Rusty's a cool cat...

Photo:  Phil Compton

I don't care what anybody thinks...

Thin Mints are the best.

Palast on Treasury

Our valiant young president is going to have to borrow a trillion dollars to bring our economy back from the grave. He's got to borrow it, no choice about that. But who in their right minds will lend it to us? I can tell you the number one job of a new Treasury Secretary will be to con Saudi sheiks and Chinese apparatchiks into lending us another trillion (they've already lent $2 trillion).

Who in the world can talk them into it?

Instead of an easily duped, incompetent weasel like Geithner for Secretary of the Treasury, what we really need is a lying bucket of evil snot, a flaming red take-no-prisoners asshole. A guy like [ former Merrill Lynch CEO John] Thain that can sell a piece of crap like Merrill for billions -- twice -- is just what we need to shake down the sheiks. "America for Sale! Cheap!"

And Thain comes with his own gold-plated toilet.

[From SuicideGirls > News > Politics > Why An Asshole Is Always In Charge]

So Greg, tell us what you really think.

When people who don't believe in government run the government

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the shipment [of peanut butter], described as "filthy and putrid," was rejected in Canada and returned to the Peanut Corp. of America in Blakely, where federal officials ordered that the entire shipment be destroyed.

While the FDA said it took appropriate steps in blocking the distribution of the peanuts, the federal government said the FDA did not conduct a full inspection of the processing plant...

[From Peanut plant linked to salmonella had earlier problems -- chicagotribune.com]

Imagine my surprise

People who drive Hummers receive almost five times as many traffic tickets as the average driver, according to a new study....

The study found those who drive the leviathans get 4.63 times as many tickets as the average driver, something the researchers attribute to the feeling of invincibility that comes from driving a rolling bank vault.

[From Hummer Drivers Get More Tickets. A Lot More. | Autopia from Wired.com]

How to flunk a test with a correct answer

(Passed along by Gary Allen of Williamsburg, VA)

Think some Republican politician will show up to call this guy a "Medicare Queen"?

One physician, cardiologist Sushil Sheth, is accused of receiving more than $13 million in improper reimbursements from Medicare and other insurers, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office in the northern district of Illinois.

[From Chicago-area doctors charged with fraud - Chicago Breaking News]

I don't either.



Rights, schmights

The former commander of the USS Cole, the American war ship that was struck by a suicide boat in Yemeni waters more than eight years ago, on Thursday slammed President Barack Obama's orders to close the Guantánamo detention centre and reassess the prisoners being held there.

"We shouldn't make policy decisions based on human rights and legal advocacy groups," retired US navy Commander Kurt Lippold said in a telephone interview.

[From Former commander of attacked US war ship slams Obama over Guantánamo | World news | guardian.co.uk ]

More Ice

Photo:  Phil Compton

Wait, I'm losing track

WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is meeting with top government officials to develop the administration's plan for overhauling the $700 billion bailout program and improve regulation of the financial system.

[From Geithner, Bernanke work on $700B bailout overhaul :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Business]

Is this $700 billion the same as the last $700 billion or is it a new $700 billion? We really should try to keep that straight. $700 billion here, $700 billion there, pretty soon we'll be talking about real money.

Or if that doesn't work, what the hell, just imagine some ice

Evanston, which sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, asked residents today to curtail the use of water after ice temporarily blocked three intake pipes that feed the suburb's water treatment plant, officials said.

"Visualize a big pipe that all of a sudden gets filled with a Slurpie and just plugs it up," said Kevin Lookis, Evanston's assistant superintendent of water production.

[From Ice problem prompts water alert in Evanston - Chicago Breaking News]

Jim Hightower: The Troubling Ethics of Timothy Geithner

In describing a suspicious character who had visited his home, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons."

Average Americans today might need to be counting their spoons, because President Obama and the Congress have visited Timothy Geithner upon us. He's the new treasury secretary, our nation's top financial official, whose duties include handling the ongoing Wall Street debacle.

Not only has Geithner felt it necessary to talk insistently about his honor, but Obama and assorted members of Congress have also felt compelled to assure us that Tim really is an honest guy. It's a bit like hanging a sign on the Treasury building declaring, "Honest Tim's Used Bailouts."

