"An act of defiance"

But what a minute. Isn't shooting exploding things into the sky the very essence of July 4? Maybe North Korea is just honoring Independence Day.

link: Left I on the News

Careful what you say about Milwaukee, sonny boy

Yes, sir, you have to get up pretty early in the morning to put one over on San Francisco's not-in-my-backyard crowd. Gap founder Don Fisher wanted to hand the city a brand-new $100 million museum, a priceless art collection and renovations to historic buildings in the Presidio.

Thank God we got that stopped. Now we can keep the abandoned buildings,

...Asked to choose between saving old buildings and a bowling alley versus world-class art, San Francisco picked old buildings and bowling.

What is this, Milwaukee?

link: Only S.F. would snub gift of world-class museum

We hardly knew ye

So we won't have Sarah Palin to kick around anymore, it seems. More mercifully, we won't have Vista. I've had it with Vista, really, I'm not kidding. It's possible that its current crankiness has more to do with a recent update to VMware Fusion than to the dozen or so Vista updates I installed the other day, I don't care. I'm figuring I want to keep Fusion around because I want to play around with Ubuntu and that runs slick as a whistle in the virtual machine, but Vista no thank you, we're done. Life is too short.

In fact, I've decided I've learned all I want to know about Windows, ever, and Microsoft is on it's own from here on out. With us, it's over. The only thing I need to do on Windows now is make an occasional tweak to my class files and I can do that fine by just going to work a half hour early or staying a half hour late, say, three or four times a year. Beyond that, there really is no point.

Windows, at least, was somewhat useful in its day. Palin, I'm not so sure.

Complete with Victor Borge

This weekend, creninetive co-vocabularists are invited three turn their aeleventions three Inflationary Language. Additional points will be awarded five referring three current events. Now, get three it!

link: Weekend Competition: Inflationary Language - Schott’s Vocab Blog - NYTimes.com

Noted by our Midwest Bureau



Update | 5:30 p.m. Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska announced Friday that she would step down by the end of the month and not seek a second term as governor, fueling speculation that she is trying to position herself as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

link: Palin to Resign as Governor of Alaska - The Caucus Blog - NYTimes.com

...we should run our automobiles on speculation since speculation is so easily fueled.

Pretty much sums it up

A sprawling war film, Midway stars nearly every actor who wasn't in A Bridge Too Far.

From a movie description on Netflix.

And a bunch of burgers and a big bag of charcoal

Deputies raided a home at 907 Ocean Ave. near Witham Field airport around 6 p.m. Friday and found about $100,000 in fireworks and explosives, according to a sheriff's report.

link: Stuart man arrested on charges of having $100,000 of illegal fireworks - South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

New to the Work Avoidance List

Drawger, including The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies.


In other words, this dude is in one world of hurt

In a statement e-mailed to reporters Thursday, Jenny Sanford called her husband's behavior inexcusable but said she may be able to give him another chance. It was her first public remark since Gov. Mark Sanford told The Associated Press that Maria Belen Chapur is his soul mate but he is trying to fall back in love with his wife.

"Forgiveness opens the door for Mark to begin to work privately, humbly and respectfully toward reconciliation with me," she said. "However, to achieve true reconciliation will take time, involve repentance, and will not be easy."

link: SC gov's wife may be able to forgive affair - Yahoo! News

Sounds nifty

Known for thinking outside the box, electronics maker Apple Inc. is now apparently working on an in-the-box concept that could provide power to iPods, iPhones and other electronics devices still inside their retail packaging, allowing them to display demo videos and receive firmware updates while hanging unopened on a shelf in a retail store.

link: AppleInsider | Apple developing "active packaging" for iPods and iPhones


See that yellow thing (I've forgotten exactly what it stands for but I'm pretty sure it's something good) down there by Sunday? At the beginning of the week, it was on Thursday, which would be today. And then it slipped to Friday and drifted off to Saturday. Now even Saturday - Saturday! the 4th of freakin' July! - has been abandoned.

And it's been doing that very thing, the yellow dot has, for at least a month. Maybe more. So long I can't remember. Sob.

