Maybe try a different contractor next time

...And some other stuff, "possible only in Russia," from Hellish Humor.

Fried by a frame

It wasn't a pretty picture when Rick Sandy plugged in the digital photo frame his wife had given him for Christmas.

When he started downloading pictures to the device, his computer froze. He restarted it, and his Norton anti-virus software went blank. Then, the files that controlled his computer disappeared. And Sandy - an information technology expert himself - was shut out of his own machine.

Turns out, says San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer Deborah Gage, an increasing number of devices ranging from hard drives to flash drives and MP3 players have been discovered spreading malware.

It also turns out the words "download" and "upload" have slipped their moorings, might as well get used to it. When I read it I think downloading from the Internet, but these days it seems to just mean copy locally, as from a computer to a connected flash drive - or picture frame. It is, of course, a difficult distinction to nail down, since an Internet download is a copy too, by another name. But still.

It's all about the zone you're in

And, speaking of The City That Works, this investigative moment in a Tribune series on neighborhood development:
The real zoning code in Chicago is unwritten, but developers know it well: Changes in zoning go hand in hand with contributions to aldermanic campaigns.

The lake in winter

Chicago's fabulous and frozen lakeshore is one of the classic winter photos featured in this Chicago Tribune album.

Art meets database at the Telegraph

I don't know anything about UK politics but this has got to be a charting classic: A dandy political map of the UK. Click on any one of the little hexagons to pop up a host of details about that location; see the most vulnerable seats for any party; find alternate results with the "swingometer." It's a brilliant piece of work. Go look.


Music maybe

...I kind of doubt it but maybe...
Lisa Pierce, a vice president for Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., said consumers could decide to forgo spending on mobile music and ring-tone downloads.


...but does she really think people are going to make ends meet by cutting down on ringtones? OK I know ringtones are a big market but still. How many ringtones would you have to give up to buy a tank of gas? Does anybody have that many ringtones? Anywhere?

This is a really good week to have an end

Weekends, mostly I can take 'em or leave 'em. They don't make all that much difference to my schedule and I'm not going out to party anywhere anyway. But this week, TGIF. Last week was busier for me but this week was colder, maybe that's why. And if the forecasters are right by Sunday we'll be back up to freezing and after that the sky's the limit - who knows, maybe all the way up to 35. Or even 36 in the afternoons. Something to look forward to is what that is.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty conflicted over that so-called economic stimulus package the House of so-called Representatives passed yesterday. I guess the Senate still has vote on it so it's not a done deal yet but it looks like, in the House, the so-called Democrats traded away a boost in unemployment benefits and food stamps to give me 300 bucks. Now, another $300 would be nice - it'd buy me maybe a half-tank of heating oil or probably pay my car insurance come June (Is that stimulating? You tell me.). So I guess I'll take it if it comes my way but I'm not sure it'll feel really good, because there are other guys who need it more than I. 

After watching these Ds in action for a year now - the ones in Congress - I've concluded it's not that they just don't know how to say no, it's that they - or enough of them, anyway - think so much like the Rs it's hard to tell them apart. And that's a really, really, really bad thing, bunky, take my word.


Nobody cares, apparently, about the flies

A story based on the Three Little Pigs has been rejected by a government quango in case it offends Muslims.

The digital remake of the children's classic was criticised by Becta, the education technology agency, because "the use of pigs raises cultural issues".

Officials also attacked the story - called The Three Little Cowboy Builders - for stereotyping the building trade, reports the Daily Telegraph....

Dozens of companies submitted entries but Newcastle-based publishers Shoo Fly were shocked when judges told them that their interactive 3D book was unsuitable for children.


And no I won't - you can look up "quango" for yourself. (Yes, some day you'll thank me.)

Feeling a little bitchy there, you say?

When it comes to producing beauty queens, Vermont isn’t exactly a winner. In the 86-year history of the Miss America competition, no Green Mountain girl has cracked the Top 15. Home viewers got a mere glimpse of Miss Vermont before she was whisked off stage in favor of the semifinalists, most of whom hail from traditional “pageant states” where young women really know how to wield a can of hairspray.

(Margot Harrison in Seven Days, "Vermont's Independent Voice")

Hey, go for it.

Calm down, Your Honor; get a grip

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief of staff lied about their relationship last summer at a police whistle-blower trial....

"If it happened during the case, they would feel the fury of my wrath..." [Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael] Callahan said.

(Detroit Free Press)

Also, get a dictionary.

Moral: Keep your mouth shut

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A passenger who went through an airport security checkpoint -- before remembering that he had a loaded gun -- is facing charges after going back to report his error, authorities said.


Also, your head down. And your seat belt fastened.

Twelve months of work avoidance...

...compressed, alas, into just a minute or two by the wonders of time-lapse photography, YouTube, and cheddarvision.tv.

Public endorsements by Washington lobbyists

(Source: Roll Call, http://www.rollcall.com/politics/kstendorsements.html)

Clinton 63 (43.45%)
Romney 25 (17.24%)
McCain 20 (13.79%)
Obama 18 (12.41%)
Giullani 17 (11.72%)
Huckabee 2 (1.38%)
Edwards 0 (0.00%)

A little reality check regarding John "Straight Talk" McCain

The fact is that no presidential candidate in either party has flip-flopped as egregiously as McCain on such a wide range of issues....

...writes Paul F. Campos from Scripps Howard News Service.

