We're only in the "Highly Disruptive," not the "Paralyzing" path (thanks, Accuweather!) of the big Nor'easter that's blowing up the coast this afternoon. Personally, I'd rather just go to bed blissfully unaware and see what tomorrow brings (good morning, dude, you're screwed).

Nobody left on the Left

Turn off MSNBC. Tune out Howard Dean and Keith Olbermann. The White House has its liberal wing in hand on health care, says White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

“There are no liberals left to get” in the Senate, Emanuel said in an interview, shrugging off some noise from the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) that a few liberals might bolt over the compromises made with conservative Democrats.

link: Rahm Emanuel: Don’t Worry About the Left - Washington Wire - WSJ

Kids today

“Years ago children were satisfied with Jack-in-the-boxes, monkey-on-the-sticks, and other inexpensive baubles, but nowadays they’re looking for a whole string of iron cars, miniature automobiles, and flying machines,” laments Santa Claus in this New York Times feature story from Dec. 19, 1909.


Break out the mittens, darlin, the sun is broke

The sun is up but the temp keeps going down. My widget had a 4 about two hours ago. Now it has a 1. That can't be good.

So this is what it's come to now?

"Yes we can" has become "Oh well, at least it's better than nothing"?

Obama said the United States has acted boldly by vowing to reduce heat-trapping gasses and help other nations pay for similar efforts. But he indirectly acknowledged that some countries feel the United States is not doing enough, and he said an imperfect accord is better than an impasse.

link: Obama: Imperfect climate deal better than none - Yahoo! News

Climatecare is starting to sound a whole lot like healthcare to me.

Throw the rascals out

We are slouching toward health-care reform that's better than nothing but far worse than we had imagined it would be....In all likelihood, the White House and the Dems eventually will get a bill they can call "reform," but they will not be able to say with straight faces that the reform is a significant improvement over the terrible system we already have.

link: Robert Reich: Slouching Toward Health Care Reform

War games

WASHINGTON – Insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan have hacked into live video feeds from Predator drones, a key weapon in a Pentagon spy system that serves as the military's eyes in the sky for surveillance and intelligence collection....

Shiite fighters in Iraq used off-the-shelf software programs such as SkyGrabber — available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet — to regularly capture drone video feeds, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The interception, first done there at least a year ago, was possible because the remotely flown planes had unprotected communications links.

link: Pentagon: Insurgents intercepted drone spy videos - Yahoo! News


Sounds perfect then

Liberals love Costco because they pay their workers about 40 percent more than their big box rivals.

Conservatives love them because they sell Sarah Palin’s book by the pallet, next to the camo wear.

link: Clueless in Costco - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com

What, another bake sale?

COPENHAGEN – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to put new life into flagging U.N. climate talks Thursday, announcing the U.S. would join others in raising $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer nations cope with global warming.

link: Clinton: US would help raise billions on climate - Yahoo! News

The good news is...

...that although my work hours have been cut in half recently I am scheduled to get a pay increase on the remaining hours that'll net me another dollar a month and - here's the best part - all the classes I have left are in the afternoon. Which means today, for example, I don't have to walk to work in 11º cold but I can wait until noon or so, by which time the temp should be a sub-tropical 15 or possibly even 16 degrees. Also, I have all morning to sort of work myself up to the idea.

And it's not a very long walk anyway, only a few blocks. So, not bad.

Whoa!! What could this guy be smoking?

US regional military commander General David Petraeus on Wednesday called Washington's fight against terrorism in Afghanistan "successful," even if Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has not been captured....

Petraeus said that even if bin Laden remains at large, "as a result of some of those efforts significant numbers of top 20 extremist leaders have of course been killed, and in some cases captured and removed from the picture."

Addressing the issue of efforts to train sufficient number of Afghan troops to succeed the United States ahead of an eventual troop pullout...

"It's very important we train as many as we can, as quickly as we can, without rushing to failure. Quantity does have a quality of its own but only if it has a reasonable quality as well," the general said.

link: The Raw Story | US war a success, even if bin Laden still at large: Petraeus

Significant numbers of top 20 extremist leaders?

Quantity has a quality of its own, but only if it has quality?

Must be some really good stuff.

Scientists get all jolly and like ho ho ho

Here’s a look back at one of our Christmas research collections, this from 2001, in two separate parts. Among the more prominent items:

“Unilateral phrenic nerve paralysis from cutting down a Christmas tree,” R.H. Tiede, J.R. Hover, S.F. Davies, Southern Medical Journal, vol. 87, no. 11, November 1994, pp. 1161-3.

