Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Slightly Holidazed*

* Stolen from Bun Rab the boy drummer as inimitably limned by W. Kelly of the soft brown eyes.


Froma Harup via DemFromCT at Daily Kos notes:
Many have bemoaned the near-extinction of the political species known as the moderate Republican.
Closer observation suggests that this subset thrives now as Democrats.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Choice

U. Utah Phillips related one iteration of the situation:

After half a dozen attempts at providing such health care as we are able to give evenly throughout the community, our most recent attempt began feebly and was negotiated sillier and sillier. The sausage machine is not done with it yet. The final bill -- the one that gets signed into law -- if it is passed will be different. Not much better most likely. Hopefully not too much worse.
Some will call it inadequate. Some will call it the best we can do to start now.  And that's just the ones who want a bill.
The samurai in the kabuki will stamp their feet on the most resonant part of the stage they can find. The choice before us will be viewed with alarm. Called: Very grave.
The signing, if it happens, will be lauded as a major historic achievement.
In every possible outcome, people will continue to die prematurely because someone whose life was not threatened demanded cash to serve. The difference is how many die. The difference is how many bankruptcies. The difference is how many divorces, how many abandonments. The difference is how much avoidable pain we accept.
The choice is truly simple. Pass this bill and -- without remit -- work to make it better. Or kill the bill and watch another generation pass before congress critturs muster enough intestinal fortitude to make another try.
Let's eat our shit sandwich now and then roll up our sleeves to replace the cooks.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ten Years On

