Time flies

Nearly a year after the Obama administration announced a plan to help up to 1.5 million struggling homeowners modify their second mortgages, not a single homeowner has gotten any assistance.

link: Obama Plan To Modify Second Mortgages Has Yet To Help One Homeowner

Texas Taliban declares jihad on spring break

An evangelical Christian hate group called “Repent Amarillo”...targets a wide range of community members they deem offensive to their theology: gays, liberal Christians, Muslims, environmentalists, breast cancer events that do not highlight abortion, Halloween, “spring break events,” and pornography shops.

link: Think Progress » Christian Hate Group ‘Repent Amarillo’ Terrorizes Texas Town, Harassing Gays, Liberals, And Other ‘Sinners’

And breast cancer. Wait. What?

Well, there's a silver lining to every cloud; the Repent Amarillo Army of God (really) publishes a nifty map that should be useful if you're new in town and feel the need to worship an idol or two. Or whatever.

Let's hear it for the widget there

For the last ten days, maybe twelve, that sunny day has always been tomorrow. Every day it moved just one step ahead. Always a promise, never a reality - until today. Now look.

This reminds me of one evening in Chicago. I was stuck on Wacker Drive in rush hour traffic trying to get to a film lab down at the other end of the drive before it closed and running way, way out of time, when all of a sudden all the traffic lights for as far as I could see simultaneously turned green.

Let's go.

Slowly, the potatoes begin to cross the lines...

Photo: Phil Compton



"Green" is, I'm sure you've noticed, the biggest marketing gimmick since oat bran.

So today I picked up a box of Kleenex at the grocery store and when I got it home I noticed on the top of the box a sort of seal design with the words "green tissues."

I opened up the box and, sure enough, the tissues were green.

Next time you read...

...about how layoffs are leveling off and new claims for unemployment are dropping and -oh boy! - the economy's getting better and isn't it wonderful you might want to refer to this graph.

The economy might be getting better on Wall Street but on Main Street not so much.

(Graph from Left I, which has more to say here.)

Because you asked for it (and more Airline Stories)

[Continental Airlines] this week said it is offering economy-class passengers the option of paying a fee to get an exit-row seat, which normally costs the same as any other seat in coach.
Everybody loves an option, Bunky, just remember that.

And speaking of Continental Airlines:

On a  Continental flight with a very "senior" flight  attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and  gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and  will be turning down the cabin lights. This is  for your comfort and to enhance the appearance  of your flight attendants."

-Noted by our Midwest Bureau.


From Airline Stories

Forwarded by our Midwest Bureau:

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the Passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline." He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?" "Why, no, Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down?"

Oh go ahead, guess who

The guy who called the war on drugs "an utter failure" and supported marijuana decriminalization when he was running for the Senate, and who promised to call off the DEA's medical marijuana raids when he was running for president, has sought an increase in funding for that utter failure, ridiculed the very notion of marijuana decriminalization, presided over a doubling in marijuana seizures, nominated a hard-line Bush administration holdover to head the DEA, and continued to let the DEA raid medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations without regard to whether they are following state law, despite a written Justice Department policy to the contrary.


Icy babe too hot for New Jersey

Cops ordered a New Jersey family to cover up their saucy snowlady after receiving a complaint that the frosty front yard figure was X-rated.

link: 'Topless' snowlady in New Jersey is covered up after getting frosty looks

(Photos at the link.)

Oh. I was thinking...

Massachusetts highway officials may begin testing a new form of electronic tolling within months, Governor Deval Patrick said yesterday.

link: Patrick wants state to test ‘open road’ tolling - The Boston Globe

...computers ringing bells.

South Dakota legislature overrun by plants

In South Dakota, a resolution calling for the “balanced teaching of global warming in public schools” passed the Legislature this week.

“Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant,” the resolution said, “but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life.”

link: Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets - NYTimes.com

What's good for the rutabaga is good for you.

From an emailed batch of photos that's been going around

Book note

In 2002 a Venezuelan photographer Kiki Arnal visited the [Washington, DC] and was shocked by what he found. He recalled, "I was reminded of the marginal barrios back in my home country." He decided to tell the story of the other Washington, a city that has the nation's highest infant mortality, teenage pregnancy and AIDS infection rates, and where 16 percent of local children live in extreme poverty....



