Friday, January 25, 2008

If You Can't Wait For My Death

Nice Resume. Have You Tried Botox - In her self-help book "How Not To Look Older", Charla Krupp screams her antiaging advice to female executives in capital letter commands. TAKE THE BOTOX INTERNALLY, Charla. You won't have any more wrinkles or feel any pain.

Ledger Masseuse Made 4 Calls to Olsen - As Good As News last request - if you find my cold, unresponsive body please call 911 first, before calling Mary Kate or even Ashley. Call 911 before calling Uncle Jesse, even though John Stamos is an ER Doctor now. Call 911 before calling Bob Sagat, but he can tell the "Aristocrats" joke at my funeral if he promises to play "Mike's Best Show Yet" on American Home Videos (if you can't wait for my death, use the MySpace link to view comedy clips, or just click this ).

Fraud Costs Bank $7.1 Billion - OK, but does he get to keep the toaster? A rogue trader at Societe General makes Nick Leeson and Mr. Copper look like pikers. Some experts question whether any one person, even an expert in control evasion, could do this on his own. Each trade has a "written" (including electronic writings) confirm that is reviewed by someone outside the trading room. Payments are funded from outside the trading room. Trades that will exceed position limits on each market and each trader trader require superivisory approval and the people looking at confirms and authorizing payments know this. It's possible Messr Kerviel was the only employee who deliberately flouted controls, it seems unlikely that everyone else who could have noticed performed routine duties competently.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Attention Gaza Shoppers

Hamas Pierces Egypt Border, Opening Gaza - As a quasi governmental organization Hamas has won the hearts and minds of angry Palestinians with its simple yet eloquent platform - everyone must die. Yesterday Hamas ordered Muhammad Mishlahad to hop into his "big Effer" crane (OK, As Good As News has been know to fabricate a quote or two, but "big Effer" is for real) and bash a gap in the security wall Egypt had erected to protect itself from the perpetually angry Gaza strippers. Did a gang of suicide bombers cleverly disguised as Egyptians then race through this strategic hole in the wall? No, it was more like a retailer opening for a special sale event at 6AM on Black Friday (relax Karen Black and Bruce Dern fans, we mean the shopping day after Thanksgiving - nothing to do with superbowl teror). An eager wave of ordinary civilians who had withstood a long blockade unleashed a friendly surge of shopping fury. Egypt didn't seem to mind, as long as the shoppers returned home. Despite the fact that Hamas got some kudos, even Israel didn't seem to mind, viewing the gap in the wall as an opening to possible involvement by Egypt in Gaza. So the closest thing to good news to come out of Gaza in years turns out to be a shopping story? Who knew, maybe W was right all along and we can bring American values to Iraq. Instead of helping them build a constitution we should build a Walmart.

FDA Requiring Suicide Studies in Drug Trials - Voters Showing a Darker Mood Than in '00 Race - Senior officials in Health and Human Services are quietly elated by preliminary test results on an improved version of Prozac scheduled for release this Summer. Most subjects in clinical trials became so laid back and content that they told polsters they would vote for the incumbent president's party without even knowing the names of the candidates. A small, but statistically significant, minority showed improvement in their mood but did not turn into political vegetables. Significant concerns raised by this minority were allayed when follow-up studies showed a high percentage would commit suicide by the end of October.

College Students Now Register to Vote in Same Way They Study for Exams - Drink too much Starbucks, get restless and play video games all night?

Can a Blogger Grab an Oscar? There's one answer only - YES!

How did an indy flic grab an oscar nomination and what does blogging have to do with it? Read Juno - Queen of the Blogs (As Good As News favorite review of its favorite movie from previews last Fall) then

63 Across - Words missing from the eight starred clues

line at your local theater.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Time's Root Canal for Doc Gurby

Who speaks for the Turkmens? It's not easy, but As Good As News remains ever vigilant as the official blog of Turkmenistan.

Turkmens Curtail Cult Surrounding Ex-Leader - Reporter Michael Schwirtz covers Turkmenistan President Doc Gurby's decision abolishing a national holiday established to worship his dictatorial predecessor Niyazov. The Times uses this positive news as an excuse to launch another unprovoked attack on Doc Gurby. While the story spends a few words summarizing developments under the Gurby administration - Gurby, a former dentist with a name so long we have vowed never to type it again, has reformed education, courted foreign investment, eased Internet restrictions and called for greater human rights - the bulk of this short piece trashes Doc for not turning Turkmenistan into a free market democracy in a year.

Kudos Mr. Schwirtz, you managed to complete your root canal without once using "reclusive" thereby establishing the NY Times record, but going to the thesaurus for "hermetic" to accompany the ever popular "authoritarian" is not the answer. Next time write a news story - Doc Gurby ends Niyazov Day and does not replace it with Gurby day - full stop - without including an additional ten paragraphs of your opinion, buttressed by your hand picked experts, that Doc Gurby has failed to turn Turkmenistan into Switzerland quickly enough to suit you.

While the story opens with the abolished holiday, the bulk of the purported news piece reports what Doc has not done. This painful operation starts with the objective "unclear whether reforms will lead to... or simply a recasting of the ubiquitous statues of the former leader in his own image". Why is this unclear, Mr.Schwirtz, according to your own facts the holiday was reduced to a celebration of flag day - there was no announcement of a new Gurby Day. Are you reporting or predicting? Why not speculate on authoritarian China's possible return to a cult of personality each time a statue of Chairman Mao keels over.

Carefully selected opinion is then used to complete the operation with no anaesthesia. "We are not seeing any radical systematic change", " reforms are cosmetic", "He wants a type of free country with market economy, but he doesn't understand what that is." Where is the quote that says "The President is moving cautiously, but each change he makes is a step in the right direction." How about, "Turkmenistan went from a feudal system caught in the middle ages to a far flung, downtrodden outpost in the authoritarian Soviet empire to the plaything of a deranged dictator. There is no history of democracy, free press or market economy. To announce a free market democracy without laying an institutional groundwork might make the Times happy, but it would doom Turkmenistan to another generation of sorrow."

NCAA or Zoo - It's one answer only

Smart zoogoers know not to mess with even the oldest, sleepiest looking tiger, because they never fade away, and OSU knows not to mess with
39 Down - Fighting Tigers' sch.

218, 13

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Between the plan and the reality lies the Rudy campaign

The Rudy Plan- forget the early primaries in those hick states that will never love Rudy anyway. Rudy will just wait for Florida, a state with a lot of Yankee fans, while Romney, McCain, Huckabee and whoever beat each other up.
The Risk - Romney's big investment in early decision states pays off and he sweeps into Florida looking invincible on the momentum of victories in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and Nevada and a good showing in South Carolina.
What actually happens - Huckabee surges in Iowa and will continue to claim many votes from evangelicals, a big factor in Republican primaries. McCain revives in New Hampshire and triumphs in South Carolina. In sum, Rudy gets his dream scenario - he can charge into Florida offering leadership in a field of squabbling pygmies and even the religious right, a group whose skin crawls at the sight of Rudy, will split its vote between soul brother Huckabee and "winner" Romney.

