State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill this week approached the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston about lending Massachusetts money under the same extraordinary terms the government is giving banks and Wall Street firms during this financial crisis....

Massachusetts' need is not as urgent, Cahill said, as the state of California's, which requested similar federal assistance on Thursday. California officials said the state would run out of money by the end of the month if the short-term debt markets do not ease, and if it could not obtain loans from the Fed.

[From Mass. may seek a US loan as credit markets dry up - The Boston Globe]

And speaking of "imminent"

With the party already struggling to generate enthusiasm for its brand, Republican strategists fear that an outpouring of public anger generated by Congress's struggle to pass a rescue package for the financial industry may contribute to a disaster at the polls for the GOP in November.

[From GOP Strategists Whisper Fears Of Greater Losses in November - washingtonpost.com]

The berries

The berries, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

What, it's a crime to get hungry there?

A Russian man is facing jail after he ate his ex-wife's passport during a row.

[From Ananova - Man ate wife's passport ]

Oh, them

Last week, a key Congressman predicted that the mega-expensive Wall Street bailout would naturally force the government to cut back defense spending.

Well, not if the Pentagon has anything to do with it.

The Defense Department "wants an increase of $57 billion in fiscal 2010, about 13.5 percent more than this year's budget of $514.3 billion," according to Bloomberg News.

[From Never Mind the Bailout, Pentagon Wants Mega Cash | Danger Room from Wired.com]

Ig Nobel prize for chemistry split

The 2008 Ig Nobel prize for chemistry was split between a team of researchers who proved Coca-Cola is an effective spermacide and another team who proved it isn't.

Other prizes went to scientific studies of lap dancers, armadillos, and pharmaceuticals (expensive pills work better than cheap ones), and to Swiss ethicists who conclude it's immoral to mow your lawn.

(New Scientist)

Let's all just try to forget what happened...

WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives, heeding warnings about an imminent "economic catastrophe," yesterday decisively passed a revised, massive $700 billion financial rescue package....

[From Resounding yes to bailout - The Boston Globe]

...last time we had an "imminent" disaster on our hands.

So young, so young

How—just how—they asked, could the team with the National League's best record deliver this 72 hours of ineptitude and misery?...

"I'm old enough to know better," said Melissa Rakestraw, 39, of Schaumburg. "It's been by far the best Cubs season and I thought they had an actual shot. Then last night it occurred to me: I had forgotten this was the Cubs."

[From Ill wind chills Cubs fans -- chicagotribune.com]

Just wait another 25 or 30 years, Melissa. Then you'll see.

So it's all just some sort of wacky debt-laundering scheme?

Treasury officials do not plan to manage the mortgage assets [that they're gonna buy on their new $700-billion credit card] on their own. Instead, they will outsource nearly all of the work to professionals, who will oversee huge portfolios of bonds and other securities for a management fee.

[From For Treasury Dept., Now Comes Hard Part of Bailout - NYTimes.com]

(Emphasis mine.)

What do you suppose is on the other 449 pages if that new law?

And they're all keeping an eye on those big Russians

In an airplane hangar in Ohio recently, [Sarah Palin] told the people of Youngstown she was happy to be there because Alaska has, per capita, the nation’s most “small planes and small pilots.”

[From Op-Ed Columnist - Talking in Points - NYTimes.com]

(Noted by our Midwest bureau.)


Late sun

Late sun, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Meanwhile, in other election news...

A recent contested election for Circuit Judge in Palm Beach County, FL, where the initial results showed a 17 vote margin for one of the candidates, continues to reveal differing counts every time the same ballots are run through the county's new optical-scan paper ballot counters made by Sequoia Voting Systems....

To be clear: The failed Sequoia voting systems are electronic paper-ballot scanners, made by a private company which does not allow the public election officials who use them to determine the results of public elections, any independent, public examination of the hardware or software of the systems.

[From The BRAD BLOG : Sequoia Op-Scan Ballot Counters Fail to Count Same Way Twice]

Yeah, yeah, hardly worth mentioning, Dude

There were no fireworks so a lot of people probably missed it. We even forgot to mention it here on The Swamp when it happened though we saw the reports. Anyway, on the last day of September, the national debt hit $10 trillion plus.

[From National debt topped $10 trill this week: The Swamp]

"Make-Believe Maverick"

In its broad strokes, McCain's life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. John Sidney McCain III and George Walker Bush both represent the third generation of American dynasties. Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity. Both developed an uncanny social intelligence that allowed them to skate by with a minimum of mental exertion. Both struggled with booze and loutish behavior. At each step, with the aid of their fathers' powerful friends, both failed upward. And both shed their skins as Episcopalian members of the Washington elite to build political careers as self-styled, ranch-inhabiting Westerners who pray to Jesus in their wives' evangelical churches.

In one vital respect, however, the comparison is deeply unfair to the current president: George W. Bush was a much better pilot.

[From Make-Believe Maverick : Rolling Stone]

Read the whole story (here it is). It's long, but it's worth the time.

(Noted by our intrepid Midwest bureau.)


The American economy lost 159,000 jobs in September, the worst month of retrenchment in five years....

[From U.S. Sheds 159,000 Jobs; 9th Straight Monthly Drop - NYTimes.com]

Is that anything like digging a bigger hole?


Along the wire

Along the wire, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Merry Christmas, WaMu

“By Dec. 1, our goal is to be able to tell everyone in the organization what the future is here,” said [Charlie Scharf, head of JPMorgan Chase’s Retail Financial Services group].

“Unfortunately there is duplication. There will be losses of jobs."

