On leadership


“I don’t even remember. Some of the stuff that you guys have seen me — the state I’ve been in? It’s a problem.”

via Toronto Mayor Admits Smoking Crack, but Won’t Step Down – NYTimes.com.

“What we are going to do from here forward, if it will make people leave me the hell alone, is we’re going to do them like college papers.”

via After Plagiarism Charges, Paul Announces Office Restructuring – NYTimes.com.



Fact: There are about two dozen oil spills a year in the U.S.


Although the state initially thought just 750 barrels of oil was involved, it turned out to be one of the largest spills in North Dakota history — an estimated 20,600 barrels over 7.3 acres of land, or about the size of seven football fields.

via ND Waits 11 Days to Tell Public About Oil Spill – ABC News.


‘Paulie, Pull Over, I Gotta Take a Leak’

Rodriguez, according to an associate, is eager to begin playing and does not understand why the Yankees have shelved him…

via Rodriguez Angers Yankees – NYTimes.com.

Like a man who knows his days are numbered, the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez trudged to Tampa from Scranton to begin “rest and treatment” for a leg injury he says he doesn’t have.

This is what baseball gives us in July: Ryan Braun’s urine and Mr. Rodriguez’s Sad Sack Road Show.

It’s so sad that Mr. Rodriguez was compared to a child who is left behind at recess. The Yankees’ Curtis Granderson, in Tampa recovering from a broken finger, himself another member of the club’s well-heeled disabled list, said Mr. Rodriguez had wanted to hit baseballs with the rest of the kids in Tampa. He added ominously, according to The Associated Press, “They had to stop him.”

7:11 PM John
…So, really, do you think A-Rod “doesn’t understand” why the Yankees are holding him over the hamper like a pair of stinky socks?
7:18 PM Samantha
Well, with a-rod it’s tough to know

The Yankees have their reasons. You see, Mr. Rodriguez is on baseball’s magic list of players who have engorged themselves with the help of a now-disgraced Florida doctor.

Mr. Rodriguez had hip surgery in January, and a few days ago completed a longish stint in the minors honing his now-mediocre timing — he had eight hits in 13 games. Had the Yankees wanted him back, they could be penciling him in the lineup right now.

Instead, team officials announced he had a strained quadriceps and needed “rest and treatment.” Which, if it weren’t in the cold, clinical language of American sportswriting, would sound like a line from “The Godfather.” As in, “I’m putting you on a plane to Vegas;” “…the boss says he’ll come in a separate car;” or, you know, “Paulie, pull over, I gotta take a leak.”

The Yankees, already vexed with their three-time M.V.P. for bleating on Twitter without permission last month, were further provoked on Wednesday when one of Mr. Rodriguez’s cronies, a New Jersey doctor, told a New York radio station that “I don’t see any injury there.” Oddly, the doctor was reprimanded Thursday by the state for allowing an employee of his clinic to peddle steroids. Is there anyone in Mr. Rodriguez’s entourage who is taking this seriously?

The Yankees certainly are. For all the world, they are acting like Don Corleone himself, sitting in a dark, smoky room, waiting to hear back from baseball’s Luca Brasi. Some wags believe Mr. Rodriguez is in for a lifetime suspension.

To reporters who tried to corner him Wednesday at the Yankees’ complex, Mr. Rodriguez said, “I feel great.” He added, a bit dishonestly, if you ask us, “That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Mr. Rodriguez is acting like nothing is going to happen, calmly stepping into the fishing boat with a sullen figure he hardly knows.

Which I suppose is all you can do.

It Could Be Worse


via National Weather Service Watch Warning Advisory Summary.

7:56 P.M. Samantha
Hey, Dear! How’s things?

7:57 P.M. John

7:58 P.M. Samantha
Excellent! Would be nice to actually be swimming in this heat.

7:58 P.M. John
I bought a new fan. We have four now. Come over in the afternoon, and it sounds like you are on a B-17. …The weather guys are missing so much. Yesterday, was an advisory. Today was way worse. What gives?

8:00 P.M. Samantha
No kidding. It was like walking into the sun today.

8:01 P.M. John
Fun fact. It is actually hotter thousands-thousands of miles away from the sun than it is on the surface itself. So, you know, if you can make it there, it gets better.

8:01 P.M. Samantha
Well that’s a relief!

The Artlessness of Politics

“A vote for this bill is a vote to end nutrition in America,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. … “Thank God, we can do something!” exclaimed Rep. Tom Rooney R-Fla., as he walked off the floor…

via House Approves Farm Bill, Without Food Stamp Program – NYTimes.com.

Well. The House passed a Farm Bill, finally.

Of course, they left out the food stamps, so I suppose it was easy.

