Red White and Blue (and, um, Purple and...)

Photo: Phil Compton

Dogfight, woohoo!

We could have a Huskies v. Huskies matchup next week.

Go Huskies! Beat Purdue!

And the sooner the better, too

Reading all the articles these days about the fate of capitalism and socialism brings to mind that Virginia good old boy, Jimmy Jenkins. Jimmy went to college on the GI Bill and bought his first house with a VA loan. When a hurricane struck he got federal disaster aid. When he got sick he was treated at a veteran's hospital. When he was laid off he received unemployment insurance and then got a SBA loan to start his own business. His bank funds were protected under federal deposit insurance laws. Now he's retired and on social security and Medicare. The other day he got into his car, drove the federal interstate to the railroad station, took Amtrak to Washington and visited Capitol Hill to ask his congressman to get the government off his back.


White shoes and not much else, looks like

A former executive from a white-shoe Boston wealth management firm was arrested for exposing himself to young women and is now being eyed as the pervert dubbed the “campus flasher” who preyed on Wellesley College students, the Herald has learned.

[From Ex-exec eyed as campus flasher - BostonHerald.com]

Let's look good out there

PEORIA - A public-address announcer broke the news.

Before a second would tick off the clock of its Class 3A semifinal Friday against Champaign Centennial, North Lawndale College Prep would be assessed a technical foul.

Uniform violation. Bad stripes.

As Lawndale players watched helplessly from the side of Carver Arena's court, Centennial's Jeff Johnson sank one of two free throws....

The game ended the way it started before it started: Centennial, up one, 66-65....

The uniform violation broke a National Federation of State High School Associations rule that states the torso of the jersey — the area from an imaginary horizontal line at the base of the neckline extending to each armhole, down to the bottom hem and from side seam to side seam — must be a single solid color. Also, the side inserts (stripes) must be centered vertically below the armpit, and those stripes can't be more than 4 inches wide.

[From North Lawndale penalized for illegal uniforms -- chicagotribune.com]


Chutzpah at the very least

Susie Madrak, writing at Crooks and Liars: Can you say "chutzpah"? I knew you could!

While the American International Group comes under fire from Congress over executive bonuses, it is quietly fighting the federal government for the return of $306 million in tax payments, some related to deals that were conducted through offshore tax havens.

A.I.G. sued the government last month in a bid to force it to return the payments...

The suit also suggests that A.I.G. is spending taxpayer money to pursue its case, something it is legally entitled to do. Its initial claim was denied by the Internal Revenue Service last year.

[From AIG Sues Feds For Return of Tax Payments | Crooks and Liars]

Nothing is as nothing does

Under the smoke and mirrors going on in Congress, the mogul horde thinks to use the old Trojan horse gimmick. A great offering of solving those regulatory problems in the guise of an 'independent' agency that would do it all, now there's the answer we are looking for. Of course, grounds are being laid by the Liddy sort to foist off the only ones who can understand the operations of the money market, financial 'experts', on us in the guise of regulators. If the thinking community hasn't learned in the eight years of government by the worst of the worst we just passed through, that putting wolves in charge of the sheep is not good for the flock, we've learned nothing.

[From cab drollery: Worst of the Worst's Crimes Continue]

Everything's up to date in Kansas City

-Thanks to Kellie and our Seattle bureau for this photo of the awesome Kansas City (MO) public library

Roosevelt is a nice touch...

...but why am I thinking cardigan sweater here?

WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama will begin digging up a patch of the South Lawn on Friday to plant a vegetable garden, the first at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden in World War II.

[From Obamas Prepare to Plant White House Vegetable Garden - NYTimes.com]

Reality check

The Obama administration is at least distracted by important things. The Washington political class has spent the past week going into made-for-TV hysterics over $165 million in A.I.G. bonuses. We’re in the middle of a multitrillion-dollar crisis, and our political masters — always willing to throw themselves into any issue that is understandable on cable television — have decided to risk destroying the entire bank-rescue plan because of bonuses that account for 0.001 percent of the annual G.D.P.

