Call it a Band-Aid, just for now

Apparently we clicked when we should have clacked this afternoon and briefly munged up the blog template, and the present design is the only one we could make work on short notice. We will try to clean it up tomorrow (let's not rush into this, it might be a whole lot like work). Meanwhile the mobile site seems to be fine.

ADD 9/8: There, I fixed it. A bit of a kludge, and possibly it needs some polishing somewhere down the line, but this'll do for now.


Ignore the headlines. This was a very bad jobs report.

The proportion of the U.S. population that had a job in August was 58.6 percent. Six months earlier, the number was a whopping — wait for it — 58.6 percent. The year is nearly three-quarters over, and the economy isn’t growing fast enough to put a higher proportion of its citizens back to work.

Lalalalala we can't hear you

When the US looked the other way at chemical weapons - The Washington Post
Indeed, Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile results from a never-acknowledged gentleman’s agreement in the Middle East that as long as Israel had nuclear weapons, Syria’s pursuit of chemical weapons would not attract much public acknowledgement or criticism.

Can you spell "Wow! I'm so surprised!"

NSA Revelations Cast Doubt on the Entire Tech Industry | Threat Level | Wired.com

“I think that no encryption created by anyone is going to protect you from everyone. The stronger the encryption the harder they are going to work to decrypt it,” he said. “I don’t care what company is selling you encryption software. Whatever they are going to sell you, it can be decrypted. There’s nothing that is infallible.”


Short URL will get you here: http://goo.gl/51q0Bb

Bookmark it and avoid work faster!


But did she have her own reality show? We think not.

Jane Addams, world's 'best-loved woman,' honored with Google doodle (+video) - CSMonitor.com

“Miss Addams,” the Times wrote, “has been called ‘the greatest woman in the world,’ the ‘mother of social service,’ ‘the greatest woman internationalist’ and the ‘first citizen of Chicago.’ And the Times added its own to the list: “She was, perhaps, the world's best-known and best-loved woman.”

New to our work avoidance list

Ephemeratorium, a sister site to The Institute of Official Cheer. It's 37 percent more serious.

I guess the warranty expired

Undernews: Look where Syria got its chemical weapons

Juan Cole, History News Network - The British government as recently as 2012 licensed its firms to sell chemical agents that can be used as poison gas precursors to the Baath government of Syria.…

Most of Syria’s chemical weapons production technology came from “large chemical brokerage houses in Holland, Switzerland, France, Austria and Germany,” according to security information provider GlobalSecurity.org. Russia may have played a later role.

Is there enough popcorn in the world?

Movie review: ‘Hell Baby’ - Movies - The Boston Globe

This offensive, crass pastiche makes “Grown Ups 2” look like a paragon of wit and good taste.

On staying bought

Senators Authorizing Syria Strike Got More Defense Cash Than Lawmakers Voting No | Threat Level | Wired.com

Committee members who voted to authorize what the resolution called a “limited” strike averaged $72,850 in defense campaign financing from the pot. Committee members who voted against the resolution averaged $39,770, according to the data.

Playing chicken with China

Was Your Chicken Nugget Made In China? It'll Soon Be Hard To Know : The Salt : NPR

For starters, just four Chinese processing plants will be allowed to export cooked chicken products to the U.S.…. Initially, these processors will only be allowed to export chicken products made from birds that were raised in the U.S. and Canada.

I'm not entirely sure what this means but it sounds like we're going to ship chickens to China and they're going to ship us back dead parts. Doesn't it? Something's fishy (oops, sorry — chickeny) with that. 

I never thought I would agree with Sarah Palin on much — but this…

Sarah Palin: 'Let Allah sort it out' in Syria | al.com

“So we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I’m the idiot?” Palin said in a message posted to her Facebook account.

Lewis Carroll couldn't have put it any better

Predict if Congress will approve Obama’s plans to bomb Syria. - Slate Magazine

Now that President Obama has revealed his intentions toward Syria, the question is whether Congress will grant him the authorization that he says he doesn’t really need anyway.

From a guy who has been stuck on wrong for decades

Donald Rumsfeld lambastes Obama on Syria: 'Take responsibility' (+video) - CSMonitor.com

“This president has tried to blame everybody or anybody, for everything and leadership requires that you stand up, take a position, provide clarity and take responsibility,” Rumsfeld told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren. “And I can’t imagine him saying that he didn’t draw the red line. But he did draw a red line.… We have ears!”

Job drain

Dollar counterfeiting: Peru is now world No. 1 - CSMonitor.com

With its meticulous criminal craftsmen, cheap labor and, by some accounts, less effective law enforcement, Peru has in the past two years overtaken Colombia as the No. 1 source of counterfeit U.S. dollars, says the U.S. Secret Service, protector of the world's most widely traded currency.


The annual obligatory County Fair parade

Can you spell "boondoggle"?

