Seeya later guinea pig

Cass Sunstein to Leave Top Regulatory Post - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON — Cass R. Sunstein, who wielded enormous power as the White House overseer of federal regulation, came to Washington to test his theories of human behavior and economic efficiency in the laboratory of the federal government. Now he is departing with a record that left many business interests disappointed and environmental, health and consumer advocates even more unhappy.

We don't even get a grade?


Deputies with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department were rousted from a quiet Thursday afternoon in their Newport, Vt., office this week by a car alarm – from their own parking lot. 
Two deputies bolted for the door. In the back lot, they found five cruisers, one transport van and another department vehicle crushed on the concrete like soon-to-be-recycled cans. 
They also saw a large tractor rumbling down the road and out of sight.

Los Angeles Times

So this amok-running happens frequently then?

When computerized stock trading runs amok, as it did this week on Wall Street, the firm responsible typically can jump in and hit a kill switch.

New York Times


A note from the Dull Men's Club

Good meeting topic: after each sentence—one or two spaces?

"Ahh, Italy…"

…intones the BBC host introducing a drama based on a Michael Dibdin novel, "where the cars are fast and the lunches are slow…and women walk on cobblestone streets wearing stiletto heels and tight skirts…." And, it might be noted, the police are corrupt and the trains run late.

Well, I'm a little old for fast cars, but otherwise…

Didbin's protagonist, Venetian detective Aurelio Zen is, moreover, a master of work avoidance, making the first novel in Didbin's Zen series, Ratking, a sure bet for our reading list, and the book that happily broke this summer's book drought. Thus encouraged we read on, and expect we will run into the now Vice-Questore Zen again another day.

Short answer: Not Nebraska

Some cities actually do have a bar on every corner, and real-estate website Trulia set out to find out where they are.


Some guy named Friedersdorf gets all grim and everything

Various reforms are needed if the America of four years from now is to be a moral, solvent country governed by the rule of law. And neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney will implement them.


Crisis: not enough guilt to go around

The US is retreating from years of solid public support for Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, in a major shift that suggests Washington's concern at continued bloodletting in the Democratic Republic of Congo now outweighs western guilt over the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The Guardian

Ahh, the good old days

That summer, as the [2008] presidential campaign heated up, the accepted explanation for why gasoline had hit $4.11 a gallon was that there was a problem with the world oil supply. In a classic example of how Republicans and Democrats respond to crises by engaging in fierce exchanges of moronic irrelevancies, John McCain insisted that ending the moratorium on offshore drilling would be "very helpful in the short term," while Barack Obama in typical liberal-arts yuppie style argued that federal investment in hybrid cars was the way out.

But it was all a lie. While the global supply of oil will eventually dry up, the short-term flow has actually been increasing. In the six months before prices spiked, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the world oil supply rose from 85.24 million barrels a day to 85.72 million. Over the same period, world oil demand dropped from 86.82 million barrels a day to 86.07 million. Not only was the short-term supply of oil rising, the demand for it was falling — which, in classic economic terms, should have brought prices at the pump down.

So what caused the huge spike in oil prices? Take a wild guess.…

Matt Taibbi's "The Great American Bubble Machine" was published a couple of years ago but somehow it's become even better with age.


Added to our movie list

A 1941 production of Shaw's Major Barbara, with Wendy Hiller as Barbara, Rex Harrison as her suitor, and Robert Morley as the irascible Prince of Darkness.

Brick and Stone

Brick and Stone by Ted Compton
Brick and Stone, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.

So if you catch somebody stealing your wastepaper do you call 911?

For most people navigating the sidewalks of New York, the corrugated-cardboard bundles that stores put out for recycling are either an obstacle or nothing at all – invisible stitches in the city's zippy visual drapery.

But for a subset of underground scavengers, they represent a drool-inducing resource, something to be urgently carried away to a recycling plant in exchange for cash money.

Yeah, try explaining that to Clint Eastwood.

Proving, once again, the point

A defining gap: Seniors for Romney, Millennials for Obama

Way back in the day when USA Today was the new paper on the block, some wag observed it was "the only TV news show you can wrap fish in." Apparently it still is.
Dive Brake

iPhone abstract:  Phil Compton


Exactly like a bunch of 10-year-olds on the playground

The hub­bub over the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture's retract­ed tweet sup­port­ing "Meat­less Mon­days" con­tin­ues.

Last week, Repub­li­can Iowa sen­a­tor Chuck Grass­ley's made a tongue-in-cheek promise to com­pen­sate for the rec­om­men­da­tion by eat­ing an extra help­ing of meat. PETA respond­ed with a death pool, tak­ing bets on how long it would take for Grass­ley to "suc­cumb to heart dis­ease, dia­betes, can­cer, or some other meat-related disease."


A cruel, cruel world it is

Across London, some of the capital's most famous statues have been given a milliner's makeover by the likes of Philip Treacy, Stephen Jones and more…


Yes it's from the Onion, but…

COLLEGE STATION, TX—Following the NCAA’s decision Monday to vacate all of Penn State’s wins from 1998 through 2011, thousands of Texas A&M students and fans poured onto campus in a frenzy of excitement to celebrate what has now been ruled as a victory for their team in the 1999 Alamo Bowl.

what difference does it make?

Some days you just can't catch a break

EVERGLADES CITY, Fla. –  A Florida airboat captain whose hand was bitten off by a 9-foot alligator faces charges of feeding of the animal.

Collier County Jail records show 63-year-old Wallace Weatherholt was charged Friday with unlawful feeding of an alligator and later posted $1,000 bond. His next court date is Aug. 22.

Read more

Forget Waldo

Forget Waldo by Ted Compton
Forget Waldo, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.

See if you can find our intrepid Midwest Bureau chief. He's standing in this picture, waving (next to the elusive but powerful M).