Pt. Townsend, WA

Photo: Lynn C.

Never met a war he didn't like

Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, was forced to step back from voting in favour of the Gaza ceasefire resolution at the UN Security Council after orders from Washington, diplomatic sources said yesterday....

The change of heart came about with a phone call from George Bush to Ms Rice in which he said don't veto the resolution but don't vote for it either.

[From Bush call halted US voting for ceasefire - Middle East - Independent.ie]

Clever: More copper clappers

Thanks, Charlie!

The story in the tea cup

THE crystal and ceramics company Waterford Wedgwood, whose roots go back 250 years, has been placed in administration, or what is called bankruptcy protection in the United States. While high manufacturing costs, declining demand for luxury goods and a weak dollar may have precipitated matters, this is not a credit-crunch story — it is a history lesson....

Today when most people think of Wedgwood, they think of bridal registries and those dusty-looking blue-and-white jasperware plates that no one knows what to do with. But things were once very different.

[From Op-Ed Contributor - Wedgwood Is Going Bankrupt Because It Forgot the Lessons of Its Founder - NYTimes.com]

Another paper down

The Hearst Corp. is unlikely to find a buyer for its money-losing Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the venerable newspaper -- at least in its printed form -- almost certainly will fold, industry observers say....

"People cried, people are still crying, editors are slamming their doors," [Breaking-news editor Candice Heckman] said. "They're talking of drowning their sorrows."

[From Business & Technology | Seattle P-I up for sale, but almost certainly will fold, industry observers say | Seattle Times Newspaper]

Yeah, I bet.

It's a shame to see the papers go, even a bigger shame to see the people go. And the ink. There may be some technical advantages to electronic publishing - timeliness and no doubt some environmental gain - and, given the emergence of reading devices like Amazon's Kindle, Sony's Reader, and the iPhone, electronic publishing is here to stay. But those pixels just won't rub off on your shirt.


I think I'll pass on "Next," thank you

Story (NYTimes)

Time for a deeper hole

Scientists may expect us to believe the booming is left over from the birth of galaxies billions of years ago, but the geeks know it is far more likely to be the first sign of an alien invasion or the wails of some monstrous creature lurking in the outer darkness.

[From What could the mysterious 'boom' sound in space be?]

Be still my heart: Shiny things

Here's our roundup of new storage options, ranging from external to networked from names like HP, Iomega, LaCie, Verbatim, and more.

[From AppleInsider | New storage options playing big role at Macworld]

Not glamorous, maybe, but oh so cool. And cross-platform, so everybody plays. And plays.

Stand back

This'll melt a few wingnut heads:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Spider-Man has a new sidekick: The president-elect....

The comic starts with Spider-Man's alter-ego Peter Parker taking photographs at the inauguration, before spotting two identical Obamas.

Parker decides "the future president's gonna need Spider-Man," and springs into action, using basketball to determine the real Obama and punching out the impostor.

Obama thanks him with a fist-bump.

[From Obama and Spider-Man appear in comic together]

Hasta la, Vista

"Over the past few years," says Microsoft on its web site, "you've asked us to make some changes to Windows."

No. Really?

Well, OK, I have heard rumors, but it turns out those guys in Redmond are right on top of things, way ahead of the game. Announcing a beta version of - ta da - Windows 7! (And "there's more to come.")

The way I see it, that's good news. If we've gone, over the years, from 95 to 7, surely that means some day my 1 will be back in again.

Do you remember where I put those floppy disks?


Fresh Popcorn

Photo: Lynn C.

For Professional Use Only

Charlie says, try saying this five times fast:

Copper Clappers

Use Only As Directed

Do Not Try This At Home

Keillor on self-esteem and the cheerfullest idiot

TV is wallpaper nowadays and those talking heads might as well be talking to the smoked trout in Murray's Deli, but we allow them their delusions.

