Friday, January 30, 2009

Exxon shatters profit records/Economic Signs Turn From Grim To Worse

Good News/Bad News for Exxon Stockholders. Just Bad News For The Rest Of Us

The Washington Post says that not only is the economic handbasket hell-bound, the road is getting steeper.
The accelerating pattern of grim indicators has led up to a report scheduled for release this morning on U.S. economic performance in the final three months of last year. Many economists think the economy shrank by as much as a 6 percent annual rate -- that would be the worst quarter for the economy since 1982 -- and they see little potential for growth until later this year.
But not all the toy boats are circling the drain. As CNN reports some companies seem counter-cyclical:
Exxon Mobil made history on Friday by reporting the highest quarterly and annual profits ever for a U.S. company, boosted in large part by soaring crude prices.
Bring your pitchforks, tar, and feathers up to the refinery guard shack for the protest.

(partial h/t to the ever-alert ScottyNuke)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Birth of octuplets rattles fertility experts

Imagine How It Rattles The Mom

The LA Times reports on the biggest litter of kids born yet. The experts have made one conclusion:
The chances that the eight babies born Monday were conceived naturally are infinitesimal, infertility specialists and doctors in maternal-fetal medicine say.
The mother and her children are resting and doing well at Daisy Hill Puppy Farm and Fertility Clinic.

Watch your back, Jon and Kate. These folks hit your mark all at once.

Silicon Valley Wants to Stay On the Road to Prosperity

Because The Road To Bankruptcy Is So Crowded Right Now

Daniel Lyons of the Washington Post reveals the secret business strategy of the computer industry. Guess what? It involves government money. And cheap imported labor.
Shane Robison, HP's chief strategy and technology officer, says he'd like to see the following: a permanent research-and-development tax credit, which would encourage tech companies to do more basic science research, which in turn would benefit everyone, not just the company that conducts the research; more government funding for basic science research; more spending on education; and changes in immigration laws to help foreign-born students who study in the United States to stay in the country afterward.
Lyons also pinpoints the problem with the U.S. auto industry that seems to have eluded everybody:
Detroit failed because it ignored or dismissed the threat from foreign rivals and kept making the wrong kind of cars.
Glad we got to the bottom of that mystery. And good luck with staying ahead of those lean hungry Asian engineers.

(h/t to DLD)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snowfall Threat Closes Schools

Weather Wenie-ism Strikes Again

Schools throughout the DC/Baltimore area are closed today according to the Washington Post.
Winter weather moved into the region this morning and the threat of accumulating snow led schools to close in several jurisdictions, including Montgomery County, Frederick County and Howard County in Maryland and Loudoun County in Virginia.
Mere rumors of snow routinely close schools in the mid-Atlantic region. This time they at least waited for the first snowflake to fall. Enjoy your snowdays in July, kiddies.

First Lady Assails Use of Daughters' Images for Dolls

Ty Pays No Royalties To First Family

The Washington Post has pictures of the doll that have raised Michelle Obama's ire.
Ty recently released the 12-inch dolls in their collection called TyGirlz. The dolls have soft brown skin and big eyes. Ty's Web site shows Sweet Sasha wearing two pigtails and a pink and white dress, with Marvelous Malia doll wearing her hair to the right side and a blue-green shirt.

Nope, not a thing similar to the newest First Kids. At least not according to Ty:
The company, which is based in Oak Brook, Ill., has said the dolls are not made to be exact replicas of the first couple's daughters and are not based on the Obama girls.
They have nothing in common other than the name, gender, age, and ethnic origin. Nope, nothing. This is the most disingenuous product coincidence since the Baby Ruth bar. I'm not buying it. The story or the dolls.

(h/t to ScottyNuke)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Report: Brother says McGwire used steroids

Muscles Too Good To Be True Are

The Baltimore Sun reports that Mark McGwire's brother is pedaling a book proposal that would rip the lid off the steroid scandal (and line his pockets).
Mark McGwire's youngest brother says in a book proposal that he injected the former baseball star with steroids, according to Jay McGwire is circulating a manuscript titled The McGwire Family Secret: The Truth about Steroids, a Slugger and Ultimate Redemption, the Web site reported Wednesday. Jay McGwire, a bodybuilder, said his brother started using steroids in 1994 and that he injected Mark with Deca-Durabolin. Mark McGwire has denied using illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
I would hope that this book sells even fewer copies than the one by Buddy Foster revealing that his sister Jodie is a lesbian.

