We'll get a bill for shocks and struts, would be my guess

When economy bottoms out, how will we know?

[From When economy bottoms out, how will we know?]

When it comes to entertainment these guys really can not be beat

Senator John Cornyn -- "Big John" -- is circulating a petition demanding that the Obama administration come clean about its "conspiracy" to smear Rush Limbaugh.

[From Bob Cesca's Awesome Blog! Go!: Big John]

Unfair to oysters

Once Franken does get to Washington, the Senate Republicans will have 41 votes to the Democrats’ 59, which means the Republicans sole hold on national power will involve getting every single party member to vote together to stop progress on whatever it is the Democrats are trying to do.

This will certainly require all the moral suasion available to the minority leader, Mitch McConnell, a man with the natural charisma of an oyster.

[From Op-Ed Columnist - Just Steele Yourselves - NYTimes.com]

Stigma is as stigma does

March 5 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve Board of Governors receives daily reports on bailout loans to financial institutions and won’t make the information public, the central bank said in a reply to a Bloomberg News lawsuit.

The Fed refused yesterday to disclose the names of the borrowers and the loans, alleging that it would cast “a stigma” on recipients of more than $1.9 trillion of emergency credit from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

[From Bloomberg.com: Worldwide]

Wisdom from the masses

Two gems from the letters in today's Orlando Sentinel:

--"How could the Republican Party -- the party of family values and guardian of the morals of the country -- trust a 58-year-old, three-time-divorced, former prescription-drug addict to be its spokesman?"

--"If we put a new tax on cigarettes, cigarette smuggling will create new jobs for Floridians. It is win-win."

--Paul Knue


Nice car!

(From TimesOnline)

Um, OK...and?

Imagine being able to see, hear, smell, touch and taste French cheese in a Paris setting – from an apartment in London. A new headset design revealed at the Pioneer Conference in London aims to stimulate all five senses in a way that takes users into an entirely new location and experience.

[From Ahead of the Curve: The Holodeck Becomes a Reality]

On second thought, forget I asked.

Picking the bones

So completely out-of-control greedy has our amok-running banking industry become that they’re going after money they cheerfully and openly admit isn’t owed to them by the people they’re harassing.

[From Fact-esque: Our Bush-Built Banking Industry: Vultures, Vampires and Very Dead Zombies]

Way to go, Cincinnati!

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Who knew? Apparently having too many home furnishing stores like Ikea in your city is a sign of being "unmanly."

At least that's the conclusion of a study released Thursday that ranks "America's Manliest Cities" on criteria such as the number of professional major league sports teams, popularity of tools and hardware, and frequency of monster truck rallies....

Nashville grabbed the top spot in the ranking thanks to its high number of NASCAR enthusiasts, popularity of hunting and fishing, and concentration of barbecue restaurants.

Rounding out the top five were: Charlotte, N.C.; Oklahoma City; Cincinnati; and Denver.

[From NASCAR, barbecue make Nashville "manliest" city -- chicagotribune.com]

New York City, despite a high score in bowling, wound up last among the 50 cities rated, with low scores in fishing, home improvement projects, and drag racing.


So it's come to this: Tattoo Barbie

Anywhere. On. Her. Body. Eeeek.

-Noted by Paul Knue

Rush is making the GOP the party of wimps

Rush Limbaugh, the man who did more than anyone else to create the modern Republican brand in the 1990s, is now destroying it. Everyone knows he has "jumped the shark" culturally—become a black-shirted joke even as he dominates the headlines. But it's worse than that for Republicans. Limbaugh has taken the great GOP calling card—toughness—and shredded it. The party of Lincoln is in danger of becoming the party of Jell-O.

[From Alter: Rush Is Making the GOP the Party of Wimps | Newsweek Voices - Jonathan Alter | Newsweek.com]

-Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue

Electronic filing

A treat for geeks

If you like hi-tech gadgets [if? - ED], check out this 3-D printer.

-Paul Knue

When one is not enough

From the National Republican Senatorial Committee via Twitter:

Help us break 2.000 supporters on Facebook today! Please join and invite your friends!

