Shut them down before they figure out how to beat horoscopes too, I say

Seeing threats, feds target instructors of polygraph-beating methods | McClatchy

Federal agents have launched a criminal investigation of instructors who claim they can teach job applicants how to pass lie detector tests as part of the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on security violators and leakers.


Your four minutes of physics (video)

BBC Science Club - Physics

OK, 4:16 to be exact.

Or you could buy insurance


Three things

Romney aide calls RNC vote to block CNN, NBC from debates 'bad optics' - The Hill's Twitter Room

A top adviser to former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Friday it was a mistake for the Republican National Committee (RNC) to ban NBC and CNN from hosting debates during the 2016 primaries, saying the unanimous vote would create "bad optics."

First, this practice of calling things that unfortunately create a bad impression or cause an embarassment "bad optics" is barbaric and in any sane world would be illegal.

Second, having a "twitter room" is bad optics.

Third, a Romney advisor? Really? Romney's presidential campaign was a freakin masterpiece of bad optics. (Of course, come to think of it, who would know better? Let's call it 2.5.)


Just a note

Hesham El Ashry Interview after Egypt's Massacres | New Republic

"Egyptians blame America for this," says El Ashry, who spent years in New York, where he worked as a high-end tailor for such clients as Paul Newman. "Obama does not call this a coup, and America is telling Sisi to do this. It is a crime against humanity."

You've heard this before — here, in fact — but once again, when you take sides in another country's internal affairs you really ought to pay some attention to whose side you are taking sides with.


Can't top this

Finally, America’s Greatest Supporters of Civil Liberties Get the Praise They Deserve - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

Should have stuck with "captured by space aliens"

Williamsburg man poses as CIA agent to hide from 2nd wife - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |
Lee emailed his wife saying he needed money because he had been captured and tortured by North Korean agents on a mission to China. His story fell apart when the Naval Criminal Investigative Service started investigating and found out he had been staying at a Fairfax home with another woman.


See how easy?

Why drone makers have declared war on the word ‘drone’

The drone industry — sorry, the unmanned aerial systems industry — is in the midst of a massive rebranding campaign. For most Americans today, the word “drone” conjures images of lethal spy planes raining missiles down on targets in foreign theaters of war. But that perception doesn’t bode well for a burgeoning set of drone companies looking to shake up the civil aviation sector.

And also we have a bridge in Brooklyn we'd like to talk to you about

BBC News - US credibility 'in tatters' over Egypt crisis

"America cannot determine the future of Egypt. That's a task for the Egyptian people. We don't take sides with any particular party or political figure," said Mr Obama.

For a moment there, we were literally worried

Have we literally broken the English language? | Martha Gill | Comment is free | theguardian.com

"Literally", you see, in its development from knock-kneed, single-purpose utterance, to swan-like dual-purpose term, has reached that awkward stage. It is neither one nor the other, and it can't do anything right.

Scare quotes forever

U.S. Olympic Committee: Athletes Should 'Comply' With Russia's Anti-Gay Law | ThinkProgress

Two days after an American became the first athlete to speak out against Russia’s new anti-gay law at the track and field World Championships in Moscow, the United States Olympic Committee staked out its position on the law. Instead of offering support for gay athletes, though, the head of the USOC said that athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi should “comply” with the Russian law that bans “homosexual propaganda.”

On the "whole" we don't "agree," although we are talking about "Russia" here.


Here's a guy you really don't want running the city where you live

Undernews: City's emergency dictator calls Detroiters "dumb, lazy, happy and rich"

CBS - Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is raising eyebrows across the country with an interview he gave to the Wall Street Journal where he said, “For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich”.

Come on, GOP, this is just plain cruel

Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin eyed as 2016 GOP debate moderators | WashingtonExaminer.com

Making us wait until 2016 for this? That's three freaking years. Do it now!

Also, why not add Colbert?

Once upon a very long time ago…

Obama: "America will work with all those in #Egypt...who support a future of stability that rests on the foundation of justice and peace"
8/15/13 10:38 AM

…I worked for a company in which it was necessary to advertise job openings before picking persons to fill them and so we all became quite good at writing job descriptions so only the specific persons we already had in mind could fill them. Clearly a lot of other organizations behave the same way. It's pretty easy to spot help wanted ads written that way. Which is what, it sure looks to me like, this is.