Goldy at fulminates over Joel Connelly's column in the PI which is rather dismissive of the WTO demonstrations in Seattle on Novomber 30, 1999. The title here links to that post which is worthy of attention.
Diana and I were among the demonstrators that breezy fine Northwest fall day. That Christmas I circulated the following account of the experience to friends and far flung relations.
By and large and by training, I am a free trader. That is, I believe that all would be better served if there were no governmental impediments to the movement of ideas, people and goods from any country to any other. Such a world would find the best widgets made in one place, perhaps; but readily available, and affordable, everywhere because every other place specalized in what they did best of all the world.
Best product naturally includes consideration for the environment, for a widget made in a dirty manner is less good than one made cleanly.
In my naivete I did my small best to support, the GATT, NAFTA and the WTO Treaty.
Since when I have looked about me and discovered that the promises of free trade do not appear. Yes we “boom” and have “low” unemployment. Prices have not fallen. The world is not cleaner. The ratio of worker wages to boss wages has not risen equally. Looking further I discover that these agreements have little to do with free trade. Rather they set the rules by which capitalists pillage the rest of us and the planet.
The US supports free trade, yet we pay more than three times the world price of sugar in order that some few dozens of agri-businesses will continue to grow sugar beets at a loss made good by corporate welfare in the belief that thereby we save the family farm.
Free trade is not the layoff of a US worker at $25,000 per year to be replaced by two Mexican workers at $5,000 per year each, with the $15,000 savings going to top up the CEO’s million dollar bonus.
Free trade is about raising the standards of the world to the very best we have anywhere on the globe, and then finding ways to make that standard higher. The WTO does not have that goal anywhere in its agenda.
So Diana and I went to the AFL/CIO demonstration to protest that fifty years of “free” trade has brought so much to the veriest few at the cost of all of us.
We: trade unionists, environmentalists and other interested groups filled the stands and field at Memorial Stadium to oveflowing. One of the parking lots, more than a city block in size, was filled with busses. Perhaps more were, I didn't see all of them.
At the rally before the march we heard from the heads of Green Peace, The Sierra Club and other groups. Trade unionists from Europe, Africa, India and China spoke of the devasation caused by the world’s present un-free trade.
The people present were not just from around Seattle. They came from 144 countries in ones, tens, or hundreds. Over 40 of the busses were from Canada.
In all I believe the AFL/CIO estimate of 50,000 people. The published figures, which in two days dribbled from “35,000 non-violent demonstrators and 5,000 violent activists”, to “20,000 demonstrators of whom 5,000 caused the trouble,” were edited to suit editorial fears.
At one point I decided to find the porta-facility before the long march began. By the time I came out, everyone was flowing out of the stadium towards the street. Guess leadership just shines through. This meant that Diana and I were separated by a sea of bodies. We spent the next half hour hunting for each other. We joined up before the March had ambled more than a block or two.
I had expected a parade with folks marching under the banners of their affiliation. Didn’t get it. This was free form. At one point we found ourselves marching under an immense green “condom” promoting “safe” trade. Before long we were engulfed in a scurry of teen age turtles speaking Canadian.
A mother carried a babe asleep. “Now he’ll sleep through anything!” says she.
Longshoreman and pilots, just one pair in contrast marched side by side. Technicians and performers from AFTRA marched alongside Amerindians in full fig. The juxtapositions were so many and so varied that the cammeraderie of longhairs and hard hats passed as unexceptional solidarity.
Not all was up beat and “safe”. We were joined briefly by a “good Soldier Schwenk”, as I called them. These were students, exuding Europeaness, in khaki fatigues and ex army trench coats with Deutch flag patch. And there was the knapsack. Probably this contained nothing more threatening than skivies and lunch. But we had heard about tear gassing of other demonstrators — not part of our group — the day before. The pack might contain something a bit more threatening. No doubt that was my paronia.
It was chilling to look up at eyes peering over a black bandana over the face of a lean, dark young man sitting on his heels atop a signal control box surveying the crowd with contempt.
It was more chilling, as we neared the first route turn just a block or two from the meeting hall, To see a side street blocked by about 30 jack booted motorcycle cops staring coldly at us through their dark goggles. They were armed with batons, mace, tear gas and side arms.
At 4th and Pine the march planned to turn. There was confusion. Some marched on down 4th towards the convention center. Speakers exhorted us first one way then the other. As soon as we understood that the march route turned, the Turtles, Diana and I turned. This was the first time that there appeared to be spectators on the sidewalk. Though they may have been reserves for the rowdys down the street. At least three of them urged us to stop being abortions and find Jee-sus.
Turned again onto 5th, glad that the march had been no more vigorous. We were poohed. Then we saw the Westin hotel. City transit busses used as barracades are an impressive sight — one more associated with international news than us. Yet it gave me a surge of energy when I thought, mistakenly, alas, that we had so threatened them with our peaceful protest that this was the responce when we were so tired a line of yellow tape stopped us easily.
Back home we learned how a wonderful experience had been co-opted by an unholy alliance among a handful of rowdys whose purpose was destruction, and the media whose conception of news begins and ends in a body count.
Thanks to Bill Clinton some measure of perspective was restored. No one else, not the WTO, The rowdys, nor the police will thank him.
But I do.
Now if he would stop defending our non-exeistant family farmers, and our inefficient industries, walking on water would be a non-event for him.
The trouble with revisiting past documents is facing the amount of change I required to arrive at my present state of near enlightenment.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What the Samhain?

Hereabouts the wind blew in some cold and wet marking the seasonal change that concentrated the Celtic mind:  Samhain! Winter is coming.  Celebrations involved treats of hot cider and fresh apples. Baked goodies were welcome too.
For those not fortunate enough to have a well stocked larder, the event was yet another "oh, Shit!" moment in a long series of assaults on their human dignity. They viewed the aggressive opulence of the well to do with hope of generosity or malice at its denial.
One treat was always available to all who could manage a bit of fire in a shelter out of the wind, a good tale, the scarier the better so that everyone could claim the shivers came from hobgoblins, not the chill air.  "Ooooh," sez Gran tucked up in the old horse blanket, "Someone's just trod on m'grave!"
Follow the link in the title for Dum Luks' previous seasonal contributions. Both the joys and frights are observed -- can Bela Lugosi be far behind? No, sez I.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Did He Just Say ... ?

