says now, isn't it? "Must work well in a fast-paced environment." How many guys do you figure show up for job interviews and say, "Naww, Dude, I'm looking for something in a slow-paced environment"? I don't know anybody who works in a slow-paced environment any more except, maybe, mattress testers. 

And wait! There's more!

After the meeting, Wilson [that'd be Jack Wilson, the university president] said he is looking for a leader for the flagship, but does not see the leadership limited to the Amherst campus [UMass has a campus in Boston too].

"The flagship is not a solo act," he said. "The flagship leads a fleet; it's part of a team."

So somebody else can lead the university - you get to lead the fleet! That's what I call a good deal, Bunky. Maybe you ought to call Jack.

Dusty! That's it!

Verizon Wireless made a ripple recently by refusing to carry text messages from Naral, an abortion rights group, even in answer to requests from subscribers. It appears now the company has "reversed course," as the Times delicately puts it. Why?

"[The decision] was an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy," Mr. [Jeffrey] Nelson [a company spokesman] said.

Way to go, Jeff!

And man, I would have loved to be in the meeting where they figured that one out. Dusty! Hey, everybody knows you can't get good cleaning help these days.

It's gonna be a big book month

I just finished listening to Chapter 1 of "The Chopin Manuscript," a serialized thriller written by 15 top thriller writers to be distributed over the next month or so by Audible.com. It sure sounds like a winner so far. I have Chapters 2 and 3 on my iPod which, with the few podcasts I subscribe to, should let me squeak through the remaining days before my October Audible allotment kicks in without being totally audio-deprived. (The next installment of "Chopin" comes out next Tuesday.)

Meanwhile, on October's list are Naomi Klein's new book, "Shock Doctrine," and "Bridge of Sighs," the latest by Richard Russo (who also wrote "Nobody's Fool" and "Empire Falls," among others). Sounds like a terrific schedule to look forward too.

I've been a big reader all my life but I've only recently (well, within the last few years) been hooked on audiobooks. It took a little practice before I found a listening technique that suited. But now I'm addicted to the things

Roadside in Vermont

Roadside in Vermont, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

It's always the hackers

WASHINGTON - A government video shows the potential destruction caused by hackers seizing control of a crucial part of the U.S. electrical grid: an industrial turbine spinning wildly out of control until it becomes a smoking hulk and power shuts down.

(AP via Yahoo! News)

But Bunky, why is this stuff connected up to the network the way it is? (Notice I'm not asking what company in Redmond, WA, made the software. It never entered my mind. But, now that you mention it, "experts said the affected systems were not developed with security in mind.")

Oh well. We will thwart the evil hackers with...wait for it...

In July the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed a set of standards to help protect the country's bulk electric power supply system from cyber attacks. These standards would require certain users, owners and operators of power grids to establish plans and controls.

...plans and controls!

So I don't know about you but I'm going back to bed.

And Dude, wait till he gets into High School

Using only one hand, Germany's Thomas Vogel unfastened 56 bras in 60 seconds.

(Stuff from the Guiness Book of Records via Yahoo! News)

Buckeyes are nuts

HILLSBORO, Ohio - A man angry that he wasn't going to be sold a house is accused of using a power saw to turn the abode into a convertible. Rodney Rogers apparently thought an acquaintance was going to build a house and sell it to him, and he was living in it while it was being completed, Highland County Sheriff Ronald Ward said Wednesday.

After the acquaintance refused to complete the sale, Rogers used a power saw last week to make a lateral cut through the walls and siding at about chest level, authorities said.

He cut all the way around the house, Ward said.

(AP via Yahoo! News)

Here's how it works

Saying it had the right to block "controversial or unsavory" text messages, Verizon Wireless has rejected a request from Naral Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group, to make Verizon's mobile network available for a text-message program.

The other leading wireless carriers have accepted the program, which allows people to sign up for text messages from Naral by sending a message to a five-digit number known as a short code.

(emphasis mine)

Verizon can determine which messages to carry and which to not (that would be the controversial or unsavory ones) because 1) the common carrier law protects voice messages but not text messages and 2) (here's where the real payoff comes, Bunky):

Messages urging political action are generally thought to be at the heart of what the First Amendment protects. But the First Amendment limits government power, not that of private companies like Verizon.

And you thought the Bill of Rights was about (ha ha) rights?

Sorry, no cigar

Obama tries to play the woulda voted card on the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment begging - in a non-binding way, of course - Commander Guy to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group. A mess of Bush-enabling Dems joined the Rs in voting for this thing, including Hillary. (I thought her husband was Bush Lite when he came on the scene and I think she is too. Bush Lite. Goes down easier but gets you to the same place.)