“Christmas or harvester’s eye,” G. Howsam, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Ophthalmology, vol. 22, no. 2, May 1994, pp. 147.

“Convulsions at Christmas,” S. Kirker, British Medical Journal, vol. 305, no. 6868, 19-26 December 1992, pp. 1580.

link: Improbable Research » Blog Archive


More on the stealth war

Walter Pincus, Washington Post - The surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan could be accompanied by a surge of up to 56,000 contractors, vastly expanding the presence of personnel from the U.S. private sector in a war zone, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service.

CRS, which provides background information to members of Congress on a bipartisan basis, said it expects an additional 26,000 to 56,000 contractors to be sent to Afghanistan. That would bring the number of contractors in the country to anywhere from 130,000 to 160,000...


Person of the Year

Well, now I’ve seen everything.

link: TIME’s Person of the Year revealed - Matt Taibbi - Taibblog - True/Slant

Sorry, Bunky, you lose

NEW YORK - The U.S. Treasury will not recover any portion of the $3.7 billion still outstanding in loans it made to automaker Chrysler under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, according to the terms of a plan filed with bankruptcy court on Tuesday.

link: Chrysler won’t repay $3.7 billion TARP loan - Autos- msnbc.com

And what was it that they wanted, does anybody know?

WASHINGTON – History may be calling but time's running out to act by Christmas, so Senate Democrats are coming to terms with the idea they won't get everything they want from health care overhaul.

link: Dems ready to push health bill despite setbacks - Yahoo! News



As a candidate, Barack Obama endorsed the idea of allowing consumers to import cheaper pharmaceuticals from other industrialized countries. In the Senate he co-sponsored a bill that pushed the idea.

But now that he’s president and is taking money from the pharmaceutical lobby (PhRMA) to help get his bullshit health care bill passed, his administration is backtracking. His FDA chief Margaret Hamburg is pulling out the old safety canard. The CBO has estimated that a bill sponsored by Byron Dorgan to allow drug re-importation would save the government $19 billion over 10 years, and save consumers $80 billion.

There’s no legitimate reason to bar re-importation, except one: to preserve a subsidy for the pharmaceutical industry and, by extension, preserve the flow of campaign contributions to the Democratic Party....

link: PhRMA Hack: Campaign Promises Are Just That - Matt Taibbi - Taibblog - True/Slant

My New Year's Resolution this year...

...is going to be quit getting organized, you moron, you're driving me crazy. I mean it. I am so organized right now I'm running out of things to do. Things I want to do, I mean. If this doesn't stop I will have to start doing things I don't want to do and I don't want to do that. Enough is enough.

You really have to marvel at the insanity of it all

Boing Boing - Tahaya Buchanan, an American fugitive who'd been on the run for more than two years, dodging a national arrest warrant for insurance fraud, has spent her years underground gainfully employed by the Department of Homeland Security....


There'll always be an England (wow!)

A woman who was given an anti-social behaviour order banning her from making loud noises during sex has admitted breaching the order.

Caroline and Steve Cartwright's love-making was described as "murder" and "unnatural" at Newcastle Crown Court.

Neighbours, the local postman and a woman taking her child to school complained about the noise....

link: BBC News - Noisy sex woman admits Asbo breach

But not a penny fer yer sniffles, bunky

House-Senate lawmakers are putting the finishing touches on a $626 billion Pentagon spending bill that Democratic leaders hope to clear for Obama's signature by Friday....

link: Congress readies defense budget

The $626 B does not include the cost of the 30,000 additional troops our Nobel War Is Peace Prize winner is sending to Afghanistan, nor any new bombs to drop on Pakistan but hey, that's just chump change.

Right, chump?


Guerrilla Handbell Strikeforce

A 13-member handbell choir [from Improv Everywhere] provided some unexpected accompaniment for a Salvation Army bell ringer on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

(Thanks, Lynn!)

So gnomes can't have holiday party like the rest of us?

BURLINGTON — Gnomes had been disappearing in the Bayhill neighborhood, but nobody realized how many until the wind blew down Lisa Soneda’s fence.

There in her neighbor’s yard were gnomes, lots of them.

There were red-hatted gnomes, green-hatted gnomes, few-inch-high gnomes and foot-tall gnomes. There were dozens, along with other yard statues including a deer, a squirrel and an owl. A variety of glass garden globes stuck into the ground beside them....

