On the history of revolution

"The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all."

-C.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday


Things will look better by the time we have to have another election whether you, Bunky, get a job or not

WASHINGTON – The economy got what it needed in April: A burst of hiring that added a net 290,000 jobs, the biggest monthly total in four years.

The improving picture caused so many more people to pour into the labor force in search of employment that the jobless rate rose from 9.7 percent to 9.9 percent....

The unemployment rate rose in April, mainly because a flood of 805,000 jobseekers — perhaps feeling better about their prospects — resumed their searches for work.

link: Largest hiring burst in years, but jobless rate up - Yahoo! News

Still there, but maybe not for long

FIFTY years ago today, the Soviet Union announced that it had shot down an American U-2 spy plane and that its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was alive.

It seems like a long-ago event from the cold war. That may be why, in this era of satellites and drones, most people are surprised to learn that the U-2 is not only still in use, but that it is as much a part of our national security structure as it was a half-century ago.

link: Op-Ed Contributor - Flying with the Dragon Lady - NYTimes.com



George Alan Rekers, a prominent anti-gay activist who co-founded the conservative Family Research Council, was caught returning from a 10-day trip to Europe with a male escort he found on Rentboy.com, which is exactly what it sounds like....

Rekers has a new explanation for the trip. "I deliberately spend time with sinners with the loving goal to try to help them," he said in a statement posted on Facebook.

link: George Rekers, Anti-Gay Activist, Caught With Male Escort 'Rentboy' [UPDATE: Escort Says Rekers Is Gay]

Hey, let's see if they'll do it

As British Petroleum scrambles to affix a four-story, 70-ton dome over the massive oil geyser venting toxic sludge into the Gulf of Mexico, people everywhere are wondering what else can be done to stem the deadly tide.

Komsomoloskaya Pravda, Russia's best-selling daily publication, has an idea: Why not just nuke it?

link: Russian paper suggests ‘nuclear explosion’ could cap gulf oil geyser | Raw Story

How bad is it?

The total number of Americans starting to claim benefits fell to 444,000, down from a revised figure of 451,000 from the week before

link: The Raw Story | New US jobless claims fall

So bad that 444,000 new unemployment claims in a single week is now considered good news - could be worse.

Or, in simpler language: Plenty.

Also, it would be very bad for Fox News

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's appeal to what he called "common sense" at a congressional hearing Wednesday morning failed to sway two Republican senators who said that giving the government the ability to block the purchase of guns by suspected terrorists would undermine the Second Amendment's right to bear arms.

link: Bloomberg 'Terror Gap' Argument Shot Down By Pro-Gun GOP Senators

(Emphasis mine.)

Gotta love "proprietary," right?

As they struggle to plug a leak from a ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, BP and federal officials are also engaging in one of the largest and most aggressive experiments with chemical dispersants in the history of the country, and perhaps the world....

Although the Nalco Company, which makes the Corexit dispersants, posted copies of the safety documents for two of its dispersants online Wednesday, some of the ingredients are listed as “proprietary.”

link: In Gulf of Mexico, Chemicals Under Scrutiny - NYTimes.com

Corexit, the dispersant in question, may not be used in British waters because it flunked British tests for safety along rocky shorelines. It did pass, however, tests for offshore safety (whatever those tests were - the salient point, however, is that the British government actually regulates and requires testing of this kind of stuff whereas here we just leave it all up to British freaking Petroleum).


And so they are, and do

"The roofs in Chicago are mostly flat and covered with either gray tar paper or hard black rubber. That is, unless the rooftop happens to be on the 3600 block of North Sheffield or the 1000 block of West Waveland. Then, of course, it is covered with bleachers, beer, and drunk baseball fans paying $200 a pop to watch the Cubs find new ways to lose baseball games.", [Michael Harvey, The Chicago Way]

And here's a tip. The book, Michael Harvey's "The Chicago Way," you can pick up from Barnes & Nobel in its digital edition for $1.99, here (hardcover, paperback, and audio also available). It's a detective story from the tough-guy school of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Mickey Spillane, and a good one, and a steal at that price.

So if you've been wanting to fool around with digital books, here's your chance. (The software you need for reading it, also free, is here.)


As several states with active "tea party" groups prepare to hold important primary elections this month, the movement is struggling to overcome accusations of racism...

link: Tea party groups battling perceptions of racism

Let me know how that works out.

So, look, sorry to be confused here...

WASHINGTON, May 5 (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Wednesday ordered airlines to step up their efforts to prevent people on the "no-fly" list from boarding flights after the suspected Times Square bomber got on an Emirates plane.

link: US revamps airline no-fly after failed NY bomb | Reuters

...but aside from the current suspect (ha ha wink wink...and by the way, while I'm thinking about it, who do you think has singlehandedly done the most damage to the country, this guy Shahzad or Joe Lieberman...just asking) aside from the current suspect, I think I was saying, if a terrorist or some other evil no-flyworthy person is trying to fly out of the country, wouldn't it be, just as a general proposition, a really good idea to let him freaking go?

What am I missing here?

The other leak: All patched up

Matt Wilding went hunting for a fresh-brewed cup of coffee. Abi Green could not wait to wash dishes. After news that water was safe again, hundreds of thousands joyously let their faucets run.

link: With clean water, newfound appreciation in Greater Boston - The Boston Globe

From our fashion desk

Noted by our Seattle bureau.

(Despair also has a nice Blue Screen of Death mouse pad.)


Photo: Phil Compton

Bonkers: The new norm

Current federal law specifies only a limited number of reasons the government can cite to block the purchase of guns or explosives -- and being in the FBI's database of those "known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activity" isn't one of them.

