Why am I not surprised?

WASHINGTON (AP) - Stock intended to eventually earn taxpayers a profit as part of the Bush administration's massive bank bailout has lost a third of its value - about $9 billion - in barely one month, according to an Associated Press analysis. Shares in virtually every bank that received federal money have remained below the prices the government negotiated.

[From Mobile News Network]

Depression chic

NEW YORK (AP) - You know the economy is ailing when a Manhattan fashion boutique starts offering free soup.

The temporary fashion boutique calling itself The 1929 is selling chic clothes and giving away soup and coffee. The store is located in one of the trendiest shopping districts in the city.

[From Mobile News Network]

Woohoo! I'm baaaaack!

Seems the modem blew out. Or something. Stopped working would be the calmer way to put it. Or possibly it was a power surge that fried just the modem and nothing else, but that seems unlikely. But the best guess is, it just gave up. It was old, real old. And I thought about getting a new one a month or two ago, anyway. So I did. Get a new one, I mean. And when I plugged that in it came right up, working like a champ. Also, the new one seems faster than the old one was, but maybe that's just an illusion based on being down for nearly 24 hours (the pain, the pain).

So now I'm fooling around with NAT routings because...oh never mind.



My DSL is down. Maybe they laid off the wrong guy.

Who would be surprised?

-- Post From My iPhone

Pretty awesome, when you think about it

I'm sitting in a McDonald's in Northampton. A minute ago I snapped a photo outside the building. Came inside, uploaded the picture directly from my camera to Flickr, used my iPhone to post from Flickr to Blogger (and write this).

-- Post From My iPhone

On red

On red, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

And on the road.

No wonder I can't find a place to park

WASHINGTON (AP) — Skittish employers slashed 533,000 jobs in November, the most in 34 years, catapulting the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent, dramatic proof the country is careening deeper into recession.

The new figures, released by the Labor Department Friday, showed the crucial employment market deteriorating at an alarmingly rapid clip, and handed Americans some more grim news right before the holidays.

As companies throttled back hiring, the unemployment rate bolted from 6.5 percent in October to 6.7 percent last month, a 15-year high.

[From Employers ax 533,000 jobs in Nov., most in 34 years; unemployment rate rises to 6.7 percent -- chicagotribune.com]

Let's hope

Prohibition: Forever a lost cause?

[From Prohibition: Forever a lost cause? :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State]

But the WCTU is still hanging in there, the Sun-Times reports.

Do over!

Here’s what we know about President-elect Barack Obama and gadgets:

He loves his BlackBerry. He’s a Mac, not a PC. He was seen working out with a Zune.

Wait...a Zune? Not an iPod? Is it too late for a recount?

[From Obama uses Zune. Will iPod fans demand apology? | Eric 2.0]

The other problem with oil

No one wants to contemplate the effects of an exploding tanker laden with 300,000 tons of crude oil. To place this ship in some perspective, the Exxon Valdez, which ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska in 1989, carried 53 million gallons of crude oil. The Sirius is carrying nearly 84 million gallons. If that amount of crude were to escape, the environmental damage to the Indian Ocean and the East African coast, upon which millions earn their living, would be catastrophic.

[From Op-Ed Contributor - Grand Theft Nautical - NYTimes.com]

The more of this stuff that gets transported - by any means - the more exposure there is to monumental environmental disaster. The impossible has a way of happening, and this isn't very impossible. It isn't even very unlikely, as the Exxon Valdez and numerous other incidents testify.

"Some scientists" discover the Internet

NEW YORK – What does a teenage brain on Google look like? Do all those hours spent online rewire the circuitry? Could these kids even relate better to emoticons than to real people? These sound like concerns from worried parents. But they're coming from brain scientists.

While violent video games have gotten a lot of public attention, some current concerns go well beyond that. Some scientists think the wired world may be changing the way we read, learn and interact with each other.

Not that we haven't been there before.

More than 2,000 years ago, Socrates warned about a different information revolution — the rise of the written word, which he considered a more superficial way of learning than the oral tradition. More recently, the arrival of television sparked concerns that it would make children more violent or passive and interfere with their education.

[From Scientists ask: Is technology rewiring our brains? - Yahoo! News]

I guess all the brush is cleared

"This is the Texas home that George W. Bush has purchased for his fast-approaching post-White House years. The home, on a Dallas cul-de-sac, sits on 1.13 acres and offers 8501 square feet of living space, according to city appraisal records," the site, owned by Court TV, writes. "The property was purchased for $2.07 million in early-October by Robert McCleskey, the president's accountant, who is listed as trustee on deed records."

[From The Raw Story | Bush's new digs: $2 million, 8,500 square foot mansion]

And just in time to apply for a discount mortgage. What luck.