But Obama, who was off at a fundraiser or whatever, says (actually, Obama's handlers say):

He believes that diplomacy and economic pressure, such as the divestment bill that he has proposed, is the right way to pressure the Iranian regime. Accordingly, he would have opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment had he been able to vote today."

Sorry, Senator. You vote or you don't. Woulda doesn't count.

The "Innocent Bystander Fable"

Noted on the blog Iraq Today, this YouTube video which bears repeating (and repeating):

There are some things you just can't argue with, Bunky

And Whatever It Is, I'm Against It plucks one of them out of Bush's recent UN speech:

"If you're mercilessly killed by roaming bands, you know it's genocide."

Now you know, and you'll never have to wonder again.



Machine, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

So this was just a misunderstanding about Saddam's travel plans then?

According to Reuters and a spanish newspaper called El Pais, Commander Guy thought Saddam was ready to get out of Dodge if he could take some money and a few secrets along.

"The Egyptians are speaking to Saddam Hussein. It seems he's indicated he would be prepared to go into exile if he's allowed to take $1 billion and all the information he wants about weapons of mass destruction," Bush was quoted as saying at the meeting one month before the U.S.-led invasion.

Asked by Aznar whether Saddam could really leave, Bush replied: "Yes, that possibility exists. Or he might even be assassinated."

So yeah, get assassinated too, maybe. But does this mean we could have avoided the whole Iraq mess by buying the guy a ticket to Dubuque? 

In Vermont, a magical bear

In Vermont, a magical bear, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Seen hanging around a tourist information center just off the Interstate.

So the price has come down a little

Just surfing around, I'm reminded by a History of Computing web site that when the first IBM PC was introduced it "came with a 16,000 character memory, keyboard from an IBM electric typewriter, and a connection for tape cassette player for $1265." There's no mention of a display and as I recall it didn't come with one. A typical display of the era, included or not, would have been monochrome with a 15" diagonal or smaller.

For just a little less money - $1,199 - today you can buy an iMac with a 20" color display, a billion characters of memory and a 250GB hard drive, not to mention such goodies as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and a webcam.

OK, so it's not a lot cheaper, but it's a whole lot more.

What's wrong with this picture?

Congress passes a law governing communications surveillance and then holds a hearing to ask the spooks what the law says - is that what's going on here?

On Tuesday, Sen. Russ Feingold pressed McConnell on whether recent updates to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authorized "bulk collection" on calls from abroad into America.

"It would be authorized, if it were physically possible to do so," McConnell said. "But the purpose of the authorization is for foreign intelligence."

Feingold pressed, "So there is no language actually prohibiting this?"

Sure sounds like it to me. 

I don't mean to screw up the system here but maybe if they read the laws before they passed them it would help.


Oregon lays down the law on vanity license plates

The [Oregon] DMV denies requests for any combination of letters and numbers that may be viewed as objectionable, in any language, by use of phonetic, numeric or reverse spelling, or when viewed as a mirror image, or that would alarm or offend a reasonable person.

Intimate body parts or sexual or bodily functions are taboo, as are offensive references to race, color, gender, ethnic heritage, or national origin or to alcohol or drugs or paraphernalia.

(AP via Yahoo! News)

And Yvonne Bell, a member of the DMV panel that approves plates, knows several naughty meanings of the word, DINK. That Yvonne, she gets around.

So it's tough luck for Mike Udink and his wife, Sally, and their son. No UDINK plates for them.

"Since when can a panel dictate whether your name's offensive or not?" asked Udink, a lineman for Pacific Power.

Since about now, I guess.

Toast lovers everywhere rejoice

The New York Times and the Toast Marketing Board make news in the wonderful world of toast by introducing...

The "T" Toaster

(As noticed by YAME's Seattle Bureau)

Maybe he had his fingers crossed or something

Can we get an instant re-play on this? Maybe he had his fingers crossed. I mean, what other explanation could there be? Commander Guy went to the UN today to praise the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights...

Sixty years ago, representatives from 16 nations gathered to begin deliberations on a new international bill of rights. The document they produced is called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- and it stands as a landmark achievement in the history of human liberty. It opens by recognizing "the inherent dignity" and the "equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family" as "the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world." And as we gather for this 62nd General Assembly, the standards of the Declaration must guide our work in this world.

(White House)

...which says, in part...

Article 3.

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5.

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 8.

  • Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 18.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 18.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Etc., blah blah blah, and some other stuff.

