This guy had a security clearance?

Among the small circle of scientists who worked with him, Ivins was solid, quiet, eccentric, even and a bit nerdy. But he also had a darker side, as suggested by court papers filed last month by Jean C. Duley, who asked a Frederick judge for a protective order against Ivins, saying he had repeatedly threatened her.

"Client has a history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, actions, plans," the woman wrote in note attached to her request for protection. She said Ivins' psychiatrist had confided to her that the scientist was "homicidal, sociopathic with clear intentions." She also noted that she had been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury about a capital murder case involving Ivins.

[From Scientist in anthrax case had darker side - The Boston Globe]

Just wondering. Hey, I'm OK with the idea somebody might be brilliantly productive in one area and dangerously unbalanced in another area of his life. Nobody's perfect. But you'd think a guy "homocidal sociopath" (just quoting here) working in a bioweapons lab would be under some kind of observation from the jump. I would, that is. And if he had a security clearance (one would think) and it hadn't turned up this reported history, then something's way, way wrong with that.

Something about this story just isn't passing the sniff test with me.

This means you

This means you, originally uploaded by tedcompton.


Hip hip and thankfully, indeed

As long as we're doing automotive news this afternoon, there's this ...

Of all the absurdly wealthy men in the Middle East, at least one has far more money than sense and proved it when he had his Lamborghini flown from Qatar to Britain for an oil change.

According the The Sun, the owner -- which the paper surmises is a sheik -- had Qatar Airways ship the Murcielago LP640 about 6,500 miles round trip at a cost of about 39 grand and God-knows-how-much greenhouse gas just to service the car (cost: $7,030.47). "This car doesn't have a carbon footprint," an unnamed airport worker told The Sun. "More like a crater." ...

David Price of Lamborghini Club UK essentially told the environmentalists to bugger off. ... The Sun quoted him saying, “If an owner wants to service his car in that way, it is his choice. I'm not surprised. Thankfully an age of excess in some areas continues."

[From The $46,616.47 Oil Change and Size-22 Carbon Footprint | Autopia from Wired.com]


So, on any road around here, I'd have 188 mph to spare

Bugatti pulled the wraps off the stunning Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport this morning. The company isn't saying much about the car before its Aug. 16 premier, but does say that structural changes and other innovations make the roadster as rigid -- and safe -- as the coupe, which does zero to 60 in a blistering 2.3 seconds and tops out at 253 mph. ...

Want one? Get in line. Word has it Bugatti will build just 80 Grand Sports at $2.25 million apiece

[From The World's Sexiest Car Is Even Hotter Topless | Autopia from Wired.com]

That'd be $6,648 per m per h I couldn't (legally) use, given a mil for the first 65. Sounds like a fair price, huh? Well, considering how drop-dead gorgeous this thing is, I mean. And hey, if we're gonna suck up all the oil we might as well do it with some style. Yeah, that's it. Style.

Packers: Pick me! Pick me!

Pack offers Favre $20 million to stay retired, Favre says no.

No? No? Are you kidding me?

Hey Packers! I'll retire for half the price. Just give me a call. Save $10 mil just like that.

Is that an offer you can't refuse or what?


Who would have imagined, huh?

BEIJING (Reuters) - Some International Olympic Committee officials cut a deal to let China block sensitive websites despite promises of unrestricted access, a senior IOC official admitted on Wednesday.

[From IOC admits Internet censorship deal with China | Sports | 2008 Summer Olympics | Reuters]

OK, time to place my bets...

... in the Obama VP sweepstakes:

Five cents says it's a woman.

Another nickel says it's not Hillary.

And five cents more says it's someone with even less national experience - that is, experience at the federal level - than he has.

That's it, folks. Step right up. I figure I can't lose more than a dime.

Why am I losing all interest in watching the conventions on TV?

LOS ANGELES - The late Tim Russert's son will take up a family tradition for NBC News, helping to cover the Democratic and Republican conventions.

[From Tim Russert's son to join NBC convention team - Yahoo! News]

I heard they were cutting flights, but are seats really this hard to get?

More from the Oshkosh, WI, air show via our Midwest bureau.

(Photo: Phil Compton)

And wow, he has the coolest playlist too!

"I'm old school, so generally, generally, I'm more of a jazz guy, a Miles Davis, a John Coltrane guy, more of a Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder kind of guy," said Obama. "But having said that, I'm current enough that on my iPod I've got a little bit of Jay-Z. I've got a little Beyonce."

[From The Raw Story | Obama 'brushes off' Ludacris over mixtape lyrics]

"Kicking beats," says writer Stephen C. Webster of Raw Story, "better known to the MTV crowd than old conservatives," raising the question just how old and how conservative he thinks these old conservatives are. I mean. Not remember Coltrane? Come on. And wasn't Beyonce in a Broadway show a while back? Dreamgirls? That's about as mainstream as it gets.

Turns out, Stephen C. twits, Obama likes some rap but not all, about as big a scoop as one gets in this endlessly trivial year.

