Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Maybe They Should Put A Bag Over Their Heads

The Republicans are more hypocritical than a Pharisee sharing a pulled pork sandwich with a harlot and a moneylender, a harlot, a moneylender and a pig. They are hyperventilating about the two cases of Ebola that have developed in this country and railing about the administration's handling of the epidemic of two cases, complaing because the Ebola Coordinator is a coordinator and not a doctor
In the meantime, they have blocked the appointment of a new surgeon general because he had the audacity to say that the plague of gun deaths (thirty-two per day) is a health issue. As if people dying by the thousands every year, isn't a health issue.

By the way, eloquence is harder than it looks, antithesis will arrive when I think of a suitably epigrammatic one.

Friday, October 17, 2014

We Should Doff Our Don

When our Congressman was young, he might have been effective, but now Young is just a bully and a buffoon, and according to an editorial, possibly insane. 
So, I think that nails polyptoton, next up, antithesis. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

You're A Poet And You Don't Know It something that no one ever said to Shakespeare, because he was a poet, and he did know it.

I preordered a book, The Elements of Eloquence, to try and make this blog more interesting and my arguments more compelling. Now it's arrived.  The author, Mark Forsyth, says that even a genius such as Shakespeare used these techniques to improve his writing. Actually, Mr. Forsyth says that Shakespeare was not a genius, but a craftsman who learned the figures of rhetoric and deployed them skillfully. 
My plan was, and still is, to sneak the different elements into the blog and let the praise pile up. Chapter One introduces the simplest one: alliteration. And it turns out, I have, in a prior post, used that one, to wit, Don Young is a bully and buffoon. 
I'm hoping that now that you've heard me tell it twice, and in an alliterative approach, Alaskans, that 
we can end this poor player's strutting and fretting; that he could be heard no more. I don't know if all lives are tales told by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, but that definitely sounds like a Don Young news conference.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Oh, What A Noble Mind Is Here O'erthrown!—

Last night I was winterizing my new bike with my usual aplomb, putting on a fender and studded tires. I was satisfied with the work by the end, although not every bike mechanic needs a hammer for the installation, probably because they're not as creative as I am, or possibly they have better impulse control.
Anyway, when I came out this morning to go to work, one of the tires was flat, and I woke Leah up and told her she either needed to drive me to work, or find a way to her job without using my car because I didn't have time to walk. It wasn't till much later in the day that somebody asked me why I didn't just ride my other bike. "Alzheimer's, I guess." I was planning on playfully riffing on that with the Hamlet quote above, but I couldn't remember it! Ah, Google, the demented's little helper.

Space, The Final Frontier, Or A Cold Infinite Emptiness?

When I used to feel maudlin, this was pre-Zoloft, of course, (I'm a Post Maudlinist now ) I would see the moon (this was the original moon before the current sequel craze, i.e. Super Moon, Blood Moon, etc.) and imagine that the people I missed were looking at it at the same time.  I doubt they ever were, but check out this completely unrelated item, Emo Phillips is going to be in Boston on November 14th, and exactly one week later he'll be in Cedar Rapids.

And speaking of being maudlin, or happy or whatever feelings humans have, I always thought one of the flaws in the Vulcan psyche is (or was, or will be) that if a being has no emotions, why would they do anything, "What's my motivation?" Now, I've been (or was) vindicated. Listening to a book by an autistic author, I heard her cite research that shows that people whose brains have been damaged in a way that removes their emotions are incapable of making decisions and are essentially paralyzed. When I heard that, I felt.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

I Thought This Would Fit In The Last Post, But It Didn't.

Adam Smith wrote in the Wealth of Nations (fine, I never read Adam Smith, but neither did you, so how are you going to argue with me) that in a free market as we pursue our own best interests, there is an invisible hand that makes the economy better for everyone.
Unfortunately, we now live in an oligarchy and their lobbyist lackeys. The invisible hand is now just an invisible finger to poke us poors in the eye.

Can't We All Just Get Along? No, Stop Asking.

