XKCD: "Mobile Marketing"


Don't hold your breath

Russia Hacks Americans - WSJ.com

"Edward Snowden, call your minder. Russia's secret services are intercepting telephone conversations of American diplomats and putting the juiciest bits on the Internet. Surely the best-known privacy advocate in Moscow will protest."

(The article is behind a paywall so if you do hold your breath it’s likely to be for a long, long time.)

Be prepared

Red Sox ‘Truck Day’ unofficially kicks off spring training - - The Boston Globe

"The truck will be hauling an assortment of baseball equipment, including more than 20,000 baseballs; over 1,000 bats; 20 cases of bubble gum; and 60 cases of sunflower seeds.


We can't wait for the movie!

Britain Puts Mormonism on Trial - The Daily Beast

"In the late 1800s, said Foster, a myth began to circulate in Europe that Mormons had built a tunnel to traffic young English virgins to polygamist families in Utah. The tunnel started in Liverpool and continued beneath the American continent to empty into the Salt Lake Temple, where the virgins would be immediately deflowered. News of the tunnel supposedly got around after an English woman jumped out of the window of the Temple into the Great Salt Lake (which is 20 miles away), swam to freedom and lived to tell her tale. Foster said that he heard the myth repeated as recently as 1980 in Belgium, where he was serving a mission."

You knew this was coming, right?

The giant drugstore chain, CVS, announced last week it would stop selling tobacco products. Now…

What Unhealthy Products Should CVS Stop Selling? - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com

Junk food, soda, energy drinks, toxic cosmetics, and…wait for it…the “emergency contraceptive,” Plan B. 

Also, how many kinds of shampoo do we really need? (As a person with no hair I can only wonder.)


30º is just not as cold as it was a month ago

Maybe it’s because my nerve endings have shut down at last but, more likely, it’s because the sun is warmer than it was in early January (and longer too, earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon). This is good.

It’s too early to declare winter over (six more weeks, the rodent says) but this side of the Super Bowl the end seems possible, at least. The foot of snow we had the other day might have been seriously depressing on New Year’s Day but now, hey, it’ll melt. It’s melting right now, in fact. I can see it dripping past the window here. And it’s the sun doing that.

We won’t see temps above freezing for another week, most likely, but when the sun is warm, who cares?

I do love this stuff

GROSS! --> Azodicarbonamide: bleaching agent used to make soles of shoes. And, 'til lately, @Subway sandwich bread. http://t.co/R2aOtF71hK
2/7/14, 3:19 PM

And have you heard about water? It’s used to flush toilets! (Ewww.)

Better learn to cook, kid

Valentine's Day: Man Puts Girlfriend Up for Auction on eBay, Gets Bids | TIME.com

"Shuan Coles says he put girlfriend Debbie Moran — who he listed simply as ‘Old Woman’ — for sale as a joke. He even put ‘lack of housework’ capabilities in her product description."

If you're all caught up on your other reading…

Improbable Research » Blog Archive

"Morris B. Holbrook, who is the William T. Dillard Professor Emeritus of Business at Columbia University Business School, New York, has had 35-plus years of experience in teaching MBAs. This experience has enabled him, possibly prompted him, to author a new paper for the Journal of Macromarketing (December 2013, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 369-385) entitled: ‘The Greedy Bastard’s Guide to Business’"

The anti-Lib

Barack Obama's Conservative Utopia - Esquire

"As President Obama enters the final half of his last term, he has left us with an America that conservatives should love."

If this stuff were radioactive…

…there’d be the devil to pay* but coal, eh. It’ll blow over. Or, well, it won’t. But maybe it’ll wash. Or not.

“You can’t clean this up”: Coal ash spill is destroying a North Carolina river - Salon.com

"It took over a day for Duke Energy to report that up to 82,000 tons of coal ash had spilled into North Carolina’s Dan River, an incident that came after years of warnings that the company’s 31 ash ponds could cause an environmental disaster. Now, four days later, the company is still struggling to plug the leak."

But lots of money

Ban on Liquids for Carry-Ons on Direct U.S.-Russia Flights - NYTimes.com

"United Airlines, the official carrier of the American Olympic team, does not have direct flights to Russia…"

Whoa…run that by again

Designers Carve a Fashion Runway at the Games - NYTimes.com

"Columbia provided freestyle skiing uniforms for Canada, Russia and the United States, whose moguls team will wear pants with a ‘snow camouflage’ pattern — white, basically — to disguise motion, a key element of judging.



Free the trains!

Amtrak Fights Big Oil For Use Of The Rails : NPR

"Oil business in North Dakota is creating some big headaches for Amtrak travelers. Trains on the popular Empire Builder route between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest are often delayed for hours.

One reason for the congestion is an influx of trains hauling crude oil across the Northern Plains."

