Back Wall

Back Wall by Ted Compton
Back Wall, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.

Ig Nobel indeed

From the official list of Ig Nobel prizes for 2012:

MEDICINE PRIZEEmmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti [FRANCE] for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.

Looking out

Looking out by Ted Compton
Looking out, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.

Make lemonade

Federal officials have given energy and mining companies permission to pollute aquifers in more than 1,500 places across the country, releasing toxic material into underground reservoirs that help supply more than half of the nation's drinking water. 

Christian Science Monitor

And the horse you rode in on

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A Louisiana woman ran afoul of police when she gave her neighbors an unusual holiday greeting, hanging Christmas lights in the shape of a middle finger.… 
A judge ruled in her favor Thursday.


Snow in Midwest; New York Times swoons

"It’s a really big mess out there,” said David Beachler, a senior forecaster at the National Weather Service.…

New York Times

No, the world didn't end but it came close

So what is an asshole, exactly? How is he (and assholes are almost always men) distinct from other types of social malefactors? Are assholes born that way, or is their boorishness culturally conditioned? What explains the spike in the asshole population?
The Chronicle of Higher Education


Massachusetts: Two Senators and a spare


Black Périgords and other types of truffles are becoming scarcer, and some scientists say it is because of the effects of global warming on the fungus’s Mediterranean habitat. One wholesaler says prices have risen tenfold over the past dozen years. 
At Truffes Folies, in the chic Seventh Arrondissement of Paris, Black Périgords are selling for the equivalent of about €2,000 a kilogram, or more than $1,200 a pound…

New York Times


Container by Ted Compton
Container, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.

I guess this means I'll have to change my socks after all

NASA says: World will not end tomorrow.

And it's the kid they call "troubled"


So then, having second thoughts?

“The good thing is, [Dec. 21] will not be the end of the world,” Kreskin predicted. “The bad news is that we will still have the same problems, and we will still have the same politicians in Congress.”


Wait a minute

CBS News (@CBSNews)
MORE: ATF agent's personal weapon found at Mexican beauty queen cartel crime scene cbsn.ws/ZQilB2 (via @SharylAttkisson)

They have a beauty queen cartel in Mexico? Who knew?

Some days you can just smell the snow

Sky by Ted Compton
Sky, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.

(But it's not snowing yet. Why's that?)

A find

James M. Cain, one of the all-time great writers of old-fashioned hard-core crime fiction, who wrote The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce,  and Double Indemnity among other classics, also left behind an unfinished novel which has recently been published under the title The Cocktail Waitress. It's a little rough around the edges as befits, one supposes, and unfinished novel, but if you're in the mood for a little hard boiled two-fisted noir, this is the book for you.

The Saturday Review of Literature once proclaimed, "no one has ever stopped reading in the middle of one of Jim Cain's books." Fair warning.

It's on our list.

Once upon a time…

… shortly after the invention of the wheel, children – many of them, at least – were told that if they weren't very good they might get, instead of toys or candy, a lump of coal in their stockings for Christmas. I thought of that the other day when I was – yes, it's true – hanging up my own stocking (this year it is 71 candy canes old) and wondered, how many of us are left who have actually ever seen a lump of coal? I remember when houses were heated by coal and coal-fired locomotives pulled the trains.

Some 40% of the electricity used in the United States is generated by burning coal and virtually all of is produced in the U. S. (at great environmental cost). So there's still a lot of it around. Not too many people outside certain industries or certain parts of the country have ever seen it now, so if you're trying to scare your kids you'd better think of something else.

Getting right to the point

The two biggest challenges to making general-purposes robots are, as they always have been, hardware and software.…

Daily Beast
Through the Window

    iPhone photo: Phil Compton



I was going to make pea soup for supper and I got all the ingredients out and put them on the counter and then I walked away and forgot the whole thing and now it's too late arghhh. Sure, I have other stuff I can eat, but still. Maybe I need a minder. Or some shiny new electronic device.

0h oh, one more thing to worry about

Is your oven gender neutral?


3 arrested in massive maple syrup heist

Imagine our relief

Petraeus mistress won't face cyberstalking charge

I suppose it depends on what kind of hold you're talking about

Leading print and online news outlets have sent a joint letter to former Romney campaign officials contesting expenses billed to their reporters over the course of the 2012 campaign.… 
Complaints include "$745 per person charged for a vice presidential debate viewing party on Oct. 11; $812 charged for a meal and a hold on Oct. 18… 

Also, how would you like "former Romney campaign official" on your resume?

Unclear on the concept

Survival shelter for the end of the world.

Not so well then

A 21-year-old Joliet man accidentally shot and killed himself while trying to demonstrate how the safety mechanism worked on his new handgun, authorities said today. 
Chicago Tribune


Wait! Make that 17!

16 things you might not know about Tim Scott

Who is Tim Scott?

The South Carolina GOP congressman will replace retiring Sen. Jim DeMint.


Fun, though

"Virtually all the information that has entered the public domain about these investigations [into the erstwhile Petraeus affair] has constituted a violation of law," says Daniel J. Metcalfe, a professor at American University Washington College of Law… 


Early Ice

Early Ice by Ted Compton
Early Ice, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.

Oops, stuck (again)

The two most recent books on our reading list are the first two volumes of Ken Follet's Century Trilogy. There is no third volume yet, so we'll have to wait for that.* The first two books will keep you reading for a a while, though.

The Century Trilogy is, essentially, a history of Europe in the 20th century. So it covers some pretty familiar ground. But Follett is a master storyteller, and his tale of life in those years is compelling. These first new books would make excellent companions for the string of long, dark evenings just ahead. And maybe by spring, Follett will be ready to tell us how the story ends.

*(We are also waiting expectantly for the third volume of Hilary Mantell's trilogy on Thomas Cromwell.)


Nothing to see here, move along

'Meet The Press' host David Gregory saidthat no pro-gun rights senators would agree to go on the show on Sunday.
"We reached out to all 31 pro-gun rights senators in the new Congress to invite them on the program to share their views on the subject this morning," he said. "We had no takers."