Friday, December 5, 2008

I Know! Let's Let GM Stiff Their Contractors! That's a Good Solution!

What people don't seem to realize is, GM doesn't build cars. They ASSEMBLE cars. Tons of their parts and electronics and computers are made by thousands of third party contractors around the country. My uncle, for instance, lives in St. Petersberg Florida and makes motherboards for Cisco in California who then makes car components and software for car computers which are sent off to a GM plant.

When GM files for Bankruptcy, suddenly they are protected from debt.

Let's say you're a small business owner in, say, Texas, who makes widgets for GM who currently has an outstanding bill with your company for half a million bux. Suddenly people around the country start chanting that GM should have debt protection. Suddenly people are actually begging GM to stiff you. They all think it's the right thing to do because those darn union guys get too much money for pushing a button and besides GM made crappy, fuel sucking cars.

Lucky GM, they get to file for bankruptcy and restructure. You? You're not getting that half mil for a loooooong time even though you've got a quarter mil of expenses into the production. So you file for bankruptcy and close your doors and start dusting off your resume along with your fifty or so employees.

Uh oh! So now Honda wants to buy parts from you like they usually do because you sub-contract to all the auto companies. But you're not in business anymore. Oh no! Where is Honda going to get its widgets? They go from small manufacturer to small manufacturer and find that an alarming number of them have gone under and the rest are either on the ropes or are over extended.

But that's only the beginning of the problem. The price of steel has collapsed from a dramatic drop in demand, which is initially pretty sweet, but suddenly the steel companies can't make ends meet, so refineries close up and then the price of steel skyrockets from a combination of lack of production and the economies of scale for shipping steel aren't there anymore.

Not that it matters anyway. From all the mom and pop manufacturing companies around the country shutting down, there's a rash of unemployment, so nobody can buy Hondas anyway

In summary, we shouldn't loan money to GM and should let them file for bankruptcy. That'll show 'em and the greedy Unions what for.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Dominate Energy Efficiency

Check my stats. When the gas company comes a'sellin' I say "Good DAY, Sir. I said Good Day!"

I'm 25% below the average home use for a similar sized home in the area, and I shaved 3 CCFs of gas from our usage compared to last year despite a bit of a cooler November. I'd also like to add we keep our house at about 70 degrees. We could try to insulate our house more, but so far most of our gas usage comes from the hot water heater. We should insulate that better, as well as the pipes to carve our use even more.

And so far this year I have over 5 cords of wood for under $200. Sha-frickin'-zam.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Layin' Down My Mad Iron Age Skills

Yesterday I was splitting some wood I had cut from the fallen beech tree when I got a glimpse of human history.  The grain of the beechwood is twisty and irregular so even landing a solid whack with a steel maul usually only results in a shallow dent. It's some tough wood.

So what I have to do is sink a steel wedge into  the large stump with a sledge hammer. Then with the hammer side of the maul I pound and pound and pound between 5 to 20 times before the chunk of beech splits open.

Even cutting and splitting easier wood in any reasonable timeframe requires an iron axe at the very least. Copper would be way too soft. Bronze, maybe, but still pretty soft.

Without iron, we would stare helplessly at trees. They would be solid, enduring objects we had little influence over. Sure we could take down a tree with stone or copper, but it would take so long as to be nearly impractical.  And once down, then would come the daunting task of hewing it into timber or sectioning it into firewood. And forget about working with wood with any precision to make wheels or furniture or wooden for clearing the land for cultivation, forget about it.

Without that one material, Iron, all the heating, industiral, and constructive benefit of wood would be locked up into solid, seemingly impregnable objects. We'd be pretty helpless to do anything to or about the trees in the world.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Liberal Bias in the Everything

So I've been reading lately. It's a mega-conservative blog. And the most common thread there is about Liberal bias...

...and there's liberal bias everywhere. Just prior to the election the big uproar is with the liberal bias in the Polling. Apparently every active pollster in the world including the "conservative" Fox, Rasmussen, and the Mason-Dixon pollsters are in on some nefarious scheme to make Obama APPEAR AS THOUGH he's distantly ahead in national and some battleground state polls.

Why? Just to be assholes, apparently.

So we have liberal bias in the media, in polling, in primary education, in college education, in science, in Hollywood, in most of the world, in video games (video games!?!), in the Internet, in the United Nations, and my personal favorite...a liberal bias in Economists and Fed chairmen Ben Bernanke. Yes, as more economists point to Obama's plan as preferred over McCain's, folks are now screaming liberal bias in the field of economics.

Why, everywhere you turn, the institutions of our civilization seem to ooze with liberal bias. Everybody just wants to keep the poor conservatives down. It's not like lthey've dominated congress for 6 of the past seven congressional electoral cycles, or the presidency for 5 of the past 7 presidential electoral cycles or anything. Poor poor conservatives, so out in the cold, struggling just to have their voices heard amidst a world that seems to tell them that they're constantly and hopelessly wrong about so many things. Reality itself seems to have taken on a liberal bias, trying to make Republicans look bad on the economy and stupid on national policy.

But it's not real. It's only liberal bias.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Finance Darwinism

I have invented a term. Finance Darwinism.

Basically, organizations adapt to take as much of your available money as they can at every stage of your life.

In the natural world, food doesn't go uneaten for very long. Cellulose is hard to digest and for a very long time, nothing ate it. Plants just died and sank into the earth and became coal. Over time, critters adapeted to eat cellulose.  Why? Because food doesn't go uneaten.

Now consider that money is food. Given a median household income there will be no point in your life where one expense ends without another beginning. Do I have proof of this yet?'s just a hypothesis...

...of course some of this comes from us personally, where we have excess money all of a sudden and we think of ways to spend it. But Some degree of that has to be external insurance company knows when a demographic is suddenly free from other expenses and they increase premiums at that age, for example.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fortune Telling

Wanna know what modern fortune-telling looks like?

Visit this site

No no cards depicting sacrificial rams or spilled goblets of wine or a burning tree. Just numbers. Numbers and numbers and numbers and charts and graphs and median trackers...a whole industry built around trying to divine the future, who will be the next president? There are those who conduct polls, and there are those who rate pollsters and create aggregate polls and cast the bones of those polls into an iron pan and tell us what the polls mean based on how they land.

Future telling is alive and well. And I'm obsessed with it.

So far the oracles are telling us Obama will win.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Campaign Madness

OOF...these next two weeks will be excruciating. 

McCain is sure to close in on Obama in the polls as undecided voters come home to roost, and of course that gives me the jitters.

McCain is hauling the spectre of Socialism up from the depths of his vast lifespan. Seriously...the Red Scare is fading fast among younger generations. The younger folks weren't raised on images of bread lines, nuclear holocost, Communist thought control, and check points of the Iron Curtain.

"Socialist Candiate" is only gonna resonate with the Older Base.

And what's up with this Socialist accusation anyway? Obama wants to END Socialism in the United States. McCain wants to use OUR MONEY to send another $300 Billion to banks. Now that's what I call redistribution of wealth. So...what...if  people on the bottom are getting a break it's called Socialism, but if people at the top are getting a break it's called Capitalism?

