A message from the Toast Marketing Board

(Wooster Collective)


The Spies Who Love You!

Nice reporting, AP

MILWAUKEE—Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton desperately wants meaningless wins in Florida and Michigan to turn into votes she can count on.

(Boston Globe)

No spin there, eh?

And you, Dems, listen up. When people go to the polls they want their votes to count. Is that so difficult to understand? What do you think this is, 2000 or something?

Hey, it's your party. You can run it any pigheaded way you want. Just don't expect my vote if you think votes shouldn't count.

You made a mistake here. Admit it, get over it, and let's get on with things.

Possibly the least informative headline ever written

Gunman 'somewhat erratic'

(Chicago Sun-Times)


I guess I'm just not used to this, is all

But dude, this Microsoft sure seems to be a high hassle-factor outfit. All those rules!

I get a mailing from those guys, the Microsoft, about an Office add-in that adds Creative Commons licenses to documents which I chug along over to Microsoft to download because it seems like a cool idea to me, whereupon I discover IE7 apparently phish-checks MS's own web site which requires a long time to do, and download the thing and then discover (OK I could have read the requirements but who woulda thunk?) it only works with Office 2003 and X freakin' P. What's with that? They're touting software that doesn't even run with their own OS? I guess so.

So anyway if you have Office 2003 and X freakin' P and you're interested, you can get it here, direct from Creative Commons. And if you're running - I'm just mentioning - OpenOffice.org, you can get it here.

I'm just doing this because it's there

Nations Snowmen March Against Global Warming

The Onion

Nation's Snowmen March Against Global Warming

WASHINGTON, DC-Millions of scarfless snowmen gathered in Washington to protest global warming, which has caused many of them to melt before their time.

Onion ratchets up the fear

WASHINGTON—In an emergency press conference held this morning, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff urged the American public to be on the lookout for a folder that was misplaced sometime in the last 24 hours, most likely in the DHS offices, but also possibly anywhere else....

"It is of the utmost importance that you go about your daily routine as if nothing vital to the country's very sovereignty has fallen into the hands of hostile forces hell-bent on destroying the United States," Chertoff said. "Hopefully, the folder will turn up soon."

The press conference concluded with Chertoff raising the National Threat Advisory to red, thereby placing the country under martial law until the folder is returned.

(More! More!)

By November they'll have him living in a cave

In a little noticed flub, the Reuters news agency referred to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) several times as 'Osama' in a widely distributed news article Wednesday, an article they pulled later in the day.

(Raw Story)

It's official: The just-following-orders defense is back

As much satisfaction as Bush administration critics will get out of the contempt citations, which were approved by the Judiciary Committee last July, finally getting the endorsement of the full House, it is unlikely that they would lead to prosecution any time soon. Attorney General Michael Mukasey recently told Congress he would not prosecute the contempt charges because Bolten and Miers were following Bush's order that they not appear.

(Raw Story)

The citations involved are the ones the House passed yesterday against ex-almost Supreme Court Justice Harriet Miers and that walrus guy, whereupon the Rs staged a walk-out while accusing the Ds of "political grandstanding." Ds shouted back, "So's yer old man."

Yes! Yes!

techdirt asks:
Is Annoying Young People With A High-Pitched Buzz A Violation Of Their Rights?

Of course this is a question being asked in England so it doesn't help us much here, but can you imagine anything more blissful than a right not to be annoyed? Sure, the world would pretty much grind to a halt - but otherwise.


Making dreams come true

A MASSIVE operation to evacuate a North Sea oilrig may have been triggered by a female worker's nightmare, it emerged last night.
The 23-year-old is said to have dreamt there was a bomb on board the accommodation platform where she was sleeping. That led to the alarm being raised and efforts made to airlift nearly 650 people to safety.

At the height of the drama, a total of 14 civilian and military helicopters, along with two other RAF aircraft, had been scrambled or were involved in the incident.


Misses?? OMG please don't say misses!

The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. James Cartwright, of the Marine Corps, said “a window of opportunity” to pick off the satellite before it enters Earth’s atmosphere will open in the next three or four days and last for seven or eight days. If the first shot misses, there should be time for a second attempt before the satellite enters the atmosphere...

How many megabazillion dollars have we spent so far on "Star Wars" and now they have a broken satellite that's been sitting up there fat and sassy, long time to aim, and they're planning to shoot it down and they're thinking they might need a second try? Yikes! I'd hate to be the tech support guy who gets the call on that one. (Look under the desk - is it plugged in?).

You can read about it yourself. It's the Navy that's going to try to shoot this thing down, with their experimental (experimental!) modified Aegis radar and modified Standard (modified standard?) Missile 3. (What happened to the Star Wars? That's not working yet? What's keeping us safe from outer space? Nothing's keeping us safe from outer space?)