[From Jim Hightower | The Troubling Ethics of Timothy Geithner]

Growing bored with Nigerian spam?

An electoral committee of Somali parliamentarians is examining the résumés and photographs of a dozen or so candidates who applied to become president of Somalia. The election is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 30, and many of the résumés arrived on Jan. 29. Being a citizen of a foreign country is no problem. The only prerequisite is an application fee of $2,000. There is not enough time for background checks, since the new president, whoever he may be, is expected at this weekend's African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

[From The world's strangest presidential election. - By Emily Meehan - Slate Magazine ]

There'll always be an England

Birmingham City Council has ruled that apostrophes should not feature on its road and street signs. The decision, which the authority hopes will draw a line under decades of dispute, follows a review to establish whether the possessive punctuation mark should be restored to place names such as Kings Norton and Druids Heath.

Martin Mullaney, who leads the city's transportation scrutiny committee, conceded that the new city-wide policy would upset a lot of residents.

[From Apostrophe catastrophe for city's street signs - Home News, UK - The Independent]

Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino

Crank those speakers up (or if you're at work, don't even think about it).

Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis

by Hanvak

-From Charlie in California

More things that go boom

The Navy is hoping the stimulus bill will pay for more missiles, and fighter jets, and torpedoes.

The gazillion dollar economic aid package, making its way through Congress, puts a premium on projects that can generate jobs, ASAP. So the Pentagon has given "some suggestions in terms of military hospitals, clinics, barracks, some child-care centers and things like that, where we think the work could begin right away or is already under way and could be accelerated," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told senators the other day.

But an internal Navy memo, obtained by InsideDefense.com ace Chris Castelli, goes farther than these mom-and-apple-pie construction projects....

[From Navy's Idea of 'Stimulus': Torpedoes, Missiles, Jets (Updated) | Danger Room from Wired.com]

Consumers: Over the barrel

WASHINGTON - The economy shrank at a 3.8 percent pace at the end of 2008, the worst showing in a quarter-century, as the deepening recession forced consumers and businesses to throttle back spending....

The unemployment rate jumped to a 16-year high of 7.2 percent in December and could hit 10 percent or higher at the end of this year or early next year. A staggering 2.6 million jobs were lost last year, the most since 1945, though the labor force has grown significantly since then. Another 2 million or more jobs will vanish this year, economists predict.

[From Economy shrank at fastest clip since '82 - Stocks & economy- msnbc.com]

US oil giant Exxon Mobil on Friday notched a 45.22 billion dollar record net profit in 2008 despite a 33 percent decline in net income in the fourth quarter of the year.

[From The Raw Story | Exxon notches record profit of $45.22 bln]

Tree diamonds

Photo:  Phil Compton

Geezer love?

Facing stiff opposition from seniors' advocates, the Patrick administration has postponed its plan to shift a wide range of services and programs from an office that specializes in elderly affairs to one that oversees Medicaid.

[From State delays senior services reorganization - The Boston Globe]

Not that I'd mind an elderly affair myself so much, you understand. I'm just saying. But I don't know why Medicaid needs to get involved.

Or maybe it's just this pesky compulsion to politically correct the language that makes me craZy.

How the Future of Online News Looked in 1981

[Video from KRON]

[More at How the Future of Online News Looked in 1981 - The Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com]
That computer in Columbus, Ohio, was undoubtedly CompuServe (which was actually in Dublin, if memory serves).

And dig that outstanding acoustical modem.


Dining with Dubya

"A really nice read," notes Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue...

When a college drinking buddy invited C. Brian Smith to hang out with her parents, he tried not to sweat the fact that they lived in the White House. He even had fun—until 9/11 made watching bad movies with the president feel like a guilty pleasure America couldn’t afford.

[From C. Brian Smith on dining with Dubya | vanityfair.com]

Obama’s Biting Rebuke of Wall Street

Barack Obama has been starting his days in the Oval Office much later than his predecessor, a pattern that allows him to workout and read the papers before he sends his daughters off to school. This morning, during this routine, he got peeved by the New York Times. Not by the newspaper itself, but by a story in the middle of the front page headlined, "What Red Ink? Wall St. Paid Hefty Bonuses."...

"That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful," he said about the payouts. "And part of what we're going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some sense of responsibility."...

