Testing the iPhone Blogger app

Best piece I've read so far…

Edward Snowden doesn’t deserve clemency: The NSA leaker hasn’t proved he is a whistleblower.

One gasps at the megalomania and delusion in Snowden’s statements, and one can’t help but wonder if he is a dupe, a tool, or simply astonishingly naïve.

…or at least best in a general-circulation publication, and one with which I pretty much totally agree.

Dude! Can he do that?

Rich Catholics vs. the pope - Salon.com

If anyone wonders whether Pope Francis has irritated wealthy conservatives with his courage and idealism, the latest outburst from Kenneth Langone left little doubt. Sounding both aggressive and whiny, the billionaire investor warned that he and his overprivileged friends might withhold their millions from church and charity unless the pontiff stops preaching against the excesses and cruelty of unleashed capitalism.

Where's he gonna hide?

"Polar vortex" sounds a whole lot scarier than "freaking cold"

‘Polar Vortex’ Plunges Midwest, Northeast into Record Deep Freeze | TIME.com

Factoring in wind chill, temperatures as low as 50 to 70 degrees below zero are forecasted in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest by Sunday night…[Which is why we don't believe in wind chill. What's the point?]

Here, this morning, Weather Underground, our go-to service for local temps since they have three measuring points within a mile of here, said 3. Degrees. F.

Our big down jacket marched right through it, no sweat. (OK, of course no sweat. But also no shiver.) So bring it, vortex. Make my day.

Daylight Savings is an S&L

Daylight saving time is what they mean.  But hey, it's still great news. (Or no news at all. But you know what we mean.)
iPhone photoart: Phil Compton

Like, you know, people

Mayor Bill De Blasio Promises To End Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides

"Horses do not belong in a congested, urban setting where they constantly breathe exhaust while dodging dangerous traffic…"

I don't know anything about horse rights but those carriage rides are cool.


Neither snow nor rain…

Nose news

Once upon a time, long ago, all the girls of a certain age in Duluth had red legs. The certain age was known as Juniors and Seniors.

Girls in Duluth, in the '50s, were not allowed to wear pants in school and the Junior and Senior girls were way, way too cool to wear pants on the way to school and then change. So they walked to school barelegged, often in sub-zero conditions, and, except for a couple of weeks in July (the weeks we called "summer") had red legs. These were not the kind of young women who would worry about a cold nose.

It was only after I left Duluth and ventured into the wider world that I discovered not all girls had red legs. Things changed. And kept changing. Where I live now, women have no legs at all. Just pants. At least the summers are a little longer.

Is a WWII-era bomb any different than a just-plain WWII bomb, and…

Likely WWII-Era Bomb Detonates

…wait, no of course it's not. Even these guys seem to understand that. WTF?

For extra points, what is an un-likely WWII-era bomb?

Directly into the too-cute bin

A Tale of Two Cities Is Not a Liberal Parable | New Republic

Wednesday was a big day for Charles Dickens…

Non-residents just stay in bed where they belong

Snow and the City

New York Today: Live Snowstorm Updates - NYTimes.com

Good morning on this frigid, snowy Friday. New York City public schools are closed.

The first winter I spent in New York City there was a snow like this. It happened on a Friday and all the businesses (those, at least, whose people needed to commute to get home) closed early; where I worked, we got off at noon. I lived on the upper East Side so all I needed to get home was the Lexington Avenue Line. By mid-afternoon, driving was banned in Manhattan. In the the phone booth at the corner bar some guy was screaming at City Hall; he'd just spent an hour shoveling his car out of a parking space and then been told by a cop he couldn't drive it. That evening another guy made news by picking up Tammy Grimes in a sleigh and driving her to her theater on Broadway; she was starring in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

Clearing snow from Manhattan is a slow (and expensive) proposition. There is no place to put the stuff; everything is either street or sidewalk (with the exception of Central Park, of course, and a few other small patches) so all the snow has to be hauled away in trucks and dumped into one of the rivers, the Hudson or the East (although the East River is not really a river at all, but that's another story). It was Monday before people were allowed to drive again.

That weekend was the quietest—and best smelling—two days in the five years I lived there. Snow in the city's a mess, but it's a treat.

(Snow here too, maybe four inches, not as bad as predicted, and also very cold. It's supposed to warm up on Sunday just long enough to rain for a while and then get cold again. Winter has arrived.)


