Saturday, January 9, 2010

Week, Weaker, Weakest

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Peter Orszag Sex Scandal 1/7/10
Daily Show
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Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

A Lie's A Lie

Calling BS on Rudy

A noun, a verb and no clue.

Weathering Winter

Can They Cope?

People in Britain are struggling with the harshest winter conditions in recent memory. With overnight temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit and days of snow fall, thousands of schools remain shut and power cuts are affecting thousands of homes.

Laura Lynch reports from London.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WGBH's The World, Host: Jeb Sharp.
Photo of Hawick, Scotland by Neil Dickson

Umbrella Lovers

Bus stop, wet day, she's there I say
Please share my umbrella

Knirps X1 Heart Umbrella, just right for romantics who'd otherwise be all wet.

Search Me

Kids & Key Words

The big news for Google this week was the introduction of their Nexus 1 smart phone, but behind that headline you'll find a story of what the University of Maryland found out about kids and how they conducted searches, or "Googled."

This episode considers both.

Audio: APM's Future Tense, Host: Jon Gordon.


From the mid 80s

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dots In The Dark

You're looking at 'em. Hundreds of thousands of dots on your computer screen. But each has been given precise instructions that say what to do with that particular bit of space and whether to remain the same or change over time.

Connection instructions are largely absent with the CIA's collection of raw data dots, usually ambiguous in information and only apparent once the patterns appear in the course of interpreting what both becomes, and more importantly requires, "intelligence."

We're told the logic of the anti-terrorist database is less sophisticated than that of Google's search engine, which can suggest alternate spellings... Important in a world which can't decide whether its most wanted sama's name starts with an O or a U.

Not every language's sounds translate well into those of modern English, or even the Roman alphabet... At first glimpse does the Irish name Siobhan make you say "shove-ON?"

Now imagine Middle Eastern languages with different alphabets, and without vowels... True of both Hebrew and Arabic.

If the letter T might be at, it, tea, to, too or two you need a way to tell which is which... And they do it with dots. Which doesn't always help, because the dots in sacred texts were added later because the system didn't exist when they were written.

The Qur'an's motivating promise of 72 virgins for jihadists can be interpreted as being "attended by dark-eyed maidens" or "refreshed with grapes"... Which is more consistent with 7th Century hospitality in the region of Islam's origin.

So is their reward heavenly sex, or a nifty fruit platter?

It all depends on the dots.

NatGeo's Inside the Koran airs next on Jan 12 at 1p ET.

Paranoid City

There's No City With More Security or Less Secure.

Audio: APM's Future Tense, Host: Jon Gordon.

Routine Lauch

Unique Perspective

STS-120 (Discovery) launch as oberved from Air Canada flight 981 from Nassau, Bahamas to Toronto, Ontario, Canada - 11:38 ET 10/23/2007.

Space Is The Place

10 Most Fascinating Galaxies of our Universe

See the gallery at

Planet of Pellets & Puns

Kepler Discovery Defies Description

Friday Foo

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Conspicuous Excess Show

2 Miles South, Worlds Away

Drone Phone


Google Enters Phone Wars

Sayonara, Tsutomu-San

The Man Who Survived Both Atomic Bombs

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only person officially recognized as a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, has died at the age of 93.

Charles Pellegrino, author of the forthcoming book The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back, says Yamaguchi later became an advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Audio: NPR's All Things Considered, January 6, 2009.

Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus invented the concept of Third World micro lending.


Byron Dorgan Calls It Quits

In many ways, the Senator from North Dakota's decision to not seek relection will have the biggest impact on the progressive wing of the Democratic party, for while not as visible on the banking committee as fellow retiree Chris Dodd, it was Dorgan who stood against the catastrophic repeal of the barrier between consumer and investment banking. It was Dorgan who stood against big Pharma and offered an ammendment to allow reimported drugs at cheaper prices.

He lost both fights in Congress. And as this plain-spoken progressive and often prescient voice from the prarie goes, it's probable his party loses his seat.

Senator Dorgan's appearance with Rachel Maddow aired on 3/25/09.
Any of his books on economic issues is worth a trip to the library.