Turns out, this happens all the time - satellites falling out of the sky - but they pretty much never hit anybody that we know about, generally often usually in part. (In part?)

Many satellites have fallen harmlessly out of orbit during the space age, in part because they often break apart and the pieces generally burn upon re-entry. And when pieces do survive re-entry, they have usually landed in remote areas or in an ocean, simply because the Earth’s surface has more remote regions and seas than it does heavily populated areas.

Whew. Last time I'm going swimming, Bunky. I mean it. They fall down in the ocean. Read it for yourself.

Some guy named Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, sez “one could say we’ve been lucky so far.” Sez the Times.

What I say is: Duck!

White in the Afternoon

White in the Afternoon, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Dude, this could get out of hand

Tired of seeing scientists derided as geeks who would rather spend time with a photo spectrometer than a fellow human, Harvard professors and students are throwing a "Science is Sexy" party...

(Boston Globe)

We might even be talking about electron microscopes here.

You know, in geological terms

Amid a bitter dispute over US bases in Iraq, the White House signaled Wednesday it does not view any US military installations overseas -- except perhaps Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- as permanent....

Perino's comments signalled that Washington does not consider any of its overseas bases to be permanent -- including the half-century presence in South Korea, or the forces stationed in Japan since World War Two.


How they must laugh.


I knew it!

WASHINGTON (AP)-- Mailing a letter will soon cost a penny more.

The cost of a first-class stamp will rise to 42 cents starting May 12, the U.S. Postal Service said Monday.


I just bought stamps. Because I finally used up the old ones. Now the new ones are gonna be old.

Every time I buy stamps the rate goes up. I don't use that many stamps, OK? But this time I bought two freakin' sheets. Because I thought since I'd finally used up the old ones the new ones would be good for a while.

Year of the Rat, indeed.

Street Scene

Street Scene, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

And all this time you've been worried about Orwell

The Bush administration’s decision to put six detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on trial before military tribunals and to seek the death penalty is both a betrayal of American ideals and simply bad strategy. Instead of being what they could and should be — a model of justice dispensed impartially, surely and dispassionately — the trials will proceed under deeply flawed procedures that violate this country’s basic fairness. The intense negative attention they will receive will do enormous damage to what is left of America’s standing in world opinion....

Hanging over it all is the Kafkaesque fact that even if the defendants were somehow to beat the charges, they would not be set free. They would simply go back to being detainees in Guantánamo.


When the Soviets were doing stuff like this we used to call them "show trials."


Some guys can't sew a button on to a shirt but I can. It's easy. Once you find the button, that is. Finding the button is the hard part. But after that all you need to do is borrow a needle from some woman and poke yourself in the finger with it until the damn button sticks to the damn shirt. No sweat. Blood, but no sweat. It's easy.

The only problem is the button will come back off again next time you wash the shirt. There's probably some trick to keeping it on but I don't know what it is. So don't wash the shirt. Don't wash the shirt, you'll be OK. Until the next one comes off.

The sunscreen's not working, is that it?

A growing population, fueled largely by immigration will make America "browner, older and a whole lot larger" within the next half-century, as NBC reporter George Lewis reports on the Today Show Wednesday.

By the year 2050, Americans of European ancestry will be a minority in the United States, representing only 47% of the population.

(Raw Story)

Oh. Just a little white panic. Nothing to see here. Move along.

You feeling stimulated too?

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Wednesday signed a multibillion-dollar economic rescue package on Wednesday that means $300 to $1,200 rebates for many American households.


You betcha I am. I can hardly sit still.

Which is bad, because I might have to do it for a while. It's still raining. It's been raining. All. Freakin'. Day. Snow all night, rain all day. The whole world is buried under a foot or two of white, wet glop. The driveway is a sopping mess. The streets are full of big, deep puddles where the storm drains aren't working. And it's supposed to drop into the mid-20s overnight: Tomorrow, ice. Everywhere. Nobody's going anywhere for a while, would be my guess.

Ain't we got fun.

As a public service

This from our Seattle Bureau.

In the jolliest of times

Chinese leader Mao Zedong proposed sending 10 million Chinese women to the United States, in talks with top envoy Henry Kissinger in 1973, according to documents released Tuesday....

He first suggested sending "thousands" of women but as an afterthought proposed "10 million," drawing laughter at the meeting, also attended by Chinese premier Zhou Enlai.

Kissinger, who was President Richard Nixon's national security advisor at that time, told Mao that the United States had no "quotas" or "tariffs" for Chinese women, drawing more laughter....

"Let them go to your place. They will create disasters. That way you can lessen our burdens," Mao said....

The assistant Chinese foreign minister, Wang Haijung, who was at the meeting, then cautioned Mao that if the minutes of the conversation were made public, "it would incur the public wrath."

