Where there's smoke there's movies

Tobacco Timeline: The Twentieth Century 1900-1949--The Rise of the Cigarette

1909: "Princess Nicotine; or the Smoke Fairy" is the first instance of tobacco product placement (for Sweet Caporal cigarettes and cigars) in the movies. The special effects are so remakable they are noted in a contemporary issue of "Scientific American."

When you'd rather read the review than the book

Sarah Palin Serves Up a Healthy Serving of Venom in Her Christmas Book

The book is not, as the subtitle maternally suggests, about “Protecting the Heart of Christmas.” As with pretty much everything the former governor does, this is all about Venting the Spleen of Sarah. And that’s what makes it so gosh darn refreshing…Palin at her toxic best: snippy, snarky, snide, and thoroughly pissed off.

Do you have to be a live one first?

‘Bettie Page Reveals All,’ A Close-Up Look at the Pinup Goddess and Sexual Icon

Forbes’s list of the top earning dead celebrities for 2013 placed Page at No. 8 with a take of $10 million—right after Albert Einstein and several spots ahead of Bruce Lee.

I was thinking I might have time for one more career but now, hey, maybe two!

What would a knave look like fettered?

Crime Advocates: US Chamber of Commerce Supports International Business Bribery

Corporate America has long opposed the three-decades old FCPA -- the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act -- claiming that prohibiting US companies from bribing officials puts them at an international competitive disadvantage.…

To harken back to the English satirist Jonathan Swift ("Gulliver's Travels), in a world of fools and knaves, the Chamber would argue, let the knaves be free to be unfettered knaves!

Shoulda got these guys to design healthcare.gov

N.S.A. Report Outlined Goals for More Power - NYTimes.com

Using sweeping language, the paper also outlined some of the agency’s other ambitions. They included defeating the cybersecurity practices of adversaries in order to acquire the data the agency needs from “anyone, anytime, anywhere.”…

Count the silverware

A Gamble in Iran Talks - Easing of the Sanctions - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON — In its delicate negotiations with Iran over freezing its nuclear program, the Obama administration is gambling that the gradual relaxation of punishing sanctions will whet Tehran’s appetite for greater economic relief, inducing the country’s leaders to negotiate a further deal to roll back its nuclear progress.


Check out this excellent new work avoidance tool


…noted by our Seattle bureau.

She's baaaack

Jill Kelley adds Panetta, others as lawsuit defendants | TheHill

Kelley is suing the government in a defamation lawsuit after she was revealed as the woman who sparked the FBI investigation that uncovered former CIA Director David Petraeus’s affair and led to his resignation.

No more squishing yourself into those little tiny sports-car seats

‘Monstrosity! Ludicrous! Insane!’ Huge ‘Youabian Puma’ car raises eyebrows at LA auto show | The Raw Story

The car, described as “like a cross-between a sports car and a heavily armored tank” by the LA Times, is huge, at nearly 8 feet wide and over 20 feet long, sitting on outsize wheels 44 inches tall and 21 inches wide.

Personal oil well optional.

Demographic doodling

Musing on the current nostalgia for JFK and the 50th anniversary of his assasination:

The current median age of the U.S. population is about 37 years.

Forty-one percent of the U.S. population is between the ages of 20 and 50.

When you're in a hole, quit digging

Undernews: Obamastan: The war we can have forever

"While many Americans have been led to believe the war in Afghanistan will soon be over, a draft of a key U.S.-Afghan security deal obtained by NBC News shows the United States is prepared to maintain military outposts in Afghanistan for many years to come, and pay to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces.

Fiore (video)

A Message from the Health Insurers of America

Silence? Really?


NEW YORK (AP) -- Airline passengers have already been stripped of their legroom, hot meals and personal space. Now, they might also lose their silence.

I wonder what airline these guys fly on. Granted, I haven't flown anywhere for quite a while but somehow I can't imagine the experienc getting better in the intervening years. 

In case you thought blaming the press was some sort of exclusively right-wing thing

You may notice we are totally ignoring this

Chocolate Chip Mint: Adventures in Travel

*You know, it was the apple that got Adam and Eve in all that trouble, right? And so, it is with some trepidation that I’m switching to the dark side in my choice of phones (soon). But, at least I didn't have to do it with AT&T. That would have really been sinful.

(Good about the iPhone, though.)

Keeping costs low = cheap

Insurers restricting choice of doctors and hospitals to keep costs down - The Washington Post

As Americans have begun shopping for health plans on the insurance exchanges, they are discovering that insurers are restricting their choice of doctors and hospitals in order to keep costs low, and that many of the plans exclude top-rated hospitals.



Paul on Reid: ‘We’ve got a big bully’ - Jose DelReal - POLITICO.com

Following a historic rules change in the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul says that what the higher chamber needs now is an anti-bullying policy.