Screw that. We've been there. We've done that. It's darn near burried us.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Went To A Campaign Event And A Hockey Game Broke Out

It's hockey season. Big fellas on ice zooming with enough momentum to splatter a moose against the wall, what's not to love?

This year Sarah Palin dropped the ceremonial first puck amidst loud boos and a backdrop of Obama / Biden signs.  What on earth was the McCain camp thinking? 

"Hey, let's go to a clasically roudy sporting event in a state where McCain trails by double digits. It's a fantastic opportunity, we have little to gain and a lot to lose! I can't imagine why we WOULDN'T do it."

Sometimes it seems like McCain is TRYING to lose.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

And McCain is campaigning in Iowa trying to flip the state from the Obama camp, but he's behind by double-digits in many polls Apparently he thinks that since it's a rural state that Bush won last year, and next to Nebraska it's his best last hope of getting to the magic 270. That he's even bothering to go there shows how little he understands Iowa folk. I'm married to an Iowa folk, and spend ten years of my life there. And I can tell you, people in Iowa aren't just smart people, but the're also stubborn as the day is long. Once they've decided where their vote's going, there's no way they'll change their mind. And they're also a very politically minded people, so I doubt there's a significant number of undecideds there...polls are showing around a 5% undecided rate. In a state where the last poll was 13% points against McCain and the average poll has him lagging 11.8% points behind, he could carry all the undecideds and still get his ass handed to him. 

Note to McCain: Forget Iowa. And stay away from hockey games.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tubers, Apples, and Wood

Fall is all about tubers, apples, and wood. We break out the crock pot while I start to subtract from the wood pile I spent the summer adding to. Then we make food with various combinations of potatoes, carrots, turnips, and beets. Meanwhile the mud room smells of macintosh apples, cuz that's where we store the great bags of 'em.

I love Fall. 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Economics's my breakdown of the subprime mortgage crisis:

A bunch of stuff happened and now nobody's loaning money, which sucks because apparently our entire economy is based on borrowing.

So now the gov'ment is going to shell out to save the banks coincidentally almost exactly the same amount of money we spent on the Iraq war.

The theory, I guess, is we'll save the banks so that they'll have money to lend to small businesses and regular people who want to buy, say, a car or something.

There are a lot of things I don't get, and here's a few of 'em:

Why not just bypass the insane banks altogether, let THEM fester with the crappy loans, and give 700 Bil to small, local banks that DIDN'T fuck us over?

...or better yet, we'll, like, borrrow 700 Billion dollars from our children and lend it ourselves rather than give it to banks to lend to us.

And then there's the $100 Billion of discretionary spending for the President in this bill, which I don't much like. That dude spent his whole presidency trying to get unregulated discretionary spending. Remember that one time he wanted $40 Billion in discretionary spending for the Iraq war, where he'd get $40 Bil to spend any way he wanted with no oversight? Yeah, the Senate kinda shot that down. So now he's gonna get two and a half times that. I don't know about you, but I can't say I trust that man with a hundred billion dollars.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How Thoughtful Of Me To Plant All This Food

My last hope for a tomato harvest is extinguished with the latest raid by the local gang of deer, who have agreed not to rough me up in exchange for "protection veggies." They rule this neighborhood with an iron hoof. Just to show they mean it, they've knocked down a sunflower and left tooth marks all over my very small watermelon.

Most of my garden this year went to feeding the deer. Beet greens, carrot tops, kohlrabi leaves, the tips of my bean plants and pepper plants, and of course every part of the tomato plants...every other week or so the deer come in and help themselves. Oscar and I put up a fairly basic scare crow a few weeks ago and that seemed to keep the deer away. I watched my tomato plants FINALLY go un-nibbled long enough to flower and grow heavy with fruit. Maybe a dozen tomatos were showing a faint shade of red...then two days ago the deer overcame their fear of our stick frame with a plastic pail for a head and laughed at it as they munched on everything.

Next year I'll have to make a tall fence around the garden. The 4 foot chain link fence around our yard is only meant to keep honest deer out. Not the theivin' kind. It doesn't even tickle their tummies as they step over it.

In other news, it's getting close to wood season again. We got to use the fireplace last Tuesday as the night temp dropped down to the 40s. We'll probably light another fire tonight. Now that the weather is cooling off I'm in gathering mode again. It's been too hot to cut these past couple months. A neighbor down the street cut down their birch tree. I asked him if he had plans for it and he said he was gonna take it out back and burn it all...but I'd save him the trouble if I took it.

So I took it. Birch smells nice when it burns.

We have enough wood to last us the winter. Now I'm trying to get get ahead for NEXT winter. Ideally I'll have a rotating stock of dries, the other BURNS! MUaaaaa ha ha ha ha haaaa...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Scariest Anti-McCain Ad Ever

WARNING: This is a graphic and disturbing video, with violent images. Seriously. Do not let kids watch this. It illustrates some of the 86,864 civilian Iraqi deaths including women and children, and 4155 US Soldier deaths caused by the Iraq war...all lost for what?

At best, John McCain's "victory" in Iraq will bring the country back to where it was before we attacked it...a nation of people that resent us, with leadership eager to use that resentment as a conduit to power.

Do you want "other" wars? McCain does...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fear Sarah Palin

Here's a list of 9 reasons Sarah Palin CANNOT be permitted to be a heartbeat away from a 72 year old heart, especially one that has had not one but two bouts of skin cancer:

In addition to forcing rape victims to bear their rapist's fetus, she'd force a woman to carry it to term even in the case of incest regardless of girls hit puberty sooner and sooner, Sarah Palin would force a 10 year old victim of domestic sexual abuse to have her own father's or brother's child...sick sick sick sick sick.

Sarah Palin wants to continue teaching abstinence only sex education, mentioning contraceptives only to illustrate their shortcomings, even as the teen pregnancy rate rises and girls get Sexually Trasmitted Diseases at an earlier and earlier age.

And let's not forget that TODAY Sarah Palin went on about how Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac have cost tax payers too much money for too long...when in fact they're Privately Held organizations.

Look...this woman CANNOT get to the White House. She's WAY outside of the Mainstream and will legislate morality whether or not it produces the desired effect.

Pass it on.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Two Lies Every Obama Supporter Needs To Counter

There are two lies we need to inoculate the electorate from:

1) The lie that Obama has done nothing
2) The lie that Obama doesn't reach across the aisle

1. Obama works his ass off for us

1399 is the number of laws Obama sponsored, co-sponsored, and authored as a US Senator alone. Memorize it. Pass it on. McCain and Palin are going across the country spreading the notion, the lie, that Barack Obama has done nothing in his three years as a US Senator.

We need to call Obama's critics on their bullshit.

Remember These Numbers

He sponsored 820 laws
He Co-Sponsored 427 laws
He Authored 152 laws

And remember, before he was a US Senator, he was a State Senator of Illinois for six years. He has 11 years experience as a statesperson.

More info can be found here:

When Obama's detractors yell the lie "Zero" in regards to Obama's legislative recored, hammer them with those numbers.

Remember...Obama has Sponsored, Co-sponsored and WROTE 1399 laws in just 3 short years. That man works his ass off for us. He deserves respect from his opposition, and He Will Be our president.