For weeks, Republicans and Democrats could not agree on what to spend on food stamps. Apparently, it got ugly, even for an institution known for its ugliness. In the end, they simply agreed not to agree and sent the farmer-specific bits along to the printer.

Explaining himself afterward to reporters, Speaker John Boehner said, and I am not making this up, “If ands and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas.”

This is a politician, mind you. An experienced speech giver. And that — basically a list of some of the things poor people may not be able to afford at Christmas — is the best he has.

Not only was it hackneyed, but he flubbed it, too. People of Earth: It’s “ifs and buts.”

Really, the vote Thursday by the House was a punt. It only eliminates food stamps in the imaginary world of polemicists and blog posters; Congress will still have to find a way to pay for them. The difference is now Republicans won’t have angry farmers breathing down their necks, asking them why the Farm Bill hasn’t passed. They will be able to focus their beady little eyes on giving poor people what-for.

Which, to be honest, is what most people really want — shrinking the cost of food stamps a bit, I mean.

And, to be honest, unhooking aid for poor people from aid for farmers probably makes sense, from a lawmaking-philosophy point of view. Never mind that very little in Congress does otherwise. Or that quite a few farmers qualify as poor for our purposes.

There were a few interesting — and by interesting I mean NOT interesting — footnotes. There is more crop insurance. There are more juicy perks for guys who grow peanuts. And lawmakers went in and erased a handful of unpleasant legacy laws from the Depression, which — and I am not making this up, either — kick in if Congress doesn’t get off its duff every now and then and write a new Farm Bill. (And you thought sequestration was an innovation.)

The point is, things will work out. The Senate has already passed a food-stamps-included Farm Bill, cutting less than a percent from the poor-people parts. And House Republicans promise, they really do — Eric Cantor of Virginn-eeya told The Associated Press his colleagues would “act with dispatch” — to get around to this food stamps business.

I am sure that red-state farmers are relieved. My question is, Why?

The first thing any farmer will tell you if, heaven forfend, you suggest that the Farm Bill might be too expensive is, Well, most of that is for food stamps. And this is true. About $80 billion of the $100 billion, according to the original House bill.

But what do you think food stamp users are buying, more often than not? Foods, which I observe are the very things farmers make with all the money the government sends them in the first place. Maybe a lot of the money goes to big conglomerates. Certainly there is waste to sop up. But does it make sense to turn your back on your customers?

In any case, don’t pity the farmer. It says here, being in food is going to be very good business over the next few centuries.

Practice makes perfect.


“Theres not a lot said,” OReilly said. “Everybody knows their job, knows how to do it, when to do it.” He does not remember the name of the first inmate executed during his tenure…

via Ex-Texas warden reflects after 140 executions.


North Carolina’s governor says protests are unacceptable, but (we’re guessing) secession is still O.K.


“Unlawful demonstrations should be unacceptable,” he told reporters Tuesday following a meeting of the Council of State.

via Dome: McCrory says Monday protests are unlawful, unacceptable | Under the Dome | NewsObserver.com.


The Sunday Obituary No. 7


Soon after the Estes indictments, however, Mr. Freeman, the agriculture secretary, disclosed that a key investigator on the case, Henry Marshall, had been found dead in Texas — bludgeoned on the head, with nearly fatal amounts of carbon monoxide in his bloodstream and five chest wounds from a single-shot bolt-action rifle. Local officials ruled it suicide, but the body was exhumed and the cause changed to homicide.

via Billie Sol Estes, Texas Con Man, Dies at 88 – NYTimes.com.


Employee of the month.


Frantz Schmidt was a master executioner. He had a notarized certificate to prove it. He apprenticed under a master; he paid his journeymans dues. He mostly worked in the imperial city of Nuremberg during his forty-five years of service, 1573-1618. He executed 394 people: men, women, and some boys and girls. Schmidt, always poised, delivered a good death, whether he beat you to kingdom come with a wagon wheel or applied the pitch and touched the flame, slipped the noose or cut off your head.

via The Faithful Executioner – The Barnes & Noble Review.


Suspicion and the Temporary Office

[11:08 AM] Bob : Subject: …I got a door…

[11:22 AM] Me: Hospital room?

[12:15 PM] Bob : …transitional office…’till my new cube is ready….imagine coming to work after a week of blowing off phone calls and emails …and you go to your desk to find…nothing…not even a note telling where you are supposed to go….

[12:16 PM] Me: Sound like you have some jokers in your office

[12:20 PM] Bob : …just shut and locked my door….

[12:22 PM] Me: Do you smell almonds, kinda bitter smell?

[12:22 PM] Me: See smoke? Hear a hissing sound?

[12:23 PM] Me: Did anyone offer to buy you anything you want for lunch?

[12:23 PM] Bob : …just opened it… freedom.