But Clever Headline Of The Day goes to the Hartford Courant with this one:

McGwire's Brother Injected Into Steroids Controversy

That's the way to needle a guy.

(h/t to

Geithner Says China Manipulates Its Currency

Why Crap At Wal-Mart Is So Cheap

The Washington Post is reading the tea leaves to say that the Obama Administration is taking a harder stand with China by stating the obvious.
Timothy F. Geithner ... signaled a more confrontational approach toward China, bluntly stating that the new administration thinks Beijing is "manipulating" its currency and it will act "aggressively" using "all the diplomatic avenues" to change China's currency practices.

China's control of the value of its currency, the yuan, has been a friction point for years, with some economists saying Beijing has kept its currency artificially low to keep the prices of its goods cheap and generate trade surpluses
You need an undervalued currency to keep all that poisoned pet food and all those lead-tainted toys affordable.

Bush's 'War' On Terror Comes to a Sudden End

War Declared On Misguided Bush Policies

The Washington Post's Dana Priest declares victory and goes home.
With the stroke of his pen, [Obama] effectively declared an end to the "war on terror," as President George W. Bush had defined it, signaling to the world that the reach of the U.S. government in battling its enemies will not be limitless.
However, we are still waging losing battles in The War On Poverty, The War On Crime, and The War On Drugs.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wife who set husband's genitals alight on murder charge

The Burning Bed Part 2

From The Australian, we have an Adelaide woman who has done Lorenna Bobbit one better:
A MOTHER of three accused of murdering her husband by setting his genitals alight allegedly told neighbours she was a "jealous wife" who had learned he was having an affair, a court heard yesterday.

Rajini Narayan, 44, appeared in Adelaide Magistrates Court where she faced an upgraded charge of murder after her husband, Satish Narayan, died on December 27 from his injuries after being burned in his home.
Because murder is what they usually charge you with if your husband dies after you set his junk aflame.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Switch to Digital TV May Not Be as Smooth as Advertised

Old People To Be Confused When TVs Don't Work

In less than a month, and just a little after the Super Bowl, analog TVs will go blank. That may cause some chaos says the Washington Post.
In less than a month, on Feb. 17, all full-power stations plan to shut off analog signals and air digital-only broadcasts. Viewers with older analog TV sets will need to hook up a converter box to receive over-the-air programs.
But many consumers are discovering that upgrading to a digital set or adding a converter box may not be enough to get a reliable digital signal. Some will also have to buy more powerful antennas to install in living rooms or on roofs, adding expense and frustration for the nearly 14 million households who rely on over-the-air signals.
Particularly hard hit will be the poor and the elderly and anyone's whose VCR (and they would still own a VCR) still blinks 12:00. Be ready for the screams all across the country of "Where's my Oprah?!"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Enormous Crowd Streams From Mall

Obama And Two Million Of His Closest Friends Go Back Home

The Washington Post reports on the post-inauguration dispersal. Because nobody wants 1.8 million people hanging around in the cold all week.
The historic crowd that gathered to see Barack Obama sworn in as president has now begun leaving the Mall, crowding Metro stations and jamming downtown streets with human gridlock.

Along the Mall -- which was packed even beyond the Washington Monument -- some spectators began leaving as soon as Obama had taken the oath of office, too frozen even to wait for his address. Their trickle became a slow-moving flood after the inaugural program concluded.
The understatements in that headline are "enormous" and "crowds". It's the vigor of the verb "stream" that I doubt.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Circuit City to Close After Failing to Find a Buyer

Surprise! Crappy Store Goes Out Of Business

The New York Times finally hears the other shoe fall for the crummiest consumer electronics chain in the country:
Circuit City, once a bellwether American retailer, is going out of business for good, stripping the nation of its second-largest consumer electronics chain.

The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in November, said Friday that it would liquidate its stores and other assets.