According to NPR, because Alaska is a cheap media market, with a vulnerable incumbent Democratic senator, we have been inundated with Koch brother (and other's) money to sway the election. TV programming, the mail, our front porches and telephones have all become unusable extensions of the campaign with  the result that Alaskans are enraged. At everyone.
It's not just the negativity that grates, it's the cognitive effort to have to keep listening to the Republican ads, and then mentally debunking them.
For example, the ads try to tie Begich to Obama's "failed" policies without naming them. Are they the ones that brought unemployement below six percent? Are they the ones that (using the Republican blueprint, credit where credit is due) got health insurance to millions of uninsured people? The record stock market? Killing bin Laden?
They certainly don't want to talk about their own record. While they bemoan the national debt, they shut down the government rather than even discuss raising the taxes on billionaires that pay at lower rates than the middle class. They don't want to discuss the policy that led to the invasion of Iraq, at a cost of over a trillion dollars, a war that was so mishandled that it created ISIS. Although they do seem eager to get back into that war.  Do they want to talk about their voter suppression or their views on legitimate rape?
I only mention this as confirmation of the NPR report, we are enraged. Unfortunately, as a red state, most of us are enraged at the wrong people.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Probably Not A Serious Policy Proposal

We're bombing ISIS because they've killed two Americans in a grisly fashion. This will be the third, no, fourth time we've gone to war with enemies of Iran. Our relationship with the Iranians is starting to seem like one of those cheesy comedies where two lovers pretend to hate each other in public. And by attacking ISIS, instead of letting regional powers deal with them, we are giving them legitimacy among people who inexplicably resent our attacking Middle Eastern targets, aiding their recruiting. 
In the meantime, 32 Americans are killed by guns everyday without ever leaving the country. If we want to save American lives, maybe we should declare war on the NRA. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Two Legs Bad. One Leg, Even Worse

When Karen is in a lot of pain, she sometimes tells us that she wishes we were too, so we'd know what she's going through. We tell her that's not very nice, that we're not wishing the pain on her, that we're doing the best we can for her, that caregiving for an angry person isn't exactly the life we would have chosen, and that our wish for her is that she could be pain-free. Well, dreams do come true, at last. I woke up this morning with a debilitating pain in my leg. I can barely walk. I actually noticed it last night when Karen woke me up to change the input on the TV so she could stop watching a DVD and go back to regular programming (we have a new DVR and remote [which has nothing to do with her not being able to change inputs, I'm just bragging a little]). I assumed it would be better in the morning, because isn't everything? So far, it's not, but I've taken some aspirin. If I was making this up, my new replacement bike would arrive today to mock me, but no, it's still mocking me somewhere between Federal Way and Anchorage.
Recently, I heard an interview with William Deresiewicz, railing against the Ivy League. His thesis is, “The system manufactures students who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.” He calls them, and his book, Excellent Sheep. Which, is fine I guess, but a little irritating.  My dad said you don't have to go to college to learn how to spend money. May I add that you don't have to go to an expensive college to learn how to feel bad about your life? It's not just the young entitled that don't know the purpose of their lives. It just gives you the luxury to indulge  your angst. To paraphrase Garrison Keillor, sure you're depressed, but what does that have to with the fact that the cows still need to be milked?

In any event, it's the furious sheep that are so annoying. Just like you wouldn't let a fox guard a henhouse, why would you let Fox guard a sheepfold? The oxymoronic thought leaders on the right didn't want socialized medicine and released their sheeps of war to attack it, arguing for mandates and subsidies for insurance companies. When they got what they wanted, they turned their ovine marauders loose on it chanting,  "Obamacare bad, the exact same thing by a different name, good. And, also Benghazi."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

I'm Working On A Post In My Head That's Really Good (In My Head). This Isn't It.

So, which is more pathetic, those sad sacks that are live tweeting their lives instead of live living them, or the people that follow them? I'm asking for a friend.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Buyer's Remorse. For FREE.

I met the car of my dreams yesterday. It was a Subaru Forester with low miles, but a high enough seat that old people could get in and out of comfortably. Karen liked it too. She enthused, "Fine, get it if that's what you want." She said it in that way that let me know that she'd be fully onboard until the first problem when it would become, "That car you insisted on getting."
And still I was going to get it until I couldn't sleep this morning (I was expecting to be called into work) and my mind wouldn't let go of the fact that we had a car that sort of works,  that doesn't cost anything, compared to a well-priced dream car that costs something. But this older car does need maintenance and probably costs more to operate than the newer car that has four wheel drive, so it's much safer for winter driving, but are we even going to be here in the winters anymore since I really am still thinking of retiring, but we can't be gone all winter or we'll lose the PFD and the slickest part of the winter is when it's warmest, i.e. early and late when we'd be here, but does 4WD even help on ice, or just on snow?
And also, Don Young is a bully and a buffoon.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Book Report