Political Ping Pong

Closed Doors on Capitol Hill

To avoid a possible Senate filibuster on selecting "conference committee" members to reconcile their healthcare bill with that passed by the House, Democratic leaders have decided to hammer it out themselves in a process they call ping-pong... The President didn't order them to use the method. but it's the best way to get a final bill on his schedule.

C-SPAN's chief Brian Lamb made his Dec. 30 request to congressional leaders public on Tuesday after a copy appeared on

Lamb told The New York Times that C-SPAN has covered final negotiations on many bills and wanted to follow the issue to the end.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office released a statement saying Senate Democrats are "committed to transparency in the legislative process," but it did not respond to Lamb's request.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed to laugh off Obama's campaign promise by simply saying: "There are a number of things he swore on the campaign trail."

Again, it's not the President's call.

Anyone For Tennis

Transformer Furniture

"Table & Tennis" is Ryan Vanderbilt's table design which merges a conference or dining table with ping pong. It's built to the official specs, so that once cleared and the net is set up it can transition simply and instantly between different uses.

Perhaps a bit too modern for what'll take place in DC this month.

More info.


Love All

And Roddick may have reached the quaterfinals of the Australian Open, but two koalas in the background appeared closer to climax

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fear of Flying


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Terror 2.0 by Yemen 1/4/10
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis




Fat City

I woman I knew back in the 80's gave up drinking. And seeking all the support she could, she invited me to attend an AA meeting at which she was picking up a chip to mark a period of sustained sobriety. Good for her!

But beyond the rowdy slurred greetings those measuring months received (as compared to those claiming candles for "birthdays" greeted in more sober tones), there was the widespread presence of things for which there were other 12 step programs... Bad for her!

No carrot sticks at AA. It was a smoke-filled room with free donuts.

You see, like a lot of people with dependencies, my friend's tendency was to pick up another crutch while trying to rid herself of the old one. And she was particularly susceptible to food and smoking.

Doctor Bob, not the MD of AA lore - but a local Las Vegas radio commentator with a PhD, recently remarked on food in the urban environment and how the rates of childhood obesity have soared... Particularly among minorities living in city neighborhoods.

Although he publicly called for integrating supermarkets into large city developments to improve the spectrum of what's avalable to eat beyond junk food, there isn't any evidence from his career as an architect and city planner that he ever sold the idea to any developer here.

The challenge is not unique to Las Vegas, but in some cities the solution can start with a smaller change.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now. Host: Robin Young.

I Get Around

WW II Fighter Sidecar

4 seat “Stretch Scooter” by Vespa South Africa

Via: Like Cool blog


With all the changes in radio in recent years, one thing is still true: it's a very small world. So in your times of fun employment you try to cultivate friendships that will endure your times of unemployment and know, if you're lucky, you'll cross paths with them again.

GTM was both a good friend and great talent... It was an an honor to cross paths in Boston, New York and Los Angeles during my radio years, and then again a few years ago at C.E.S. here in Las Vegas.

He died August 1, 2009... And this year's Consumer Electronics Show starts today, reminding me of my friend GTM "Reelin' in the Years. "

What The Hectare?

The Ecology of House Pets

San Diego radio friends Berger & Prescott on the impact of feeding your furry friends vs. their potential nutritional value as food.

If and when they're in the mood Mike and Jeff publish podcasts on Facebook.

CD of the Month: January

Jimmy Wahlsteen
181st Songs

The folks at Echoes, a public radio program featuring ambient music have selected the debut of Swedish musician Jimmy Wahlsteen as their CD of the month. The show's host, WXPN/Philadelphia's John Dilberto, says Jimmy "channels pop into 'finger-style' guitar."

Headphones recommended.
Via: Echoes blog... Jimmy Wahlsteen is one of several talented young guitarists who are signed to Candyrat Records.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Terror Politics

No Mo' Mojo?

Have pols lost the knack of using the scare tactics of their past, or are voters growing wiser to their hackneyed manipulations?

Job: Security

Stan was glad to get back to work after the holidays. He was ready for another day of pointing people toward the correct room, for court hearings, business with the Senators' offices or jury duty.

