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Lincoln ranked best president; G.W. Bush comes in at 36th

Agnostick, thanks for posting that link. The data were very interesting.

mike_blur, I don't *remember* Teapot Dome, as I wasn't born till the latter half of the 20th Century. However, I do remember learning about it, which is what I suppose you meant.

Yeah, it was a scandal. A pretty big scandal, but I look at history and there are any number of underhanded acts and schemes, from illegitimate children to spying on political opponents to kickbacks to fabricated threats to justify invading other countries (Cuba (Maine) or Cuba (Bay of Pigs) or Iraq, take your pick, really), and I look at the fact that poor Warren G. Harding is at the bottom of almost every list of ranked Presidents I see, and I don't know that Teapot Dome really justifies it. Was it just that he really never did do anything of value to offset it?

February 16, 2009 at 1:07 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lincoln ranked best president; G.W. Bush comes in at 36th

I don't know that it's all that fair to put William Henry Harrison in the bottom 5 just because he was only President for a few weeks. I think he should be removed from the comparisons, really.

And I'm always surprised to see all the hate for Harding. I mean, sure he was ineffectual, but I've always kind of considered him an average President. Why does he rate the bottom spot so often?

February 16, 2009 at 10:12 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered a review Tuesday of a Pentagon policy banning media from taking pictures of flag-draped coffins of military dead. Should the media be allowed to photograph the coffins?

The coffins are a reality, and shouldn't be hidden or denied.

When we try to use press bans or doubletalk to obscure the fact that war kills people, we undermine the gravity of the choice that a soldier makes when he (or she) decides to take up arms in service. Soldiers die, in wartime and in peace, and we shouldn't sanitize that knowledge out of our national consciousness.

It gets too easy for civilians and politicians to support that run to war when we're not confronted with the reality of its consequences. So we don't just have a right to see the pictures of our solders coming home in coffins, to know about the deplorable conditions in VA hospitals, to see with our own eyes the maimed and wounded, to listen to the memories that keep them up at night. We have an obligation to do so.

When I was a teenager, my high school marching band took a trip to Washington, D.C. In among the Jefferson Memorial and the Smithsonian, we were taken to Arlington National Cemetery, because our teachers felt it was important that we really get a feel for the cost of the freedoms we enjoyed, and that we really understand the price of war. I'm a veteran's kid, so I had it drilled into me from an early age, but seeing some of those suburbanites' faces as they contemplated a field of markers as far as the eye could see and realized that it was only a bare fraction of those who had died for this country was interesting.

I don't know where we got this idea that it's somehow 'honoring' those who fall in battle to pretend they're not dead. If we can't, as a nation, face the *sight* of their coffins, then I question whether we deserve their service.

February 12, 2009 at 11:44 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Cruel irony

Tom Shewmon says:“…have a 26 month old fetus ripped out of her womb.”I would certainly hope that any woman would have a fetus removed long before completing 26 months of gestation. Heck, at 26 months a fetus should be able to talk well enough to *ask* to be let out.Proofreading, sparky. Learn it, love it, live it.If you're going to commit the near-Godwin offense of draggng abortion into every single conversation, at least learn the difference between weeks and months. Cause it seems like everything makes you think of "George Tiller ripping a viable late-term fetus out of a woman." That sort of obsession isn't healthy, there, and in addition to being annoyed at your failure to comprehend differences in timescale, I'm a little worried about the rather macabre turn your fantasy life seems to be taking.

February 11, 2009 at 12:42 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Farmers may wind up paying for gas produced by their cows

I...I...Yeah, I'm trying to come up with something witty, but I'm laughing too hard.This is ludicrously awesome. I especially like the fake quote about installing methane collectors on cows.

February 10, 2009 at 3:31 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Senator's bill would make it illegal for anyone under 18 to have a cigarette lighter

And in other news, the Boy Scouts of America have been deemed a subversive organization for their pervasive efforts to teach teenaged boys to conjure flames as if from thin air using no more than sticks and string...What a stupid law.

