Monday, December 20, 2010

Gut Jul!

Happy Solstice 2010!

Solstice Meditation

DaveJ at Open Left poses a discussion topic:
What are some things that a real, honest-to-goodness "far left" would be agitating for, and why isn't anyone doing just that?
Here's a start:
  • Nationalize the oil companies.
  • Guaranteed job or income for everyone, put to work on infrastructure investment projects, alternative energy projects, retrofitting buildings to be energy efficient, etc.
  • Cradle-to-grave Medicare-For-All.
  • Child care for all.
  • Eldercare for all.
  • 6 week paid vacation for everyone.
  • Triple Social Security's payments, lower retirement age to 55.
  • Worker representatives on Boards of Directors.
  • Limits to the how much of larger companies can be owned by a person or entity.
  • When companies reach a certain size they become public entities. (Because they have so much effect on everything.)
  • Companies responsible for externalized cost payback.
  • A person whose job is replaced by technology receives for life a share of the savings.
  • Bring back 90% top tax rates.  (OK I have been agitating for that one.)
  • Very very high estate taxes on very large estates.  Maybe up to 99% on estates over $1 billion.
  • Freedom from distraction.  We have a right to our own attention, free from advertising and commercialization.  The right to public spaces free from commercialization.
How many of these are even "far left" ideas? I'd agree with most of these.  Basically I'm describing Europe here, not Maoist China.  
I like most of these ideas. They seem somewhat left of center in the real world. Too bad I'm stuck in this one where we're taught to consider these ideas a far radical fantasy of socialism bent so far left its fascism, or something.
Some things I'd add:

  • A six hour work day in a four day work week at twice the current pay.
  • Political advertising provided free by communications media companies as a cost of their license to use our public airwaves.
  • Nationalization of all grids: telephony, power, rails etc. with a mandate to improve and maintain the best technology.
These dreams do not mark me as barmy. I have other signifiers for that. And so does everybody else. But dreams they are. That is my current point: As a Free society dedicated to freedom, equality, and technological progress we must provide a firm foundation to every member of our society. FDR called it the Four Freedoms. Truman called it the Fair Deal. JFK called it the New Frontier. LBJ called it The Great Society. But the point is for society to provide what is necessary to every member of our community so that they are able to contribute their best to our culture.
Now the American dream is a perversion of our national goals. We work harder to maintain less than our parents -- oh so briefly -- had in the fifties and sixties. Our children must accept even less because the surplus we make goes to the 2%.
The American dream requires Freedom. Who is free who is a paycheck away from foreclosure? Freedom begins when one's need for food and shelter are satisfied.  Freedom demands the best infrastructure to furnish basic needs with minimal effort; To provide the tools to make what mind can imagine. Freedom requires a well stocked and cultivated mind in a healthy body.
The American dream requires Equality. Equality does not happen when 2% of the people inherit more than 50% of our assets. It requires free education for all to the highest level they can achieve because that way we all can benefit from their best efforts.

The party that makes policies of these ideals is worthy of votes by the 98%. Any party whose policies increase the 2% primarily -- not so much.
UPDATE: 12/22/2010 I am reliably informed by The Kidtm, in the full glow of her newly minted A.B.Hist., that I blew it. (Did not use the in-house fact checker. Am lower than -- Ah-ah! be civil.) Indeed the synapse slipped and are now corrected above. Mr. Truman offered us the Fair Deal. It was the first President Roosevelt who demanded the Square Deal. As the French probably don't say: Chagrin c'est moi.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Cats

Bruiser James, aka Diamond Jim, and Smedley Q. Clangweedle await.
Not sure what. Too early for a smackerel of gnosh. The door is too far to be their concern. Still they wait. For something.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

November Sunday

Ozma Mehitabel Tiamat meditates in the watery light of an early November Sunday morning

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Samhain Approaches

Once again the season compels notice of Samhain and the pinnacle of autumn. Here at Dum Luks we like to remember a tale of a haunted house, or retell a second hand story of Bela Lugosi, the fine actor whose talents were most richly rewarded by a bit of romantic tosh called Dracula, a tale, I admit, beloved by all but the most querulous and peevish killjoys. Yet hardly much of a stretch to one of Lugosi's towering abilities.