I've probably run out of new things to say, but then again, that happened awhile ago. In spite of that, I do walk around talking a lot. Sometimes, I even think I'm pretty amusing, "Oh, I love the way you fixed your mailbox. It gives a word lover the chance to remember that it's 'jury-rigged' and 'jerry-built'."
Even though, I've run out of new things to say, "of making many books there is no end," and I've read a few lately. I think I told you about the last two I finished. Well, the last two literary books, I finished; I'm not bragging about the ones by Dean Koontz and Alexander McCall Smith. I started recommending Cloud Atlas seven years ago as, "really great," because I know how to write a concise book review. The author, David Mitchell, has a new book out, The Bone Clocks. It spans the period 1984 to 2043. I preordered it and am up to 2004.  In an interview, he said that all of his books will eventually be revealed to be parts of an uber-novel. 
A lot of the critics have panned the last third of this new book, or uber-chapter, for an incomprehensible  sci-fi plot. I'm sort of looking  forward to that. What I haven't enjoyed so far is a pages long rehash of why invading Iraq was such a bad idea. I mean, it was, but Frontline has already covered that sufficiently. It's true, but it seems unnecessarily topical for a book that aspires to be literature. It's as if in the middle of The Razor's Edge, just before Elliot (spoiler alert) dies, there is an account of the Bretton Woods Conference, and how it will lead to a dollar glut.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Like A Clock-Work Scone

Normally at this time of year, I whine about how much I ate at the state fair, and bemoan how much weight I gained. I could do that this year, too, but maybe I can just show how I approached the fair like a well oiled (or, greased, really) machine:
There is a kind of race called a regularity rally. The goal isn't to necessarily be the fastest through the course, but to come closest to the judge's pre-race estimate for course time. As I walked across the fairgrounds, I put the last bite of funnel cake into my mouth just in time to say, "Two scoops of Gold Nugget ice cream on a waffle cone, please."

Monday, September 01, 2014

More Political Opinions That You Can Skip If You Don't Like Uninformed Commentary. But If That's Who You ARE, Why Are You HERE?

One of my customers told me recently that another customer had told her about my blog. She went on to say that she didn't really read blogs. I told her that was too bad;  I tried to be a one-stop shop for puerile views and comments.
Like these:
Back in April of 1964, I read an article by Dwight D Eisenhower in the Saturday Evening Post called Why I Am A Republican. I probably didn't read it closely then because I was only nine, and because I was still pretty jumpy after March of that year. To be honest, I didn't reread it all that closely just now either. The salient points seem to be that Democrats were big government socialists, and Republicans were yeoman freeholders standing against the encroaching forces of Communism and (possibly worse, because harder to discern) liberalism.
So, I never directed the Colossus that saved the free world, nor became president of the US and then Columbia, but I was a Republican for a long time, and now I'm not. When Ike was president, the Republican party stood for something, or at least they seemed to. Now they only seem to stand for protecting the interests of the very richest people and businesses at the expense of the rest of us, and against anything proposed by the current president. Some, think that this obstructionism fulfills the dream of the founding fathers that the Senate would be a place of deliberation that would slow the headlong rushing of the House. But the founders believed in deliberation leading to compromise to achieve goals not just obstruction and paralysis. Even Ike, while wanting people to stand on their own two feet, gave them roads to drive on with the biggest government construction projects since the pyramids. There is a balance between free people joining together in a community and the Republican's Lord of the Flies approach to individualism.
Republican Dan Sullivan is running for the Senate on a platform that includes repealing Obamacare. It's hard to see what he'd replace it with since Obamacare is the Republican's own plan. I guess the good thing that might come out of all this is that if Republicans only believe in opposing the president, we might finally get the single-payer plan that every other country with good outcomes and low cost healthcare has.
In any event, given that Sullivan might be the member that would tip the Senate, and thus Congress, back to the Republicans, even if I liked him better than I do, I couldn't vote for him. Although

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"I Can't Think About That Right Now. If I Do, I'll Go Crazy. I'll Think About That Tomorrow."

