Saw La damnation de Faust (Berlioz) this afternoon in an HD telecast to a local theater from a live performance at the Met. I don't remember if I mentioned it before but the Met is telecasting its entire season that way (the info is here).

The camera work made this production seem more like watching a movie than a staged event, and subtitles translated the sense of the lyrics, both of which features I found a little disorienting for the first five or ten minutes - but once I'd made the adjustment between what I'd expected and what I was seeing the performance was thoroughly enjoyable and the big-theater sound magnificent. I'm hoping to catch another production, possibly Puccini's La Rondine in January, before the season ends.

If you're interested in seeing some first class opera and the Met has a broadcast season in your area, give this program serious consideration. The broadcast format works and the experience is worth every penny.

Who knew?

Exchanging of trophies between teams is a college football tradition, and Illinois still has two of them. Ohio State and Illinois exchange a wooden turtle known as Illibuck. The Illini and Purdue trade possession of a cannon.

[From Sweet Sioux Tomahawk goes the way of Chief Illiniwek -- chicagotribune.com]


Since, hey, they have nothing else to do

The US government has asked the Supreme Court to reimpose a half-million-dollar fine slapped on CBS television for a 2004 broadcast of live images of pop star Janet Jackson's breast, court documents obtained by AFP show.

[From The Raw Story | Janet Jackson's 'Nipplegate' case could reach US high court]

Afternoon light


Hideout, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Maybe, maybe not

(11-20) 20:18 PST — Bay Area environmental leaders are counting on a $1 billion investment to build the nation’s first electric vehicle network - with service stations to recharge batteries and garages to swap depleted batteries for fresh ones - and finally make the gasoline-free cars practical....

San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland will begin implementing their own policies next month, with plans to make electrical outlets for low-voltage vehicles available on all public buildings next year. Higher-voltage charging equipment also will be made available at city parking lots and curbs - including one plan to put outlets in sidewalk streetlights in San Jose and San Francisco.

[From Making Bay Area friendly for electric cars]

In International Falls, MN - admittedly, last time I was there was a long time ago, but I see no reason why it might have changed - there were electrical outlets on all the parking meters in the business district so, during the long winter, drivers could plug in their head bolt heaters - devices that kept a car's oil from becoming so cold and sluggish the car wouldn't start. Most of us who lived in Northern Minnesota had head bolt heaters in our cars.

So widespread public distribution of electrical power - in this case, outlets on streetlights for re-charging electric cars - is clearly possible. The scale is different, in the Bay Area, but the problem is the same.

But I still have my doubts. Hasn't California been known to have power problems - rolling blackouts or greyouts during the summer months? Nationally, in fact, the power grid seems barely capable of handling air conditioning, let along re-charging a sizable fleet of cars. Even around here, in the nether regions of New England, we have the occasional power blip in the summer. And don't even ask what happens in the winter after snow storms, not to mention sleet and ice. In fact, pick up any newspaper after a major tantrum of nature - from snowstorm to flood, from hurricane to earthquake - and power outages are part of the story. Prolonged power failure makes it impossible to pump gas too, but at least you can run your car a whole lot longer on a tank of gas than you can on any battery available today.

Plus, of course, electrical power doesn't necessarily solve all the environmental issues autos raise - most of them it just moves somewhere else. (And some, like battery disposal, it adds.)

I'm willing to be convinced - and I like the hybrid idea a lot - but right now I don't see all-electric cars as much of a boon.


I buy this hat, now everybody wants one. That's Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley, in the picture there.

On the cutting edge of fashion again.

On age and awe

Sometimes I wonder how it would feel to be so young as to take today's technology for granted. I've been playing around with the newest iPhone software upgrade this morning and rediscovering Google Maps. Turns out Google Maps now provides directions, in cities at least, in one's choice of driving, walking, or public transit varieties, complete with traffic conditions for drivers and notes on bus or train changes for riders. Sure, you can find all that from your computer - and that's pretty impressive - but combined with the GPS function in the iPhone it's downright mind-blowing. Dude, I may have to move to Boston just so I can play with my phone.

I'm so old I remember being able to pick up free maps at any gas station. That's the technology I took for granted. Surely there are people of a certain age, now, who take Google Maps for granted. What must that be like? If I weren't so sure they've got a lot more cool things to look forward to I'd feel sorry for them. I am, so I don't, but I would.

Meanwhile, I am happy as a clam (I'm not so old I actually remember happy clams) just fooling around with this stuff.

Around again

The forecast, released yesterday by the New England Economic Partnership, a nonprofit group in Walpole, projects the state's unemployment rate will accelerate from its current 5.5 percent, hitting 7.6 percent by the end of 2009 and peaking in the third quarter of 2010 at 8.3 percent.

That would be the highest rate since 1992...

