Today is not the day

The widget said 7º this morning so I put on my one-day-a-year jacket when I went out walking, but by the time I got home it had warmed up to 10 or maybe 11 and the jacket was much too warm, so today is not the day. Meanwhile, it's only a white-spotted Christmas here so far, but just about everybody seems to agree on 9 or 10 more inches of snow in the wee hours of Sunday, and probably a little warmer too. So tomorrow won't be the day either. Not that I mind. On the whole, I would rather be in July.

Also guys who stand in front of grocery stores ringing bells

Saint Nicholas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, pawnbrokers and students in various cities and countries around Europe.

Big trove of illustrations from British Library

British Library sticks 1 million pics on Flickr, asks for help making them useful | Ars Technica
Though the library knows which book each image is taken from, its knowledge largely ends there. While some images have useful titles, many do not, so the majority of the million picture collection is uncatalogued, its subject matter unknown.

Image taken from page 284 of 'Monsieur At Home. (From notes made ... in France.)'



My snow forecasting app, which this morning predicted a 2-inch snowfall for tomorrow, now predicts 10. Which means there may be a lot of people running around on Saturday babbling about a white Christmas. Look, it'd be OK with me if you have a white Christmas if you would just clean up after yourself the next day. But you won't, will you? Oh no. It'll be March, maybe even April before you do.


We hear leeches are coming back too

Jeffrey Toobin: Is the Constitution to Blame for Government Dysfunction? : The New Yorker

It’s often noted that the United States is governed by the world’s oldest written constitution that is still in use. This is usually stated as praise…


Buzz Hoot Roar – Vocabulary Friday: Omphaloskepsis

With an average of 67 different types of bacteria living in each one of our belly buttons, each one of us has a unique microbial fingerprint.

Work avoidance built right in!

You weren't really…

Buzz Hoot Roar – Five Insects We Never Want to Have Sex With


Checking your tonsils from space

Darpa's Giant Folding Spy Satellite Will Dwarf All Other Space Telescopes | Danger Room | Wired.com

Darpa, the military’s futuristic research agency, says it has plans to “break the glass ceiling” of space telescopes by shooting a new design into orbit that’s made of plastic and unfolds into a mammoth satellite that would dwarf the world’s most famous telescopes.

You didn't think they were planning to spy on Saturn, did you?

Today's exercise in missing the point

Study: Alcohol would have kept James Bond from bedding women or stirring his drinks | The Raw Story

Agent 007 boozed so much that in all reality he would have had the tremulous hands of a chronic alcoholic, according to an offbeat study published by the British Medical Journal.

If statistics are any guide, Bond would have died from alcohol- and tobacco-related diseases in his mid-50s, it says.

Now that you mention it…

Geoff Dyer on Photography: Cliff Diving in Thailand | New Republic

Excellent film though it is, Gravity is a thoroughly inappropriate title for a movie set in space, in zero-G.

If you're not cold enough on this frigid (and slightly snowy) morning…

IceBridge - Education | NASA

There'll always be an England

This morning's NYTimes reports:

Being an “incorrigible rogue” is no longer against the law in Britain.

(No link because if your stories at the Times are rationed this one's not worth the click—the sentence above is pretty much it. Still, good news is where you find it.)


Take what you can get

Robert Reich (Raw Deal)

About the only good thing that can be said about the budget deal just patched together by House Republican budget chair Paul Ryan and Senate Democratic budget chair Patty Murray is that the right-wing Heritage Foundation and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity oppose it.

There'll always be an England

Phone Hacker Learns Queen Elizabeth Annoyed By Police Eating From Buckingham Palace Nut Dishes

Call Ender

Play This Harmless-Looking Web Game, and You're Helping the Pentagon | Danger Room | Wired.com

The site’s five games are designed so that when users solve puzzles to advance to the next level of play, they are actually generating mathematical proofs that can identify software flaws that cyberattacks could exploit.