Today I heard the Moody Blues invitation to ride their seesaw. I heard it in the same place I heard it originally, the room that was my bedroom in 1968 and is now our office. And aren't seesaws a metaphor for life? You go up and down, and you end up right where you started.
Yesterday Karen and I went to a financial advisor. He told us that I could retire right now, and we could have a pretty rocking life style.
Then at 3:30 this morning, the police rang our doorbell. Once again, someone was going through cars on our street. Since our glove box was open, the officer wanted to know if anything had been stolen. "I don't know what it would be, it's all been stolen already, " I said.
  After I got back in bed, I couldn't fall back to sleep because I was thinking about something I hadn't really considered that the advisor had said. We would be fine until I turned 85 and we ran out of money. It had sounded pretty good, and I wasn't planning on living to 85 anyway. But what if do?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wired Magazine Says Complaining Is Not An Art

So apparently, my idea of dropping pastels and bon mots and working only in complaints is, according to Wired, just annoying. Which is in itself annoying, so here we are, full circle. Full, vicious circle.
In 1849, Thoreau wrote that  “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Because I basically dropped out of high school to become a dishwasher, (fact check: I had to work several months before being promoted to dishwasher)  I've never read Thoreau except in quote form, so I don't know what song he's referring to. I get the desperation, though. This morning, I wanted to attach some papers to some other papers. I found boxes and boxes (and even more unboxed) staples and a staple remover. But even though we have several, no stapler. 
The only reason I'm even here blogging and trying to staple is because I've had to look away from the book I'm reading, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. So much has happened that it's  impossible to believe in a happy ending. But because I'm so invested in the dwindling cast of characters, I know I'll go back and finish it soon. 
I did finish Elizabeth is Missing recently. Terrifying and heart breaking by turns, but also funny and engrossing. People faced with caring for parents suffering from dementia (and here I'm talking to you, Sarah) should probably read it.
Oh, and finally, if you live in Alaska, don't forget to vote on Tuesday or sooner. Unless you're planning on voting No. You can forget.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

And An Exaltation Of Larks

This is probably going to be mostly about Alaskan politics unless I can find the words to describe the last few days. I probably won't though, since yesterday was mostly given over to trying to remember the first name of the guy that owns the neighborhood gas station (Fred), and what I used to think about the Simpsons (transgressive). Today's challenge was to recall the name, Sammy Davis, Jr. I got a customer to help me with that by saying, "You know, the guy that sang 'Candyman'." And now I can't forget that execrable song.  Well, okay, that was the last few days.

I  heard a report today that music with a heavy bass line makes people feel more powerful and more in charge of their lives. Based on our inability to stand up to oil companies, it would appear that Alaskans only listen to flutes, lutes and dog whistles. The messages being put out are infuriating in their inaccuracies and incessance. Spellcheck thinks that "incessance" isn't a word, but using oily logic, if I keep saying incessance long enough it will gradually become a word we all believe in without even thinking about incessance. 

One candidate, Joe Miller (just one race away from being, perennial candidate, Joe Miller) is adept at dog whistle issues. We can't  know what he thinks about SB 21. He says he's voting no, but he also said, "I lied about accessing all of the computers. I then admitted about accessing the computers, but lied about what I was doing." 
But then ethics has never been a strong point of Alaskan politics. Here's a case in point (and click).

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

“The Race Is Not Always To The Swift Nor The Battle To The Strong, But That's The Way To Bet.”~Damon Runyon

Notwithstanding Damon Runyon's tip, and even though oil companies have outspent the Yes people 100 to 1, I thought that Alaskans would see through their oily evangelism. Recent polls suggest that's not the case. I'm not smart enough to understand the ramifications of the law and the repeal, so I have to decide who to trust to help make the decision. That is, should I trust Bill Walker who I know from personal experience to be a man of integrity,  and Vic Fisher who helped write our state's constitution, or the oil companies that have lied to us and corrupted our state government (and governments around the world)?
I've made my choice, before you make yours, you should click on this:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Crime Doesn't Pay? Doesn't Pay Who?

