Not a drop to drink

Never-Released Energy Department Report Predicts Increasing Domestic Conflicts over Water, Energy | DeSmogBlog

Last summer, the United States experienced the worst drought since the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

At the same time, the country was experiencing one of the biggest onshore drilling booms in history, powered by one of the most water-intensive extraction technologies ever invented: hydraulic fracking.

From our cellars

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


What? Now you tell me?

9 Weirdest Uses for Chocolate | TIME.com

September 13 is International Chocolate Day, according to the National Confectioners Association.

I say we make it a weeked. One day is not enough.

And in Germany (of course) beer

The Illegal Vodka Pipeline You Never Knew Existed | Mother Jones

Good thing we have Twitter

The President's Speech Reveals He Has Never Seen War

The crisis in Syria could be a teaching moment for the United States.…Let's begin the conversation – a real conversation – about war and peace and the role that the United Nations and the United States can and should play in these issues.

This would be, presumably, in addition to the conversations we're already having about gun control, about privacy, about immigration, about health care (or is that one over now?), about fracking…

Wait — 140 characters about each one? Are you kidding me?

When there's nothing intelligent to say, well, don't let that stop you

Eugene Robinson: Assad Must Be Punished - Truthdig

History says don’t do it. Most Americans say don’t do it. But President Obama has to punish Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s homicidal regime with a military strike—and hope that history and the people are wrong.


Glad you asked

What’s the Point of Michelle Obama’s ‘Drink Up’ Campaign? - Truthdig

The first lady’s latest program is about encouraging Americans to drink more water, starting with at least one more cup per day than they are ingesting now. The organizers, however, haven’t answered the question on several people’s minds: Why?

One thing they're not is dumb

Al Qaeda calls for attacks inside United States | Reuters

"We should bleed America economically by provoking it to continue in its massive expenditure on its security, for the weak point of America is its economy, which has already begun to stagger due to the military and security expenditure," he said.


For example

Ig Nobels 2013: from attaching penises to stargazing dung beetles | Ars Technica

Bert Tolkamp and colleagues showed that cows are more likely to lie down if they have been standing up for a longer time.

And all the rest of the Ig Nobel prizes awarded last night above, at the first link.

More maps…

…and new to our work avoidance list: Radical Cartography.


Hawaiian fish fatally sugared

Hawaii molasses spill killing thousands of fish

The fish are dying because the high concentration of molasses is making it difficult for them to breathe, said department spokeswoman Janice Okubo. Television footage shows some fish sticking their mouths out of the water.

[H/T Chocolate Chip Mint]

And this is good news?

New to our work avoidance list

Blobfish 'wins' world's ugliest animal contest - CSMonitor.com

The Ugly Animal Preservation Society, in the UK, has named the gelatinous, deep sea fish the world's most "aesthetically challenged" animal.

Some days you just can't win

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

So boots on the ground after all?

A 1991 U.S.-Russian Agreement Could Be The Model For Securing Syria's Chemical Weapons | ThinkProgress

Under the Soviet Threat Reduction Act, the brainchild of Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), the United States would provide funding and on the ground assistance to help Russia and the other former Soviet Union countries secure loose nuclear material to prevent it from being sold on the black-market.

Capitalism eats its tail

The Folks Who Sell Your Corn Flakes are Acting Like Goldman Sachs—and That Should Worry You | New Republic

Over the last decade, some of the world’s biggest traditional traders in grains, oil, and metals have quietly taken on many attributes of banks—running billion-dollar hedge funds, launching private equity arms, and selling derivatives to clients. These businesses enable trading firms to tie up large sums of money in bets and profit off insider information. Unlike the banks, these companies have escaped regulatory scrutiny—even though experts say they present similar hazards.

Maybe we should make them report to the IRS

Who's a "Moderate" Rebel in Syria? Check the Handwritten Receipts | Mother Jones

…can the administration ensure that US aid is not winding up in the wrong hands?

Once again the comics get it right

Operation Accidental Diplomacy on Vimeo

What if you threw a civil war and nobody paid attention until about two and a half years in? It's been an action-packed, changeable week on the Syrian diplomatic front. A Mark Fiore political animation.


You can just about always count on the economist

Improbable Research » Blog Archive

Department of Economics professor Dr. Nick Rupp, who counts education tactics among his research interests, recently published the results of a study in which he found that doing homework assignments leads to higher test grades.

