Builder, originally uploaded by tedcompton.


Photo: Lynn C.

SPAM: It's back

WASHINGTON – It's not all doom and gloom in the U.S. economy. Some products are bucking the recession and flying off store shelves....

Strong sales of Spam, Dinty Moore stew and chili helped Hormel Foods Corp. post a 6 percent increase in first quarter sales in its grocery products unit.

[From Hot in recession: Chocolate, running shoes, Spam - Yahoo! News]

OK, for some of us it never went away. You can keep the stew but, hey, I like SPAM. So sue me.


Photo: Lynn C.

Reading test

...we must shut down the enterprise in which a fourth-grader's passage to fifth grade depends on whether or not she correctly identifies the resource that contains information about the history of pretzels. Yes, after reading a passage about how pretzels are made, fourth graders were asked:

The best source of information about the history of pretzels would probably be a) a cookbook b) an almanac c) an encyclopedia d) a daily newspaper

If you think you know the answer to this question, try looking up pretzel in the encyclopedia.


Good Advice

Photo: Phil Compton

The Good Life

The only difference between 9/11 and the ’93 bombing of the World Trade Center is that 9/11 succeeded in bringing the towers down. That was the intent of the ’93 bombing. The terrorists parked their van in the South Tower with the expectation that the blast would cause the South Tower to collapse and take the North Tower with it.

What is interesting about the ’93 blast is that without torture, a Patriot Act, a Military Commissions Act, rendition or black holes, all the conspirators were found guilty in a court of law that observed all of the niceties of rules of evidence and defendant rights.

[From Short Shots: The Good Life]

Hell in Crisis

This recession goes a lot deeper than you thought...

Think things are grim for Wall Streeters in the here and now? Envision the scene in hell, where the Devil is talking bonus cuts, the Pit of Remorse is packed with frustrated financiers, and trophy wives are weeping over the eternal torment of their broke husbands’ company....

[From Edward Sorel: Hell in Crisis | vanityfair.com]

–Paul Knue

Investment tips, probably from Mars

Want to Make a Killing on Wall Street? Buy Newspaper Stocks

[From Poynter Online - The Biz Blog]

If you want to make a small fortune, it helps if you start with a large fortune.

–Paul Knue


Halfway to the stars

Photo: Lynn C.

Hey, Dude...

...let's see if we can get some people to pay us $50 apiece to stick their hands in the fish tank!

Unlike many fish, the Garra rufa is unafraid of humans. In fact, these pinkie-size fish like you. They like you very much.

Which is key to why they're turning up in salons in Virginia, Ohio and now, Aurora and Gurnee. People are paying $25-$50 to plop their feet and/or hands in water tanks and let swarms of the gray, toothless fish work as Neptune's exfoliators.

"They have very firm lips," said Olena Manakina, co-owner of Fun Fins in the Gurnee Mills Mall.

[From Fish pedicures pop up in Illinois -- and clients are biting -- chicagotribune.com]

Ha! It worked!


Building goes on

ATLANTA (AP) — The housing market may be sputtering, but Habitat for Humanity International is getting a $100 million gift from an Atlanta businessman who built his fortune developing real estate and is now giving it away piece-by-piece to support affordable housing.

[From APNewsBreak: Habitat for Humanity gets $100M gift, biggest individual donation in its history -- chicagotribune.com]

Bad day at the polls?

When Democrats lose, they're pathetic. When Republicans lose, they're bitter and mean.

[From Why Republicans make the rest of us miserable when they lose. - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine ]


Garden Visitor

Photo: Phil Compton

Still playing the same game

The British Virgin Islands – the very name conjures up a Caribbean paradise of soft sand beaches, tropical breezes, and the leisurely island lifestyle. Surprisingly, though, this tiny spot is home to more than 400,000 major corporations!

Not that you'd find any factories, corporate headquarters, or even employees on the islands. Indeed, all 400,000 companies are located in one gray, two-story building in the town of Tortola....


Mention of the British Virgin Islands may conjure up tropical breezes (See also: Gitmo) but Tortola conjures up...pirates.

As late as 1792, British authorities called Tortola "a pirate's nest." For many years Tortola was a major base for pirates bent on terrorizing professional sailors and soldiers, attacking treasure ships, and distributing the loot in strict accordance with the Pirate Coda or Code.