Pictures you should see

The Incredible Versatility Of Photographer John Dominis : The Picture Show : NPR

Photographer John Dominis died Monday at age 92 and left behind one of those archives that are hard to comprehend. Over the course of a few decades at Life magazine, Dominis not only worked in just about every photographic genre but also seemed to have mastered them.

The list of stuff we don't want to know grows longer

Chinese Walmarts Are Selling Donkey Meat -- And It's Not Even Donkey Meat - Esquire

From now on they can buy their own

Gambling at Rick's? We are shocked

Geithner Gets a Perch on Wall Street

After President Barack Obama’s first-term Treasury Secretary resigned early this year, I lost track of him. But in November, Geithner reappeared, having spun himself through Washington’s revolving door – whoosh, whoosh, whoosh – and flung himself all the way up to Wall Street, landing softly in the cushy quarters of Warburg Pincus, one of America’s top 10 private-equity empires.

But causes weird speech defects

Why the ‘30 Bananas a Day Diet’ Is Monkey Business - The Daily Beast

This toned Aussie went from fat to fit by eating dozens of bananas a day—and little else. But is her radical eating plan actually an eating disorder? ‘Absofruitly not,’ she says.

Pay up

No books for you: U.S. starves public domain for another year — Tech News and Analysis

As Duke University notes in its mournful annual report, no books will enter the public domain this year, or next year, or the year after that.  This situation is the result of Congress’s decision to add another 20 years of protection for long dead authors, which means that no new works will become public until 2019.


Welcome to January

Why is there no Professor Clarence Abiathar Waldo Day?

In 1897 a physician and amateur math nerd from Solitude, Indiana, claimed he'd figured out a way to square a circle—a long-standing mathematical puzzle—copyrighted his solution, and persuaded his local representative to introduce a bill in the state legislature reserving for Indiana schools the right to use his method but charging a fee to anybody else. The bill also called for redefining the mathematical constant, pi, from its then (and current) value, 3.141592653589793…, to a more convenient 3.2, also for the benefit of Indiana schools. The bill passed.

Enter Professor Clarence Abiathar Waldo of Purdue University. Prof. Waldo, visiting the state capital, overheard legislators discussing the bill and was understandably shocked. Offered by a passing legislator an introduction to the good physician from Solutude, Waldo declared he already knew enough crazy people, and declined. Instead, he "coached" (in his word) the states' Senators to defeat the bill when it was introduced in their chamber. The Indiana Senate killed the bill by postponing, indefinitely, a vote to accept it. Technically the bill is still there, waiting to be passed by the Senate, but thanks to Professor Clarence Abiathar Waldo we are, for the moment, spared.

[Full disclosure: I, myself, was born in Indiana but, after six weeks there, moved.]

Thanks for trying


January 1…

…is really the worst possible day to start a new year on. Everything's closed, and nobody cares. It's usually cold (or at least very cool, or hot if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, but what I'm saying is it's freaking cold, OK?), and although it's not the shortest day of the year it's pretty close. And if you were partying last night or just hanging around at home like I was, you probably partied or just hung around too late.

I could think of a lot of better days to start a new year on. Even tomorrow would be better than this.

Antarctic images date back 100 years

Antarctic Photo Gallery | Antarctic Expedition Base Photos

(You think it's cold where you are?)

Powering the big ball that dropped over Times Square

Watch Live: New Year's Eve in Times Square - NYTimes.com

Over three days, 2,194 riders mounted stationery Citi Bikes connected to 12-volt, deep-cycle batteries, which generated 1,967 watts, or enough energy to keep the LEDs glowing for about three minutes.



If you like lists…

knock yourself out.

The way things were

Undernews: Pocket paradigms

For centuries ordinary people knew exactly what a bribe was.

You didn't invest in this, did you?

Nothing Focuses The Mind Like The Ultimate Deadline: Death : Shots - Health News : NPR

Luckily for you, there's a new product called Tikker, a wristwatch that counts down your life, so you can watch on a large, dot-matrix display as the seconds you have left on Earth disappear down a black hole.

Money: It's so yesterday

$0 Profits Couldn't Hold Back This Year's Tech Darlings : All Tech Considered : NPR

Zero. That's the total amount of revenue created by Snapchat in 2013. It's the total profit collected by Twitter. And it's roughly how much Apple's stock price has increased between early last December and now.

Which makes you wonder: With all these zeros piling up, how are so many people in Silicon Valley making so much money from technology?

Once again, Lake Superior State saves the day

Lake Superior State University :: News & Information :: LSSU issues 39th annual List of Banished Words and Phrases

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – After much twerking and gnashing of hashtags, the word-watchers at Lake Superior State University have released their 39th annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.