Do not pass go

I recently bit on a David Baldacci novel. I do it once every year or two like clockwork (I have a cheap clock) and regret it every time. So I was especially happy to notice Sara Paretsky's name in the Library of Congress section at iTunes U.

If you do not know about iTunes U get yourself a copy of iTunes - you can download it free from Apple - and get yourself to iTunes U, do not pass go, and check it out. Don't miss the new Library of Congress section. It's extremely cool. (Yes, all that stuff is probably available on the LOC's web site if you can find it there, but the problem, there, is you have to find it there).

You may have to set up an account with the iTunes store to use it but whatever, everything at iTunes U is free. And excellent.

And, as it turns out, I found an interview with Sara Paretsky there, from which I discovered a couple of her books I haven't read yet, and they are now on my to-get-to list at audible, and ain't it a wonderful world.

Job loss "worse than expected"

The U.S. economy lost 467,000 jobs in June as the national unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent, the government announced on Thursday morning....

A broader measure of labor underutilization that accounts for people who've stopped looking for work hit 16.5% in June, a 0.1 percentage point increase.

link: Unemployment Rate Hits 9.5 Percent As Economy Sheds 467,000 Jobs In June

We need to find ourselves some better expecters pretty soon.

A little entertainment goes a long, long way

You have to be entertained by the completely opposed right-wing arguments - "socialized" health insurance (or medicine) both works so well that it will be "unfair competition" with insurance companies and works so poorly that you will be paying a fortune for long wait times and no choice. Weirdly, the arguments the industry is making in Washington have leaned heavily on the former lately - that it's the government's job to protect the industry from competition rather than to protect Americans from predatory, fraudulent "health insurers". See, they have to defraud you or they won't survive - and gods forbid anything should happen to our holy "health insurance" industry.

link: The Sideshow July 2009 Archive

Read the rest

A major story in the Washington Post today begins with the following claim:

Saddam Hussein told an FBI interviewer before he was hanged that he allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction because he was worried about appearing weak to Iran, according to declassified accounts of the interviews released yesterday.

...And, guess what? No such statement from Saddam Hussein appears in the interviews, which are all online at the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

link: Left I on the News

Wherein I am even more confused than usual

Rohack, who recently became AMA president, suggested Wednesday that the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program available to Congress members and other federal employees could be expanded as a public option. That would avoid having to create a new program from scratch, he said.

"If it's good enough for Congress, why shouldn't it be good enough for individuals who don't have health insurance provided by their employers?" Rohack said.

link: AMA open to government-funded health insurance option - CNN.com

Whatever the merits of the federal employee plan may be (I have no idea) I'm just wondering, are there any employers around these days who actually provide health insurance? As in, provide? Or do they just provide the opportunity to buy health insurance, sometimes at a significant discount? Seems to me the latter, and seems to me that's not "providing" at all.


Of course you might wonder why they didn't just keep on flying, but you'd be missing the point

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A US Airways flight to Los Angeles was diverted to Albuquerque after a passenger removed all of his clothing mid-flight, forcing flight attendants to cover him with a blanket before he was arrested, authorities said Wednesday.

link: Flight diverted after passenger undresses in seat - Yahoo! News

Diving For The Corner

Photo: Phil Compton

Too, too cruel

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — As American waistlines have expanded since 1960, so has their consumption of gasoline, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Virginia Commonwealth University say.

Americans are now pumping 938 million gallons of fuel more annually than they were in 1960 as a result of extra weight in vehicles. And when gas prices average $3 a gallon, the tab for overweight people in a vehicle amounts to $7.7 million a day, or $2.8 billion a year.

link: Weight gain of U.S. drivers has increased nation's fuel consumption | Archives | News Bureau | University of Illinois

So, obviously, we don't need a higher CAFE standard, we need to ban potato chips.


All of a sudden, China worries about make-believe money...

SHANGHAI — The buying and selling of the make-believe currencies used in online gaming has become so widespread that Chinese authorities fear it will affect the real economy.

link: China Limits Use of Gamers’ Online Currency - NYTimes.com

So if not Henry Miller, who?