Bonus question: Masochistic wife?

Mrs. Adolph Topperwein. [with gun] (LOC)

Mrs. Adolph Topperwein, clearly not a woman to be trifled with, appears in one of more than 3,000 photos tin the Library of Congress's Flickr photostream. If you're looking for a major work avoidance project click the image back to Flickr and browse around.


Geeks stage low-res film festival in Rotterdam

Too soon old and too late smart

  1. Never, never, never leave home without your earbuds.
  2. If there's a special label on the meat that says "tender," it's not.

See? This is why I'm so confused

I'm not even close to being a sophisticated observer of the stock market; reading stuff like this completely messes up my head.

Yesterday Apple reported it's best quarter ever, with the highest revenue and earnings in the company's history. “Apple’s revenue grew 35 percent year-over-year to $9.6 billion, an increase of almost $2.5 billion over the previous December quarter’s record-breaking results,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO.

And this morning the NYTimes reports "On Wall Street, shares of Apple fell more than 11 percent in pre-market trading after a disappointing earnings report late Tuesday."

We're just not all living on the same planet, is all I can figure here.


The Netflix syndrome

We're all movied up with Netflix around here and as a result we rarely see a real movie, the kind where they show the film on a great big screen, and as a result the Academy Awards nominations announced today are for films I've only heard of, if that. The only films anywhere on the list I've seen are "Ratatouille," nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Screenplay, and "La Vie en Rose," which earned Marion Cotillard a Best Actress nomination. They're both films well worth watching and "Ratatouille" is a sentimental favorite. Several of the other films are already on the list. Surely some of the others will wind up there before long.

The Academy's voters, of course, are a notoriously fickle lot - brilliant when they give awards to performances I liked, sell-outs when they reward performances I didn't. I guess it will take a while yet before I figure out which they are this year.

Maybe I should start a restaurant chain


American duress

For much of the world, the United States is now on sale at discount prices. With credit tight, unemployment growing and worries mounting about a potential recession, American business and government leaders are courting foreign money to keep the economy growing. Foreign investors are buying aggressively, taking advantage of American duress and a weak dollar to snap up what many see as bargains, while making inroads to the world’s largest market.


Yeah, right. I'm selling myself to China. Or better yet, Germany - they seem to be in a buying mood as well. I don't mind wonton soup but sauerbraten beats it by a mile.
Did everyone notice that if you double-click on any word in a New York Times article, it pops up a dictionary definition?

(The Sideshow)

But indeed it does. Not in Safari, which is the browser I use most often (but on a Mac you can look up any word anywhere in just about any application - or do a Google search on it - by right-clicking or Control-clicking, I just saying here), but it does work in Firefox on a Mac and no doubt in Windows too, and it must certainly work in IE although I haven't had time to check it yet.

So nice work, NYTimes. That's very cool.

Go figure

One gets the sense from all of this of a uncertain, uncomfortable and unhappy electorate, reflected in feelings not just about the course of the nation but about the choices they have been given. The days of deep loyalty to a party, cause or candidate would seem to be waning.


Well, it sure describes me, at least. I have a very severely deep unloyalty to the Repbublican party but not much loyalty to the other one and yeah, not much satisfaction with the choices, and moreover it seems clear to me the best D choices are being filtered out of the mix by the media's insistence on making the D primary a two-horse race.

And I know that was a long sentence but I'm running short on periods this morning. I'll order more.

It's just too early in the morning for this good torture/bad torture stuff

TORONTO - Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier found himself backtracking Saturday over his department's training manual that lists the U.S. and Guantanamo Bay as sites of possible torture - alongside such countries as Iran and Syria.

In a statement, Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual, adding that it contains a list that "wrongly" includes some of Canada's closest allies.

(The Canadian)

But Guantanamo Bay is clearly not alongside Syria - Guantanamo Bay, come to think of it, is a lot closer to alongside Canada than alongside Syria - so at least there's that.

And speaking of small comforts (and alongside Canada), it's 11º on the other side of the wall this morning, but we're expecting a heat wave to roll in tomorrow and by Wednesday we might see 32º.


At least it's not windy

House on a winter hill, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

A little wind on a day like today would blow your ears off. And we're looking at 20º highs all week with even a little snow, maybe, on Tuesday. If it gets any colder I'll have to find my mittens.

Solidarity forever

Angry nude models across Italy have gone on strike in a bitter dispute over poor pay and conditions.


It's a "tough, cold job," says Antonella Migliorini.

Better not move to Minnesota, kiddo

Enough snow fell in Montgomery, Ala., for children to make snowballs to toss in front of the state Capitol, although the snow melted on contact with pavement.

Eleven-year-old Khryshanna Taylor saw snow for the first time Saturday in Montgomery and was unimpressed.

"I have decided that I don't like snow!" she said as she hurried home after a brief attempt at a snowball fight. "If it snows again, I'm going to move out of the state!"

Go south. Go north and here's what you get....
Although Saturday's highs were below zero in most of Minnesota, nearly 100 people ran in the Frozen 5K at Spicer, Minn., and about 75 people clad only in swimsuits dove into northern Minnesota's Lake Bemidji while the air temperature was 15 below zero.

(Mercury News)

Is there any way we can speed this up?

Or at least make it seem as short as possible (eat more chocolate!)

The Bye Bye Bush counter reads 365 days today. Assuming they can wrap up this endless election cycle by then.