All the sun we've had around here for a while

Improbable Research announces 2009 Ig Nobel prizes

PEACE PRIZE: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.

...and more, here.


Not gonna happen

Chicago was eliminated in the first round of the voting for the 2016 Summer Olympics. For Chicago, it wasn't that close: The first-round vote totals showed Madrid with 28, Rio 26, Tokyo 22, and Chicago 18. In the second round, it was Rio 46, Madrid 29, and Tokyo 20, and in the last round, it was Rio 66 and Madrid 32.

link: Photos: Olympic dream over - chicagotribune.com

Clarify, clarify

Strange maps

There are over 13,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the US, or about 1 for every 23,000 Americans. But even market penetration this advanced doesn’t mean that McDonald’s is everywhere. Somewhere in South Dakota is the McFarthest Spot, the place in the US geographically most removed from the nearest McD’s. If you started out from this location, a few miles north of State Highway 20 (which runs latitudinally between Highways 73 in the west and 65 in the east), you’d have to drive 145 miles to get your Big Mac (if you could fly, however, it’d be only 107 miles).

link: 413 – The McFarthest Place: 145 Mi to the Nearest Big Mac « Strange Maps

So the next time they tell you things have turned around, yippee...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. employers cut a deeper-than-expected 263,000 jobs in September, lifting the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent, according to a government report on Friday that fueled fears the weak labor market could undermine recovery from a prolonged recession.

The Labor Department said the unemployment rate was the highest since June 1983 and payrolls had now dropped for 21 consecutive months.

link: U.S. Sept non-farm payrolls fall, jobless rate up - Yahoo! News

But hey, Bunky, check this out:

"The worst of the labor market deterioration is over. Despite this month's bigger decline, the trajectory of job losses is still positive as the trend rate has slowed as economic activity has begun to recover," said Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics in Danville, California.

Got it? The trajectory of job losses is still positive as the trend rate has slowed. WTF? And this Wood guy has a job?

English, damnit

A collection of snappy signs.


Is it paranoid...

...when you know you're being followed?

So does this make the entire state of Oklahoma illegal?

News 9 - Only one in four [Oklahoma] public high school students can name the first President of the United States. . . The survey was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs in observance of Constitution Day. . . Students were given 10 questions drawn from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services item bank....Only about 3 percent of the students surveyed would have passed the citizenship test.


Goood druggsmmm

I went to the hospital yesterday for one of those tests where they stick some kind of big tube up your...OK, well, just use your imagination here, that's what I'm doing, I don't remember a thing about it myself. Those guys had some serious pharmaceuticals, I'm not kidding, also I'm not saying what they were because I don't know, they both had brand names (thanks, Big Pharma!), names I didn't recognize and don't remember either, all I remember is it turned out to be a very good day, or lack thereof. And I'm good for another 10,000 miles.

Meanwhile, for those of you without a commienazisocialist government health plan:

Big Pharma and big insurance hate the public insurance option even more than they hate big Medicare discounts. And although the President has sounded as if he would welcome it, political operatives in the White House have quietly reassured the industries that it won't be included in the final bill. At most, the bill would allow the formation of non-profit "cooperatives" that wouldn't have the scale or authority to squeeze the profits of private industry, or a "trigger" that would allow states to form public insurance options eventually if certain goals for cost savings and coverage weren't met.

link: Robert Reich: The Public Option Lives On


"A Conservative..."

...says William Faulkner in The Reivers, "is a Republican who has learned to read and write."

Don't be foolish, says U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States blasted ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya for his "irresponsible and foolish" return from exile before a settlement was reached in the Central American country's political crisis.

link: U.S. blasts ousted Honduran for "foolish" return - Yahoo! News

Yeah, if there's anything we can't abide...

It's the miscellaneous fees that get you every time

Infuriated with Bank of America’s customer service, Dalton Chiscolm decided to do what every other red-blooded American in his situation would do: He sued them.

How much did he sue them for?

Try $1,784 billion trillion, according to Reuters. That’s the number 1,784 followed by 18 zeros. It’s also more money than the world’s 2008 gross domestic product, which was comprised of a measly $60 trillion (that’s six followed by 13 zeroes). To top it off, he also wants an additional $200,164,000 for "miscellaneous fees."

link: Man Sues Bank of America for $1.7 Billion Trillion | NBC New York


Autumn Garden

Photo: Phil Compton

Blame the burgers, baby, blame the burgers

WASHINGTON – More than 3,000 people a day have a heart attack. If you're one of them the day after your swine flu shot, will you worry the vaccine was to blame and not the more likely culprit, all those burgers and fries?

link: Intense tracking for swine flu shot's side effects - Yahoo! News

Oh oh. I'm sitting here with one in my hand. Remind me to cancel that flu shot first thing in the morning.

Just make stuff up and teach it to your kids: It's the "Value Voter" way

One of the final events of the Values Voter Summit was a Saturday breakout session on “the new masculinity,” a wide-ranging topic that one speaker used to explain how any and all pornography could lead young people into homosexual lifestyles. That speaker was Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) chief of staff Michael Schwartz, a longtime conservative activist who has worked for the senator since 2005....

Schwartz told the crowd about Jim Johnson, a friend of his who turned an old hotel into a hospice for gay men dying of AIDS. “One of the things he said to me,” said Schwartz, “that I think is an astonishingly insightful remark… he said ‘All pornography is homosexual pornography, because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards.”

There were murmurs and gasps from the crowd. “Now, think about that,” said Schwartz. “And if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to get a copy of Playboy? I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants! You know, that’s a good comment, it’s a good point, and it’s a good thing to teach young people.”

link: The Washington Independent » Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) Chief of Staff: ‘All Pornography Is Homosexual Pornography’


Entire body Pillowed on Live Rubber

Sounds like...wait, never mind.

But health care is not really what it's all about, is it?

It has been frustrating to watch Republican leaders posture as the vigilant protectors of Medicare against health care reforms designed to make the system better and more equitable. This is the same party that in the past tried to pare back Medicare and has repeatedly denounced the kind of single-payer system that is at the heart of Medicare and its popularity.

...far from harming elderly Americans, the various reform bills now pending should actually make Medicare better for most beneficiaries — by enhancing their drug coverage, reducing the premiums they pay for drugs and medical care, eliminating co-payments for preventive services and helping keep Medicare solvent, among other benefits.

link: Editorial - Medicare Scare-Mongering - NYTimes.com

LIFE, the magazine, now at Google Books

LIFE Magazine is the treasured photographic magazine which chronicled the 20th Century.

link: LIFE - Google Books