Nick was in category three, but still two minutes away when Johnny got to the lobby first... Bearing a grudge, and a gun.

The firefight left both Stan and Johnny dead, and a US marshal hospitalized but expected to live.

It seems that Johnny had lost an argument with Social Security about a claim in 2008, a court case claiming racial discrimination in 2009 and finally his life on the first workday of 2010... Dying from his wounds not far from the traffic light where Nick's cell phone camera finished recording what sounded like more than 30 shots.

Stan's body left the scene in the company of brother officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department he had served for 26 years before retirement... The last 15 years he'd spent at the courthouse, thinking his days in danger were a thing of the past.

Built after Oklahoma City, the courthouse with its distinctive front sunshade was belived to be an extremely safe facility... And it was, until one man with murder in mind showed up Monday morning.

CSI: Trinity High

Teens Turned DNA Detectives

With the assistance of an advisor from Rockefeller University and the lab at the American Museum of Natural History, Trinity School students Brenda Tan (17) and Matt Cost (18) conducted an experiment called "DNAHouse" designed to identify what they were surrounded by, living with and eating in New York.

They bagged and tagged 266 samples collected outside and inside their Manhattan and Brooklyn homes, plus grocery store items.

Some samples confirmed the obvious: Pigeon feathers and horse poop in Central Park were authentic. They identified the species of the snake that shed its skin there, too.

Others were surprising: The fly that hitched a ride along with Texas grapefruit was an Asian latrine fly, which doesn't mean Asians' poop smells like citrus. And DNA tests on a cockroach revealed their sample came from a previously undiscovered subspecies!

But the most disturbing findings came right off the grocery shelves:

Food Labels Lie!

The students found widespread fraud in everything from caviar to pet treats. Of 66 items they tested containing meat, fish or dairy, 11 weren't what they said they were... 1 in 6 had labeled contents replaced by cheaper, more widely available ingredients. And that's just what they were able to identify... Regardless of their remaining nutritional value, only 1 in 5 canned goods contain recognizable DNA.

Read more at MSNBC or Rockefeller University.

The Dismal Science

Can Economic Forecasting Predict The Future?

In a word no!

And to explain why, two members of National Public Radio's "Planet Money" team talk to the man behind what's supposed to be America's best forecasting model and another who used to stare into the crystal ball on behalf of the International Monetary Fund.

Audio: NPR's Morning Edition, Steve Inskeep, host.
Reporters: Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson.

Happiness Project

A show about money finally asks, "Does money make people happy?" Gretchen Rubin has been studying that, plus the subject as a whole, and has written a book called "The Happiness Project."
Audio: APM's Marketplace, Host: Bill Radke.

Deadly Sin: Gluttony

Cookie Monster Slayer

From Buzz Feed post by Ash Garcia.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hot Seat

Behind the Scenes at NCTC

Mike Leiter's job is trying to protect the United States from another Sept. 11, or Dec. 25, which put his job in jeopardy.

He's the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, which puts him right in the middle of the controversy over the attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day — and how the Nigerian student accused in the attack was apparently able to walk onto a U.S.-bound plane with a bomb sewn into his clothing.

Shortly before the attempted attack on NW 253, Leiter spoke at length with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly at the NCTC's high tech HQ in McLean, VA.

Audio: NPR's All Things Considered, January 2.

Calling Out the Spinners

And the BBC asked "What can be done to stop radicalisation" of young Muslims, particularly those who reside in western countries?

Nexus of Trouble

Oil, Piracy, Terror, Yemen

As news broke over the weekend that the US, UK & France have closed their embassies in Yemen, another look at the maps provides an insight into why western interests there are so important...

Not So Favorite Son

Lake Woebegon Residents Turn

In his latest novel, the host of public radio’s Prairie Home Companion becomes the target of criticism by the characters he created. It's only one of 3 books he published in 2009.

Garrison Keillor talks about his 35 years as a radio man, life at PHC, surviving a minor stroke with minimal damage and he reads a sonnet or two.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now. Host: Robin Young.

Shooters Anyone?

Hijos De Villa Pistol Reposado Tequila

Cool collector's item... Too cool to consume!

