Germans are weird — and 14 other images you will
think are Photoshopped but really aren’t. (via FARK)
Leo Morris, Editorial Page Editor of The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Indiana
So, if you want a new car, try to get one that was made on Tuesday, and if you need surgery, ditto on the day of the week:
In a new survey, 57 percent of executives said Tuesday is the most productive day of the week for employees. Monday was the second most popular answer, although it appears to be losing favor: Only 12 percent of respondents ranked Monday as most productive, compared to 26 percent in a 2002 survey.
Tuesday got more votes than all the other days combined, and it’s not terribly surprising. On Mondays, we’re still getting over the weekend. Wednesday is Hump Day — “Thank God it’s half over.” By Thursday, we’re already starting to feel the tug of the next weekend. Tuesday is the only day we totally at work mentally.
What makes the best Christmas presents this year? The best gadgets from last year — they’re just as cool as they were then and a lot cheaper.
We don’t want to do anything too serious on our middle-of-the-week day off, so let’s have us a YouTube holiday. First up, Homer Simpson shows us how to have a real fine BBQ pit.
If you’re gonna have a revolution, you have to offend somebody.
You have to know how to have fun in the back yard.
But remember that fireworks might upset your dog.
Most people think they can be funny, but when it comes right down to it, few really have it in them:
HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Condemned prisoner Patrick Knight was executed Tuesday evening for the deaths of an Amarillo-area couple without delivering on a promise to tell a joke in his final statement.
[. . .]
Randall County Sheriff Joel Richardson, who watched Knight die, said the joke plan seemed to be a ploy by Knight to draw attention to himself.
“Despite all the hype about his joke, it turns out he’s not much of a comedian,” he said. “He’s simply an executed cold-blooded killer.”
Boy, talk about a serious case of stage fright. And that sheriff, talk about judgmentalism . . .
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and trucks haven’t been raised in quite a while. But now, big changes are in the works, and it naturally worries people in the auto industry:
The Big Three automakers believe such strict requirements will be extremely expensive to implement and ultimately will lead to the loss of jobs and fewer choices for the consumer.
Those in favor of the current legislation say it will help reduce the U.S.’s reliance on foreign oil.
If you click on WANE-TV’s video, you’ll see more details, including the claim that raising CAFE standards 40 pecent by 2020 would cost automakers $114 billion, including $40 billion at GM alone. That might be exaggerated — such figures often are. But there would be costs, and they would be passed along to consumers.
Personally, I think I might eliminate CAFE standards rather than strengthening them (warning! economics argument coming). In 1974, the average American car consumed 13 mpg. As CAFE standards prompted by the OPEC oil embargo kicked in, that went to a peak of 22 mpg, and today the average is 21 mpg. And what has happened between 1974 and today? We now have twice as many cars and trucks as we did then, and we drive them three times as many miles. (The figures are from an article strongly supportive of CAFE, so I accept them as true.) If the standards are raised to 30 or 35 mpg, what do you think would happen?
Anything that lowers the price of doing something — as Democratic calls to suspend the gas sales tax would for driving, as CAFE standards do — will prompt people to do it more. And the more the price is lowered, the greater the demand will be. That means more gas used, not less, and, unless we start doing something about domestic supplies, even more dependence on foreign oil.
Or am I missing something obvious?
Hoosier Pro Wrestling played to a "packed" arena of 225 fans in Columbus recently. Obviously, we’re not as dumb here as people say we were. I must confess that this name from the past caught me up short: "Diceman Ronnie Vegas pinned Pastor Pain who subbed for the no showing Bobo Brazil Jr. who was fired by Promoter Jerry Wilson." (Apparently, they don’t like commas much in pro wrestling.) My father was a big fan of wrestling back in the days when Bobo Brazil Sr. and Dick the Brusier were hot on the circuit, and I know he half-believed the stuff. It’s scary to think about how many fans wrestling has now and how many of them more than half-believe it is real.
This hardly seems fair:
A study hint for immigrants preparing to take the citizenship test in 2008: Stop worrying so much about names and dates and start thinking conceptually about what it means to be an American.
The U.S. government announced Thursday that it was redesigning the test to put less emphasis on memorizing facts and more weight on understanding the nation’s history and government.
"Our goal is to inspire immigrants to learn about the civic values of this nation so that after they take the oath of citizenship they will participate fully in our great democracy,"said Emilio Gonzalez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
How many native-born Americans know or care about the "civic values" of this nation? This new test means that, in 2008, if you meet someone the street and ask him what the meaning of America is, and get a good answer, you will be talking to one of the 800,000 immigrants who come here legally each year. An illegal immigrant would say, "This is where the money is," and a U.S.-born citizen would just stare at you blankly.
