Carl Hiaasen's latest…

Skink—No Surrender…is a kid’s book, it turns out. But that’s not bad. Hiaasen is good with kids’ books (see also Hoot, Flush, Scat, Chomp). What’s more, Skink himself, aka former football star, Vietnam vet, and governor of Florida Clinton Tyree is one of my all-time favorite characters, and surely one of Hiaasen’s best. So it belongs on our reading list, where it is. 

You loved it in "Minority Report"

What Are Bluetooth Beacons, and Why Are They Following You?

"It’s like a radio station that plays only one song, over and over, but instead of music the beacon sends out a unique ID number that can be read by an app on your phone. That app, in turn, can look up the location of that particular beacon and deliver information to you based on where you are."

All excited about electric cars

How The New Tesla 'D' Will Upend Your Expectations For Electric Cars | ThinkProgress

But where will the electricity come from? Hint: Not from a wall socket.

Nationally, according to the EPA, 44.8% of electricity is generated by burning coal; 24% from natural gas; 19.6% from nuclear power plants; 1% from oil; 6.2% from hydro; and 4% from non-hydro renewables (wind, solar, whatever).

 So those hot, sexy electric cars may change the mix somewhat but won’t do much to move you off a fossil-fuel economy. What they will do is help move some of the resulting emissions into somebody else’s back yard. 


Center for Wooden Boats, Lake Union
iPhone photo:  Phil Compton

Send your name to Mars

NASA is inviting the public to send their names on a chip to Mars

"Your name will start its journey on a tiny microchip — about the size of a SIM card in a smartphone — when NASA launches a double orbit mission around the Earth."

Sign up here.

Concerned about an epidemic of Rand Paul

Lexington: The Ebola alarmists | The Economist

"IN THE crowded field of Ebola alarmists, Rand Paul of Kentucky stands out. Before he was a Republican senator with presidential ambitions, he was an eye doctor. Apparently the Hippocratic oath does not cover panic-mongering…"


Toothbrush in a lamp

Pointless Sites portal - useless pointlessness - PointlessSites.com

"This is about as exciting as it gets"

See also: "Waffle falling over."

Wet enough for you?

I imagine it's pretty unlikely an inch of rain would fall uniformly over all of Lake Superior but if it ever happened, well, that would be pretty wet. The surface area of Lake Superior is 31,700 square miles. That would be a lot of water.

But Lake Superior already is a lot of water: The largest fresh-water lake in the world by surface area and the third largest by volume, it contains 2,900 cubic miles (12,100 km³) of water.



Can't see enough sand from where you are?

Google put its Street View camera on a camel's back to tour the Arabian desert | The Verge

And does anybody remember that song that goes, "home of the brave"?

Arkansas Blubbering With Fear Over Mexican ISIS Cartels, But In Very Manly Way | Wonkette

"Oh please. No one in their right minds goes to Arkansas for any reason, not even Muslim terrorists. Especially not Muslims, with all those hog farms everywhere. But just in case, Tom Cotton stands ready to protect all of the state’s priceless cultural treasures, like that Waffle House off of I-40 in North Little Rock, and, um, probably some other places as well. Not the Bill Clinton Presidential Library, though. That guy was a liberal."

Get sick early

Doctors are more likely to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics in the afternoon - Vox

"This is called 'decision fatigue' — a person's mental energy erodes as he or she is confronted with more and more decisions over the course of the day. And this phenomenon shows up in other areas, as well. For example, one study found that judges were less likely to approve parole for prisoners as the day wore on (presumably because that was the easier and safer choice)."

They were just big meanies, that's what they were

AIG trial focuses on ‘harsh’ bailout - Zachary Warmbrodt and MJ Lee - POLITICO.com

"Hank Paulson, Timothy Geithner and other federal officials worked overtime during the financial crisis to save American International Group from the abyss by pumping the insurance giant full of taxpayer cash.

"Now, as part of a trial featuring a who’s who of the 2008 financial meltdown, they are being asked to answer a new question: Were they too harsh to AIG while bailing it out?"

"Like" endless war, and other exhortations

There’s a War Thing On — Are You Doing Your Part? — The Nib — Mediumh

Another one

News Features: Future Congressman Jody Hice Thinks 'Blood Moons' Mean the World Is Ending | Flagpole Magazine | Athens, GA News, Music, Arts, Restaurants

"The Rev. Hice, who, barring a Second Coming-grade interruption in the affairs of humanity, will be elected to Congress in November, is paying attention to the night sky to determine his Middle East policy. Turns out that the Middle East’s central crisis isn’t complicated at all! It’s just that everyone has been distracted by books, history, international law and notions of justice. Nah, just peep the moon, and that’ll tell you everything you need to know."

Stay safe from Ebola: Turn off your TV

Weird Science: CNN Calls Ebola the 'ISIS of Bio-Agents' | National Review Online

"One day after a highly self-aggrandizing CNN clip accused Fox News of trafficking in unscientific hysteria over the rash of hemorrhagic fever cases in the United States and Africa, the Most Trusted Name In News terrified its several viewers by calling Ebola the ‘ISIS of biological agents.’"

Covering all the bases there.

Maybe dictionary stocks should go up too

Jeremy Scahill on Obama's Orwellian War in Iraq: We Created the Very Threat We Claim to Be Fighting

“…the Justice Department actually has officially changed the definition of the word 'imminent' so that it does not need to involve an immediate threat against the United States, that it could be a perception that maybe one day these individuals could possibly attempt to plot—not even carry out—a terrorist attack against the United States. "

Of course

Hazmat maker stocks skyrocket over Ebola fears | New York Post

"Wall Street thinks there will soon be a bull market for hazmat suits."