[From Twitter / NRSC: Help us break 2.000 suppor ...]

(And thanks to the notorious Blue Gal for noticing.)

Send in the clowns

Polling has found Limbaugh, a self-described prescription-drug addict who sees America from a private jet, to be nearly as unpopular as Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who damned America in the way that Limbaugh has now damned the nation’s newly elected leader. But Republicans just can’t quit him. So even poor Michael Steele, the nominal head of the Republican Party who dared to criticize him, had to grovel and crawl back to the feet of Limbaugh.

[From Fears of a Clown - Timothy Egan Blog - NYTimes.com]

A moment of inspiration

Ha ha, you missed

PASADENA, Calif. – An asteroid about the size of one that blasted Siberia a century ago just buzzed the Earth. The asteroid named 2009 DD45 was about 48,800 miles from Earth when it zipped past early Monday, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported.

That is just twice as high as the orbits of some telecommunications satellites and about a fifth of the distance to the Moon....

Of the known space rocks, the next time an object will get closer to Earth will be in 2029 when an 885-foot asteroid called 99942 Apophis comes within 20,000 miles, said Donald Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

[From Phew! Asteroid's passing was a cosmic near-miss]

You could, but please don't

From this point of view, you could say that Barack Obama faces the daunting task of bringing about a post-postmodernist restoration of faith in the meaning of our financial assets, or in financial terms, value.

[From Letter from Here: Before banks went bust, they went modernist, and in a final burst of creativity, postmodernist]

From golden parachute to silver lining

Stanford L. Kurland, the former president of Countrywide Financial the bank that has become most synonymous with the bad mortgage lending practices that eventually caused the housing market to burst, setting into motion the current financial crisis and colleagues from the defunct firm now run PennyMac.

The company, headquartered in the same Los Angeles suburb where Countrywide was managed before it was sold to Bank of America last summer, specializes in buying up bad home mortgages that the U.S. government took over from other failed banks, the New York Times reported Tuesday....

PennyMac's business has been "off-the-charts good, said John Lawrence, the companys head of loan servicing, the Times reported.

[From The Raw Story | Former Countrywide executives cash in on federal housing bailout]


Where the grass is green and...oops

Some excitement in Titusville, the town time forgot.

-From Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue

Great moments in navel-gazing

After three years of research, Georg Steinhauser, a chemist, has discovered a type of body hair that traps stray pieces of lint and draws them into the navel.

Dr Steinhauser made his discovery after studying 503 pieces of fluff from his own belly button.

[From Revealed: The secrets of belly button fluff - Telegraph]

Paving is not the answer

To tackle America’s congestion problem by building new roads would be hideously expensive, not workable at all in many metro areas (where’s little-to-no space to add roads), and almost certainly futile over the long run. But what this natural experiment suggests [a small decrease in drivers yields a large decrease in congestion] is that to tackle congestion with “demand management” policies such as congestion pricing and market-rate parking would be relatively easy. In other words, you would only need to decrease the volume of peak-hour traffic by a pretty modest amount in order to produce a dramatic gain in the ease with which traffic flows. Meanwhile, the modest charge would generate some revenues that could be used for public purposes.

[From Matthew Yglesias » Driving Down Slightly, Congestion Down Dramatically ]

The driven snow

(iPhone picture)

Whoa, that's pretty severe

Roman Catholic bishops in Italy are urging the faithful to go on a high-tech fast for Lent, switching off modern appliances from cars to iPods and abstaining from surfing the Web or text messaging until Easter.

[From Italians Urged To Give Up High-Tech Toys For Lent : NPR]

The descent

From the CEO of Uptown Magazine:

"We don't believe that luxury lifestyle has gone away," Wright said. "We're looking at maybe not having the $250,000 watch, but a great watch you can get for perhaps $7,500."

[From In a recession, cheap is chic - CNN.com]

Also, red Ferraris are out. No word on black.

If you can't vote right, don't vote at all

"...some versions of Diebold's vote tabulation system, known as the Global Election Management System (GEMS), include a button that allows someone to delete audit logs from the system."