Here's a list of some of Obama's bill's that became law
  1. Lugar-Obama Nonproliferation Legislation
  2. Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (S. 2180)
  3. Congressional Ethics Enforcement Commission Act (S. 2259)
  4. Transparency and Integrity in Earmarks Act (S. 2261)
  5. Curtailing Lobbyist Effectiveness through Advance Notification, Updates, and Posting Act (S. 2179)
  6. Medicare Informed Choice Act (S. 1841)
  7. National MEDiC Act (S. 1784)
  8. Hospital Quality Report Card Act (S. 2359)
  9. Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Efficiency Act (S. 2247)
  10. Attacking Viral Influenza Across Nations Act (S. 969)
  11. Healthy Communities Act (S. 2047)
  12. Healthy Places Act (S. 2506)
  13. Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act of 2006 (S. 3822)
  14. Lead-Free Toys Act (S. 2048)
  15. Home Lead Safety Tax Credit Act (S. 2053)
  16. Great Lakes Environmental Restoration Act (S. 508)
  17. Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act (S. 1151)
  18. Mercury Market Minimization Act (S. 3627)
  19. Missing Mercury in Manufacturing Monitoring and Mitigation Act (S. 3631)
  20. Combat Meth Act (S. 103)
  21. Community Oriented Policing Services (PL 109-162)
  22. Dru’s Law (S. 792)
  23. Violence Against Women Act (S. 1197)
  24. Chemical Safety and Security Act (S. 2486)
  25. Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (which became Public Law 109-144)
  26. Spent Nuclear Fuel Tracking and Accountability Act (S. 1194)
  27. Innovation Districts for School Improvement Act (S. 2441)
  28. Summer Term Education Programs for Upward Progress Act (STEP UP) (S. 2149)
  29. HOPE Act (Higher Education Opportunity Through Pell Grant Expansion Act) (S.697)
  30. Lane Evans Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act (S. 3988)
  31. Sheltering All Veterans Everywhere Act (SAVE Act) (S. 1180)\
  32. Homes for Heroes Act (S. 3475)
  33. Lane Evans Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act (S. 3988)

2. Obama works his ass off for us with all parties

Yes, Obama has reached across party lines...
  • 2007 Lugar-obama transparency Act nonproliferation bill
  • 2007 Coburn-obama transparency act
  • 2005 legislation calling on FEMA to rebid no-bid katrina reconstruction contracts
  • 2005 tax credit for safely removing lead-based paint hazards from residences
  • 2006 coal-to-liquid fuel promotion act
  • 2007 fair pay restoration act
  • 2007 keep americans warm act
Obama Has Challenged his Own Party:
  • He voted for a tort reform measure which angered trial lawyers and members of his party
  • He voiced support for merit based pay for teachers, directly challenging the Teachers Union.

The Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said this of Obama:

"He has admirable qualities. He does reach out. And he has a good staff, and we've worked together on a couple of things, and it's been a pleasure to work with him."

Republican Gordon Smith of Oregon says this of Obama in his own re-election ad

""Who says Gordon Smith helped lead the fight for better gas mileage and a cleaner environment?....Barack Obama. He joined with Gordon and broke through a 20-year deadlock to pass new laws, which increased gas mileage for automobiles. Gov. Ted Kologoski praised their bipartisan partnership."

Spread the word.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sarah Palin and John McCain

It stands to be seen if Palin will create a bump for the McCain campaign...

...I've watched her speech and she had a couple of good moments, for example where she said parents of special needs children would have a friend in her. That was well played. And she initially hit on her "I'm just a regular gal" theme, also well played.

But she dropped the ball on a couple of occasions. She said she would talk about her responsibilities as Alaskan Governor...the crowd cheered. When they stopped cheering she started talking about Obama's experience as a community organizer and never picked up the thread about her duties as governor. That was her chance to clear up any speculation about her experience. In fact, rather than inform us about her own experience, she hit on Obama's inexperience...McCain's same talking points. She didn't address any of the abuse of power scandals, any of the Ted Stevens associations, or her hiring of lobbiests to secure earmarks for her town.

Mostly she shot a lot of one liners at Obama.

The post of VP is generally an Attack Dog role. From what I saw tonight, she's not going to be an effective attack dog. She's just there to prop up McCain among evangelicals and the Far Right base.

It seems like a lot of missed opportunities. Though it's not her place to lay out policy.


Mmm...this is good sauerkraut. I kept eating it and my grandmother said "Oh can't eat it raw..."

I said "well...I've been eating it raw for days and I haven't gotten sick yet..."

She said "It's not going to HURT you. But it just tastes better if you cook it." She kindly left out "You blasted fool."

Anyway. I've cooked it and it's delicious.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Running the Kraut Gauntlet

In case you were wondering, I'm still alive and feel fine except for a mild sore throat I got from Oscar...or he got from me. Eating the rotting cabbage seems to have had no ill effects on me.

As for the sauerkraut-making specifics, I used a plastic tupperware bowl. I mixed two teaspoons of salt with each pound of shredded cabbage and let it sit for a few hours. The salt drew a surprising amount of water out of the cabbage. Then, just to be safe I mixed two teaspoons of salt into a half cup of water and poured it over the cabbage to make sure it was completely submerged under brine. I added more salt just for good measure. Then I took a small plate and pressed the cabbage down to keep it submerged and to keep as much oxygen out of it as possible (the plate almost touches the sides of the tupperware, forming a kind of seal), and then sealed the plastic lid.

The stuff I found about how to make cabbage says I need to have a loosely fitting top, rather than a completely sealed top for some reason, probably to allow fermentation gasses to escape.

One guy I read about (who provided a video) simply used a five gallon bucket, a whole buttload of cabbage and a plate on top of the cabbage and salt to lightly seal it off and hold it below the brine. Others used mason jars with the flat lids sitting on the top.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Okay. I ate a forkful of the sauerkraut. Not bad. I'll let ya know if I'm sick tomorrow.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Time to Stand Behind Obama

Well. The Democratic National Convention is currently under way, which means It's On. The quadrennial American revolution is in full force, and it's time to stand behind our Guy. There are a whole lot of people out there who, for whatever reason, want our country to look like 19th century London with laissez faire capitalism and the superstition of theocracy in full force, with money pooling up in a few families, building the dynasties America wanted to banish from rule. These folks have the notion that the free market is a panacea, the cure all for every problem, when it's more of an organic system leading to efficiency rather than a specific preferred goal. These folks are going to throw their full, short sighted support behind John McCain. Until the dust settles, those of us who want Barack Obama to be our president need to push back in the opposite direction and throw our full support behind him.

For those Greens out there who think the Democratic party doesn't uphold your values, and think both parties are the same, it's your own damn fault. You've abandoned us. You've withdrawn your imput rather than help us to guide the Democrat's direction. So screw you few assholes if you're not going to come along.

Most of us are in it to change things, and form a party and country to our will. From now until after the election, Obama can do no wrong for those of us who want him to win.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

For God's Sake, Don't Just Stand There! PUNCH HIM!!!!



Look. I recognize and appreciate your attempt to make a civil bid for the White House. But let's be clear about something...from a historical standpoint where poisoned food and daggers to the back have been the norm for people trying to seize power, slanderous Television Ads ARE civil.