Of course as that twit Mitt ("Mitt") Romney says, there's an exception to every rule, which is probably why some fringe Republicrat Rep. named Duncan Hunter (or Hunter Duncan, something like that) is saying he wants to cut off any federal funds that go to Columbia, seeing as how they let some wacko president (I know that's hard to believe, wacko president, but there you have it) from Iran make a speech the other day and another Republicrat, Fred ("Freddie of Hollywood") Thompson sternly warned, in this stern statement, "If I were President of the United States none of this would have been an issue--"I wouldn't have let [the guy from Iran] into the country in the first place." So that would be two exceptions, I suppose.

Maybe Commander Guy is planning to set an international example by cracking down on the Republicrat blowhards.

Oh, never mind. He had his fingers crossed. I'm pretty sure.


And I vanished in a puff of smoke

I'm flaming—you're flaming, we're all flaming liberals. My God, I was just sitting down in my "Impeach Cheney" cap on watching CNN, when when the hat caught fire.

(More from Crooks and Liars)

Know any really, really cool kids?

The One Laptop Per Child program is planning a short term "Give 1 Get 1" sale on their innovative XO laptop beginning Novermber 12, this year. $399 will purchase two of the nifty green laptops, one for you and one for a child in a developing country. 

Updating an old joke

A woman is explaining to a doctor why, although she has been married three times, she is a virgin:

"My first husband was young and handsome, but he turned out to be gay," she says. "He just wasn't interested, and our marriage was never consummated."

"The second time around I married a distinguished, older man. Unfortunately, he was a little too old. Actually, way too old - and that marriage was never consummated either."

"And my third husband - well, he's a Democrat. All he ever does is sit on the edge of the bed and tell me how good it's gonna be."



Equinox, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

And probably a good thing, too

Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, yesterday said prosecutors will "follow the evidence and apply the law" in the case of Star Anna Simpson, who was charged after she walked up to an information booth wearing a piece of "art" authorities feared might be a bomb.

"Like it or not, we live in a world in which a person might target an airport," Wark said. "There's a reason why police patrol that area with canines and machine guns. This wasn't a cartoon character she was wearing."

Cartoon characters they tend to blow up, in Boston, like they did to the Cartoon Network promo signs - well, some of them, anyway. Simpson, the guess is, will get by with something less, possibly a little community servce - not too soon, says retired Superior Court Judge Robert A. Baron, who is possibly the only guy interested enough in this to talk about it.

Beep beep beep

As you sit with your eHarmony spouse watching the movies Netflix prescribes, you might as well be an avatar in Second Life. You have been absorbed into the operating system.

(An Oracle for Our Time, Part Man, Part Machine - NYTimes)

(There was this guy from Baghdad, see, called Algoritmi...)

Using "possibly" in a sentence just for the hell of it

So, in theory, letting cellular companies accommodate new spectrum or technologies by doing software upgrades could expand coverage and services while possibly reducing what we pay for them.

Or maybe they just had an oversupply of possiblies at the Times this morning, figured we wouldn't notice if they tossed one in there. 

And a great big sucker, too

BAGHDAD - An Iraqi official conceded Sunday that Blackwater USA's exit would create a "security vacuum" in Baghdad and said the U.S. and Iraq were instead working on revamping regulations governing private security companies after a deadly shooting of civilians.

(AP via Yahoo! News)

If nothing else comes from this mis-adventure in Iraq it ought to at least put down fears of martial law. We have 160,000 troops in Iraq and we still can't keep order without hiring mercs. 

Explains Tahseen Sheikhly, a civilian spokesman for the seven-month-old offensive against militants in Baghdad (yes! the seven-month-old offensive against militants in Baghdad has a spokesman!)...

"If we expel this company immediately there will be a security vacuum that will demand pulling some troops off the battlefield. This will create a security imbalance in securing Baghdad."

OK, sorta ran out of things to say there toward the end. But still. Two sentences in a row, that's pretty good. Besides, we don't care what you say as long as you spell it right.

You thought there were no more great discoveries to be made?

Is that what you thought, Bunky? Well, au contraire. In a masterpiece of intense work avoidance, our Midwest Bureau turns up The Institute of Official Cheer, a repository of all that was good and true from the Age of the Jello Mold, including such educational esoterica as an anonymous original drawing of "Cap'n Kirk McAllister's famous algae cakes" and an erudite exposition on how celery makes women's underwear fall down (see Rule One). Don't waste a minute - waste an hour.

And while you're at it, be sure to visit the Institute's display of "big hideous computers, and the women who loved them."

(The Institute of Official Cheer will henceforth reside in an honored place on our Work Avoidance list.)