Have a ball, old fogies:
A study of men and women age 70 to 79 found that those who downed one to seven alcoholic drinks a week had a significantly lower risk of heart problems or death than those who didn’t imbibe, researchers said on Monday.
Cripes. If I make it that far, I figure pretty much anything goes. What’s the point of self-denial then?
Quick, run and hide! The terrorists are coming! We’re all going TO DIE!!!
Well, maybe not right away. But, according to a Homeland Security database of assets vulnuerable to terrorist attack, Indiana has:
8,591 potential terrorist targets . . . 51 percent more sites listed than New York (5,687) and nearly twice as many as California (3,212), ranking the state the most target-rich in the nation.
The reason we rank so high, notes a report from the department’s inspector general (full report here), is that the database is flawed, listing numerous "unusual or out-of-place" sites "whose criticality is not readily apparent." No kidding. Listed as potential terrorist targets are such "critical assets" as a petting zoo, a flea market, a bean fest and a bingo parlor. (Further examples Download chart.doc of out-of-place assets.)
What happened? According to the inspector general, states were asked to list whatever assets they had that "met national level criteria" and "had considerable latitude in determining what DHS meant by a nationally critical asset." And the states, not to put too fine a point on it, screwed up, resulting in a database in which noncritical assets outnumber the critical ones 3-to-1. A fair assessment would be that Indiana screwed up the most.
These out-of-place assets "make resource allocation decisions more challenging," the IG said. The database is used by Homeland Security to help divvy up the hundreds of millions of dollars in anti-terrorism grants each year, including the program announced in May that cut money to New York City and Washington by 40 percent, while significantly boosting spending for cities including Louisville, Ky., and Omaha, Neb.
All the news stories I’ve seen in the last few hours stop about here, having gleefully noted what seems to be a big foulup. What they fail to note is that this is a process, and the IG’s report is one step in that process to weed out the "out-of-place" assets and make the list valuable.
Does this remind anyone of anything? Remember the book of short stories by Fort Wayne Native Michael Martone, "Fort Wayne Is Seventh on Hitler’s List"? We’ve moved up in the world.
News-Sentinel staffer Ryan Lengerich wrote a story about local blogging. Mitch Harper, a blogger mentioned in the story, did an immediate critique of it. Indiana Pundit, another local blog covered in the story, posted the questions Ryan asked and the answers given, along with a link to the story. There’s nothing in all this that makes me want to add to the already extensive comments I’ve made about blogging and the new media over the last several months. I just couldn’t pass up the chance to use the headline I did.
Andrew Kaduk at the Just For The Record blog took this fun test and discovered the leader he was most like was Abe Lincoln, "a mild mannered assassination victim" who is good at mediating disputes "with the exception of the occasional bloody civil war." So I took it, too, and this was my result.
I am a detached intellectual whose ideas "saved/will destroy the world." Talk about the power of the press.
If you want to find out which leader you’re like, go to similar minds.com
The Allen County Public Library’s renovation and expansion project has gotten a little negative publicity — there was a slight cost overrun ($560,000 on the $65.4 million project, less than 1 percent), and Director Jeff Krull took some heat over the expensive new chairs that were ordered. Compare that to what’s going on in Indianapolis. A story in the Star today notes that the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library’s $103 million project has had a 40 percent overrun. And that’s not all the bad news:
They’ve had to cut spending 2 percent already, but board members at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library decided to trim even more to give CEO Linda Mielke a raise.The 4 percent salary increase approved this month will bring her annual pay to nearly $122,000. Board President Louis Mahern said Mielke is worth at least that much, but it will take cutting library services to pay for the increase.[. . .]Most other library staffers received a 2 percent raise Jan. 1, but a second increase of 2 percent scheduled for July has been dropped.Financial worries have dogged the organization since the library took on a massive expansion of Downtown’s Central Library. The City-County Council froze the library’s budget this year after there were cost overruns of more than 40 percent on the $103 million project.The budget freeze at $36 million effectively reduced the library’s operational spending by about 2 percent. To make up the loss of $1.5 million, the library shelved construction of two suburban branches, dropped outreach services such as a bookmobile for seniors and trimmed health coverage of retired staffers.Officials also increased fines for overdue books from 10 cents a day to 25 cents and hired a collection agency to more aggressively pursue debts in an effort to increase circulation and revenue.