The Rudy reality - He misses the headlines. Pat Robertson's endorsement doesn't mean much, even to evangelicals, as Huckabee bypasses the old leaders and goes straight to the young voters. Comedic news icons repeatedly mine Rudy's 9/11 obsession for laughs as the voters focus on the economy. Little things, like the fact that his current wife forgot a former husband, the fact that Rudy invented the vendetta and the unending troubles of Rudy's buddy Bernie, keep cropping up to fill the vacuum left by Rudy's non-campaign. He slips in the polls. The Florida campaign may end up with Rudy shopping for a nice place to retire - As Good As News hint - stay near Tampa, you'll love spring training.

Rudy, who will you blame when the early primary results look like they were scripted by your campaign manager and you lose Florida big-time anyway?

Newlyweds Seething After a Photo Studio Fails to Deliver - Speaking of vendetta, look carefully at the bride's expression in today's photo. The groom is miserable, no wedding pictures, photographer broke and incommunicado, no point in suing. The bride is wasting no energy on misery, she will kill someone very soon.

A classic one answer only

For the As Good As News view of an up and coming conductor, visit Conduct This, but just look down for the answer to
29 Down - Beethoven Dedicatee

If you took a long weekend off, scroll down to They Did What in Vegas (Sunday, Jan 2o) and E-Bay, E-Scabs and Giant Tip - Get Bowling Names (Monday, Jan 21) - funny posts that drew low traffic due to the holiday.

219, 14

Monday, January 21, 2008

E-Bay? E-scabs? Giant Tip - Get Bowling Names!

Auction site inquiry - E-Bay is investigating an offer to sell a vial of sperm reputedly donated by Archie Manning while he was a poor freshman at Ole Miss in 1968. Bidding has been increasingly active over the past three weeks and the price jumped by nearly 40% last night as Archie became the first known sire of two Superbowl QBs.

Scripting The Soaps Is Hidden Drama of Strike Plagued Daytime - How are the soaps staying on the air during the writer's strike? The Times explains that a handful of union writers are using the "financial core" (aka, I need money to eat) exemption to keep working with the union's blessing, but they are aided and abetted by anyone on the show's staff who can hold a pen - producers, secretaries, the guy driving the catering truck, even, gasp, network executives. Union members suspect the shows are getting some help from real writers, but striker Sandra Weintraub, a veteran soap writer, notes: "With the Internet people don't have to cross a picket line, so we'll never know."

As Good As News is shocked. E-scabs? Not a problem. In fact. where do I sign up. The stunner here is that soap operas actually have writers, who knew?

Seriously, it's not that big a surprise that assistant producers, secretaries and others can plug a writing gap for a while. The staff is riddled with talented people who are there because they want to be involved in a creative industry. Some have been hoping for a break, a chance to work as an actor, writer, assistant director. Writing a soap with this crew is about as tough as putting on a musical with a New York wait staff.

The suspicion that union writers might be secret scabs, working under cover of Internet anonymity raises a lot of issues. If we are talking about regular writers helping out their own show, are they getting paid or working gratis to keep the show alive, keep their friends gainfully employed and preserve their own future? Are they writing scripts or just offering a few notes on the plot lines so the scabs don't wreck the show for years to come?

E-scabs might appear in many situations. A struck employer can now outsource all kinds of work electronically. Any union representing workers who do a "desk" job has to wonder before a strike whether the jobs can be filled, maybe permanently, by a bunch of people sitting in Sioux Falls or Mumbai.

How does a union combat the e-scab? Persuade other unions not to cross its electronic picket line - which has much in common with the invisible fence used to contain pets. If the union representing the soap actors refused to work with scab scripts, production would be shut down.

Key Moments in Giant's NFC Championship Season AND HOW TO WIN THE SUPERBOWL-

Key moment - Coach Coughlin loosens up with training camp bowling night. To win the Superbowl get really loose - hold another bowling night and make the players bowl under assumed names. Who wouldn't get loose when that electronic scorer throws up "Trixie" for Michael Strahan, "Ralphie Boy", for Eli Manning, "Dirty Eddie" for Sean O'Hara and "Plaxico" for Plaxico Burress.

Key moment - Tiki Barber retires, getting rid of one "look at me" Giant, and criticizes Coach Coughlin and former teammate Eli Manning, helping to keep the team in Eli's corner through some tough games. To Win - Let Coughlin interview Tiki, using severe interrogation techniques.

Key moment - Fan favorite Jeremy Shockey goes out with injury, shelving another "look at me" Giant. To Win - Bring Shockey back, after he has seen twenty replays of severe interrogation of Tiki by Coughlin.

Key moment - Coughlin and G-men play to win all night against the Pats and Eli awakens, suddenly making decisions at game speed, making plays when they are there and playing safe when they are not. To win - hey, if As Good As News understood exactly why this happened we would be an NFL quarterback coach.

rerun to Vegas for one answer only

If you wanted to win in Vegas, you should have bet Hillary to
17 Across - Triumph, but just barely
If you want a quick laugh, visit the post almost no one read yesterday, They Did What in Vegas?


Sunday, January 20, 2008

They Did What in Vegas?

Caucusing With Flair, Las Vegas Goes to the Polls - Nevada switched from primaries to caucuses this year and held the caucuses right in the casinos. Most of the voters were confused. Many were stunned to learn that caucus was neither a new version of Keno nor an acrobatic procreational activity. Even to politically astute Nevadans, the caucus seemed like a primary. They were stuck in a room full of machines with levers, they just couldn't find the curtains. One dazed Republican wanted to vote for Thompson, Huckabee and Ron Paul, he kept pulling the lever waiting for three lemons to come up.

The Democrats were confused by Vegas too. Dennis Kucinich might seem a little nerdy (see Revenge of The Nerds), but his wife Elizabeth is a thirty year old red head with a tongue stud who looks good enough to be a show girl. Kucinich got only 5 votes, and no delegates, but enthusiastic Kucinich supporters kept stuffing campaign contributions into Elizabeth's bra.

Obama 2nd, but Takes 1 More Delegate - How can this be? Barack ran a close second but won an extra delegate (not the delegate's vote, the actual delegate) when a Hillary supporter on a losing streak threw herself into the pot in no limit Texas hold-em.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Flickr and the Library of Congress

The coolest virtually unreported story this past week was the Library of Congress posting its entire archive of photos on the web 2.0 photo site Flickr. This does two things:

1)makes the photos (that are free to use) more available:
2)Gives the LOC the opportunity to crowdsource for those photos where it doesn't know the subject or the location.