You're vying for one of the most POWERFUL OFFICES in the HISTORY of the WORLD. This is no time for civility. This needs to be a savage, all out, ball cracking fight. And if that doesn't get you out on the dance floor, think of Poor Eric over here who has to wait four years for a good presidential slug fest, and right now all I"m getting is a punching bag.

For GOD'S SAKE...DO something. Get out there and HIT McCAIN, that doddering, crazy, angry old man, in the sack! George Bush's campaign humiliated his whole family on the National stage and he goes crawling back to him like a beaten housefrau. There's PLENTY to attack on this guy. Just HIT HIM! HIT HIM HARD and don't let him get back up. Start NOW.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let's Watch The Republicans Come Crying To The Government For Help

GM is cutting its workforce by 20%, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac are on the verge of collapse, Bear Stearns, once one of the world's largest investment bank, is a crushed memory, airlines are facing bankruptcy, and the IndyMac banks in California went belly up and lost over a billion dollars in regular deposits and savings accounts before the Fed stepped in and took them over....

Yep. Say hello to big businesses. These are the folks conservatives keep telling us are more responsible and efficient than Government. If it's true, we're soooooo screwed. Even with nearly 40 years of warning, GM couldn't muster the balls it needed to make the necessary deep changes to stay on top, and some of our biggest banks raced recklessly to to the bottom to give loans to some of the least equitable people in the US, simply because foreign investors kept flashing wads of money at them to buy loans, ANY loans.

And when these companies fail due to their own stupidity, who do they crawl back to for help? That's right. The Government. The very same group they claim to be better than. "Save us to save yourselves!" they screech. They want US to put up our money to save them.

I hate to bring this up, but this deregulation fad the Republicans have been pushing through hasn't panned out very well. Meanwhile, the crazed GOP loudly claim to love America, but they don't trust it with money...until the companies they worship need to be bailed out because they made insane lending mistakes. Then the Republicans come running back to Uncle Sam with their hands out for more candy for their favorite corporate entities.

The bottom line is, Government is a more stable and deliberative user of our money than large companies are.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Envira Indians: An Uncontacted Tribe

This is compelling picture of an uncontacted Envira tribe living in Brazil bordering Peru. The picture was taken by a group called Survival to show that uncontacted tribes like this do, in fact, still exist in the rain forests of South America, and they require protection from losing their way of life altogether from deforestation. These are people living, presumably, like they had been living for thousands of years.

I think it's the fellows with their bows drawn, ready to shoot the helicopter with arrows that really makes this picture interesting. There's a strange combination of nobility and comedy. Sure, the arrows communicate the same message an AK-47 communicates: "You're not one of us. Your company isn't welcome. We'll put holes in your squishy body if it steps out of that...flying...whatever the fuck it is." But nevertheless, they're pointing arrows at the steel shelled helicopter, which is probably a healthy distance away if the camera man has any brains.

The arrows are it. Those are the big guns. When the alien invasion starts, they break out the bows and arrows, and maybe spears. This is all perfectly reasonable, and probably more than I'd do. I'd probably just crap myself if a helicopter flew close to my house and started taking pictures of me and my family...and I've seen helicopters BEFORE.

But knowing what I know about stone or wood against steel or even thick aluminum, the futility is tangible and somewhat comic. But in the context of their worlds, an arrow solves just about any threat from animate objects. Shoot the damn arrow, kill the damn bird if you hit it. It works about 100% of the time.

I suppose it's a pretty standard thing to do. Not killing birds, but throwing a successful strategy at a new problem. I figure out a way to solve a problem and I just use it and use it and use it...and it solves the damn problem every time. Then one day the problem changes and I'm not entirely aware of it, and I fire the same solution at it. But this tim, it just bounces off - patoing! Or it makes the problem even WORSE. There's not even an awareness that it won't work. Maybe every time I do that somebody out there is snickering at how primitive I am, cuz to them it's so damn clear that the solution I used didn't match the problem.

I dunno. I just thought the pictures were cool.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hey There White Bread, mein weissbrot ist sehr gut

Ever since I learned to make bread a few weeks back I've been making a loaf of bread for every day of the week. No, I haven't been making bread every day. I've been making four loaves at a time about twice a week.

Normally I make a combination of whole wheat and white, but I ran low on whole wheat, so this batch is 1/4 white bread.

Here's the thing about making bread. It's much much easier than you might think, and not that time consuming. And if you're on a budget, this kind of bread is excellent. For about 80 cents a loaf, at 1200 calories per loaf, you can make a delicious bread that fulfills about 1/4 of of the daily caloric needs for a family of four assuming you don't have any teenagers in the house. If you want to go with cheap white wheat, you can probably get the price per loaf down to about fourty cents if you're buying small bags of wheat at a low cost store like Aldi or whatever.

The thing about this bread's delicious. So rather than using it exclusively as a buffer to hold mustard against sandwich meat, you find yourself slicing off big chunks of it and eating it by itself, or with butter, or with honey, a favorite of Oscar's. We easily blow through a loaf in a day.

The recipe is found in The Joy of Cooking. The standard white bread. I generally make two batches at a time and use 50% whole wheat, and add an extra 1/2 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar. I don't use entirely whole wheat because that makes for a very dense, kind of unpleasant bread texture in my opinion. And if you're using the whole wheat I'm using, a 100% whole wheat loaf tastes uncannily like Wheaties. Not BAD. Just.........strange.

I normally use bread pans. This shapes the bread in sandwich shaped pieces, so we can use it for sandwiches. If I'm feeling artsy and gourmet, I just chuck a wad of dough onto a cookie pan and bake it.

For the gourmet looking stuff I dust it with flour before throwing it into the oven. For the usual bread I mix egg and milk and brush it onto the loaves before putting them into the oven, to give them a shiny, anime look when they're done.

For about 40 minutes of work per week and $6.40, I end up with 8 loaves of bread, at about 10,000 calories total.

The Universe is So Ours

Have you ever seen a space alien?

In Iowa City I knew a fellow who believed he was visited by aliens often. They'd come to his bedroom from time to time, paralyze him, and mill around talking. I've been reading about alien abductees, and their stories. Pretty consistently there's some medical procedure upon abduction, then there's some weird alien interview, and then some period of time where the abductee is subjected to some random images of earth life. This experience scares the bageezus out of some, and others it leaves with a deep sense of belonging and purpose.

I find the alien abduction story compelling. It's the sort of story I want to believe. I listen to or read the accounts and willingly let go of my skepticism and disbelief. I don't analyze or ask for proof or ask questions that might puncture the veracity of the story at all because the strange, expansive feeling I get when I hear the stories feels so fragile that it could pop at any minute. There's this lush, endless Homeric wilderness out there, inhabited with big-eyed, god-like creatures that want to tinker in our lives like Zeus.

Every once in a while somebody will come along and tease us with a story or a sighting, and every time I hope it's at least a convincing hoax. But it's usually a grainy photograph take by a cell phone, or something that's obviously a puppet head staring into a window; like the people perpetrating the story didn't even try very hard.

Ah well. If nobody else is out there, that means it's all OURS, right?

