Catching up on a little reading

Why Do We Love Henry David Thoreau? - The New Yorker

"Like many canonized works, [Walden] is more revered than read, so it exists for most people only as a dim impression retained from adolescence or as the source of a few famous lines…"

A disturbance in the factor

Ex-Cubs Factor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Since 1945, of the 23 teams to reach the World Series with three or more Cubs players, only 3 have won the World Series (the 1960 Pirates, the 2001 Diamondbacks, and the 2008 Phillies).[6] Since its articulation in 1981, the Ex-Cubs Factor has been used to predict and explain post-season and World Series defeats for many different baseball teams.…

"Mike Royko developed an additional hypothesis contending that 'A team with no ex-Cubs probably has the edge on a team that has even one.'"

Here’s the problem. Although the Mets have one ex-Cub and the Blue Jays have three, the Royals have none and the Cubs themselves, by definition, have no ex-Cubs.

Anything can happen this post-season, and probably will.

(And then there’s that movie, of course.)

If they get it right do they win a prize?

Theorists now predict end of world for December - NY Daily News

"Just days after a failed attempt to predict the end of the world another doomsday group says Armageddon will happen before the end of the year."

Oh wait. There’s a government cover-up. Of course.


That exclamation point is wearing a little thin

Jeb Wants a Recession in D.C., Having Forgotten That Real People Live There - The Daily Beast

"Maybe it’s reverse psychology, or maybe Jeb Bush is trying to reenergize his flagging White House bid by diving cuboidal-head first into absurdity, but the Republican presidential candidate has come out as an advocate for an unlikely cause: recession."

The planet, the planet

Exxon: No Corporation Has Ever Done Anything This Big and This Bad

“… it seems crucial simply to say, for the record, the truth: this company had the singular capacity to change the course of world history for the better and instead it changed that course for the infinitely worse. In its greed Exxon helped—more than any other institution—to kill our planet."

Where us George Carlin when we need him? [Seven minutes on youtube (and NSFW).]

The elephant in the room here…

Undernews: Pundits and viewers don't agree on debate

…is that web polls are notoriously unreliable, since a dedicated group working hard can swing the result with multiple responses. Still, the number of dedicated people working hard required to swing all the online polls that show Sanders beating Clinton in the D’s debate is something to reckon with. 

Pundits have a vested interest in outcomes that will prove them right; news organizations have a vested interest in headlines and ad revenue (and access to the eventual winner). The voters have a vested interest, one can only hope, in themselves.

Hasn't there always been?

A little early-morning rain blows away

Throw the rascal out!

Lincoln Chafee Once Used Taxpayer Money to Buy Frogs For His Office - The Daily Beast

"Chafee also spent at least $40 a month to maintain a fish tank in his office. And he once added to the amphibious ambiance by purchasing four frogs at the seemingly low price of $1.99 each."

Maybe I'm in the wrong line of non-work here

I just got a little brochure from the local community college. They're listing a 15-hour class in Microsoft Office for $155.

The good news is if all you need to know is "intermediate" Excel—I'm not sure what intermediate Excel is but I assume it's just the middle part—learning the middle part of Excel will only set you back 80 bucks.

And another 80 bucks for PowerPoint.

Wait Maybe you're gonna need advanced Excel too.


Afternoon through a dirty window

Whoa! It's a time warp!


"Obama: 'I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as a safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again.'"

I wonder if he'd take Kazakhstan

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Clinton won the debate, but Sanders made it interesting - San Jose Mercury News

"The debt Clinton owes to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is incalculable. Not only did he say that a primary goal of the House Republicans' Benghazi investigation was to lower Clinton's poll numbers. He said it at exactly the right time, before this debate, giving Clinton in particular and Democrats in general their rallying cry, just when they needed it. Gratitude is a virtue, so if Clinton should win the presidency, she might offer McCarthy an ambassadorship to Ireland -- or France or Britain or anywhere he wants to go.…"

It'd be cheaper just to swim across

State spending millions every year pumping out [Boston’s] Big Dig tunnels | Boston Herald

"Big Dig engineers previously claimed that all leaks eventually would be sealed — one report predicted by September 2005. But now state officials admit the tunnels will always leak."

And maybe safer, too.

“…He said the amount of water seeping into the tunnels falls within federal safety guidelines."

Oh. Well then.

Wait, that's not punishment enough?

Yes, it's real

The Defense Question We Should Continue Debating: Cybersecurity | Adam Levin

“… it is unfortunate-- yet abundantly clear from the debates of both parties so far--that there is far greater voter appeal in things like Donald Trump's Great Wall of Mexico than more (or at least equally) substantive issues like cybersecurity (or America's lack thereof). But as Sen. Webb tried to point out in the first DNC debate, a firewall around our nation's most sensitive information is much more important than the dog-and-pony-show issues being bandied about by most of the candidates."

The Cubs and the Democrats…

…plumb wore me out on Tuesday. Go Cubs. (I’m not a huge baseball fan but every American boy of my era had to have a favorite team, and Chicago was the only place I lived growing up that had major league ball. I was a Mets fan in the early ‘60s when I lived in New York but that was mostly because Casey Stengel was manager. Otherwise it’s been the Cubs, goat and all.)

As to the D’s, well, maybe I’ve mentioned this before but I’m invoking the secret-ballot rule for this election. (OK, not this election really—this election is about school board members and maybe a mayor or whatever—but the one in 2016.)

