Locomotive Lottery

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

A Jeannette woman who was slightly injured after being struck by a train while walking along railroad tracks sued Norfolk Southern Corp. Thursday for failing to warn pedestrians that trains travel on tracks.
Patricia M. Frankhouser, of 910 Scott Ave., is seeking an unspecified amount inexcess of $30,000 from the Norfolk, Va., rail transport company for the Jan. 6 incident that left her with a broken finger, cuts on her hand and pain, according to the suit.
Greensburg attorney Harry F. Smail Jr., who represents Frankhouser, didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Within the filing, he argues that the railroad was negligent for failing to post signs warning “of the dangers of walking near train tracks and that the tracks wereactively in use.”

I’d argue that any client too stupid to pull of a proper self-inflicted locomotive injury isn’t worth representing.
hat tip – King of Fools

Breaking Blatantly Obvious News

Broadcasting & Cable

Players involved in the notorious 60 Minutes II story, reported by Dan Rather,�which employed dubious documents regarding President Bush�s National Guard service, may have been rooting for a John Kerry victory.
No, it wasn’t that old bugaboo liberal media bias as much as it was a bias toward saving their own skins. The report from an internal investigation into the documents mess was purposely being held until after the election.
Pre-election, the feeling in some quarters at CBS was that if Kerry triumphed, fallout from the investigation would be relatively minimal. The controversial piece�s producer, Mary Mapes, would likely be suspended or fired, but a long list of others up the chain of command – from 60 Minutes II executive producer Josh Howard, to Rather and all the way up to news division President Andrew Heyward – would escape more or less unscathed.
But now, faced with four more years of President Bush, executives at CBS parent Viacom could take a harder line on the executives involved.

(Via Drudge)
On a related topic, Eric Engbert a retired correspondant for CBS criticizes the “blogosphere” for publishing leaked exit polls.

“The public is now assaulted by news and pretend-news from many directions, thanks to the now infamous “information superhighway.” But the ability to transmit words, we learned during the Citizens Band radio fad of the 70’s, does not mean that any knowledge is being passed along. One of the verdicts rendered by election night 2004 is that, given their lack of expertise, standards and, yes, humility, the chances of the bloggers replacing mainstream journalism are about as good as the parasite replacing the dog it fastens on.”

Oh, enough already. CBS had their asses handed to them by the blogosphere (in other words- the audience) because certain “professional journalists” perpetrated an intentional, albeit pathetically clumsy, attempt to influence the election. Period.
Only the most obtuse observers of human nature would believe that “Rathergate” was an isolated incident. It is only after long history of success in not getting caught that professional liars become so sloppy. Add another period.
Bitching about the leaking of exit polls is so much irrelevant smoke by Mr Engbert, though it does make one wonder how he can argue that the MSM knows better than to release exit polls because they are known to be unreliable, and “responsible” journalists know better. If this is indeed the case, one should ask him to explain why they commission the polls in the first place. If exit polls require a full day of sampling to provide meaningful results, then why not just wait for the ballot counting to start?
Of course, we should give Mr. Engbert the benefit of the doubt. It could well be that he is basing his opinion on information recieved anonymously from a Kinkos in Texas that has been authenticated by experts contacted by CBS.
With several pithy observations about the fact-checking failures by Eric Engberg, James Joyner weighs in.
Paul, at Wizbang reviews events and calls ’em as he sees ’em. “The whole right side of the blogosphere knew the numbers were bogus long before CBS and the MSM knew”

Fact checking The “Bad” American Economy

In the lead up to, and wake of, the US Presidential election, Canadians have had no shortage of opinions about the state of affairs of our southern neighbors. Judging by the comments to phone-in shows from local talk radio to the CBC’s nationally broadcast Cross Country Checkup yesterday, many are rather smug.
The assumption that our economy is stronger is based on some valid arguments – running consecutive surpluses at the federal level is one of them, the “strengthening” Canadian dollar is another. However, Canadians seem blissfully unaware of what the falling US dollar means for our trade based economy. Many seem to believe that the most important consequence is less costly vacations in the US.
In reality, the huge competitive advantage a 65 cent dollar gave exporters is beginning to change. Canadians are going to have to become more productive and efficient to make up the difference. We’re already about 25% less productive than the average American – with a 25% lower standard of living to show for it. Unless you’re one of those vacationing civil servants, you’re probably going to feel the effects.
The most common misconception is that the USA is suffering from high unemployment and a crushing national debt. It’s not really our fault – this been the steady mantra of ill-informed news media too lazy or unmotivated to do a little fact checking. In fact, unemployment rates in the US today are around the same level as during the Clinton years. It helps to place US data up against our own.

