News of the Weird / Pro Edition (September 28, 2010)

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
You're Still Not Cynical Enough

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week (Part II), Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
September 28, 2010
(datelines September 18-September 25) (links correct as of September 27)

Weird 2.0
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"That's close enough for government work"—unknown
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.

The Los Angeles Times found a contract written by the Border Patrol to pay some ex-employees about $85,000 a year to . . encourage agency executives to speak to each other. (It's not for "meeting planning"; that's specifically not covered.) It's just, like, What's the matter with y'all, anyway? Cat got yer tongue? Hey, you, there, call this guy, OK? . . . That'll be $85,000, please. (Bonus: As any federal executive will tell you [ed.: including, once upon a time, Yr Editor], contracts like this are not unusual.) Los Angeles Times

Update: Mumia Abu-Jamal, who's been on death row in Pennsylvania for 28 years for killing a cop, is not only not dead yet but is bound to live longer than some of you reading this. Here is his latest appeals status. [ed.: Yr Editor is not sure about the death-penalty part, and Yr Editor was not present on the street that night in Philadelphia, but the evidence of murder has been described over and over in the press, and Yr Editor concludes that if the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard urged by Abu-Jamal's sympathizers were applied across-the-board . . the "crime" rate would drop precipitously.] Associated Press via New York Times /// Philadelphia Daily News

USA Today did the math on the degree to which southern coastal states are only softly insured, and it turns out that Florida has 41 times as much insured property as there is cash and reinsurance to pay claims. Louisiana has 58 times as much (but, at least, with a shorter hurricane coastline). The figure for Texas is actually 486, but the vast majority of land is far away from the coast. (On the other hand, the state has only $150 million cash and reinsurance in the Act of God kitty.) USA Today

Privacy advocates regularly dog that Facebook thingie, but one by one we see examples of Facebook users who believe they're too cool for the room--screwing themselves with their promiscuous detail of biography. It's No Longer Weird how criminals get caught bragging about their crimes online (so that detectives don't even break a sweat making the collar). And here are two divorcing husbands pleading poverty to their wives' lawyers but taking to Facebook to tout their upscale lives. ABA Journal

Don't Tell the Tea Party: Turns out (based on this study by researchers at Duke and Harvard) that Americans are more comfortable with European-style income-distribution than with American-, all-or-nothing- style and that they don't realize just how badly skewed income is in this country. Harvard Business School report [link from Huffington Post]

Johnson & Johnson lawyers: We didn't stage a secret recall of problem Motrin last year (secret--to avoid an embarrassing public recall). In fact, we told the FDA we were doing it. FDA lawyers: Nuh-uhh, did not! Associated Press via Las Vegas Sun

The prime minister of Somalia, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, resigned. (Reading between the lines: Somalia actually had a prime minister!) Reuters via New York Times

As we close in on the two-year anniversary of Bernard Madoff's arrest, it's time to tally up how many Securities and Exchange Commission staffers have been fired (or publicly demoted) for the five failed "investigations" of Madoff beginning in 1992 that went nowhere and for the agency's indifference toward fellow Ponzi-er R. Allen Stanford before 2009 despite ongoing knowledge of his crookedness since 1997. Answer: zero. (Correct interpretation: The SEC was interested only in slam-dunk prosecutions. When, as Senator Dodd put it, investigators screamed there was a fire, the enforcement side of the agency responded, "Ooooo, Too hard to put out.")

Uh-Oh: The Parkway and Rockwood school districts in Missouri, certain that they're ahead of the curve and not behind it, have decreed that kids will no longer be subject to spelling tests. St. Louis Post-Dispatch

War Is Hell; Nation-Building Is Weird: "War" to Americans is superior boom-boom, plus dazzling high-tech, plus brave young men and women, plus brilliant generals. But what is the reality in Afghanistan? (a) Will the Afghan government ever be less ridiculously corrupt? (b) Opium! (c) Pashtun men (as Pro Edition reported last week) flaunt their little-boy sex-toys all over. (d) Honor killings, where the wayward daughter must be murdered for embarrassing the family. (e) The military contracting process, rife enough stateside with fraud and waste, is orders of magnitude worse in wartime. (f) Once again, Afghan vote-fraud horrors disenfranchised an entire population. News of the Weird! McClatchy News Service [latest contracting mess] /// New York Times [election fraud]

     Posted By: Chuck - Tue Sep 28, 2010

border patrol- sounds like the definition of therapy to me. the/rapists are expensive you know.

cop killer- not guilty by atrician, keep screaming about it long enough and loud enough and hope to wear down the other side's dilligence to see justice done.

act of god- an insurance ponzi scheme. can't wait to see how much dc has to pony up to bail it out when we have major natualr disasters and this one fails.

facebook- kids are one problem, but adults who put up incriminating info online get what the deserve.

income disparity- rich people liberals are becoming a group who would not belong to a club that would have them as a member. i find that interesting.

johnson and johnson- who's lying, big company or big government? we may never know. after all neitner one has any credibility.

somalia- isn't it cute when the little governments try to act all grown up with graft and corruption like the big ones?

sec- if they can't police those the agency was established to police, how do you expect them to police themselves?

spelling tests- everytime educators come up with some wacked out 'experiment' (like the new math debacle) an entire generation suffers for the lack of proper education in that subject till the 'experiment' fails and they are forced back to methods that have worked for centuries. (this applies to the basics)

afganistan- what a waste of time and resorces. child molesters and woman abusers run unchecked as a part of their 'culture' and they call us godless heathens.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 09/28/10 at 11:17 AM
DF: Don't try to confuse the issue with facts!

REF Sweden: We have a good friend who's kids are Swedish and he throws this up every chance he gets. We all agree that socialism can work on a small group of highly educated individuals but most western governments have been working for decades to dumb-down their population so the best socialism you can hope for now would be 10% of the people produce 90% of the income. Christians may want to note that Jesus didn't even try to assuage poverty.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 09/28/10 at 11:35 AM
I don't think Expat's going to lose the income-redistribution argument. After all, he lives in the rubble of it every day. And I certainly agree about the dumbing-down and the 10/90 split. However, I suspect an awful lot more people would support a reasonable redistribution through taxation than the extremists on either side of the aisle would have us believe.

Spelling tests: ITA, patty. See also the 10/90 split Expat mentioned. I have a radical idea. How about we take the kids who are doing well in school and teach them more quickly, and take the kids who aren't doing so well, and concentrate on coaching them through the basics. We won't call it streaming, though, because we all know that's evil.

Afghanistan: y'know, we could always pull out and let the UN do what it's supposed to do. Of course, the bribes would go somewhere else then.

SEC: and this would surprise me because...?
Posted by TheCannyScot in Atlanta, GA on 09/28/10 at 07:50 PM
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