Link here

(from 1914)

On another note..I sometimes forget they had color pictures back in the day. I’m used to the newspaper versions.

Stroke On Newark

Secret Service: Detailed Look at '06 Turmoil - It's June 16, 2006. Steve Howards, a 55 year old environmental consultant, is visiting a shopping mall in Beaver Creek, Colorado with his seven year old son. Howards notices a commotion, spots Darth Cheney at its center, approaches, maybe taps Darth on the shoulder, tells Darth his policy in Iraq is disgusting and walks away. Ten minutes later the Secret Service arrests Howards for assault and deposit him in jail. When it's time to prosecute the five T-men turn into the 5 stooges, with conflicting stories about who said what when in the period between the incident and the arrest. Two of the agents claim that a third encouraged them to file a false report to justify the arrest. Howards is initially charged with harassment, not assault. Ultimately all charges are dropped and Howards sues the Secret Service agents, claiming civil rights and free speech violations.

There is absolutely no chance the Secret Service watched anyone assault Darth and let him walk away. If they did, the agents should be dismissed immediately. Not for the phony arrest or cover-up but for the most basic of failures - they did not protect the Vice President of the United States. So, if the 55 year old environmental consultant shopping with his seven year old son didn't assault Darth, what happened?

The T-men are giving conflicting testimony, but the one person who is saying absolutely nothing is Darth. Picture Darth after this incident. He's just been interrupted in the middle of an otherwise pleasant interaction with the loyal public. He's surprised, taken aback and, after a few minutes, angry. He growls quietly to Agent Reichle "Make sure that asshole never bothers me or anyone else again."

Collector Returns Art Italy Says Was Looted -Philanthropist Shelby White is "returning" ancient Greek and Etruscan art to Italy to resolve Italian claims that it was looted from archaeological sites. OK, maybe White bought some items of doubtful provenance, and maybe no one should get good title to stolen goods, no matter when and where they were stolen - but then why is Italy getting Greek artifacts? Are they more Italian because the Etruscans or the Romans stole them from the Greeks three thousand years ago instead of three hundred years ago?

Planning Newark's Next Big Step: An Apartment Tower Near the Arts Center - Developer Lawrence Goldman is now planning a commercial/residential development next to NJ/PAC. The skyline changing, upscale building, Newark's first residential construction in four decades, will include subsidized units for artists. The plan includes a boathouse for the Rutger's crew. Fantastic idea. Presumably the boathouse will serve the Newark campus (sadly, the New Brunswick campus no longer has a men's crew), but maybe it will offer prep and masters programs to Newark residents. Act now, Mayor Booker - you could be planning for Newark's Next Big Stroke.

From Edward Curtis, One Answer Only

The selections in Well, is it? don't need one, but when your photo is in doubt you can always
39 Down - Directorial demand


Thursday, January 17, 2008

fraud, theft and tax evasion by any other name

First Backdating Conviction Brings Prison Term and $15 Million Fine - Gregory Reyes, former CEO of Brocade Communications Systems was sentenced to serve 21 months in prison and pay a fine of $15 Million for backdating options granted by his employer. Sound harsh? What's a little backdating between friends? "Backdating", like "market timing" is a PR triumph of the white collar defense bar. Call it backdating if you wish, NY Times, but recognize that Reyes got what he deserved. Kudos Judge Breyer.

An option is a right to buy a stock at a specified exercise price for a specified period of time. Suppose the price of Brocade stock closes at $1/share on January 10 and $2/share on January 15. On January 15, Brocade grants Reyes an option to buy one million shares at the market price on the "date of grant". If this was handled properly, the exercise price is set at $2/share, Reyes receives no taxable income on the grant (although he will owe tax when he exercises at a profit) and Brocade, until recently, had no expense (for book income purposes) or deduction (for tax purposes) when it made the grant. So long as the exercise price was no less than the market price on the grant date, Brocade could, at that time, grant options with no immediate impact on its income (although accounting rules on option grants have changed recently). If Brocade made a grant of an option to purchase one million shares on January 15, at an exercise price of $1/share when the market price was $2/share, Brocade would have reported an expense of over a million dollars in its financials and Reyes would have received taxable income on grant. Now suppose that on January 15 Brocade grants an option to purchase a million shares at fair market value, but Reyes fiddles with the records so that the option actually granted on Jan 15 is recorded as a Jan 10 grant. His exercise price becomes $1/share at a time when the market price has already jumped to $2/share. By fudging the grant date he's not only causing the company to under report compensation expense, he's also giving himself a much more valuable option (essentially stealing from his own shareholders) and ducking taxes to boot. Backdating sounds a lot nicer than theft, fraud, tax evasion - Times, why are you a sucker for these polite euphemisms like backdating and market timing?

Account of CIA Tapes is Challenged - Chairman Hoekstra is summarizing one side of the story here as he prematurely runs to the press with the report that Jose Rodriguez, former CIA head of clandestiny, acted contrary to directions when he destroyed CIA torture tapes. As Good As News has been poking some fun at Rodriguez, but the prediction here is that Rodriguez received general advice, possibly from many sources, that it would be a good idea to preserve the tapes, but no clear order to do so. He also received no clear direction or authorization to destroy the tapes, but he may have received legal advice that destruction of the tapes would not be illegal if they were not evidence of a crime and if they were not relevant to any pending legal proceeding. Both of these ifs loom large today. The legal opinions of Dr. Yes on the scope of lawful interrogation techniques are discredited, and interrogators might theoretically be vulnerable to criminal prosecution. The CIA's reading of the scope of a the 9/11 inquiry now seems disingenuous, at best. At the time he destroyed the tapes Rodriguez probably took some comfort from the official White House and CIA position on both of the "ifs" - torture was OK, not criminal, and when investigators asked for records they did not mean to include tapes.

Listen to what Robert Bennett says here, not Committee Chair Peter Hoekstra. Hoekstra has to run for office every two years, grabbing publicity with preliminary information is like breathing. Bennett is an advocate, not a neutral party, and he will put the best possible face on the facts, but he is also an extremely bright and capable lawyer who won't intentionally lie to the Committee, or even the press, because, among other things, he knows it will backfire.