A click on Samhain among the tag cloud at right will present for your reading pleasure the entirety -- so far -- of Dum Luk's meditations on the season.
As always: for your enjoyment ...
Sweet crabs dance in your cider.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shaun Limns the Other Horn

Upper Left: They've warned us…
... and he flourishes forth the other horn of the dilemma as he lists the first ten points of the Tea Party Agenda which the GOP will gladly pursue. Read it and reap that any one could be so blind.
Then read Goldy's piece on dog poop bags to get the reason.

The problem is that in a real world we only consider half the possible solutions to our problems. We need more parties. We need them now.

My Side Does Misdirection, Too

Steve Bennen:
Asked about his message to struggling families, the V.P. added, "My message is, keep the faith. We are moving in the right direction. We are not going to let you go without food or basic services. That will not happen in this country, in our administration. And secondly, we're creating new jobs that are going to be the kind you can raise your family on."
Maybe I've missed it, but the line about the "Bush Recession" struck me as new. Biden said it casually, as if it were common, but it's generally been a phrase Democrats have avoided.
Indeed it is "Bush's Recession" and a main goal of the plutocrats' drive to the restoration of Pharoah's regime.
So far an excellent point.
So far as it goes.
But it misdirects from the lie.

What I noticed was Biden's assurance that the administration was "not going to let you go without food or basic services". This is the administration that cut the stimulus down from 900 billion when 1.2 trillion was needed. This is the administration that refused to consider a public option for health care reform. This is the administration that called forth the 'cat food commission' to cut Social Security benefits. This is the administration that watched the elimination of federal aid to state governments to keep the jobs of teachers and other state employees without so much as an "Oh, I say...". This is the administration that agrees with the fiscal deficit hawks and moves budget balance to the fore when unemployment exceeds the official 9.7% rate and all signs point to a coming dive for the economy.
Its as if we did get FDR -- but the 1937 vintage instead of the 1933 model we needed.
Alas there is but one thing the Demoralocrats have going for them though it's a corker: the other choice remains a party convinced that the only real people are those with incomes and assets in excess of a couple of million dollars, and that wage slavery is a humane and enlightened version of property slavery because the slave gets to take care of itself. The party that leads us in a merry dance to the bonfire of the objectionable parts of the constitution: e.g: the first and fifth amendments.
But -- as usual -- I'm just some old fart ranting off left. Mere background noise to the hum of traffic in the greatest country the world has ever seen -- now new and improved with more efficient greed and 110% God approval.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I can do stuff.
You can do stuff.
Others can do stuff.

But not always
the same stuff.

I want your stuff.
you want my stuff.
We want other's stuff
Or they want ours.

If I have something you want
and you have something I want
We can trade.

But Others can too.

If I don't want to trade ...

You can beat me up
And take my stuff.
Or I can do that to you.

Or we can do it to someone else.

Maybe there are more
Than us
Who make stuff.
Who want stuff.
Who trade stuff.
Maybe there are many.

Not all want to trade
at the same time.
But at some time.
So we have money.

So We can make stuff.

That creates money.
so we can spend money


To buy stuff we want.


Or I can blow you up.

I don't want to do that.

You better do what I say.




And so it goes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Real News is in the Asahi

Supermodel: Save water, pee in shower

SAO PAULO--Environmental conservation advice from the world's richest supermodel? Apparently so, and some you really would never expect.
In the name of saving water, German-Brazilian Gisele Bundchen recommends that everyone urinate in the shower.
Bundchen, 29, says in her blog that everyone should do their share in protecting the environment in daily life. Her suggestions include not pouring used cooking oil down the drain and ways to minimize paper waste.
And then there's that urination in the shower thing. She says that for every 19 people who take her advice instead of flushing a toilet, about 83,220 liters of water can be saved every year.
Bundchen, whose riches include a property valued at 16.5 billion yen ($180.44 million), has been actively engaged in environmental causes.
What a way to start Sunday: Good coffee and fresh news from the world through Japanese eyes.
Besides this, today offers a glimpse of manga adopting traditional Kabuki and Noh drama themes. Funny how we move from new to tradition to old hat to irrelevant to new... 
Happy Sunday -- its Strawberry jam season here at Dum Luk's.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Climbing Mountains

