Hobo Stew for dinner

Recipe: Take what you got, put it in a pot, cook it 'til it's hot. Only tonight we're tossing in a big fistful of mushrooms and calling it Hobo Stew Pro.

Otherwise, not much done today, in significant part because - you're not gonna believe this, Bunky - I forgot my password for Vista. Yeah, it's true. I did one of those forced password changes the other day, wrote the new one down, and threw the paper away.

Lucky, though, I had a copy of the disk image on another drive so I just reverted to it - but that meant hours of updates to be repeated on the old disk. Finally it's finished, and I have a brand new password - this time unforgettable and unprintable.

You got us on Paint and WordPad

David Pogue's piece on the nascent Windows 7 in the Times this morning devotes a paragraph to what Pogue delicately calls "Apple borrowings," although I have difficulty finding any promised Windows feature on the entire second web page of the article that doesn't already exist in Mac OS X except the aforementioned relics - no supplied paint program and no WordPad. A Mac's supplied bargain-basement Text Edit functions not only as a text editor (think Notepad) but also as a minimalistic word processor with spellchecking that even reads and writes Word files. And, possibly an "improved backup program," whatever that may be - I stopped even thinking about backups with Apple's Time Machine.

Yeah, OK, I know, I'm indulging myself here. Windows 7 is Vista cleaned up some - and hang in there, Windows users, the day will come when you have computers that work too.

In the meantime, if you don't want to wait for it, you can always get a Mac...or, you can get a Mac. Says Pogue:

It’s no Windows XP, but even with months of fine-tuning still to go, 7 feels snappy. (On a Mac, paradoxically, it’s positively supersonic.)


Not fooling around in Iowa

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa – An Iowa woman has been arrested because she failed to return a library book. Thirty-nine-year-old Shelly Koontz was arrested Thursday night on a fifth-degree theft charge. She is accused of keeping "The Freedom Writers Diary," which she checked out from the public library in nearby Jesup in April.

Police say the book — which is about a high school teacher's effort to inspire students to write — is valued at $13.95.

[From Unreturned library book leads to woman's arrest - Yahoo! News]

But then there's recycling

A swelling global population, changing diets and mankind's expanding “water footprint” could be bringing an end to the era of cheap water....

The world is in danger of running out of “sustainably managed water”, according to Peter Gleick, the president of the Pacific Institute and a leading authority on global freshwater resources.

[From Green Change : Earth is running short of fresh water]

Just don't get sick

With $37,000 of annual hospital coverage, [Lisa Kelly] thought it would at least get her in the door at M.D. Anderson, a leading cancer center. But they told her it was not enough.

So Kelly cashed in some of her husband's inheritance and came in with a check for $45,000. When her tests showed she needed immediate cancer treatment, the hospital asked for another $60,000 to admit her that day.

[From Hospitals Demanding Cash Up Front, CBS Evening News: Growing Number Of Americans Have Coverage, But Still Pay Dearly For Treatment - CBS News]

Explains American Hospital Association spokesman, "hospitals are in a very tough position."


Extreme sports in Vermont

Board wrestles with reservoirs

[From Board wrestles with reservoirs - Brattleboro Reformer]

Pakistan in Peril

From Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue:

Even more evidence of the failures of the Bush presidency. How long will it take to undo the damage of the last eight years?

The relative calm in Iraq in recent months, combined with the drama of the US elections, has managed to distract attention from the catastrophe that is rapidly overwhelming Western interests in the part of the world that always should have been the focus of America's response to September 11: the al-Qaeda and Taliban heartlands on either side of the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The situation here could hardly be more grim...

[From Pakistan in Peril - The New York Review of Books]

Fresh Crab

Photo: Lynn C.

Good luck with that

Windows 7 will simply repackage today's Vista so that people will buy it without complaining.

[From AppleInsider | Windows 7 vs. Snow Leopard: Microsoft's comeback plan]

The light at the end of the tunnel...

Preservation Hall, New Orleans.

Photo: Phil Compton

Back to the future in Washington

If the Obama campaign represented a sleek, new iPhone kind of future, the first day of the Obama administration looked more like the rotary-dial past....

"It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said of his new digs.

[From Obama Staff Arrives to White House Stuck in Dark Ages of Technology - washingtonpost.com]


The Speech: Conservatives Weigh In

The Speech: Conservatives Weigh In

[From Powering Up : The Speech: Conservatives Weigh In]

Writes Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue, "Even these sour-ass right-wingers say Obama did OK. But why is always about taxes? When is our nation going to recognize that we have an obligation to pay for such things as schools, roads, armies, etc.? And when are we going to have an adult conversation about how we finance government?"