Limbaugh or Leno - 2 Choices for One Answer Only

Jay has run out of material but he needs to come up with a show every night and the stress is driving him to binge eating. Rush is looking at the probable election of Hillary or Barack with Democratic majorities in both houses and just binging, period. Both are profiled in OK to Less Stress - But the Best Defense is Still A Good Offense, both could use some stress reduction, but which is
8 Across - 1958 sci-fi classic starring Steve McQueen - [answer in labels]


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reliance the wrong path

Supreme Court Limits Lawsuits by Shareholders - The Court ruled that shareholders of Charter, a now bankrupt cable TV company, could not sue its vendors on a theory of "scheme liability". The challenged scheme was carried out in the fall of 2000. Investors claimed the scheme was designed to provide the appearance of additional cash flow for Charter by getting its TV set-top box vendors, Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta, to engage in “sham” deals under which Charter paid extra for the boxes but the companies simply turned around and paid that money to Charter in advertising at above-market rates on its cable TV outlets. The result, the lawsuit contended, was to generate some $17 million in phony revenues, so that Charter’s cash position – in reality, a shortfall of $15 to $20 million — did not appear to be below the amount projected by the company and by stock analysts. Note that the sham extra payments for the cable boxes were accounted for as the purchase price of assets that were capitalized, so the sham expense would have been spread over several years on Charter's financial statements, while the equivalent amounts returned to Charter as sham advertising revenues would have been booked entirely in the year the ads were sold.

The Court decided that because the scheme was never publicized, investors who bought Charter stock could not have relied upon the scheme, therefore the vendors are not liable to the investors. Charter itself has all kinds of liability, but then Charter is bankrupt.

Perhaps private rights of action under Section 10 (b) of the 34 Act should be limited, even eliminated, but the "reliance" approach taken by the Court defies the reality of the market. Everyone involved understood that the only possible purpose of the scheme was to create phony revenue for Charter. Everyone understood that this revenue would appear in Charter's financial statements, upon which investors would rely. That was the whole point. As Good As News helpful hint to Justice Roberts, if you want to limit liability arbitrarily then use good old fashioned privity. If you want to use reliance, then recognize that public companies publish financial statements and investors rely upon them. Look to the question of whether or not the "scheme" could have any purpose other than the fraudulent manipulation of the financial statements if you want to use a realistic reliance approach that gives some comfort to suppliers of legitimate goods and services caught up as alleged accomplices in securities fraud.

Clones Safe to Meet?

F.D.A. Declares Cloned Animals Are Safe to Eat

Chefs' New Goal: Looking Dinner in the Eye - "Leading chefs seem to wallowing in, and advertising, a new intimacy with the animals they cook."

-Diner to dinner, "Haven't I seen you somewhere before?" Don't miss the stylish clone cow earrings in the photo.

2 Sequels Make One Answer Only

An Odd Couple sequel would star
9 Down - Last king of the united Sweden and Norway: oscarii
but an SNL sequel? See News Update from 1975


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dr. Yes Credit and Thank you striking writers

Thank you striking writers, for leaving me stuck on PBS tonight. Cheney's Law was a replay of Jack Goldsmith's book and a long NY Times article on Cheney's push to maximize Presidential power and the assistance, resistance then assistance it received from the Office of Legal Counsel within the Justice Departement. No new news, but it was nice to see and hear good guys Comey and Goldsmith and bad guy John Yoo (who former Attorney General John Ashcroft tagged as Dr. Yes before As Good As News got there). Bad guys Addington (Picasso of the signing statement) and Bradbury received well deserved demerits, but were not interviewed.

I am far too lazy to add all the links, but search this blog for "Yoo" and "signing statements" if you want short essays (one or two are even funny, torture and the imperial presidency are always good for a laugh) on several points the PBS special touched upon.

The Nobility Clauses - seriously

Bjork Accused of Attack -Bjork silently ripped the shirt off a photographer who snapped her without permission. Odd choice for As Good As News? Yes, but it was very hard to get a photo out of the items on constitutional law, products liability and chess politics. How do we feel about it? Sympathetic to celebs stalked by paparazzi and more scared than ever of Bjork. In the As Good As News index of types waiting to be cast she was already pencilled in for the role of cyborg in T-4.

A Hereditary Perk The Founding Fathers Failed to Anticipate - Did you remember that the US Constitution bars state and Federal governments from granting "titles of nobility"? In the Washington Law Journal, Carlton F. W. Larson, University of California, Davis - School of Law Professor, argues that state universities violate this clause when giving admissions preference to the children of alumni. When the constitution was written the English term "title of nobility" had a meaning so narrow (Earls and Dukes but not Kings or Knights) that the founding fathers must have meant something broader, and, relying upon some late eighteenth century historical context, Larson argues the intent was to prohibit a broad range of hereditary privileges.

So, when Rutgers admits the child of an alum despite his mediocre grades, the school is not just dubbing him a Scarlet Knight, it's entitling him the Earl of Raritan? Maybe.

State school admissions preferences for legacies have withstood challenges on the basis of racial discrimination, despite the fact that for many state schools the grads are disproportionately white so that the effect of the admissions preference for alumni children benefits whites disproportionately. The cases have noted that the legacy preference boosts alumni donations (parents give more when they think it will help with their child's admission) so there is some rational reason for the state's policy of legacy preference. The few decisions on point have found this is enough to justify a policy which does not directly use race as an admission criteria, even though it has a racially disproportionate impact. Prof. Larson's article may spur a new attack on the legacy preference at state universities.

Study Reveals Doubt on Drug for Cholesterol - A trial completed in April, 2006 shows that Zetia and Vytorin, made by Merck and Schering-Plough do nothing at best and might actually contribute to plaque formation. The big news is the gap between completion of the trial and release of the results. The manufacturer's attribute this to the complexity of the data they were required to analyze, but 5 million people are taking these drugs, so they contributed greatly to profits over the past 18 months. Plaintiffs attorneys won't buy this explanation for the delay without proof, and class action suits will appear far more quickly than the report on the clinical trials did, as someone will seek to recover the costs paid for ineffective treatment. Even moderate side effects become unacceptable if they result from a treatment which is known to be ineffective, providing yet more grounds for claimants. If you are analyzing these stocks, allow for more than just the loss of Zetia and Vytorin revenue going forward.

Chess Panel to Request Resignation of Official - a majority of the Executive Board of the US Chess Federation will formally request the resignation of Paul Truong, a fellow exec board member, claiming Truong has stonewalled the USCF's efforts to investigate allegations that Truong posted scatological comments on Federation board candidates while posing as Sammy Sloane, another USCF candidate. Truong says he won't resign because he hasn't done anything. Right, says the majority of the USCF Executive Board, Truong hasn't done anything, he hasn't answered questions and he hasn't authorized his Internet service providers to release data. Weird Sammy Sloane is looking better and better as this mess plays out. Sue Polgar, wife of Truong, and a chess champ was not asked to resign even though she was also named in Sammy's suit.