The most interesting story on this front comes from Universe Today, a group of soldiers in Afghanistan have expressed a willingness to make a one way colonization trip to Mars and Google is offering 20 Million dollars to the first private organization to land a robotic probe on the Moon.

I like this uncoupling of space exploration from the fickle hands of nations. I wonder if Burt Rutan will will the Google prize like he won the Ansari X-prize for first private citizen to develop a craft that can make a sub-orbital flight into space.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Thoughts Go Out To the Folks In Iowa City

Iowa City is under water and the interstates are closed. And ya know what? There's no national guards helping with the sand bags like they did in '93. I wonder where they are...

Here's a pic of Cedar Rapids, a city about half the size of Grand Rapids, just 20 miles North of Iowa City.

I was talking with my friend Steve in Iowa City a moment ago and I heard the radio in the background talking about evacuating Coralville, Iowa, just 2 miles North of Iowa City because the levee holding in the river just broke and water is rushing into the city.

The last time this happened, in 1993, they called it a 500 year flood. An event that happens every 500 years or so. 15 years later, another 500 year flood.

Probably the scariest thing about this event is the road closures. The folks there are just stuck. Tomorrow I'll be making quite a few phone calls to see how my Iowa City friends are doing. It's predicted the water river crest at 33 feet above its original level...UNLESS it rains. And it's been raining like crazy for days. Still raining right now. Just to give you some perspective, the average depth of Lake Erie is 62 feet. Fortunately, most of Iowa City is built well outside the river valley. But let's not forget that a fantastic amount of our food comes from this region, and tens of thousands of acres of farmland will be in water deeper than most inland lakes. Most likely this will drive up our food prices a bit more. A little company called Quaker Oats makes most of their cereal in Cedar Rapids.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Radishes, Chard, Dill, Wild Honey. Yes! Don't Worry So Much About The Farm Eggs Next Time Though.

Our first drop-off from the Community Supported Agriculture thing came today. Tom Vandenbosh from our CSA brought all sorts of delicious things, a bunch of radishes, some greens, fresh herbs, and some incredible honey from wild bees.

He also brought farm fresh eggs. I know you know where this is leading. I have a pretty open mind, and I think of myself as having a pretty realistic view of how raw and ragged some non-processed food actually looks. Some of the radishes have cracks, and I wouldn't have been surprised to find bugs on them that have to be washed off. But I draw the line at farm fresh eggs...I wince every time I crack one open, and peek inside to see if there's going to be a little surprise in there. We have about a dozen farm fresh eggs, all different colors, and all different sizes from huge and blueish, to about the size of a kumquat and brownish. The outsides of the eggs have stains and stuff on them. None of this stuff bothers me. I find it all very neat and charming to see all these mismatched eggs...and they were delicious. Of course I cracked one of the teeny tiny ones open today and there was some blood mixed in with the broken yolk. Nothing recognizable. Just the beginnings of veins. *shudder* I just can't handle foetal chickens. No no no no no. That's where I draw the line. I don't want to be picking beaks out of my pancakes.

Fortunatly, he won't be bringing eggs every week. These were samples in case we want to buy more. Nope. I'll be sticking with the veggies and maybe I'll go for more of that fantastic honey. I love the idea that Tom will be bringing by a supply of fresh veggies every week. The weather has been warm and wet and Tom says they expect a good harvest this year. Yay!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Big Stack o' Cellulose

I have a little over two cords of wood already, with two more on the way...I just have to transport the wood to my house. I still have to finish cutting my tree. It's reduced to a wide trunk with no branches. I made my first cut into the main trunk last Friday. It went off without incident and yielded a log quite difficult to carry. Actually...I didn't even try. I just rolled it near my wood pile. I should probably cut it in half. Another unforeseen problem with cutting my tree is the pile of twigs that I didn't really consider. I have to do something with all these twigs and small branches. Bon fire? Leaf disposal site? OH! Speaking of which, I can get a permit from the city to cut wood I find at the leaf disposal site. Electric companies and landscaping companies routinely drop off large branches and tree trunks. Big dorks like me are allowed to cut those up and take them home.

My friend Art has a couple of dead oak trees in his yard which he has given me rights to. The only trouble is...they're still standing. I've never felled a tree before, let along felling a tree in an urban setting. *gulp*

I hope to have close to 7 cords by October, and then I want to constantly stay one year ahead on my wood supply because wood needs a full year to dry.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Behold! I Have Created Bread.

This is my first leavened bread, and it's actually pretty good. For some reason I opted to mold it into a "wad" shape, rather than putting it into a mold. It seemed like the hip thing to do. This wad of bread was surprisingly easy to make, with five ingredients:
  • Flour (white and wheat)
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Yeast
  • Water
I could have added Love as a sixth ingredient, but I wanted a control group before I started getting fancy. My next batch will include Love. At some point I'll experiment with adding Vengeance or Irony. Right now, though, it's just a wad of regular bread.

Why did I make bread? We were out of bread. With our new, uncertain financial situation we've been going UberFrugal. I didn't want to drive to the store to get bread. That would be silly, especially considering we have all the necessary ingredients to just make the stinkin' stuff. Plus, it was fun and smelled delicious as it baked. Also, I just felt like doing it.

It's really not that hard. I thought it would be some grand production. But mostly it's a lot of waiting around. That's my kind of work. Throw the ingredients into a bowl. Mush it up. Kneed the mush for a few minutes. Toss it into a bowl and let it rise in the oven for an hour while you nap or read or nap and read or watch children...wait wait wait.

Then mock the bread's attempts to rise up by beating it down with a few light punches. Split it into two sections and put them on a pan with the oven preheated to 425. Wait another half hour while the bread attempts to regain its dignity and rise again. Wait wait wait.

Then put the bread in the oven for 35 minutes...wait wait wait.

Then ya got bread. It's a full 15 to 20 minutes of work, max. And you can make a LOT of bread dough. Of course there are far more involved breads than this...I did a pretty simple one.

I don't know if I'll consistently make my own bread. But it was fun to do.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

FINALLY...Great Lakes freighers' ballast water to be flushed with sea water by 2009

This news makes me crazy-happy. New legislation is on the table to require ocean-faring ships to flush their ballast with sea water before entering the great lakes, cutting down on introduction of invasive species when these ships dump their ballast water here. This is how the blasted zebra mussel found its way here from the Caspian Sea. Same with the goby, and that crazy toxic algae from Mars or someplace. Recently Muskegon Lake became a new home for the blood red hemimysis anomala, a type of shrimp from Europe.

Seriously, it's about frickin' time. I like this new way of thinking of the Great Lakes as something other than the Biggest Fisherie on Earth, a way to ship iron ore, or a convenient way to dilute our sewage. Thanks to U.S. Rep. Dale E. Kildee from Flint for pushing on this legislation. But of course, of COURSE Bush is threatening to veto this bill. I mean, of COURSE he is, right? I mean, how could he NOT? His one last act of pointless evil before leaving office. Asshole.

Well...if the bill passes, I'll be thrilled. Then we'll just have to slam the door on water diversions and plug that hole in Lake St. Claire and things will be looking up for my Lake.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008's Obama!