Though Soneda wasn’t missing any ornaments from her own yard, she suspected the collection of more than 60 ornaments was stolen because she’d heard of gnome thefts in the neighborhood.

link: Skagit County's News and Information Source | goskagit.com

Heat wave

It rained ice again last night but now it's pushing 40º. And forecast to do the same tomorrow before it gets cold again later in the week. So hey, let's go to the beach.

Our nomination for Simile of the Year

Advanced age has never been a curative, but some in society tend to be so awed by the prospect of longevity that they assume virtue must go along with it. Others are just naturally protective of the most senior of citizens, like a nation of Willard Scotts gazing fondly at a gallery of twinkling oldsters.

link: Aging: still the same at the century mark - The Boston Globe

All your soy are belong to us

With Monsanto's patented genes being inserted into roughly 95 percent of all soybeans and 80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S....

link: AP: Monsanto dominating seed markets with patented genetics | Raw Story

In case you were wondering just what the game is

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Nike Inc Chairman and co-founder Phil Knight said the scandal surrounding Tiger Woods is "part of the game" in signing endorsement deals with athletes and did not back away from the athletic shoe and clothing maker's relationship with the golfer.

link: Nike chairman stands by Tiger Woods: report - Yahoo! News

Too big to fail

So the Wall Street elite, just months removed from their near-death experience, are now making a fortune shorting the U.S. dollar. One year ago, faced with the greatest financial panic in generations, the American people swallowed hard and bailed out the banks. Today, the banks have moved on, and are tearing down the currency of the nation that saved them.

But it is nothing personal. It is strictly business.

link: David Paul: With Wall Street Shorting the Dollar, It is Time for Congress to Pursue Fundamental Change

Stories we never finished reading

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is asking bank executives to support his efforts to tighten the financial industry...

link: Obama pushing banking execs on protection agency - Yahoo! News

Yeah, well, we pretty much know where that's gonna end, don't we? That's like going to Al Capone and saying hey, Al, I'd like your support in cleaning up all these speakeasies around town. Guaranteed to get a laugh in Cicero.


Hey, at least we might skim off the cheap ones

It seems late to realize this, but [U.S. Secretary of Defense] Gates told reporters he had only recently learned the “eye-opener” that the Taliban were able to attract so many fighters because they paid more. Generals in Afghanistan said the Taliban dole out $250 to $300 a month, while the Afghan Army paid about $120. So Gates has made sure that recruits get a raise to $240.

The American solution is always to throw more money at a problem; now we’re in a bidding war with the Taliban, which doesn’t bode well for the democracy manqué.

link: Op-Ed Columnist - A Game That’s Not So Great - NYTimes.com

Whoa baby throw another blanket on the fire

One of my weather widgets had it at five degrees this morning when I emerged from bed, the other had it at ten. I don't know why the discrepancy. But both widgets agreed it "felt warmer."

Dude. There is no, absolutely no way that ten degrees can feel warmer than anything that's worth feeling warmer than. I'm just saying. Seriously. For example, can 10 degrees feel warmer than an ice cube? No, I don't think it can. So there.

(And yes, I know about absolute zero but don't bug me about absolute zero because if it were absolute zero we'd all just be peoplecicles anyway, so who would care?)

Although now it's warmed up to 20º and the sun is out so it looks warm, so what the hell.

Quelle cheesecake

A group of beautiful French cheese fans, nicknamed the "Fromage Girls," posed for a pin-up calendar that uses sex to sell regional French cheeses.

link: French Cheeses Get A Pin-Up Girl Calendar (VIDEO)

Over the hill

Virtually everywhere in the world people tend to be more educated than their parents. This is no longer true in the United States. A report by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities indicates that the U.S. is one of only two nations on Earth in which people aged 25 to 34 have lower educational attainment than their parents.

link: Education Rate in U.S. Declines by Daniel Luzer | Washington Monthly

Top ten list is bottom ten

The Ten Brands That Will Disappear In 2010

link: The Ten Brands That Will Disappear In 2010 – 24/7 Wall St.

We are shocked! Shocked!

The world is being told that this [climate summit now being held in Copenhagen] is an emergency meeting to solve the climate crisis – but here inside the Bela Centre where our leaders are gathering, you can find only a corrupt shuffling of words, designed to allow countries to wriggle out of the bare minimum necessary to prevent the unravelling of the biosphere.

link: Johann Hari: Leaders of the rich world are enacting a giant fraud - Johann Hari, Commentators - The Independent