[From Op-Ed Columnist - Perverse Cosmic Myopia - NYTimes.com]

-Noted by Midwest Bureau Chief Phil Compton

[Ed Note: True enough, and let the bank-bailout go forth and do its thing, although we humbly beg to offer two wee footnotes:

1) A great many people (and yes, David, this means you) who are now pointing this fact out are among those who screech at similar amounts, in similar proportions, when they can conveniently be labeled "pork."

2) The mere (dare we say mere?) fact that $145 million, in the present circumstances, is just a piddling little amount of money is not an overly persuasive argument for just letting people walk away with it.


Blending in...

Photo: Phil Compton

Yeah, but we've forgotten about that

SACRAMENTO, California — Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold Election Systems) admitted in a state hearing Tuesday that the audit logs produced by its tabulation software miss significant events, including the act of someone deleting votes on election day.

The company acknowledged that the problem exists with every version of its tabulation software....

"Today's hearing confirmed one of my worst fears," said Kim Alexander, founder and president of the non-profit California Voter Foundation. "The audit logs have been the top selling point for vendors hawking paperless voting systems. They and the jurisdictions that have used paperless voting machines have repeatedly pointed to the audit logs as the primary security mechanism and 'fail-safe' for any glitch that might occur on machines.

"To discover that the fail-safe itself is unreliable eliminates one of the key selling points for electronic voting security," Alexander said.

[From Diebold Admits Systemic Audit Log Failure; State Vows Inquiry | Threat Level from Wired.com]

Hear no evil, see no evil

WASHINGTON – Obama administration special envoy Richard Holbooke was on the American International Group Inc. board of directors in early 2008 when the insurance company locked in the bonuses now stoking national outrage...

"Mr. Holbrooke had nothing to do with and knew nothing about the bonuses," spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

[From Obama envoy Holbrooke served on AIG's board]

Everybody's going global today

TULSA, Okla. – One of the most deadly spiders in the world has been found in the produce section of a Tulsa grocery store. An employee of Whole Foods Market found the Brazilian Wandering Spider Sunday in bananas from Honduras and managed to catch it in a container....

Spiders often are found in imported produce, and a manager at Whole Foods says the store regularly checks its goods and that's how the spider was found.

[From World's deadliest spider found in Tulsa store]

What's with the "AI"?

WASHINGTON – The mortgage meltdown exposed the weakness of self-regulation in financial markets. Now the salmonella outbreak is doing the same for the food industry.

A House subcommittee Thursday released new documents that showed how private inspectors contracted by Peanut Corp. of America failed to find long-standing sanitary problems at company facilities. Peanut Corp. is at the center of a nationwide outbreak that has sickened nearly 700 people and is blamed for at least nine deaths....

Last summer, Peanut Corp.'s private inspector, a company called AIB, awarded the peanut processor a certificate in 2008 for "superior" quality at its Plainview, Texas, plant. This year, salmonella was discovered there.

[From Private inspections of food companies seen as weak]


Double the fun

Turns out - just playing with the toys here - I can watch the CBS Sports NCAA feed on my computer and on my iPhone and they have different commercials, even for the same game. Twice as many commercials! How cool is that?

I'm just keeping an eye on UCONN which, now leading Chattanooga 103-47, doesn't seem to need much eye keeping on. I don't watch many sports events any more but I had a friend from UCONN a while back who re-turned me on to college hoops and I do like watching the NCAA tourney, especially if UCONN is playing, which they almost always are.

Seattle Times

Well, I went home last night and read our first delivered copy of the Seattle Times only to find in the obituaries that one of our clients had died the day before!

He was 61 and had been ill for a time. They knew he would die soon. (His tax return was prepared early in the year and with haste in order to secure his signature on the filed return.)

He was a long-time client, and a Seattle police officer. Very tough (he was a Drill Instructor at Parris Island) and yet he was a very gentle man. He will be buried with full military honors.

I didn’t know him personally, but of course Shawn and Kellie both did and they were very saddened by the news.

It’s not the Times fault, but I’ll never forget our first paper!


- Lynn

Some are born great, some achieve greatness...

...and some wake up to find their names on the front page.

Andrew M. Cuomo is starting to unearth some of the most closely guarded secrets on Wall Street: the identities of Merrill Lynch employees who collected large bonuses even as the brokerage firm lost billions....

He also vowed to identify publicly the employees who had received bonuses at the American International Group, whose payouts prompted an uproar....