Bob Marley Knows the One Answer Only

Iphone Exit Strategy, it might still work. If all else fails there's always
33 Across - Book in which the first Passover occurred: exodus
aka movement of the people.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Taxing Wesley

Giants Make the Leap to Lambeau - Kudos to the Giants and Eli Manning, who were underestimated here. Eli has just played the three best games of his career, restoring the high hopes of draft day 2004 to Giant's fans. After four years of inconsistent play and foolish turnovers, Manning suddenly understands that ball security is more important than a big play -unless your team is behind and the clock is running out. What happened and can he make it four in a row?

With Son Nearby, Davenport Seeks Grand Slam Title -Kudos to Lindsay Davenport, playing tennis with baby Jagger in tow because it's still fun. Instead of mastering breast feeding 101 at the Parrot Mill Inn (parrot mill? sounds like a call to the SPCA may be in order) in Chatham, NJ she's going after another Australian Open title. Kudos to Serena for her gracious overstatement that she (Serena) would still be in the hospital seven months after childbirth - nothing wrong with a little fib to compliment Davenport, but Serena could probably play two days after giving birth, while carrying the infant in a snuggly. Like cake eater, jagger is Western Pennsylvania slang, as if being named after an aged rocker weren't bad enough.

Kudos to ----the Knicks - surprise. Men of Zeke pound powerful Pistons in surprising upset, when no one is watching thanks to the Giants.

Team Creates Rat Heart Using Cells of Baby Rats -Kudos to the University of Minnesota team that has grown a beating rat heart in the lab, starting with neo natal rat cardiac cells. Just in time for [complete with aging rat in need of heart transplant - comments accepted]

Wesley Snipes Tax Trial to Begin in Florida -Wesley Snipes earned $38 Million while paying no taxes, and filing no returns, from 1999 - 2004. He also gave the IRS a couple of bad checks and filed a false refund claim for 1997. His accountants relied on a blatantly ridiculous interpretation of IRS regulations and Snipes is claiming he relied upon them and really believed he owed no taxes. If he is very lucky, Snipes will bamboozle a jury and avoid felony conviction, but he will still owe back taxes, penalties and interest. The government wants the criminal conviction and the message it sends to other tax evaders. Snipes is also involved with the Nuwaubians, a quasi religious sect of Black Americans who promote anti-government theories. Snipes sought a permit to set up a military training camp on land adjacent to a Nuwaubian compound. Wow, this guy was really good at acting creepy in Blade, but who knew he was a major league wacko, a veritable demolitin man? He belongs in jail on the tax charges. Let's just hope this guy can't jump, bail. If Snipes really believed he didn't need to file any returns or pay any taxes while he was making $38 Million dollars he should be pleading insanity. If you have an ounce of sympathy for Snipes, or anyone else who denies the obligation to pay any and all taxes, remember, the amounts they don't pay leave a bigger burden for the honest taxpayers to shoulder.

Letterman mini top ten - one answer only

Dave, you passed up the free shot at Leno I offered in Letterman Strikes Back, but found your own private revenge by settling with the writers while Leno is stuck struggling with only his own jokes. Smart move, but I guess that means your staff has no
26 Down - Good sign at a motel: vacancy

221 10K

Sunday, January 13, 2008

...............On such a winter's day

Big Swells, Tall Waves, Wipeouts and a Perfect Ride - Congratulations to Greg Long, winner of the Mavericks Surf Contest at Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay, California. The Time's story presents its most interesting news with an aside here, an assumption there. You might have missed it if you were sleepy. In this contest, 30 foot waves are considered "medium" size. The medium size waves allow the surfers to relax and strut their stuff.

Only when the waves arrive from the West can you veer left and surf the North side of the wave, which will hold it's shape and not crumble and crash down on you. I will be sure to remember this next time I am surfing a medium size thirty foot wave.

After collecting his check Long announced that the six finalists had agreed to split the prize money evenly while waiting to catch a wave during the contest. Imagine the uproar if a winning golfer announced that the top six players on the leader board after round 3 had agreed to split their prize money evenly before the beginning of the final round. The world of golf would go berserk. Banner headlines would trumpet the scandal. Players would face suspension and shame. Sponsors would withdraw in disgust. In surfing this pact seems to have generated little more than a yawn.

I sometimes play golf alone, without scorecard, just enjoying the feel of the occasional well struck drive or the sight of a long iron shot taking a direct line to the flag, but for most rounds by most players, golf is a game of elaborate rules built by dour Scotsman around the scorecard. The competition for lowest score is the heart of the game. Even players of vastly different skills can compete thanks to multiple tee boxes on each hole and the handicap system.

Surfing was probably developed by joyful Polynesians who wanted to take the thrill of riding an outrigger canoe down a breaking wave one step further. The notion of competitive scoring is a dubious modern imposition, one that seems to ride the waves in a very uneasy coexistence with the heart of the sport. Splitting the prize money pot does not seem to be generating any indignation in the surfing world. In fact it happened once before, in the Red Bull Big Wave Africa a few years ago. So, As Good As News kudos to all the finalists for splitting the prize money, and more kudos to Mr. Long, not just for winning, but for announcing the deal on the prize money and sticking to it. Forget the press conference, surf is still up.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Biggest Loser?

Cleveland Sues 21 Lenders Over Subprime Mortgages - Cleveland is going after Wall Street, using an Ohio statute to claim damages based on the creation of a public nuisance. The defendants are not the firms who originally made the mortgage loans, stretching the credit review process past the breaking point to make loans that would not be repaid if interest rates rose. No, the defendants are the bankers who set up special purpose funds to purchase the mortgage loans, thereby creating demand that may have induced the loan originators to act rashly. Interesting case. First, is this really what the Ohio legislature had in mind when they enacted a law allowing municipalities to recover damages from one who created a "public nuisance" - it sound's more like a way to go after a landowner who lets the weeds grow and doesn't clean up after the dogs. Second, should Wall Street be tagged for someone else's bad credit decisions just because Wall Street bought the bad loans and (coincidentally, of course), Wall Street is where the money is? These questions will be decided by a local judge, and possibly jury, from Cleveland, a city that is suddenly paying a lot to tear down abandoned houses and looking at empty lots that do not pay real estate taxes. They may get to hear evidence that Wall Street knew its mortgage loan purchases were creating a level of demand that could only be met with bad loans. So, is Cleveland Robin Hood, Willie Sutton or just the Biggest Loser in the subprime mess, setting itself up for another round of burning Cuyahoga humor? Stay tuned.

