Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Truthiness, Indeed

It was bad enough when viewers of All in the Family found Archie Bunker likeable.

According to a recent study, disturbing numbers of conservative viewers of the Colbert Report don't understand that it's satire.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

America's Finest at Work, Part Whatever

I was just skimming the newest posts in my bloglines account where I learned the FAA has agreed to make its data on bird collisions with aircraft publicly available. Okay, fine, more government stats. But then this perked my interest:

"More than 82,000 birds and mammals collided with civilian aircraft between 1990 and 2007..."

mammals? It's not just birds? Planes hit animals that are (or should be) on the ground?

At first I thought every now and than a cow wandered across an airstrip in rural Iowa and got hit by a crop duster. But now I'm curious, so I go to the FAA website itself, where I learn that you can, among other searches, "locate strikes on U.S. map by species." I find a menu to select species. I just start choosing animals at random. For my first species selection I learn:

Number of Wildlife Strikes [between Jan. 1990 and Nov. 2008] of Selected Species in US and Canada (Canada Not Shown): 14.

In case you were wondering, the species I chose was 'alligator.' Yes, 14 planes managed to collide with alligators.

And it gets better. The FAA website also informs me that:

"The FAA National Wildlife Strike Database contains strike reports that are voluntarily reported to the FAA by pilots, airlines, airports and others. Current research indicates that only about 20% of strikes are reported."

So maybe 70 airplanes hit alligators during that time period.

The vast majority of species available for selection are, of course bird: boobies, buntings, terns, barred owls, black bitterns, blue jays, black-billed magpies, black vultures, black-bellied plovers. But we also have coyotes, skunks, black rats, burros, cats, cattle,
coyotes, sheep, porcupines, and "odd-toed ungulates." (I can see how you would want to keep separate statistics for "even-toed ungulates." Imagine the confusion otherwise.)

So if hitting a bunch of birds was what caused the downing of US Airways Flight 1549, imagine what happens if you're in a plane that hits a rhinoceros (that's an odd-toed ungulate, by the way).

You better hope Sully's your pilot.

Once Again....

Government meddling has suppressed good-old American entrepreneurship. You have to hand it to the people of Hardin, Montana. They seemed to have learned the lessons of the past twenty years: no more dot-com/real-estate/stock-market bubbles for them. They planned long-term economic development and they wanted to help the president close Gitmo.

They wanted to take some of these detainees off the military's hands:

....a 460-bed detention facility sits empty in Hardin. Built by Two Rivers Authority, the city's economic development arm, the facility was meant to bring economic development to Hardin by creating more than 100 high-paying jobs.

While leaders continue to look for contracts to open the jail, which was completed in 2007, people in Hardin have approached Two Rivers executive director Greg Smith saying they have the answer: Get the contract to hold those prisoners from Guantanamo.


But this brilliant to jump-start Billings' economy has been quashed--by no less than their very own Congressional delegation:

Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican, said the detainees are terrorists and "we should be doing everything possible to keep them out of our country, let alone our state."

I really can't wrap my head around this attitude: consensus in Lincoln, Montana seems to be that Ted Kaczynski was an exemplary neighbor.

Maybe Rehberg is feeling burned by Montana's abysmal failure to create a Unabomber tourism industry, and blowing a potential cash cow like having al-Qaeda members in your midst would just be another embarrassing business failure to soon.

I can't help but think Montana's Congressmen are totally wrong on this issue: considering the still-fuzzy legal status of Gitmo detainees, having them in that correctional facility could mean that a lot of the good people of Hardin would have jobs for life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

There's Lost Luggage...And Then There's Lost Luggage

If you have to transport cremated remains somewhere, checking them as baggage at the airport might not be the best plan.

I'm just sayin'.

Monday, April 13, 2009

So The Big Question.....

..if there's a Shroud of Turin-like image in a Kit-Kat, is that a "Week in Food" or a "Week in God" item?*

*A tip of the hat to David Harnden-Warwick of Queen's University, Belfast for sending this item my way.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Week in God

Passion 2.0: Last Friday Trinity Church in New York retold the story of Jesus' arrest and death via Twitter. (OMG. Theyre freeing Barabbas? WTF?)

If you're an observant Jew and dog owner who really considers your pet "part of the family," good news: not only can your dog keep kosher, one Robert Uri Heller of Chicago will conduct a seder just for Fido.

And so Christian cats won't feel left out: just because Kitty couldn't go to Palm Sunday or Easter services doesn't mean he can't follow along with the Lectionary.

Well, they'll have to re-program the GPS: an archaeologist has come to the conclusion that the pilgrims walking the Via Dolorosa are going the wrong way.

Hurling pots out windows, making a 4,000 egg omelette, and ringing cowbells: for some people it's just another Easter.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Week In Food

Considering all the money and time spent bailing out British banks, it's a relief to see people in the UK taking steps to save something really important: the nation's curry supply.

If you've been hankerin' for some megamouth shark, start looking for one now: they're going fast.

A friend sent me this culinary gallery from the high noon of the American Century.

And if fried rice without shrimp isn't an emergency, I don't know what is.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

News Roundup

Once again, the U.S.A. has proven it can beat anybody at anything. As of yesterday, we've eaten beaten the French at the high unemployment game.

Contrary to the fears of white-bread Americans who fret over bilingual signs and strange food on supermarket shelves, immigrants really do adopt our ways. Why just yesterday a Vietnamese immigrant dealt with his personal problems by going on a shooting spree.

Not to be out-done by the Vatican's re-institution of indulgences, some savvy entrepreneurs have developed software that will say your prayers for you.

While Orthodox Jews are steadfast in their commitment to ancient traditions, some of them are quite taken with certain modern innovations--such as Photoshop.

And pardon the cliche, but for bloggers and news junkies, Sarah Palin's family really is the gift that keeps on giving.

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