And we allow the Current Occupant to leave the Mansion d'Blanc with a big grin in a couple weeks, his self-esteem apparently fully intact, imagining that his legacy will emerge golden and shining in a hundred years after all of us are deceased. He is one of the cheerfullest idiots you ever saw, a man who could burn down his own house and be happy that the patio was still standing. Had Congress impeached him, his defense would have been that he was not capable of understanding the charges.

[From The perils and joys of self-esteem -- chicagotribune.com]

Clout wins out

Roland "Tombstone" Burris, the amiable Illinois Democratic political hack who is being called eminently qualified by the national Democrats—perhaps because he's from Illinois and he hasn't been indicted—has almost reached his goal of being addressed as "Yes, sir, Senator."...

Only a week ago, Obama, Reid and other Democratic leaders were adamant that they'd block any Senate appointment made by tainted Illinois Gov. Rod "Dead Meat" Blagojevich, who has been charged with trying to sell Obama's seat to the highest bidder....

But today's news is that Obama, often treated by the national media as the gentle Mr. Tumnus of American politics, got privately hardball with Reid over the Tombstone issue.

[From Obama serves Reid taste of Chicago Way -- chicagotribune.com]


On democracy and jazz

The essence of jazz is the same as that of democracy: the greatest amount of individual freedom consistent with a healthy community. Each musician is allowed extraordinary liberty during a solo and then is expected to conscientiously back up the other musicians in turn. The two most exciting moments in jazz are during flights of individual virtuosity and when the entire musical group seems to become one. The genius of jazz (and democracy) is that the same people are willing and able to do both.


Flaccid economy promotes crisis in porn

How's this for a money shot? Reeling from the success of the free Internet porn business, the adult entertainment industry should get a $5 billion piece of the government's $700 billion bailout fund, says Joe Francis, chief executive officer of the production company that produces the popular "Girls Gone Wild" video series.

He's sending letters to California congressman Henry Waxman (his local representative), Massachusetts' Barney Frank (the head of the House of Representatives' Financial Services Committee) and the U.S. Treasury Department asking for assistance. His argument: the last thing California needs is another economic crisis to hit when it is trying to climb out of the real estate crash.

[From Mr. Smut Goes To Washington - Forbes.com]

Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue, who wonders (hopes?) if smut merchants rate a bailout, can cub reporters be far behind?

Unseemly guffaws issue from Accounting.

Surprisingly grim, shockingly awful

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Job losses and plans to lay off workers hammered the struggling U.S. economy in the final month of 2008, according to private reports that could foreshadow surprisingly grim labor market data from the government on Friday.

U.S. private employers shed 693,000 jobs in December, up sharply from the revised 476,000 jobs lost in November and far more than economists estimated, a report by ADP Employer Services said on Wednesday....

"This is shockingly awful," said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York.

[From Private job losses mount, ominous for payrolls | Reuters]

I see lines out the door where I work. Computer classes, resume writing workshops, and other assistance programs are booked solid a month in advance. The unemployment benefits system is struggling to keep up with first-time and renewal applications. Businesses are closing, laying off, or moving out. It is not a pretty sight.

And if this doesn't clear things up, nothing will

TOLEDO, Ohio - Joe The Plumber is putting down his wrenches and picking up a reporter’s notebook.

The Ohio man who became a household name during the presidential campaign says he is heading to Israel as a war correspondent for the conservative Web site pjtv.com.

[From Joe the Plumber to become war correspondent - BostonHerald.com]

The wonder of it all

Reid, caving in to Democrats:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In an abrupt switch, Senate Democratic leaders began talks on Wednesday about swearing in former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris, nominated by embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the Senate.

The turnaround came a day after Burris was barred from the Senate chamber when he arrived to take the oath of office.

[From Senate Democrats seen moving to seat Burris | Reuters]

Maybe he falls either way, ya think?

Grow feathers

Winter walkers could learn a thing or two from penguins. Heather Urquhart, a biologist and the manager of the penguin exhibit at the New England Aquarium, said many penguins in Antarctica have toenails - three on each foot - that help them grip icy surfaces. Still, she said, she has seen footage of penguins falling in "all kinds of funny ways."