Sordid details spill out in rare court-martial of a general - The Washington Post

It was an illicit and volatile love affair that spanned two war zones and four countries. The married general couldn’t stay away from a captain on his staff. She fell hard for her boss and called him “Poppa Panda Sexy Pants.”

Possibly we need captains with a better command of the language.

So in case you ever decide to do some science here's the other thing you need to know

Undernews: A Template for Scientific Press Releases and Science News Articles

Shortly after the start of a new year it occurred to us that this important task could be greatly simplified. We noted in a comprehensive survey of articles from 1983-2001 that 87.3% of the Press Releases and science news articles could be faithfully reproduced through the straightforward application of a set of simple standardized rules.

As we've been saying…

John Boehner Is Basically Running a Summer Camp for 3rd-Graders | Mother Jones

Robert Costa's behind-the-scenes look at the Republican House leadership is interesting primarily for the way it shows how John Boehner deals with his caucus these days. In a nutshell, he has to treat them like very small, very volatile children who can't be reasoned with and have to be constantly cajoled along with promises of treats somewhere down the road.

The next bad thing

How Sweet Can Become Toxic | TIME.com

Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco notes in his popular presentation, Sugar: The Bitter Truth that both table sugar and high fructose corn syrup cause the body harm, and they should be considered as dangerous as cigarettes and alcohol.

It's all about the mice again.


Whoever you are, Kelvin, we're with you

Government Quotes, Sayings about Governments, Democracy, Bureaucracy

If people behaved like governments, you'd call the cops.  ~Kelvin Throop

All right! Go war!

Defense Contractor: Climate Change Could Create "Business Opportunities" | Mother Jones

Of all the business opportunities presented by global warming, Raytheon Company may have found one of the most alarming. The Massachusetts-based defense contractor—which makes everything from communications systems to Tomahawk missiles—thinks that future "security concerns" caused by climate change could mean expanded sales of its military products.

Also for the warm (but not too warm) and fuzzy crowd:

Raytheon, it should be noted, isn't exactly gunning for catastrophic global warming. Quite the opposite, in fact: In February, the company received a "Climate Leadership Award" from the Environmental Protection Agency for publicly reporting and aggressively reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.…

Something for everybody! We are thrilled.

Absolutely the least informative headline ever written in the entire history of civilization

G-M district poised to leave Level 4

Really. And this run as a banner across the entire top of page one. No kidding. It was.

For when they get all breathlessly excited about creating jobs

James Surowiecki: Why Do So Many Jobs Pay So Little? : The New Yorker
Five of the six fastest-growing job categories today pay less than the median wage.
The Federal minimum wage right now is $7.25. About nine states have a minimum wage higher than that, the highest being Washington at $9.19. Several states have minimum wages lower than the Federal rate,  but they only apply to small companies doing business entirely within those states. [Reference]

Congress is currently considering increasing the Federal minimum wage to $10.10 (over the next three years).

The minimum wage in 1968, in today's dollars, was about $10.70.

There oughta be a law — or maybe not

Court calls law profs' 17-year divorce fight* 'appalling' | Cincinnati.com | cincinnati.com

Christo Lassiter, 56, is a law professor at the University of Cincinnati. Sharlene Lassiter, 52, who is remarried and now known as Sharlene Boltz, is a law professor at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of Law. The divorce lawsuit had an astounding 1,400-plus entries filed in it, at least 1,000 more than a typical divorce file.

*Marriage lasted 10.

A beautiful thing

Irony Alert: Pentagon Now Sees Big Data as 'National Security Threat' | Killer Apps

The irony is delicious. At the time government officials are assuring Americans they have nothing to fear from the National Security Agency poring through their personal records, the military is worried that Russia or al Qaeda is going to wreak nationwide havoc after combing through people's personal records.


OK, I'm being grumpy here but still…

Google Says Gmail Users Should Have No Expectation of Privacy | FDL News Desk

In response to a lawsuit Google has disclosed that, from the company’s perspective, no one should be expecting their emails to remain private. This is likely news to most gmail users who create a password thinking that limits access to their account and probably expect their emails to be private.

