Getting all technical...

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mathematicians at UCLA have discovered a 13-million-digit prime number, a long-sought milestone that makes them eligible for a $100,000 prize....

Mersenne primes — named for their discoverer, 17th century French mathematician Marin Mersenne — are expressed as 2P-1, or two to the power of "P'' minus one. P is itself a prime number. For the new prime, P is 43,112,609.

[From Mobile News Network]


Steel, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

(Find a full-sized version of this photo at our Desktops gallery.)

McCain: Dream candidate

One thing we now know for sure. Electing John McCain would be God’s gift to the profession of journalism. A story a minute.

Imagine what would happen if a new beetle infested the Iowa corn crop during the first year of a McCain administration. On Monday, we spray. On Tuesday, we firebomb. On Wednesday, the president marches barefoot through the prairie in a show of support for Iowa farmers. On Thursday, the White House reveals that Wiley Flum, a postal worker from Willimantic, Conn., has been named the new beetle eradication czar. McCain says that Flum had shown “the instincts of a maverick reformer” in personally buying a box of roach motels and scattering them around the post office locker room. “I can’t wait to introduce Wiley to those beetles in Iowa,” the president adds.

On Friday, McCain announces he’s canceling the weekend until Congress makes the beetles go away.

Barack Obama would just round up a whole roomful of experts and come up with a plan. Yawn.

[From Op-Ed Columnist - McCain - Bearish on Debates - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com]

(Noted by our Midwest bureau)


Dream on, Bunky, dream on

A petroleum executive suggested that the football game between the University of Georgia and University of Alabama should be canceled this weekend because fans could drain all the gas in the Athens area, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported.

Yeah, right. Cancel the Georgia-Alabama game.

But representatives of Georgia Gov. Sunny Perdue said he would not consider "a ridiculous idea like this," WSB said.

[From Gas shortage leads to fights, threatens college football in South - CNN.com]


39, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

We are so relieved

The debate is on; McCain agrees to participate

[From The debate is on; McCain agrees to participate - Yahoo! News]

No no no

No no no, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

But it's doubtful they'll ever make a movie about Paulson

The Secretary Treasury is asserting that under the proposed "bailout" legislation that he can "buy" any asset foreign or domestic at what every "price" he dictates and the victims of his "purchases" can pound sand.

Al Capone made similar "purchases" on similar terms back in the 30's.

[From The BRAD BLOG : All of Microsoft for a Buck]

Phillies' dogs seen as terror threat

Hours before the Phillies-Atlanta Braves' game on Wednesday night, a film crew shot a commercial of the mascot shooting heavily wrapped hot dogs from a launcher.

But someone inadvertently left three of the duct taped hot dogs outside the ballpark, sparking security fears. Stadium employees were evacuated and the bomb squad was called in.

[From Hot dogs outside Philly ballpark cause bomb scare - Yahoo! News]

Get lost in Palin's head

A 16-acre corn maze near the town of Whitehouse has been carved in Palin's likeness, complete with her familiar updo hairstyle and eyeglasses.

[From AMAZING!: Palin carved into Ohio cornfield - Yahoo! News]

Feeling any safer now?

“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared Thursday as he watched the $700 billion bailout package fall apart before his eyes, according to one person in the room.


In the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.

[From Talks Implode During a Day of Chaos; Fate of Bailout Plan Remains Unresolved - NYTimes.com]
Are these really the guys you want to give $700 billion to? Personally, I wouldn't bet a dime on the pair. And I've been known to make some pretty bad bets.

I'm no economist, it's true. But you don't have to be an economist to realize you're getting mugged.

McCain chalks up another crash

At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting.

[From News Analysis - McCain Leaps Into a Thicket - News Analysis - NYTimes.com]

Spooky subject line on promo email

WaMu News | The holidays start today

I need another cup of coffee, and fast

Ssome of the most basic details [of the Bush bailout plan], including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.

"It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number."

[From Bad News For The Bailout - Forbes.com]

Emphasis mine.