The stalemate has been broken and Obama has dealt the final shell-cracking blow. WHAM! 14% lead in North Carolina and all but a tie in Indiana, where Clinton had to make HUGE victories in all remaining states to secure the nomination. Obama has taken the biggest chunks of the cake, even in the face of withering, gale-force political pounding from Clinton.

Now we're going to see some serious McCain on Obama action. If Clinton stays in the race, she'll be relegated to a side-show like Huckabee was. Maybe she'll have a Saturday Night Live skit.

Wow. This is the first time I've ever been EXCITED about a candidate.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Man Cut Tree

The dismantling of the Mighty Beech Tree has begun. It's so big I kinda feel like I'm some tiny primitive man with a bone knife carving up a wooly mammoth. Except I have a chainsaw.

For some, this would be just another tree. For me it is my epic first time taking apart a tree with a chainsaw. I have to say, it's a fantastic stress reliever. I have my head, eye, and ear protection and I spent a good two weeks reading about chainsaw safety and how to make different cuts. So far the cutting has gone along without incident. My dad has been going over with me to help trim small branches, and have 911 at the ready while I cut. He goes around the tree sawing off the wee twigs and branches that would inhibit rapid cutting with a chainsaw.

Overall, the work is surprisingly fast. I started on one side of the trunk, taking off branches and moving "up" the tree. The wood is piling up pretty rapidly. Once all the branches are off, I'll have to start on the trunk. I don't know exactly how to approach that part.

Much of the tree was still alive when it fell, buds are forming. And when I cut a log off and hold the cross section to my face to smell it I can feel humidity wafting off it. It's still very wet wood, and heavy. It may take two seasons to dry...which makes me wonder if I'll need to find still more sources of wood for THIS year. YAY!

Last night I had a dream that people starting pitching tents on the empty lot where my tree sits, and used my wood for their camp fires. Nooooo...but when I awoke I knew my wood was safe.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


It's the end of April and I'm already sick of the election. Obama. Clinton. Clinton. Obama. The primaries have gone on just about long enough...and why? Because Michigan and Florida got bitch slapped for trying to challenge the electoral supremacy of the Almost All White states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Seriously...shouldn't states with healthy diversity like Michigan and Florida, states that represent the full spectrum of our citizenry, have more say in early primaries? I dunno...maybe I'm just insane.

If the Dems struck a compromise like the Republicans did, they'd have a clear candidate now, too and we could get on with the spankings.

I think that's it, really. I'm just chomping a the bit for the partisan spankings to get started...the low blows and pettiness that make a person pine for a simpler time when political rivals of old just dumped poison from a ring into each other's wine glasses...or maybe had ninjas stab them in bed. Now we have muck raking and mud slinging. Much uglier.

Can't we just put Clinton and Obama into a cage and not feed them or let them out until one emerges? Not civilized enough? Okay, how about we hook them up to electrodes and ask them world facts. First one to get five answers wrong gets 2400 volts...or as I like to call it, ElectRocuted.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spreadin' My Seed. Again.

Alas, my last seeds all molded. I think they were too wet. So now I've re-planted my starter seeds.

Take heed...I think that planting seeds directly into peat can be a bad and moldy scene because peat just holds in moisture like crazy. Even if the top gets dry, the peat in the center stays warm and wet and a nice environment for mold.

Based entirely on this theory and nothing else I've mixed an even dose of my sandy soil with the peat, and put pure sandy soil at the bottoms of the seed containers for drainage and then I put in my sandy-peat mix. Then I replanted my seeds. Maybe this will work.

This shouldn't be so difficult. I seem to remember preschool experiments where kids wrap seeds in paper towels and end up with full fledged plants. I will not be outdone by preschoolers. Or...or...I"ll buy my germinated seeds from preschoolers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008




The first great wood experiment is coming to a close. All in all, it was fun, cozy and cool, and I will be doing it again next year. Did I save money? It's hard to say. My gas bills were around $400 less for this winter compared to last winter, but I purchased around $400 worth of wood from local folks.

On the surface, I seem to have broken even. But this winter was a lot colder than last who knows, maybe I came out a little ahead. If I want to save more money next winter I'll need to cut and transport the wood myself. The state of Michigan sells wood harvesting permits for $20 per season, and I remove up to 5 cords of wood from designated State Land for personal use. The up side to that is, I get to traipse around the woods. The down side is, I'll need to get a chain saw, some sort of vehicle strong enough to haul several tons of wood, and a whole lot of gasoline. In the end I may wind up blowing $400 for a whole lot more work. Another avenue I could pursue is to simply work on my house's insulation. Right now I don't think it has any...stucko, brick, plaster, insulation.

This spring, after each storm I drive slowly past neighbors houses and silently envy the fallen wood in their yards. I should work up the courage to ask them if I can relieve them of their dead fall.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Peat and RePeat...

Last year I planted my seeds Right Into the Garden in early May and they never came up. I suspect they were eaten by worms or something because we didn't get much in the way of frost, leastwise not while I was awake. So I vowed that next time I'd start my vulnerable seeds indoors in a predator and frost-free environment. This year my seeds will wake up in a soft, warm bed of peat and flourish before I station them in the dry, barren tundra that is my garden and force them to spin the sunshine into food until they die or they can guess my name, which ever comes first.
I've developed a fondness for kohlrabi and beets, so this year there will be much kohlrabi. Oscar continues his obsession with carrots and tubers of all kinds. And for Julie there will be green onions, which she always seems to buy, and which always disappears, but I never recall actually eating it. Gus still likes formula but he'll get to touch the fleshy, earthy veggies. Of course we have the snow peas (grown on the chain link fence) and broccoli.

No corn this year, and no melons...I'm trying to have a large Veggie to Space ratio, and these just don't fit the profile. The only crawling plants I have are cucumbers (compulsory) and yellow squash (freak zucchini).

Oscar's birthday is coming up and Julie wanted me to post a picture of these DROOLIOUS cupcakes she just made for Oscar's PreSchool class...

And here's a sweet pic of the OscarGus brothers:

Goodbye Cruel World...We're Going To Mars

Ha ha. Very funny Virgin and Google. Way to raise a fella's hopes and dash them on the cliffs of Olympus Mons.

Yesterday, as an hilarious April Fools Joke, Virgin and Google released a joint plan to fund and found the first human settlement on Mars, called VirGle. They went so far as to create a VirGle site, where you can sign up to be a VirGle pioneer, somebody willing to leave the Earth forever and become one of the first citizens of Mars.

As you may know, Virgin is constructing a space port in New Mexico, with flights into edge of space using, among others, the Scaled Composites Space Ship Two (based on Space Ship One). So...they're working on private space travel. What I'm driving at here is, I momentarily believed the story that Virgin and Google were teaming up to draft a Mars mission and my heart went thumpity thump. But no.'s a hoax.

President Bush did the same thing to me. I used to say "well...he sucks but at least he laid out a plan to send a man to Mars." and then some time last year he said "Oh that? That's...uh...hiding in a cave with Bin Laden. Let's not talk of them again."

Alas. It'll happen some day. Some day we'll go to Mars. Maybe Obama will have the vision to expand the human consciousness beyond this tiny and vulnerable planet. What the world needs today is something Epic and Hopeful.