But here’s one thing you can put in your book: I will not be voting for anybody named Bush or Clinton. Surely in a nation of more than 300 million people we can find somebody else. (I do like Bernie but I doubt he’s going to be nominated or, if he is, elected, which is probably just as well.)

Yo! It's the end of civilization! Again!

Academics horrified at 'dumbing down' of Shakespeare as work is retold in EMOJI | Daily Mail Online

"OMG Shakespeare also re-writes portions of the plays to make them fit into modern culture, with major characters using smartphones to chat to each other."


From our Midwest and Elsewhere bureau

I thought this was a pretty good comment.

Republic of Vermont 17 minutes ago

Why can't the "debates" be held in a sober environment instead of in a place which looks like a penny arcade? I expected that a duck might descend from the ceiling every time a candidate made a point, as in the old Groucho Marx Show "You Bet Your Life". Next time, CNN, just add some bells and whistles and maybe a jack-in-the-box. Embarrassing.

[Noted in the comments section of a New York Times report on last night’s Democratic debate.]

At least we still have the North Koreans to kick around

Clinton's damn emails earn Bernie bucks

Sanders cashes in on Clinton's emails — to tune of $1.3 million

"Sanders’ campaign, knowing it was sitting on a golden opportunity, fired off a fundraising email while Sanders was still on stage."

[Clinton’s damn emails are, however, a whole lot more than just another laugh line, something no one on the Democratic stage last night seemed to understand—or, except for Jim Webb, care about.]


These guys should at least have the common decency to hold out for bigger bribes

They're driving the whole market down.


I was reading in one of those newspaper food columns—something I should never do, it just confuses my brain—that hummus is a good substitute for mayo. This, I thought to myself, I gotta see.

So I saw. It ain’t.

Swat that word!

Clever App Turns Everyone Into a Roving Weather Reporter | WIRED

"It hopes to achieve this ambitious goal by using altogether different meteorological instruments: People, iPhones, algorithms, and the draw of community and gamification. "

Quick! Before it’s too late!

[Emphasis mine.]

Politifact gives Clinton "full flop" on TTP

Hillary Clinton flip-flops on Trans-Pacific Partnership

Wait, it was a joke?

Hillary Clinton jokes ‘I’m really not even a human being' - NY Daily News

“ ‘…a man whose name shall remain nameless created me in his garage,' Clinton continued."

Now, Big Beer

World's top two beer makers join forces - NY Daily News

"After turning down five offers, British-based brewer SABMiller accepted in principle an improved takeover bid worth 69 billion pounds ($106 billion) from Anheuser Busch InBev, which along with Budweiser makes Corona, Stella Artois and Beck's."

Yeah, I knew it was too good to be true

The Doctor is In: 'Exercise pill' would be Rx for affliction - NY Daily News

…a perversion of science —  and a prescription for the promotion of unhealthy lifestyles

OK, how about a donut pill? Like, if you swallow this pill you can eat all the donuts you want. Is that too much to ask for?

It's Ada Lovelace day

Ada Lovelace Day | Celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths

Explains the New York Times:
She was the daughter of the enigmatic poet Lord Byron, but he left his wife a month after Ada was born. Her mother, desperate to isolate her from the madness of poetry, steered her into an education in numbers and science.
Lovelace went on to become not only the first computer programmer but also, possibly to her mother's dismay, co-star of the graphic novel, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage” by Sydney Padua.

But where's the treat?

We may not need Halloween at all this year when we’ve got…

Here’s Donny! Donald Trump Makes Classic Horror Films More Terrifying - The Daily Beast

…politics. That’s right—and debates. They just keep getting scarier.

Some Guy in Seattle sends this example and says he can’t wait to vote.


And from somewhere in deepest Indiana comes this fabulous football link

Midland Lee Kicker Nails Referee, Ball Still Goes In - YouTube


If watching the Bears play is not enough you can always try…

October’s 6 Scariest New Books | Vanity Fair


Would you eat this Bernie Sanders ice cream flavor?

Would you eat this Bernie Sanders ice cream flavor?


One very big pie

Giant pumpkin sets new record at Stillwater [MN] Harvest Fest - BringMeTheNews.com

"The prize-winning pumpkin weighed in at 2,185 pounds."

Come on, the Cubs won the World Series in 1907…

…what’s the rush to win it again? I’ve been a Cubs fan (although not much of a baseball fanthere’s a difference) since the late 1940’s. If they start winning now things just won’t be the same.

108 years ago today: Cubs win first World Series


Clearly, not all news is bad

Exercise Pills May Be In Your Future | TIME



When an iPhone camera is just not enough

A V of geese honking south across a spotlessly blue October sky. It's not an unusual thing to see this time of year but always thrilling, somehow. I want to stop a while and watch, see them go.

Come back soon.

Moving right along

Iran Tests Long-Range Missile, Possibly Violating Nuclear Accord - The New York Times

"Experts have been debating the interpretation of a United Nations Security Council resolution, adopted a few days after the accord was agreed upon, that bars Iran from developing missiles 'designed to carry nuclear warheads.'"


In what universe is that?

People say some really dopey things, don't they? Like, I'm reading here in a nutrition column hummus makes a good substitute for mayonnaise.

Get real. Tuna salad made with hummus? Would you eat that? More to the point, would I?