Numbers don't lie

76: The percentage of people who prefer to bite off the ears first when eating a chocolate bunny

[From www.washingtonexaminer.com >> Yeas & Nays - By the numbers]

Who's that in the rowboat?

Our nomination for Headline of the Week, from U.S. News...

Karl Rove Takes on Joe Biden as Pirates Hold Captain Hostage

[From Karl Rove Takes on Joe Biden as Pirates Hold Captain Hostage - US News and World Report]

Near disaster at Red Sox' park

Ketchup that was meant to grace the franks of Fenway on Opening Day ended up sidelined at a Tennessee truck stop last week....

Kevin Mitchell, manager of Crosby Trucking in Sidney, Ohio, the company responsible for delivering goods to Cisco Distribution in Norton, said the driver and his $43,000 shipment of Heinz 57 just “didn’t show up” with the “high priority load,” because “he was mad” for having to pay over $400 in work-related fines.

[From 57 varieties of stupid: Cops say trucker ditched Fenway catsup - BostonHerald.com]

Remember the good old days when the customers robbed the banks?

A suburban banker befriended some of her elderly customers, then used the trust she had gained to steal more than $100,000 from their accounts, DuPage County authorities said Friday....

[From Banker charged with stealing from elderly :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Chicago Crime]

Everywhere, men drop shorts

The degree to which Americans have stopped shopping is getting almost as scary as our over-consumption used to be. Yesterday we learned that men worldwide had stopped buying underwear, a disturbing development because former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan had famously fixed upon the metric as one of the most consistent, recession-proof sales figures in retail....

[From Is The Economy Turning America's Children "Goth"? | TPMMuckraker]


Job fair closed by turnout

MANCHESTER, N.H.—More than 10,000 people showed up Thursday for a big job fair in Manchester, N.H., backing up traffic for miles and quickly filling up a mall parking lot that served as a shuttle-bus pickup hub.

The event was closed to throngs of job-seekers several hours into the event and the 3,000-car parking lot at the Mall of New Hampshire had no more room.

[From Mass turnout for big job fair in Manchester, NH - Boston.com]

Your money or your life (insurance)

A number of life insurers, including Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Genworth Financial Inc. and Lincoln National Corp., struck deals last fall to buy regulated savings and loans so they could call themselves banks and qualify for government funds. Hartford and Lincoln have applied for TARP funds. Genworth said it has applied with the Office of Thrift Supervision to approve its thrift purchase as a step toward gaining access to the federal funds.

Prudential Financial Inc., which owned a thrift before the crisis struck, has also applied for the funds. MetLife Inc., the biggest publicly traded insurer by assets, owned a federally chartered bank before the crisis struck. It has not commented on whether it has applied for TARP money.

[From U.S. to Offer Aid to Life Insurers - WSJ.com]

YAME's big Easter holiday edition

"An interesting look at the historical basis for Good Friday for YAME's big Easter holiday edition," notes Paul Knue.

A central statement in traditional Christian creeds is that Jesus was crucified "under Pontius Pilate." But the majority of Christians have only the vaguest sense what the phrase represents, and most non-Christians probably can't imagine why it's such an integral part of Christian faith.

[From Why was Jesus crucified? - By Larry Hurtado - Slate Magazine ]

Maybe they've been out in the sun too long

Arizona State University has announced that it will not award an honorary degree to Obama when he gives the school's commencement speech on May 13....

[University spokeswoman Sharon] Keeler said ASU only awards honorary degrees to “someone who’s really outstanding, who has made outstanding contributions in their field."

[From The Raw Story | Obama not worthy of honorary degree, Arizona State University decides]

A chicken in every pothole

Drive through the streets of just about any American city, and you’ll find schools, museums, parks, stadiums, and all sorts of other public facilities plastered with corporate names, ads, and logos. That’s bad enough, but now KFC is putting its ads on the streets themselves.

In a gimmick cooked up with city officials in Louisville, Kentucky, the chicken chain is paying to fill in some of the potholes in the city’s streets. In return, the corporation gets to stencil a gaudy ad on each pothole, declaring “Re-freshed by KFC.”

[From Jim Hightower | POTHOLE ADVERTISING]

Ebert to O'Reilly

Dear Bill: Thanks for including the Chicago Sun-Times on your exclusive list of newspapers on your "Hall of Shame."...

Yes, the Sun-Times is liberal, having recently endorsed our first Democrat for President since LBJ. We were founded by Marshall Field one week before Pearl Harbor to provide a liberal voice in Chicago to counter the Tribune, which opposed an American war against Hitler. I'm sure you would have sided with the Trib at the time.