[From Swampland - TIME.com » Blog Archive Obama’s Biting Rebuke of Wall Street «]

On this very day when your humble Cub Reporter grudgingly -- but most graciously and with amazingly few curse words -- accepts the news from the esteemed Curmudgeon-In-Chief that there will be no raises yet again this year, and then struggles through a rugged (and often humiliating) day on the golf course (and a close encounter with an alligator on No. 6, but a brilliant, first-ever par on No. 15, a vicious dog-leg right), comes news that those slimeballs on Wall Street who caused all this misery gave themselves billions of dollars in bonuses.

Simply outrageous!

The only good news here is that the Scold-In-Chief weighed in, calling those Masters of the Universe greedy, bottom-feeding pigs, or something like that. Let's hope he follows up by sending them all to the Gitmo Country Club.

-Paul Knue


To: Chief, Midwest Bureau

From: Curmudgeon-in-Chief

Re: Sale of jet on eBay

Put the shipping charges on your expense account.

Nobody will notice.



To: Curmudgeon-in Chief
From: Chief, YAME Midwest Bureau
Re: Your memo of today

I've notified my staff of your decision regarding this year's salary increases. He seemed to shrug it off. What a trooper!

Also, at the suggestion of the Seattle Bureau Chief, I've sold the YAME executive jet. On eBay, a PR gambit I learned from Sarah Palin.

We still have the YAME Newsmobile, however. It's slower, but will have to do...

Yours in the pursuit of journalistic excellence, Chief, Midwest Bureau

Keep bailing, Bunky, it's getting deeper

The standard means of the federal government to squash an open, honest debate about drugs and the laws which apply to them is to threaten state and local governments with withholding federal funds. El Paso was told, in no uncertain terms, that continuing with their call for debate jeopardized their slice of the bailout pie. The city council buckled...

[From Scholars and Rogues » Just say “No” to honest, open debate]


TO: Staff

FROM: Curmudgeon-in-Chief

A recent link on this blog to a story on CNN resulted in a reciprocal link from that organization (see bottom of CNN's page) and brought some 150 visitors to the blog. Our standing as the Internet's Most Exclusive Blog was not compromised by this event.

It is the opinion of Management, however, the measure of fame and glory accruing to all concerned as a result of the abovementioned incident renders this year's annual salary increase unnecessary.

Keep up the good work.



Sunbird, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

More on Obama's "Chicago grit"

WASHINGTON — The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

[From White House Unbuttons Formal Dress Code - NYTimes.com]

Joe Posnanski » Curiously Long Posts

Spend your life making newspapers and you come to know hundreds of writers. Most of them are odd and quirky and have funny stories to tell. And most of them are really good at quickly gathering a lot of information and actually making some sense of it in time for the next edition. But very few are good writers.

Joe Posnanski is the exception. He can tell funny stories and gather amazing amounts of information and he can write so well that you'll wade through thousands of words about why The Boss is playing at the Super Bowl.

Boating is one of the few forms of transportation in which the journey is more enjoyable than the arrival. Reading Posnanski is like that.

[See Joe Posnanski » Curiously Long Posts, now added to our work avoidance list.]
Winter refraction...

Photo:  Phil Compton

Zap: You've been privatized

U.S. troops in Iraq suffered electrical shocks about every three days in a two-year period, according to an internal Defense Contract Management Agency report obtained by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a McClatchy newspaper -- or 231 incidents in all, from a single company, the former Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root.

The 45-page document -- a high-level request for corrective action generated last fall -- found that Texas-based military contractor KBR Inc. failed to properly ground and bond its electrical systems, which contributed to soldiers "receiving shocks in KBR-maintained facilities on average once every three days since data was available in Sept. 2006," a release said.

[From The Raw Story | Halliburton firm responsible for 231 electrical shocks in two years]

Dollars everywhere, but only pennies for rail

But the bill passed by the House yesterday dedicates only about 5 percent of the $819 billion measure to highway, mass transit, and rail projects, analysts said. That has prompted even some Democratic supporters to complain that the transportation spending was gutted by Republicans who insisted on more tax cuts - none of whom voted for the measure anyway - and by Obama advisers who shifted priorities to advance policy goals.

[From Only 5 percent of $819b plan would go toward infrastructure - The Boston Globe]

Amazing photos of London

Just go have a look.