2008: A bumper crop of really bad movies

The day before the Motion Picture Academy releases the Oscar nominations -- honoring the movie industry's best -- the Golden Raspberry Award foundation reveals nominations for the Razzies, which recognize the worst films of 2008....

"All of the voting was very close this year," [Razzie founder John Wilson] said. "There just was too much stuff to choose from."

[From Myers' 'Guru' up for year's worst - CNN.com]

-Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue

Everybody wants in

Ever since the bailout, everyone from the auto companies to a Las Vegas mob museum has felt emboldened enough to ask for their own brand of government assistance, and life insurance companies are no exception, reports today's Washington Post. They're begging regulators to lower the minimum amount of capital they must have on hand. As the Post notes, "The changes the industry group seeks would make companies appear healthier," which the industry hopes would prevent panicky policy holders from cashing out.

[From Quick Picks: Gitmo Takes a Break and Life Insurers Ask for One - ProPublica]

The Rapper and the Fallen

This is an excerpt from a letter we received today from a soldier in Mosul. He was discussing yesterday’s inauguration:

When they introduced those guys, I thought Yo Yo Ma was a rapper, I really did. I know Barrack Obama is African American, but c’mon (I was thinking). Now I know Yo Yo Ma is an Asian guy with a violin. I’m out of it.

Unfortunately, this is also an excerpt:


-Lynn C.


Photo: Lynn C.

Shoes news

Last night, Bush also got a sendoff from activists inspired by Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi, who was detained last month after flinging his shoes at Bush during a press conference in Baghdad’s Green Zone. On Dupont Circle, a crowd gathered to chuck shoes at an inflatable Bush dummy (pictured here); down on Pennsylvania Avenue, reports Jim Wolf of Reuters, a coalition called ShoeBush.org tossed footwear between Inaugural parade reviewing stands.

[From Shoe-Bombers Strike Washington | Danger Room from Wired.com]

From the new whitehouse.gov

President Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

[From Additional Issues]

And also, BTW, this:

As the author of two best-selling books — Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope — President Obama uniquely appreciates the role and value of creative expression.

What I'm thinking is, let's just ban the word "uniquely" and be done with it.

Wherein I get carded on Yahoo

It's only half over and already it's going down as a technologically imperfect week. This morning I set up an email account at Yahoo to use as a demo in class. We set people who need them up with email addresses at Yahoo because it's easy and free, and now that I'm working sometimes in a lab with a smartboard projector it will be useful to have one of my own so I can show, instead of just telling, how it works.

So far so good, but in the process, without thinking, I pick 1/1/2000 my birthdate and get dumped into a notice that I now have to get my Mom or Dad to vouch for me, and doing so will cost them 50 cents. If it weren't for the 50 cents, I'd play their game. But as it is, I decide to try again, this time with a more geezer-appropriate date.

Yahoo has fiendishly set some sort of kiddie cookie in my browser, though, and my second attempt fails too. So now get rid of that, and try one more time.

A new America emerging

Brother Keillor is one of America's great reporters, notes Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue...

But the great moment came later, as the mob flowed slowly across the grounds. I heard loud cheers behind me and there on the giant screen was the Former Occupant and Mrs. Bush saying goodbye to the Obamas in the parking lot behind the Capitol, the Marine helicopter behind them.

The Bushes went up the stairs, turned, waved and disappeared into the cabin, and people started to cheer in earnest. When the blades started turning, the cheering got louder, and when the chopper lifted up above the Capitol and we saw it in the sky heading for the airport, a million jubilant people waved and hollered for all they were worth. It was the most genuine, spontaneous, universal moment of the day. It was like watching the ice go out on the river.

[From A new America emerging | Salon ]


A farewell salute

From Tom Tomorrow, noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue:

This Modern World | Salon Comics

The blessing

Apparently HBO didn't broadcast gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robison's moving blessing to open Sunday's "We Are One" concert. HBO spokespeople are telling reporters that the Presidential Inauguration Committee made the call to schedule Robinson's prayer before the actual broadcast; there's no word yet from the PIC; we'll post if we get one.

Meanwhile, Sarah Pulliam at Christianity Today posted video of Robinson's blessing, and transcribed it. Here's what he said:

[From What Bishop Robinson said Sunday - Joan Walsh - Salon.com]

-Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue


Photo by Phil Compton

Oh no, not that!