[From Thoughts on Bill O'Reilly and Squeaky the Chicago Mouse :: rogerebert.com :: News & comment]

Or maybe it didn't

It had to happen eventually. Someone—a Harvard professor and Illinois Institute of Technology graduate—has developed inhalable chocolate.

[From Inhalable chocolate: A whiff of luxury -- chicagotribune.com]

Smith: "A society that has lost the ability to get things done or fixed"

There's a lot of talk about FDR but Roosevelt did it differently. He didn't use a banker or an MBA to get things rolling; he actually used a social worker, Harry Hopkins, who created more new jobs in four months than Obama promises to create (or "save") by 2011.

The Works Progress Administration built or repaired 103 golf courses, 1,000 airports, 2,500 hospitals, 2,500 sports stadiums, 3,900 schools, 8,192 parks, 12,800 playgrounds, 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, and 651,087 of highways and roads.

Nothing like that is even contemplated this time around.



Business as usual in Washington

Opposing view: Hands off Social Security

Now is no time to touch program in the name of fiscal responsibility.

By Dean Baker

As a result of incredible economic mismanagement and the greed and incompetence of the financial industry, the country is in the worst downturn since the Great Depression. In this collapse we have seen the most massive intergenerational transfer in the history of the world.

Americans have lost more than $15 trillion in housing and stock wealth, with the great bulk of the losses being incurred by people age 45 and older. This is effectively a transfer to younger workers and those yet to enter the labor force, because they will be able to buy into the stock market and buy homes at close to half the price they would have paid just two years ago.

What do our elites, ranging from editorial boards to former Commerce secretary Pete Peterson, plan in response to this situation? At the same time that they are handing trillions of dollars to the bankers who wrecked the economy, they are proposing to cut Social Security in the name of fiscal responsibility....

In effect, the cutters are proposing that the government default on the bonds held by the Social Security trust fund: U.S. government bonds that were purchased with money raised through the designated Social Security tax.

[From Hands off Social Security - Opinion - USATODAY.com]

Fool me twice...

During World War I, Americans were exhorted to buy Liberty Bonds to help their soldiers on the front.

Now, it seems, they will be asked to come to the aid of their banks — with the added inducement of possibly making some money for themselves.

As part of its sweeping plan to purge banks of troublesome assets, the Obama administration is encouraging several large investment companies to create the financial-crisis equivalent of war bonds: bailout funds....

[From U.S. Plan Imagines the Bailout as Investment Tool - NYTimes.com]

Always a way to make a buck

Harvard Law School - How can you avoid disaster when your organization has triggered a crisis that threatens your reputation and your image?

What specific steps can you take to turn consumer anger into opportunities for gain, whether you are dealing with...

In our special, two-day, executive program Dealing With an Angry Public, we share a powerful negotiating technique for managing or avoiding public disputes - and for dealing with the media - that you can apply whether you are attempting to defend controversial decisions or trying to protect your organization from the consequences of an accident or a mistake....



No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus

RICHMOND, April 8 -- A divided General Assembly narrowly rejected $125 million in federal stimulus money Wednesday that would have provided additional unemployment benefits to thousands of jobless Virginians.

[From Va. Assembly Rejects Stimulus Funds That Would've Expanded Jobless Benefits - washingtonpost.com]

Top 10 worst first pitches

[From Blame It On the Heels? - Top 10 Worst First Pitches - TIME]

-Noted by Paul Knue

That Would Make An Excellent Intramural Team Name - ESPN The Magazine

From last weekend's Notre Dame Bookstore 5-on-5 Tournament, the Mecca of great intramural team names...

[From That Would Make An Excellent Intramural Team Name - ESPN The Magazine]

My favorite: A women's softball team in Florida calls itself "The Vintage Babes." Our newspaper called its team the "Misprints," but there was no humor involved.

-Paul Knue

Amazing - professional athletics with an actual heart

Professional basebalI is so boring to watch that you couldn't pay me to take the tickets, but this is pretty cool.

-Paul Knue

Here's a scoop for you. The Diamondbacks are flagrantly violating MLB rules. They're a pro team, and yet they're giving out full-ride scholarships. Been doing it for two years now!

Not to their players. To their fans.

[From Reilly: D-Backs give back to fans - ESPN The Magazine]

And you can take that to the bank

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today will propose laying off 565 city workers, including public school teachers, police officers, and librarians, cutbacks that Boston officials said are needed to help balance the $2.4 billion city budget.