That said, if I really value being seen as an individual first, rather than my gender, size, race, then I must accept that other women are also free to make choices about the way they lead their lives as well. More importantly, I must actively work to ensure their ability to make choices I might not personally make is free of sexist, transphobic, classist, ableist, homophobic, racist and sizeist oppression. After all, they are my sisters – regardless of whether or not my own lived experiences mirror theirs or I agree with their life choices.
Applies to men as well though that is off topic for yet another excellent Snarkey's Machine post.

Friday, May 14, 2010

How to Delete Your Facebook Account.

Seems to work.

As the Twig Is Bent ...

The founder of Facebook IMs a friend shortly after starting Facebook:
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don't know why.

Zuck: They "trust me"

Zuck: Dumb fucks.
Indeed we are.

This Is Consistent

Politicians routinely fetishize the "small business owner" perhaps just slightly less than they fetishize "the troops" or "the family farmer," so it'd be nice if that love translated into policy.
It does. It Does! Who gets screwed most consistently by Government policies? Small business, the troops and the family farmer.
Feel the love. Talk the talk. And get to the curb slave.


It's Catching

The Diaspora* group was inspired to begin their project after hearing a talk by Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia University, who described the centralized social networks as “spying for free,” Mr. Salzberg said.
Lot's of folk don't like the con.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

From the Dept of Empty Gestures

I've had it with Facebook. Can't quit, but can 'deactivate' so I did that. No offense offered to anybody else, so please don't take any.
As Marquis wrote:
dear boss
everyman s hand is turned against a cockroach
and occasionally his foot.

sometimes i sit alone and think
there is nothing lower than an ugly little kink
like me like me like me
last night i cried
i decided a suicide
i d be i d be i d be
so i climbed to the sixth floor window
and out of that window
my little carcase i hurled
but i wasn t dashed to the pavement dead
i floated up to the eighth floor instead
i ask you boss
how insignificant
can a fella get
With the realization that this gesture is even more futile then that of the bardic cockroach, I remain:
UPDATE: Googleads, ever solicitous, greets the publication of this post with four (4!) ads offering to improve self-esteem!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Today in Aphorisms

As usual our political fate hangs on the independents: people who cannot commit, or make up their minds, or pay attention.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Politico's Anthem

Goldy posts about an RE listing of Reagan Dunn's home. The prominent pol has a very commodious manse. It reminded me of the musical "Fiorello!", by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. It featured pols speculating on how Beau James's* aides would tell the judge to account for their luxurious life style. It featured lyrics such as:
I can see Your Honor doesn't pull his punches
And it looks a trifle fishy, I'll admit,
But for one whole week I went without my lunches
And it mounted up, Your Honor, bit by bit.
Up Your Honor, bit by bit.
As Brecht might have put it: How does a lunchless politician compare to a bought pol?
*James J. Walker, aka: "Gentleman Jim" and Beau James, Mayor NYC in the Early Thirties of the last century. (Gad! Never thought I'd survive nuclear winter to write that phrase!)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Whose Hand Is That In My Pocket?

 The Electronic Freedom Foundation offers a time line of changes to Facebook's privacy policies. Slippery slopes ain't in it. More of an avalanche.
Terms of subtly, or not so, dubious import are explicated in the Facebook to English guide.
Should a reading of these fill you with grave doubts similar to those I experience, there is a handy guide to opt out.
The real shame is the lack of a true cancellation. Hanging about in deactivated limbo is not equivalent.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What Krugman Wrote

An old friend from high school was commenting on his career in Economics which spanned NGOs, government and currently a major bank on Wall street.
"And the money is just stupid."