“We are extremely disappointed by this outcome,” said James A. Marcum, vice chairman and acting president and chief executive of Circuit City Stores Inc. He called the liquidation “the only possible path for our company.”
Did he look into getting a cash advance on his Bank of America or Citibank credit card? Seriously, I had forgotten they were still in business, which must have been part of the problem.

Bank of America, Citigroup Post Major Losses

Banks Crap On And Cheat Customers, Pay The Price

The Washington Post notes another mile marker on the road to total financial collapse.
The dismal results from Bank of America and Citigroup showed the depth of the recession during the last three months of 2008, and suggested that the economic situation is getting worse. Both companies reported that losses on products such as credit card loans were not just growing but accelerating.
Since all their customers are broke, both banks have decided that extracting blood from turnips would make a better business strategy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Detainee Tortured, Says U.S. Official

Pouring Water Down People's Nose Not Kinder And Gentler

A journalist no less than famed than Bob Woodward breaks the scoop that we had taken the gloves off when interrogating a failed 9/11 conspirator.
The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition."
At one point he was threatened with a military working dog named Zeus, according to a military report. Qahtani "was forced to wear a woman's bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation" and "was told that his mother and sister were whores." With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around the room "and forced to perform a series of dog tricks," the report shows.
The Bush Administration defends the techniques saying that they were conducted in accordance with both the Army Field Manual For Interrogation and the Skull And Bones Membership Initiation Ceremony Handbook.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In last news conference, Bush concedes some mistakes

Dubya Outdoes Nixon: Mistakes Were Made

Business Mirror summarizes Bush's "ultimate exit interview":
Asked about mistakes he had made while in office—a question that once famously stumped him—Bush rattled off several examples, saying that he regretted his decision to focus on Social Security reform after the 2004 elections, a drive that proved unsuccessful, instead of first addressing immigration issues.

Bush also said hanging a “Mission Accomplished” sign on an aircraft carrier after the toppling of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 was a “mistake.” He described the scandal surrounding the treatment of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq as a “huge disappointment,” as he did the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in that country, which the administration had claimed, based on faulty intelligence.
If Dubya had really wanted to come clean about his screw-ups, he should have started a lot earlier than just a week before leaving office. That sort of catalog could take some time to compile.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Safety Council Says Phoning and Driving Don't Mix

Hang Up And Drive!

The Associated Press reports:
A national safety group is advocating a total ban on the use of cellphones while driving, saying the practice is clearly dangerous and leads to fatalities.
Also on the list of dangerous activities is applying make-up, playing the accordion, and performing oral sex (although receiving it is still in the clear).

Bush says GOP ‘got whipped’ in 2008

And Not In A Good Way

On Fox News Sunday, George W. Bush is giving advice to his party, as reported by The Hill:
President Bush, urging the Republican Party to become more “open-minded,” said the GOP is down but not out after getting “whipped” in 2008.
Isn't Dubya giving election advice like the captain of the Titanic offering navigation lessons? And, yes, that is my second Titanic joke today.

The softball laden interview is here.

Economy Made Few Gains in Bush Years

Unless You Owned Exxon or Haliburton Stock

The Washington Post puts numbers to what everybody already knows.
President Bush has presided over the weakest eight-year span for the U.S. economy in decades, according to an analysis of key data, and economists across the ideological spectrum increasingly view his two terms as a time of little progress on the nation's thorniest fiscal challenges.
In the category of "Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?" a Bush economic adviser vainly looks for a silver lining anywhere.
"It does look like a great eight years, aside from the last quarter, unfortunately," Edward P. Lazear, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, said in a recent interview. "In the long term, things look good."
Well, the Titanic was making great time right up to the iceberg. And didn't some economist once say that in the long term we're all dead?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Worst year for jobs since '45

Ask Your Great-Grandfather What He Did After The War

CNN says that the job market has never been worse in the lifetime of anyone not eligible for Social Security.
The steep annual drop in jobs marked the highest yearly job-loss total since 1945, the year in which World War II ended.
We had Hitler, Tojo and the atomic bomb to blame for that labor slump. Who do we pin it on this time?