Running and Fighting, All to Save Her Son -She's baaaach in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Linda Hamilton created a fascinating character (remember the escape from the prison mental ward at the beginning of T-2), but the spotlight was on Arnold. Now a new TV series will focus on Sarah (played by Lena Headey, pictured). In a very promising development, NY Times gave the new show thumbs up - a lot to ask from the Times for a TV series that's derivative and low brow. As Good As News is looking forward to this - even if only so I can use Sarah's pull ups as ammunition in the perpetual struggle to switch to a channel that is not playing Biggest Loser.

NFL playoffs continue and As Good As News is asking for too much, an interception return for a touchdown by Nate Jones of the Cowboys and a Giant's win. Odds against this parlay are at least 200 to 1, but we can hope.

Friday, January 11, 2008


India's Drivers Often Put Off Learning How- Does this story have anything to do with the recurring vehicular atrocities seen regularly on roads near the Metro Park train station in Edison, NJ? The headline was changed to "Indians Hit the Road Amid Elephants" in the on-line Times, a bow to political correctness that a comedy blog must ignore. To be fair, just this once, it is not just Indians who forget the rules of the road near Metro Park, the passing trains generate a powerful electromagnetic force that causes a high percentage of drivers in the vicinity to forget anything they may once have known about safety, courtesy and common sense. The total lack of traffic planning as this area kept its quaint rural roads while developing into a commercial center and transportation hub has created an every man for himself ethos that will be hard to cure, even if a series of bypass construction projects finally reduces some of the congestion.
Hanging and Amputation Find Favor in Iran Courts - This is an obvious and desperate ploy by Iran to bypass the US State Department and curry favor directly with America's right wing evangelicals during the primary season. The ever popular right hand - left foot double amputation makes sure that the convicted thief will never pick another pocket, or walk, again, even with a cane. Meanwhile sissy lawyers in the US argue over whether execution with a three drug cocktail is cruel and unusual punishment because we can't be sure the paralyzed convict is not suffering during execution. Nice try Iran, but appeal to that well known American love of nostalgia is just not going to turn US foreign policy around.

Escapes runs two ski features just as As Good As News Readers have reached the saturation point. Read on without fear - we will be brief.

When The Family Ski Trip Is What Brings You Together -Massive kudos to David G. Allan, who captures the intimacy of the ski vacation (although I freely admit that I am no "Ski Dad" - I can't bypass that no whining commandment). Note the resorts mentioned in this piece - Heavenly, Breckenridge, Stratton - all fantastic places that I can personally recommend. Heavenly provided the best snow and best views I have ever experienced. Breck had Rasta Pasta, snowmobiling across the continental divide and, right, some skiing too. Just last weekend, Stratton came through with great snow and the ever popular fake village.

Overlooked - Equally massive kudonts to Bill Pennington and his paean to the 44 underrated ski resorts of NY State. Why would anyone go to Windham, Gore, Plattekill, Whiteface or any other NY mountain? Take it from me, as one who has spent dozens of miserable days skiing these NY hills, there is absolutely no reason to go there. No reason to fly down Lies at Gore, No reason to take advantage of the snow that's always waiting at Windham, no reason to challenge the ungroomed steeps at Plattekill. No reason to jump from the gondola straight onto Skyward (pictured) at Whiteface. Continue to bypass NY on your way to Vermont, or Colorado. I will monitor these slopes on a very regular basis and let you know if any aspect of the situation changes. Mr. Pennington - please consider the well known Yogism - "It's so crowded no one goes there anymore".

no fun rerun for one answer only

Sharpe James lost
33 Across - What you take when you do the right thing: moralhighground
but he won separate trials for his real estate and credit card problems, those pesky prosecutors seem to complain about everything, there's just no fun allowed.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Headline Crawl 4

'05 Use of Gas By Blackwater Leaves Questions - Questions like why is a State Department contractor using tear gas on a crowd that includes US soldiers on guard duty?. Why do these guys even have gas? After this incident, their ration of baked beans should be limited.

Ireland: Inquiry Into Drinking Laws - Justice Minister Brian Lenihan calls for repeal of the daily two drink minimum that has long defined the national character, provoking national outrage and drunken rioting in several major cities. Seriously, Lenihan decried a national problem with binge drinking and called for a study of current laws on sale and distribution of alcohol. News in Ireland, but really, NY Times, would this be in your headlines if the Justice Minister of any other country had made the same announcement?

Pirate Attacks Increase in 2007 - Angered by the rising tide of pirate humor, buccaneers bumped up their swashbuckling stats by more than 10% over 2006. An anonymous pirate, who asked to be identified only as Hillarrrrrrrrry, broke down in tears while talking to this reporter - "It's just not fairrrrrr. We don't all have peg legs and talk with rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrolling rrrrrrrrrrrs. And the whole parrrrrrrrot thing is just so ridiculous, it really hurts sometimes."

Second Escapee From New Jersey Jail Is Arrested in Mexico - Otis Blunt was seized in a cheap Mexico City Hotel. Jose Espinosa was captured a day earlier in an apartment near the jail in Elizabeth, NJ. As Good As News pictures these guys tunnelling gleefully a la Shawshank redemption, covering their entrance with a poster of Jessica Alba, scrawling a sarcastic thank you to the poor guard who didn't notice, then - free at last. Oops, unlike Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, they have no secret bank account skimmed from the warden and no tropical Eden awaits them. Hint to prisoners, when you're on the outside you need more than Al Sharpton's phone number.

Consultant Questions Beijing's Claim of Cleaner Air - Steven Q. Andrews, a Princeton In Asia fellow who worked in Beijing with the National Resources Defense Counsel, has concluded that "irregularities" in the pollution measurement system have allowed Beijing to meet environmental targets linked to the upcoming Olympics. Government official Du Shaozong responded. Without rebutting any of the specifics in the Q's detailed critique, Du noted that sky's were indisputably bluer and promised that with patience and reeducation the small group of people who did not understand this fact would eventually understand. Ah the joys of a one party system and captive press - Mr. Du's blather does not seem to have encountered any follow-up questions. So, kudos to Q, kudonts to Du.

Blog Takes Failed Marriage Into Fight Over Free Speech - A divorce judge in Vermont has ordered blogger William Krasnansky to take down posts that offer a "fictionalized" view of his wife, who initiated divorce proceedings. His postings include entries from her journal. Ouch. Sympathies to the wife, but by obtaining a restraint on free speech and making a constitutional case out of it, she has put the husband's blog in the NY Times when otherwise it would have been read by 4 people in Vermont. If minimizing her embarassment was the goal, doing nothing about the blog would have attracted a lot less attention. A suit for damages based on libel, copyright infringement and invasion of privacy, with no request for an order censoring the blog, might have scared the husband into taking the posts down voluntarily while the suit was pending. Instead she asked for, and got, a broad order to take down the offending posts and cease putting up new ones, generating national publicity for a blog that's still up and running. Be careful what you wish for.