I was talking to Rich about the bikes I looked at over the weekend. The one I liked the most, was steel. "Steel now," he said. "Later, stolen."
On Monday, I was cruising Craigslist and there was my "Awsome Bike" [sic] (very sic) for sale. I called the police officer handling my case. He called the number in the ad and talked to them, and then called me back. He said that he could go by there, but they might not let him in. If I wanted my bike back, the best thing to do would be for me to set up a meeting and invite the police to join us.
So, that's what I did. First, they said to meet them at their house, but must have realized that it was really more of a lair, so they moved it to a parking lot. Ambre and I drove over there and talked to the police, and then they hid, and we waited. When the criminals rolled up, I got out and examined the bike, spinning the pedals, checking the brakes. While I did that, the police sprung their trap. One of the men was arrested on an outstanding warrant. I don't know what the charges were, but it may be relevant that a syringe fell out of his pocket, as they will. The other two men, and the little girl with them were allowed to leave. The men claimed that they had taken the bike as payment for yard work they had done. They couldn't remember for who, or where, but I suppose one yard looks much the same as another after awhile. The policeman said that I was their client, so I if I wanted them arrested, he'd do it, but he was pretty sure the prosecutor would decline the case given the (barely) plausible explanation. I said what I'd really like was my other bike back, so he put it to them that if they returned the other bike within 24 hours, there'd be no questions asked. Which three days later sort of begs the question (ha ha, no it doesn't, it invites the question) where's my other bike?
Oh, and another question might be, why, if crime doesn't pay, did I arrive to get my bike back in my only car, a thirteen year old Dodge, and they came in a new Cadillac Escalade?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Autres Temps, Autres Mœurs? Nope, Same Old Mœurs.

1886: “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

2008: Bush proud to sign bill that passed unanimously giving substantial new protections to unaccompanied minors arriving at the border.

2014: “Send them home with birth control” (actual sign carried by woman protesting the arrival of children at the border.

I just know that there are still people who resent FDR allowing Jews who had escaped from Nazi Germany to be refused entry to Miami in 1939 and returned to Europe where many of them eventually died in the camps.  Where is their horror at the prospect of returning children en masse to the murder capitol of the world without the hearings provided for by a unanimous(!) Congress just six years ago?

Martin Luther King said, with no math to back it up,  “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” A more accurate statement  might bethe line of the moral universe is long, and it tends to revert to the mean, the very mean.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Entered As Second Class Matter

S J Perelman wrote a short piece called Second Class Matter. I never thought it was all that great, so the title, at least was kind of funny. 
Here's a little update of my own, and since it's not very good, but, second class matter is a postal term, and I work at the post office the title is doubly funny. Get it?
I've been working some overtime this summer on other routes. Yesterday, I delivered mail in a trailer court. Trailer court spaces aren't always numbered rationally, but I never thought I'd be looking for pi. 
I told my erstwhile friend that, and he reminded me m-m-m pie. 
I went and test rode some bikes today. I told the salespeople that I wanted a good commuter bike that could accommodate snow tires, be a fleet of tire road bike and sturdy enough for my imaginary ride across America. And affordable. 
Then I came home and sulked.  Nobody likes to be laughed at. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Uncomfortable Unfortunate Things I Might Have Said Recently

I just told somebody, at the PO "Oh, I'm walking out to the garage as if my bike wasn't stolen."  I told him the story, how there were a lot of people we used to call bums that walk down our alley and how now we call them homeless, but maybe they're homeless because they're bums,and how they used the garage door opener in the dead car in the driveway to gain access to the garage and my bikes. He said, "That's funny." I said, "Really? I must have told it wrong."
I have a black man on my route that lives with his identical twin. I told him, "I know this might sound racist, but I can't tell you guys apart."

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Universe Says, "Follow Your Dreams, Because They Left Without You."

I listened to WBUR's On Point today. The host interviewed a man that rode across the country on his bicycle at age fifty seven. While I daydreamed about that tonight at dinner, someone went into my locked garage and stole my bikes. 
They left two snowblowers and a lawn mower. So, chore machines. 
I was daydreaming about bicycling across the country and now I can't even bicycle across the street. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

That's Why They Call It Dopamine

I listened to a Scientific American podcast today. They interviewed the author of Ha,  a book about the science of humor. The author doesn't claim to be funny himself, just, as he said, you wouldn't expect a scientist studying schizophrenia to be delusional. And then he turned out to be delusional since he claimed Rowan Atkinson was funny. Apparently, the so-called science of humor is just a joke.