Digby quotes  Peter Beinert:
The demographic shifts that have put the Democrats in power—more young voters, more Hispanic voters, more highly-educated voters... (emphasis added)
Did he just say Republican voters are dumb as rocks?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Old Proverbs Applied

If one engages in a formal process of separating sheep from goats, it is a good idea to be prepared for the goats to act like goats. Surprise at this result may not be an adequate response.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Different County, Different Ballot

Same Election.
Goldy shows a King County ballot which obscures I-1033 which is likely to get a large "no" vote there.
Here in Skagit County the opposite is true. Here's our ballot.

Curious when you compare the two.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

DeLong Illustrates a Point

In a post of interest about the future of Academe, and of Berkeley in particular,  Brad DeLong illustrates a point with the following:
There were plenty of people who were disappointed when The Lord of the Rings movies came out because the characters didn’t look anything like the characters they had created in their own minds.
Hmmm... My disappointment with LOTR was in the destruction of Tolkien's plot and characters. Tolkien wrote Aragon as a hero -- not as an angst filled mid-twentieth century Willy Loman. Elrond was committed to Sauron's defeat no matter the cost -- not a mingy Wall Street lordling more concerned that his prospective son-in-law was unworthy of his Long Island Princess then that evil might prevail. And, for Christ's sake, Tolkien wrote high romance, not maudlin boy gets girl stuff. Yes, Aragon worried that he was unworthy -- but that was before he committed to the fellowship. There were far greater concerns then his worthiness after that. Of course Elrond grieved that his daughter might give up her immortality. But he knew that Sauron's dominion must be defeated, regardless. His gift was not niggard but freely given. The LOTR writers seized on the appendices to justify their need to expand the female characters in ways acceptable to the money men in Hollywood.
Finally, more CGI orc slaughter-- and too much antic Gollum --was not an adequate replacement for the wonder of Tom Bombadil who places the entire saga in perspective when he peers at Frodo through the ring. And laughs.
Given all that, what the actors looked like, or sounded like, or anything else was so secondary as to be lost to view.

Does no one else feel that way?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Inept Marketing?

An e-mail just arrived from a service company, that shall be anonymous here, that tracks various stats. Included was the following:
Here's what we've found for your account:

Now, on to the updates…
This is a true statement so far as I know. But might it not be more productive, for the marketing, to include a loop in the mail merge that deletes this in the case of null fields? After all, it isn't as if their product can do something about the situation.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Obvious? Shnobvious!

Haaretz offers:
Food columnists say they assume that readers will understand their intent, as readers, too, are well-versed in the ways of cooking. Chef and cookbook author Israel Aharoni, at least as experienced as Russo, once offered a simple recipe for falafel in his newspaper column. "A few days later I met someone in the street who told me he had not managed to prepare the falafel. Every time he threw the balls into the cooking oil, they fell apart.

"I went over the recipe with him, step by step, and waited to hear where he'd taken a shortcut. But he followed instructions to the letter - shaping the balls, making sure the oil was boiling and the mixture was prepared exactly according to the instructions.

"At the end he said to me, 'Perhaps the chick peas from the can weren't fresh.' 'You used canned beans?' I said. 'You didn't say not to,' he said. And then I learned that what seems obvious to me is not obvious to everyone."
What is in my head rarely makes it all the way to the page. What one reads on the page seldom makes it fully into the reader's thought without an assortment of assumptions, an admixture of experience -- some at variorum -- and a plethora of prejudices more or less flavoring the mix.
It's a wonder we manage a simple "G'day".

