Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Monday 1 May 2006
The New Hampshire legislature is about to reject the Federal Real ID Act, which was passed to "close the kinds of loopholes that allowed the 9/11 hijackers to get valid ID cards," according to its principal sponsor, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). New Hampshire would become the first of possibly many states to refuse to implement the law, and given New Hampshire's history and character, that's not surprising.
Monday 1 May 2006 08:45:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
Sunday 30 April 2006
Visiting New York this weekend allowed me to read the Sunday New York Times in its native form, ink on paper, something I rarely do. So I was able to see, on page 21, a story I might not have found on-line: "Welcome to our town, or maybe not." Apparently, residents of Kanab, Utah, are up-in-arms about little "Everyone's Welcome" stickers that shops display
Sunday 30 April 2006 07:49:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
Saturday 29 April 2006

A lady opened her refrigerator and saw a rabbit sitting on one of the shelves. "What are you doing in there?" she asked.

The rabbit replied, "This is a Westinghouse, isn't it?"

"Why, yes," replied the lady.

"Well," the rabbit said, "I'm westing."

Saturday 29 April 2006 05:43:57 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes#
Friday 28 April 2006

The National Hurricane Center just released a bulletin about the first tropical depression of the year, now developing off the Western coast of Cuba. This would be an exhibition game, I suppose, since the regular season isn't supposed to start until June 1st...

(No link yet; apparently NOAA's Web guys are still hibernating.

Friday 28 April 2006 16:27:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Weather#

The House narrowly passed a GOP-drafted ethics bill, 213 to 207:

The bill would require lobbyists to file quarterly instead of semiannual disclosures, and to include in those reports the donations they give to federal candidates and political action committees. Lobbyists would also have to make public the value of any gift that they give to lawmakers or congressional aides. In addition, appropriations bills would have to list any earmarks that they contain, as well as the sponsors of those projects. Ethics training would become mandatory for House employees under the legislation.
...[Christopher Shays (R-CT)] called the bill "pathetic." On the House floor, he added: "We're losing our moral authority to lead this place."

If by "we" he meant the Republican Party, then he's late to the game, as I'm pretty sure the Republicans lost whatever moral authority they had long before Mitch Wade opened a brothel for GOP Congressmen.

Friday 28 April 2006 08:19:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#

Andy Borowitz reports on a new revenue model for airlines:

Struggling with rising fuel costs and sagging profits, several leading airlines announced today that they would attempt to boost their revenues by stowing passengers in their aircrafts’ overhead bins.
After Airbus announced earlier this week that it was toying with the idea of introducing standing room areas for passengers in the rear of their planes, the airlines decided that the time was right to pitch the idea of stowing passengers in a part of the plane that has customarily been reserved for carry-on luggage.

Jokes aside, I figured out why overhead space is so dear on airplanes (remember I deal with this every week). Simply, the airlines encourage carry-on baggage because it frees up space in the hold. Even with a full passenger load, transport-category airplanes have lots of capacity for cargo, which earns significantly more revenue per kilo than passengers do.

So I'll keep running on the elite-status hamster wheel to ensure that, when I fly, I can at least find a spot for my tiny carry-on bags.

Friday 28 April 2006 07:00:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Software#

Paul Krugman (sub.req.) offers a hypothesis about the Administration's hiring policies:

The U.S. government is being stalked by an invisible bandit, the Crony Fairy, who visits key agencies by dead of night, snatches away qualified people and replaces them with unqualified political appointees. There's no way to catch or stop the Crony Fairy, so our only hope is to change the agencies' names. That way she might get confused, and leave our government able to function.
That, at least, is how I interpret the report on responses to Hurricane Katrina that was just released by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
The report points out that the Federal Emergency Management Agency "had been operating at a more than 15 percent staff-vacancy rate for over a year before Katrina struck"—that means many of the people who knew what they were doing had left. And it adds that "FEMA's senior political appointees...had little or no prior relevant emergency-management experience."

Does anyone think Gore would have let this happen? Anyone at all?

Friday 28 April 2006 06:43:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
Thursday 27 April 2006

Well, this is interesting. Ten states and two cities today filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency seeking enforcement of the Clean Air Act to force cuts in greenhouse gas emissions:

The states, led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer [quel surprise—ed.], want the government to require tighter pollution controls on the newest generation of power plants.
In July 2005, a three-judge panel in the same court upheld the EPA's decision not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks under the Clean Air Act. The agency argues the law does not authorize them to regulate emissions to reduce global warming, and maintains there is not enough scientific data to support such a move.