"They're covered with feathers and a layer of blubber, so it's a little harder for them to break a bone," she said. So, "they kind of bounce a bit."

[From Sheer ice? Just walk this way and hope - The Boston Globe]

Sounds like a plan.

It seems we don't have all the ice here we were promised for this morning, more like about a half inch of squishy, wet snow, as far as I can see, but it's misting as we speak and currently the forecast is about another half inch - this of ice - during the day, followed by a below-freezing night. So things are likely to get worse before they get better, assuming they ever do.

But hey, those Senators work so hard they deserve a little fun now and then

Strip away the controversy surrounding Roland Burris' appointment to the U.S. Senate, and it comes down to this: He is perfectly qualified to hold the seat, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich was clearly exercising his legal authority to fill the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

Burris has served with distinction as attorney general and comptroller of Illinois. He is totally capable of doing the job of a U.S. senator and he has unquestioned integrity.

There is no reason for the allegations against Blagojevich—who has not yet been indicted—to taint Burris. There is no reason to believe the governor chose Burris for any other reason than for his distinguished record of public service. And there is no reason to doubt that he will continue to be a dedicated public servant in the U.S. Senate.

[From Burris is the perfect Senate candidate -- chicagotribune.com]

Feeling a little peckish at the Washington Times

With only 26 12 days left to harangue, mock and bash President Bush, some of our colleagues in the media aren't wasting a day. Bashing ex-presidents, except for the ex-presidents with shrill prominent wives, isn't nearly as much fun as bashing while he's still the real thing.

[From Washington Times - PRUDEN: Only 26 days left for Bush-bashing ]
Not that I spend much of my day reading the Washington Times, but I was looking for a column I saw recently in print wherein the perspicacious Pruden discovers winter weather is cold and concludes global warming is therefore a hoax. Which discovery is, of course, an annual event, as reliable as the shoures soote.


35.7 million pwned

The largest single cause of data breaches came from human error, the center found. Lost or stolen laptops and other removable electronic devices, along with the accidental exposure of consumer data -- such as the inadvertent posting of personal data online -- were named as the cause for more than 35 percent of reported incidents.

Computer hacking and software that steals data were blamed for nearly 14 percent of breaches.

[From Data Breaches Up Almost 50 Percent, Affecting Records of 35.7 Million People]

656 data breaches in 2008 alone, says Identity Theft Resource Center of San Diego. And that's not all - disclosure is not required in some states, limited in others.

For Rent

Photo by Lynn C., Port Townsend, WA

And the reason is...?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is refusing to seat Roland Burris, appointed by disgraced Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, for lack of state certification. That's a problem for Al Franken, who also lacks final state certification despite the fact that the state canvassing board declared him the winner Monday.

Will Senate Democrats seat Franken without official certification? "I don't think so," said Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois.

[From Reid And Durbin Say Franken Won't Be Seated With New Senate Class]

The reason for not seating Franken, according to a spokesbimbo for Weird Harry Reid named Jim Manley, is "the Republicans will object."

So, to recap the action so far, the dopey Dems won't seat Burris because they don't like the guy who appointed him and they won't seat Franken because the Republican will freakin' object.

What a bunch of mopes.

When frightened people fight terror

Intelligence officers created a voluminous file on Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, calling the group a "security threat" because of concerns that members would disrupt the circus. Angry consumers fighting a 72 percent electricity rate increase in 2006 were targeted. The DC Anti-War Network, which opposes the Iraq war, was designated a white supremacist group, without explanation.

One of the possible "crimes" in the file police opened on Amnesty International, a world-renowned human rights group: "civil rights."

[From More Groups Than Thought Monitored in Police Spying - washingtonpost.com]

Just a word of advice

Never piss off a guy who owns a back hoe.