All that talk about high-speed rail back in the day (seems so long ago) was never about North Dakota anyway; the hinterlands were always destined to chug along with Amtrak (maybe today, maybe tomorrow or so). And did anybody think if pipelines don’t get built the petrocorps will just close down and go away? Fat chance.

If they don’t ship it by pipeline they’ll ship it by rail, and if they can’t use rail they’ll use trucks or, hey, mule trains if they have to, and how would you like to get stuck in a mule jam for 13 hours? Sounds pretty grim.

Look out


Let's Blame Obamacare For Everything! http://t.co/6VHhwQchj4
2/6/14, 11:58 AM

No, it's not the Onion

FCC Chief Vows Not to 'Sit Around and Suck Eggs' on Phone Upgrade - NationalJournal.com

"Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler promised Thursday to move as quickly as possible to allow phone companies to upgrade to Internet-based networks."

Apparently egg sucking is some kind of thing at the FCC. Also, wait, upgrade?

Downhill Duck


Flashing is free speech

Headlight flashing OK, Missouri judge says

"ST. LOUIS (AP) — It's a common practice among drivers who pass through a speed trap: Flash your headlights at approaching cars as a warning to slow down. Now, a federal court judge in Missouri says penalizing drivers for the headlight flash violates their First Amendment right to free speech."

Oh. You were thinking the other kind? It is too, I suppose.

Biggest too little?

News from The Associated Press

"MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A day after Rachel Fredrickson won the latest season of 'The Biggest Loser,' after shedding nearly 60 percent of her body weight, attention wasn't focused on her $250,000 win - but rather the criticism surrounding her loss."

I missed the fastup, I think

News from The Associated Press

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fears of an economic slowdown are heightening anticipation of what Friday's U.S. jobs report for January might reveal."

So then, could be?

Power Plant Workers Try to Plug Coal Ash Leak in North Carolina - NYTimes.com

"Environmental regulators are awaiting test results to determine if there is any hazard to people or wildlife. Coal ash is known to contain toxic chemicals, including lead, arsenic, mercury and radioactive uranium."

We've heard of lip sync, but…

Renowned Japanese Composer Admits Fraud - NYTimes.com

"On Thursday, Japan reacted with remorse, outrage, and even the rare threat of a lawsuit after the composer, Mamoru Samuragochi, 50, admitted that he had hired a ghostwriter since the 1990s to write most of his music."


So if you're wintering in Florida…

18-foot Burmese python found in Florida Everglades - Yahoo News

"The snake, measuring at 18 feet 2 inches, fell short of the state record by 6 inches, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission."

Me too

Undernews: Sad news

"My favorite Radio Shack device was its Model 100. It could only handle eight visible lines of copy and 32KB at most. But it was the Ipad of the day and particularly favored by journalists."

Although they've got a whole lot of morphing yet to do…

CVS Plans to End Sales of Tobacco Products by Oct. 1 - NYTimes.com

"The company’s move was yet another sign of its metamorphosis into becoming more of a health care provider than a largely retail business"

…unless, of course, you count hair coloring and shampoo as health care products.

Where is Snowden when you need him?

NBC: All Visitors to Sochi Olympics Immediately Hacked | The Weekly Standard

"Richard Engel reported last night on NBC that all visitors to the Sochi Olympics are getting hacked as soon as their electronic devices connect to any Russian network…"

Oh, wait.

First they have sleds but no snow…

Jamaican Bobsledders Stuck Without Gear In Sochi, Miss Practice

"KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Jamaica's beloved bobsled team had to raise money just to get to Russia.

Now they've arrived at the Sochi Games — but without their equipment."

Slouching towards Bethlehem

'Significant breaches' show Obama failure on cyber-security, GOP senators say (+video) - CSMonitor.com

"Hackers have penetrated, taken control of, damaged, or stolen sensitive information from computer systems across the federal government including the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, State, Labor, Energy, and Commerce, the report says. Now add NASA; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Federal Reserve; the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; the Food and Drug Administration; the National Weather Service, and others."

Yeats–The Second Coming

Facts get in your eyes

'America The Beautiful' Author Is Rush Limbaugh's Favorite Lesbian Socialist

"Had these conservative commentators known the origins of 'America the Beautiful,' they might have been doubly outraged, accusing Coca Cola of promoting the so-called 'homosexual agenda.' Because, had they bothered to look up the facts (not a strong point among reactionaries), they would have learned that 'America the Beautiful' was written by -- dare we say this in public? -- a lesbian!


Big black puppy…

…having a wonderful time this morning chasing cars, all of which were utterly catchable creeping along the snowy street. Just a quick lick on the hand for me. Not an ordinary day.

Maybe five inches on the ground. I was trudging through my morning errands early, another five or maybe six inches due by evening. It’s not cold, not windy, and the snow is light enough on the ground. Not difficult to shovel. Just sticky enough to look good.