[From The Raw Story | Diebold voting system sported 'delete' button: report]

I'll give this a look

NEW YORK - You may not have the latest $359 Kindle electronic book reader from Amazon.com, but if you own an iPhone or iPod Touch, a new application will let you access much of the same content on your Apple device.

In a bid to increase its slice of the e-book market, the Seattle-based online retailer rolled out a free program Wednesday that brings several of the Kindle's functions to the iPod and iPhone's smaller screen.

The program, which can be downloaded from Apple's online application store, lets iPhone and iPod Touch users read the same electronic books that Kindle owners can buy on Amazon.com. As with the Kindle, the iPhone app lets users change the text size on the screen, and add bookmarks, notes and highlights.

[From Yahoo! News - Amazon unveils Kindle Application for iPhone by AP: Yahoo! Tech ]

It turns out the iPhone screen is surprisingly readable. Right now I'm reading a novel by Alan Furst, "The Foreign Correspondent" - a really good WWII-era spy story published by Random House you can get free here at eReader (and elsewhere), by the way. How cool is that?

And there's more

Ezra Klein and Jonathan Cohn both discuss the fact that former HMO fraudster Richard Scott is launching an attack on healthcare reform with the usual lies about the Canadian and British systems, among other things. (For the record: I don't have to wait an ungodly long time for appointments or treatment. More importantly, I know I will get the treatment, and that no health insurance company is going to tell my doctor to let me die or go blind or whatever because I'm not covered. If I call my doctor's office wanting an appointment because I'm ill now, I almost always get to see him that day, and if it's not an emergency, I will see him within a day or two at most in almost all cases. And I never have to think about the cost.)

[From The Sideshow March 2009 Archive]

What Avedon Carol points out only in passing is, she has a doctor. So do I. And when I go to see the doctor, usually for an annual physical, the doctor is who I see - not, like most of the people I know, a sort of para-doctor, gatekeeper, health specialist kind of guy. If they have insurance at all. If not, forget you asked.

I get health care from the VA, which means my doctor works for the government. And when I need to see a specialist, like the opthamologist who gave me my eye exam last year or, a couple of years ago, the guy who checked out my nose, they work for the government too. Sure, I had to wait a couple of weeks for the eye appointment and even longer for the nose, but so what? The only time in recent years I've called with what turned out to be an emergency I was in to see my doctor, had a prescription to a local drug store, and had a pill down my throat in a matter of hours. I have no complaints. In fact, I'm delighted with the health care I get.

And that - government health care - is way beyond what will even be proposed by the Obama administration. Single payer health care - government insurance for private health care, "Medicare for all" - is the most far-reaching solution even being discussed. And that, not much. Reportedly, not one advocate for single payer health care has been so much as invited to the administration's forthcoming health care conference.

In fact, the most likely solution to be proposed, my guess is, is some form of government subsidy for an already-failed private insurance system, the kind of Romneyesque solution that is already proving here in Massachusetts to be cumbersome at best and, at worst, just plain dumb.

When you're on a roll...

The Attorney General’s Office is taking a bite out of a Brookline [MA] man who allegedly pocketed $36,000 in cash after claiming 21 different times that he chipped the same front tooth eating salads at chain restaurants, including Pizzeria Uno and TGIFriday’s.

[From AG seeks the whole tooth in alleged eatery scheme - BostonHerald.com]

Sarge enjoys his assignment

Photo: Phil Compton

Meanwhile, in Iowa...

Child care providers or parents who allow children access to pornography would be guilty of child abuse and listed on the state’s child abuse registry, under legislation being considered by lawmakers.

[From Bill defines kids' access to porn as child abuse | DesMoinesRegister.com | The Des Moines Register]

Horton on the "disposable Constitution"

Yesterday the Obama Administration released a series of nine previously secret legal opinions crafted by the Office of Legal Counsel to enhance the presidential powers of George W. Bush. Perhaps the most astonishing of these memos was one crafted by University of California at Berkeley law professor John Yoo. He concluded that in wartime, the President was freed from the constraints of the Bill of Rights with respect to anything he chose to label as a counterterrorism operations inside the United States....