Project Censored posts "25 most ignored" list

Thanks to Project Censored...we actually have a concrete, detailed sense of what stories the MSM doesn’t deem fit to print. Each year they release their Top 25 Censored Stories - the most important should-be news events that most people simply aren’t hearing about - and the list never fails to appall. How, we have to ask, can a semi-responsible press organization waste even a second of time on the trivia that passes for news these days (let’s see what FOX has up at the moment … ah, here’s one: “Lesbian Pics Prompt School to Change Yearbook Policy”) when all these other stories - massively important stories that have meaningful implications for the lives of Americans - are ignored?

[From Scholars and Rogues » Project Censored 2009: the stories your corporate news whores are ignoring]

For the full list, with links, click here.


Neighborhood cat

Neighborhood cat, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

No smoking...that

A cannabis smoker was fined by Dutch police - because his joint contained tobacco....

"The man was not fined for smoking a cannabis joint but for smoking. You can smoke cannabis but not tobacco in coffee shops."

[From Ananova - Cannabis smoker fined for tobacco ]

Say what?

Excuse me, but what vote does the "Bush administration" get here, exactly? Since when do they need administration approval - or even agreement - to pass a law? Why don't they just pass the damn thing and put it on Bush's desk and say sign it, loser, or take the heat?

WASHINGTON - Warned that time was running short to bolster the distressed economy, congressional Republicans and Democrats reported agreement in principle Thursday on a bailout of the financial industry, and said they would present it to the Bush administration in hopes of a vote within days.

[From Lawmakers: Financial bailout agreement reached -- chicagotribune.com]

"So much for 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself'"

"Our entire economy is in danger... More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically. And if you own a business or a farm, you would find it harder and more expensive to get credit. More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs. Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession."

- G. W. Bush

[From Bush and co. talking down economy?]

Today's menu tip

Chickens. Eat 'em before they kill you is what I say.

An international workshop on Incident Command System (ICS), aimed at combating bird flu is currently underway at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.

The five-day deliberation, which began on Monday and is jointly organized by the Department of Veterinary Services in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspections Service (USA-APHIS) will seek to address the problem of avian influenza.

[From Gambia-US ready to combat bird flu - WOW Gambia ]

Also, eating them at a place called "Paradise Suites Hotel" might be kinda fun.

Cohen on exceptionalism

[Exceptionalism] is the idea, around since the founding fathers, and elaborated on by Alexis de Tocqueville, that the United States is a nation unlike any other with a special mission to build the “city upon a hill” that will serve as liberty’s beacon for mankind.

But exceptionalism has taken an ugly twist of late. It’s become the angry refuge of the America that wants to deny the real state of the world....

The damn-the-world, God-chose-us rage of that America has sharpened as U.S. exceptionalism has become harder to square with the 21st-century world’s interconnectedness. How exceptional can you be when every major problem you face, from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to gas prices, requires joint action?

[From Op-Ed Columnist - Roger Cohen - Palin’s American Exception - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com]

Let's just flush

There is, in a way, a kind of talent required to tell the nation that it’s teetering on the brink of disaster in a way that makes the viewers’ attention wander. Bush’s explanation about how the rescue bill would unclog the lines of credit made the whole thing sound less important than a Liquid-Plumr commercial.

[From Bring on the Rubber Chicken - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com]


Move over, Barbie

But even Washington, D.C., personalities have been getting molded into plastic lately, most notably Gov. Sarah Palin (which, we're guessing, is selling a heck of a lot more than the John McCain doll).

[From Superstar Dolls - MSN Music ]

(Noted by our Midwest bureau)

What, they want insomniacs flying their planes?

The Federal Aviation Administration suspended the licenses of two go! airline pilots who allegedly fell asleep during a flight from Honolulu to Hilo earlier this year.

[From FAA punishes 2 go! airline pilots accused of falling asleep - USATODAY.com]

Wow. 292.

Number of audiobooks from Audible.com I've listened to. OK, I've been at it for five years or so, but still.

Anyway, I found that out because I just went back to my library list, thinking maybe it's time to reread this one.