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Half a decade. Not many regulars, maybe, but about 18,000 seekers found ideas about beans and boiling ham in beer, absurd decisions, the history of the nail, hard boiling eggs, heard a Bela Lugosi story, or read a series on the Bed of Procrustes, and various other Dum Luks' topics interconnected only in what I (laughingly) call my brain before grazing on in the fields between the tubes.
Just a pokey little corner blog. But mine own. I'll keep it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Did It Not For Myself, But For You

Brenda Rosser at Econospeak begins a series which exhumes the roots of the current global financial crisis. Amply sourced and throughly footnoted as it is, the actual prose is pellucid. It is tempting to call the perps pirates! as is my wont. Yet there is a distinct glimmer in events of earnest but flawed persons hoping to ride a whirlwind to the aid and benefit of, at least, their masters, but also as many others nearby as possible. The worst flaw, perhaps, was a compulsion to justify an action as beneficial to those damaged by it.
Statecraft's most carefully tended tool is dissembly.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Half Don't Pay?

Various noise machines are trumpeting that the median income ($50,000) and below families don't pay any income taxes.  This proves that the wealthy are bearing all us free loaders on their back.
Well. Not pre-xactily.
Median Income: $50,000
Personal exemptions for 4 people
(Ma, Pa and 2 kids):   $3650 x 4 = $14,600
Standard deduction: (Married filing jointly) $11,400
Taxable Income : $24,000

Tax on $24k 
(from 2009 Tax Tables): = $2,769

Better than $200 a month. Not in the CEO league, maybe, but not nothing either.

To avoid taxes the taxable income would have to be less than $5. Per year.
[A living wage!]
And of course we aren't talking about the other taxes we pay. No. That would con fuze our ittle brains.

Those who don't pay taxes are those wealthy enough to avoid taxes by hiding their income.
Meh and triple Meh.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Grieve And Suffer.... So Long as You Tax

In Canada they call this the GST. The Mnemonic I prefer for this is Grief and Suffering Tax. Vat for Value Added Tax sorta works as in "all a youse step into this snake pit and we's see which one is whicher than the rest."
But the question I stumble over is why does a consumption based economy think that punishing consumption will result in profit? Yet 'K' street wants this. Meh.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rewrite for Digby

Seriously, if the shiftless welfare CEO queens would just stop stealing all this money from hardworking white people, we wouldn't have all these problems. I don't see why all everyone always jumps to the conclusion that it has anything to do with race.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Serial Tweeting

So I just tweeted:
Is it fair
to commit
serial Tweets,
to write chained
like old highway signs
Burma Shave?
Or is the challenge
to express a thought,
like haiku,
in the narrow
of 140 characters?
If the first
then only 
delays the appearance
of the first novel
in mini-installments.
In doing so I discovered that one may not write "on twitter" in a tweet alone, as the program interprets that as a request to follow twitter.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Word Choice

  "Great Strides" does not describe "little baby steps". Except in editorial rooms, of course. --ml

Vagrant Thought as I Read Krugman's Column

  We are confidently assured, by just about every authority figure entitled to opine on the political scene, that there are two great parties in the US. 
One says no. 
The other strains mightily to produce a gnat. 
A gnat, moreover, which was made by our bespoke policy establishment, to fit the other party which didn't want the suit. (Mixing metaphors is a lot of fun.)
Great? I have other uses for the word.

Marketing as Stand Up

Seen on a toilet carton: "The Global Performance Toilet." 
What were the copy writers thinking? 
Did no one of the many who approved the copy think of the implications?
What blind dedication.
No sense of humor whatsoever. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Succinct Summation

The best capsule review I've seen:
Looking Back

My marker for Obama was whether he'd get a health care bill with a public option. He didn't. A year ago passage of some sort of health care reform seemed inevitable, and not a tremendous challenge. Only a year of dithering and bipartisaning and gangs of wankers and pre-compromising and, frankly, failure to put forward something simple and popular jeopardized it.

The bill's more good than bad, but it isn't what we should have gotten. It isn't what we voted for.
 Thanks, Duncan.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another Look at Freedom

xkcd illustrates one of Dorothy's favorite precepts:
"My freedom ends at the start of the next person's nose."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Past the Far Turn ...

