But of course you've already read it

Can Kittens Cure Constipation? | Mother Jones

“[Mary Roach’s] latest book, now out in paperback, is Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. It's, you know, completely gross. But in a way that you can't put down."

Putin plays catch-up

Russia's Putin Calls the Internet a 'CIA Project' - ABC News

"Russia's parliament this week passed a law requiring social media websites to keep their servers in Russia and save all information about their users for at least half a year. Also, businessmen close to Putin now control Russia's leading social media network, VKontakte."


European Firms Seek to Minimize Russia Sanctions - NYTimes.com

"European banks and businesses are far more exposed to the Russian economy than are their American counterparts.…

"As a result, they have lobbied energetically to head off or at least dilute any sanctions, making it hard for American and European political leaders to come up with a package of measures with enough bite to influence Moscow’s behavior in Ukraine."

Standard & Poor’s has downgraded Russian bonds. And we all know how fatal that is, right?

(From S&P’s web site: "Standard & Poor's Ratings Services provides high-quality market intelligence in the form of credit ratings, research, and thought leadership."

(Thought leadership. So there you go.)

A note on vocabulary

Of Fox and the Cattle - NYTimes.com

"People, we have got to do something to protect the word ‘freedom.’ It used to be our best word, and lately it’s turning into something you have to approach with a certain wariness, like ‘bargain’ or ‘fat-free.’"


Love in the City: It's National Poetry Month: Haiku

New York City in 17 Syllables - NYTimes.com

I would take a G,
And ride in the smelly car,
to be close to you

Spotted by our alert Midwest bureau (which, in a frenzy of modernization and Spring cleaning, is being expanded to Midwest and Elsewhere). 

Clearly, De Nile is much more than an Egyptian waterway

Can military's satellite links be hacked?

Chinese flipping Manhattan, Russians all pouty and stuff

The Chinese take Manhattan: replace Russians as top apartment buyers | Reuters

"(Reuters) - For the first time, the Chinese have become the biggest foreign buyers of apartments in Manhattan, real estate brokers estimate, taking the mantle from the Russians - whose activity has dropped off since the unrest in Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions against Russia by the United States."

A book long and dense…

…called “one of the finest works of history written.... a splendid and glittering performance” by the New York Times when it was first published in 1962, Barbara Tuchman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning telling of the origins and first 30 days of World War I, The Guns of August begins…

So gorgeous was the spectacle on the May morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration.

…and ends (some 640 pages later)…

The nations were caught in a trap, a trap made during the first thirty days out of battles that failed to be decisive, a trap from which there was, and has been, no exit.

Tuchman records in a footnote, "When the war was over, the known dead per capita of population were 1 to 28 for France, 1 to 32 for Germany, 1 to 57 for England and 1 to 107 for Russia."

A pile of books have been published about “the war to end all wars,” and more will come this year, the 100th anniversary of its beginning, but if you want to read just one, read this. It’s on the list.


Taking their pom-poms, going home


"Stephanie Mateczun, whose company manages the Buffalo Jills cheerleading squad, said Thursday she has suspended operations through at least the end of the season. The decision was made two days after five former Jills filed a lawsuit complaining they worked hundreds of hours for free, and were subjected to groping and sexual comments."

Stuff I haven't started worrying about yet (and probably never will)

Neanderthals Are People, Too - NYTimes.com

"This would allow us, for example, to insert Neanderthal genes linked to nerve cell functions into human stem cells, reprogram them to become neurons, and then study the function of ‘neanderthalized’ neurons in the lab."


Whoa, that's harsh

America's Most Enduring Monument to Failure - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

"If the Cubs were a nuclear power plant, they’d be a Chernobyl…"

"Improved" might be a bit of a stretch but yeah, the other part

Obama: Japanese 'Robots Were a Little Scary, They Were Too Lifelike' | The Weekly Standard

"'Japan and the United States have historically led the way in innovations that have changed our lives and improved our lives.'"