It's come to this

Parking is not a God-given right

[From Most city parking meters to cost $1 an hour | Clout Street - local political coverage]

Mayor Richard Daley and, it now appears, other deities are involved in a scheme to privatize Chicago's parking meters, resulting in the scheduled increase of the downtown parking tab to $1.00 per hour and an expected cancelation of parking holidays such as Sundays and, well, holidays.

And I'm not sure I want to hear it

All too often, the congested roads of Greater Boston conspire with the vagaries of childbirth to leave a mother-to-be in a car on the roadside at one of life's most critical moments. A hard-bitten state trooper shows up and morphs into a highway midwife, clearing the newborn's nose and mouth, cutting the cord, and sometimes even saving a life.

This is not one of those stories.

[From In rush-hour labor, ticket delivered - The Boston Globe]

Cut on dotted line

A couple of days ago we noted ("Inappropriate") the saga of a Seattle-based artist, one Deborah Lawrence, who participated in a project to decorate the White House Christmas tree by submitting an ornament emblazoned with impeachment sentiments. The White House has refused to hang it. What a grumpy house.

Notes Salon:

In past years, White House ornaments have tended to be cloying balls of patriotism. For instance, 2007's secret theme was an homage to the national park system. But the White House Christmas tree does have a history of controversy. In 1972, the Nixon administration was lambasted for topping its tree with the atomic symbol of peace instead of the traditional star. And in 1995, the Clinton administration refused to censor an ornament depicting Newt Gingrich's stocking filled with lumps of coal.

The White House may have dumped Lawrence's ornament like a lump of coal. But censoring it only spread its anti-Bush cheer. "My original intention was to make a statement," Lawrence says. "I felt like I needed to register my feelings about this administration. And I got a really great chance to do it."

Now you can register your feelings too with our official - OK, unofficial - YAME cutout version.

(Noted by our Midwest bureau.)

Guess who

Noted by our Midwest bureau:

It was his administration that was responsible for the faulty intelligence; his administration that notoriously "stove-piped" the available evidence to make the case for war, ignoring all facts that contradicted the neocons' theories, crushing any dissent in the Pentagon and intelligence establishment. His administration then sold that corrupt evidence to Congress and browbeat members into authorizing the use of military force on the eve of the 2002 midterm election, by depicting them as traitors and sissies if they raised questions. Now Bush is trying to say he was misled by the "failure" of his own intelligence leaders and Cabinet advisors? What a loser.

[From The buck stops where? - Joan Walsh - Salon.com]

The good news is, Bunky, all this - maybe soon - will end. The bad news is, no matter who you are, it will end badly.

What a loser, indeed.

100 - count 'em - 100 notable books

The Book Review has selected this list from books reviewed since Dec. 2, 2007, when we published our previous Notables list.

[From Holiday Books - 100 Notable Books of 2008 - NYTimes.com]

So the list season begins. For the 10 the NYTimes editors deem most notable of all, click here.


A race against time

From our Midwest bureau:

Not good news if you live downstream in the 'holler...

How much more damage can he do??

WASHINGTON — The White House on Tuesday approved a final rule that will make it easier for coal companies to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop mining operations into nearby streams and valleys.

[From Coal Mining Debris Rule Is Approved - NYTimes.com]

And only 47 more days.

And for this they want $18 bil

For its part, the automaker said it would eliminate or sell its Saab and Saturn brands, shrink its venerable Pontiac division to a few niche models, lay off tens of thousands of employees and put nearly 2,000 dealers out of business.

GM also said it would reduce pay 20% or more for four top executives and pay Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner a $1 annual salary.

[From GM says it could fail in a matter of weeks - Los Angeles Times]

Some kind of low-cost government loan, the $18 bil. Don't ask me. It does sound a little bit presumptuous, though, asking the public to subsidize all those layoffs. And then subsidize what little bit of help all those layoffees get after they are. (Somehow I don't think C&CE Ricky will be standing in the food stamp line any time soon.)

But here's the really good part. Apparently in an attempt to show contrition, this time the auto execs are driving, as opposed to flying in private jets, to Washington for this second round of pleading. Which has got to be the stupidest, most inefficient way they could possibly get there. Even if they are in the auto business, even at 20% off - even at a buck a year (yeah, right) - you really want to see these guys do something a little more productive than drive a car.

Still, it proves they've learned something: It's all about the smoke and mirrors, babe.

It really is.

I want to know more about the crude slumps, myself

Gas prices fall to new low as crude slumps

[From Gas prices fall to new low as crude slumps - The Boston Globe]

"Inappropriate," White House says

That controversial ornament calling for President Bush's impeachment? Won't hang in the White House after all.