Don't hold your breath

Everyday is a Holiday!

November 21 is . . . . World Hello Day and False Confessions Day

Will nobody stand up for helium?


NEW YORK (AP) -- Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is awash in animal-related protests over its floats, with controversies involving the unlikely pairing of rocker Joan Jett and Shamu the killer whale.

This might actually be worth watching, but what are the odds the PETA protest will be on the teevee?

French guy blows a chance to live in Kansas

News from The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) -- He's been turned down by planes, trains and even a cruise ship in his quest to return home - and his family says it's because he has been deemed too fat to travel.…

Chenais, who weighs 500 pounds (230 kilograms), says he has been repeatedly refused transport over the past two weeks as he sought to get home to France from the United States.

Forget the kale! It's nuts! (Really. It's nuts.)


DALLAS (AP) -- Help yourself to some nuts this holiday season: Regular nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer or heart disease - in fact, were less likely to die of any cause - during a 30-year Harvard study.

[Immortal italics my own.]

Me, I'm waiting for the study that says ketchup is the magic elixir. That's when I quit reading food stuff and just pig out.


The National Institutes of Health and the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation sponsored the study, but the nut group had no role in designing it or reporting the results.

Right. Is there a ketchup foundation? I hope there is.)

Superheroes: All this kissing has got to stop

I watched Thor last night. It ends with an enormous smooch. This is just not right. Eeeww. Granted, it's a smooch with Natalie Portman, but still.

And don't even get me started on whatzisname and Lois Lane.

What are these guys doing running around kissing people? Why can't they just fight crime? Or whatever.

Why has this word, "pivot," not been banned yet?

G.O.P. Maps Out Waves of Attacks Over Health Law - NYTimes.com

The idea is to gather stories of people affected by the health care law — through social media, letters from constituents, or meetings during visits back home — and use them to open a line of attack, keep it going until it enters the public discourse and forces a response, then quickly pivot to the next topic.

It's going to be a long winter. Looooong.


Exposing Top Secret America

At the moment, there’s a bull market in the private contracting of national intelligence. Here are some of the basic stats:


Business as usual, as usual

JPMorgan’s bait-and-switch: The ballyhooed settlement is just a scam! - Salon.com

This idea of a “new aggressiveness” from the Justice Department on prosecuting big banks is hokum. The giveaways may be sneakier and more well-hidden, but they’re still giveaways. And accountability is still nowhere to be found.


Who needs Leno when you've got this?

Kathleen Sebelius watches Obamacare website crash - Susan Levine - POLITICO.com

Sebelius was visiting a Miami medical center Tuesday and talking with local residents trying to sign up for health coverage. With a local CBS4 television camera rolling, a navigator helping a husband and wife with coverage attempted to send their application. Seconds later, the site failed — in full view of the crowd and attending media.

“Sorry, our system is down,” explained the screen message, which suggested the couple try again in 30 minutes.

You break it, you own it—and then it breaks itself

US Spent Billions on Afghan Projects That Will Fall Apart When We Leave | Mother Jones

And in the end, nobody knows what anybody else means

Could Carl Sagan Have Defeated Climate Denial? | Mother Jones

WTF is climate denial? How can you deny climate? Climate is unfreakingdeniable like, for example, sky. You've never heard anybody deny sky, have you? Of course not. See above.

Somehow, we are reassured

Why Youth Is Revolting Against Obama (Hint: It’s Not Just Obamacare)

Millennials may be young, but they’re not stupid.

Why doctors don't like Obamacare

Why Are American Doctors Paid So Damn Much? | Mother Jones

"If we ever reach the point where American doctors have been squeezed so badly that they start fleeing north of the border to get higher pay in Canada, then we've squeezed too hard. Until that happens, forget about it."

These guys could be on to something

Utah Town Forgot To Hold Municipal Election In November

But definitely not walk

China's Singles Day: The Loneliest Holiday of All? | New Republic

…a young woman quipped that she’d “rather cry in the back of a BMW than laugh on the back of a bicycle.”

Stand by to make a fortune on brainercise

Mother's Exercise May Boost Baby's Brain - NYTimes.com

If a woman is physically active during pregnancy, she may boost the development of her unborn child’s brain…

This is gonna be bigger than kale. Or oat bran.

Fighting them there so we don't have to…oh, wait

Al Qaeda in Kentucky: US May Have Let 'Dozens' of Terrorists Into Country as Refugees - ABC News

Several dozen suspected terrorist bombmakers, including some believed to have targeted American troops, may have mistakenly been allowed to move to the United States as war refugees, according to FBI agents investigating the remnants of roadside bombs recovered from Iraq and Afghanistan.



Bargain's a bust

A Dirty Secret Lurks in the Struggle Over a Fiscal ‘Grand Bargain’ - NYTimes.com

…But the dirty secret — a phrase used independently, and privately, by people in both parties — is that neither side wants to take the actions it demands of the other to achieve a breakthrough.