Crystal trees

The sun is just now coming over the hill, catching the ice that coats the tree limbs and transforming it to glittering amber. Alas, the view from my kitchen window is not a particularly good one, just enough for a glimpse of what's going on out there, but somebody, somewhere, must be getting quite a treat this morning, all spread out against a clear sky.

Down there in the shadow, the stuff on the windshields is still just ice.

And no extra charge

Sister Jean Kenny, dubbed the "Psychic Nun," alas, has no actual psychic abilities. No divine power has whispered in her ear, Steelers by 6.

[From Divine predictions Steelers: 23 Cardinals: 17 -- chicagotribune.com]

Hard times come to Wall Street

Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.

That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller.

While the payouts paled next to the riches of recent years, Wall Street workers still took home about as much as they did in 2004, when the Dow Jones industrial average was flying above 10,000, on its way to a record high.

[From What Red Ink? Wall St. Paid Fat Bonuses - NYTimes.com]


Obama mocks Washington's winter panic

OK, this may cost me my coveted, and, I might add, hard-earned spot on YAME's masthead, but what the hell. We're all about truth here, even if it pains the boss and curmudgeon-in-chief. I hope.

As the new Hope For True Democracy And The Free World And An End To Limbaugh-Inspired Stupidity so eloquently says: suck it up.

DC residents are used to derision from chillier quarters of the country over their city’s occasional paralysis in the face of winter weather. After a few inches of snow and some early morning sleet in the first half of the week resulted in a wave of Washington-area shutdowns, the city’s most famous Midwestern transplant couldn’t resist a dig or two at his new hometown’s expense....

The president joked that he would have to instill some “flinty Chicago toughness” into his neighbors. "When it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don't seem to be able to handle things.”

[From CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - Obama mocks Washington’s winter panic « - Blogs from CNN.com]

It's not as if you've never seen snow before (and freezing rain, and ice-covered roads, and below-zero temperatures, and even more snow.) So come on, kids. Get a grip! Where were you when we had actual blizzards? And cold so cold that it froze the mighty Ohio River so solidly that you could walk across it? Those were winters!

This is just a passing thing. A brief dip below freezing that will soon end.

Besides, if you had been smart enough to quit those chicken-shit jobs and head south right after Christmas, like any rational snowbird, you wouldn't have to put up with that stuff. Need I remind you that it was HOT today in Fabulous Titusville (the town that time forgot) -- so hot that just being on the golf course this afternoon was a struggle (not to mention suffering through the indignities of all those double and triple bogeys and the balls that ended somewhat short of their mark in a watery grave.)

So we snowbirds don't want to hear any more whining about cold and snow and crappy roads. We're dealing with the elements down here in Florida, too. Heck, there's a chance of rain tomorrow, but you don't hear us crying about that.

As the Leader of the Free World says, deal with it!

-Paul Knue

[Your curmudgeon-in-chief, having spent a good part of his youth in Minnesota (and a good part of his adult years in Chicago) and therefore having seen a spot of snow and cold his ownself, greatly appreciates the contributions snowbirds make, despite overwhelming hardship, to this blog.]

Blagojevich's horrible, no good, very bad day

You gotta love this guy. In a perverted, weird kind of way.

-Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue


Photo: Lynn C.

When movies were movies and not just cgi

(That's Ginger Rogers singing and dancing with the incomparable Astaire.)

And ratings are up

Watching the Illinois State Senate judge Gov. Nosferatu at his impeachment trial is like watching a swarm of flies condemn a brother fly for having dirty feet.

[From Even jobless, governor can be bleepin' golden -- chicagotribune.com]

Keillor on tranquility

Paranoia belongs to the fringe right and left, not to genteel burghers like you and me. We sit under our fig tree and enjoy our cheeseburgers without brooding too much about toxic chemicals used by meatpackers or thought-control drugs injected into the beef. Every morning in the newspaper, some columnist cries out in alarm that yet one more disaster is creeping toward us like a cougar about to spring and chew our throats, and we read a few paragraphs and turn the page and warm up another Danish.

[From Achieving tranquility through unused books -- chicagotribune.com]

Planning a Saddam moment for Blago

Should the Senate vote to remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday that he would immediately begin erasing some of the imprints his former running mate made on the state.