Kissinger agreed with Mao that the minutes be scrapped.


OK, it's only 1:00 and it's still above freezing

Which means I probably still have a couple of hours to go dig out my car. It snowed all night - maybe 6 inches - and it's been raining all day. I didn't have to work today but I do tomorrow and if I don't get the car dug out before all that stuff freezes it'll be set in ice in the morning. What a mess.

Where else but New England is there winter weather this ridiculous? Nowhere I've ever lived.


Here's a White House " Fact Sheet" on telecom immunity: "Companies should not be held responsible for verifying the government's determination that requested assistance was necessary and lawful -- and such an impossible requirement would hurt our ability to keep the Nation safe."

But isn't that the very definition of a police state: that companies should do whatever the government asks, even if they know it's illegal?

(Dan Froomkin, Washington Post)

(And thanks to The Sideshow)


Trees, originally uploaded by tedcompton.


67 - 31

Section 9, Clause 3 No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

Amendment IV The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by
Oath or affirmation
, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and
the persons or things to be seized.

(Washington Post)

Comcast does that too?

Cable goes out, I call their help desk, which is automated, and after asking me what my problem is (I selected #2, my internet is out), it directed me to check out comcast.net

(Balloon Juice)

Yeah, Verizon is like that, or at least it was last time I called which was sometime in a previous century. Cracked me up. The other part is where they tell you the waiting time is, you know, kind of long but they will really try to work you in before the end of the day.

Which reminds me, the part about looking for help online, I'm reading "Catch-22" again. Or listening, this time (and the reader is very good). I've been meaning to do that for a long time. It's still an excellently funny book, in a black sort of way.

And also, since we're talking about black humor here, here's a collection of Republican valentines from the inestimable Whatever It Is, I'm Against It - the only blog I know of that has a theme song. Check it out while you're there.


PS: Hell freezes over

No kidding. Problem is, Raw Story has this picture with its International Falls story (see below), but Hell is in Michigan, west of Detroit (take I94), not much north of Chicago and about 400 miles or so south of International Falls. International Falls is colder than Hell.

"Icebox" is a warm, cozy name for International Falls

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (AP) -- The temperature in International Falls, Minnesota, fell to a record 40 below zero Monday, just a few days after the northern Minnesota town won a federal trademark making it officially the "Icebox of the Nation."

It was so cold that resident Nick McDougall couldn't even get his car trunk lid to close after he got out his charger to kick-start his dead battery. By late morning, the temperature had risen all the way to 18 -- below zero.


Folks in Northern Minnesota use head bolt heaters (that's what we called them - CNN says engine block heaters) to keep the oil in their cars warm so the starter motor could turn the engine over. The heater's electrical cord hangs out through the grille, and you use an extension cable to connect that to a socket. In Duluth, my Dad had wires run in from the garage to the house so he could turn the heater on in the morning before he had breakfast, so the car would start when he was ready to go to work. International Falls is the only place I've ever been where they had electric sockets on the parking meters. Back in the day when folks had milk delivered to their doors, International Falls had heated milk trucks - to keep the milk from freezing.

I once knew a guy who was staying in a hotel in International Falls, on the fourth floor, who accidentally dropped his hat out the window. It was too cold to go outside and get it so he took a pitcher of water and poured down. The water made a long icecicle that froze to the hat, and he pulled the hat up with that.

OK, that last part is just made up. But the rest is true. International Falls is a really, really cold place.


I'm just tired of looking at white, is all

July, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Take that, Winter, take that.

Three new books...

...on the sidebar, and about time too.

At the top, David Halberstam's "The Coldest Winter," a gripping history - both military and political - of the Korean War.

Down a little farther (I replace the links on a sort of first-in first-out basis, not by any order of interest), "The Tin Roof Blowdown," a James Lee Burke novel in the Dave Robicheaux series, the action set in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. It's one of Burke's best

And for Alex Cross fans, James Patterson's "Double Cross," an entertaining, fast-moving read.

I'm hoping we won't have a three-book cold spell yet this winter but, hey, having one or two on hand, JIC, might be a good idea.

Maybe we can, but they couldn't

Quietly, while Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been inspiring Democrats everywhere with their rolling bitchfest, congressional superduo Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have completed one of the most awesome political collapses since Neville Chamberlain. At long last, the Democratic leaders of Congress have publicly surrendered on the Iraq War, just one year after being swept into power with a firm mandate to end it.

Solidifying his reputation as one of the biggest pussies in U.S. political history, Reid explained his decision to refocus his party's energies on topics other than ending the war by saying he just couldn't fit Iraq into his busy schedule. "We have the presidential election," Reid said recently. "Our time is really squeezed."

(Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone)