Thursday, October 30, 2008
Change You Can Believe In (07:56 AM)

If you only read this blog via a news reader, you probably should know that the RSS feed is now:

Thursday, October 2, 2008
Go ahead and slap me. It might wake me from this bad dream. (04:49 PM)

I'm officially over this whole bailout thing.

The fear-mongering proponents of it (which now includes the President and his administration, the leadership of both parties in both houses of Congress, major financial advisors and just about anyone else with a microphone) have held a gun to our heads for the last few weeks and said, "Hand over the money, or your country gets it."

Well, I for one am telling them to stick that $700 billion back up the ass from whence they pulled it. Let it all come crashing down. Then, they can use the $700 billion to give people jobs building roads, developing alternatives to foreign oil, or just making the prize on "Deal or No Deal" really sweet.

What seems to have gotten my goat? What, you ask, was the last straw?

I read the Senate's version of the bill. The one that passed. The one that both Mr. "No more earmarks" and Mr. "Change" voted for.

Among its provisions are the following gems:

*Increase in limit on cover over of rum excise tax to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
*Seven-year cost recovery period for motorsports racing track facility.
*Extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products; wool research fund; wool duty refunds.
*Provisions related to film and television productions.
*Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children.
*Income averaging for amounts received in connection with the Exxon Valdez litigation.

Here's how bizarre the world has become. I'm listening to right-wing radio and reading conservative blogs, and their thoughts are pretty much summed up by that paragon of conservatism...Michael Moore!

As crazy as things are right now, tens of thousands of people got a car loan this week. Thousands went to the bank and got a mortgage to buy a home. Students just back to college found banks more than happy to put them into hock for the next 15 years with a student loan. Life has gone on. Not a single person has lost any of their money if itís in a bank or a treasury note or a CD. And the most amazing thing is that the American public hasnít bought the scare campaign. The citizens didnít blink, and instead told Congress to take that bailout and shove it. THAT was impressive.

If you need me, I'll be over here celebrating the Red Sox win.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
It's playoff time! (08:25 AM)

After 14 years of living next door to the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays and not giving a damned about them, I'm not about to start now. I think it's really neat that someone other than Boston, New York, Chicago and LA made it to the playoffs, but I'll take of my imaginary (I don't wear hats) Red Sox cap when they pry it off my cold, dead head.

Go Sox!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Tom Bodett has my vote! (06:40 PM)

OK, this is the last post I'm doing on politics or economics. Ever.

If at any time in the future you catch me saying the word "meltdown" without referring to mutant zombies, you have every right to slap me. (Not that you don't already, but I digress.)

The "bailout" bill failed, yesterday, ostensibly due to an awful partisan speech given by the Speaker of the House...the contents of which I happen to agree with wholeheartedly.

Why the hell is it that we can get $700 billion to rescue Wall Street at the drop of a hat, but nothing but contempt and accusations of "socialism" for a program 1/10th that size to cover medical benefits or education? For that matter, if there's a spare $700 billion lying around, I'll take my $2000 share in small, unmarked bills. Hell, make it big, marked ones!

In the end, though, how lame is it to accuse the failure of this bill on either A) Barack Obama....the guy who didn't come charging in like a mad rhino and whose party did deliver enough votes for passage or B) a speech. I don't care if she stood up and called all their grandmothers blood-sucking, baby killing, Nazi vampires. If this bill was sooooo important that its passage was required to save the universe, whining about your hurt feewings is not a reason to vote against it. Man up and say "the bill sucked and we believe in free markets." Sheesh.

One thing that I noticed about the bill is that a lot of folks are complaining about it that probably didn't read it. I did (I had trouble sleeping the other night.) Also, a detailed summary of its provisions was in the Chicago Sun-Times.

I thought it came out pretty good, considering the original Paulson "hey, can you spare an extra $700 billion?" plan written on a napkin. Do I think it would have helped? Meh. Maybe. Could it have hurt? No worse than any other solution. At this point, things are so messed up that there are no good answers.

On this week's Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, the best answer to the crisis was given by panelist Tom Bodett. It went something (but not exactly) like this:

If they do this, and we pay $700 billion, we'll all still be going to work like we do now, and the taxes will gradually have to be raised so high that we're not really making any money.

If they don't do this, the whole thing will come crashing down, there'll be no jobs, we'll all stay home not making any money.

So, if we don't do this, at least we don't have to go to work!

Monday, September 29, 2008
My ABC's (06:12 PM)

A. We're screwed.

B. I still have Heroes.

C. Pushing Daisies is back on Wednesday.

So, all-in-all, the good far outweighs the bad.

Saturday, September 27, 2008
Oh, those pesky facts... (07:54 AM) FactChecking Debate No. 1

Frankly, I was disappointed that Obama didn't call McCain on his bull enough. The format of the debate allowed for them to mix it up directly, but they both had that deer in the headlights look when Lehrer told them to talk to each other directly. "You want us to what???"

Friday, September 26, 2008
A funny thing happened on the way to the bank... (07:31 AM)

It failed.

Thanks to stupid government intervention in the free market, I didn't lose my pitiful savings.

How dare they be a safety net and transition my money to another bank! What the hell? I log onto my account this morning and (other than the new bank's logo), it's like nothing happened?

Goddamn Commies.

On a serious note, I actually do think this new bailout thing is a bunch of hooey, and I'm kinda glad it got derailed for a little bit. As much as it seems like everyone feels the need to hurry up and do something, I think it would be better if they hurried up and did the right something.

For example, maybe include a little more money for the FDIC?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
It's the stupid economy! (03:10 PM)

CNN Breaking News: "John McCain suspends campaigning to work on economy, requests postponing Friday debate; asks Obama do the same."

This is either going to be a brilliant move to back Obama into a corner and show that he follows where McCain leads, or it's going to backfire big time.

If I were Obama, I'd say, "I've been working on the economy by trying to get the idiots that messed it up (like you and your cronies) out of here. And guess what? A President needs to be able to multi-task! So, bite me, Johnny boy!"

OK, so maybe he'll say it nicer. Hopefully, he won't just slough off to Washington and kow-tow to the demands of McCain HQ.

UPDATE: Apparently, either Obama reads my blog, or great minds think alike...

"Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time," the Democratic candidate said. "It's not necessary for us to think that we can only do one thing and suspend everything else."

Many Eyes (02:43 PM)

I was reading an article on CNN about this whole earmarks rigmarole. One of the more pointless debates that's going 'round this year is about who hates earmarks the most. As usual, it's not about the details of specific programs and policies, but about which side can claim to be holier than thou the loudest. What I care about is not how much money each congress critter asked for. It's about what they asked for.

But anyway, I looked at the source of the story--the Sunlight Foundation--and it led me to this nifty 2005 Earmarks by State per Capita visualization.

The real point of this post, of course, is not politics but the cool geekery of Many Eyes. This is a site created by IBM that lets folks create their own shared visualizations of data, whether it's bubble charts, tag clouds, maps, or many others. I found visualizations for comparing the AIG bailout to Federal spending, tag clouds of the convention speeches of Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, Joe Biden, John McCain and Barack Obama, Olympic medals by event, Olympic medals by country (1896-2006), and a map of someone's Facebook friends.

Hours of geeky fun!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The Next Doctor (12:47 PM)

The BBC buried the title to this year's Doctor Who Christmas special in an announcement about a contest for Children in Need. It will be called "The Next Doctor" and will star our current hero and...the next Doctor! David Morrissey!

Now, this being Doctor Who, it's not certain whether Morrissey is the actual next Doctor to take over when David Tennant is done or just a parallel universe Doctor, but still he looks the part.


OMG! You missed HEROES?? (09:56 AM)

Posted to the favorite only Google Group to which I belong:

Holy freaking hell! You missed HEROES??? Get thee online and watch the episode now.

I was afraid they'd wimp out and try to coax new folks along in a lame attempt to get more viewers. Instead, they launched full-force into a bazillion storylines. Kinda like, "If you don't know what's going on up until now, SCREW YOU! We're having our own little comic book geek party with or without you!"

I don't think this gives away anything crucial, but if you don't want any spoilers at all, stop reading.

One of my favorite things they do is throw in little nods to other sci fi shows and media, especially with guest stars (Christopher Eccleston, George Takei, Malcolm McDowell, Nichelle NIchols, , etc.) So, besides a recurring role for Bruce Boxleitner (B5) as "the governor," they had William Katt (Greatest American Hero) in this one. It made me smile anyway.

Such simplicity, such elegance...such nonsense. (07:55 AM)

That quote from Jared Bernstein (Watching History Unfold) sums up my feelings about "supply side" economics (aka, "voodoo economics" as George H.W. Bush more honestly put it before he stuffed his integrity up his ass in order to get to be Reagan's VP).

The thing is, it's not exactly earth-shattering news to most sane people that the idea of giving tax breaks to the rich and removing as much regulation as possible would eventually put us back on the road to yet another boom and bust event.

After the Civil War, we went through this crap every 20 years.

We had them in 1873 after years of Republican rule and government-promoted speculative credit led to a series of bank failures.1

We had them in 1892 after Republicans cheated and stole the election of 1888. Their policies led to rampant speculation in the railroad industry and corporate takeovers, then bankruptcy and a massive credit crunch, more bank failures, unemployment, and a housing crisis.2

Sound familiar, yet?

The only exception was when Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House. A Republican in name only (he was the first President to call for universal health care), Roosevelt broke the cycle, but Republicans went right back to it with Harding, Coolidge and Hoover.

Then, of course, there was the Great Depression. Yet, another Republican-engineered failure of the economy thanks to their philosophy that giving money to the wealthy and propping up their buddies in huge corporations will somehow make us all rich. It works for a little while, but it always leads to a huge crash.

Now, maybe it's simplistic to credit Franklin Roosevelt and the continuation of his policies and safeguards for working folks under Truman, Eisenhower3, Kennedy and Johnson with the avoidance of another one of these cycles, but isn't it interesting how it's all started back up again since we've had 25+ years of Reagan, Bush, Clinton4 and Bush?

The problem with history, though, is that only geeks like me pay any attention to it. 1873, 1893, 1929...pffft...we weren't alive back then, man. How do we know what happened? Still, you would think that at least those who have never known a world without FDR's Social Security, the FDIC, and the SEC might stop for a second when Bush appoints a do-nothing SEC chairman (one thing John McCain got right this past week, even if he fumbled the execution) and scores of Republicans (including McCain) call for putting Social Security into the stock market.

And now McCain wants to open up the health care system to free market forces.

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.5

Yes, we all know how well that's turned out.

Now, after years of listening to this crap, how free markets will save the world (if not the cheerleader), we have the fricking Secretary of the Treasury asking for $700 billion to give to his Wall Street buddies, no questions asked.

No. Seriously. No questions asked. That's what the proposal says:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.6

And yet, Barack Obama is only a few percentage points ahead in the polls.

I keep remembering a line from Jon Lovitz as Michael Dukakis in a Saturday Night Live mock Presidential debate in 1988: "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!"

It's a pet peeve of mine to get pissed off when Republicans, lacking their own good examples and tiring of saying "Reagan, Reagan, Reagan" all day, turn to Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. Sarah Palin did it in her speech at the GOP convention by calling on the ghost of Harry Truman. Like they'd be soooo Republican today.


60 years ago Harry Truman told us the unvarnished truth about the Republican philosophy. He might just as well have been stumping for Obama today:

"Today the forces of liberalism face a crisis. The people of the United States must make a choice between two ways of living--a decision, which will affect us the rest of our lives and our children and our grandchildren after us.

On the other side, there is the Wall Street way of life and politics. Trust the leader! Let big business take care of prices and profits! Measure all things by money! That is the philosophy of the masters of the Republican Party.

Well, I have been studying the Republican Party for over 12 years at close hand in the Capital of the United States. And by this time, I have discovered where the Republicans stand on most of the major issues.

Since they won't tell you themselves, I am going to tell you.

They approve of the American farmer-but they are willing to help him go broke.

They stand four-square for the American home--but not for housing.

They are strong for labor--but they are stronger for restricting labor's rights.

They favor a minimum wage--the smaller the minimum the better.

They endorse educational opportunity for all--but they won't spend money for teachers or for schools.

They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine--for people who can afford them.

They approve of social security benefits-so much so that they took them away from almost a million people.

They favor the admission of displaced persons--but only within shameful racial and religious limitations.

They consider electric power a great blessing-but only when the private power companies get their rake-off.

They say TVA is wonderful--but we ought never to try it again.

They think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people.

And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.

Now, my friends, that is the Wall Street Republican way of life. But there is another way--there is another way--the Democratic way, the way of the Democratic Party.

Of course, the Democratic Party is not perfect. Nobody ever said it was. But the Democratic Party believes in the people. It believes in freedom and progress, and it is fighting for its beliefs right now.

In the Democratic Party, you won't find the kind of unity where everybody thinks what the boss tells him to think, and nothing else.

But you will find an overriding purpose to work for the good of mankind. And you will find a program--a concrete, realistic, and practical program that is worth believing in and fighting for.

Now, I call on all liberals and progressives to stand up and be counted for democracy in this great battle. I call on the old Farmer-Labor Party, the old Wisconsin Progressives, the Non-Partisan Leaguers, and the New Dealers to stand up and be counted in this fight.