This Hijos De Villa Pistol Reposado Tequila bottle(aproximately $30) contains 200 ml and is made to honor the Villanueva-Barragan family, owners of Licores Veracruz... It's supposedly symbolizes the family's courage during the Mexican Revolution, not gringos massive shooter consumption during Spring Break.

Killer Chocolate

Chocolate Weapons sells handguns, bullets and grenades... Without required license, carry permit or waiting period.

Marathon Effort

250 Times This Year

Think your new years resolution will be really hard to keep?

It's probably not compared to Canadian runner Martin Parnell, who pledged to complete 250 marathons in the next 12 months... Nearly 5 per week!

Since there aren't that many competitive events scheduled in the entire world, most will be run close to home on the Cochrane Foothills Marathon Course in Alberta. But Martin will also compete in several official events, although time travelling isn't time he could be running.

The 54-year-old hopes to raise $250,000 for charity with his marathon effort -- running a total of 6,550 miles. The money he raises will go to 'Right To Play' a Canadian humanitarian organization.

If he's on schedule, Martin should have completed 2 26.2 mile circuits before this post was published.

Via NewsLite UK

It Keeps You Running

Soundstage (2003)

Sunday, January 3, 2010


20 Years Later, They Looked Good

Though they were wasps from SW Connecticut, my two cute cousins bore a disturbing resemblance to those guidos/guidettes on MTV's "Jersey Shore"... At least when it came to tanning. So by the time they reached 28 they were well on their way to becoming sun-dried tomatoes.

Or raisins, prunes, dates, apricots, figs; pick your own dried fruit... Leave something out in the sun long enough; it dries out.

Not such a big problem for the reunion kids in what weather pros know as the "Puget Sound Conversion Zone" with its 300 days a year of overcast.

But I live in the desert now, where the weather brings that much sun.

On the trip I made to the DMV in June, I was served by a woman with otherwise beautiful features who was on her way to becoming a "longhorn"... Walking around, but resembling the dessicated cattle skull you see by the dried up movie western watering hole.

Time is not kind.

Editor, Fact Checker, Kid

Journalism's Other Lippman

The original, Walter Lippmann (with two Ns), was an American writer, reporter, political commentator and two time Pulitzer Prize recipient for his syndicated newspaper column. He died in 1974.

The new one, Daniel Lipman (with one N), is a prolific critic of modern journalism, firing off dozens of emails every day to reporters in D.C., but unlike most "frequent flamers" who tag blog posts with all the subtlety of a drive-by shooting, or stuff in-boxes with incoherent drivel, Lippman's emails are filled with helpful, accurate and polite corrections.

Lippman turns out to be a Journalist Savant. Now a soft-spoken 19 year-old sophomore at George Washington University, the AP's Ron Fournier and OTM tracked him down to talk.

Audio: WNYC's On The Media Host: Brooke Gladstone.

Photo by Michael Schwartz.

Lesbian Custody Battle

It had to happen

With or without state-sanctioned marriage, same sex couples have the same kind of viscious custody battles when love goes bad.

Despite fearful "Amber Alerts" & milk cartons, most abductions are by desperate court-defying "parents," not anonymous predators.

Reverse Migration

Economic Refugees Helped To Go Home

A two-year long recession has reduced the influx of undocumented immigrant workers to the United States, and is prompting some to go home to Latin America... Forsaking remittances sent to their families in favor of actually being with them, however poor.

Sister Margaret Smyth has been working on behalf of immigrants on New York's Long Island for the last 12 years. Over the past several months, her waiting list to leave has grown. With impending winter and a terrible job market, there is no money for refugiados económicos to pay for a hoped-for better life in the U.S., let alone a plane ticket.

Audio: NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, Host: Ari Shapiro,
Reporter: Sara Reynolds.

The Dark Side

of Wall Street

This confirms so many of my suspicions about the market.

Darth Vader and a squad of Storm Troopers from the Star Wars Saga rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on December 22, 2009. They, along with R2-D2, were there as representatives of Lucasfilm Ltd.

NYSE spokespeople would neither confirm nor deny speculation that former VP Dick Cheney was wearing the black helmet and suit.

Complete Tool