[From Cuomo Wins Ruling to Name Merrill Bonus Recipients - NYTimes.com]

(Sorry, Will)

Sure, taxes are high, but you get a lot of entertainment for your money

WASHINGTON – At least 13 firms receiving billions of dollars in bailout money owe a total of more than $220 million in unpaid federal taxes, a key lawmaker said Thursday....

Banks and other firms receiving federal money were required to sign contracts stating they had no unpaid taxes, Lewis said. But he said the Treasury Department did not ask them to turn over their tax records.

[From 13 firms receiving federal bailout owe back taxes]

Just say no, says Pope

When he says "don't use condoms - even to prevent the spread of Aids" it has a significant impact among tens, even hundreds of millions of people.

[From BBC NEWS | Africa | Why the Pope opposes condoms]

Bringing Dickens back

NEW YORK - Google Inc. is making half a million books, unprotected by copyright, available for free on Sony Corp.'s electronic book-reading device, the companies were set to announce Thursday....

The scanned books were all published before 1923, and include works like Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" as well as nonfiction classics like Herodotus' "The Histories."

[From Yahoo! News - Sony e-book reader gets 500,000 books from Google by AP: Yahoo! Tech ]

Sony is playing a numbers game here with Amazon - acquiring a 500,000 book library from Google gives Sony the bigger library for it's e-book reader, which competes with Amazon's Kindle.

Electronic book sales, while representing a very small percentage of the publishing industry, are accelerating upward as traditional sales languish. And if the proliferation of services offering free books is any indication, there is a corresponding surge of interest in older books not protected by copyright. And that includes a whole lot of good books.

I'm not opposed to copyright laws but my guess would be that in their present form they are about to become the same kind of drag on book publishing they have become in the world of music. And whether or not that's true, with a seemingly large number of readers today willing to read about sci-fi and fantasy worlds, why would they not be willing to explore the more immediate world of fiction as it existed before the 1920's?

Who knows. Maybe Dickens will hit the charts again. Or Mark Twain.


News about the News

I got my last P-I yesterday. The paper’s closure was the topic of the day on the local NPR station – and probably many others. Our subscription was automatically transferred to the Seattle Times. It arrived this morning – but I won’t get a chance to read it until this evening.

I imagine they’re about the same. We used to subscribe to the Times before we got the P-I. I don’t remember why we switched.

Big news here, but hardly surprising.


- Lynn C., Seattle bureau chief

Gravity waves...

Photo: Phil Compton

A miraculous cure

Woohoo. I've been thinking for almost a month now that I was losing hearing in my left ear. Really, really losing hearing, as in barely able to hear a thing on that side.

But today I accidently put my earbuds in backward and...guess what.

It's going on my calendar

The annual Whoopie Pie Festival at the Hershey Farm and Inn in Strasburg, Pa., features a whoopie pie eating contest and the coronation of the Whoopie Pie Queen.

[From Whoopie! Cookie, Pie or Cake, It's Having Its Moment - NYTimes.com]

It's September 19 this year. And hey, if you make it to Pennsylvania a day early you can catch the Liederkranz Octoberfest in Manheim although, alas, they don't make Liederkranz any more. It was made in Van Wert, Ohio, and my grandfather used to call it "stinky cheese." Which, oh yeah, it was. Good, too.

On happily collecting cannonballs

St. Patrick's Day is also called Evacuation Day in Boston, and that's a really good story.

[From t r u t h o u t | The Ballad of Henry Knox]

At your own risk

“Off With Those Pants”: Bill O'Reilly Seduces You in Clips From His Dirty Audiobook

[From New York - “Off With Those Pants”: Bill O'Reilly Seduces You in Clips From His Dirty Audiobook - Runnin' Scared - Village Voice]

If at first you don't succeed

The Defense Department banned YouTube from its networks, and built a military-friendly video-sharing site to take its place. But in an odd twist, many military bases are now blocking that new site, TroopTube, as well.

[From Military Blocks Its Own 'YouTube' Knockoff (Updated Again) | Danger Room from Wired.com]

AIG CEO just so, so angry he had to pay those awful bonuses

The anger is understandable, and I share it....

Mistakes were made at AIG...