More about the NY World's Fair…

…which opened in Queens 50 years ago this week. From Gail Collins:

Meet Me at the Fair - NYTimes.com

"There were computers on display, performing exciting tasks like — looking up a date. (Peering forward, people almost always overestimated the possibility of flying cars and underestimated the potential of computers.) ‘You will be able to ask for the news of any date that you like,’ enthused a woman at the I.B.M. pavilion, where visitors could experience what was supposed to be a futuristic information search. Participants got to write a date on a card, which they then stuck into a box about the size of two refrigerators. Then, after a little wait, a little electronic ticker tape would announce that on Oct. 29, 1950, King Gustav of Sweden had died."

A little real-world education for the team

At Northwestern, a Blitz to Defeat an Effort to Unionize - NYTimes.com

"Familiar anti-union arguments, that the business will close or move out of town if a union is formed, have been tweaked for the college football setting.

"Players have heard warnings that the formation of a union would make it harder for them to land jobs after graduation; that [coach] Fitzgerald might leave; that alumni donations would dry up; that Northwestern’s planned $225 million athletic center could be scrapped."

There's a leak in Canada

I know it. It's up there somewhere. Here, it's cold.

Yesterday felt like December. Today it's colder and windy. I went back to bed.

Even that didn't help.


A public service reminder from Yet Another Media Empire

Undernews: How to become a Nobel Prize winner: Eat chocolate

"The higher a country's chocolate consumption, the more Nobel laureates it spawns per capita, according to findings released in the New England Journal of Medicine. "


News from The Associated Press

"'The Cubs were ahead of their time and, frankly, ahead of the league,' said Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB Advanced Media, the league's interactive branch."



It must be Spring

Family sues N.J. district over 'under God' in pledge

"FREEHOLD, N.J. — A family is suing the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District and its superintendent, seeking to have the phrase 'under God' removed from the Pledge of Allegiance that students recite every day."

Some horrifyingly unhealthy snack food would earn my undying respect…

…if they put a big label on the front of their box (or bag) saying Unnaturally Flavored.

Just saying

Sounds like catch 22 (or possibly 23)

Brunei Returns to the Stoning Age - The Daily Beast

"Well, on Tuesday, April 22, the tiny sultanate of Brunei planned to put into effect a new penal code that provides ‘stoning to death’ as the penalty for rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations (for Muslims)…and declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim. "

Hey, go easy on the geriatrics there, dude

GOP’s super-secret actual road map for winning more races (Hint: It’s not the one released to the public) - Salon.com

“…while newfound support for immigration reform among Republicans would be unlikely to drive rural and suburban geriatrics to vote Democrat, it could plausibly keep them from heading to the polls entirely in 2014."

Bank job

Elizabeth Warren’s new memoir: An exclusive excerpt on the foreclosure crisis - Magazine - The Boston Globe

"The Treasury foreclosure program was intended to foam the runway to protect against a crash landing by the banks. Millions of people were getting tossed out on the street, but the secretary of the Treasury believed the government’s most important job was to provide a soft landing for the tender fannies of the banks."


1894 -- George Bernard Shaw's Arms & the Man opens to the unanimous cheers of the audience, with the sole exception of one who boos. Shaw bowed to his detractor: "I quite agree with you, sir, but what can two do against so many?"



I caught two of them yesterday, socks, one white and one black, escaped through dryer #19. They made it all the way home with me, but that’s where it ended. This morning they were returned to the fugitive sock pen at the end of the counter, at the laundry. Go ahead, try it again, socks. Make my day.

Punctual in Seattle

Which Cities Sleep in, and Which Get to Work Early | FiveThirtyEight
"The Census Bureau collects data on this through the American Community Survey."

Wait, he didn't take off his shoes?

Teen Stowaway Walked Right Through San Jose Airport Security Gap - NBC News.com

"He simply climbed a fence without anyone stopping him, authorities told NBC News on Monday."

What you don't know can't shoot your toe off

Republicans Say No to CDC Gun Violence Research - ProPublica

"As gun violence spiked in the early 1990s, the CDC ramped up its funding of firearms violence research. Then, in 1996, it backed off under pressure from Congress and the National Rifle Association. Funding for firearms injury prevention activities dropped from more than $2.7 million in 1995 to barely $100,000 by 2012, according to CDC figures."