Grassfire warns its readers, "The 'transformational' figure who will 'change the world' is now in charge, and he’s on a mission. Emboldened by an overwhelming electoral victory and a near-supermajority in Congress, President-elect Obama and his allies are preparing to implement his liberal, 'post-American' agenda. Simply put, what President-elect Obama and the Pelosi-Reid Congress have in store has the potential to rapidly move America to the socialist Left."

[From The Raw Story | 350,000 conservatives pledge to block Obama's 'socialistic' agenda]

Go Vista dude!

Install those updates!

Sometime today.

If possible.


YA highlights reel

Great moments in Presidential speeches

And in the meantime, at least we'll have smarter fries

(ARA) - Nearly half of U.S. workers are concerned that their jobs are at risk in the current economic climate, according to a recent survey from Workplace Options. For many that means working twice as hard and polishing their resumes. And now is also a great time to think about getting an advanced degree to provide added job security and, ultimately, advance your career.

[From ARA Lifestyle ]

Time for one more kick

BERLIN (Reuters) - Editorial writers around the world have been taking their final printed whacks at George W. Bush, accusing the president of tarnishing America's standing with what many saw as arrogant and incompetent leadership....

"A weak leader, Bush was just overwhelmed in the job," said Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung under a headline: "The Failure." "He confused stubbornness with principles. America has become intolerant and it will take a long time to repair that damage."

[From Editorials worldwide pillory Bush one final time | Reuters]


Photo: Lynn C.

12 hours

I guess I was a little overly hopeful when I put together by ByeBush countdown widget - it has the magic hour arriving at midnight tonight, instead of noon tomorrow. Oh well. I guess I can get along for 12 hours without watching it count down. Barely.

10 ways

Don Mooney blogs at Cincinnati.com...

This weekend Barack Obama is embracing the legacy of another Illinois President, Abraham Lincoln, as he prepares to assume the Presidency in a time of domestic and international crisis. But what made MY jaw drop this week was a forum of would-be RNC Chair candidates. When asked who their favorite GOP President was, they all named Ronald Reagan, not the old rail splitter who preserved the union, freed the slaves, yadda, yadda, yadda. That got me thinking about what they had seen that I had missed. So I camE up with the following...

10 Ways Ronald Reagan Was a Better President than Abe Lincoln

[From Cincinnati Enquirer | Cincinnati PluckPersona | Cincinnati.Com]

-Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue

Inauguration Crowd Will Test Cellphone Networks

The cellphone industry has a plea for the throngs descending on the nation’s capital for the presidential inauguration: go easy on the mobile communications.

The largest cellphone carriers, fearful that a communicative citizenry will overwhelm their networks, have taken the unusual step of asking people to limit their phone calls and to delay sending photos. The carriers are also spending millions of dollars to temporarily and substantially upgrade their networks in Washington.

[From Inauguration Crowd Will Test Cellphone Networks - NYTimes.com]


Just so all those people in Florida don't get homesick

Getting old: Not for sissies or the faint of heart

January in central Florida can be this way – sunny, but cool with a biting wind. If we were home in southwest Ohio, we’d think this day was a gift from the gods – a break from the dreary winter grayness. But it’s Florida, and we came here because we wanted to wear t-shirts and shorts and play golf and ride our bikes. But not today.

Today is a day for the movies. A matinee with a senior discount. The worst part is that I don’t even have to ask the pretty young thing selling tickets for the discount. She just looks at me and knows.

The choice of movies is easy: Gran Torino. Because we have been told it is an excellent film, and because our first new car was a 1971 Ford Torino. It was pumpkin yellow with a black vinyl top. We bought it the same year we bought our first house and had our first child. I was making $280 a week, plus several overtime hours each week at time-and-a-half. We were in Fat City.

If you’ve wasted much time going to movies or watching cable TV, after about fifteen minutes you knew pretty much how the movie was going to play out. The acting was good, and the ending was a bit of a surprise. It’s the kind of movie that you’ll want to talk about afterward. So go see it.

Clint Eastwood is the star. He’s about a hundred years old now, but still capable of kicking some serious ass, which he does. Sort of.

If you saw Million Dollar Baby, you know this guy. Tough old dude, stays within himself (as the baseball players say.) He’s lost his beloved wife and is tormented by some ancient secret, some terrible wound.

In Million Dollar Baby, he reluctantly coaches a girl boxer. In Gran Torino, he reluctantly comes to the rescue of an extended Hmong family that moved in next door, one of many that have taken over his Midwestern working-class neighborhood.