(Noted by our Midwest bureau)


More extreme loafing: It's a trend

LAS VEGAS—In his greatest feat to date, lazy daredevil Pete "The Idler" Nucci will attempt to lie across 12 couches in under an hour this Friday evening. "These ain't your typical namby-pamby little Japanese loveseats," said Col. Chester Llewelyn, Nucci's manager. "No sir. We're talkin' over 72 feet of American-made, La-Z-Boy softness.

[From Lazy Daredevil To Lie Across 12 Couches | The Onion - America's Finest News Source]

Also it's the Onion, as you can plainly see.

OK, I've had it with these "severe weather" alerts


[From Severe Weather Alert - weather.com ]

I know, I know, some people need to know this stuff but they should have some kind of opt-out button, nyeah nyeah neyeah I can't hear you, or maybe a rating system like the movies. Because, I'm just saying here, it's bad enough to go out in the morning and find you car in a cake of ice without having to worry about it two days in advance.

This morning, well, it wasn't a cake exactly, but it was a definite shell, at least. I scraped on the windows for a while and then just said to hell with it and walked - slid, more like, because the sidewalks were ice-slick too - to my morning class. I needed the car for my afternoon class but by the time I got home at noon the ice had pretty much all melted off. Whew.

So now they want me to start worrying about Wednesday morning?

No way.

Nuts over nuts

Five years ago, at a San Francisco elementary school, a nurse stood by to ensure that the children scrubbed their hands as they arrived, while their packed lunches were confiscated and searched for nut products. The measures were a precaution to protect a 5-year-old boy at the school who had a severe nut allergy.

In 2006 a town in Connecticut felled three hickory trees more than 60 feet high after a resident learned that the trees leaning over her property produced nuts and complained that they posed a threat to her grandson, who had nut allergies.

Recently, a Massachusetts school district evacuated a school bus full of 10-year-olds after a stray peanut was found on the floor.

Do these safeguards seem a little, well, nuts?

[From Have Americans Gone Nuts Over Nut Allergies? - TIME]

"Light and slightly contemptuous mockery or banter"

Thanks to the CIA-grade secrecy that surrounds all goings-on at Apple, the rumor mill always works overtime just prior to any scheduled Apple event. This year, with the recent surprise announcement that CEO Steve Jobs would not be keynoting at the annual Macworld Expo Monday, there's even more prognostication and persiflage to cut through.

[From Whither Apple? Dispatches from the Steve Jobs Rumor Mill - TIME]

Cool word, huh? Persiflage. I confess: I had to look it up.

Macworld starts today at the Muscone Center in San Francisco, which means the new year is officially about to start. Lots of rumors are in the mill, of course - my votes go for an upgraded Mini and an online iWork software suite. Nothing radically new is in the cards, I'm guessing, but there will be, as always, significant cool.



Photo by Lynn C.
New Orleans' St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

Photos by Phil Compton (all rights reserved) . 

Barry's year

Dave Barry on 2008 - The Boston Globe

In a manner of speaking

New Orleans' historic, unique cemeteries show new life

[From New Orleans' historic, unique cemeteries show new life - Cleveland.com]


Corners, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

And the good news is...

...there will be no shortage of entertainment with the Democrats in Washington.

Days before Gov. Blagojevich was charged with trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, top Senate Democrat Harry Reid made it clear who he didn’t want in the post: Jesse Jackson, Jr., Danny Davis or Emil Jones.

Rather, Reid called Blagojevich to argue he appoint either state Veterans Affairs chief Tammy Duckworth or Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

[From Sources: Reid pressured governor on Senate replacement :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Gov. Blagojevich]

Bush: Forgotten but not gone

On Thanksgiving weekend 2003, even as the Iraqi insurgency was spiraling, his secret trip to the war zone was a P.R. slam-dunk. The photo of the beaming commander in chief bearing a supersized decorative turkey for the troops was designed to make every front page and newscast in the country, and it did. Five years later, in what was intended as a farewell victory lap to show off Iraq’s improved post-surge security, Bush was reduced to ducking shoes.

[From Op-Ed Columnist - A President Forgotten but Not Gone - NYTimes.com]