John Yoo’s Constitution is unlike any other I have ever seen. It seems to consist of one clause: appointing the President as commander-in-chief.

[From George W. Bush’s Disposable Constitution—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)]

Not, now that you mention it, a bad idea

From Krugman's blog:


If this goes on much longer, I think I might give it all up, move to the U.S. Virgin Islands, and start a Ponzi scheme.

[From Cold - Paul Krugman Blog - NYTimes.com]

It's 7º here this morning. It's supposed to be in the 50's by this weekend. Fugit, tempus, fugit.


It's the Canadians, eh

Tonight we're supposed to get within two degrees of the absolute lowest temperate ever for this time of year and it's all the Canadians' fault.

Tote that barge, baby

I don't think I've ever seen a president or a government do anything that I thought was out-and-out evil. I mean, we've gotten close. I think rendition is pretty darned evil. But this is enslaving, what our president has proposed and what is in this new bill.

[From Glenn Beck: Obama's stimulus package "enslaves" Americans | Crooks and Liars]

(Emphasis mine, everything else Glenn Beck's.)

In the waning days of winter, things do get grim

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – A Massachusetts man has been fined $500 for assaulting a Chuck E. Cheese mouse.

[From Mass. man fined for Chuck E. Cheese mascot assault]

Well, at least that's something

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Dust off the slide rules and recharge the calculators. Square Root Day is upon us.

The math-buffs' holiday, which only occurs nine times each century, falls on Tuesday — 3/3/09 (for the mathematically challenged, three is the square root of nine).

[From 3/3/09: Math fans to celebrate Square Root Day]

So that makes it a pretty mathematical month, with pi day at the end of next week (3.14).

Otherwise it's off to a pretty shaky start. The month, I mean. First, yesterday, the raging storm, which wasn't all that raging, truth be told, but I won't mention that because I don't want to spoil the fun for all those folks in Alabama and North Carolina, places like that.

And then, today, I get to work and all the computers are down, 13 in the lab and another dozen, used for job searching, outside. Some kind of weirdness on the server that a reboot wouldn't fix. So home again, and double up on Friday. Which should be warmer, too, by the way. Friday. Which is good.

And me

Mall wants Manilow music to drive out unruly teens

[From Mall wants Manilow music to drive out unruly teens]

Study finds universal health care would cost less than bailouts

The transformation of America’s current health care system into a single-payer ‘Medicare for all’ system could cost six times less than the bank bailouts....

Single-payer national health insurance is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health financing, but delivery of care remains largely private. The Institute for Health and Socio-economic Policy(IHSP) is a non-profit research group for the National Nurses Organizing Committee. According to the analysis of their proposal for a single-payer universal health care system, IHSP found that “full medicare benefits for all” would have these immediate effects:

* $317 billion in increased business and public revenues throughout the US economy.

* 2,613,495 new permanent jobs, at an average of $38,262 per year.

* $100 billion in additional employee compensation.

* $44 billion in increased tax revenue.

[From The Raw Story | Study finds universal health care would cost less than bailouts]


Red night

red sky 1 (3-1-09), originally uploaded by tedcompton.

So what's this? I woke up at 3 AM last night, couldn't sleep, wandered into the kitchen and saw this. It was snowing, and the whole world - the sky, the snow on the ground, the air itself was red. Weird. I took the picture at 3:15. The photo's from inside a completely dark house (and through two panes of glass and a screen, with no tripod - hence the noise), and no lights showing in any of the other houses I could see. The color in the picture is a pretty good representation of what I saw. Reflected light from somewhere else, I guess.

I don't spend all that much time gazing out the kitchen window at 3 AM so I don't know if it looks this way every overcast night, or if last night was somehow different.

When in doubt, blame the media

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Defense Department on Monday sought to clarify comments made by the top US military officer on Iran's atomic program a day after he said Tehran had enough nuclear material to make a bomb....

Whitman blamed media reports for creating "some confusion yesterday."