…all these guys swooning over Google's saying email isn't private just haven't been around long enough to figure out what the internet is all about. Those of us who have, old timers — which, in internet time, means guys who've been here more than a week — learned long ago that email is about as private as a postcard and not the place to write any really secret stuff. This is the argument for email encryption which, although free software makes it easy enough, has stubbornly remained impractical for use with casual correspondence. 

In fact (listen carefully here, Bunky) there is almost certainly a system administrator or two (or a hundred) in your own network sphere who can access all your accounts at will. This doesn't mean any one will, of course, any more than one will read your postcard (Having a Wonderful Time!). But one could.

This is not a new problem. The ancients had systems for concealing the meaning of secret messages. And no doubt had the same concerns — security or opression — as Snowden. This is one question worth being concerned about (another: why didn't we see this coming?), of course. But dude, get a grip.

Geeks gone wild

Bill Gates Seeking Patent To Make Shakespeare Less Boring - Slashdot

"GeekWire reports that Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold are seeking a patent on making textbooks less boring by using a cellphone or other device to scan text on a page, parse its meaning, and automatically create suitable accompanying video or pictures to keep students engaged."


Yes, it's come to this

San Diego Hooters Refuse To Serve Mayor Bob Filner (PHOTO) | TPM LiveWire

Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) may be resisting a public recall effort in the wake of 14 different harassment allegations, but on Tuesday he appeared to draw his first private protest.

…the Hooters in Rancho Bernardo posted this notice refusing to serve the mayor because "women should be treated with respect."

[Photo at the link]

That's OK, I'm mostly not hungry anyway

Chipotle is lowering its beef standards - Salon.com

Chipotle has found itself in a bit of a bind. It gets a lot of mileage out of its fast food “with integrity” model — so much so that it can be difficult to find enough suppliers that meet its high standards. Now, the $10 billion company says, its all-natural beef is so in demand that customers are going to have settle for mostly natural, instead.

Translation: We said we'd sell you good stuff but it turns out we can make more money if we don't. So screw you.

And this from a company worth (if Salon is correct) 10 freakin' billion bucks. My heart bleeds. Possibly my stomach too.

Update 8/14: Chipotle has released a statement clarifying that it has not changed its standards for responsibly raised beef: “While the company has considered new protocols, including one that would allow animals to be treated with antibiotics only when necessary for their continued health, that protocol has not been implemented.” [No kidding.]

But don't worry, Bunky…

New Fraud Evidence Shows Trillions Of Dollars In Mortgages Have No Owner

The unsealed documents indicate Szymoniak…found invalid documentation underlying at least $1.4 trillion in mortgage-backed securities.…

And over the weekend, the Justice Department admitted it had dramatically inflated its successes in a yearlong task force targeting mortgage abuses.

…as long as those big ol' banks don't get caught stealing songs nobody cares.

Sort of like living with a bunch of old guys, but more expensive

Group doctor visits: What you need to know about shared appointments - CBS News

(CBS News) Would you share your doctor's appointment with a stranger? Some people are, opting for a group visit with their physician.


For surveillance not much surveillance

Obama’s “reform” panel to be led by Clapper, who denied spying to Congress | Ars Technica

The "high level group of outside experts" that Obama promised to convene is unlikely to change any hearts and minds…Today it was announced the "outside" committee would report to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence…

So maybe it didn't work so well last time but let's try again!

US Weapons Sales to Iraq Focused on Internal Security and External Protection, Analysts Say | Defense News | defensenews.com

The US government is poised to sell billions of dollars worth of military equipment and maintenance support to Iraq…



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

See how easy?

Judge In Tennessee Orders Baby's Name Be Changed From "Messiah" to "Martin"

Congress: Just another notch on the resumé

Congress of Quitters: Early Exits Promise Better Prospects, Less Bile | Hawkings Here

In Washington today, the virtue of perseverance has become passe, and it’s acceptable to cast aside one of the world’s most influential positions of public trust whenever something better, and almost always more lucrative, comes along.


And what do you have against five-year-olds, I wonder

On Friday, the President Treated Us Like Five-Year-Olds | Mother Jones

Only a five-year-old would read that May speech and believe that Obama had any intention of either releasing significant information about our surveillance state or proposing any kind of serious reforms.