Summer's goodbye kiss

The temp popped right up to 91° today, a good 20° hotter that it's been for a week or so. It was a beautiful hot sunny day. I loved it all.

Tonight I expect the mother of all thunderstorms, something in the low 80s tomorrow, and back to the high 60s – more or less normal here for this time of year – from Friday on.

So long summer. Don't be gone too long.

Come to think of it, since when does it matter?

Is New York City Puritanical? | New Republic

Since when is New York City a place where you can't be a sexual miscreant, and Louisiana (which continues to be served by David Vitter, who was himself served by a lady of the night) or South Carolina (which recently elected Mark Sanford, the most famous explorer of the Appalachian Trail, to the House) places where you can? 


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

Once we get this Syria mess cleaned up…

Robert Reich: Happy Anniversary, Lehman Brothers! - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

Five years ago this September, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, and the Street hurtled toward the worst financial crisis in eighty years. Yet the biggest Wall Street banks are far larger now than they were then. And the Dodd-Frank rules designed to stop them from betting with the insured deposits of ordinary savers are still on the drawing boards—courtesy of the banks’ lobbying prowess. The so-called Volcker Rule has yet to see the light of day.

…maybe we could have just one more try at doing something useful.

Our nomination for Understatement of the Year

Glacier Park murder: Newlywed confesses pushing her groom off a cliff - CSMonitor.com

Johnson loved her and was excited for their marriage after a two-year courtship, but his relatives suspected that Graham didn't exactly reciprocate…

We hope you are consoled by this

Report: Rich Chinese perps hire body-doubles to do their time - Boing Boing

“It doesn’t matter how fat a woman becomes, the shape of her ears will never change,” she told the paper.


Whoa. Lost me with the first sentence there, dude.

NSA surveillance: The rest of the Snowden files should be destroyed. - Slate Magazine
Privacy is fundamental in an open democracy.
I'm trying to picture one of those old-fashioned (or not so old-fashioned where I live) New England town meetings — the epitome of democracy I think my high school civics book said – everybody sitting around with hoods over their heads. It's just not working. The hoods conjure something decidedly anti-democratic. Maybe this guy is confusing anonymity with privacy, but then does "anonymous democracy" make any sense at all?

Sorry, Slate guy, you've lost me there.

You've gotta admit it's nice to run across a guy who enjoys his work

Putin: Syria Will Hand Over Weapons Only If U.S. Nixes Airstrike | TPM LiveWire

"Certainly, this is all reasonable, it will function and will work out, only if the US and those who support it on this issue pledge to renounce the use of force, because it is difficult to make any country – Syria or any other country in the world – to unilaterally disarm if there is military action against it under consideration," Putin told RT.

Whoa, take a deep breath there, CNN

Apple exec says Siri users will be able to pick a male voice or a female voice: http://t.co/x0dCX7sHOQ
9/10/13 1:22 PM

Seriously? This is breaking news? Slow news day?

From this current crowd in Washington we should get our money back

‘Novichok’ Is the Word To Google for a Glimpse of the Cynicism of a Deal With Syria and Russia - The New York Sun

Right, there's that

Syrian Opposition Wary Of Russian Proposal

WASHINGTON — Syrian opposition activists are wary of a Russian proposal to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control because it could decrease the possibility of a hoped-for U.S. military intervention, a spokesperson for a main opposition group said on Monday.


Woohoo! A genuinely rainy day…

We have only had three really rainy days here all summer, and one of those was in Rhode Island. Go figure. But today it's coming down, and thunder too. I walked home from the laundry and got noticeably damp. The question now is how to get my dry clothes home otherwise. Sounds like time for a plastic bag.

Screwing around in Washington

Seventy percent of D.C.’s pregnancies are unintended

The Guttmacher report shows that, generally, states in the South, Southwest and with larger urban areas tend to have higher rates of unintended pregnancies. More unintended pregnancies were mistimed than unwanted.

Hey. Get back to work.

In California, water rustlers

20,000 Gallons Of Water Stolen From Elementary School In Drought-Plagued California County | ThinkProgress

Another water tank in the area was drained of 20,000 gallons in July, leaving 330 people briefly without water. That tank provides water to another elementary school, a fire station, the post office, and a state park campground.