[From Sharp rise forecast in Bay State job losses - The Boston Globe]

...which is - you guessed it - the last time I was looking for a job. 1992, I mean. Or thereabouts. So I know first-hand what that kind of unemployment rate is like and it ain't pretty. I work as a computer skills instructor at an agency affiliated with the state employment service and business is booming there. Just finding a parking spot, never mind a job, is tough.


Paradise is deep fried.  And groupers have yummy fingers...

Now you know...

From Cheddarvision...

A full time-lapsed 12 months of cheese, aging.

The fallen

The fallen, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

It's in the Geezer's Manual: Complain about the kids

Good news for worried parents: All those hours their teenagers spend socializing on the Internet are not a bad thing, according to a new study by the MacArthur Foundation.

“It may look as though kids are wasting a lot of time hanging out with new media, whether it’s on MySpace or sending instant messages,” said Mizuko Ito, lead researcher on the study, “Living and Learning With New Media.” “But their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world. They’re learning how to get along with others, how to manage a public identity, how to create a home page.”

[From Teenagers’ Internet Socializing Not a Bad Thing - NYTimes.com]

But wait. Maybe they're on to something after all?


On the other hand, if you don't...

"At this point, Bush has had so many disasters on his watch," stated [Tina] Brown, "that I honestly get the sense that this is not a president who's looking back in a mellow fashion on his presidency -- or even feeling that he has busy things to do -- so much as a president who's kind of punch-drunk, really, with a series of debacles which even he -- in his great sort of denial and his refusal to really accept his own failures -- has to accept at this point has been a, really a chapter of hideous accidents, if you want to be charitable about it."

[From The Raw Story | Tina Brown: Bush's endless 'debacles' made him 'punch drunk']

How absolutely, incredibly awesome is this?

This 1963 image by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt is part of a huge and growing - eventually to number more than 10 million photos - collection of digitized LIFE magazine photographs being hosted by Google, here. Most of the pictures were never published, according to Google's announcement. Click to browse the images or add the term "source:life" (presumably the quote marks aren't necessary) to any Google image search.

Henry Luce acquired the name LIFE by buying an existing humor magazine and used it for a new publication he founded in 1936. Luce's LIFE was published weekly until 1972, then intermittently and finally monthly until 2000. It set the standard for photojournalism in the 20th Century, covering virtually all of the newsworthy events in the latter half of the century and employing, at one time or another, virtually all of the world's best photographers.


Turns out something like 80% of the New England apple crop was damaged by a hail storm sometime this year - I wasn't paying attention - so I encountered this display yesterday at the grocery store.


Season's end

Season's end, originally uploaded by tedcompton.


A reality check from Detroit

The debate over aid to the Detroit-based automakers is awash with half-truths and misrepresentations that are endlessly repeated by everyone from members of Congress to journalists. Here are six myths about the companies and their vehicles, and the reality in each case.

[From 6 myths about the Detroit 3 | Freep.com | Detroit Free Press]


US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Tuesday ruled out using the 700-billion dollar financial bailout to shore up the battered economy, amid distress calls for help from the ailing auto industry....

"The rescue package was not intended to be an economic stimulus or an economic recovery package; it was intended to shore up the foundation of our economy by stabilizing the financial system, and it is unrealistic to expect it to reverse the damage that had already been inflicted by the severity of the crisis," he said.

[From The Raw Story | Paulson rules out using US financial aid to help economy]

And it's gonna be a long, long wait

WASHINGTON -- New government figures show that almost 700,000 children went hungry in the United States at some point in 2007, up more than 50 percent from the year before to mark the highest point since 1998. And that's even before this year's sharp economic downtown, the Agriculture Department reported Monday.

The department's annual report on food security showed that during 2007 the number of children who suffered a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat was more than double the 430,000 in 2006 and the largest figure since 716,000 in 1998....

The findings should increase pressure to meet President-elect Barack Obama's campaign pledge to expand food aid and end childhood hunger by 2015, said James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group.

[From Gov't Finds Child Hunger Rose 50% In 2007 - Health News Story - WEWS Cleveland]

(Emphasis mine)

No heads to roll

Even as President-elect Obama vowed "to regain America's moral stature in the world" during Sunday's 60 Minutes appearance, two of his senior advisers confessed there is no intent to pursue those in the Bush administration who engaged in torture, a war crime.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press, the advisers said that the plan is to put a stop to current interrogation methods and to "look forward" as opposed to focusing on prior transgressions.

[From The Raw Story | Obama advisers: Bush era war criminals will walk]

Where is Kokomo, Indiana?

Cool. I just spoke that question into my phone and within two seconds Google had a map displaying on my screen. "What is the stock price for Apple" brought me a page of links to Apple's stock market info.

Alas, the suggested search "movie showtimes," which is supposed to bring local times based on the iPhone's determination of exactly where you are, brought me nothing specific because I'm, well, nowhere - but it did deliver a Google page that only required me to type in a ZIP code for results.