Unemployment rate (Oct’04):
Fed Debt as % of GDP (2003):
US – 5.5%
US – 36.1%
Canada – 7.1%
Canada – 42%

(Figures from gov’t sources, Stats Can, etc.)
Most industrialized countries have debts hovering around the 100% of GDP mark. Historically, the US federal debt was at an alltime high during WWII when it reached 125% of GDP.
Is the current deficit and military spending high? Yes and no. There is cause for concern in any deficit spending, but then again – the US is at war and we’re not. And as military spending goes, the US is currently a far cry from their peak (1945), when they spent 38.5% of GNP on the military. Today, the US spends 3.6% of GDP on the military, lower than the average of 5.7% spent during the post-war years of 1940- 2000. *

Cosh, On Football

Colby Cosh

“[blahblahblahblah, blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah, blahblah, blahblahblahblah] Overconfidence is inadvisable, particularly in a public forum like this, but just between us, Saskatchewan already lost this game”

Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey-ey, goodbye

Loving Them To Death

I originally heard about this case from friends who helped in grooming the dogs from the Trinidad, CO seizure. Read it all, but park your stomach at the door.
Some advice to follow up:
If you have to surrender a pet for adoption, be extremely careful about where you are sending it. Many of the animals seized in these disasters were “saved” by hoarders who offer “private rescue”. Legitimate private and club rescue organizations exist, and in most cases, they are highly preferable to even government-supported humane societies and dog pounds – but they will be recognized and endorsed by a national breed club or local kennel club. Spend an extra few days and check them out, before you surrender your animal to them. With the availability of information on the internet, there are plenty of resources out there.
Some hoarders breed the animals (or more accurately, collect the puppies that are accidentally produced and lucky enough to survive) to support their compulsion. If you are purchasing any purebred or “designer mix” puppy, you should be able to visit and see the conditions that all the dogs live in. Don’t buy the excuse that kennels are off limits for fear of introducing disease. Large breeders bring dogs in and out all the time – this is where disease risk is high, and it certainly doesn’t stop them from buying or attending auctions. (Though home visits are not always a guarantee – some puppymills actually meet buyers at a different “home” location, where a few clean and cared for animals serve as surrogates for the factory breeders in the barn down the road. )
Finally, it helps reduce the risk of buying a puppy or dog from such conditions if you ensure that rescuers or breeders are members of a national or local breed club. A disclaimer, though – clubs can be large and members scattered, meeting only on occassion at dog shows. Or they may have lost control with age and formerly good conditions and policies degenerate without the knowledge of those who know them. Many hoarders are quite competent in their “real life” – and do a very good job of creating a false impression to their peers.
Bottom line – do your homework, trust your instincts, and be prepared to say “no”.

17 Reasons Why You Should, Michael

17 Reasons Why You Should, Michael
1. For every disgruntled American Democrat moving here, 6 disgruntled Canadian Conservatives move south.
2. It will take a little of the load off your clogging coronary arteries.
3. Thanks to the mustard splatter down the left side of his favourite suit, Jimmy Carter voted for Bush.
4. Your Academy Awards invite wil be found in a locked drawer in a desk from the set of “Team America – World Police”. In 2006.
5. Your penis is still extremely small.
6. Not that it matters.
7. In 2008 the 527’s will feature anti-Moore ads by Moveon.gorge
8. Hemorroids. You’re at high risk, Michael.
9. Whoopi Goldberg is about to ring your doorbell, Michael. She’s looking for a pity fuck.
10. Roger Ebert is standing in line behind her.
11. [See 5.]
12. Jon Stewart has contracted Ed Gillespie as regular guest host.
13. There’s a bill in Congress to institute a military draft of unemployed, obese, middle-aged men with annual incomes of over 1 million. No, really, there is.
14. The West Wing opens the 2005 season with Fred Thompson taking over the role of Josiah “Jed” Bartlet.
15. Matt Drudge has been sent your “My Pet Goat” photo collection.
16. He has the tapes, too.
17. The best politically positioned Kennedy descendants today carry Arnold Schwarzenegger’s genes.