I’m not sure what I think about Bloomington’s new requirements for dog-tethering. They can’t be tied up for more than 10 hours in a row or more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period. I have cats, who bascially just roam around the house when they’re not eating or sleeping. But it seems reasonable. What’s the point of having a pet if you’re just going to tie it up in the back yard and ignore it half the time? For what it’s worth, here’s what the Fort Wayne city code has to say:
On Property – When restraining an animal on your property, it is unlawful to use a rope, chain, or cord fastened directly to the animal’s neck, nor may a choker chain be used for tethering an animal. Animals that must be tied must have a collar or harness made of nylon or leather. The tying device shall be at least six feet in length and attached to the collar or harness with a swivel device on the anchor and collar end to prevent tangling. The animal must not be able to leave the owner’s property while restrained.
Shelter Must Be Available – An animal, while tethered outside, must have access to proper shelter at all times. The person responsible for the animal must keep the area in a sanitary condition to prevent odor and health problems. In addition, the animal and its shelter must be located on dry ground that is mud free. The shelter must be designed to specifically shelter an animal, with a roof and three sides free of leaks and openings to the wind and rain, and a forth side allowing access that is protected from the elements.
I could have done without the sports metaphor at the end — it’s early in the race, we have to pace ourselves, etc. But I like the sentiment it represents. We have to think big and act boldly. Whatever else is said about Daniels, it can’t be denied that he embraces change and challenges Hoosiers to do the same. As lethargic and tied to past practices as this state has been, that’s a good thing. We just have to make sure we’re moving in the right direction and not just seeking change for change’s sake.
Advance Indiana thinks Rep. Mike Pence is being a hypocrite (and an overly partisan one at that) because he says the journalists’ shield law he and Sen. Richard Lugar are sponsoring would have covered journalists in the Valerie Plame case but not journalists in the CIA black-site prison story. But Pence makes a valid point that there is a difference in a leak that involves “real time” classified information that poses an “imminent threat” (the prison story) and a leak that involved a CIA employee who wasn’t really covert and not in any danger from being "outed." Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s own actions and words lend credence to this distinction — the only crime alleged was for lies told during the investigation and had nothing to do with the original outing charge.The real problems with the proposed shield law are:
1. It very narrowly defines a "journalist" at a time when the number of people engaged in that endeavor is expanding rapidly. Something I write in this blog would be covered under the law because I am doing it under the umbrella of a historically accepted form of the press, i.e., newspapers, TV news operations, public-relations outfits. Something posted on Fort Wayne Observed or Indiana Parley, because they are done merely by ordinary citizens acting on their own, would not be.
2. It is contradictory that a free and independent press, which is supposed to be the "watchdog of the government," would be, in effect, licensed by that government.
3. In a time when the media are distrusted, if not downright reviled, I don’t know how smart it is for people in the media to be out there lobbying for privileges that would further set them apart from everybody else.
The First Amendment was not drafted for the benefit of an elite few; it was meant to protect the rights of all Americans to express themselves in a robust, cantankerous exchange of opinions. In case you hadn’t noticed, "the press" is rapidly becoming "the people."
(Link via Indiana Blog Review)
I’ve made light of the ICLU’s attempts to rein in prayer in the Indiana General Assembly, calling it a waste of time with no real purpose — Hoosiers’ lives aren’t affected by the prayers, however sectarian they might be, and won’t be affected by any change. Masson’s Blog has a different take: There already is a policy calling for non-denominational prayers; House Speaker Bosma just declines to enforce it, for his own craven political reasons.
The blogosphere is abuzz about USA Today’s doctoring of Condoleezza Rice’s photograph, giving her demon eyes. Conservative commentators see it as just one more example of the mainstream media’s attempts to demonize and marginalize the Bush administration. I don’t disagree that a large part of the media are liberal in general and anti-Bush in particular. But USA Today did acknowledge the inappropriateness of its editing, and I’m inclined to accept the explanation:
Editor’s note: The photo of Condoleezza Rice that originally accompanied this story was altered in a manner that did not meet USA TODAY’s editorial standards. The photo has been replaced by a properly adjusted copy. Photos published online are routinely cropped for size and adjusted for brightness and sharpness to optimize their appearance. In this case, after sharpening the photo for clarity, the editor brightened a portion of Rice’s face, giving her eyes an unnatural appearance. This resulted in a distortion of the original not in keeping with our editorial standards.
Besides, I like the demon-eyes Condi. Just imagine arrogant, insufferable foreign leaders being subjected to that steely gaze from President Rice.
With all the candidates being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize, they chose this joker? Obviously, success isn’t a criterion, unless you think a nuclear North Korea and Iran make the world safer. At least the work of Dick Lugar and Sam Nunn resulted in something tangible. Cripes, even Bono would have been a better pick. The Nobel Peace Prize is a joke, and it’s time to stop paying any attention to it. The obvious goal each year seems to be to pick the most anti-American candidate of the bunch and give it to him, even when they have to pick a bitter ex-president.
Whew. Thanks, I feel much better now.