Despite what would appear to be an easy vote, members of Congress, at least in part due to fear of the gun lobby, have consistently bucked requests from both the Bush and Obama administrations to

link: NYC Mayor Bloomberg Outraged; Will Call Congress Out On 'Terror Gap'

Why do they still make phone books, I wonder

I found one, this morning, in a yellow plastic bag hanging on my mailbox on the front porch. I was hauling out my recycle stuff at the time. Guess where the phone book wound up.

"Too Big to Fail"...

...is almost too big to read. And too confusing (the cast of characters seems endless). And way to depressing, and not a little boring in the end. But, for all that, it's a fine piece of reporting on just how hopelessly screwed up things really are on the Washington-Wall Street axis, and Sorkin does a fine job of tying it all up in the end. I'm glad I read it; I'm not sure I'd take it to the beach.

I have a couple of other books about the late economic excitement on my reading list but first, I need a few hundred pages of fun.

Not too closed, it seems

WASHINGTON — In a closed-door briefing for members of Congress, a senior BP executive conceded Tuesday that the ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico could conceivably spill as much as 60,000 barrels a day of oil, more than 10 times the estimate of the current flow.

link: Amount of Spilling Oil Could Soar, BP Admits - NYTimes.com

In 2009, BP spend $16 million lobbying in Washington, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


Live from The Onion

He's baaaack

Ex-FEMA director Michael Brown today claimed that President Obama waited to respond to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico because he wanted an excuse to shut down offshore drilling.

link: Michael Brown: Obama Wanted The Oil Spill To Happen (VIDEO) | TPM LiveWire

Rested, tanned, and loonier than ever!


Greenspan: Don't tell

As top Federal Reserve officials debated whether there was a housing bubble and what to do about it, then-Chairman Alan Greenspan argued that the dissent should be kept secret so that the Fed wouldn't lose control of the debate to people less well-informed than themselves.

"We run the risk, by laying out the pros and cons of a particular argument, of inducing people to join in on the debate...

link: Greenspan Wanted Housing-Bubble Dissent Kept Secret

Oh, dude, that sounds painful

Jeff Childs, a deputy incident commander for BP, said in a briefing with Alabama officials that the company successfully shut a set of hydraulic shears known as annular rams, helping to clamp the ruptured pipe and block the leaking oil.

link: Update: BP refutes executive who said company 'cut the flow' of oil from damaged rig | al.com

And it didn't even work, apparently, according to BP later today:

"BP would like to clarify that, contrary to some media reports, the actions it has taken to date on the blow out preventer have not resulted in any observed reduction in the rate of flow of oil from the MC252 well," the statement said.

Not all that leaks is oil

A major pipe bringing water to the Boston area has sprung a "catastrophic" leak and is dumping eight million gallons of water per hour into the Charles River. Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency and issued a "boil-water" order for Boston and dozens of other communities.

link: 'Boil-water' order issued for nearly 2 million in Mass. - Local News Updates - MetroDesk - The Boston Globe

We need better pipes.

Good news: Oil dump not as bad as some guy named Gene Taylor thought it would be

He described the spill as a light, rainbow sheen with patches that look like chocolate milk.

link: Taylor expects spill to break up naturally - Oil Spill - SunHerald.com

Chocolate milk! Yum!

Yeah, that too

The impact of chemical dispersants on deepwater ecology is unclear.

link: Obama Warns of Wide Damage from Oil Spill - NYTimes.com


“There is a chemical toxicity to the dispersant compound that in many ways is worse than oil,” said Richard Charter, a foremost expert on marine biology and oil spills who is a senior policy advisor for Marine Programs for Defenders of Wildlife and is chairman of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. “It’s a trade off – you’re damned if you do damned if you don’t -- of trying to minimize the damage coming to shore, but in so doing you may be more seriously damaging the ecosystem offshore.”

link: Antemedius

The purpose of the chemical dispersants is to get the oil out of sight - keep it underwater where it, and the damage it causes, can't be seen.


Buddha With Butterflies

Photo: Phil Compton

Actually, I can't

"And as you can imagine, this [stopping the oil flood in the Gulf] is like doing open-heart surgery at 5,000 feet, with – in the dark, with robot-controlled submarines," McKay [some big shot at BP] said.

link: Fishing Closed By Oil Spill: Feds Ban Commercial And Recreational Fishing From Louisiana To Florida

Drill closer to shore, Kristol says

"If we hadn't stopped closer-in drilling after the Santa Barbara accident 40 years ago -- we've had these Congressional restrictions until 2008, for 40 years -- we'd have more drilling closer in which is probably less dangerous, less treacherous than trying to drill 50 miles out from the coast," Kristol explained.

link: Kristol calls for drilling closer to shore | Raw Story

"Probably less dangerous."

Kristol is an idiot. But what else is new?

Beats unemployment

The lawyers, accountants and restructuring experts overseeing the remains of Lehman Brothers have already racked up more than $730 million in fees and expenses, with no end in sight.

link: Bankruptcy Fees Add Up in Cases Like Lehman’s - NYTimes.com

No place to hide

Enter the post-privacy society, where we have lost track of how many entities are tracking us. Not to mention what they are doing with our personal information, how they are storing it, whom they might be selling our dossiers to and, yes, how much money they are making from them.

On the way out, consumer advocates say, is that quaint old notion of informed consent, in which a company clearly notifies you of its policies and gives you the choice of whether to opt in (rather than having you opt out once you discover your behavior is being tracked).

link: Slipstream - Consumer Tracking Outstrips Protections - NYTimes.com

Science: Asking the tough questions

“Is the annoyance of snoring a reliable tool for the measurement of snoring or does it depend more on the sensitivity of the listener?”

link: Improbable Research » Blog Archive