An aside re: electric automobiles

U.S. Emission Rules Would Far Outweigh Impact of Keystone Pipeline - NYTimes.com

"Within the United States, electric power plants produced 2.8 billion tons of those greenhouse gases, while vehicle tailpipe emissions from burning gasoline produced 1.9 billion tons."


So if your ambition is to date a geek…

This onesie turns you into a walking WiFi hotspot

"The goofy-looking cotton onesie is knitted using a special 3D technique that leaves space for WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC connections, turning the owner into an access point. "

A word about passwords

There's a lot of stuff about passwords flying around the network these days; this is one of the better pieces I've found:

How to Outguess Passwords — Medium

"A password is like the key to your home. There are weak locks and strong locks, but neither does any good when a pickpocket swipes your key. Security is always about the weakest link."

Pomegranate-blueberry mostly apple-grape


"'Misleading,' 'deceptive' and 'labels that cheat the consumers' were some of the descriptions used by the court to describe Coke's name for a product that contains 0.3% pomegranate juice and 0.2% blueberry juice. And those were just from Justice Anthony Kennedy, the most frequent swing vote on the court.


More powerful than a Powerpoint

Undernews: Government food safety summit hit with food poisoning

"Food served at a Food Safety Summit held earlier this month between several of our federal agencies including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Big Food industry giants the likes of Tyson, ConAgra and McDonald’s, actually gave some of the people who attended food poisoning."

So tell us something we didn't already know

Snowden’s Camp: Staged Putin (Q And A) Was A Screw-Up | Fortuna's Corner

"But it is worth noting that Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s Russian lawyer, has deep Kremlin ties and sits on the board that oversees the FSB, the successor to the KGB."

Think of the mustard

Bad dogs: 96,000 lbs. of Oscar Mayer wieners recalled

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Sunday that Kraft's 'Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners' may instead contain the company's 'Classic Cheese Dogs.'"

Like a little Novocaine with this?

General Mills and Consumers’ Contracting Access to Courts | The American Conservative

"Dentists using contracts from a company called ‘Medical Justice’ inform their customers that, in order to have their teeth cleaned, they must surrender their ability to write bad reviews of the practitioner."

Science stumps Americans

News from The Associated Press

"'Science ignorance is pervasive in our society, and these attitudes are reinforced when some of our leaders are openly antagonistic to established facts,' said 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine winner Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley."

Fifteen percent question vaccines, 51% the Big Bang theory.


160 years ago in Crimea

New Accounts Emerge Of ‘Charge Of The Light Brigade’ | Fortuna's Corner

"Dozens of graphic first-hand accounts of the Charge of the Light Brigade emerge to shed new light on the military blunder immortalised by Tennyson’s poem"

I saw this

50 years ago today, the public got its first taste of video calls

"On April 20th in 1964, Bell Telephone showed off the Mod 1 Picturephone -- a precursor to the Skype and Hangouts video calls that have become a standard but under-utilized feature of modern communications. The demonstration was part of the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows…"

Coming back from my morning walk…

…I met a girl, perhaps seven or eight, all dressed in her holiday finery, dribbling a basketball on the sidewalk. Clearly, this is a girl with promise.

“Good morning,” I said.

“Good morning, happy Easter,” she said.

Indeed. Happy Easter.

One of the greatest work avoidance tools ever…

…from the web site Open Culture, which is now on our work avoidance list*:

Free: British Pathé Puts Over 85,000 Historical Films on YouTube - Open Culture

"The archive — which spans from 1896 to 1976 – is a goldmine of footage, containing movies of some of the most important moments of the last 100 years. It’s a treasure trove for film buffs, culture nerds and history mavens everywhere. "

*The list, BTW, has now reached some sort of maximum state wherein it is necessary to delete an old entry to add a new. Anyone who wishes to nominate an entry for deletion (combat link rot!) may leave a comment after any post; nominated entries will be deleted as newer tools become available.