Maybe reading chicken entrails would work

In the span of 24 hours, we have two major polls that give us opposite readings on whether Americans support the Bush Administration's proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street.

A Los Angeles/Times Bloomberg poll found 55 percent of those surveyed opposing the bailout while 31 percent supported it. The Los Angeles Times has a report on that poll.

That result exactly contradicted the conclusion of a Pew Reseearch Center poll we reported on last night which found 57 percent of those surveyed supporting the bailout plan while 30 percent were against it.

[From Do Americans back bailout? Who knows?: The Swamp]

Ah, the good old days

(Theater poster circa 1898 from the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.)

I think they call it "starving the beast"

Barack Obama made clear today exactly what is at stake if Congress approves the Administration's proposed bailout of Wall Street without asking that those responsible for the financial mess pay for it: Every proposal for universal health care, transforming our energy system, helping people pay for college, and so on may go down the tubes, compliments of Republican fiscal and financial mismanagement.

[From Firedoglake » Obama: The Bailout Just Ate Universal Health Care, Energy Policy, College . . . ]

And, you know, maybe thee and me too before it's over.

Orwell's ghost sighted at TSA, the Trib

The Transportation Security Agency has re-named its operational hub "Freedom Center," while the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau blog, "The Swamp," refers to laser-wielding, unmanned flying drones as "guardian angels."

Get Michael Moore's SLACKER UPRISING free

[Michael Moore's SLACKER UPRISING]

(The free download is also available from the iTunes store.)

People who don't have pets like Obama

From George Washington's foxhound "Drunkard" to George W. Bush's terriers "Barney" and "Miss Beazley," pets are a longtime presidential tradition for which the presumed Republican nominee seems well prepared, with more than a dozen.

The apparent Democratic nominee Barack Obama, on the other hand, doesn't have a pet at home.

The pet-owning public seems to have noticed the difference.

An AP-Yahoo! News poll found that pet owners favor McCain over Obama 42 percent to 37 percent, with dog owners particularly in McCain's corner.

[From Political Pulse | The Associated Press-Yahoo! News Poll on Yahoo! News]

Can we go back to arguing about lipstick here?

Need someone to guard your chickens? Hire the fox.

The proposals [to limit Wall Street executive pay] in Washington are still tentative, and often vague. A Senate draft document calls for a ban on incentive payments that the Treasury deems “inappropriate or excessive”....

[From In Bailout Furor, Wall Street Pay Becomes a Target - NYTimes.com]


Biden steps on tongue, gets unstepped in a hurry

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Barack Obama's running mate says a campaign ad that mocked Republican presidential candidate John McCain as an out-of-touch, out-of-date computer illiterate was "terrible" [oh no!] and would not have been done had he known about it....

Late Monday, Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton issued a statement from Biden. In it, Biden said he "was asked about an ad I'd never seen" and was "reacting merely to press reports." [blah blah something something]

[From East Valley Tribune | Daily Arizona News for Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale]

So why not do it then?

Bush's approval rating has sunk to 19% in the latest ARG poll. That's lower than Nixon's the week he resigned. Probably the most telling stat in the breakdown is that Dubya has an 8% approval rating among self-described independents. Basically every Democrat and almost every independent voter in the country hates him. His remaining support consists of slightly more than half the GOP, and Joe Lieberman.

As Matt Stoller points out, you could probably impeach him and nobody would notice.

[From Lawyers, Guns and Money: Now this is impressive]

Yes, Bunky, everything changed - again

UNITED NATIONS — President Bush, who once warned that the United Nations was in danger of becoming irrelevant, said Tuesday that multinational organizations are now "needed more urgently than ever" to combat terrorists and extremists who are threatening world order....

He said that despite past disagreements over the U.S.-led war in Iraq, members of the U.N. must unite to help the struggling democracy succeed. And he scolded Russia for invading neighboring Georgia, calling it a violation of the U.N. charter.