It's Google's new voice search for the iPhone I'm talking about, and it works like a charm. No typing, no tapping, just as promised - hold the phone to your ear, ask the question, and then look at the screen for results.

Oh, wait. "Weather in Boston."

It's 30º, and cloudy.

And 24º right here.


Climbing out

(Photo: Phil Compton)


While the public and media are occupied with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the potential conflict with Iran, the downward spiral in Pakistan, and a global economic meltdown, a new, rapidly-evolving danger — narco-cartels and gangs — has been developing in Mexico and Latin America. And it has the potential to trump global terrorism as a threat to the United States.

[From Danger Room - Wired Blogs]
(Poster from Civil Defense Museum)

Everybody ought to take a nap or something...

...because this is getting way out of hand.

Salon's Walter Shapiro talked to Bill Ayers about the election in which he played a surprisingly big part:

Do you feel diminished by Obama repeatedly referring to you throughout the campaign as just some "guy from the neighborhood"?

Not in the least; I am a guy from the neighborhood. And I'm proud of it ... And the neighborhood being Hyde Park, which is a very close-knit, very friendly, very politically diverse, very racially diverse. You have all kinds of poles there. You have [conservative] Judge Richard Posner on one pole and Louis Farrakhan on the other. And everything in between. It's an interesting neighborhood, a college town [the University of Chicago]. It's close-knit. It's kind of like Wasilla, Alaska, except that it's different.

[From Ayers: Our Neighborhood "Kind Of Like Wasilla"]

Dude, describing Hyde Park as a college town is just bizarre. It's a neighborhood in Chicago. And saying it's like Wasilla but different is like saying Kokomo is like, but different from Paris. (Actually Hyde Park is more like Northampton, but with real money.)

If this goes on much longer I'm going to read more books.

A note of interest (and a page name to admire)

With the resignation by Obama of his Senate seat we now find ourselves with our first black president-elect and not one black senator. If the Senate was representative of our national demographics, there would be 12 black senators. Over the past century there have been 78 years without a black senator. A reminder that breaking the glass ceiling does not necessarily unlock the doors.


Well, at least the no-longer-relevant part is right

Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, poised to ascend to House Republicans' No. 2 leader this week, said the Republican Party in Washington is no longer "relevant" to voters and must stop simply espousing principles. Instead, it must craft real solutions to health care and the economy.

"Where we have really fallen down is, we have lacked the ability to be relevant to people's lives. Let's set aside the last eight years, and our falling down in living up to expectations of what we said we were going to do," Mr. Cantor told The Washington Times in his district office outside of Richmond.

[From Washington Times - EXCLUSIVE: Cantor says GOP is no longer 'relevant']

So if you want to stay thin...

...quit thinking.

You can get ravenous when you are doing nothing else but thinking hard about something. This has been a thesis of ours for years. See, that's why these few extra pounds crept up on us. It has nothing to do with lack of exercise or willpower or any of the other stuff that diet experts cite to flagellate us. Here's why many Americans are too fat: They think too much.

And now we have the proof! Or at least, we have someone who agrees with us.

Performing mental tasks stimulates the appetite so much that people tend to eat significantly more calories while doing so, according to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine. Researchers found brain work "destabilizes" levels of insulin and glucose, two basic components in the body's energy-producing arsenal. Thus, the harder you think, the more the brain demands glucose—meaning sugar.

[From Thinking makes you fat -- chicagotribune.com]

Hey, you could always just sit around and watch TV.

Oh, wait...


Or not

Or not, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

If you're suffering from voting withdrawal...

...there's still time to vote here.

Each year, the Center for Media and Democracy sponsors the "Falsies Awards" contest to shine an unflattering light on those responsible for polluting our information environment. As you look back at 2008, who stands out, for their shameless spinning?

Please rate our Falsies nominees (listed below), and tell us who you think should win our "Readers' Choice" Falsies. We're also asking you to sincerely nominate people or groups who have championed honest discourse over the past year, for our "Win Against Spin" Awards.

Please fill out the survey by 5:00 pm (U.S. central standard time) on Monday, December 1, 2008, to make sure your votes are tallied. You can vote for multiple winners in each category; our awards committee will factor that into their deliberations. Please note that you must vote on at least eight of our nominees for your ballot to be counted. (We don't need anyone stuffing our Falsies!)

Welcome to the Fifth Annual Falsies Awards!

We hardly knew ye

Democrats, including Obama, appear to believe that the need to soothe the market should govern all key economic decisions in the transition period. Which is why, just days after a euphoric victory for "change," the mantra abruptly shifted to "smooth transition" and "continuity."

[From Wall Street's Bailout is a Trillion-Dollar Crime Scene -- Why Aren't the Dems Doing Something About It? | Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace | AlterNet]

Evolution and beyond

(Photo: Phil Compton)