You can’t help comparing this Clint Eastwood with the Clint Eastwood who was kicking butt before those Torinos were built – the Clint Eastwood of those spaghetti Westerns like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. That Clint Eastwood had the same stub of a smoke in his mouth and the same wrinkled squint in his eye. But he could blow away about a dozen bad guys before you could get a handful of over-priced popcorn from the box to your mouth. Put the Young Clint in Gran Torino, and the ending would be far different.

I guess that’s really not fair. Just like we can’t compare the Young Elvis with the Old Elvis.

Mentally, I begin to compare the Cub Reporter in the days when he was an actual cub, making $280 a week and driving that pumpkin yellow Torino, with the Cub Reporter-turned Snow Bird you know today.

Probably not a fair comparison either. They are different people.

-By Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue


Photo by Phil Compton

And our Severe Weather Alert for today is...


[From Severe Weather Alert - weather.com ]

...the snow is going to end? I don't know about you, Bunky, but I think we ought to all chip in and send the Severe Weather Alert guy someplace warm for a little R&R, maybe he'll chill out. Chill in a good way, I mean.

Maybe send him to South America. Or Africa. Take a look at this animation from NASA. It hardly ever gets cold in South America. What's with that? Is that fair? I think not.

Audiophreaks crack me up

I'm just reading a heated discussion here about audio files and the quality thereof, yelping about sampling rates and lossy compression and all the rest of it, and it's given me a serious case of the giggles.

I used to work in the movie business - documentary films, in a long-ago nother lifetime - and we'd sit around in soundproofed rooms listening to soundtracks on 16mm mag tape played through megathousand buck systems with reference quality speakers, volume cranked so high you could hear a fingerprint - and then, once we were pleased with them, print them to optical tracks on 16mm film stock - you know, those almost invisibly skinny bands that run down the side of the film across from the perforations. And then make copies. And then ship the copies to guys who would play them in high school gyms or church basements on rented projectors with 3" speakers, at best. Dude. Get real. That's the way it works here on Earth.

I play music on my iPhone over standard Apple-supplied earbuds or, if I'm in a really serious mood, over the built-in speakers in my computer. Granted, I am easily amused. But even if you've got a high-end home sound system, if you're not sitting still in exactly the right place and, oh yeah, you've neglected to past anechoic tiles all over your walls and ceiling trust me, a little lossy compression is not going to bother you overly much.

So just relax and enjoy the music, OK?


Photos: Lynn C.

"Looking forward" is not looking forward

I’m sorry, but if we don’t have an inquest into what happened during the Bush years — and nearly everyone has taken Mr. Obama’s remarks to mean that we won’t — this means that those who hold power are indeed above the law because they don’t face any consequences if they abuse their power.

Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. It’s not just torture and illegal wiretapping, whose perpetrators claim, however implausibly, that they were patriots acting to defend the nation’s security. The fact is that the Bush administration’s abuses extended from environmental policy to voting rights. And most of the abuses involved using the power of government to reward political friends and punish political enemies.

[From Op-Ed Columnist - Forgive and Forget? - NYTimes.com]

If Bush and his minions are not held to account for their transgressions - and I'm using the most absurdly kind word I can think of here - they will only be cited by some future megalomaniac as precedent and we'll go through the whole thing all over again, or worse. Just like the Bushies cited, ad nauseam, Lincoln's suspension of habeas, even though the Supremes later declared it unconstitutional. If Obama really wants to look forward, he'll do something about the recent past.

But don't hold your breath until it happens.

Those were the days

I was walking by a TV the other day and CNN was on, airing a hearing of what seemed to be a banking committee in Congress debating whether to release more bailout money. CNN didn’t identify the lawmaker who was speaking. He had a bit of a Southern drawl. But I burst out laughing when he said something like: “I remember a time when banks lent money to people. Now it’s the other way around.”

[From Op-Ed Columnist - Time for (Self) Shock Therapy - NYTimes.com]

No kidding

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Michael Mukasey raised concerns that government agents and national security lawyers may be at risk for criminal prosecution after his likely successor, Eric Holder, declared that waterboarding of terror detainees is torture.

[From Mukasey Cites Risk in Using Term 'Torture' - WSJ.com]

Big spender from the East

In a report today, the Congressional Budget Office tried to put a price tag on the bailout (PDF) through the end of last year. The answer: $64 billion.

...The subsidy cost, according to the report, is "the difference between what the Treasury paid for the investments or lent to the firms and the market value of those transactions."

Of course, since then, the Treasury has continued to dole out billions, so this report doesn't account for most of the loans to the auto companies or the billions more invested in Bank of America.

[From Budget Office Estimates Bailout Costs to Exceed $64 Billion - ProPublica]