Today is trash pick-up day in this part of town so the plows will be late. The schools are no doubt closed and some people will be late to work. Somebody just cross-country skied past the front of the house, a moderate hill, moving right along.

Yesterday it looked like March, not much snow left.

Plenty now.


Well, doggone

Dog Tired – Futility Closet

“…assuming that a fox terrier two feet long, with a tail an inch and a half high, can dig a hole three feet deep in ten minutes, to dig the Panama Canal in a single year would require only one fox terrier fifteen miles long, with a tail a mile and a half high."

Just the facts, please, just the facts

Rage Against the Coke Machine - The Daily Beast

"First, there was Allen West—the former Tea Party congressman—who wrote, in what I imagine was spittle-flecked rage…"


But it's a good use for Arizona

Air Force Is Sending Brand New Cargo Planes Straight to the Boneyard

"The notion of stashing brand new cargo planes in storage alongside thousands of dead aircraft is sad, but it's sort of everybody's fault. Since 2007, the Air Force has spent some $567 million acquiring the new aircraft—only to realize, in the wake of sequestration cuts, that it actually didn't have enough missions for the planes to fly. This was around the same time that President Barack Obama told the airmen at Mansfield National Guard Base in Ohio, one of the homes of the C-27J fleet, that he would 'find a mission' for the planes. Well, he didn't, and now they're going to be rotting in a desert, perhaps forever."

What's in those cookies anyway?


"'Nobody gets up on a Saturday morning and says, `Gee, it's a nice day. I wonder if I can go out and get myself a burial plot,'' Fells said.

But if they're strolling past a funeral outlet at the mall, where they're surrounded by happy, lively people and maybe clutching a bag of Mrs. Field's cookies, the thought is that they'll feel differently."

In addition…

…to all the other excitement of the weekend (groundhogs! birds!) there was, I discover, a Winter Carnival in GFD. Winter Carnival this year consisted of four or five ice sculptures on the downtown sidewalks, maybe half as many as there were last year, and possibly some other things I don’t know about. I missed the whole thing but I did check out the ice sculptures this afternoon—or, more precisely, what’s left of them after 48 hours of above-freezing temps. 

They looked like Broncos fans on the morning after.

Don't rush on our account

Self-powered cyborg cockroaches are coming

"Researchers have already been successful in controlling battery-operated roaches and using them as sensors."

I missed the halftime show yesterday…

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.: Lights, lasers and LEDs highlight halftime show with Bruno Mars - Football Wires - MiamiHerald.com

…which means I will have to survive yet another day without knowing who Bruno Mars is. Maybe more. Not that this is such an imposition. I don’t know who most people are any more, and it makes for a much less frantic world. 


Obamacare deadbeats: Some don't pay their first premiums - Jan. 30, 2014

"Around one in five people who picked health insurance policies on the state and federal exchanges last year haven't paid their first month's premiums, according to insurers polled by CNNMoney. These folks will likely see their policy selection canceled and they'll be left uninsured."

Complaining, complaining. Although the industry seems to be happy enough:

"Money is flowing in the door," Tiede said.

Tiede is "an executive vice president at SunGard, which works with insurers on billing," whatever that may mean.

Go figure

Warm Weather, Cold Manning at Super Bowl - NYTimes.com

"EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — As it turned out, the weather was not nearly as cold as Peyton Manning."

Manning, it turns out, according to this same article in the Times, set a Super Bowl record for pass completions last night: 34. So it wasn’t only a cold Manning that corralled the Broncos. 


And a young team, too

Those birds from Seattle looked pretty good tonight, and they’re likely to be around for quite a while. Maybe we’ll see them play again next year. 

Disturbingly clean

I often do laundry Sunday morning because the place is less crowded then, and less noisy, and it just seems easier, but today the place was jammed. Guys celebrating Groundhog Day, perhaps, or maybe pizza drivers getting an early start on a big day. Whoever they are, they are clean.

Also, the groundhog

No Cold War For Groundhogs, Just More Winter

"In Pennsylvania, Phil the famous groundhog saw his shadow on Groundhog Day and thus predicted six more weeks of winter. "

It’s an awful lot of excitement for just one day.

Hot birds

OK, warm. Ish. But pretty good for February in New Jersey. Weather Underground says a little over 40º for this afternoon’s 6:30 ET kickoff. Tweet tweet.

Hourly Weather Forecast - East Rutherford, NJ | Wunderground

Or you could cook up a big pot of chili and watch it on TV

Super Bowl Tickets Are a Bargain at More Than $2,000 - NYTimes.com

"According to TiqIQ.com, a search engine that scans the listings of online ticket resellers, the average asking price for a ticket is $2,645.12, which is 34 percent less than on Jan. 19, the day of the A.F.C. and N.F.C. title games.