Big Dig remains black hole

The Big Dig tunnels, which state officials pledged to have wired for cellular phone service by summer, remain a dead zone after federal officials refused to approve the long-delayed project because they said the planned wiring could put too much weight on walls that are anchored in place with epoxy.

(Boston Globe)

Yeah, right

As it aims to vanquish Thomas Edison's filament bulb—and save the Earth—the CFL [Compact Flourescent Lamp] is running into the brick wall of human nature. But the CFL is getting a lift from two of the globe's most powerful forces: image-conscious Western governments and Wal-Mart.


Except they don't work in every lamp and they flicker. Don't tell me they don't flicker. They freakin' flicker. I use them in some places where I can, but after that you can call me brick.


Hotel, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

The Ministry of Love

The Ministry of Love had perfected the art of destroying the free will, the character, the persona of those who fell within its clutches. Yes, they would die. But first, they would be reconciled to Big Brother. They would come to love him again.

(Scott Horton, Harpers - "A New Task Order from the Ministry of Love)

Just not getting with the program in Iowa

If the chase for the Democratic nomination appears to have reached a stage of inevitability, if Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York is becoming a runaway front-runner as national polls might suggest and some of her rivals are beginning to fear, the word has not reached the voters here in Chickasaw County....

Interviews with more than two dozen Democrats here this week suggest that the race remains remarkably unsettled, with voters voicing concern about Mr. Edwards’s viability, Mr. Obama’s experience and Mrs. Clinton’s electability. And several Democrats said they had yet to rule out other candidates, including Senators Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

Biden? Are you kidding me? And that other guy? OMG! Bunky, if the NYTimes says Hillary's the one it's over, isn't it?

And it's not just the Times. All over medialand, it seems, Hillary's been declared the winner. Why don't we just move the election up a year and get it over with?


In Southern California, scorched-earth education

Southern California's Riverside Unified School District (RUSD), which at the beginning of the 2002-03 academic year instituted a "no novels" policy for lower level English classes grades 7-12, has now upped the stakes. As of Fall 2007-08, even Honors courses are bound by the policy, demanding that teachers stick to the letter of the Holt, Rhinehart & Winston textbook and curriculum planning map and avoid primary sources of literature....

At the heart of this, of course, lies concern about test scores. Superintendent Susan Rainey currently reasons that novels are "based on literature" rather than "based on the standards."

(HorseSense and Nonsense)
Who needs literature, Dude? It's just, you know, books.

War the Republican way

Politically-connected war hogs scarf down billions for providing "security" or "reconstruction" services but the troops who pound the ground get squat.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (NBC) -- When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush's surge....

[Orders to Iraq for] Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.

Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.


Faux News busts Obama

Barack Obama may choose not to wear an American flag pin on his lapel, but many of the presidential contender's political rivals say they wouldn't leave home without one.

(Faux News)

Many of the contenders, it turns out, are Joe Biden, Tom Tancredo, and, of course, Hillary. Apparently all the rest either admit to some lapses or aren't talking at all. John McCain gets a pass for having served in the military (he didn't get the memo, I guess) and Dennis Kucinich - you're gonna love this - "does carry a mini copy of the Constitution in his pocket." Go Dennis.

"My attitude is that I'm less concerned about what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart," Obama said. "You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who serve. You show your patriotism by being true to our values and ideals. That's what we have to lead with, is our values and our ideals."

Clinton wouldn’t comment...."

On Columbus Day

On September 8,1892, the Boston based "The Youth's Companion" magazine published a few words for students to repeat on Columbus Day that year. Written by Francis Bellamy,the circulation manager and native of Rome, New York, and reprinted on thousands of leaflets, was sent out to public schools across the country. On October 12, 1892, the quadricentennial of Columbus' arrival, more than 12 million children recited the Pledge of Allegiance, thus beginning a required school-day ritual....

It was not until 1942 that Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance. One year later, in June 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that school children could not be forced to recite it....

In June of 1954 an amendment was made to add the words "under God."



I don't know, it does seem sort of mean

Eat fish while pregnant, U.S. experts recommend

(Reuters/Yahoo! News headline)
Anyway, where do you find pregnant fish this time of year?