Post Mortem, Ad Nauseum

The post mortems are piling up. Blame Massachusetts. Blame Hollywood. Well, duh.
Don’t blame homophobe evangelicals.
Here’s an eight point argument I find far more persuasive [though they don’t say so in so many words] – John Kerry wasn’t the man for the job.
The Primaries Dean’s buses are empty
Bush’s Inner Circle Karl to press: “Weenies!”
Cranky Kerry Get me my hairbrush!
Prison Scandal and “lovin’ Bob Woodward to death.”
The Families ewww… Teresa
Swifties and the bloggers!
The Debates
And if that doesn’t convince you, try this best explanation yet. From a voter.

Oily Goodness

I followed a link left by a commentor and came on his blog and this very useful information on oil production. Go read the whole thing. A great overview on production and cost breakdowns.
Country Rank & Production1999– Early 2002 Rank and Production

1. Saudi Arabia 7.7 million barrels/day– 3. 7.7 mb/d
2. Former Soviet Union 7.1 million barrels/day– 1. 8.6 mb/d
3. USA 5.9 million barrels/day– 2. 8.1 mb/d
4. Iran 3.6 million barrels/day– 4. 3.7 mb/d
5. China 3.2 million barrels/day– 7. 3.3 mb/d
6. Norway 3.0 million barrels/day– 6. 3.4 mb/d
7. Mexico 3.0 million barrels/day– 5. 3.6 mb/d
8. Venezuela 2.8 million barrels/day– 8. 2.8 mb/d
9. United Kingdom 2.7 million barrels/day– 10. 2.6 mb/d
10. Iraq 2.5 million barrels/day– 11. 2.4 mb/d

(Canadians who have been advocating a “turn off the oil tap” retaliation for BSE border closure, take note…)
The larger chart is here.
update – Roo has pointed out in the comments that he’s now put a piece on refinery facts.

So Long, Centerville

Looking for a solution to high local property taxes? Ungovernment your town.

Going out of business appeals to small places like Cooper, where only 145 people live. With no jobs and an aging population, the tax base is shrinking even though the costs of government keep rising. “It just got to be more than we could handle,” says Sue Dorsey. Dorsey says that’s why the 26 residents of Centerville let the state take over their affairs – everything from education to snow removal. “There was more to do and less people that wanted to do it,” says Dorsey. Centerville not only locked the door to city hall, it sold it for $3,500.

8 out of 9 small towns in Maine that have done this have seen a drop in property taxes.
Hat tip – Dr.Joyner

“The Small Guy”

“Vote Or Die” P Diddy,

“Don’t underestimate the small guy. Nobody really respected us. Nobody really thought we would come out and vote. It really taught me that if you speak to young people, speak to minorities, they could change the world. The future’s ours. It’s our turn now. We’ve been left out of the game for too long. Time for y’all to let us in now.”
“After the polling, I came to MTV…”

Another reality-based celebrity…

How He Did It

I was in the shop painting all day, so I’m still catching up on my own blog reading. In the meantime, if you’ve not already, I recommend this Newsweek story ‘How He Did It. An insiders’ account of the evolution of the Kerry and Bush campaigns, written by reporters who were “imbedded” for the past year or so, it’s fascinating reading. (The page I’ve linked to is just the intro – the meat is at the link at the bottom.)
So far, only half is online. First impressions? My relief in the defeat of John Kerry is solidified. And I don’t mean that in any meanspirited way. But go check it out for yourself, and be sure to stop back and let me know if you agree.
(link fixed)

Maps Maps Maps

Velociman assists his readers in interpreting the election maps;

For those of you who keep pointing me to red state/blue state maps and telling me Bush won Hawaii: the “big island” you keep directing me to is fucking Alaska! They just put it next to Hawaii for purposes of convenience!
I will admit the Aleutian Islands did go Bush.
“Look at the big red island” indeed.