Here's our Midwest and Elsewhere Bureau Chief looking like…

… oh wait, he is a celebrated artist, currently featured in Fotofocus 2014, a biennial photography celebration held in Cincinnati.

A white rabbit kind of day

I was up this morning at some semblance of a normal time, ate some bran flakes and perused the papers and, then, because it was a chilly, October morning, curled up again in bed and fell asleep. I had a spectacular dream about touring Italy with an elegant, tall woman (where did that come from?) and running to catch a train. And I woke up, and it was 11 0’freaking clock. What happened there?

Now, although I really had nothing much to do today, I have much less time to not do it in. This is not an insurmountable problem, since most of the stuff I wasn’t planning to do today is stuff postponed by not being done last week. I could not do it tomorrow just as well. But still. It’s troubling.

Avoiding as much work as I do takes time, and can’t be rushed. 

Help is on the way

U.S. Sends 10,000 Green Berets To Iraq
"Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has confirmed the berets, described by the Defense Logistics Agency as “beret, man’s, wool, rifle green, army shade 297,” were even now being loaded aboard an Air Force transport for immediate deployment to Iraq."
(From a blog of military humor called DuffleBlog.)

Go ahead, tell us what you really think

From the inestimable Charles P. Pierce, blogging for Esquire on "education reform":
"The charter school movement increasingly looks like a Trojan Horse for the corporate education complex -- demanding a complete lack of accountability and ending up, in many cases, as the pedagogical equivalent of a Texas fertilizer plant."
And also, with gratitude:

I had never before encountered the phrase, "CNN anchor Muppet": Now I doubt I'll ever get it out of my head

Minus (most likely) one

From Popular Mechanics via Esquire:


Fifteen is just an arbitrary number here, of course—duct tape does (just about) everything. Except item 10 on the 15-item list noted above. The tape used to cover electrical cables on the floors of trade shows and other temporary venues is almost certainly not duct tape but gaffer's tape, which looks a lot like duct tape but uses a different adhesive, making it easier to remove and preventing its leaving marks.

Finally, iPhone "bendgate" explained

[Last year's psychic] Uri Geller recently told [Forbes] MarketWatch there were two possible explanations for why the iPhone 6 might bend. 
“Either the phone is so seriously thin and flimsy that it is bendable with mere physical force, which I cannot believe given the extensive tests Apple would have done,” said Geller. “Or – and this is far more plausible – somehow the energy and excitement of the 10 million people who purchased iPhones has awakened their mind powers and caused the phones to bend." 

[Emphasis mine.]

Settles that, I guess.


From our cultural affairs correspondent

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, is getting her own show on Hulu
Elvira will be suited up in none other than her iconic sexy vampire outfit, and will offer up her typical sharp commentary on thirteen low-budget horror B-movies.

Getting started

Sure, but you wouldn't want to be disconnected, would you?

Beach Music
“…all last week, I packed my backpack for the beach with our two phones, two iPads, and two Kindle readers. I tried to leave the laptop behind but, truthfully, I did bring it with me at least once.”
Me, I tried to go without a smartphone for two days last month and went stark raving.

At Walgreens this morning I handed the cashier a ten and he tried to swipe it through a card scanner, as a joke. Of course, it didn't work. I thought, "Maybe the battery's dead."

New to our work avoidance list…

The Straight Dope. For example:

Who is Jimmy, and why does he crack corn?

I get it with the Cubs and the goat, but now…

Too many goats to count in dismal loss by Bears

…the Bears too? Apparently. Alas.

Take some skinny guy to lunch

You're more likely to gorge on unhealthy food if you dine with people physically bigger than you, claims a controversial study published in the journal, Appetite. 
China Topix

If you peg New England as pertinaciously** liberal, you just haven't spent much time here

When it comes to charitable giving, New England states are among the stingiest, according to Chronicle of Philanthropy (you can see how your own state/county/ZIP does here). Overall, according to Chronicle’s analysis
As the recession lifted, poor and middle class Americans dug deeper into their wallets to give to charity, even though they were earning less. At the same time, according to a new Chronicle analysis of tax data, wealthy Americans earned more, but the portion of the income they gave to charity declined.[*]
*And yes, I know,  percentages blah blah.
**Look it up.


Somebody's got to do it

About 13 percent of Americans who pray say they pray for sports teams, compared with about one in five (21 percent) who say they have prayed to win the lottery, the new survey from LifeWay Research suggests.  
The Christian Century

So then, reliably bonkers?

Politico cartoons

Yeah, well, whatever you may think about Politico, some of these are pretty funny.

OK, this is just plain kinky

Thief steals horses' tails at Norwegian equestrian center

Another word that should be squashed like a pesky bug

A California Republican rising star -- that rarest of specimens -- is squaring off against a veteran Democratic politician and policy wonk in the race for state controller.
From the San Jose Mercury News

Wonk. It was a word used to describe Clinton (the other one) back in the whenever. I'd never heard it before then. Once was enough. Why won't they just shut up about wonks? I don't know what it (really) means and I don't (really) care.

Geek is OK, wonk is just dumb. (I know, I know.)

One in four freaking WHAT?

Even before a case of Ebola was diagnosed in the United States last month, a Harvard University poll recorded a high level of fear among Americans. Four of 10 people were concerned about an outbreak. One in four said they or a family member would succumb within a year.
This from the Christian Science Monitor in an editorial this morning entitled A First Responder to the Fear of Ebola.

(The emphasis, above, is mine.)

This is not a movie about some guy who sneezes on a plane and shuts down California. Relax. Enjoy your popcorn.
iPhone photo:  Phil Compton