Bradley to sleep under a bridge

New Day Rising: Army Shipping Bradley’s Home, Landing Choppers on Ships

Dispatch from the service economy

Babysitter economics: Parents reel, sitters rake it in - Business - The Boston Globe

Wages for most US workers have stagnated, with the exception of one little-noted group: the American baby sitter.…

The [Boston] average is about $12 an hour — more than the average wage of health care aides or retail salespeople. Only San Francisco, New York, Washington, and Los Angeles have higher baby-sitting rates, according to a site for baby sitters, UrbanSitter.com.


Ducks Unlimited
iPhone photo: Phil Compton

We do not plan on holding our breath

Phone spying to continue with new oversight, Obama says - Boston.com

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has said he wants eventually to scale back drone strikes and steer the country away from a single-minded focus on counterterrorism.

That scurrying sound you hear is a bunch of Congresscritters running toward a dark, safe place

Lawmakers tasked with overseeing NSA surveillance programs feel “inadequate” | Ars Technica

“In terms of the oversight function, I feel inadequate most of the time,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told The Washington Post on Saturday evening. He admitted that while the programs were “approved” by Congress—"Was it approved by a fully knowing Congress? That is not the case."

Actually a Venezuelan fishing crew saw them through (but who's counting?)

Family Rescued In Pacific After Sailing 'Where God Led Us' : The Two-Way : NPR

A leap of faith that sent an Arizona family bound for the South Pacific in a sailboat has returned them in an airplane after a harrowing ordeal at sea that saw them adrift and nearly out of food in one of the remotest stretches of ocean on the planet.

Hannah Gastonguay, 26, and her husband, Sean, 30, were fed up with abortion, homosexuality, taxes and the "state-controlled church" and so "decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.…

Gastonguay told the AP that she never thought the family was going to die: "We believed God would see us through."

And this

Undernews: A Green Party view of Obamacare

We have no more excuses to delay moving immediately to a Medicare for All system. It’s time to end the failed experiment of market-based health care and join the civilized world. It’s time to preserve and protect our national treasure, Medicare, and expand it immediately to everyone living in the United States.

Oh oh, there goes my day

Chromebooks and Chrome OS: ChrUbuntu: One Script to Rule Them All!

I bought a Chromebook a couple of months ago just to see if the thing would work or not and the answer is, yes, it works pretty well except 1) of course, it requires an internet connection and 2) the display totally sucks for working with graphics of any kind. But the keyboard is actually a shade above normal (to my touch) and the Chrome OS is, if not quite ready for prime time (IMO), quite promising. My 'book is the absolute cheapest bottom-of-the-line model, made by Samsung.
Now comes this possibility of installing Ubuntu Linux on it, which would be totally awesome. Totally. No kidding. So clearly, I will have to do it. Or try, at least. Oh yeah.

[OK, not. (It seems) my 'book is absent some necessary hardware switch. Possibly it will turn up some day. Meanwhile, I am able to call up a terminal, somewhat limited but sufficient to log into freeshell.org and run a BSD shell. Good times.]

Once upon an Arab Spring

The Liberal Dark Side - By James Traub | Foreign Policy

Of all the dreadful features of Egypt's coup -- or second revolution, if you prefer -- the one which has left me feeling most discouraged is the almost universal embrace by the country's liberal activists of the principle that rule by the military is preferable to rule by elected Islamists -- even if that means crushing the Muslim Brotherhood as brutally as the government of Hosni Mubarak once crushed the liberals themselves (and the Brotherhood).

This won't readily go back in the bottle

Israeli Drone Strike Kills 5 in Egypt, Officials Say - NYTimes.com

EL-ARISH, Egypt — An Israeli drone strike killed five suspected Islamic militants and destroyed a rocket launcher in Egypt's largely lawless Sinai Peninsula on Friday, two senior Egyptian security officials said, describing a rare Israeli operation carried out in its Arab neighbor's territory.

It'd be better on a beach, but…

Watch the Perseid meteor shower online - NBC News.com

…not all of us have a beach handy. Not all of us have much sky handy either. But — hooray! — the internet comes through once again. We can watch the "potentially dazzling Perseid meteor shower" (says NBC) which peaks beginning tonight online at the link above.