This is one fight you must get in, and get in with every ounce of strength you have. After November 2d, it will be too late. It will do no good to change your mind on November 3d. The decision is right here and now.

Against us we have the best propaganda campaign that money can buy.

But we are bound to win--and we are going to win, because we are right! I am here to tell you that in this fight, the people are with us.

With a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress, you will have the right kind of unity in this country.

We will be unified once more on the great program of social advance, which the Democratic Party pioneered in 1933.

We will be unified behind a housing program.

We will be unified on the question of the rights of labor and collective bargaining.

We will be unified for the expansion of social security, the improvement of our educational system, and the expansion of medical aid.

Moreover, we will be unified in our efforts to preserve our prosperity and to spread its benefits equally to all groups in the Nation.

Now, my friends, with such unity as this, we can secure the blessings of freedom for ourselves and our children.

With such unity as this, we can fulfill our God-given responsibility in leading the world to a lasting peace."7

Or more succinctly: "I wonder how many times you have to be hit on the head before you find out who's hitting you? It's about time that the people of America realized what the Republicans have been doing to them."8

1Wikipedia, Panic of 1873

2Wikipedia, Panic of 1893

3Eisenhower was the least "Republican" of the Republicans we've had as President since Teddy Roosevelt. He pretty much kept to FDR's course and added his own Federal interstate highway project to the pot.

4Clinton pretty much just rode the upward side of the wave and didn't do a lot to reverse Reagan's damage, although he at least tried to balance the budget while things were going well.

5New York Times, McCain on Banking and Health

6Text of Draft Proposal for Bailout Plan And while we're on the subject, how the hell is it that we can "magically" come up with $700 billion at the snap of a finger to bail out Wall Street, but hell would freeze over and God would rain down his fury if someone asked for half of that amount to pay for medical insurance for all Americans?

7Harry S. Truman Library, Address in St. Paul, October 13, 1948

8Harry S. Truman Library, Address at Dexter, Iowa, on the Occasion of the National Plowing Match

Monday, September 22, 2008
Tee I loveth thee! (02:59 PM)

I'm writing a long, rambling piece on how much things suck when Republican economic philosophy is let loose (duh), but I think I'd rather just say...

OMG! HEROES is back!!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008
So true. Especially the bit about Florida. (08:20 AM)

I think they missed Missouri, which includes Kansas City's awesome sauces and St. Louis's BBQ pork steaks. Other than that, it's right on.

[via Sassy]

Saturday, September 6, 2008
Time for some campaignin' (09:16 AM)

Who is that handsome hunk of half-elf getting kicked around by Obama and McCain near the end of this video anyway?

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Thursday, September 4, 2008
I've been trying to restrain myself... (07:21 PM)

There's something very odd about a crowd of people rabidly cheering someone telling them that their party sucks, isn't there? When the parade of speakers at the Republican convention keeps harping on the "Washington crowd" and the awful, corrupt government that John McCain and Sarah Palin need to go down and clean up, is there no one with half a brain around to stop and say, "Um, haven't you guys been in charge of the government for like, say, 8 years?"

McCain: "Let me offer an advance warning to the old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second Washington crowd: change is coming."

Crowd: "Yeah! Go get us! We suck!"

Palin: "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."

Crowd: "Woo! Down with helping in the community!!"

Palin: "I told the Congress 'thanks, but no thanks,' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

Crowd: "Yes!! What were Republican Senators thinking??"

If only there were a candidate who would put the country above politics. Someone who wouldn't make choices based on what he needs to get elected versus what makes sense for the country.

What do you think, Karl Rove?

Friday, August 22, 2008
Equal Opportunity Storm (10:38 AM)

Fay is bound and determined not to leave anyone out of receiving her buckets o'rain. The storm hit the Keys, then drenched South Florida, drowned the east coast, flooded Central Florida (that's us), and is currently parked over Gainesville with storms pounding Orlando, Tallahassee and Jacksonville all at once. I guess Tampa didn't get too much out of it, but even they are getting stuff from the feeder bands. Next stop: Pensacola.

We're still getting hit here, but it's nothing compared to what the Space Coast went through the last couple of days.

From Wunder Blog:

Fay has brought the Melbourne, Florida region its greatest single-storm rainfall on record. By 1 am EDT today (Aug 21), Fay had dumped 22.83" of rain on Cape Canaveral. The previous rainfall record for a tropical cyclone in the region was set in 1950, when Hurricane King dumped 15.44" of rain on Patrick Air Force Base near Cape Canaveral. Hurricane Wilma of 2005 holds third place--it dumped 13.26" on Kennedy Space Center.