Signing up

Signing up, originally uploaded by tedcompton.


Britain decided to roll out the anti-panic and depression computer programs nationwide after a group of experts sifted through evidence and concluded that the programs work just as well as face-to-face psychiatric care.

(For the full text of the famous Blinkenlichten sign, see Wikipedia)

Deep thinking on the legal front

“The defendant [Idaho's Larry Craig], a career politician with a college education, is of, at least, above-average intelligence,” Judge Charles A. Porter Jr. ruled in Hennepin County District Court.

Craig was in court trying to withdraw his earlier guilty plea (plea of "guilty," too) to a little social encounter in the Minneapolis airport. In his defense, Craig complained the initial judge had not questioned him about the "factual basis" of his plea - presumably if he had he would have realized magically made the whole thing go away or something, I don't know - but the second judge, Porter, noted Craig had filed his original plea by mail. So there ya' go.

In other legal news, a bunch of disgruntled noobs are muttering about suing Apple because they, the noobs, hacked their shiny new iPhones and now the phones don't work any more. Go figure that. Apple released a software upgrade earlier this week which was clearly labeled (I saw it, I installed it myself) do not install this if you have modified your phone because it will break your phone, but the noobs installed it anyway. And it broke their phones. Will wonders never cease?

Moral: Don't hack it if you can't hack it. Or, if you can't figure out how to un-hack it you shouldn't have hacked it in the first place, Dude.


The end of an era

OK, I give up. For the past few weeks I've been posting by email, and it turns out no matter how I play around with the settings the way my emailer handles fonts just will not work with Blogger. The result has been some sort of weird typographical stew. So I'm back to using Blogger's own online editor, via Firefox - which, truth be told, is just as easy, only not as cool. There really aren't any blogging tools floating around that work better, as far as I can see.

Some people will do anything for a free bag of peanuts

An Indian entrepreneur has given a new twist to the concept of low-cost airlines. The passengers boarding his Airbus 300 in Delhi do not expect to go anywhere because it never takes off.

All they want is the chance to know what it is like to sit on a plane, listen to announcements and be waited on by stewardesses bustling up and down the aisle.

(Bits and Pieces)

Best of all, it's never late.

Wait till the Bushies find out.


STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. - Facing criticism over plans to build a mountain of snow using more than a million gallons of water, officials at Stone Mountain Park announced Wednesday they will not create a Winter Wonderland after all.

Work began on what was billed as Coca-Cola Snow Mountain on the same day that Gov. Sonny Perdue declared October "Take A Shorter Shower" month.

(AP via Yahoo! News)

The street

the street, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

A miracle!

NORWALK, Ohio (AP) - A state legislator surprised a high school class when the computer he was using projected a photo of a nude woman during a lecture on how a bill becomes a law....

The legislator said he finished his lecture using printouts and then met with the school's principal and technology staff, who examined the stick. He said the school's technology director determined the stick had a directory of nude images in addition to Barrett's presentation on civics lessons.
"I have no idea where these came from," the Democrat said.

It's not werewolves, it's Jack the Chipper

Police are on the trail of a shadowy figure who has been dumping giant carved stone heads on village doorsteps at dead of night.

The man has left at least 13 at locations 100 miles apart in Yorkshire at Goathland, near Whitby; Kilburn, near Thirsk; Arthington, outside Leeds, and a village near Selby....

"Some people think it's a curse - but we have no idea who we might have offended. One woman claims there's a link to werewolves."




Yellow, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

It's looking for a mate

During a recent test on property owned by manufacturer Oshkosh Truck Co., TerraMax barreled down a dusty road with its driver seat empty. It stopped at a four-way intersection and waited as staged traffic resolved before obediently lurching on its way.

(AP via Yahoo! News)

Well, that'd be my guess, anyway. 

And if it finds one, we're doomed.

No kidding

WASHINGTON - American laboratories handling the world's deadliest germs and toxins have experienced more than 100 accidents and missing shipments since 2003, and the number is increasing steadily as more labs across the country are approved to do the work.