Syria's chemical weapons: Pentagon knew in 2012 that it would take 75,000 ground troops to secure facilities | Mail Online

The logistical difficulties of bringing Syria's chemical warfare infrastructure under control stands in stark contrast with the text of a resolution passed Wednesday by a powerful Senate committee, and with assurances Secretary of State John Kerry has given committees in both houses of Congress.

It's not a good idea

The Fundamental Weakness of the Case for Attacking Syria - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

We’re apparently positing a dictator who would be perfectly willing to slaughter his own citizens (with CHEMICAL WEAPONS! Which is much worse than using bullets or bombs because something something) but would be unwilling to do so if it resulted in some people and infrastructure in his country would be blown up without threatening his hold on power?  “Implausible” is the charitable way of putting it.

We'll probably do it anyway, of course. Get rid of the CHEMICAL WEAPONS and go back to good ol' bombs and bullets (which, as they derive their power from chemical reactions also are CHEMICAL WEAPONS in their own right, but so what). And there is no good outcome in sight.

And what else is there to say


Godwin lives

Going Hitler: The Importance of John Kerry’s Nazi Reference | TIME.com

Godwin’s Law, an informal theory about online commenting, states that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.” A corollary might be that as armed conflict looms larger, the probability of a politician invoking Hitler also moves in that direction.

What a concept, huh?

The Internet’s next victim: Advertising - Salon.com
Because Adblock Plus’ business model — the way the company plans to generate a profit — is to charge big advertisers a fee to not block some of their ads.
An ad-blocking company that cashes in by letting some ads through? Isn’t that, uh, false advertising?

Here's something new

Well, new to me at least: A trailer for a book.

Bleeding Edge book trailer on Vimeo

Weird. But possibly a good idea, since I learned in three or four minutes it's probably not a book for me.

A day late and a dollar short (maybe two)

The working class needs its next Kurt Vonnegut - Salon.com

The sacrifices, blood, and courage on the part of workers that toiled, often in poor conditions for little to no pay, does not figure into such a paltry imagination and indifferent political understanding of labor movements in the United States.

Reality check re: schools

Everything You've Heard About Failing Schools Is Wrong | Mother Jones

In March, Maria and her teachers were celebrating acceptance letters to five colleges and two prestigious scholarships, including one from Dave Eggers' writing center, 826 Valencia.

But on the big state tests—the days-long multiple-choice exams that students in California take once a year—Maria scored poorly.…


Try and try again, says State

Kerry Wants 'Trigger' to Deter Syria Chemical Attacks | Goppers

Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday that the administration wants a “trigger” that would authorize military action for 60 days each time President Bashar al-Assad’s regime uses chemical weapons.

So this means I can stop having birthdays now?

Warner Music Aims to Keep 'Happy Birthday' Away From Public Domain (Exclusive)

With the English language's most recognized song at stake, Warner/Chappell Music is not backing down from a bold challenge. On Friday, the music publisher responded in court for the first time to a lawsuit that claims that "Happy Birthday" is in the public domain.

Imagine our joy

Sheldon Adelson: I Stand With President Obama on Bombing Syria | Mother Jones

The debate over whether to bomb Syrian military facilities and weapons installations is creating some strange bedfellows. Among them: President Obama and Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.


But we need the money for bombs

Across U.S., bridges crumble as repair funds fall short - latimes.com

Some of the most important bridge links in the country are now threatened by age. The longest bridge in New York, the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River, 25 miles north of Manhattan and a crucial link for the interstate highway system in the New York metropolitan area, is potentially subject to catastrophic failure, engineers say. Yet replacing it will cost at least $5.2 billion — and as much as $16 billion with transit options.

(A bunch of people I know drove over the Tappan Zee bridge twice in the last ten days. Fortunately, no catastrophic failure yet.)

Whoa, why is the Russky right?



"I do not exclude this, but I would like to draw your attention to one absolutely key aspect: In line with international law, only the U.N. Security Council can sanction the use of force against a sovereign state. Any other pretext or method which might be used to justify the use of force against an independent sovereign state is inadmissible and can only be interpreted as an aggression."

Whose war is this, anyway?

Bibi’s to Blame for Obama’s Red Line

If he hasn’t done so already, Netanyahu can and should discreetly enlist pro-Israel supporters in Congress to deliver the two-thirds vote Obama so desperately needs to buttress US deterrence and salvage what remains of America’s rapidly diminishing credibility in the Middle East.

Dry days ahead?

The Real Reason Kansas Is Running Out of Water | Mother Jones

Like dot-com moguls in the '90s and real estate gurus in the 2000s, farmers in western Kansas are enjoying the fruits of a bubble: Their crop yields have been boosted by a gusher of soon-to-vanish irrigation water.…

But they're on the verge of essentially sucking dry a large swath of the High Plains Aquifer, one of the United States' greatest water resources.

Marina in the morning

Marina in the morning by Ted Compton
Marina in the morning, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.