Hemingway said that the problem with Henry Miller was that he got laid in the afternoon once and thought he invented it. Governor Mark Sanford got laid in Argentina two weeks ago and the way he continues to go on about it, you'd think he cracked cold fusion. The man won't shut up. If Henry Miller talked about his sex life as much as Governor Mark Sanford talks about his sex life, people would have started thinking he was some kind of perv.

link: Chris Kelly: God is My Doorman: Mark Sanford for Non-Christians

So you don't run out of light bulbs

General Electric, the world's largest industrial company, has quietly become the biggest beneficiary of one of the government's key rescue programs for banks.

At the same time, GE has avoided many of the restrictions facing other financial giants getting help from the government.

link: Loophole Helps GE Benefit From Bank Rescue Program - washingtonpost.com


It's the "additional" that gets you in trouble, dude

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, already struggling to salvage his family and his political career after admission of a scandalous affair, added explosive details Tuesday, including more visits with the mistress he calls his "soul mate" and additional women in his past.

link: AP Newsbreak: SC gov 'crossed lines' with women - Yahoo! News

A miracle! (or something)

We just had a monster thundercrack and a hail storm, not big enormous hail stones but maybe the size of grapes, and suddenly the dome light in my car came on. You know, the one in the ceiling. Hey.

That light has never worked, not since I got the car, which is I don't know how many years ago but seems like quite a few. Not once, until now. And the little reading lights work too.

So maybe all I ever had to do to turn the light on was give it a good whack upside the head. Or maybe it was just sitting there waiting, all those years, for tonight.

Newsweek's top 100 books

Declaring the best book ever written is tricky business. Who's to say what the best is? We went one step further: we crunched the numbers from 10 top books lists (Modern Library, the New York Public Library, St. John's College reading list, Oprah's, and more) to come up with The Top 100 Books of All Time. It's a list of lists — a meta-list. Let the debate begin.

link: Newsweek's Top 100 Books: The Meta-List | Newsweek Books | Newsweek.com

Interesting list, even though it includes several unreadable classics (Ulysses and anything by Salman Rushdie, for example).

–Paul Knue

It may be cold and full of blueberries but...

The Maine Department of Education said Tuesday that it plans to expand to high school students a program that has provided Apple notebook computers to all of the state's middle school students for the past 7 years, creating "the world's largest educational technology program of its kind."

link: AppleInsider | Maine's expanded MacBook program the 'largest of its kind'

Wiley's "Non Sequitur"

imaginary friends

link: Non Sequitur, June 30, 2009 — UCLICK GoComics.com

Librarians rule

I'm not kidding. If the world were run by librarians we'd all be a whole lot better off. Everything would run efficiently and whisper-quiet, and with a smile. And if your card expired you would just have to take it in and they would make it good again.

I took my library card in this morning to get it recharged. The librarian asked me two questions (address? phone number?) and clicked a mouse one time, and said I'm good to go for two more years. And smiled.

Dude. You have to press seven buttons just to make a phone call. And on top of that, you have to pay for the privilege. See what I mean?

Still holding your breath?

In Iran, in 11 days since the election, 17 people have been killed, although by whom is not at all clear. President Obama says the entire world is "appalled and outraged."

In Pakistan today, 40 or more 50 people were murdered in the "approved, civilized, democratic" way - by missiles fired by a U.S. drone on a funeral gathering. We'll anxiously await the statement about the world being "appalled and outraged" at this brutal murder.

link: Left I on the News

Just checking.

Vista spectacularly goes bonkers

This is beautiful. I mean it. Sure it's all my fault, because I haven't booted Vista up for two, maybe three weeks. And in that time there have been - wait, wanna guess? - right! Updates! About a zillion. Also of course, my anti-virus (AVG Free) was out of date, because it's always out of date, every day.

SO, of course, Vista starts trying to download everything at once while all the time flashing a warning, "Your computer has multiple disastrously dangerous things going on and if you don't fix them right now it will explode," and then rebooting itself. So far it has rebooted three times, and required a password change once. And right now it's asking "do you trust this program?" (yes! damnit! yes!). The program it is asking me to trust is, apparently, well, it.