Reports From Fallujah

A link from Wretchard a few days ago alerted me to this very good site for background info from Iraq –

So to sum up, if I am Joe Insurgent in Fallujah, and have news access (probably via shortwave radio), I know that:

  • Bush has won a resounding victory
  • the British are united behind him and will participate in the attack against me
  • the Arab media will mainly be embedded with the Americans, and will give accurate stories of their prowess, not the dreck I feed them
    All of these things have a psychological effect on the enemy combatants. If there is any chance at all for a peace settlement, the US’ blatant unity behind the president will further deepen existing discord between the sheiks and the foreign fighters.
    I would put all of these events, together with the unrelenting airstrikes, under the battle phase of “shaping the battlefield,” wherein we have not yet committed ground troops, but it’s the next step, and we are doing all possible right down to the wire to make them successful.

  • Read the rest of the post at Adventures Of Chester if you have any intentions of watching/reading news about Fallujah in the coming days.

    Exile Map

    Kevin Steel has provided a handy map, along with advice for disillusioned Democrats.

    First of all, you’ll notice that you should probably best stay out of Western Canada, lots of red there. Ontario (just to the right of the red blob) is your best bet, though you certainly can check out the eastern seaboard, which is much like your northeastern seaboard. New Yorkers in particular should feel right at home in, say, Labrador. That’s what I would recommend.

    To which I’ll add, Churchill may appeal to the yachting crowd.

    Air Pollution, American Style

    EPA: Looking at Growth and Emissions
    Each year EPA looks at emissions that impact the ambient concentrations of these pollutants. These annual emissions estimates are used as one indicator of the effectiveness of our programs. The graph below shows that between 1970 and 2003, gross domestic product increased 176 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 155 percent, energy consumption increased 45 percent, and U.S. population grew by 39 percent. During the same time period, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 51 percent.

    Feel free to email this graph to David Suzuki and every Kyoto supporter you know…

    “Score One for the Little Guys”

    CBC’s Ira Basen has an excellent summary on the role of blogging in correcting the crumbling standards of “old media”.

    […] this time, the agents of change are not high-priced media experts or expensive new technologies. No, this time the revolution is being brought to us by a large and mostly disorganized group of men and women who spend much of their days and nights pounding away at their keyboards. They are the people who produce political web logs. Some are read only by friends and relatives, others have numbers and influence that rival those of older, more established magazines. And in this campaign, the “bloggers,” as they call themselves, have been all the rage. And their presence really does seem destined to change the course of campaign reporting, just as much as the introduction of radio, TV and spin doctors did in the last century.
    There is a greater need than ever before for Big Media outlets to be at the top of their game when it comes to breaking important stories, dissecting spin, and highlighting the issues that matter to voters. But it has been a long time since Big Media has been at the top of its game. It has been riding on its reputation for too long.
    The most important development to come out of the coverage of this campaign is that bloggers, and others such as the intrepid “reporters” at The Daily Show, have pulled back the curtain and revealed Big Media to be a shrunken skeleton of its former self.
    Now is the time to begin rebuilding. And the mainstream would be wise to see the blogosphere not as an enemy, but as an ally in the process.

    Via Heart of Canada.
    Well, this doesn’t happen often – The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan in agreement with the CBC….

    Every time the big networks and big broadsheet national newspapers tried to pull off a bit of pro-liberal mischief–CBS and the fabricated Bush National Guard documents, the New York Times and bombgate, CBS’s “60 Minutes” the election–the yeomen of the blogosphere and AM radio and the Internet took them down. It was to me a great historical development in the history of politics in America. It was Agincourt. It was the yeomen of King Harry taking down the French aristocracy with new technology and rough guts. God bless the pajama-clad yeomen of America. Some day, when America is hit again, and lines go down, and media are hard to get, these bloggers and site runners and independent Internetters of all sorts will find a way to file, and get their word out, and it will be part of the saving of our country.

    Both are good reads.
    Jeff Jarvis has a useful observation.

    Last night, blogs (other than this one) got bombarded with traffic (shutting down this host) for a simple reason: Bloggers were telling the public what they knew. Big media was not.
    How absurd is that? When did journalists get into the business of not telling their public what they know?

    Then, of course, there remain a few slow learners.