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Monday, September 07, 2009

Atrios is Surprised

The Republicans were always going to oppose whatever the Democrats came up with, I just didn't know the Dems would let them do that while also letting them work to make sure anything they came up with is really unpopular.
This thought only surprises if one thinks that the politicians elected support the central aspirations of the health care plank of the Democratic Party. Attempts to achieve universal health care have been attempted in just about every decade since the thirties. Each attempt has been repulsed by cries of "Socialism! Booga-booga-booga!" The nature of the political election process tends (not 100%) to eliminate the stoopid and poorly advised. No matter how idiotical a pol may appear -- and most are superb actors -- it is a fatal error to believe that they are indeed idiots. Consider the results of (in)actions by a dem majority congress 2006-2008. Any thing Mr. Bush wanted passed. Dem proposals -- not so much.
Our congress critturs are not too inarticulate to answer the charge of socialism with a well framed justification of single payer; maybe "get the greed out of our health care!" or another simple phrase that resonates. That they don't do so indicates that they are paid not to.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Health Care Reform

To My Honorable Congress Critturs:
Bob Somerby cites:
Total spending on health care, per person, 2007:
United States: $7290
United Kingdom: $2992
Average of OECD developed nations: $2964
Japan: $2581
Do you represent Natural Persons (a legal term) many of whom are working families,
or do you to represent Persons as a Legal Fiction (a legal term) i. e. corporations?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

But What Is Truth?

Tim Abbott over at Walking the Berkshires has a couple of interrelated posts up. The elder offers a top ten double feature of historical dramas like Beckett and the Lion in Winter. Made at different times they still go together. Tim -- like the old actor, Henry, in The Fantasticks -- not only knows the ropes, but the ropes to skip. The second post points derisively at these.
Perusing them I was reminded of a young cinematographer manqué I once worked with back when Z was the heartthrob of all radical filmmakers. I was teaching a course in adaptation, turning a Mark Twain short story into a film.
Naturally the discussion in those very contentious years swirled around how true -- how faithful -- we could be to the text. At one point the C. M. stood up to announce: "The camera never lies."
"It never does anything else." I might have retorted.
Because the photographer chooses the subject, the frame, the mood, the lighting, the shutter speed and every other influence on the result, the camera cannot be a "warts and all" record of an event. The camera cannot help but lie -- that is, tell considerably less than the full reality of the subject.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Red Ripe Ultimatum

We can't do single payer in health care?
We can't fund war.
It really is that simple.
The hard part is what we do instead.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Digby Nails It

On some level we're being played and I think most of us know it and don't want to admit it.

No further comment required.

Ah, Jeez...
Except to point out that this applies to everything Not just the ongoing mortgage debacle (what about commercial real estate defaults? Etc... Etc... and so forth, King Mongkut is reputed to remark by Oscar Hammerstein II.)
We've put on the brakes and are now skidding into Clamp Lagoonk, (Obscure reference except to those who have resided on Adak, AK)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nothing Changes

The low state of their morale made even procrastination savourless.
Whiskey Galore by Compton Mac Kenzie


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Signs of the Times?

The billboard copy reads:
"Optimism is Contagious"

It advertises a bank.
In that case pessimism must be pandemic.

Noted But Not Null

"As a scientist you are taught not to answer questions, but to question answers." — Anonymous
May we all find the wisdom to do the same.

Of late Sandy has been writing, apparently from Industry talking points, against proposed health insurance reforms. It was a double loss then to find her ignoring contrary arguments and asserting exaggerations and distortions as facts to reinforce fear and uncertainty. It is a pleasure to find her back in the science shop where the clarity of her writing about methodology and data versus abstracts and press releases is a joy and needed anodyne to the media hysteria that rules our discourse.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Aether Asks