The UnHamptons are the One Answer Only

Ready for a change of scenery? Max Camper is rounding up a pair of each living thing, loading them onto his rolling
20 Across - Couples cruise vessel - noahsark
and heading on tour from Acadia to Zoo, in the Unhamptons.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sitting On Top Of the World

Surfers Defy Giant Waves Awakened By Storm - Major storms off the California coast produce some of the largest waves ever recorded in the North Pacific.
Clinton Escapes to Fight Another Day - Riding an emotional wave of her own tears, Hillary races to victory in New Hampshire.
Corzine Proposes Steep Rise in Tolls - NJ is drowning in debt, but Corzine will use higher tolls to fund cheaper bonds and stay out in front of debt service costs.
Kenya's Crisis Worsens as Opposition Cools to Talks - Disaster looms over the country as tribal violence threatens to break national bonds.
Young and Broke in the City, But Staying Afloat -Friends with New Orleans connections live on live on Westchester Creek and await their opportunity to surf the Bronx.

Fashion's Protected - One Species Only in One Answer Only

Mr. Blackwell joins NY Times fashion editor Cathy Horyn in selecting Victoria Beckham for
4 Down - Ignominy: disgrace ,
handing Posh Spice the top slot on his worst dressed list. As Good As News saw it coming in A Peril Nearly Missed. Ms Beckham is not the sympathetic type, but at this point she's a very large target already riddled with many bullet holes. Mr. Blackwell began a protected species list this year, with Britney Spears as the only entry. Good concept, but next year expand that list of Fashion's Protected Species to include every other fashion victim that has already been hunted to near extinction.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tuition Enigma

You are the parent of a two year old. Although your child still teeters with each step and thinks lunch is a face paint, you are already beginning to navigate the financial shoals of saving for a college education. How much will it cost?

Imagine you are shopping for groceries. You look through the window and see attractive displays of fruits, vegetables and packaged goods. The prices are clearly posted, but many are extremely high. You swipe your ID as you enter the store and the prices suddenly begin to jump like the scale on Biggest Loser. The grocery store has just checked your credit rating and repriced its inventory based on your ability to pay. If you are well off, the prices don't move at all. If you are poor, most of them drop substantially, with the expensive items, the elite private schools, those Fillet Mignon of the collegiate grocery, dropping the most and a few staples, the community colleges, the oat meals of academia, barely budging.

Harvard, Williams and their ilk could fill their entering classes with the children of the rich, who would be more than willing to pay the full posted price, but, after a century or two of offering scholarships to the extremely talented few, elite schools like these decided that in the event of class warfare they did not want to be on the side with fewer troops. Thus a policy of financial aid based on need developed. The elite would offer admission based on "credentials" (credentials could still include things like the ability to run with the football or the fact that the applicant's father was an alumni and head of the CIA) and, if the applicant's family could not afford the tuition, the school would provide financial aid to offset tuition and room and board bills by just enough so the applicant could attend while his parents stayed (barely) out of the poorhouse. The Ivy League, in collaboration with MIT (someone had to do the math), actually set up a trade association to determine the financial need of applicants on a collective basis.

The US Justice Department, taking the view that the true price of a college education was the posted tuition less financial aid, attacked this collaborative evaluation as a form of price fixing. College education is not a simple commodity. Some students will gladly pay twenty times as much to go to Harvard as to Boston College, others pick State U over Harvard without regard to the price. Tuition, even the net or effective tuition after deducting financial aid, is just not the key factor in their decision. Despite the fact that the market for college educations has some unusual features, As Good As News belatedly concedes the Justice Department had a point. First, a better aid package might make a difference to a student choosing between Harvard and Yale, even if the same student would spurn Boston College at any price. Second, the action by the Justice Department foreshadowed, and may have contributed to, a change in the student aid climate.

A network of colleges built to serve a baby boom size population suddenly found itself with a shrinking universe of applicants. Meanwhile, the grown up boomers put greater emphasis on the prestige of the colleges their children would attend. The result? Colleges, especially private colleges, needed students, preferably students with high SATs and GPAs that would enhance the reputation and rating of the college itself. To attract students they began offering merit scholarships on a widespread basis. A lucky few would get the coveted full ride, joining the athletic royalty, but for many an award of five or ten thousand dollars a year in scholarship money would make a difference in selecting a college.

Returning to our collegiate grocery store, for the last ten or fifteen years the prices have moved twice. Once, based on need, when we enter and undergo the credit evaluation. A second time, based on merit, when we approach the check out counter with our child's report cards and test scores in hand. The Fillet Mignon price is not moving very much on checkout because of merit aid, because Harvard and Williams don't need to lower prices to get quality students. The oatmeal price is not moving either, but the lamb chops, the fresh vegetables and even some very nice roasts and salmon fillets are sold at a discount, because even some good schools will compete to get the students they want. Sometimes it's an across the board cut, like the University of Vermont with its formulaic merit awards. Sometimes it's a negotiation with the admitted student playing two financial aid offices off against one another. Either way, the posted tuition means less than ever and even Richie Rich can get a discount if he's a good student.

Very recently some of the Fillet Mignon has been marked down to new lower prices in a trend that may spread, a little. Harvard and Yale have both announced that they will make more aid available to more admitted students. In Harvard's case the poverty line for aid qualification will now include families with a six figure annual income. This is still need based aid, these institutions do not need to discount to get quality students and would not admit it if they did, but, in addition to any possible covert competition for quality students, there is a new factor at work. The endowments at Harvard and Yale are producing so much income the schools need to spend it.

Charitable foundations are generally required to spend at least a certain percentage of their income on charitable pursuits or lose their tax exemption. After all, they are supposed to be charities, not hedge funds. College endowments are not subject to this rule, but they could be if Congress gets mad at them. Harvard and Yale, thanks to smart investing and bull markets, have posted tremendous gains in their endowments for several years. They have been slow to spend this money, probably because any use of endowment income for a recurring expense becomes a permanent commitment, one that would be tough to maintain if the endowment's investments decline in value for a few years in a row. The spectacular returns and resulting growth in endowment principal has attracted attention lately, some of it unwonted attention from politicians who are always looking to capture tax revenue without losing votes. Harvard and Yale have decided to fight preemptively by spending some of their endowment wealth on a populist cause, financial aid. As a result, the Fillet Mignon price is moving to a bigger discount for more people when they first enter the tuition grocery store. These two schools have the largest endowments of any colleges. Other colleges have also improved their returns on investment in recent years, but Harvard and Yale are leaders in performance as well as size of endowment. A few schools with elite reputations may expand aid to compete with Harvard and Yale for middle class scholars, but very few will do so as a political strategy.