Baudboys Doo techno-Wop

cappella group of Microsoft employees

Gonna Make You Happy Tonight

by The Baudboys

[From Videos Posted by The Baudboys: Gonna Make You Happy Tonight | Facebook]

(You gotta click)

–Thanks to Jacob and our Midwest Bureau

Color after rain

It's difficult to get this color but this faux-Polaroid tweak comes close.

Anytime soon?

I have to say that between the CIA threatening to let the country be attacked if they are punished for torture and the military threatening not to investigate war crimes if they are made public, I'm beginning to have some doubts about the honor, integrity and commitment to the rule of law by a large swathe of the American government. Perhaps someone should look into that.

[From Hullabaloo]

Derby Hat Series, #8

Photo: Phil Compton

The Cheney Jungend

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence....

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

[From Explorer-Scouts Train in Post-9/11 Law Enforcement Methods - NYTimes.com]

Me, I'm sending back my merit badge.

Why not just call it Club Gitmo and be done with it?

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) today defended the continued detention of al-Qaeda prisoners at the military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, calling it a "logical" site that also provides inmates with "tropical breezes."...

"They wouldn't be treated any better in the United States, and they wouldn't have the tropical breezes blowing through," Sessions said.

[From Capitol Briefing - Citing 'Tropical Breezes,' Sessions Defends Keeping Guantanamo Open ]


An hour?

So I'm at the CVS (or I was a minute or two ago) which is a place I don't go any more because I can't find the kleenex (by which I mean the small-k kind, which is supposed to be called tissue, I know, but that sounds icky, doesn't it?) and I see this Kodak (big K) machine you stick your camera card into and, for 19 cents (and why can't I find a cents sign on this keyboard?) (am I just being cranky here?), you get a print in one hour.

Does anybody remember what an hour is?


Michael Vick, soon to be sprung from prison, was in talks  with PETA about becoming a spokesman.

[From Yoo Can't Be Serious - The Plank ]

How awesome would that be? Michael Vick a spokesman for PETA? That kind of thing keeps up, next thing you know you'll start seeing Trickshot Dick's smirk on TV again.

Oh, wait...

Now that you mention it...

What's the point of a revolutionary new communications and media device if you can't put half naked tattooed girls on it?

[From News > Geek > SuicideGirls iPhone Pin-Up Packs]

But surely you can trust an industry pledge

Josiah Swampoodle - The only people Obama and congressional leaders are barring from the table in discussions of healthcare reform are people who advocate healthcare reform.


Derby Hat Series, #7

Photo: Phil Compton

Cheney: "We are what we are"

I went to a party the other day and heard the word "torture" and said that I didn't think we should prosecute the Bush lawyers who wrote those torture memos, and people jumped all over me like I was an escaped Nazi, so as long as I was persona non grata, I said some more stuff -- that America would be a better country if we took the vote away from people over 65 because they are selfish and greedy and the future of America is its young. People about dropped their drinks. And then I said that cat ownership is a sign of emotional immaturity and a good predictor of a tendency toward violent crime. I saw lifelong friends turn away in disgust. And you know something? I Don't Care. It felt good.

Liquor wasn't the cause. Crankiness was. And crankiness is the birthright of Republicans.

[From Cheney: "We are what we are" | Salon ]

I love this guy. Not Cheney, of course -- he'd probably shoot me. I mean Keillor.

–Paul Knue


Thanks, Ed!

AIG , the recipient of approximately $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money, will not need more government aid, CEO Ed Liddy plans to tell Congress.

[From CEO Liddy: No More Bailouts Needed For AIG - ABC News]

And don't even bother asking about the milk

Popular US breakfast cereal Cheerios is a drug, at least if the claims made on the label by its manufacturer General Mills are anything to go by, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said.

[From The Raw Story | Popular cereal is a drug, US food watchdog says]

Stormy afternoon

Stormy afternoon, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

A turtle!

You’d think Bill O’Reilly had a fetish for interspecies marriage.

Speaking on Fox News Channel Monday, O’Reilly declared that same sex marriage could lead to individuals marrying — a turtle.

[From Raw Story » O’Reilly: Same sex marriage could lead to goat, dolphin, turtle marriages]

Good stuff

All regularly scheduled CTA [Chicago Transit Authority] bus routes will be included in a real-time travel information service starting next week that will send e-mail notices to riders telling them when buses will arrive, officials said Monday....

This summer, the CTA plans to test a text-messaging system for its Bus Tracker program, which uses global positioning system technology to provide transit riders with real-time service information, that allows for two-way texting, CTA President Richard Rodriguez said.