3-keyboard stash

Had a keyboard in Northampton I thought was broken - calculator pad didn't work - and another that was acting weird in Word (would that be a good movie title: "Weird in Word"?) so I saw the IT guy at the end of last week and he gave me three new keyboards to haul down there, swap out the two bad and leave one for a spare. The one, the weird one, I thought might be a software problem so I decided to put that off until I had more time than today. But I did swap the other and, hey, calculator still didn't work. Turned out to be some obscure setting re: mouse keys. So the keyboard I took off is still a good one, which means I still have three.

Keyboards are always giving me problems. I must have poison fingers because I always wear the letters off the caps, sometimes in a surprisingly short time. And keys stick or don't type at all - when you get right down to it, keyboards bite.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't be without one. Voice recognition? Being surrounded by people talking to their computers seems like a nightmare to me. And touch screens? On a laptop maybe, a tablet sure, but on a desktop no. How awkward would that be? Anyway, haven't we been there before? We have.

Oh no. I love my keyboard (and hate it too). Learning to type with my thumbs is as far as the envelope gets pushed by me.

So having this massive - well, 3-keyboard - stash is very cool. And comforting. I think I'll just keep it and not tell anybody it's there.

Forget I mentioned it.

Getting big dreams off the ground

The Boeing DreamLifter carries Boeing 787 subassemblies to Seattle for final assembly.

... From the Oshkosh, WI, air show via Yet Another Media Empire's Midwest bureau.

(Photo: Phil Compton)


How much is that doggie in the window?

Gun too short

A Will County judge refused today to throw out a felony weapons charge that was filed in May against former Bolingbrook police officer Drew Peterson. ...

... who faces a maximum five-year prison sentence if he’s convicted of possessing an AR-15 rifle with an illegally short barrel.

[From Drew Peterson gun case can proceed :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Search for Stacy Peterson]

The shame, the shame.

Save the 20-ounce cup, Trib pleads

Many people have a very personal relationship with their java. The perfume of brewing coffee in the morning beckons the bedraggled. That first hot sip. The rush. What's better than that? Some critics may suggest that Americans drink altogether too much coffee and that a smaller cup would be better for the nerves, that we should view coffee, as one company exec said, not as "just a caffeine delivery device." These are people who've never been on deadline, who've never slurped the last chewy dregs of a venti in a desperate stab for inspiration.

[From Save the 20-ounce cup! -- chicagotribune.com]

Morning after

Morning after, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Just goes to show...

...if you fill out all the forms and wait your turn...

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- One of the Marines shown in a famous World War II photograph raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima was posthumously awarded a certificate of U.S. citizenship on Tuesday.

[From Iwo Jima flag-raiser posthumously gets citizenship document - CNN.com]


Oh man, I am so hooked

I bought some photo software for handling B/W images and it came with a sample pack of high-end photo paper, Gekko from Mitsubishi, and I just dealt the first sheet off the top of the deck - this stuff right here - ran it through the printer without much ado and babe, it is drop-dead freakin' unbelievably gorgeous. I can't wait to try the other kinds (but at a buck a sheet it may take a while to find the perfect pictures to print).

I don't print much - it's expensive and anyway I'm usually thinking on-screen display - but when I do I usually use Epson's top-of-the-line papers, themselves very good. But this stuff, IMO, is seriously better. This stuff is great.

Oh yeah, I'm hooked.

Does not seem fair

You have to buy enough of that caulking stuff for half the fleet when all you really want to do is fix that little space around the faucet, and then when you've finished that you put the stuff away for ten, fifteen years and next time you need it it's no good, you have to buy more. Does not seem fair at all.

Eyes on the prize

Eyes on the prize, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Blaming the minnows as the sharks swim away

While a recent report on illegal politicization of the Justice Department is a good first step in introducing accountability to the Bush administration, it would be "pathetic" if culpability stops with midlevel aides like Monica Goodling, a constitutional expert says.

[From The Raw Story | Turley: 'Pathetic' if Monica Goodling takes fall for Bush officials]

Yeah, that's what this is. And there'll be more. Oh, lots of "investigations" and "reports" that firmly pin the blame on the little fish.

Monica Gooding had "fall guy" written all over her from the start. You never thought she was hired for her legal acumen, did you? Or for her vast experience in, well, anything at all? Come on.

Sure, she and all the other dronelings ought to be sent to bed without their dinner but it was the Big Bushies that did the damage - they, and the Vichy D's who sat there in committee, hour after hour, letting little Alberto not remember anything at all. It's a wonder he admitted his name. Everybody knew he was giving us all the finger and nobody did a damn thing about it.

Pathetic, Mr. Turley, it already is. No if.

Not to mention the Boomers themselves, of course

“The current generation of baby boomer bridges are showing their age, and they’re going to require significant investment,” Pete Rahn, the [American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials] president and director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, said at the news conference.

[From Bridges Still Crumble, a Year After the I-35 Disaster - The Lede - Breaking News - New York Times Blog]

One in four US bridges is "structurally deficient," this guy says.

And it's working, group says

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two prayer services will be held at St. Louis gas stations to thank God for lower fuel prices and to ask that they continue to drop.

[From The Associated Press: Groups to pray for lower prices at gas stations]

Where have all the outlaws gone?