"Oh, dear," said Seattle-based artist Deborah Lawrence, who created the red and white ornament that salutes Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and his support for a resolution to impeach the president. "This doesn't really surprise me. But it's disappointing that I won't get to see it on the tree."

[From White House Won't Hang Christmas Impeachment Ornament - Reliable Source - Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts share gossip from inside the Beltway and beyond.]

Sounds pretty cool to me.

I'll wait until it turns up on Amazon

A day after the official declaration of a national recession, visitors journeyed to the New York Public Library from Atlanta, Palm Beach, Fla., White Plains and Queens to see a $126,000 coffee-table book that is actually the size of a coffee table....

O.K.: it’s more than a coffee-table book. The rare, 61-pound book, made recently by hand, was toiled over by scholars, artists and artisans. Called “Michelangelo: La Dotta Mano” (“Michelangelo: The Learned Hand”), the book, an Italian language celebration of his work, cost 100,000 euros (about $126,864) to make in Italy and was donated on Monday to the library, where it will be on view through Monday.

[From A Book Made for 100,000 Euros (Includes Labor) - NYTimes.com]


This good-for-the-earth product isn't so good for kids. (You might need to click on the image to read the label.)

Feels like 37?

Hey don't apologize. I'll take it.

Better yet, there's sun.

Let's hear it for today.

It's a problem

Two auditions for the play, "Black Wall Street," based on the 1921 race riots in Tulsa, Okla., were held in late October, but "no white people showed up," said Profit, the show's executive producer. "I don't know how you have a race riot without people of different races."

[From Needed: White people for play about race riot -- chicagotribune.com]

The line gets longer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — JPMorgan Chase said Monday it plans to lay off 9,200 employees at Washington Mutual, the failed savings and loan that the New York City-based banking giant bought in September....

JPMorgan will slash 3,400 WaMu employees in Seattle, Washington, according to JPMorgan Chase spokeswoman Christine Holevas. That comes on top of the 1,600 job cuts in Pleasanton and San Francisco, California, which the company announced last week. The remaining 4,200 cuts will come from Washington Mutual offices nationwide, Holevas said. But she added that most branch workers will keep their jobs: Most of the layoffs will be at the corporate level.

[From The CNN Wire: Latest updates on top stories Blog Archive - 9,200 Washington Mutual jobs cut « - Blogs from CNN.com]


Quiet neighborhood, New Orleans...

If you're into lists...

Here's our list of the top five dumbest injuries suffered by athletes...

[From The List: Five dumbest injuries suffered by athletes | FanNation]

For the record, Wikipedia repeats this story - without citation, but it's a story I've heard from several other sources over the years - about former University of Minnesota fullback Bronco Nagurski who played for the Chicago Bears from 1930 to 1937:

A time-honored and almost certainly apocryphal story about Nagurski is that on one occasion carrying the ball, he was charging toward the goal line, head down, shoving tacklers out of the way, and that he ran right through the end zone and smacked his head on the close-in brick wall at Wrigley Field, cracking the wall. When he came back to the bench, he told coach George Halas, "That last guy gave me quite a lick!"

After retiring from football Nagurski opened a service station in International Falls, MN, where the local legend was that once one became a Nagurski customer one remained a Nagurski customer for the duration of a car's life, because nobody else in town was strong enough to remove the oil filler cap once Nagurski had screwed it on.

What, they just found out?

Dow plunges 680 points after recession confirmed

[From CNN.com - Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News]

Woe, I say woe, is me

I just discovered some free software (Overdrive) that allows free downloads of free audiobooks from my free public library - that's free, I say, and all perfectly on the up and up - and my freakin' library card has expired.

Don't let this happen to you.

So now I will have to find some time this week to hustle myself over to said library ASAP and get said card renewed, is all there is to that. I doubt if this will replace Audible (currently, a Sara Paretsky novel called Total Recall) but it will certainly make a very, very nice supplement indeed.

(The URL for the software download - yes it even runs in Windows - is http://overdrive.com/software/omc/.)

Busy day

Gotta go.

In fact, busy week. If you count 16 hours of actual work as busy. Still, that's 8 classes distributed over three towns. Maybe hectic would be a better word. Not busy, in the sense of busy-ness.

Gotta go. Or did I mention that?

Fizzle poorly?

MINNEAPOLIS — The Bears’ beleaguered defense came in with a simple strategy: slow down Adrian Peterson and use their best cornerback, Charles Tillman, to take away the only other threat the Minnesota Vikings have.

They have not had a game plan fizzle this poorly since, well, their trip to Green Bay two weeks ago.

[From Bears self-destruct in 34-14 embarrassment to Vikes :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Bears]

Oh. The Bears. Well, maybe then. That would be a special case.

Getting bored with your BMW?