No one died, and regulators said the public was never at risk during these incidents. But the documented cases reflect poorly on procedures and oversight at high-security labs...

(AP via Yahoo! News)

Ya think? 

"It may be only a matter of time before our nation has a public health incident with potentially catastrophic results," said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee.


In the meantime, of course - before the potentially catastrophic public health incident, that is - you can just think of all this is part of Commander Guy's plan for bio-warfare defense. 

Wait. What? That doesn't make you feel safer?

If the terrorists don't get you the jargonistas will

So look. You might be wondering why the guys under the bed are cracking down on kids with remote-controlled cars at airports. Well, wonder no more. It's all about "credible specific information," reports the NYTimes.

OK, they don't explain what nonspecific information might be - maybe it's classified or something. (I'm pretty sure incredible information is one of those trees-falling-in-the-forest things.) For all we know, "credible specific information" is just plain old regular information - but whatever it is, coming up with it, explains Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Kip ("Kip") Hawley, is all about sorting through dots. Yeah. I'm not kidding. Sorting through dots.

"A lot of that work is sorting through dots," Mr. Hawley said of the different intelligence leads that produced the heightened scrutiny. "This is a dot that just came up with enough granularity that it seemed we should take direct action on it."

See? What did I say? You find a granular dot, you know you're onto something big. Just a regular dot, not so much.

You're wondering, can it really be so simple? Well sure it can, explains Kip.

"Everybody knows there is an intelligence and law enforcement community out there, that there are people seeking to do us harm," he said. "This is just the tangible manifestation of that."

Is that Kip a modest guy or what? Smart, too. Who else would know the difference between "this" and "that"?

But why, you might ask, is the intelligence and law enforcement community seeking to do us harm? 

Well, don't ask me.


Say "cheese"

 InfoTrends predicts that Americans will take 50 billion digital photos in 2007 and 60 billion by 2011.

(Zatz Not Funny!)


Reports the blog, TechDirt

Apple certainly surprised a lot of people last month with its sudden and steep price cuts on the iPhone. It certainly isn't a surprise that technology prices drop over time -- but to have them drop by a third after just two months seemed a bit extreme. While some early adopters just shrugged and figured it was the price of getting the device first, others weren't too thrilled about it. Apple quickly decided to fork over $100 credit to upset early adopters, but apparently that wasn't enough to satisfy one litigious individual who has decided to sue Apple, AT&T and Steve Jobs personally over the price cuts.

You gotta love it. 

More on the blame-China syndrome

The New York Times has a piece this morning on Aduardo Arias, the regular-guy Panamanian wo discovered the antifreeze ingredient in the toothpaste.

Mr. Arias reported his discovery, setting off a worldwide hunt for tainted toothpaste that turned out to be manufactured in China. Health alerts have now been issued in 34 countries, from Vietnam to Kenya, from Tonga in the Pacific to Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. Canada found 24 contaminated brands and New Zealand found 16. Japan had 20 million tubes. Officials in the United States unwittingly gave the toothpaste to prisoners, the mentally disabled and troubled youths. Hospitals gave it to the sick, while high-end hotels gave it to the wealthy.

And here's the punchline. The ingredient, it turns out, was not there by subterfuge, not an industrial shortcut, not a contaminant - it was right where it was supposed to be, listed on the label as an ingredient: diethylene glycol. Until Arias got around to it, nobody (I'm being charitable here) looked.

These are the same guys, let's remember - not the same people, maybe, but the same agencies - that won't let you take your bottled water on an airplane. These are the same guys who want you to believe - oh yeah, Bunky, don't worry - all the cargo entering the country is screened, the same guys who claim it's dangerous to buy lower-cost Canadian drugs (even some which are imported to Canada from the US) because - OMG! - they might not meet FDA standards, the same guys who want to data-mine your phone calls - keeping you safe, Bunky, ho ho ho - and they can't be bothered to read the label on the toothpaste. 

Look. Bad on China for putting the stuff in there. And the lead in the paint, and whatever else. But let's not fall for the blame-China gag when the fault lies here at home.


Semaphore, originally uploaded by tedcompton.