The job cuts are a response to the national recession and decreases in state aid...

[From Menino proposes cutting 565 jobs - The Boston Globe]

Fast Eddie's buffalo

The 500- to 800-pound bison being delivered to the Michigan farm of former political powerhouse Edward R. Vrdolyak jumped its enclosure, swam a river, caused a frightened deer to hit a car and wreaked havoc in the town of St. Joseph — before being shot dead by an assault-rifle wielding police officer.

[From Ex-Ald. Vrdolyak’s bison gets loose, is shot :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Politics]

Is this a great country, or what?

This is just what Jefferson and Madison and the boys had in mind when they got this country rolling and guaranteed that everyone, even pimply-faced kids and their druggie moms, can have their very own 15 minutes.

-Paul Knue

Levi Johnston showed up in an untucked button-down, grey pants and a bright blue sweater vest, sounding no more or less like an anxious dumbass than you might expect of a teenager who wants to talk about his private life on "Tyra."

He was affable and monosyllabic, giving mostly grunting "yes" and "no" answers to Banks' questions. Did he cheat on Bristol? "No." Had he moved in with the Palins before Tripp's birth? "Yes." Did he and Bristol share a room? "Yes."

But Levi was downright eloquent in comparison to Banks, who treated him with a combination of condescension and obsequiousness unmatched in my recent television watching experience.

[From Rebecca Traister on Levi Johnston's "Tyra Banks" appearance | Salon Life]

Pirates nab another ship, Navy hits back with commas

"The area, the ship was taken in, is not where the focus of our ships has been," Christensen told The Associated Press on the phone from the 5th Fleet's Mideast headquarters in Bahrain

[From Somali pirates hijack US-operated cargo ship with at least 20 Americans aboard, officials say -- chicagotribune.com]


I hate leftovers

Especially broccoli. Of course I'm not too fond of un-leftover broccoli either. In fact, the only thing I ever agreed with a Bush on is broccoli. But I have this little dab of broccoli left over and so into the fridge it goes. And that's what I hate about leftovers.

Throwing them away makes me feel guilty. Probably, it has something to do with my grandmother's frequent reminders about starving children in China. Maybe back in the 40's we were shipping boatloads of leftover veggies to China, I don't know. I never quite figured that part out. But still.

So what I do is put them in a little dish, stuff them into the fridge, and save them for a week. Then throw them out. Tomorrow is the day for throwing out. So in the morning, I can go through the fridge and find all the stuff I put there last week and get rid of it. Which is some kind of progress, at least.

But who needs kids?

The good news on the government’s “No Banker Left Behind” program is that, according to the special inspector general’s report on Tuesday, the total handout to date is still less than 3 trillion dollars. It’s only $2.98 trillion, to be precise, an amount six times greater than will be spent by federal, state and local governments this year on educating the 50 million American children in elementary and secondary schools.

[From Truthdig - Reports - In for a Penny, In for $2.98 Trillion]


FRESNO, Calif. – Federal officials confirmed Monday they found traces of salmonella in a central California pistachio processing plant that sparked a nationwide recall of the nut....

Federal regulators say consumers should avoid eating pistachios or foods made with the nuts until they can determine that they don't contain any nuts that Setton has recalled.

[From Salmonella found in central Calif. pistachio plant]

Crocker: Keep in mind the value of openness

TODAY is an important date in the history of the Internet: the 40th anniversary of what is known as the Request for Comments. Outside the technical community, not many people know about the R.F.C.’s, but these humble documents shape the Internet’s inner workings and have played a significant role in its success.

[From Op-Ed Contributor - How the Internet Got Its Rules - NYTimes.com]


Ya think?

It seems to me that when your trade association is contemplating cartelization schemes that are so clearly illegal that you need to keep a lawyer on hand to ensure that you’re avoiding illegal cartelization schemes, you’re probably contemplating an illegal cartel.

[From Matthew Yglesias » When Is a Cartel Not a Cartel? ]

Florida closes, goes online only

Well, OK, not. Exactly. It turns out this Florida plate design (Sam Ple's pictured here) debuted in 2003, according to the Florida web site (which is not MyFlorida.com). But who knew? I just saw this plate for the first time on the highway today.

Anyway, why not? All the big newspapers seem to be doing it; the music store on Main Street just did it (although it's not quite there yet). So why not Florida too? I wonder. Do they pay their taxes with PayPal?