Not enough data? Tell that to Kiribati and Nunavut.

(Found first on Dr. Heidi Cullen's blog at weather.com

Thursday 27 April 2006 17:51:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics | Weather#

With only 999 days (or fewer) left in his term, President Bush has scored his 9th consecutive month of under-40 approval ratings, and his lowest-ever rating in the NBC/WSJ poll, "a feat exceeded only by Richard Nixon (13 months) and Harry Truman (26 months)."

[But] with the midterm elections just six months away, the biggest drop in the survey—11 points in one month—is in the approval rating of Congress, which is locked in a bitter debate over what do about these gas prices, immigration, Iraq and a host of other issues.
In the poll—which was taken April 21-24 of 1,005 adults, and which has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points—just 24 percent believe the nation is headed in the right direction, a drop of two points since last month and seven points since January. What's more, only 17 percent think the nation’s economy will improve in the next 12 months, a decline of seven points since March.

MSNBC also has detailed poll results available.

Election day is just 194 days away.

Thursday 27 April 2006 08:57:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
Since I just discussed an article about criticizing Israel, I thought a Jewish joke would be appropriate as a follow-up.
Thursday 27 April 2006 07:49:21 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes#

Molly Ivins' column published in today's Chicago Tribune raises some good questions about why we can't ask good questions about our policies toward Israel:

For having the sheer effrontery to point out the painfully obvious—that there is an Israel lobby in the United States—[researchers] have been accused of being anti-Semitic, nutty and guilty of "kooky academic work." Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who seems to be easily upset, went totally ballistic over the mild, academic, not to suggest pretty boring, article by Mearsheimer and Walt, calling them "liars" and "bigots."
Of course there is an Israel lobby in America; its leading working group is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It calls itself "America's Pro-Israel Lobby," and it attempts to influence U.S. legislation and policy.

As she points out, Israelis are pretty harsh critics of their own government (and ours); why can't Americans criticize the Israeli government, too?

Thursday 27 April 2006 07:44:47 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
Wednesday 26 April 2006

Let's sum up: The administration's energy and foreign policies have helped create a dire shortage of oil and prevented creation of alternatives. Yet, Bush is "probing" rising gas prices. There are only two possible conclusions: either he does not understand the connection, or he is lying about not understanding the connection.

"Energy experts predict gas prices are going to remain high throughout the summer, and that's going to be a continued strain on the American people," Bush said....
Under pressure from GOP leaders, Bush is taking a tough public line with the U.S. oil companies that are recording record profits and paying hefty salaries and retirement packages to executives.

Remember Upton Sinclair's wisdom: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

This story directly connects to two important milestones for today. First, as of 1pm Eastern time today (17:00 UTC), there are no more than 1,000 days left in the Bush administration. Let's start the countdown; it's our own "thousand points of light."

Second, as many people know, today is the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. The Russian and Ukrainian governments are still cleaning up from it, yet nucular—sorry, nuclear—energy is starting to look more environmentally friendly than its principal competitors, oil and coal. This suggests that our problem isn't from where we get our energy, but how much we use. What a concept.

Wednesday 26 April 2006 07:55:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics | Weather#
Tuesday 25 April 2006
A man who lived in a block of apartments thought it was raining and put his head out the window to check. As he did so a glass eye fell into his hand.
Tuesday 25 April 2006 08:14:50 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes#
Monday 24 April 2006

As many predicted, and as the perpetrators denied, Soldier Field has lost its landmark status following its destr--er, renovation in 2003, former Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced as one of her last official acts on Friday. Says Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin:

If you obliterate a building's form, the government's decision suggests, you obliterate its meaning. Norton wisely ignored the arguments of those who claimed that Soldier Field retained its historic significance, irrespective of how it looked. Perhaps they would like to drop a steel-and-glass box inside the White House.

I'm reminded of Archimedes, I think it was, being skewered by an invading Roman for no apparent reason.

Monday 24 April 2006 11:46:26 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
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Real ID act opposed in New Hampshire
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Atlantic tropical cyclone season begins early
House passes ethics bill
Air travel through Borowitz
The Crony Fairy
States file climate-change suit against EPA
Bush 36% approval: NBC/WSJ
While I'm on the subject
Ivins on our Israel policy
Great moments in energy policy
The glass eye
Soldier Field loses landmark status
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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