You think conspiracy nutballs freak out over birds falling from the sky? What if it rains meat? Again?


Now, where the crap did Dad put Texas?

Flocks of birds falling en masse from the sky in Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and even Sweden is strange, but these mysterious mass deaths don’t hold a candle to the “Kentucky Meat Shower” of 1876 when it comes to avian oddities.

“Flesh Descending in a Shower. An Astounding Phenomenon in Kentucky – Fresh Meat Like Mutton or Venison Falling From A Clear Sky,” read the headline in the New York Times on March 10, 1876.

A second Times article the next day provided more detail on the strange occurrence.

“Mrs. Crouch, of Olympian Springs, Ky., was employed in the open air and under a particular clear sky, in the celebration of those mysterious rites by which the housewife transmutes scraps of meat, bones and effete overshoes into soap,” it said. “Suddenly, there descended upon her a gentle shower of meat.”

For a couple of minutes, it continued, big pieces of meat, three or four inches square, fell all over Mrs. Crouch’s yard. The meat “appeared to be perfectly fresh.”

The incident was corroborated for the New York Times by two sources – one Mr. Harrison Gill “whose veracity is unquestionable” and a correspondent of the Louisville Commercial newspaper…

After examining several specimens of meat, one scientist determined what fell out of the sky was in fact of “animal origin” (apparently he didn’t trust the taste buds of the locals). Therefore “the Kentucky shower was a veritable ‘meat’ shower.” Beyond that, he admitted that he had no explanation.

However, he relayed the most popular local theory: a large pack of buzzards must have flown over the area after having eaten some dead horses, then one of the buzzards disgorged himself and the others followed suit, (as is their custom, according to the journal).

The scientist reported that similar occurrences with buzzards had been known to happen in the past, so “it would seem that the whole matter is capable of reasonable and simple explanation, and we may expect to hear of similar downfalls in other localities.”

If you add the religious fervor of some vegans to the festering sump of bible-thumping True Believers, you probably could come up with a revival movement to counter the KoolAid Party.

How NY TIMES readers chose to fix the deficit

Reduce the size of the military rather than reduce pay for noncombat members of the military. Impose a millionaire’s tax rather than cut deductions for high-income households. Cap the growth of Medicare spending rather than raise the eligibility age.

These were among the choices made by readers who completed the online you-fix-the-deficit puzzle that accompanied a Week in Review article last Sunday. Since the puzzle went online, there have been more than one million page views, and more than 11,000 posted Twitter messages about the puzzle, most including their own solution. The Times analyzed those solutions, each of which cut at least $1.345 trillion from the 2030 deficit, to get a sense of readers’ choices…

The single least popular choice was allowing the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on income below $250,000 a year. Fewer than 10 percent of the solutions included that option. But when it came to tax cuts for incomes above $250,000, people’s opinions appeared to diverge according to their political views. Those who preferred spending cuts — a conservative group, in all likelihood — generally wanted this tax cut to remain in place. Among those who closed the deficit mostly with tax increases — probably a liberal group — the expiration was the single most selected policy.

The most popular option among all respondents? Reducing the military to less than its size before the Iraq war — included in about 80 percent of the solutions posted to Twitter. But cutting pay and benefits for the military was a choice of only 40 percent.

Given that Twitter users skew young, one arguable surprise was the reluctance to raise the eligibility age for Social Security (above 67, as is now scheduled) or Medicare (above 65). The four options that would have increased those ages, to either 68 or 70, were all among the 10 least popular. Making other changes to those programs — like reducing Social Security benefits for high earners and capping Medicare growth by cracking down on high-cost hospitals and doctors — received more support.

The puzzle remains online, and version 2.0 may lie in the future. Comments continue to be welcome. Given how far Congress seems from enacting any deficit-reducing proposal, this debate will probably be around for a long time.

At a minimum, the cost to American taxpayers to support members of the armed services is cut in half when they’re inside our borders instead of stationed in some other nation. The real number is probably more like a two-thirds’ saving. If – as our governments have continually prated – they are for our national defense, then, bring them all back home where they belong.

The excuses our Congress-critters make for kissing the wealthiest butts in the world should have worn thin a century ago. The promises of job creation are a crock. They have never come through. They don’t build factories or businesses with it. They sit on it.

New York Times starts Press Engine service for content distribution to iPads and iPhones – for other newspapers

New York Times Co., owner of the namesake newspaper, started Press Engine, a business designed to help other publishers deliver content to digital platforms such as Apple’s iPad and iPhone devices.

Times Co. will collect license fees and maintenance fees from publishers and media organizations that use the technology and design solutions for digital distribution. Individual publishers will continue to control and own their advertising and subscriptions, the New York-based company.

The Telegraph Media Group, publisher of the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, and A.H. Belo Corp., the Dallas-based owner of the Dallas Morning News, will be among Press Engine’s customers when the product is introduced in the fourth quarter, Times Co. said.

This is part of the multi-faceted move into new technology” at Times Co., said Ed Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in New York. “They’ve got the content, they’ve got the brainpower. We’ll see if people will pay for this stuff.”

Publishers are seeking ways to replace a drop in newspaper print advertising sales, which fell 11 percent in the U.S. in the first quarter, according to Newspaper Association of America data.

The New York Times newspaper is preparing to unveil in January a new online subscription model, which will make much of its Web content available only to visitors who pay fees for access. The company is also planning to sell an enhanced application for Apple’s iPad, which will be offered in addition to the free app currently available on the device.

The free app for the iPad rocks. Informative and useful. I admit I could be tempted to pop for a subscription – well, a little tempted.

They might be second in line after GigaOm Pro which I also haven’t subscribed to. Yet.