And don't even get me started on the figure skating

I watched curling for two weeks. And I still have no idea what they were doing.

link: Earl Pomerantz: A Final Comment on the Olympics

No, it will not end. Ever.

Howard Stern is organizing the Tiger Woods Mistress Beauty Pageant, which seeks to crown a $100,000 winner based on criteria such as personality, talent and a swimsuit competition.

link: Tiger Woods Mistress Beauty Pageant: Howard Stern's $100,000 Contest

Spidey: Screwed

Spider Man is having trouble battling the recession, as his alter-ego, Peter Parker finds himself on the unemployment line after losing his job in this issue of "The Amazing Spider-Man."

link: Spider-Man Loses His Job - CBS News Video Spi

If corporations really were persons, this one would be behind bars

Defense juggernaut KBR Inc. was awarded a contract potentially worth $2.8 billion for support work in Iraq as U.S. forces continue to leave the country, military authorities said Tuesday.

KBR was notified of the award Friday, a day after the company told shareholders it lost about $25 million in award fees because of flawed electrical work in Iraq.

link: Despite deaths, Army awards $2.8 billion contract to KBR | Raw Story

But, um, no.

Can your bacon sue?

If enough Swiss citizens check the "yes" box in a referendum to be held this Sunday, cats, chickens and pigs across Switzerland will be entitled to state-appointed legal representation.

link: Pet Politics: Swiss To Vote On Whether Animals Need Lawyers - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Morons Without Borders

As if Berlin Zoo's polar bear star Knut hasn't had enough upheaval in his life, animal rights group PETA demanded on Tuesday that he should be castrated to avoid him inbreeding with his girlfriend Giovanna....

link: Incest Warning: Knut Should be Castrated, Animal Rights Group Says - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will usher in the last act of his push to overhaul the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system on Wednesday by arguing that his retooled plan, incorporating more ideas from rival Republicans, is essential for the good of the country.

link: Obama to push healthcare overhaul into final act - Yahoo! News

...all the D's want is to get something - anything - passed that says "health care reform" on the label, doesn't matter how good or bad. That much I get. But, "incorporating more ideas from rival Republicans"? What does that mean? Obama's going to jump off a bridge or something? I don't get it.

As I've said many times before, I have a purely platonic relationship with this health care reform thing. I don't much care what happens one way or the other, except that lower cost would be a good thing for everybody, myself, at least in principle, included. But I think the plan that's on the table now is a mess, and a mistake. A big mistake.

If it passes, here's a preview of what to expect:

MASSACHUSETTS HAS been lauded for its healthcare reform, but the program is a failure. Created solely to achieve universal insurance coverage, the plan does not even begin to address the other essential components of a successful healthcare system....

"Mass healthcare reform is failing us" - Boston Globe


This is just a test

Trying to improve the mobile blogging situation.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

AP - The Louisiana-born porn star who was flirting with a run for the U.S. Senate from her home state will announce "very soon" whether she's really going to make the 2010 race against incumbent David Vitter, her political spokesman says.

link: Stormy Daniels, Louisiana Porn Star, Expected To Announce Whether She Will Challenge Vitter For Senate Seat

Really. What could be more perfect?

Do these guys take lessons to be this evil...

WASHINGTON – Sen. Jim Bunning on Tuesday again blocked the Senate from extending unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies for the jobless.

The Kentucky Republican objected Tuesday to a request by Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a fellow Republican, to pass a 30-day extension of jobless benefits and other expired measures. The measure would also extend highway programs and prevent a big cut in Medicare payments to doctors.

link: Kentucky's Bunning again blocks jobless benefits - Yahoo! News

...or are they just born that way?

Be careful out there people

I'm pretty sure I'm suffering from an overdose of oxygen. I think it was caused by all the time I spent yesterday walking around waiting for busses. Last night when I went to bed I went right to sleep (well, that's pretty normal) and slept right through until morning (and when was the last time that happened, you ask).

Really. Listen up here. Oxygen is bad. Oxygen causes rust. And oxygen causes fire - did you know that?