Now come geeks

Prankster Calls NSA To Restore Deleted E-mail - Slashdot

"Since the NSA snoops, intercepts and store our e-mails forever, why not use it as a backup service?"

Kerry: Get a grip

The World’s Most Pernicious Analogy Strikes Again

Here’s the thing: for this to be a “Munich moment,” Assad would have to, you know, have both the desire and capacity to conquer most of the region. Since in fact it’s far from obvious that Assad will even be able to maintain power in his own country — let alone have the ability to overrun the Middle East — Assad isn’t a new Hitler and whatever he does Obama won’t be Chamberlain.…

Imagine our relief

Now A Test Can Tell If Your Pricey Cup Of Cat Poop Coffee Is Fake : The Salt : NPR

Full sale mode

Kerry: 'Iran Is Hoping You Look The Other Way' On Syria | TPM LiveWire

In his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers that the Iranian leadership wants them to vote against a military strike in Syria.

This is getting pretty depressing.

Very cool: Man invents machine to convert plastic into oil

[H/T Wisconsin Charlie]

Once more into the breach

Op-Ed: Israeli American joint missile wargames in the Med

Never let any person tell you that possible conflict over Syria is all about Sarin Gas and the humanitarian crisis. Oil and Israel have always been at the heart of the matter.

Better late than never, I suppose, TIME…

The Military Importance of the Element of Surprise in Syria | TIME.com

The U.S. military learned the hard way that the element of surprise is a weapon that should be just as much a part of the American arsenal as Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Back in the 1990s…

…but Sun Tzu pretty much nailed it in around 500 BC.

Unclear on the concept

Rand Paul: ‘We should not engage in a war’ in Syria

“If [Obama] launches this little piddly attack with a few cruise missiles…"

"Piddly" and "cruise missiles" are not words one normally sees in the same sentence. Or even paragraph.

Ravages of time

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

We can't wait

Could Tim Tebow cut it in Canada or the Arena league? (+video) - CSMonitor.com

Yes, we have arrived at the point of Tim Tebow's professional football career that many thought inevitable – the point at which he must decide whether to play in Arena Football League or the Canadian Football League. If they'll have him.

Their money or your life

News from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Despite a rash of deadly train crashes, the railroad industry's allies in Congress are trying to push back the deadline for installing technology to prevent the most catastrophic types of collisions until at least 2020, half a century after accident investigators first called for such safety measures.…

Let's play "count the people listening to your call"

News from The Associated Press

To keep the program secret, investigators who request searches of the database are instructed to "never refer to Hemisphere in any official document," one of the slides noted. Agents are told that when they obtain information through a Hemisphere program subpoena, they should "wall off" the program by filing a duplicative subpoena directly to target's phone company or by simply writing that the information was obtained through an AT&T subpoena.

But it was only the Mississippi monster — and then another

727-Pound Alligator Smashes State Records

"When we first saw him," she recalls, "I yelled 'oh my gosh we caught the Loch Ness Monster!'"


And now a few words from your friends in the government

CryptoKids® America's Future Codemakers & Codebreakers

We’re the CryptoKids® and we love cryptology.

What’s cryptology? Cryptology is making and breaking codes. It’s so cool. We make codes so we can send secret messages to our friends. And we try to figure out what other people are writing about by breaking their codes. It’s a lot of fun.

Equal opportunity moronitude

Red Monday | National Review Online

Labor Day, like Obamacare and much else that is distasteful about American public life today, is a product of American liberals’ desire to be Canadians.…

Rank has its privileges

Special License Plates Give State Lawmakers Free Parking « CBS Denver

The plates issued to the 100 state lawmakers and representatives elected to serve Colorado are preventing them not only from receiving photo radar tickets but also collection notices from past due parking tickets.

Here's a really lousy reason for bombing people to death

Kerry says Syria response is key to US credibility - World - The Boston Globe
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Sunday urged lawmakers to approve strikes on Syria to preserve the “core to American credibility in foreign policy,” underlining the gamble President Obama took in putting the question to a wary Congress.
(What it means is immaterial; all it has to do is sound important. It barely even does that.)

Or don't. It's a holiday after all.

A Wee Lesson in Political Scumbaggery | Mother Jones

Read it.

Most unlikely headline of the week

Radiocative Water Leak At Fukushima Worse Than First Thought

Meanwhile, not so much we

Quiz: All the Words That Aren't Fit to Print in the New York Times | Mother Jones

The Gray Lady has her standards, at least.…

Running out of things to worry about?

Has the World Reached Peak Chicken? | Mother Jones

Exactly how many chickens does the world have these days? we wondered. The answer, we found, is a whole lot—and it's increasing.



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

Just another weekend at the office

Michael Fullilove (@mfullilove)
After announcing decision to ask Congress for permission, Obama & Biden left White House by motorcade to play golf: bigstory.ap.org/article/obama-…

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50 States

Here's an interesting but, alas, very poorly drawn map that divides the U. S. into 50 states of equal population.