Surgeon General Koop looks for a new war for the Public Health warriors. Chooses Fat People. Lots of trees die. Electrons are splatted against high tech antennas near you. New twenty seven color presses are sold to Glossy Magazines. Etc. Etc. Etc. and so on ad infinitum.
So Meagan McArdle interviews Paul Campos for the Atlantic. A world of bloggers famous, infamous and nebbish wade in (even Dum Luks) with every ceivable (con and incon) position, pov, and measured incendiarical remark.
One remark that flies by is the notion that Insurance companies -- as a matter of business survival -- measure the cost of risk factors to a nicety of accuracy lest they lose money. Therefore, since they charge a high premium to fat people, it is obvious, despite the most credible scientific studies to the contrary (See the Obesity Paradox series for chapter and verse), that fat people cost a lot of health care.
Mull that one.
Consider that insurance companies, like other casinos, expect to take in more money than they pay out. So of course they would charge a high premium to someone they knew was terminally ill. But... they want to be your pal so you continue to send in your premium. So rather than be seen to turn the oldster with terminal gaffufleitis out into the cold they look around. Who is an easy mark? Somebody who everybody knows is a health risk but who statistically has less illness than other people? Why fat people! So you raise their premiums to pad the P&L, just in case your cousin's kid didn't didn't do as well on that actuarial course as claimed.

Wha... I'M being cynical?
No way. Cynical would be if I claimed they paid for the marketing that supports the war on obesity.




Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Answer for Brad

Brad DeLong notes the reaction to the Kos/Research 2000 poll about the birthers and asks:
Can we please get another, very different opposition party to the Democrats?
We already have them. They are called Democrats.
(richly deserved obligatory tip o' the tifter to D.B.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Today's Haiku

Then I blamed it on youth.
Now my excuse is age.
As a summer night's heat fades at dawn,
Memory's detail frays
Though the image still is clear.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sandwichman Commands ...

Tom Walker
Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence AS YOUR STATUS. AND POST these instructions in a comment to this status.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST book.
July 12 at 7:32am
Jan De Hartog: "The Capitan", page 56, fifth sentence:

"It was a grey windless day with low hanging cloud: darkness would fall soon with that sky."

That sums it up.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Herd Vision

Digby concludes:
But there might be a few stragglers who have only recently become convinced of my cowardice who would be surprised at what they see.
That would assume they could see past the beam in their own eyes that prevents them seeing how very brave it is to maintain one's convictions despite the herd's roars.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hear him! Hear him!

"Behind all the new movements of this age - nationalistic, fascistic, communistic - has been more than a suspicion of the mental attitude of a gang of small-town louts ready to throw a brick at the nearest stranger."
--J. B. Priestly
That about sums it up.
Except to add the other bully still going strong: Corporatism.

Friday, July 03, 2009


Paul Krugman asks:
The question is, what is that higher truth? What do these people really believe in?

Glad to help Paul.
*simple answers etc. tm Duncan Black

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ponderable Imponderable

Is there any credible scientific evidence that preventative medical care prevents anything other than:
  • Physician penury
  • Pharma corporations profit hunger
  • Insurers aquisitivitis

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Digby asks:
Is the US even a nation state anymore?
The US is a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Capital, Inc.

This has been an homage to Duncan Black who is the originator of "Simple Questions ..etc."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Quarter for a Truism

Dday at Digby's quotes Russ Finegold speaking about Somalia.
Moreover, until a functioning economy can be established, piracy will remain the most lucrative business in the region.

Replace "Somalia" with any polity and Bob's your curiouser strange not related personage.
As Mark Twain might have observed: "Go thou and do likewise."

Sunday, April 05, 2009

More Beer!

The filtering vat, which makes
a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on [top of]
a large collector vat.
Ninkasi, the filtering vat,
which makes a pleasant sound,
you place appropriately on [top of]
a large collector vat.
Rinse and repeat 4,ooo years ago. Then go out and create ... civilization?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Simple Definitions

Outlaw: What most of are forced to do one time or another by ignorance, stupidity, greed, or in response to coercion.

Criminal: Those who break laws as a profession or career to satisfy their ignorance, stupidity, greed, or in response to coercion.