So, how much should you save for your two year old? Thanks to expanding merit and need based aid, the frightening numbers on the ever increasing cost of a college education are overstated, but the answer is still: a lot, preferably in a 529 plan and/or education IRA.

Small Slam Multiple Choice - How can One Answer Only be all of the above?

Hard to believe today when it's 60 degrees outside my window, but ski conditions were nearly ideal in Vermont last weekend.

What's a Small Slam? A) a post on political controversy at a bridge championship? B) What happens when my wide shouldered, glade skiing son follows a path between two trees that aren't very far apart? C) What you get if you include a very, very big rock in a
20 Across - What you really saw?: meteorshower

Friday, January 4, 2008

Chime out for ski days

Thanks to the reader who arrived yesterday via the key word "mischime". Yesterday's headline, "Candidates Mischime In" was a questionable choice by the always suspect crew at the NY Times headline squad, who use inconsistent capitalization as a torture technique. Remember, it was the candidates, not the headline writers, who could claim sleep deprivation as a justification for mischiming. "Candidates mischime in" runs a distant second to - "Candidates chime out" in the As Good As News poll of one. Chime in with a comment if you have an opinion. Comments will be accepted on Monday following a brief ski break.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Late Night Joke Tester?

With Nods to The Strike, Late-Night Hosts Return -"Eight weeks after their writers went on strike and plunged their shows into reruns, Jay Leno, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien returned to late-night television Wednesday with original shows in which both the Iowa caucuses and the new facial hair on two of the hosts loomed large. Mr. Letterman, who sported a thick beard as gray as Mr. O’Brien’s was red...Mr. Leno said that the union rules allowed him to write jokes for himself. “I write jokes and wake my wife up in the middle of the night and say, Honey, is this funny,” he told the audience."

I am clearly Late Night material, with a half red, half gray beard and the same joke testing technique as Leno. I ask my wife if a new bit is funny. She typically replies "No". Not satisfied, because I am always irrationally enamored of my own material, I press on. "Why not, be a little constructive, it's a funny idea, there must be some way to make it work..." After listening patiently for up to two seconds, my wife will explain calmly that my joke's not funny, "because it sucks" ..........
Not Just Voter Fatigue: Candidates Mischime In - Covering sleep deprivation on the campaign trail, this piece features a quote from notorious night owl Bill Clinton, “You have no idea how many Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate are chronically sleep deprived because of this system,” Mr. Clinton said in September on “The Daily Show.” “I know this is an unusual theory, but I do believe sleep deprivation has a lot to do with some of the edginess of Washington today.” While Bill looks on this as a problem, W reacts to the yawns of Congressional Democrats with a grin, "sleep deprivation is OK, but I would really like to see these windbags after a few hours of water boarding.".....
States Hesitate To Lead Change On Executions - All 36 states that execute by lethal injection use a combination of 3 drugs, designed not just to kill, but to kill without any last minute writhing that might discomfit witnesses to the execution. The question of whether this 3 drug combination is cruel and unusual punishment is about to reach the Supreme Court. In the meantime all 36 states that use it have put death on hold, but none will shift to a different approach. Lawyers in the case now reaching the Supreme Court argue that injection of a single barbiturate , the method used when euthanizing animals, will kill quickly and with less chance of pain. This method was considered but never used by any state, partly because of that nagging writhing problem, partly because it just didn't sound right to execute your condemned like they were animals. As Good As News says, if you must execute - then appearances be damned. Treat the condemned more humanely in fact while getting the maximum deterrent effect from a good death rattle and a headline announcing Cop Killer Dies Like Dog.

Hospitals Slow in Heart Cases, Research Finds - Code Blue? Oh yeah- I heard that, but I'm on my break.

Appeasement? Not in W's Vocabulary, but see One Answer Only

W has befriended Vlad Putin and made nice to Kim Jong-Il in Dear Ilvis, but no one will ever confuse him with
24 Down - Churchill predecessor: chamberlain

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Franchised

Caucuses Give Iowa Influence, But Many Iowans Are Left Out -Tomorrow evening the thousands of Iowa voters who are not otherwise engaged will pick their candidates for President. The caucuses begin the Presidential selection process with a state that is already light on minorities and heavy on farmers, then exclude anyone who can't get out for a few hours on Thursday evening. The disenfranchised will include important groups, people in Thursday night bowling leagues, people who just spent their life savings on a baby sitter for New Year's Eve and can't afford to do it again for a caucus, people with work assignments that have taken them out of state (to Iraq, for example), people who work in the evenings, people who are still hung over from New Year's Eve, people who think Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy and the Orange Bowl are must see TV, people who can't bear to listen to any political discussion of duration exceeding one minute - really, it's amazing anyone shows up at all.

So, do we pity the poor, disenfranchised Iowans who will be otherwise engaged tomorrow night? Not for one second. A vote in a New Jersey Presidential primary is like a write-in for George Washington. You can pick the right guy, but the choice is already history. Iowans, those of you who are free tomorrow night, choose wisely. We are counting on you. Think of yourselves as the smart kid that gives his homework to the football team. We don't understand what you are doing and we don't really like you, but we know we can beat you up if things don't go well for us.

Successful Hollywood Producer Pioneers Shopdropping in One Answer Only

An oddball post obtusely captioned Wikipedia Anonymous connected plagiarist George Orwel (who could not spell the name he stole) and successful Hollywood producer Brian Grazer, Opie's partner, who pioneered an obscure variation on shopdropping. If you get bored with Orwel skip to the bottom for Grazer, a true oddball. Then

41 Across- What to do after completing this puzzle, with four straight lines: connectalltheos

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Kid Sheleen's View

New Year's morning and As Good As News is reminded of a line from the comic Western, Cat Ballou. Cat (a young Jane Fonda) hires the grizzled gunfighter Kid Shelleen (Lee Marvin) to protect her father. Jackson Two-Bears (Tom Nardini as an educated Native American who helps Cat's father defend his ranch from the Wolf City Development Corporation ) encounters Kid stumbling groggily following a bout of hard drinking:

Jackson Two-Bears: Kid, Kid, what a time to fall off the wagon. Look at your eyes.
Kid Sheleen: What's wrong with my eyes?
Jackson Two-Bears: Well they're red, bloodshot.
Kid Sheleen: You ought to see 'em from my side.

One playoff game and one answer only

Happy New Year. As Good As News offered tourists some tips in It's Still Fun City, Dammit! but when it came to the Steelers, we fear we had our
17 Across - Daydreamer's state: headintheclouds
A win over the Pats, a relatively easy road to the Superbowl - just pipe dreams. We will take the playoffs one game at a time, starting with the Jags.