Rebecca Perlo's toy collection is simply overwhelming: Nemo, Simba, Fantastic Man, and "Evil" Homer Simpson action figures; Barney, Bugs Bunny, and Princess Leia Pez dispensers; Playskool people, Lego people, Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots, and Mr. Potato Head.

Throw in some yo-yos, a miniature slot machine, and a rubber ducky or two, and lots of other stuff, and the number of toys in Perlo's menagerie hits 1,000, maybe even 1,500. Where does she keep them all? Glued to the hood, roof, doors, and fenders of her 1999 Saab, if you can believe it....

Actually, the craziest thing about Perlo's car might be that it's completely street-legal. According to state law, you can glue pretty much whatever you want to your ride - toys, pots and pans, living grass - and still pass inspection.

[From They deck out their cars like works of art - The Boston Globe]

Watch out for drunk senior citizens with phones

Lee Strayer of the University of Utah and colleagues have found in a series of experiments using driving simulators that hands-free mobile phones are just as distracting as handheld models.

They have demonstrated that chatting on a cell phone can slow the reaction times of young adult drivers to levels seen among senior citizens, and shown that drivers using mobile telephones are as impaired as drivers who are legally drunk.

[From Mobile phones distract drivers more than passengers | Reuters]


And put it all on plastic, what the hell

Reporting from Washington -- With its decision last week to pump an additional $1 trillion into the financial crisis, the government eliminated any doubt that the nation is on a wartime footing in the battle to shore up the economy. The strategy now -- and in the coming Obama administration -- is essentially the win-at-any-cost approach previously adopted only to wage a major war.

And that means no hesitation in pledging to spend previously almost unimaginable sums of money and running up federal budget deficits on a scale not seen since World War II.

[From Economic rescue could cost $8.5 trillion - Los Angeles Times]

This is just a test and I have no idea


And PS: No, it wasn't taken today. Are you kidding? It's gray and ugly and spitting ice and sleet and maybe a little snow out there - the fabled "mix." I can think of a better word to describe it and you can probably guess what it is.

Duly noted

A brief report in the Inside the List column on Nov. 16 rendered incorrectly the name of a Web site that recently held a contest involving satirical book covers. It is Bookninja, not Book Ninja.

[From Corrections - Correction - NYTimes.com]

Not exactly what you'd call a rave review

This new book mixes jiggers of various weak liquors — paraphrase, topical one-liners, blogger tics — and ends up tasting kind of festive but bad, like Long Island iced tea.

[From Book Review - 'The Wordy Shipmates,' by Sarah Vowell - Review - NYTimes.com]

The machine grinds on

Many retired officers hold a perch in the world of military contracting, but General McCaffrey is among a select few who also command platforms in the news media and as government advisers on military matters. These overlapping roles offer them an array of opportunities to advance policy goals as well as business objectives. But with their business ties left undisclosed, it can be difficult for policy makers and the public to fully understand their interests.

On NBC and in other public forums, General McCaffrey has consistently advocated wartime policies and spending priorities that are in line with his corporate interests. But those interests are not described to NBC’s viewers. He is held out as a dispassionate expert, not someone who helps companies win contracts related to the wars he discusses on television.

[From One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex - Series - NYTimes.com]

YA reason I don't want to do it over

BOULDER, Colo. — When Donna Campiglia learned recently that a genetic test might be able to determine which sports suit the talents of her 2 ½-year-old son, Noah, she instantly said, Where can I get it and how much does it cost?

[From Sports May Be Child’s Play, but Genetic Testing Is Not - NYTimes.com]

Sounds cozy

WELLESLEY - When Dr. Gene Lindsey arrived to see his 4 p.m. appointment on a recent Thursday, his nine patients already were seated on folding chairs arranged in a semicircle around a table of snacks. Lindsey, a cardiologist, shook each patient's hand, rolled up his sleeves, and, for the next 90 minutes, examined them, one by one.

As he listened to lungs and hearts, he discussed their personal medical details out loud.

Since July, Lindsey has been seeing his Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates patients only in groups, formally called shared medical appointments. It's part of an ambitious plan by Harvard Vanguard to ease physician shortages, and reduce patient and doctor dissatisfaction over constantly feeling rushed during appointments.

[From The doctor will see all of you now - The Boston Globe]

Still time to screw up a few more things

WASHINGTON — The Labor Department is racing to complete a new rule, strenuously opposed by President-elect Barack Obama, that would make it much harder for the government to regulate toxic substances and hazardous chemicals to which workers are exposed on the job....

The Labor Department proposal is one of about 20 highly contentious rules the Bush administration is planning to issue in its final weeks. The rules deal with issues as diverse as abortion, auto safety and the environment.

[From Bush Aides Rush to Enact a Safety Rule Obama Opposes - NYTimes.com]