Pirate: The power elite who plunder everyone.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009


One of my favorite anecdotes was one she told to illustrate why it's important not to be too easily offended. Sometimes what seems like overt racism/sexism is simply poor social skills or awkward phrasing (we all suffer sometimes from foot-in-mouth syndrome). Case in point: she applied for a summer job at MIT in a physics lab as an undergraduate. She didn't have any specific lab experience, but the professor asked, "Well, can you cook?" When she said yes, he told her she was hired. Jackson, confused, replied, "To do what?" It was not, as it happens, to whip up some tasty grits for his breakfast each morning; rather, the professor assumed that if she could cook, she had the practical skills necessary to learn her way easily around the lab.

Yum: go read the rest!
And Happy Ada Lovelace day

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


$170,000,000,000 with no strings attached.
$165,000,000 With tons of outraged: "They can't do THAT!"
but only after the fact.

Kids, it is a problem of scale. Don't worry about the missing bubblegum after the car disappeared.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Deep Thought #47509

The world is a closed system.
As presently operated, there are too many people for it to sustain. A very few have considerably more than enough. Most have less than enough.
The solution is not to eliminate the excess.
The solution is to change the system to create a means to support all who are here.
And to increase that number only if the new system supports it.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Horton Hears a Jack Boot

Per McJoan at DailyKos, Scott Horton offers:
We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship.

I remain astonished that Shrub and Darth climbed into their helicopters and beat into the sunset on January 20th. The only time I wish to see either again is at their war crimes trial at the Hague.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Come One! Come All!

Tom Walker, a.k.a. the Sandwichman, invites us to join him in a Facebook group dedicated to the care and feeding of The Greenest Elephant in the Room!.
Walker, a noted Vancouver economist, expounds on the value of working less to gain full employment, a more productive economy, a better comity and a happier society in a greener environment. It is rumored he also contains lanolin. Read through his posts at  Econospeak for a fascinating account of an economic idea that has been shunted aside in as errant an act of piracy as any that festered the Gilded Age. It is that part of Keynesianism that dare not speak its name -- at least in the Halls of Conventional Wisdom.
Do -- please -- check it out.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another POV

According to the best guess of the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security is well funded until 2040, about 6 election cycles from now. (By the way, it is well funded because the baby boomers agreed to tax themselves to pay for their own as well as their parent's retirement, so as not to impose too large a burden on the smaller baby boomlet of their children.)

There is no question that the US pays the most for health care. It has a poor return for that compared to the rest of the developed part of the world.

Of the $1.4 some odd trillion the world spends on War, the US spends $771 trillion, or 48% of the total.

Based on the above facts, it is obvious that the only way to achieve fiscal balance is by cutting Social Security benefits.



Sunday, February 22, 2009


they die under Mysterious Circum-stances (alas, it is the karma for all whistle-blowers portrayed by lower-billed actors in a conspiracy thriller).

This is as bad as being stabbed in the rotunda ...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Defy(n)ing Terms

Zeitgeist (pronounced De-zeitgeist.ogg [ˈt͡saɪtgaɪst] is a German language expression literally translated: Zeit, time; Geist, spirit, meaning "the spiritsociety". The word zeitgeist describes the intellectual, cultural, ethical and political climate, ambience and morals of an era or also a trend. In German, the word has more layers of meaning than the English translation, including the fact that Zeitgeist can only be observed for past events.
If we get to some future point that allows the luxury of looking back, I feel certain the term will change to zeitscheiss.
UPDATE: to correct typos and layout yechh.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Song of the Right Wingnut

Roy, in his Village Voice column observes that some right bloggers think Obama gets ideas from "his fellow socialists at The Economist."

This ricocheted through my synapses to wake the voice of the turtle after an old Quaker saw.

Said the ripe old right Wingnut to his sole confidant:
"All are commies, save me and thee.
All to our left deep dyed in pink, they be.
Nor none to our right may be, nor ever might appear.
Sometimes I think thee a bit of a socialist."