And you thought the NSA was having all the fun

German police build ‘Nazi Shazam’ music detector to track right-wing, banned tunes | The Raw Story

Authorities in the eastern state of Saxony hope to use their brainchild to identify and shut down Internet radio stations that play banned songs.

'Tis the season, Dude

Fox News host Megyn Kelly tells kids: Jesus and Santa are both white guys | The Raw Story

“For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white,” Kelly said.…

“I mean, Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa — I just want the kids watching to know that.”

Glad we got that cleared up.

Nothing like steel door to stop the internet

Swiss Set Sights on Becoming World's Data Vault | SecurityWeek.Com
Housed in one of Switzerland's numerous deserted Cold War-era army barracks, the high-tech Deltalis data center is hidden behind four-ton steel doors built to withstand a nuclear attack -- plus biometric scanners and an armed guard.…
Wait. What?

Also, dead trees!

The Obamacare Paper Pileup - ProPublica

When HealthCare.gov [1] and some state-run insurance marketplaces ran into trouble with their Web sites in October and November, they urged consumers to submit paper applications.

Now, it’s time to process all that paper. And with the deadline to enroll in health plans less than two weeks away, there’s growing concern that some of these applications won’t be processed in time.

Don't stop worrying! There must be something else! 

And YA conspiracy theory is born

Hawaiian Official Who Released Obama's Birth Certificate Dies In Crash : The Two-Way : NPR

Loretta Fuddy, a Hawaiian health official who in 2011 was briefly in the national spotlight when she verified the authenticity of President Obama's birth certificate and authorized the release of information about it, died Wednesday in the crash of a small plane off the island of Molokai.

Definitely the right state for a grump

The Puritan War on Christmas Was the Best War on Christmas - The Wire

If you're going to fight a war on Christmas, an all-out ban on the holiday seems like a pretty solid goal. It's also something the Puritans actually accomplished, in multiple countries, for decades, putting today's Christmas haters to shame. From 1659 to 1681, Bostonians faced a five-shilling fine for celebrating Christmas…

Apparently that Fox News crowd is just a bunch of chickenhawks where the war on Christmas is concerned, too.


Luckily, I'm not one

Chowing Down On Meat, Dairy Alters Gut Bacteria A Lot, And Quickly : The Salt : NPR

One type of bacteria that flourishes under the meat-rich diet has been linked to inflammation and intestinal diseases in mice.

Ahhh, so that's why

Islamists in Syria seize US ammunition | TheHill

The Obama administration has suspended aid to Syrian rebels following the seizure of a warehouse by Islamists, The Washington Post reports.

A new alliance of Islamic groups called the Islamic Front took control of warehouses in northern Syria used to store ammunition, vehicles and other supplies for the Western-backed Supreme Military Council on Friday, the Post reports.

But does it have to rain the whole vacation or just part?

Man who sued because it rained punished for irrational claims

The man who sued the Dominican Republic because it rained during his vacation has been labelled a “quarrelsome litigant” by a Quebec judge.


Above the fold

Slow news day? Well, nope. Mostly all I read in the local paper is what shows through the window in the box because…you can see. It's usually like that. And if it's a really good story (like, We're getting younger) I can always go downstairs and read the neighbors'. But not today. This I already knew.

Naww, we're waiting for smart cuff links

The first smartring has an LED screen, tells time, and accepts calls | Ars Technica

Forget smartwatches—smartrings are the new thing now.

The one good thing…

…about hustling the recycle bin to the curb on an icy December morning is that for the rest of the day everything else seems cozy and warm. Mmmmm.



Procrastinaut - new-aesthetic: Reddit: A medic-alert bracelet...

Getting over it


More stuff we never wanted to know

Ancient cockroach ate poop - Boing Boing

By studying the preserved poop of ancient cockroaches, scientists have determined that those roaches were, themselves, eating poop.

Isn't this that little Tucker's web site?

Liberals want to stop men from checking out women | The Daily Caller

I’m not saying looking at tits is any kind of noble pursuit.…

Well, whatever. It's pretty much all down hill from there.