[From WaMu employees' pensions fate unclear; many to lose jobs - Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle): ]

So Wall Street is throwing a temper tantrum and...

WASHINGTON - Desperate to avoid another market-crushing defeat, House leaders won key converts Thursday to the $700 billion financial industry bailout on the eve of a make-or-break second vote.

[From House leaders win key converts on bailout bill - Yahoo! News]

Well. OK. I don't know if that's exactly an accurate description of the situation in technical economic terms but it does sort of look that way, doesn't it?

Personally, I'd wait to see if Wall Street can hold its breath long enough to turn blue.

Maybe Ohio, but not America

So The Simpson's now get it. Why don't Obama and the Dems? And why are they doing little or nothing to ensure that every voter in the nation is able to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot this year?

[From The BRAD BLOG : VIDEO: Homer Simpson's (and Obama's) Touch-Screen Voting Nightmare...]

For a preview of Homer Simpson's voting machine adventure, click the Brad Blog link.

And a cheery good morning to you too

A half-century ago, General Motors was the nation's biggest employer. Today it's Wal-Mart, a company that offers such paltry wages and benefits that many of its workers have to file for public assistance just to make ends meet.

[From BeggarsCanBeChoosers.com: How the American Economy Became a Sleazy Carnival Freak Show]


Afternoon, after rain

Afternoon, after rain, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Just think Mickey Mouse in one of those funny boats

VENICE (Reuters) - A proposal to turn the lagoon city of Venice into a Disney-style theme park has won a prize from a famed Venetian academy, even though it rejected the idea....

"If the first thing visitors to Venice remember is the magnificence of the setting, the second is the frequency with which they were ripped off," [British economist John Kay] wrote.

"Disney wants its guests to have a good time because it cares whether they come back. Most residents of Venice would rather that visitors didn't come back."

[From Briton wins prize for "Mickey Mouse" Venice idea - Yahoo! News]

Sell all your stock, buy ink

What started as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr.'s three-page proposal has now morphed into a 451-page monster with unrelated tax-extender or tax-increase and energy legislation.

[From Bailout bill, all 451 pages of it: The Swamp]

Have "surprised economists" hit a dime a dozen yet?

The ISM index plunged to 43.5% in September from 49.9% in August. This is the biggest drop in the index since 1984. The drop surprised economists.

[From U.S. Sept. ISM manufacturing index plunges to 43.5% - MarketWatch ]

Autumn wall

Autumn wall, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Spectacular dumbicity

INYOKERN, Calif. - Thousands of dollar bills stolen from a restaurant in California's high desert could not have been more clearly marked: The Homestead had a tradition of customers writing messages on the currency and hanging it on the walls.

Authorities allege that didn't stop 34-year-old Donald Dejarnette from using some of the cash last week to pay for — of all things — a court fine.

[From Dollars stolen from eatery's wall used to pay fine - Yahoo! News]

Banned Books Week

[Banned Book Week] is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

[From ALA | Banned Books Week]

Banned Book Week, Sept. 27 through Oct. 4 this year, would be a fine time to read one. Here's a list of the top 10, from the ALA, for starters:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell

Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes

Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman

Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain

Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker

Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou

Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris

Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky

Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Drill here, drill, oh, in about 20 years or so, pay about the same

According to the US Energy Information Administration, oil production from drilling offshore in the outer continental shelf wouldn't begin until around the year 2017. Once begun, it wouldn't reach peak production until about 2030 when it would produce only 200,000 barrels of oil per day (in yellow above). This would supply a meager 1.2% of total US annual oil consumption (just 0.6% of total US energy consumption). And, the offshore oil would be sold back to the US at the international rate, which today is $106 a barrel. So, the oil produced by offshore drilling would not only be a "drop in the bucket", it would be expensive, which translates to "no relief at the pump".

[From Architecture 2030 E-news]


Looking back

Looking back, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Great moments in jurisprudence

Stick to the Raisinets.

That's the advice of a Manhattan judge to an insurance broker who sued a theater chain after he busted a tooth when he bit into a popcorn kernel during a screening of "Superbad."

"Cooper tossed Steve Kaplan's small-claims suit - which sought to stick AMC Theatres with his $1,250 dental bill - and advised moviegoers to consider nibbling one piece of popcorn at a time.

"The other thing may be to simply say no to popcorn, with its tooth-fracturing potential, and settle for something else from the concession stands, like those giant-sized boxes of Raisinets or Milk Duds," Cooper wrote.

[From Filmgoer's popcorn suit a dud]


Gotta hand it to those Chinese

LONDON (Reuters) - A Chinese herbal remedy called horny goat weed is a promising alternative to Viagra for impotent men, Italian researchers said on Monday.

[From Horny Goat Weed may offer Viagra alternative - Yahoo! News]

Horny goat weed. Really, Dude.


Republicans are blaming Democrats and Democrats are blaming Republicans for Monday's failure to pass a $700 billion economic bailout package through the House.

[From The Raw Story | Bickering, finger-pointing follow House defeat of bailout bill]

Let's go around again

"Too big to fail" becomes too bigger to fail...

Citigroup will acquire the banking operations of the Wachovia Corporation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said Monday morning, the latest bank to fall victim to the distressed mortgage market.

The sale would further concentrate Americans’ bank deposits in the hands of just three banks: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup. Together, those three would be so large that they would dominate the industry, with unrivaled power to set prices for their loans and services. Given their size and reach, the institutions would probably come under greater scrutiny from federal regulators.

[From Citigroup Buys Bank Operations of Wachovia - NYTimes.com]

Greater scrutiny from federal regulators. Yeah, that's pretty comforting.