And maybe Google and Virgin will still seriously consider a Mars mission. Maybe their joke was how they gauge each other's receptiveness to the idea...

Google: "Gosh I like you Virgin. Hey, let's go to Mars together......HA! Ha ha...kidding, kidding. Ha. Heh. Ha."

Virgin: "HA! Haha! Yeah! That's rich......Good one, old sport."

[Awkward Silence]


Virgin: "Yeah...ha! *sigh* It would be kinda cool though...maybe?"

[Silence, meaningful eye contact]

Google: "Maybe."

[The two embrace, breathing passionately]

"Take me! Take me to Mars!"

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Kangaroo Hop

Talk about the Alexander's Band and the lot, the Grizzly Bear, the Texas Tommy and the Turkey Trot, come on and

hop, hop, come and do the Kangaroo Hop...

It's truly the greatest thing creation's ever known.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Small Business Man Love Tax Cuts!

So I was talking to this dude yesterday about insurance junk and the second he found out I was a small business man I felt him relax in his language and his posture. He then started talking to me about how Obama and Clinton are obsessed with taking the wealth from everybody and giving it to the poor.


I see this all the time. People, Republicans in specific, seem to assume that Small Business Owner = Republican. Why? I can only imagine it has something to do with taxes and how business folks hate taxes. Well holy damn crap, this just in...EVERYBODY frickin' hates taxes. News flash. We also hate tetanus shots and dental procedures, but ya know...just because something feels bad, doesn't mean you shouldn't do it (Colonoscopies...get 'em while they're hot).

So, as a small business owner, I would like to take this opportunity to say I am NOT a REPUBLICAN. Am I a Democrat? I dunno. Maybe. They bug me quite a bit too...but...

Here's the thing I don't get. Okay, you look at the countries that the US is or has been TERRIFIED of in terms of competitiveness...the USSR, CHINA, Japan! All highly socialized nations, right? RIGHT?

Now let's look at countries with significantly lower tax burdens than us...Romania, Portugal, Luxembourg, MEXICO!...are we picking up on a theme here? Up to a certain point, nations do not get CRUSHED or fail because of taxes. The US didn't really become a major world power until after a 1913 constitutional amendment that made large scale income tax viable. Indeed, the income tax didn't really start to see a large and permanent hike until the 1940s.

Now...for all y'all who want to live in 19th century America, you're more than welcome to go back to the days of un-inspected meat, no technology investment, and a modest army. I'm sure there are some nice Central American nations you can join. I hear Belize is nice. But I think in our heart of hearts we all love the America that sent us to the moon, crushed the spread of Stalinist Style Communism, and dominates the geopolitical stage. A healthy level of taxation was exactly the fuel a strong and organized US Government needed to accomplish those feats.

But OOOH NOOOO...the Republicans think tax cuts feel SOOO GOOD. Oh yeaaaah...ohh...TAX cuts...ooh BABY...Oh GOD, it feels SOO gooooood. cuts. Who cares if a healthy revenue stream keeps America strong and a restriction on borrowing keeps our national future cuts just feel too good. And if it feels good, you do it apparently.

What it comes down to is...between a certain point on the Laffer Curve, taxation is beneficial to the US in the Long Term. We really shouldn't give in to the Republican adage "If it feels good, do it."

Friday, February 22, 2008

What If You Always Vote Wrong?

Let's say you're a political dude.

And let's say you kept losing elections.

Then one year you find an issue that catapults you to office, a fantastic salary, a lifetime pension and primo health insurance. Your issue? Ban all use of widgets!

So you get into office along with all your party-members who were all propelled into office on a public wave of desire to ban widgets. You give a big speech about how you've heard the people and you are committed to banning widgets. Widget use is DOOMED.

But then you start to worry. What if you do get rid of widgets? Let's say you managed to successfully eradicate the use of widgets? You'd be back to the same square you were at before widget banning became a valuable issue. You would no longer have leverage against your opponent.

You and all your party members realize this at the same time. But you have to look like you're doing SOMETHING. So you do one of the following: You create a bill that is so unpalitable to the opposing party that it's sure to get squashed of Vetoed. You create a committee to research widget banning and debate it forever. Or you create a bill and complain about how the opposition has watered it down and it doesn't go far enough in the banning of widgets...alas you have no other choice than to vote it down.

In have a vested interest in keeping widget use legal, so you can keep it as an issue year after year. Though you speak of widget banning, you are the person least likely to ban widgets.

Let's turn now to the Democrats and the Iraq war and the Republicans and Abortion.

First, let's look at the Republicans. For four years Republicans had SUPREME control over all branches of government...or at least TWO years. During that time, very little headway was made on the banning of abortion. The very party that professed a desire to make it illegal altogether had two to four years to get the deed done, and they did nothing. In fact, they didn't even try.

Next, let's look at the Democrats. They rode in on an anti-war sentiment and seized control of both houses of congress. The Democrats won the power of the purse-strings. At any moment they could have told the President "Your game is done. No more funding. It's your fault if you try to wage a war without money." And yet they didn't. All threats of withholding funding without a time line were paper tigers, ignored by the administration.

Both cases are illustrations of our political figures keeping an issue alive as a means to try to retain an electorate.

In both cases the partisan defense is "we held such a slim lead. We need MORE [enter party here] to really get things done." But how many is enough? Until we see what a party will do with "enough" of a lead these divvied up issues will be dangled in front of us, constantly fresh, always delicious, and always just out of our reach.

The partisan game has begun to establish issues for us where the perceived stakes are hiked through the media's natural tendency toward the dramatic. Issues are decided from the top, down. Not from the people, up. This is a flaw in the current partisan atmosphere.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dear GM and Ford

I really want to like your cars.

And I do. Sometimes. But side by side with other brands, they're more expensive and not that much better, if at all.

Maybe it's my own fault. I like small cars. And that's not your forte. I look at cars like the Cobalt and the Aveo. I'm a small car kinda guy. I like they way they drive. I like the lower mileage. And I'm not ashamed to say it, I like the efficiency. Why drive three tons of steel when one ton does the same thing? Sometimes a pickup looks mighty nice when I'm hauling firewood or trash...but they're a bit out of my price point. And when remodeling our house in Iowa City we rented a pickup twice, and that did the trick. These days I have a good chum who is handy with his pickup. But 99.9% of the time I just need something that Goes and isn't a DeathTrap for me or the others on the road.

You're trying to compete on price, and you can't do it. So PLEASE just do this...make a damn good car. Make a car I lust after. The Cobalt has a HUGE engine for the size of the car, so it's got some oomph to be sure. But its crash test ratings blow, it's cramped, and from the reports I've been reading the drive train is crap. Your smaller car, the Aveo, has more room than the Cobalt. WHY? I know because like a big dork I took a tape measure to those cars. Your small cars don't stack up against cars like the Kia Spectra, the Hyundai Sonata, and the Toyota Yaris (though this one has a pretty sad crash rating) on basic quality and they cost about 1000 to 2000 more. The Honda Civic is a GOOD small car. Sturdy. Solid. Reliable. Safe. It's on the pricey side, but oh dear GOD I lust after it. Why can't you just make a car like that and price it accordingly. seem to think people buy small cars for economy alone. But I have to tell ya...if I had all the money in the world, I'd STILL buy a small car. I'd just buy a really damn good one. In other words, not a Ford or a GM.