February 10, 2009 at 3:18 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Sixth Street Wal-Mart to open on April 29; 235 to be hired

For all those of you saying, "Hey, what would those 235 people be making if Wal-Mart wasn't hiring them?"Well, I guess the answer to that depends on whether something else would have gone into the space, something that paid its employees better and provided a better working environment. Because what a lot of the rah-rah folks don't seem to get is that that *something* would have gone into that space, and there's a possibility that if people weren't so all-fired to get more cheap plastic Chinese crap (yes, you're right, wild_dogzzz, they also sell cheap Mexican crap, cheap Indian crap, and cheap crap from Thailand. They're *multicultural*), that the something that went there might have been a better option.It's not 'Wal-Mart or nothing', as much as Wal-Mart's advocates would like you to believe that. It's not like that space was going to sit empty if, ultimately, after all the years of fighting, Wal-Mart decided not to build there. It might have been a different large anchor chain, like Lowe's or Home Depot, or it might have been a warehouse, it might have been a cluster of smaller stores with no anchor store. But it wasn't a choice between Wal-Mart jobs and no jobs, because anything going in that space would probably have resulted in the same net number of jobs for Lawrence (we still haven't heard how hours or jobs will be affected at the store across town, by the way, which should be expected to cut people's hours as their business slows down). It was a choice between Wal-Mart jobs and trying to woo other jobs, and the Lawrence City Council did its usual fine work of settling for the easy solution instead of working hard for better options.

February 9, 2009 at 3:31 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Octuplets raise multiple ethical issues

You know, I think that the fertility treatments that allow childless people to conceive and bear children are awesome and wonderful. Likewise, I think that the plastic surgery that allows someone to have her face reconstructed after a disfiguring accident is awesome and wonderful. I think antidepressant drugs that let someone with a chemical imbalance function on a normal emotional level are awesome and wonderful.But what all these things have in common is their potential misuse. People like Nadya Suleman should not be treated for infertility, which is a *medical condition* she did not have. The woman who just flew to Brazil to get larger breast implants than the US allows was abusing plastic surgery. And people who pop antidepressants for ten years without ever doing so much as ten minutes of therapy after their initial visit to get the prescription are being irresponsible with their mental health.I think it's a combined failure on the part of patients and doctors. Doctors need to be a lot more proactive about saying, "No, you can't have that procedure/treatment/prescription the TV ads say you need, because you don't actually need it." And patients need to be a lot more willing to listen to doctors who tell them that no, just because you can't throw a football through a tire swing, that doesn't mean you need more drugs.And I think maybe we need to get a little more serious about penalizing doctors for performing and prescribing unnecessary treatments.

February 9, 2009 at 2:23 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Sixth Street Wal-Mart to open on April 29; 235 to be hired

Woo hoo!More cheap plastic Chinese crap for EVERYBODY!Wal-mart's a great place for short-term thinkers, yes it is. You pay 75% of the cost for an item that lasts half as long as one of better quality, so that for the same amount and duration of utility, you spend 50% more, waste twice as much time shopping, and take up twice as much landfill space. You ignore the fact that most of their stuff is made in sweatshops in Asia, never minding that the pollution and safety controls in places like China mean a growing problem with air quality and human rights violations. You welcome a couple hundred jobs at or just above minimum wage, without realizing that minimum wage puts most people below the poverty level and leaves them eligible for food stamps and other social welfare programs so it doesn't reduce the burden on social services, and those minimum wage employees (if they have kids) will qualify for plenty of tax credits so your city doesn't see a dime of their income tax, just the sales tax on their tiny little purchases (by the way, since they qualify for food stamps, their food purchases don't even generate sales tax...). You think working at Wal-Mart means you're buying a house and paying property taxes? Not hardly.You know, there was this time not even all that long ago when conservatives were about being smart with your money and thinking in the long-term, fiscally, when they actually made economic decisions based around sound principles like living on one's income instead of one's capital, investing in and supporting businesses likely to provide more value to a community than a few low-paying jobs, and being able to understand the larger picture that goes with getting what you pay for.But hey, everyone needs more cheap Chinese plastic crap. Because, for some reason, it just doesn't last very long...

February 9, 2009 at 2:02 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Second Chance closes its doors

That's too bad. I bought some toys and clothes there for my nephews a few years ago, and found the folks there to be friendly and helpful.I get the idea behind protecting kids from lead and phthalates, but it does bug me to say that a secondhand store, if they're not willing to test all their merchandise, would be considered liable if someone brought them a toy and they sold it. It just seems like a short-sighted government decision that will hurt small businesses and encourage more people to throw out old toys instead of giving them to a secondhand store, and then go out and spend money on newly manufactured toys and fill up the landfills with packaging from them.I mean, if Target sold a toy that turned out to have lead in it, would it be Target held responsible or would it be the manufacturer? I think that's a question worth asking.

February 9, 2009 at 1:43 p.m. ( | suggest removal )