[From Bush's Final UN Address: The World Needs The UN "Now More Urgently Than Ever"]

Nobody cares

A former Iraqi official estimated yesterday that more than $13 billion meant for reconstruction projects in Iraq was wasted or stolen through elaborate fraud schemes....

He said a report that went to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top Iraqi officials was never published because "nobody cares" about investigating such cases.

[From $13 Billion in Iraq Aid Wasted Or Stolen, Ex-Investigator Says - washingtonpost.com]

Hey, a billion here, a billion there - pretty soon you're talking about real money, ya know?

Greatest spam ever

Dear [your name goes here]:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion USD. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who (God willing) will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a former U.S. congressional leader and the architect of the PALIN / McCain Financial Doctrine, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. As such, you can be assured that this transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully,

Minister of Treasury Paulson


LOL internet anonymity

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The hunt for the hacker who broke into Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's personal e-mail account is shaping up to be a remarkably simple investigation, by the standards of major cybersecurity whodunits.

U.S. investigators figure the hacker claimed responsibility in a detailed accounting that included his own personal e-mail address and that he tried to cover his trail using a U.S. Internet anonymity service that has been surprisingly cooperative with the FBI in efforts to peel away that anonymity.

[From East Valley Tribune | Daily Arizona News for Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale]

PS: "gov.sarah" used Yahoo email to conduct state business, looks like. Is it too much to ask that high government officials have at least some basic network intelligence, even just a little bit?


Drawing the line somewhere

[From xkcd - A Webcomic - Tones]

(Mine doesn't. It plays Morse code.)

A little bit like Autumn here

-- Post From My iPhone

Looking for a little financial advice?

"Bet on Sin. In the end, Sin will be the winning horse, no matter what handicaps are laid upon it."

-The Professor, "Hour of the Cat" by Peter Quinn

Would you like fries with that hat?

[Roll Call's] Steven T. Dennis outlines some of the rhetorical somersaults and near-instantaneous flip-flops that have marked prominent Republicans' attempts to address the crisis.

For example, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) went from rallying against "more federal involvement in our markets" to supporting an $85 billion bailout of insurer AIG within just a few hours, Dennis reports. By week's end he was backing the administration's wider bailout plan.

[From The Raw Story | House GOP 'bewildered' by financial crisis]

From a comment on a McClatchy story

Socialism ONLY for the rich and connected. Billions available to support golden parachutes and mansions for CEOs but not a dime for "too expensive" universal healthcare.

Billions for wars of choice around the world, billions for paying the costs of over 750 military bases garrisoning the known universe, but not one thin dime extra to improve education of access to student loans.

[From McClatchy Washington Bureau | 09/20/2008 | As Congress rushes to back bailouts, a senator cries foul]


"Perhaps," says Zogby

Perhaps a reflection of the widespread distrust with which voters currently view Washington, nearly two out of three likely voters in this survey said they blame government entities, led by the White House, for causing this problem. Asked who is most to blame, 27% said the Bush administration, while 20% blamed Congress. By contrast, just 12% blamed investment banks - which will benefit most from this proposed bailout - and 17% blamed mortgage brokers.

[From Zogby International]


Yeeha!, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Dog herds geese at the Garlic Festival in Orange, MA.

McCain and his magical money machine

WASHINGTON (AP) -- For all Barack Obama's remarkable fundraising and sizable surplus, the Democratic presidential nominee entered the final two months of the presidential contest on virtually equal financial footing as Republican rival John McCain.

According to finance reports filed in the past two days with the Federal Election Commission, Obama and the Democratic National Committee ended August with $95 million in the bank. McCain and the Republican National Committee ended with about $94 million.

[From East Valley Tribune | Daily Arizona News for Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale]

Another grand and glorious day in the world of high finance

The Bush regime's proposed cure for the fiscal crisis involves the granting of greater new and irrevocable power to one official than at any point in American history. On matters financial, Henry Paulson...will have the status of a dictator.

This is not being reported by the media; it is not being discussed by the candidates; and it is not being seriously debated by the general public. This is one of the most dangerous moments in American history. From Section 8 of the proposed legislation : "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."