Lake Superior State is the perfect deliberative body to ajudicate such matters as words because there is only one word in the language that is absolutely, positively necessary in Sault Ste. Marie: Brrrrr.

Disaster Duck

How Deflating: Huge Rubber Duck Goes Flat In Taiwan : The Two-Way : NPR

The BBC reports that "the giant inflatable" burst suddenly Tuesday "in front of scores of people gathered on a quayside" in Keelung Port.

This video captures the duck's demise.


Gotta have macaroni

$0.60 for cake: Al-Qaida records every expense - Africa - Stripes

In more than 100 receipts left in a building occupied by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu earlier this year, the extremists assiduously tracked their cash flow, recording purchases as small as a single light bulb. The often tiny amounts are carefully written out in pencil and colored pen on scraps of paper and Post-it notes: The equivalent of $1.80 for a bar of soap; $8 for a packet of macaroni; $14 for a tube of super glue. All the documents were authenticated by experts.

You say that like it's a good thing

News from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The 2016 presidential campaign is well underway.

That's scary all right

Spike Jonze's Her: The Scariest Movie of 2013 | New Republic

We never see Theodore buy the software. We never see him accept an end-user license agreement…

Bills, bills

At City Ballet, Footwear Is Almost As Important As Feet - NYTimes.com

During the course of her relatively quiet performance that evening as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Ms. Peck would wear out two pairs of shoes — not unusual at New York City Ballet, whose dancers regularly go through 10 or 12 pairs a week. That kind of bill can add up: Those shoes cost nearly $100 a pair in stores. City Ballet buys 8,500 pairs a year, and has a $650,000 annual shoe budget.

Potholes on the information superhighway

U.S. Struggles to Keep Pace in Delivering Broadband Service - NYTimes.com

Riga’s [Latvia] average Internet speed is at least two-and-a-half times that of San Antonio’s, according to Ookla, a research firm that measures broadband speeds around the globe. In other words, downloading a two-hour high-definition movie takes, on average, 35 minutes in San Antonio — and 13 in Riga.

And the cost of Riga’s service is about one-fourth that of San Antonio.


So that's where all my socks went

In the laundry bag. Who would have guessed?

We are giddily celebrating here at Yet Another Media Empire headquarters because today I got all my chores done. Not chores forever, of course. Just chores for today and as far back as we can remember. When was the last time you saw that, Bunky?

And all those socks. Right there. I used to have a pair of red socks and I never wore them, almost, but just left them in the drawer where they played the same role as that red line before the E on your car's gas gauge. If I found myself wearing the red socks it meant there were no more left and I'd better get to the laundry some time soon. But somehow the red socks got worn out (I must have worn them more often than I thought) and now there's no warning—if I'm not careful I'll just be walking along and all of a sudden I'm flat out. Of socks. Which came within one single pair of happening this weekend. But now, look. All those socks.

Exciting new guess viewer

This Interactive Map Shows Exactly How Hot Your Hometown Will Get | Mother Jones

In praise of small mercies

The year the book became a luxury object - Salon.com

A format that had originally promised all manner of functionalities was now fairly restrained, similar to an actual book — goodbye, public comments on books…

At Rest
iPhone photo art:  Phil Compton

I say it's a plot to sell more Kindles

Unreturned library books can mean jail time - Associated Press - POLITICO.com

Jory Enck learned that the hard way. He was arrested for not returning a GED study guide that he checked out three years ago in the Central Texas community of Copperas Cove. Enck declined comment to The Associated Press, but he told the Killeen Daily Herald that he wouldn't set foot in a library again: "I think I will probably just purchase a book from Amazon."

A pretty fishy story

Australian sharks take to Twitter to warn surfers and swimmers of their presence | The Raw Story

Australian scientists have outfitted almost 400 sharks with transmitters that send automatic warnings, via Twitter, to Surf Life Saving Western Australia’s (SLSWA) Twitter feed.…

The tweet provides the size and breed of the shark, if known, and its approximate location. It is hoped that the feed, which has over 15,000 subscribers, will help swimmers and surfers make more informed decisions about when to venture into the waters.

A handy cheat sheet (you're welcome)


Which redefines the term, "shocking"

Brainlike Computers, Learning From Experience - NYTimes.com

Running the program, known as Compass, which attempts to simulate a brain, at the speed of a human brain would require a flow of electricity in a conventional computer that is equivalent to what is needed to power both San Francisco and New York, Dr. Modha said.