Fay is also one of Florida's rainiest storms on record. According to Wikipedia and NOAA, the eleven rainiest Florida tropical cyclones of all time were:

Easy (1950) 38.70" Yankeetown
Georges (1998) 38.46" Munson
Unnamed (1941) 35.00" Trenton
Dennis (1985) 25.56" Homestead
TD 1A (1992) 25.00" Arcadia Tower
Jeanne (1980) 24.98" Key West
Dora (1964) 23.73" Mayo
TD (1969) 23.40" Havana
Unnamed (1924) 23.22" Marco Island
Bob (1985) 21.50" Everglades City
Alberto (1994) 21.38 Niceville

According to the latest public information statement from the NWS office in Melbourne, we have an unofficial public observation at Melbourne/Windover Farms (through 5 am 8/21/08) of 26.20". If verified, that would make Fay the 4th rainiest Florida tropical cyclone on record.

Thursday, August 21, 2008
The Day After (02:31 PM)

Well, it's done. Our little clan of Nortons is broken. Our Pepperkat is officially living away from home in another city.

Temporary? Probably. It's only school, and she'll definitely be back to visit. But knowing her ambition and drive, if she lives here again it will only be for a short time.

It's not like she's on the other side of the moon. Tallahassee is only about 4 hours away, depending on how many speeding tickets you're willing to risk. And we've got cell phones and internets and stuff to keep us close (as I was typing this the phone was her, wondering where we stuffed her phone charger), but it's not the same. Le sigh.

Anyway, the trip up there was fine. We were far to the west of Fay, so we didn't have much rain at all. When we arrived at the dorm, the sun was shining, and it was hotter than hell. Got her all loaded up in the room (much less scary than the one they showed us during orientation), then took her out to supper. We kept finding excuses to hang around (we were still grocery shopping at 8:30), but eventually we got out of there and arrived home after 2:30am. Naturally, Venita had to work this morning... she left the house at 7am. Gah.

So, um, yeah. One kid down. The other kid planning on moving into an apartment this fall.

On the bright side... bleh. I'm too tired, and it's raining too hard for a bright side. I'll get back to the silly tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Mmm... sweetbreads... (07:59 AM)

Yay! A list! And a food list at that...

Via Karan, comes this meme about questionable foods.

The rules:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items youíve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here, linking to your results.
5) Karan added * = things I would eat again. I'm just limiting it to things I would like to eat again, as I'm not that picky.
6) I'm adding + = things I would love to try.
7) I'm also adding - = things I have eaten but would never eat again.

Not sure all of these things qualify as "exotic" though...

(I provided links for the goodies I didnít know...which were pretty much the same things Karan didn't know either.)

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros*
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile* (actually alligator, and it's nummy!)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue*
8. Carp
9. Borscht*
10. Baba ghanoush*
11. Calamari*
12. Pho+
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi+
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes*
19. Steamed pork buns+
20. Pistachio ice cream*
21. Heirloom tomatoes*
22. Fresh wild berries*
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans*
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche*
28. Oysters-
29. Baklava*
30. Bagna cauda+
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl*
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut*
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo*
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects- NEVER AGAIN!
43. Phaal
44. Goatís milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala*
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut*
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi+
53. Abalone
54. Paneer*
55. McDonaldís Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle*
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV*
59. Poutine+
60. Carob chips+
61. Símores*
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin ?
64. Currywurst
65. Durian+
66. Frogsí legs*
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake*
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho+
72. Caviar and blini - GROSS!
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost+
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie*
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum+
82. Eggs Benedict*
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef*
86. Hare+
87. Goulash*
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate+
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish*
95. Mole poblano*
96. Bagel and lox*
97. Lobster Thermidor*
98. Polenta*
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee+
100. Snake

Monday, August 18, 2008
Tropic Thunder (oy Fay...) (08:04 AM)

We went and saw Tropic Thunder Saturday night, and it was freaking hee-larious. If you're not a big fan of the naughty words (and the fart jokes and the severed heads and the fake blood and the Tom Cruise), then it's probably not your cuppa tea. (Actually, I take that back about the Tom Cruise. The mere fact that he did this raises him up several notches in my book.)

Meanwhile, here comes Fay! It's currently scheduled to track right up I-75 all day Wednesday and be sitting right at the intersection of I-75 and I-10 at 8pm Wednesday night...which is exactly where we will be driving to and from taking Pepperkat to Tallahassee...

Created with Snazz by, and MovableType