So Dick Francis departs. Saaa-a-a-a...
Good innings? Indeed. 
I delighted in his appreciation of horses and the monkey shines achieved by the humans around them.
I enjoyed his writing.
But mostly I thank him for inspiring me to boil ham in beer. One of my readers favorite posts. But mostly a damn good way to cook ham.
Thank you, sir.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Digby's View Point

Digby concludes:
You know, when I wrote at the beginning of this post that deficits were worse than terrorists, I was exaggerating. Now, I realize they are actually going to go there. Oh boy.
But, of course! The terraists are merely a toy to distract the so smalls. But deficits? Sacre Bleu! They steal from the Noblesse! From, oui, Me.
Classified ad:
Bijou oil can shack. Magnificent view of  all invaders. Willing staff available for peanuts. Ready to move in for right rentier. Contact Peter Peterson for details.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

That's about Right

Digby posts about Tony Blair's testimony:
"I have learned absolutely nothing and have no regrets whatsoever about being completely wrong about everything."
I want the t-shirt. I do! I do! I do!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Is Imagination Wasted on Children?

Or only on school boards?
Literature, like enoki, should not be wasted on children. Fortunately there is no question that Magnetic Betty, another effort by Rob Hunter, is literature. For one thing, its cover does not proclaim that it's word choice is level appropriate, or class specific or meet any other double entendre friendly rubric. This means that this volume is not approved by the Global Council for Excessive Explanation of Pointless Innuendo's Dumb Down Project (GCEEPI:DDP). This relieves all serious adults of any responsibility to attend the remainder of this review.
Now, for the rest of us:  Yes! Rob Hunter has done it again! He has added a highly polished small industrial diamond to the crown wrought by Carroll, Sendak, Thurber, and a few others.  Too few others for our own good. With the omelette pan I join in giving this book a full "zoop!"
It is available from Lulu, or through Rob himself. You have your directions -- follow them!
This update is to correct a terrible omission. This tale is splendidly illustrated by Lee Suta, a superb choice to complement Rob. My apologies to Mr. Suta.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welcome Gargantuan Tails!

John McKay of Archy, one of the eldest denizens of my blogroll, is branching out.
Going all uptown and market tuned he has a brand new blog:
Mammoth Tales will feature science journalism, science education, history of science, and maybe a little plain old history in those fields that I feel comfortable commenting on. I plan to offer links to stories that I find interesting, even if I don't have much to add to the stories. Moving away from science, I like good conspiracy theories, pseudo-science, and hidden histories. Expect an occasional deconstruction of those ideas. I also like to expose bad writing about science and history. But, there will also be mammoths.
This is excellent news! A very fine writer is extending his proboscis in a sinuous way to delight all who treasure the revelation of curious truth and deflation of pernicious myths. Keep your eye on it -- the book, Mammoth Tales, is coming soon.
(You can also follow him on twitter (archymck).

Which Shell Covers the Pea?

Kevin Drum opines:
Aside from tax cuts, George Bush spent eight years in the White House and really wasn't able to advance the conservative agenda in any major way at all.
Create Department of Homeland Security (whose primary mission is to prepare the populace for life in a police state)
Invade Afghanistan
Invade Iraq
Dismantle FEMA
Undermine Social Security by tying it to Medicare and soring healthcare costs
Increase payroll taxes
Emasculate FISA courts
Assert and maintain Executive privileges.
Claim unprecedented executive powers
Deprive Congress of its control of the purse.
Shift the federal court system far to the right.
Discredit scientific information
Loot the treasury twelve ways from Sunday
Operate an exceedingly corrupt administration without legal consequense
Abrogate international treaties on arms control and torture

No, Kevin, The Republican agenda didn't budge in the past decade. And because of the above the Democrats dither that they may have stepped too far to the left.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Ad Copy Revision

As published the headline reads:
In the past seven years
the dollar is down 40%.
Gold is up over 400%.
What's in your Pocket?

Bills, and lint.