Ford...why did you discontinue the Escort line? Dumbasses.

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's An Election Year: Remember to Bitch Slap Your Favorite Candidate

Thomas Jefferson said "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. " Let's make sure it doesn't come to that this election year and keep our political figures in line with a soft but humiliating bitch slap.

Our objective as Citizens is to ensure that candidates fear only one thing...US. Not each other. Not the Media. Not their parties. Not mice. All I ask is that they're terrified of the citizenry. I mean, really. Candidates, don't make us break out the guillotine and the basket. Cuz we'll do it. We may not have a public square, but the mall would do just as well. We're thirsty for entertainment, and reality TV is all the rage.

Politicians tend to drift off course and get caught up in the game of power. Their objective is to win and shore up power. As citizens, we have a game too. Our objective is to remind politicians that we, and only we, should be a politician's pathway to power. When they demonstrate an unhealthy lack of terror, they need to be smacked down. When they do wrong, call their headquarters and lay into them. Send an angry letter. Call and demand your contribution money back. Withhold your vote and let the Bad Guy win and let your candidate know why it happened. Be an ass. Be loud. Be a jerk. Flick them on the nose. When they're good. Give them a big bear hug and shower them with praise.

But remember this...elections aren't a game and politicians aren't your friend. Power turns everybody, EVERYBODY, into a dangerous, savage animal. Our system is designed to keep power on a short leash. And we're the ones who are supposed to enforce the system.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 really bug me.

I just have to say this to Obama and Edwards "Hey! Jerks. If you don't have the STONES to defy party rules in favor of what's best for The People and Democracy, you aren't so much LEADERS as party lackies ."

I'm a little pissed. I voted in the pointless Michigan primaries yesterday. Why pointless? Because Michigan has been stripped of its delegates for the Democratic candidate selection.

Michigan was sick of Iowa and New Hampshire being the states that effectively chose the candidates, saying that the states had way too much influence on the process. So Michigan decided it would have its primaries earlier, in violation of the Democratic Party rules. I might add that it also violated the Republican rules. While the Republican party somehow managed to work things out so that candidates could still do the Michigan primaries, the Democrat party did not. No. They stripped Michigan of its delegates and told party candidates not to campaign in Michigan or run in the primaries.

But as it turns out, just about everybody but Obama and Edwards ignored the marching orders and appeared on the ballot anyway. I voted for one of them. Sure I like Edwards and Obama. But they chose the Party Line over Me and My Right To Select My Preferred Leadership. Towing the Party Line isn't the CHANGE we want. It's the Status Quo we're goddamn sick of.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I need a Chrysler that's as big as a whale

Now I know why people end up driving HUGE cars. It's all about the car seats. The baby is surrounded by four inches of plastic and padding on all sides, and then clamped to the frame of the car. You're legally bound to do this. Hospital staff will follow out to your car when you take your baby home from the hospital to be sure the child's transportation is up to par with legal requirements. I'm not kidding.

If you have a small car, this isn't a problem if you only have one kid. The baby just occupies the whole back seat. Forget about fitting other adults back there. The problem comes along when you have two kids, both of whom are legally required to be properly protected against F=MA. In an attempt to thwart the merciless effects of physics, each child must be encased in plastic and padding.

At 132,504 miles, our loyal and tiny Ford Escort is developing a well deserved personality. So we're looking for another mode of transportation. We're drawn to the small cars like the Civic, the Yaris, or the Aveo. They use less gas, they're fun to drive, they're good on the snow, they're less expensive, and they make me feel like I don't need to over-compensate for anything. That's right...a small car makes me feel like a man *flex*.

But two carseats side-by-side in a small car just doesn't work. And the infant seat needs to be in the middle because A) it's safer and B) It doesn't fit on the sides.

So, it is with a heavy heart that I start to look at larger cars. Maybe I'll move up to a mid-sized car. Something in a Malibu or an Accord perhaps. While I realize it's important to have laws protecting infants and children, the conspiracy nut part of my brain suspects child safety laws were less about protecting the kids, and more about car lobbyists pushing for objects that required people to buy More Car.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why Don't We Have More Female Presidential Candidates?

I was listening to NPR last summer and a female US Congressperson was talking about her experience forming an exploratory committee for a presidential campaign in the 90s. Apparently she decided not to run because, according to her committee, America was not willing to accept a female president.

Hmm...well maybe that's true. If we go back and look at history, we see that there has never been a female president. Perhaps the exploratory committee took a long hard look at the pattern and at great expense delivered the report "History shows that Americans only elect men. Specifically white. 19% of the time for somebody named Bush, Adams, Johnson, or Roosevelt."

But wait a minute, how often have we been given a chance? How often have I had the chance to cast my vote for a female presidential candidate, even in a primary?

Since women achieved the right to vote in the 1920s, there have been fewer than 30 female candidates, Wikipedia lists 24 and the Center For American Woman and Politics lists 12 (with some overlap between the lists). And in most cases they ran for such powerful parties as the Socialist Party and the Workers World other words, usually parties where Nobody has a chance to win, male or female.

There have only been a small handful of female candidates prior to the 2008 elections who ran under a potentially viable party.

So perhaps exploratory committees looked at polls when deciding that a woman could not be elected president. According to the PEW Research Center, in 1969 a slim majority, 53%, said they would vote for a female candidate. Compare that to 2008 when the poll numbers show that 88% would vote for a female candidate. And since 1998, state gubernatorial election data shows female candidates faring BETTER when pitted against a male candidate, gathering on average 55% of the female vote and 47% of the male vote. Female Democratic candidates won 51% of the time while Male Democratic candidates won 47% of the time.

Today we seem to have Much Better numbers in favor of a female candidate. But that 53% willingness to vote for a woman in 1969 is telling. Women clearly had an up-hill battle.

But look at this...

By the mid 1970's,
America's professed willingness to vote for a female president jumped, and in 1972 America saw three female presidential candidates. Three! Incidentally, the acceptance of black candidates rose at a pace on par with the acceptance of female candidates.

Fast forward to the 21st century and we have a woeful ratio of female to male candidates. Indeed, we're lucky to have had a female candidate every election year for the past few cycles, but always with a small showing. One might imagine the ratios would at least mirror that of the US Senate ratios of male to female (83% male to 16.3% female). But they don't even come close.

For whatever reason, women don't run for US President as often as men. The appearance of women in the race shows our system isn't shutting them out with extreme prejudice. Certainly, female candidates face intense pressure, scrutiny, and ridicule. Though I think about Benazir Bhutto who became the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and ran for the post again despite being aware of the very real possibility of being killed. Her final fate makes rhetoric and ridicule seem tame by comparison. Benazir Bhutto was killed December 27, 2007.

If ridicule is the worst and most likely fate of a female candidate in the United States, it's a small price to pay to make America a more fair and equal society. Women...just give us the chance to vote for you. We may not. But with every wave, America becomes more willing to embrace the inevitable, that our society will be governed by the full spectrum of its citizenry.