Stay home. Stay indoors. Don't breathe any more than you have to. Do you want to go up in flames?

Bankers: Not too bright

No way is it 52º this morning. 42º maybe, 52º no. The sign says 52º because the sensor for the bank sign is on the top of the building, right in the sun. On a winter morning if you're downtown at sunrise you can see the temp going up a degree every time the sign blinks (the temp rotates with the time) as the sun clears the hills. It's always 5-10 degrees too high.

So, optimistic those bankers are too. Or maybe it's just that they lie.

A very simple proposition

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican whip, argued that unemployment benefits dissuade people from job-hunting "because people are being paid even though they're not working."

link: GOP Sen. Kyl: Unemployment Benefits Make People Not Want To Get A Job

Let's just fire this guy (come on, Arizonians), pay him his Arizona unemployment benefits, and then see how long it takes before he starts thinking about finding another job.

(I'd be thinking about 12 hours, but maybe I'm being too generous there.)


That library place I discovered recently sends an email reminder when one of their quaint, paper-based reading devices is approaching its due date (due to be returned to the library, that is). How excellent is that?

The book that's coming due in two days is Valerie Plame Wilson's Fair Game, a book I won't be finished reading and one I won't bother to renew. Here's a tip: If I haven't read a book in one week it's not a book I like much. (I have a "finish your book," much like I have a "clean your plate" command embedded in my brain, but I've been working on amending that and, with the help of free reading on the internets, am making progress on that. Now, it's going to be "finish your book by the end of the week." Audio books take longer because listening is slower, but for book books, the kind you read with your eyes, two, maybe three days suffices for a good one so seven is plenty of time.)

Plame's book, BTW (did I mention Plame's book?) contains very little information you don't already know (and care about) and is so heavily redacted by CIA minders that it makes for a very disjointed read. So it won't be listed book list, but if you're trying to punish yourself for something, somehow, checking it out might be just the thing.

Love is so, so fickle

[Massachusetts' naked senator] Scott Brown is but the latest of the beauty-salon graduates driving conservatives to spazzy distraction. As NYCweboy argues, the Republican Party has become the fan club for attention-deficit teenage girls of all ages and sexes, unable to decide between Fabian and Frankie Avalon, infatuated with Zec Efron one month and all moony over Rob Pattison the next, smitten with Mitt Romney one campaign and pining over Marco Rubio the next. "[If] if Republicans have a crisis of leadership, it may be because conservatives have become some of the most fickle lovers of new faces: as fast as a new handsome dude (usually white, but occasionally tan) enters the room, their love of last year's model goes out the window."

link: The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Salon | James Wolcott's Blog | Vanity Fair

Time out

Earthquakes can involve shifting hundreds of kilometers of rock by several meters, changing the distribution of mass on the planet. This affects the Earth’s rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who uses a computer model to calculate the effects.
“The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second) [as the result of the recent Chilean earthquake],” Gross, said today in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters or 3 inches).”


I was wandering around Northampton today...

...wondering if the good old-fashioned American hamburger had vanished from the earth when I remembered the diner at the east end of Main Street - a place I hadn't been in, or even thought of for all that - since some time in a previous century and, oh yeah, they serve serious burgers and French fries that really taste like potatoes deep-fried in good, oily oil, and coffee that tastes like turpentine. What could possibly be better?

Also, because the place is more or less geezers-only, it's nice and quiet.

I was there, in Northampton, because I went out to the VA hospital just west of Northampton today to get my eyes checked. The last time I was there was, in fact, the last time I got my eyes checked two years ago - usually, for regular stuff, I go to the clinic here in town. Both places - the clinic and the big hospital that serves the whole western part of the state - people are pleasant, efficient, organized, and endlessly helpful and every time I go either place I come away feeling good.

So hey, America, as far as I'm concerned you can screw up your health care any way you want to, just keep your hands off my government-run VA. It's fine the way it is.


Brooks gets it right

Obama’s compromise offer [at the Blair House health care forum] is one the Republicans can happily refuse. In their eyes, he is saying: If you don’t make some concessions now, I’m going to punch myself in the face.

link: Op-Ed Columnist - Not as Dull as Expected! - NYTimes.com