[From CTA Bus Tracker: E-mail alerts coming for all bus routes -- chicagotribune.com]


Swine Flu Hits The Hundred Acre Wood


The real reason CEO compensation got out of hand

It is truly a statement of the times we live in that a self-imposed $10 million pay cap is a sign of modesty and virtue. Half a century ago, the median pay of top executives in U.S. companies was 30 times an average worker's salary; by 2005, the ratio was nearly 110. How did we get here?

[From The real reason CEO compensation got out of hand. - By Ray Fisman - Slate Magazine ]

The amount of money top corporate executives cart to the bank each year is outrageous by any measure.

Consider the pay of the guy in the corner office of a smallish company whose total compensation is $25 million, a modest amount by CEO standards. You and I could split that, pay taxes (no cheating or dodging), tithe...and still have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of our lives...and leave generous trust funds for our kids and grandkids (not that they would be appreciative).

The truth is that corporate boards have become Good Ol' Boy Clubs (with a few girls admitted) made up of fellow CEOs who watch out for each other. So they make up excuses to send corporate pay into the stratosphere, while they lament the fact that they've had to cut hundreds of $30,000-a-year jobs to keep the corporate ship afloat. Nevermind that slicing a few mil from executive bonuses would have the same effect on the bottom line.

When I'm King of the World this is what will happen: We'll pass a law that says companies can pay executives as much as they want, BUT the CEO's total compensation can't be more than 25 times as much as that of the lowest paid employee. While we're at it, we'll do away with minimum wage legislation. It will no longer be necessary.

There are lots of other things I'll do when I'm King or the World, but I'd better not go into that now. You'd just throw rocks at me.

–Paul Knue

I call flim-flam

So the big news today is President Obama's press conference with the health insurance industry touting the industry's "voluntary" commitment to slashing $2 trillion off Americans' health care bills over the next decade.

[From Open Left:: Three Questions About Obama's "Major" Health Care Announcement Today]

And this magical, voluntary $2 tril is coming from a decrease in the rate of increase of health care costs.

OK then! Swallow that and call me in the morning.

And there he is, yours morosely...

Massachusetts Labor Secretary Suzanne M. Bump, left, addresses people learning computer software in the Franklin Hampshire Career Center's computer lab. Center director Michael Truckey is at far right, and the lab's instructor, Ted A. Compton, is standing, center.

[From Franklin-Hampshire Regional Employment Board gets $1.79 million for training, summer jobs - MassLive.com ]

...standing right there in this breaking news (yikes!) from the Springfield, MA, Republican.

"Economic recovery" does not include your job, Bunky - get over it

President Obama’s chief economics forecaster said on Sunday that the country was not likely to see positive employment growth until 2010, even if the economy began to grow later this year.

[From White House Forecasts No Job Growth Until 2010 - NYTimes.com]


Count the silverware

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's plan to provide medical insurance for all Americans took a big step toward becoming reality Sunday after leaders of the health care industry offered $2 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years to help pay for the program.

[From Health groups offer $2 trillion in cost savings]


Wind, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Real Smart

Real Smart, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Honk if ignorance is bliss

Not satisfied with destroying evolutionary theory and turning sex ed into a Bible course, Texas educators have decided to put the age of the universe to a vote.

[From The Progressive Puppy: Texas Creationists Determined to Destroy Science Education]

And, from the Austin American-Statesman ...

And when it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas doesn't stay in Texas. Publishers are reluctant to develop whole new textbooks — an expensive endeavor — for smaller markets in other states. So those states tend to buy textbooks made for Texas off the shelf.

Numbers game

Ever seen one of those Smart Cars?

...about 31,000 of the minicompact-size vehicles have been sold in the United States since their introduction 15 months ago....

[From The littlest deuce coupe - The Boston Globe]

And there are about 2,300 cases, in the U.S., of the flu formerly known as swine.

Blago, the industry

Blago's lawyers said today it would take one lawyer 51 years to get through all the evidence the feds have turned over against the former governor.

In a filing where defense lawyers for Rod Blagojevich say they'll accept $110-hour pay (as this blog reported here earlier this week) they tell a judge they've received 1 million pages of documents and 400 hours of tapes. The filing also reveals that due to grand jury subpoenas, the Office of the Governor "has provided approximately 2 million documents to the government." Those 2 million documents are in the hands of Winston & Strawn, Blago's previous lawyers, according to the filing.

[From Blago's lawyers: Evidence will take 51 years to get through - The Blago Blog]