The long day

We don't much like these end-of-year lists, but…

The Biggest Cheaters of 2013 : The New Yorker

Acknowledging, of course, that this list includes only those who got caught, here the year’s most newsworthy cheaters, liars, and frauds.…

Go jet stream, or something

I have a Chicago radio station playing here and I'm getting frostbite from listening to the weather report. I'm just hoping all that cold gets dumped somewhere else—say, DC—not here.

On the other hand, cold is good for the Bears (Bear weather!), who clobbered Dallas last night, outdoors in Chicago (on Mike Ditka Day).

But canine homework ingestion, no

Delayed Train? Skeptical Boss? M.T.A. Will Give Passengers a Late Note - NYTimes.com

Since June 2010, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has given more than 250,000 such notes, titled Subway Delay Verification, to riders…

Just read it: Bruni on "Her"

The Sweet Caress of Cyberspace - NYTimes.com


What makes Shakespeare such a great writer?

Here's what: People have been standing in line for 400 years to see his plays. 

From yesterday's NYTimes:

The current Shakespeare boom on Broadway is not unprecedented and hardly limited to that most prominent corner of the theater world. Every summer, our parks are overrun with star-crossed lovers and introspective Danes. America is glutted with Shakespeare festivals and theaters. In a 2010 post, the theater blogger Isaac Butler called this our “Shakespeare problem,” tabulating over a thousand Shakespeare productions at nonprofit theaters in the first decade of this century.

[Emphasis mine.]

The play's the thing.

Somebody in Virginia freaks out over maybe a little more snow

Round 2: Another winter storm expected Tuesday morning - FairfaxNews.com

Tomorrow? Snow, two to four inches of it, the National Weather Service says.

Meanwhile here, in our pleasant New England valley, maybe <0.2 in., NWS predicts. Here's to you, VA.

Go ahead, tell us what you really think

GOP Comes Up With A Brilliant Outrage Generation Plan | The Raw Story

How better, then, but to find shit to complain about knowing full well that if it’s “fixed”, then the solution will be something else you can complain about? Why wait for the Democrats to do something you can feign outrage over, when you can do it yourself, blame the Democrats, and feign outrage over the thing that is, if you have any sense at all, not actually a problem? This is a dream come true for Republicans, a self-generating fountain of bullshit that is increasingly detached from obstacles like reality.

Aside from a couple of patches and a few doodads (and a marksmanship medal—no kidding!)…

…the only thing I have left from my brief military career are two pairs of woolen boot socks (one pair khaki and the other, unaccountably, black) issued in basic training—half-century socks. They may (I hope) never wear out. Because they're perfect in, well, boots on a chilly, sloppy New England day like today. Like, emphatically, today. Although by noon it's only a fraction below freezing, so nicely warming up. (The socks work fine in slippers too.) 

Picture worth a thousand words but not so many flakes

Winter Storm Moves Into Mid-Atlantic : The Two-Way : NPR

Two days after Friday's storm, roads resemble ice rinks and highways north and west of Dallas are strewn with abandoned cars, KPAX in Missoula, Mont. reports.

Putting aside the question, what is a station in Montana doing reporting traffic conditions in Dallas, the photo of Dallas' blizzard-congested I-35 is worth a look. A real close look (yes, Bunky, there is some snow there).


Jets Try Out a New Look - Competence

Oh no! Spies (among the spies) among the orcs

Spies’ Dragnet Reaches a Playing Field of Elves and Trolls - NYTimes.com

Though the games might appear to be unregulated digital bazaars, the companies running them reserve the right to police the communications of players and store the chat dialogues in servers that can be searched later. The transactions conducted with the virtual money common in the games, used in World of Warcraft to buy weapons and potions to slay monsters, are also monitored by the companies to prevent illicit financial dealings.

Here's a story with a War Games vibe: Elves, trolls, and supermodels, monsters and spies and real spies, all milling around and chasing each other and them too—actually, sort of sounds like fun. 


Picked up a book yesterday…

…and haven't been able to put it down. Except for the Sunday Times. So a day off from blogging, it seems.