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Memed Agayne, Mortimer. Memed Agayne!

One: Link to the person who tagged you. Mary Soderstrom.

Two: Post the rules. That's what I'm doing right here.

Three: Write six random things about yourself.

Before 1950 my family lived in an interrupted subdivision next to the IC mainline near Chicago. By interrupted, I mean one that got planned and stared prior to WWII but was only finished in the fifties. My elder brothers played harem scarem games in the installed but unused sewer pipes that threaded beneath the prairie grass which the fire department burned periodically. I preferred to play in a declivity in the sand dune across the street. Think of a sand box about fifty feet by seventy five and a story tall on one wall. A wonderful place to develop a sense of design while constructing intricate highway systems.

In high school I took a shop medley course which visited wood shop, machine shop, auto shop and blue print reading. The auto Mechanics Teacher became a mentor and friend. He it was who advised me: "Shift for yourself, young man." When I wondered about transmissions. He also asked me why I, obviously bound for college, wasted my time in a shop course. In my career (if it may be so dignified) as theatre designer, nail maker, book store owner, furniture builder, and general roustabout, that class has come in handy more times than many another.

In the full bloom of 20 I once made the mistake of inviting a sixth grader to belt me in the stomach. How hard could he hit? I wondered. A lot harder than I expected. Somehow I toughed it out. That impressed the kid sufficiently to calm him down enough to actually learn something at camp. So did I. I do not recommend this technique.

The school district paid us once a month in the middle of the following month. The schoolcamp year began the fourth week of September. That meant that I was paid fifty dollars for September in mid October and had to make it last until mid November when October's pay appeared. The school camp provided room and board from Monday noon to Friday noon. So my co-worker, George, and I clubbed together to survive the weekend. He had a friend, Danny, who worked at a Hermosa Beach hotel as a bellhop. We crashed in his room the first weekend. The second he rented a garage apartment on 99th street less than a block from Normandy. This put us inside Watts the fall before it blew up. That Friday we pooled our cash. We had $3.84 to eat with. Outside the store I asked George "What should I buy?" "The biggest, cheapest, loaf of bread, and the biggest, cheapest, jar of peanut butter," he replied. So I did. "What did you get ?" George asked. "The biggest, cheapest, loaf of bread, and the biggest, cheapest, jar of peanut butter I could find," says I. "Oh, no!" said George. "I was kidding! I hate peanut butter!"
Somehow we made it to Monday morning. After that the camp kitchen gave us left overs. It was many a year before I could tolerate peanut butter. Even now I prefer to make my own almond butter.

My first job out of college was teaching at a Catholic prep school in Connecticut. The salary was tiny. So we looked for rental housing in Bridgeport. The realter pursed her lips as she scraped the bottom of the barrel for a place we could afford. "You understand," she informed us, " that this is an integrated neighborhood?" What she didn't mention is that we were the integrating factor. And in more ways than one. Every house in that neighborhood -- except ours -- had two dogs. A big guard dog for the yard and a little birf dog for in the house. We had cats.

"Why don't you tell horror stories about the depression?" I asked Earle.
"I don't have any to tell" he said. "I worked all through the thirties after I left school." From that I comprehended that statistics always come with a minimum of two sides. If 12% of the workforce was out of a job, that meant something entirely different to the 88% with a job than it did to the 12% without. The trick is to comprehend all sides before shooting my mouth off. Maybe next time.

Four. Tag six people.
John McKay at Archy
Tim Abbott at Walking the Berkshires
Tobias Robison at Precision Blogging
Rob Hunter at A Rain of Frogs
Two presently unknown souls who, tired of merely floating in the zeitscheise, now kick forward to take some initative by what ever slippery handle comes to paw.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Translating Olde English:

Bring out your debt!
Bring out your debt!
Bring out your debt!
Can't you do anything about this vista bill?
(looks both ways -- clouts bill)
Bring out your debt!