[From The Raw Story | Pentagon blames media for 'confusing' Iran nuke reports]


The pharmaceutical industry that long has benefited from Sen. Orrin G. Hatch´s legislative efforts has directed large sums of money to a charity he helped found - and still raises money for - while also hiring the Republican lawmaker's son as a lobbyist....

And if that weren't enough political intrigue, the tax-exempt charitable foundation, which the senator from Utah helped start in the 1990s and still vigorously supports, has been delinquent for nearly a decade in filing its required annual reports with Utah state officials, a Times review found.

[From Washington Times - EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Hatch's secret drug firm links ]

That's all it takes? Who knew?

In the new commercial, we first see the female accountant leaving her work space for a mental health day that begins with crackers smeared with Philly cream cheese and various other toppings. This cream cheese snack, we're led to believe, gives her just the boost needed to redo her budget, discover some extra cash and take her girlfriends out for a meal at which the accountant gets invited to the chef's Tuscan villa. We did say the tale is a bit farfetched, but still passable as a female fantasy.

[From Kraft pitches cheese in hard times :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Lewis Lazare]

More recession news: Shark bites drop

GAINSVILLE, Florida -- The recession may be responsible for a slump of a different sort: an unexpected dive in shark attacks, says a University of Florida researcher.

Shark attacks worldwide in 2008 dipped to their lowest level in five years, a sign that Americans may be forgoing vacation trips to the beach, said George Burgess, ichthyologist and director of the International Shark Attack File, which is housed at UF.

[From UnderwaterTimes | Shark Bite Recession: Economy Implicated As 2008 Shark Attack Numbers Slump To Five-year Low; Long-Term Rise Expected]

OK, it's the people who are depressed, not the sharks. Maybe.

(And a fascinating factoid: The number of shark attacks in the U.S. typically makes up about two-thirds of the worldwide number. What, are Americans just tastier?)

A momentary setback to the Spring thing

"I don't like snow," O'Malley said.

[From Northeast pounded by snowy late-winter storm]

Yeah, it snew. Six or eight inches, I'm guessing (you think I'm going out to check?) and it's still coming down. AccuWeather has the worst of it past us and the least ending by noon or so, followed by another day of 20-ish cold before it warms up again on Wednesday. Bah.

Or, more to the point, baaa. In like a lion, out like a lamb is the operating formulation here, and I'm expecting a whole lot of baaa for this.

I don't have to leave for work until noon today, by which time maybe - just maybe - they will have the streets plowed and probably the Interstate will be clear and maybe - just maybe - I will make it to Northampton. And maybe - just maybe - people will show up for class. Luckily it's only a one-day how-to-do-Windows class today so I don't care too much. The Word class starts tomorrow, and by then we should be back to normal in Western Mass. In other words, who knows.

(And that O'Malley is Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, who, if I lived in Maryland, would have my vote right there.)


Yes, no, maybe, or all of the above

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iran is not close to having a nuclear weapon, which gives the United States and others time to try to persuade Tehran to abandon its suspected atomic arms program, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday.

[From Iran "not close" to nuclear weapon: Gates]

WASHINGTON — Iran has enough fissile material to build a nuclear bomb, top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen said on Sunday, marking the first time the United States has made such an assessment.

"We think they do, quite frankly," Mullen said when asked if Iran had enough nuclear material to manufacture an atomic bomb.

[From The Raw Story | Iran has 'enough material' to make nuclear bomb]

Yet another bird profile

Photo:  Phil Compton

More bad news about news

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper recalls getting "a feeling in the pit of my stomach" when he learned that the Rocky Mountain News was shutting down....

Although the Denver Post will still cover Hickenlooper's region, some cities -- most notably San Francisco -- are facing the prospect of life without a major newspaper. Others, from Philadelphia to Chicago to Minneapolis, have watched their papers slide into bankruptcy, while still others are being served by dailies with newsrooms that have shriveled by half.

[From Under Weight of Its Mistakes, Newspaper Industry Staggers - washingtonpost.com]

Let the finger-pointing begin.

The real culprit here is the same one that crippled all of our great industries, starting with textiles and manufacturing and extending to the auto industry and financial institutions: Greed.