Bet on the hackers, not the hacks

An internal report released last week showed that the Interior Department failed to update its computer network even after it was warned that the system was exposed to hackers and ordered by a federal judge to fix the problem. Though Interior Department officials claimed last summer that they improved the system, the report, written by the department's inspector general Earl Devaney, found that the agency "persistently failed to meet minimum standards in information security," leaving the computer network dangerously exposed. This came in response to a Native American class-action lawsuit which claimed $47 billion claiming that the department's computer system failed to keep track of income generated from 170,000 tracts of land. (Washington Post)

[From The Daily Muck | TPMMuckraker]

In Detroit, Cheers

A small but growing number of cash-strapped communities are printing their own money.

Borrowing from a Depression-era idea, they are aiming to help consumers make ends meet and support struggling local businesses.

The systems generally work like this: Businesses and individuals form a network to print currency. Shoppers buy it at a discount — say, 95 cents for $1 value — and spend the full value at stores that accept the currency.

[From Communities print own currencies to keep cash flowing - USATODAY.com]

"Similar, I think, to the currency the Curmudgeon-in-Chief uses to pay his staff," says Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue. In fact, Yet Another Media Empire uses virtual currency, which is to say it exists in the realm of fantasy.

The thief in the coal mind

Some interesting thought and discussion in Bruce Schneier's essay...

These crimes are a harbinger of the future: evolutionary pressure on our society, if you will. Criminals are often referred to as social parasites; they leech off society but provide no useful benefit. But they are an early warning system of societal changes. Unfettered by laws or moral restrictions, they can be the first to respond to changes that the rest of society will be slower to pick up on....

We've designed much of our infrastructure around the assumptions that commodities are cheap and theft is rare. We don't protect transmission lines, manhole covers, iron fences, or lead flashing on roofs. But if commodity prices really are headed for new higher stable points, society will eventually react and find alternatives for these items—or find ways to protect them. Criminals were the first to point this out, and will continue to exploit the system until it restabilizes.

[From Schneier on Security: Stealing Commodities]

And so well-scrubbed

You often wonder what visiting dignitaries make of your country; American presidents must think that the whole world is in a constant state of riot. Wherever they go, CNN is full of angry banners, burning flags and tear gas. I went and joined the London riot. It was depressingly flabby, and half-hearted. Not so much a demonstration as a queue of arcane special pleading groups, ranging from anarchists for bicycles (who all waited politely at the traffic lights) and one-world vegans. Altogether, they looked like a collective of European street mimes.

[From Op-Ed Contributor - Larger Than Life in London - NYTimes.com]


Bookstore bargains

Bookstore bargains, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Ooops, Times loses a bridge

An article last Sunday about the Queensboro Bridge, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, referred incorrectly to the Hell Gate Bridge, designed by the same men who designed the Queensboro, Henry Hornbostel and Gustav Lindenthal. The Hell Gate links the Bronx and Queens by rail, the lines passing over Manhattan (via Randalls and Wards Islands); the bridge does not connect the Bronx and Manhattan.

[From Corrections - Correction - NYTimes.com]

At least that's settled

If nothing else, the president’s trip overseas helped resolve the longstanding question of who can be more irritating, the Republicans or the French.

[From Op-Ed Columnist - Barack’s Continental Coolness - NYTimes.com]

Offshoring the mercs

Jim Hightower, Creators Syndicate - As Obama begins winding down the war in Iraq, he is building up his own war farther east. Like Bush, he will depend on private military contractors. . We're told that it will be a new, expanded, extra-special American adventure in Afghanistan, involving a vigorous surge strategy to "stabilize" this perpetually unstable land. . .

Meanwhile, here's an interesting twist to Obama's contractor surge: the for-hire guards protecting our bases and convoys will not likely be Americans. The Associated Press has reported that of the 3,847 security contractors in Afghanistan, only nine are U.S. firms.


It had to happen

Gitmo goes tourist:

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, April 4 (UPI) -- The commander of the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, says Miss Universe and Miss USA visited the camp for the benefit of troops stationed there....

Crystle Stewart, Miss USA, and Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, of Venezuela were at the camp from March 21 through March 24 on a trip arranged by the USO...

Mendoza wrote about Guantanamo in her blog, describing the water in the bay as "sooo beautiful" and the camp as "very interesting."

[From Commander defends Miss USA Gitmo visit - UPI.com]

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere

Nielsen data also show that the popularity of dark chocolate could be stalling in the recession..."It's a bubble that's going to burst," predicts Judith Ganes-Chase, a commodities analyst.

[From Dark chocolate price jump may melt sales gains -- chicagotribune.com]

This is getting serious.