One target would be the signs displaying Blagojevich's name over state tollways, which Quinn called a symbol of "pompous government."

"The signs will go down, and we'll probably have a ceremony to do it," Quinn told the Tribune. "I might even ask some toll payers to help us out."

[From Tollways will be free of Rod Blagojevich's name, Pat Quinn promises -- chicagotribune.com]

Great moments in legal horse-puckey

"A federal judge says being a cook for the Taliban is reason enough for the U.S. military to hold a Yemen man as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo Bay," the Associated Press reports....

The AP adds, "Leon said that Al Bihani's work supported the Taliban, nevertheless, and that the U.S. government has appropriately classified him as an enemy combatant. In his ruling, Leon quoted Napoleon as saying: 'An army marches on its stomach.'"

[From The Raw Story | Quoting Napoleon, judge okays holding Taliban cook at Gitmo]

(But of course those guys weren't an army, which is why they're not called POWs.)

A California appeals court ruled Monday that a Christian high school can expel students perceived to be lesbians, upholding a 2008 lower court ruling that there were "no triable" elements to the case....

While the court called its own decision "narrow," lawyers on both sides of the case said it would likely shield protect private schools -- beyond simply the Christian school in the lawsuit -- from anti-discrimination suits.

[From The Raw Story | Schools can expel students that seem gay, appeals court rules]

(Expect more yapping about school vouchers from the right.)

Fort heureusement ceci est una pure fiction!

Of course it does sound like they're speaking French or something, so maybe it's really true, ya think?

Winter officially sucks

If you disagree, I don't care. You're wrong. That's all.

Look out the window. It's snowing again. It's been snowing since sometime last night. I went to work this morning but nobody showed up for class. I skidded off to do an errand or two and came home. It's kind of fun driving on those unplowed streets, all soft and squishy, as long as there's no other traffic around. But I get the feeling from it that whatever I slide into will be soft and squishy too, which is probably not the case.

My afternoon class, in another town about 20 miles east over a not-too-good road, I postponed until next week. Next week will be better, unless it's not.

The snow so far is light and easy to brush off the car - I've already done that three times today and it's not noon yet - but the forecast calls for mixed-with-rain later, which means tomorrow morning it'll have to be scraped. That sucks more.

To hell with it. I'm going to eat my peanut butter sandwich and take a nap.

A comeback for little Alberto?

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should have considered himself a lucky man when he was allowed to resign in disgrace in August 2007 without being hauled into Congress on perjury or contempt charges....

Instead, he is trying for some sort of bizarre comeback by painting himself as an upstanding man victimized by a “mean-spirited town.”

[From Editorial - Alberto Gonzales, the Sequel - NYTimes.com]

As my Grandma used to say, "You've got to eat a peck of dirt before you die"

In studies of what is called the hygiene hypothesis, researchers are concluding that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system.

[From Personal Health - Babies Know - A Little Dirt Is Good for You - NYTimes.com]

Unclear on the concept

Forget about government; it's just about winning the next election.

Sowing the seeds of discontent between Obama and Pelosi is a no-lose proposition for the GOP: If Obama wins they get a bigger seat at the table, and if Pelosi gets her way, it's a blow to Obama's promises of inclusiveness and bipartisanship. "If he's willing to kick [the Democratic leaders], we're willing to applaud, we'll take it," another GOP leadership aide said. "Am I trying to stir up trouble between him and his party? Of course I am."

[From The GOP Grapples with Obama's Charm Offensive - TIME]

Sunday at the diner

Sunday at the diner, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

What you get for your tax cuts

The FDA has never inspected the plant.... The federal agency has said it does not have enough inspectors to visit the country's 65,520 domestic food production facilities. In fiscal 2008, it inspected 5,930 plants.

State inspectors...did not test either the factory or the peanut products for salmonella. "We do pull product samples from time to time, but we can only run 4,500 samples in a year, and we have 16,000 food-processing and food-sales stores in the state," said Oscar Garrison, Georgia's assistant agriculture commissioner for consumer protection.