Continue! Arrrrrgh!

Suddenly, we're liveblogging a Windows boot. It's flashing! It's blinking! It's bitching! Wait! - it wants to install 14 more important updates. Important freaking updates!

OK, why not? What will happen to the other stuff that may or may not be happening? Why does the button next to me anti-virus software that says "Turn it on now" refuse to work? Will this be over by the end of the week?

What? That too?

If there was ever a reason to have two computers, Vista is it. Just make sure you only turn on one at a time.

Johnny Depp, meet Spiderman

Chicago police say a man who spent seven years in jail for stealing laptops from Loop businesses went back to the same mischief the day he was
freed in March, scaling walls and climbing up pipes to pull himself up onto fire escapes without setting off alarms.

link: Chicago cops: Spider-Man skills used in thefts -- chicagotribune.com

There's something about Chicago crooks. Style. OK, well, not really - crooks are crooks wherever you find them, I guess, except in the movies. I'm really looking forward to seeing Public Enemies, if only for the style of it all. Judging from the previews, just the pictures of Union Station will be worth the price.


It's in the second graph (yeah, we see it there)

WHILE President Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal to reduce greenhouse gases has been the big topic of recent environmental debate, the White House has also been pushing a futuristic federal project to build a power plant that burns coal without any greenhouse gases. Sounds great, right? Except the idea is a rehash of a proposal that went bust the first time around.

More important, the technology already exists to make huge reductions in greenhouse emissions from coal, allowing power companies to begin cutting the carbon footprint of coal today. Instead, advanced-technology coal power sits on the shelf while regulators wait to see what happens with a project that may be just an expensive boondoggle.

link: Op-Ed Contributor - The Dirty War Against Clean Coal - NYTimes.com

A bait-and-switch game that's been going on for quite some time now (we'll turn coal into oil! we'll run all our cars on hydrogen!), reminds me of the punchline to an old joke ("he just sits on the edge of the bed and tells me how good it's gonna be").

Racer's Eye

Photo: Phil Compton


VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.—The Air Force successfully launched an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile Monday from the California coast to an area in the Pacific Ocean some 4,200 miles away.

The ICBM was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara at 3:01 a.m. and carried three unarmed re-entry vehicles to their targets near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, said Lt. Raymond Geoffroy.

link: Air Force tests missile in launch from Calif coast - San Jose Mercury News

Whatever happened to class?

Asked to identify where older and younger people differ most, 47 percent said social values and morality. People age 18 to 29 were more likely to report disagreements over lifestyle, views on family, relationships and dating, while older people cited differences in a sense of entitlement. Those in the middle-age groups also often pointed to a difference in manners.

link: Study finds widening generation gap in US

If you saw the movie, Chicago, but not the play, you missed a terrific song, Whatever Happened to Class, possibly because the lyrics might have bumped the movie's rating up a couple of age groups, who knows. But the song is on the album and the album is on iTunes, so there's no excuse.

And it's still June

Toothless Cubs put on dog-and-phony show

link: Toothless Cubs put on dog-and-phony show :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Rick Telander

I can barely bring myself to watch

When those Republicans get to going on about sex, it's grim.

These irrepressible passions make a fascinating counterpoint to the complaint, advanced this month by two of the nation’s finest essayists, that modern relationships have been drained of danger and purged of eros.

link: Op-Ed Columnist - The Way We Love Now - NYTimes.com


Paragons of taste, those R's

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), speaking to Washington, D.C. publication The Hill, called the recently-passed climate change legislation a “pile of shit” according to [a report from The Hill].

link: Raw Story » House GOP leader calls climate change bill a ‘pile of shit’

The end of the world is upon us

Have you noticed how difficult it is to find a decent tomato any more? I bought one the other day, all nice and red and juicy-looking (and actually it was pretty juicy) and it tasted like cheap cardboard. Not even the good kind. And to add insult to injury, I had to peel six stickers off it. Whose idea was it to put stickers on tomatoes anyway?

I guess if you want to get a good tomato you have to know some tomato-growing person, like one of those garden people or something.


Photo: Phil Compton