Now playing in middle America


Um … right. The AP reports that a man has been charged with drunk driving … while on a barstool.

Authorities in Ohio say a man has been charged with drunken driving after crashing his motorized bar stool.

Police in Newark, 30 miles east of Columbus, say when they responded to a report of a crash with injuries on March 4, they found a man who had wrecked a bar stool powered by a deconstructed lawn mower.

Twenty-eight-year Kile Wygle was hospitalized for minor injuries. Police say he was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated after he told an officer at the hospital that he had consumed 15 beers. Wygle told police his motorized bar stool can go up to 38 mph.

Wygle has pleaded not guilty and has requested a jury trial.

America, America, God shed His Grace on thee!

The ingenious, innovative spirit of Americans is boundless.

Leading lede


Today’s leading lede, from the BBC:

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is facing fresh questions over her future after “mistakenly” claiming the cost of two adult movies on Commons expenses.

Her husband claims responsibility, and has apologized for embarrassing his wife.

Good one.

Compact Fluorescents: I was wondering about that


And here I thought it was just me. Apparently not.

It sounds like such a simple thing to do: buy some new light bulbs, screw them in, save the planet.

But a lot of people these days are finding the new compact fluorescent bulbs anything but simple. Consumers who are trying them say they sometimes fail to work, or wear out early. At best, people discover that using the bulbs requires learning a long list of dos and don’ts ….

…. One of the 16 Feit Electric bulbs the Zuerchers bought at Costco did not work at all, they said, and three others died within hours. The bulbs were supposed to burn for 10,000 hours, meaning they should have lasted for years in normal use. “It’s irritating,” Ms. Zuercher said.

Irritation seems to be rising as more consumers try compact fluorescent bulbs, which now occupy 11 percent of the nation’s eligible sockets, with 330 million bulbs sold every year. Consumers are posting vociferous complaints on the Internet after trying the bulbs and finding them lacking.

I have this one light, in my laundry room, that is a combination flood light and fan. I don’t know who thought anyone needed a flood light over my washing machine; maybe this particular fixture was cheaper, or something.

But I can’t have the fan on without the light; that’s what bothers me. The fan is vital, though. I have a cat that is obliged at present to live indoors. That fan helps cycle the most part of her unpleasant odors out of the place. Unfortunately, if I want the fan on, the light is on, too.

Unless it’s burned out.

But it’s the only light in the laundry room.

Damn it.

I figured to compromise, you know? I need to be able to see; I need that fan on; a compact fluorescent isn’t what I would consider a painful measure. And, hey, the thing is supposed to last ten thousand hours, right? I don’t mind the increased cost when I’m going to get better lifespan out of the product. At least, not the difference between this and an incandescent bulb.

Unfortunately, it’s not meant to be. The shortest-lived light bulb in the house is a compact fluorescent screwed into the socket in my laundry room. It’s not even close. Maybe a thousand hours? Nope. Maybe five hundred.

Maybe five hundred.

I get the idea of CFLs, but we need them to work. That’s all. I’m not going on a crusade here, especially since I’m betting it’s something about the wiring in my building and the particular fixture I’m trying to put these lights into. Still, though, it presents challenges to reducing one of my largest home energy demands, and that’s unfortunate.

To be fair, the CFL in an old floor lamp in my bedroom works just fine.

Ten days, and you’ve got to be kidding me


Oh … well … you know.

What a difference ten days makes. The New York Times ran yesterday a story about minutiae as news.

It’s been another busy few days for the Obama administration, which the news media has faithfully cataloged.

The Politico broke the story that the president’s aides sang “Happy Birthday” to the assistant press secretary, Nick Shapiro, and surprised him with a chocolate cake!

The Wall Street Journal scooped the nugget that the White House Office of Management and Budget chief, Peter R. Orszag, likes Diet Coke!

The Washington Examiner reported that the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was spotted “getting money at the SunTrust Bank in the Safeway on the corner 17th St. and Corcoran St. NW.”

Are any of these items newsworthy? (It’s not as if the country is facing two wars and an economic crisis or anything.) Well, yes, they are — a lot of Web sites, bloggers and Twitterers have deemed these developments so. While there has always been a hearty appetite for stories — and trivia — about the people in a new administration, today’s White House press corps (competing for up-to-the-second news) has elevated the most banal doings to a coveted “get.”

“It started as sort of a joke to treat official Washington as a celebrity culture,” said Ana Marie Cox, who helped create the genre in starting the Web site Wonkette five years ago.

“Now it seems that a lot of the irony has been lost and the joke has turned real,” adds Ms. Cox, who now blogs and Twitters about the White House for Air America.

The above, from Mark Leibovich, ran only ten days after Helene Cooper‘s front-page announcement:

Well, that didn’t take long. Just 44 days into the job, and President Obama is going gray.

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Friedman Redux


Twice in a week? Well, maybe I’ll just have to get over Friedman’s whole “suck on this” big-stick attitude.

Apparently, Maureen Dowd has the day off, so Friedman fills in today with more reflections on the economic crisis:

Yet I read that we’re actually holding up dozens of key appointments at the Treasury Department because we are worried whether someone paid Social Security taxes on a nanny hired 20 years ago at $5 an hour. That’s insane. It’s as if our financial house is burning down but we won’t let the Fire Department open the hydrant until it assures us that there isn’t too much chlorine in the water. Hello?

Meanwhile, the Republican Party behaves as if it would rather see the country fail than Barack Obama succeed. Rush Limbaugh, the de facto G.O.P. boss, said so explicitly, prompting John McCain to declare about President Obama to Politico: “I don’t want him to fail in his mission of restoring our economy.” The G.O.P. is actually debating whether it wants our president to fail. Rather than help the president make the hard calls, the G.O.P. has opted for cat calls. It would be as if on the morning after 9/11, Democrats said they wanted no part of any war against Al Qaeda — “George Bush, you’re on your own.”

As for President Obama, I like his coolness under fire, yet sometimes it feels as if he is deliberately keeping his distance from the banking crisis, while pressing ahead on other popular initiatives. I understand that he doesn’t want his presidency to be held hostage to the ups and downs of bank stocks, but a hostage he is. We all are.

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