[From Peanut Processor Ignored Salmonella Tests, Knowingly Sold Tainted Products - washingtonpost.com]


A different take on a great writer

The most wonderful thing about John Updike, who died Tuesday of cancer at 76, was that there was an Updike for anyone who loved to read. If you craved realist fiction about the American middle class, you could go to his series of novels about Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, the small town Pennsylvania basketball star turned Toyota dealer. If you wanted quiet, beautifully written stories about married life, there were the stories about the Maples, a Massachusetts couple that Updike observed through a long string of short stories. Craving something steamier? Try "Couples," his 1968 bestseller about marital infidelities in suburban small towns. There were also comic novels about witches, a novel of social unrest in Africa, a novel about a Muslim terrorist, a retelling of the saga of Tristan and Isolde and a prequel to "Hamlet." There was a play about President James Buchanan and three novels about Updike's alter ego, a Jewish novelist named Bech. If you got tired of fiction, there were nine collections of poetry and goodness knows how many collections of his criticism—that would be literary criticism and art criticism. There were a couple of collections of just plain old essays, and a book about golf and a book about himself. He was, in other words, more literary conglomerate than author, something like General Motors in its heyday, turning out small cars, big cars, trucks and everything in between.

[From The Many Stylings of John Updike | Newsweek Culture | Newsweek.com]

-Noted by Paul Knue

Confessions of a media hit man

Michael Goldfarb was the McCain campaign’s deputy communications director-cum-media bodyguard, tasked by McCain’s high command with bullying the press into covering things the “right” way. It’s a role Goldfarb, a reporter and blogger himself, played with gusto—so much so that he generated controversy and became part of the storyline himself on occasion.

Now back at The Weekly Standard, he talked to Kate Klonick about the campaign’s flirtation with punishing The New York Times, the decision to pick Sarah Palin, and that memorable interview on CNN.

[From Q & A: Former McCain Blogger Michael Goldfarb : CJR]

-Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue

Palin's PAC

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has started a federal political action committee -- called Sarahpac -- that will allow her to raise money for and donate cash to candidates for office over the coming years, a move that should be seen as a precursor to a run for president in 2012.

[From Palin's PAC First Step to 2012 - The Fix]

-I had hoped her 15 minutes were over, says Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue

John Updike

NEW YORK -- John Updike, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, prolific man of letters and erudite chronicler of sex, divorce and other adventures in the postwar prime of the American empire, died Tuesday at age 76.

[From John Updike, prize-winning writer, dead at age 76 - Sacramento News - Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee]

As it happens, I'm just now re-reading - or first-listening to, if you want to get picky about it - Updike's "The Witches of Eastwick." I'd forgotten what a really terrific writer John Updike was. If you haven't read any of Updike's books, or even haven't read one in a long while, pick one up and give yourself a treat.


This is the airport on Stuart Island, Washington.

We watched this plane land in this field (no paved strip). There are no stores or other public commercial establishments on the island - they had just gone out for groceries. There are also no public utilities.
Photos: Lynn C.

There'll always be an England

The RAF is getting closer to shooting down a UFO according to a former Ministry of Defence employee.

[From Ananova - RAF getting close to UFOs ]

Everything goes

Rocked by a budget crisis, Brandeis University will close its Rose Art Museum and sell off a 6,000-object collection that includes work by such contemporary masters as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Nam June Paik.

[From Ailing Brandeis will shut museum, sell treasured art - The Boston Globe]

On saving stuff

Here's a nice piece by John Markoff on some of the authentication and archival problems arising from the digital age.

Both because of the rapid pace of innovation and the tendency of computers to wear out in months or years, the likelihood that digital files will be readable over long periods of time is far less certain even than the survival of paper documents. Computer processors are quickly replaced by incompatible models, software programs are developed with new data formats, and digital storage media, whether digital tape, magnetic disk or solid state memory chips, are all too ephemeral.

[From A Tool to Verify Digital Records, Even as Technology Shifts - NYTimes.com]

Could, indeed

Although Gibbs had said the briefing was over already, one reporter was able to shout out a final question, which made reference to Treasury secretary nominee Timothy Geithner's tax problems.

"Can you just say ahead of the Geithner vote, there has been some jest but also in seriousness that if Wesley Snipes had been nominated secretary of Treasury he wouldn't be in jail right now," the reporter said.

Gibbs interjected, "You can't imagine the number of perspective answers going through my head right now."