That is, many Republicans are no more interested in voting to reduce Medicare and Social Security benefits than Democrats are, lest they threaten their party’s big advantage among the older voters who dominate the electorate in midterm contests like those in 2014.

And Democrats are no more eager than Republicans, with control of both houses of Congress up for grabs, to vote for the large revenue increases that a grand bargain would entail.


Whoa I wish I didn't know this

Fears grow the ships to be laden with Syria’s chemical weapons will sail the high seas with nowhere to unload | National Post

Wherever it happens, the destruction of Syria’s weapons will be overseen by experts from the OPCW, which won the Nobel Peace Prize…

That peace prize, Dude, is one bad omen. 

Otherwise, this story—ship full of poison gas sailing the high seas for eternity—is starting to sound like a bad folk song (or an even worse movie), no?

Hot snacks (really hot)

Chocolate Chip Mint: Speaking of Slogans

It burns when it goes down, it burns when it comes out!

Why are you holding your breath?

TEPCO : Immediate release:Fuel removal from Unit 4 spent fuel pool has started at Fukushima Daiichi NPS

Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 18, 2013-TEPCO announced today that they have started the fuel removal from the Unit 4 spent fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi NPS.

An air bag for your head?

Too Cool For (Bike) Helmet Head? Here's One Swedish Solution : Parallels : NPR

"Vanity might sound a bit stupid to talk about," Alstin says, "but if that is the cause of people not protecting their heads in traffic, it is a real issue that you need to address."

But would it work in the NFL?

It might be more fun than flipping burgers, though


Despite grand ambitions, an early start, millions of dollars from the federal government and a tech-savvy population, Oregon's online enrollment system still isn't ready more than a month after it was supposed to go live. The state has resorted to hiring or reassigning 400 people to process insurance applications by hand.

But do the people who process the insurance applications get insurance themselves?

Those rascals!

The top perks offered by Massachusetts companies

Sneaking out early, with the boss’s approval

What we really want to know is, why did they change their minds?

10 Fun Facts About Wyoming Senate Candidate Liz Cheney | Mother Jones

Wyoming, a state with two working escalators, has two senators in Washington due to the infallibility of the Founding Fathers. The official state dinosaur is the triceratops. In February 2012, legislators in Cheyenne briefly considered building an aircraft carrier to prepare for a societal collapse.

If you own a device that starts with the letter i…

…or a computer that runs iTunes, you really oughta take a look at this Old Time Radio Drama podcast, a collecton of, well, old time radio drama that's definitely worth a listen. (A dramatization of John Cheever's The Enormous Radio, for example, is number 2 on the list.) Once upon a very long time ago people would sit around in their living rooms (I'm not making this up) listening to radio shows like this. Nobody writes radio drama any more, at least not like this, nor is likely to again.


I thought the Bears just played right through tornadoes, but apparently not

Tornadoes, damaging storms hit Midwest; Chicago Bears-Baltimore Ravens game at Soldier Field resumes

CHICAGO -- Intense thunderstorms and tornadoes swept across the Midwest on Sunday, causing extensive damage in several central Illinois communities while sending people to their basements for shelter and even prompting officials at Soldier Field in Chicago to evacuate the stands and delay the Bears game.


2 injured when drone malfunctions, crashes into Navy ship - CNN.com

On second thought…

Harrisburg, Pa., newspaper retracts 1863 criticism of Gettysburg Address | The Raw Story

On Tuesday 24 November 1863, the Harrisburg Patriot & Union published a lengthy editorial in which it lamented “the silly remarks of the President”…

Gee thanks, Bro

Accused rapist allowed to raise identical twin defense at trial | The Raw Story

An Army officer linked by DNA to the sexual assault of several young girls will be allowed to argue that his identical twin brother could have committed the crimes.

Eewww! What will we tell the children?

Amazon Bares Its Computers - NYTimes.com

I left my heart in San Francisco (and my eardrums in Seattle)

Ground-Shaking Noise Rocks N.F.L., and Eardrums Take Big Hit - NYTimes.com
National Football League teams are racing this season to secure the title of loudest outdoor stadium in the world. 
The Seattle Seahawks, who boast that their fans caused a small earthquake after a 2011 touchdown, acclaimed their crowd’s record 136.6-decibel noise level this September after an effort orchestrated by the fan group Volume 12.
From the Seahawks' web site:

If it ain't broke don't fix it; if it is broke, well, it's broke (oh wait, did that sound like W?)

HealthCare.gov goal is for 80% of users to be able to enroll for insurance - The Washington Post

Administration officials acknowledge that until recently, they had no concrete definition for how well HealthCare.gov should work, but they say one would not have made sense before the site went live Oct. 1.