A gold mine of information about labor history in the U.S.…

This Day in Labor History: A Digest - Lawyers, Guns & Money

…also added to our work avoidance list for safekeeping.

Funny or not

No kidding: Read The Onion if you want to understand Syria - CSMonitor.com

The Onion, a satirical newspaper, has managed to find ways not to just joke about Syria, but to do it in a way that makes sense of the situation. Their writers have started to hit their stride, consistently nailing it with surprisingly salient analysis


ATTN: Bureau of Unnecessary Quotation Marks

Wednesday could be D.C.’s hottest day of the “summer”

Get with the program, WaPo. It may be past Labor Day but it's still summer until the equinox a couple of weeks from now.

Maps are cool (even if they're not very mappy)

Subway systems at the same scale / fake is the new real

But who needs proof, says chief of staff

US: Proven link of Assad to gas attack lacking

Obama's top aide says the administration lacks "irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence" that skeptical Americans, including lawmakers who will start voting on military action this week, are seeking.

Just can't wait to pull the trigger, these guys. 

Just a little spooky though

Elizabeth Warren Slams Supreme Court As Too Right-Wing | TPM LiveWire

"Ah, if we could only clone her," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said after Warren concluded her remarks, as quoted by Politico.

Do not under any circumstances read this

Your Fucking Butt Wipes Are Clogging Sewer Systems

Adult wipers have also cost the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission more than $1 million dollars because they’ve had to “install heavy-duty grinders to shred wipes and other debris before they reach pumps on the way to the treatment plant.” On top of this, officials in the District’s water and sewer agency have spent over 500 hundred man-hours in the last year “removing stuck wipes.” And this summer, after hearing complaints that toilets wouldn’t flush in London, a 15-ton “glob of wipes and hardened cooking grease the size of a bus” was discovered in a sewer pipe.

Or stay out of London.

You might think this is a bad thing but…

USDA pilot program fails to stop contaminated meat - The Washington Post

A meat inspection program that the Agriculture Department plans to roll out in pork plants nationwide has repeatedly failed to stop the production of contaminated meat at American and foreign plants that have already adopted the approach, documents and interviews show.

…no. Because…

The program allows meat producers to increase the speed of processing lines by as much as 20 percent and cuts the number of USDA safety inspectors at each plant in half, replacing them with private inspectors employed by meat companies.

So then let's do it anyway. 

Also, fecal matter.


Seeking Approval for Syria Strike, Obama To Launch PR Blitz | Foreign Policy

With Congress back in Washington, the Obama administration will launch an all-out lobbying blitz this week to secure congressional support for a military intervention in Syria, a proposal that has at best tepid support on the Hill and currently lacks the votes to gain approval.

Panda porn

The best sentences we read today

“Tian Tian, who was born in captivity in China, is a hefty 264 pounds but has been a relatively ineffective breeder with poor natural technique, zoo experts have said.”

One more job avoided

The five worst things about this crummy jobs report

Our political system has given up. Forget doing something to actually help the economy. Congress is letting the sequestration crunch jobs, and Republicans are considering shutting down the government and breaching the debt ceiling. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has been talking loudly about the need for its “taper,” which is Fed-speak for removing its stimulus support from the economy.



Bears sneak past Bengals, wow.

Let's enjoy 'em while we can.

Just when is a guy too safe?

News from The Associated Press

Two days after an intruder was discovered prowling around Buckingham Palace, police confronted Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, in the royal residence's garden and demanded he identify himself.

Whatever the game is here, it's not just (or at all) about poison gas

John Kerry is blowing it on Syria - Salon.com

To be fair to Kerry, the policy he is peddling is so exquisitely poised as to be untenable: a military strike that’s effective enough to deter Assad from using chemical weapons again, but not enough to tip the balance of power to the rebels. It’s the military equivalent of a unicorn, and nobody seems to believe in it.

The whole NSA furor in a single sentence

Why We Published the Decryption Story - ProPublica

The expectations of millions of Internet users regarding the privacy of their electronic communications are mistaken.

This, Bunky, is not news and never was. 

In case the Middle East isn't enough for you

The Startling Size of US Military Operations in Africa | Mother Jones

To the media and the American people, officials insist the US military is engaged in small-scale, innocuous operations there. Out of public earshot, officers running America's secret wars say: "Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today."