"But, I am asking, isn't the president asking the IRS to be more lenient to all Americans in the future when they say 'I didn't know but I'm sorry,'" the reporter continued.

Gibbs was a little shaken and stirred, "Let me uh, wow, this is one of those questions that could certainly get me in trouble."

[From The Raw Story | Press Secretary: Obama crowing 'I won' to GOP wasn't 'cowboy diplomacy']

Lots of money but none for you, Bunky

In a disclosure nearly drowned out by news of its $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth, Pfizer Inc. said it agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle a federal investigation into its alleged off-label marketing of the now-withdrawn painkiller Bextra.

[From Pfizer Sets $2.3 Billion Settlement - WSJ.com]


Pfizer, one of the giants of a health-care sector that had until recently seemed immune from the downturn, said it would cut 8,000 [jobs].

[From Layoffs Cut Deeper Into Economy - washingtonpost.com]

(Emphasis mine)

Everybody wants to be on iTunes

It sounds like the opening line to a bad joke. And this case was a bad joke -- for the Pentagon.

Chris Ogle of New Zealand was in Oklahoma about a year ago when he bought a used MP3 player from a thrift store for $9. A few weeks ago, he plugged it into his computer to download a song, and he instead discovered confidential U.S. military files.

[From Thrift store MP3 player contains secret military files - CNN.com]


Common sense a casualty

I've been tempted all evening to comment on this story, but I feared it would just sound like some old geezer talking about how he walked three miles in the snow every day to go to school. Then my old buddy Paul Daugherty filed this, and I figured it was OK to chime in.

Back in the day, when I played football for the Lawrenceburg Tigers, there was never, ever water at practices. It just wasn't done. Funny thing, there was always water during a game. Don't ask me why -- back then, players didn't ask questions and coaches never explained. That's just the way it was.

We practiced, and played, in every kind of weather. We didn't clear the field at the first hint of lightening, like they do today. Hot, cold, it didn't matter.

The worst ever was a game at North Vernon (Ind.) in a downpour, after a couple of days of rain. The water on the field was ankle deep and we were all covered by so much mud after warming up that, by kickoff, you couldn't tell which team you were on. I remember a runner being tackled and sliding across the muddy field, water spurting out of the earholes of his helmet. Honest.

After the game, we walked into the showers fully clothed and stripped off piece by piece as we washed the mud away.

But I digress.

We've learned a lot since those ancient days, a lot about conditioning and training and nutrition and hydration. I hope this death was just an unfortunate incident, not the result of some macho coach trying to make his kids tougher.

Hopefully, this incident will make coaches think through their training philosophies and be a more mindful of the welfare of their players. But I really hope it doesn't make coaches so fearful that they won't push kids to dig a little deeper, to try a little harder, to keep going in spite of the pain. To overcome the elements as well as their opponents.

There was never water during those two-a-day practices under the blistering August sun. There probably should have been. I would have loved to have a glassful just to pour over my head. Times have changed, things are different. Mostly for the better.

But hopefully, this is a constant: Sports, and especially high school football, taught me lessons that made me a better, stronger person and helped me get through the roughest patches of my life. How to slog through mud and still win the game. How 11 guys can grind through heat and humidity and dust and swarming gnats to execute a play and score a touchdown. How to do your small part, knowing that the other 10 guys are counting on you and that if everyone does his job the team will be successful -- but if one person doesn't, the team will fail. How to deal with pain and fear and still succeed.

Let's hope that unfortunate events and lawsuits don't rob future generations of these lessons.

-Paul Knue

A lesson in stimulus economics

Who could have predicted this? Republican legislators are raising a ruckus, complaining that President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan includes too much Democratic pork, and too few tax cuts.

[From A lesson in stimulus economics, for Republicans - How the World Works - Salon.com]

So these right-wing bozos have just one solution for every problem: cut taxes. But then, when we cut them so much that no one pays anything, how are we supposed to pay for invasions of third-world countries and charter schools? Oh yeah, I forgot, we'll borrow more money. China has plenty, so what the hell.

-Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue

Shoulda stayed in bed

US companies announced they're cutting 45,000 jobs by 9 am Eastern Time on Monday morning, even before the US stock market opened, according to a quick count by Raw Story.

[From The Raw Story | US companies cut 45,000 jobs even before stock market opens]

Which Way

Photos: Lynn C.