The great pillars of the Fourth Estate are crumbling, one by one, because bean-counters and their Wall Street masters replaced the old ink-stained wretches, running the business for the next quarterly report instead of the next generation. Their mantra -- cut expenses, raise ad rates -- drowned out calls for innovation. The daily newspaper became a "product," produced by marketers who saw subscribers who were older, rural or low-income as liabilities. Quarter by quarter, they pounded the spark and quirks and charm and innovation out of newspapers, until they were left with bland bowls of homogenized pabulum.

-Paul Knue

How "google" became a verb

Unless you’re just off the shuttle from Alpha Centauri, you’re already aware of the product that made Google famous: its Search box...

[From State of the Art - Google Geniuses at Work on Free Goodies - NYTimes.com]

"Stimulus" gains ground


Embed, embedded 150 million

Stimulus 136 million

Blog 56 million

[From CLICHE CHALLENGE: How various clichés of the media and the establishment are faring ]

Here's a guy who really needs to chill out

[Bill O'Reilly on the Obama budget]: And gazillions more dollars will flow into America's schools. What good this will do I don't know, because if the kids walk around all day with iPods in their ears and rings in their noses, money simply won't matter.

[From "Man of the People" O'Reilly dumps on kids, then dismisses job-creation ad | Crooks and Liars]

Somebody buy the man a Zune.

Let's go back to 18th Century, Republicans say

Describing themselves as the spark of a "new conservative counterculture," several thousand anti-tax protesters took to the streets in over thirty cities on Friday to object to President Obama's plans to counter the growing economic crisis with government spending....

The protesters identify themselves with the revolutionaries who dumped tea in Boston Harbor in 1773. Some wore 18th century garb to the protests, while others were described as wearing tea bags.

[From The Raw Story | Anti-tax movement holds 'Tea Party' to protest Obama policies]

But dressing up as tea bags sounds more like something PETA would do.

File under Chuckle of the Week

In his 11 years in the Washington Legislature, Representative Mark Miloscia says he has supported all manner of methods to fill the state’s coffers, including increasing fees on property owners to help the homeless and taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, most of which, he said, passed “without a peep.”

And so it was last month that Mr. Miloscia, a Democrat, decided he might try to “find a new tax source” — pornography.

[From Struggling States Look to Unorthodox Taxes - NYTimes.com]

Abbott and Costello explain Republican economics

To drive or not to drive?

Boston considers more traffic...

Downtown Crossing's problems have been well-documented: Crime has spawned fear, heightened by a stabbing and shooting in the midst of a bustling afternoon. Shops that once thrived next to Jordan Marsh and Filene's have shuttered, leaving empty storefronts cheek-by-jowl with pushcarts, discount jewelry stalls, and gaping construction sites. Sidewalks that teem with rowdy teenagers and office workers by day lie empty and forbidding at night.

For years, city planners have been promising to restore the area to its former grandeur and make it a major urban destination. But as they have attempted solution after solution without success, they have never tried one idea: reopening the streets to traffic.

[From Should Downtown Crossing be reopened to traffic? - The Boston Globe]

(And what about those rowdy office workers?)

...while New York thinks less...

NEW YORK, Feb 26 (Reuters) - New York City plans to ban all vehicles from two notoriously congested stretches of Broadway, the wide avenue that cuts diagonally through the city's otherwise orderly grid, in a bid to ease traffic in the busy Times Square area....

The pilot starting in May would create two pedestrian malls on Broadway at Times Square and Herald Square, two of the most choked points in Midtown Manhattan, which is largely laid out on a grid of north-south avenues and east-west streets.

[From NY plans pedestrian zones on Broadway to ease traffic | Markets | US Markets | Reuters]

Seeking Jimmy Stewart

While much of the economy is teetering between bust and bailout, the movie industry has been startled by a box-office surge that has little precedent in the modern era. Suddenly it seems as if everyone is going to the movies...

[From Despite Downturn, Americans Flock to Movie Theaters - NYTimes.com]

But you can see pictures of one...

A crossword puzzle tournament is a strange thing to watch.


...at the NYTimes' Wordplay blog.

Steel edges

Photo: Phil Compton