[From Edward M. Liddy - Repairing AIG and Repaying the Public - washingtonpost.com]

Yeah, right. I can imagine, if I really try, some guy making an investment by mistake - like, oooops my finger slipped.

But that's not what these guys did. Their only mistake was not getting away with it.

Key Deer on Big Pine Key

For more on this endangered species:

Might have actually been worth watching

Belinda Carlisle was the first celebrity eliminated from the eighth season of the hit ABC show. The 50-year-old singer and her professional partner, Jonathan Roberts, went toe to toe — literally — with fellow low-scoring couple Steve Wozniak and his partner, Karina Smirnoff, in the show's first dance-off.

Each duo repeated their Monday night dance for new scores from the judges. Each earned 17 points out of 30, but viewer votes kept Apple co-founder Wozniak on the show for another week.

[From First celebrity cast off of `Dancing']

Never mind the Brenda - look who else is there. The Woz. Viewer votes, you betcha. I don't have a TV but if I did, who knows? I might actually watch that one, at least while Wozniak is on it.

Or, remind me to check You-Tube. Speaking of which - not having a TV and You-Tube and, come to think of it, Woz - and just so you know, for $5.00 you can get the entire NCAA tourney streamed to your iPhone - video if you're on a Wi-Fi connection, audio only over 3G and Edge. Search for "CBS Sports" at the iTunes store.

PS. The iPhone app is, I think, only for the men's game, and so I am compelled to add, go Huskie babes!



[AIG], which lost a record $62 billion [62 freakin' what?] last quarter, is now nearly 80 percent owned by the federal government.

[From Outrage Over AIG Politically Tricky For Obama : NPR]

So if we own the joint, how about we decide who gets bonuses?

Somehow I think it'll be a much shorter list.

Waiting to cast off

Photo: Phil Compton

Hey, you can always get your business news from CNBC

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Washington Post will stop publishing a business section six days out of the week and move business news to the front section of the paper at a time when finance stories dominate world headlines.

The decision, which the Post's editors explained in a memo obtained by Reuters, means that the paper will save money on newsprint ... [and] allow the paper to keep providing readers with what they say they want....

[From Washington Post to cut business section | U.S. | Reuters]

Trash talk from Trickshot Dick

"Now he's made some choices that in my mind raise the risk to the American people of another attack," Cheney said on CNN's "State of the Union."

[From Dick Cheney: President Barack Obama risking terror attack -- chicagotribune.com]

Robert Reich: "Our democracy is seriously broken"

When our very own Secretary of the Treasury cannot make stick his decision that AIG's bonuses should not be paid, only one conclusion can be drawn: AIG is accountable to no one.

[From Robert Reich: The Real Scandal of AIG]

Now if the can just make pockets a little bigger...

The computer industry has hit upon its Next Big Thing. It is called a phone.

Emboldened by Apple’s success with its iPhone, many PC makers and chip companies are charging into the mobile-phone business, promising new devices that can pack the horsepower of standard computers into palm-size packages.

[From Computer Makers Prepare to Stake Bigger Claim in Phones - NYTimes.com]


Do I have to wait until Christmas for this?

Looking for a date...

Photo: Phil Compton

Which is somehow different from just living there, I guess

ABC has launched a project called "The Kitchen Table Economy" that it says borrows from the Iraq war practice of "embedding" reporters with U.S. troops.

As part of its effort, ABC has embedded producers in Brockton, Massachusetts, as the city cuts jobs...

[From In bad economy, TV news turns to average Americans]

Is this the silliest photo caption on all?

About 60 people took a frigid dip into Walden Pond on Dec. 6, 2008 as part of the Polar Bear Plunge. The event was planned to raise awareness on global warming.

[From Brave locals take the Polar Bear Plunge - Boston.com]

Maybe they could call it FaceSpace

There were 230 million unique users from Facebook and MySpace from June 2007 to June 2008. If they were a country, they'd be the fourth-most populous in the world.

[From Beware malware, the legions of computer viruses - The Boston Globe]

"I just love that factoid," says Boston Globe columnist Sam Allis.

Chicago green

That's the Michigan Avenue bridge over the Chicago River and of course the river, as it is every year, has been dyed green for St. Patrick's Day.