Illinois House Impeaches Gov. Rod Blagojevich

News Flash: Crooked Chicago Politician Gets Caught

According to the Washington Post, the second shoe has finally dropped.
The [Illinois] House voted 114 to 1 to impeach Blagojevich a day after a special committee unanimously recommended impeachment following hearings on a variety of allegations, including federal corruption charges that led to his arrest last month. Among other alleged offenses, Blagojevich was accused in an FBI affidavit of conspiring to sell President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.
I want to know who voted against it, but I doubt it was this guy:
A fellow Democrat on the committee said the governor's refusal to resign has made Illinois "the laughingstock of the country."
Which sure takes the heat off of Sarah Palin and her brood.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Many Teens Don't Keep Virginity Pledges

They Lie About Their Drinking Habits Too

This item is over a week old, but last week's Washington Post story was at least partially the inspiration for the No Duh Awards.
Teens who take virginity pledges are just as likely to have sex as teens who don't make such promises -- and they're less likely to practice safe sex to prevent disease or pregnancy, a new study finds.
I'm not aware of anything that prevents teens from having sex. Sarah Palin and Dina Lohan sure aren't either.

Report: alcohol fuels multiple sex partners, STDs

Beer Goggles Work

Urbanite reports that beer goggles work:
According to the report, heavy drinkers in the city tend to have more sex partners and are more likely to get sexually transmitted diseases.
People who are influenced by alcohol are more likely to sleep with people they otherwise wouldn’t and use condoms incorrectly, Locker said.
The reaction has been stunning in the number of forehead slaps. New York magazine uses the headline "New Yorkers Who Drink Have More Sex Partners, Warns Survey" to issue this caution:
Oh no! So what you're telling us is that drinking increases the risk of getting laid? For the love of Betty Ford, gay dudes, put down those Cosmos unless you want to end up naked with a hot stranger!
And Gawker breaks the news this way:
Men who sleep with other men who claim to binge drink were twice as likely to have five or more sex partners in a year than those fruits what don't drank. (I don't know what the hell I'm doing wrong...) Same applies to straight folks too, just in slightly lower numbers.
Somehow I think this study was secretly funded by the National Spirits Council.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Obama Arrives In Style

Front page story in the dead trees Washington Post.

As if he travels any other way.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

U.S. Debt Expected To Soar This Year

Front page story on the Washington Post:
...the national debt is projected to jump by as much as $2 trillion this year, an unprecedented increase that could test the world's appetite for financing U.S. government spending.
As they say, seven hundred billion here, seven hundred billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money.

Friday, January 2, 2009

End of the Year Brings A Burst of Settlements With Justice Department

From the Washington Post:
The Justice Department has reached more than a dozen business-related settlements since the presidential election, with more in the pipeline for January, prompting lawyers and interest groups to assert that companies are seeking more favorable terms before the new administration arrives.

The climate for business settlements could grow more harsh when Obama appointees seize the reins at the Justice Department, corporate lawyers say.
Let's effin' hope so. It couldn't get less harsh. If the wrist slaps got any lighter, they would attract the attention of Larry Craig.

Obama's Team Rankles the Right

According to the Washington Post:
To some staunch conservatives watching President Bush relinquish the reins of power to President-elect Barack Obama, a few too many ardent liberals are now crashing the gates.

Some well-known Democratic activists are advising Obama on how to steer federal agencies, including a few whom conservative Republicans fought hard to keep out of power in the Clinton administration. They include Roberta Achtenberg, a gay activist whose confirmation as an assistant housing secretary was famously held up by then-Sen. Jesse Helms (N.C.), and Bill Lann Lee, who was hotly opposed by foes of affirmative action and temporarily blocked from the government's top civil rights job.
Ironically, one of the people they are railing against was championed by Claiborne Pell, the deceased Senator from Rhode Island. According to his obituary:
In 1993, amid a debate over the nomination of Roberta Achtenberg, who was gay, to be an assistant secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Sen. Pell impressed his colleagues when he took to the Senate floor to announce that one of his daughters, Julia L. W. Pell, was gay.

"I would not want to see her barred from a government job because of her orientation," he said.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.