A 56-year-old man from the Midwestern US state of Wisconsin has been arrested after shooting his lawn mower in his garden because it would not start.

[From BBC NEWS | Americas | US man charged for shooting mower]

Remember when we had Butch and Sundance and Jesse James, John Dillinger and Al Capone? Now it's just some guy in Wisconsin who shoots his lawnmower. (And the question is, "Does it void his warranty?")

This guy does look a little bit like John Cusack though, doesn't he? So the good news is, the movie pretty much makes itself.

Look at all that blue sky

Oh yeah. Airplanes too.

From the Oshkosh, WI, air show, now underway.

(Photo: Phil Compton, Midwest Bureau)


Back off, dude

CHICAGO - A milder type of mental decline that often precedes Alzheimer's disease is alarmingly more common than has been believed, and in men more than women, doctors reported Monday.

Nearly a million older Americans slide from normal memory into mild impairment each year, researchers estimate, based on a Mayo Clinic study of Minnesota residents. ...

Dr. Ralph Nixon, a New York University psychiatrist and scientific adviser to the Alzheimer's Association, was blunt.

"We're facing a crisis," he said.

[From Study: 'Pre-dementia' is rising, especially in men -- chicagotribune.com]

"Pre-dementia," says this AP piece. Pre freaking dementia. Like I don't have enough problems already. I mean ...

... oh wait. I forgot.

Oh well. It only happens in Minnesota anyway.

And - hey! here's good news! - there's a new drug for it. This pre-dementia thing. From Canada. (Isn't that where they have the mad cows?) Maybe it comes from playing too much hockey. The pre-dementia, I mean.

Or maybe - here's a thought - there's just a wee little sales twist to this news. Ya think?

On stucco

On stucco, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Oh, late!

I thought that was latté fee.

(iPhoned in)

Through the glass

Through the glass, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Attn: World

My email seems to be limping. If it's important to get in touch with me, try the gmail.

Update: Seems better now. "Me" has got me spooked. (Either "me" or "mac" works, same way.)

"The best health care in the world"

An expected 3,000-plus residents of Southwest Virginia and neighboring states are here through today for one reason -- to get basic medical care they couldn't otherwise afford.

A crowd began lining up in the wee hours of Friday morning for a coveted spot inside the fences at the Remote Area Medical clinic. Some would wait days for the free service. Some would never get in.

For the majority though, organizers and doctors said, this would be the only time all year they would get medical treatment of any sort.

[From Uninsured left in the lurch - News - inRich.com]


Sounds like a Burt Reynolds movie

A New Zealand girl called Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii has won the right to change her name in court. ...

Judge Murfitt added that he was dismayed at New Zealand's trend of parents giving their children wacky names.

Kids have been called Number 16 Bus Shelter, Midnight Chardonnay and Violence. But officials did block Sex Fruit, Yeah Detroit, Stallion and Cinderella Beauty Blossom.

One couple had a bid to call their twin children Fish and Chips blocked but the names Benson and Hedges for twins were allowed.

[From Ananova - Girl wins right to drop names ]

"Fish and Chips." Doesn't it? Or a 70s-era TV cop show. Probably Fish would be the big-name star, though, so being Chips might kind of suck.

Oh no

<sigh> It's me. </sigh>

I've been bitching for years about bad cell reception at home, but now it turns out that if the phone is lying on the table it's fine, three bars minimum, sometimes four or even five. I pick it up, it drops to one, sometimes loses the signal all together. I'm crushed.

Well, OK, not so much. Seems to be an easy fix. A downscale Bluetooth earpiece, last year's model, does the job. I pick it up instead of the phone, it all works fine. Has the added advantage of making it easy to use the phone even when it's charging. Kind of cool.

I still think the 2.0 firmware somehow modified reception. There are places in town I'm noticing, once fine, where the it's-me effect now seems to apply. Word is, there's an upgrade in the works. Maybe that'll make things better. Who knows?

Still, I seem to be gaining ground.


OO CIN, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

The smell of burnt grounds in the morning

Making coffee without the pot is not a good idea. But after it's all mopped up, what runs all over the countertop and drips into the drawers and onto the floor, there's a lingering burnt-grounds odor that's kind of nice.

The best kind of coffee is boiled coffee, northwoods style, made over a little campfire on a chilly morning beside an icewater lake. With a couple of eggshells dumped in. The coffee, not the lake. It's not the eggshells themselves, it's the little bit of egg white that's inside them that does the trick.

I worked at a summer camp one year, near a little town somewhere in northern Minnesota. I've forgotten the name of it. The cook, a Swedish woman - her name, I'm not sure I ever knew - made coffee by what she called "building a pot." She'd start out every Monday morning, making boiled coffee with eggshells in a big blue pot, and she'd keep it going all week, adding water, grounds, and another shell or two whenever the supply got low. Sunday night: Wash, rinse, repeat.

Oh, I've been drinking coffee a long time - cafe au lait in Paris, espresso in Firenze, kaffee mit schlag in Vienna, and the Starbucks too. But nothing tastes better than northwoods coffee in the morning, beside the lake.