Some of them, I'm surprised they can spell their own

"Members of Congress have had a lot of nice things to say about our new president, but many of them have had trouble simply spelling the guy’s name," Roll Call's Heard on the Hill gossip column reports.

[From The Raw Story | Members of Congress can't spell new president's name]

The threat is everywhere

From the Arcata Eye Police Log:

1:27 p.m. A kayaker was reported about 50 yards out from the dock at the South I Street Boat Basin, firing a rifle into the Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. The incident was reported to the department of Fish & Game, but the idea that those wholesome kayakers might be capable of such wrongness is something we’ll all have to work through.

[From Arcata Eye :: The mildly objectionable weekly newspaper for Arcata, California (pagesetter)]


In the 38 years that business and political leaders have been trekking to the Swiss ski resort of Davos to talk about the world economy, the outlook hasn't been bleaker or global capitalism more racked with self-doubt.

[From World's Elite Visit Davos Racked With Self-Doubt]

14-year-old boy hacks Chicago PD

Chicago police arrested a 14-year-old boy for impersonating one of their own on Saturday.

The boy, who has been charged as a juvenile with impersonating an officer, walked into the Grand Crossing (3rd) District station, 7040 S. Cottage Grove Ave., dressed in a Chicago police uniform, police spokeswoman Monique Bond said. The boy, who reported for duty about 1:30 p.m., partnered with another police officer for about five hours.

[From 14-year-old boy impersonates Chicago cop - Chicago Breaking News]


They're kidding, right? Vague aches?

I'm walking down the aisle in the drugstore this afternoon, Walgreen's, and just by chance I see on the shelf a bottle of cod liver oil. They still sell that stuff? We got it spooned into us when we were kids. So I pick up the bottle and, just out of curiosity, start reading what it says on the back. Blah, blah, list of warnings, including some unspellable condition one symptom of which is "vague aches." Is that some kind of joke? Vague aches? Dude, I have vague aches pretty much all the time. Doesn't everybody?

Move over, Grammy

CALLING all novice songwriters: Microsoft is pitching software designed for you, no musical training required. You sing the words as best you can, and its Songsmith software supplies computer-matched musical accompaniment.

[From Digital Domain - Microsoft Songsmith Is Easy (if Painful to Hear) - NYTimes.com]

And for an example of just what this puppy can do...


-Noted by Midwest Bureau Chief Phil Compton

Outside the box inside the net

Here's a story from the Boston Globe about a high school hockey goalie trying to trick opposing players by making his pads look like open net.

Some say it works.

Beating the blahs, and more

2) ... Studies have shown taking a five-minute nap every day can add 10 years to your life.

[From 12 ways to beat the blahs -- chicagotribune.com]

If that's true, I ought to be good for another century at least.

(Also see "eat chocolate.")

Red State Update: Are the Obamas still dancing?

Jackie and Dunlap look back at the first days of a new presidency. What's a conservative to do?

-Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue

It helps to be a glider pilot

When an emergency occurs in flight, three skills are in great demand: situational awareness, creative problem solving, and energy management. One doesn’t have to be flying a large aircraft with 155 people over a crowded urban environment to recognize the value of developing these skill sets.

Piloting an Airbus 320, US Airways Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger made a successful emergency landing on the Hudson River after the loss of engine power essentially turned the airliner into a giant glider. This was not his first glider landing. Along with thousands of hours as pilot in command and a career as a safety expert, the captain holds a glider rating.

[From AOPA Online: Training for that moment when every second counts]

-Noted by Midwest Bureau Chief Phil Compton

Obama approval 68%, but...

As a classic case of what Barney Frank has called post-partisan stress syndrome, Barack Obama and the Democrats are putting inordinate faith in tax cuts as part of their stimulus program. This is not to say that some of the tax cuts are not wise and deserved, only that they do not have the economic effect that, until now at least, mostly conservatives have claimed....

Until now, Democrats have repeatedly stood up to rightwing tax cutters. But the fiscal crash panic that has swept the capital combined with Obama's desire to pal around with the right has changed all that. We have put away childish things like Democrats standing up for the little guy against the banks and major corporations. We have also put away history; no one seems to remember that the Bush tax rebates and came and went without a trace.