Back to School Repost Post

As our school and college students prepare to head back to school, I thought I’d go ahead and round up some things I’ve said over the years (mostly, with a couple new links too) for your entertainment:

Have a great school year.

In closing: I think this BlogHer post might have been talking about this one!

Harvest Time is Upon Us!

And apparently, nothing says “autumn” to my local store than pumpkins and lots of boxed wine!


Or perhaps you’d prefer the hard stuff?


Drink that much Jack, and you’ll need the tombstone!

As the nice lady sang, “Cheers to the freakin weekend! I’ll drink to that.”

In Closing: personality test; Carlin; what could possibly go wrong?; Dave on taxes; die with a t on the end; “Armory? Armory? School districts have armories? Hell, we don’t have enough money for textbooks but we have armories?”; Russian Space Sex Geckos!; Uh, “number 2” is actually #4 by my reckoning (nobody would have recognized 6); not good; and you have got to watch this — a splash mob!

We don’t want any trouble

Nobody wants to live in a bad neighborhood, right? And certainly nobody wants to live in the kind of place where the police are continually coming around.

But consider this situation. Imagine you get beaten up. As bad luck would have it, it happens a couple more times. The third time, the cops call your landlord and order him to evict you. After all, you’re a troublemaker. Bad things happen around you, and this town doesn’t want your sort here. Sound far fetched? Unfortunately, laws all over the country designed to make it easier to move known drug dealers and pimps into crappier areas evict criminal neighbors are being used to evict crime victims instead:

Last year in Norristown, Pa., Lakisha Briggs’ boyfriend physically assaulted her, and the police arrested him. But in a cruel turn of events, a police officer then told Ms. Briggs, “You are on three strikes. We’re gonna have your landlord evict you.”

Yes, that’s right. The police threatened Ms. Briggs with eviction because she had received their assistance for domestic violence. Under Norristown’s “disorderly behavior ordinance,” the city penalizes landlords and tenants when the police respond to three instances of “disorderly behavior” within a four-month period. The ordinance specifically includes “domestic disturbances” as disorderly behavior that triggers enforcement of the law.

After her first “strike,” Ms. Briggs was terrified of calling the police. She did not want to do anything to risk losing her home. So even when her now ex-boyfriend attacked her with a brick, she did not call. And later, when he stabbed her in the neck, she was still too afraid to reach out. But both times, someone else did call the police. Based on these “strikes,” the city pressured her landlord to evict. After a housing court refused to order an eviction, the city said it planned to condemn the property and forcibly remove Ms. Briggs from her home.

Sure, it’s “domestic assault.” It’s still assault, just as if some random guy beat her up  — except worse! If the cops told her, “Listen, he has to go and we will make sure he does,” that might be understandable. But no, just get out and try not to bleed on anything.

Unfortunately, neighbors that are afraid to call the cops are no better to have around than neighbors that violate the law. If you agree with the ACLU that “Effective law enforcement depends on strong relationships between police and members of the community,” you might consider sending them a couple bucks.

In closing: overdose; problem solving; on real estate, education, and commuting; parking; 15 out of 16 of us lost net worth between 2009 and 2001 (that’s after the real estate bubble popped, for those of you paying attention); one soda a day keeps insulin astray (ok, I strained to make that work); and an internet necessity.

I’ll pass on the candy booze, thanks.

Ok, let’s talk about these damned flavored vodkas. I’m not talking about old fashioned infusions you might find lovingly prepared at better bars, I’m talking about the artificially colored/flavored junk cluttering up the shelves at my local liquor store. It’s getting stupid out there. Many of the fruit ones taste like freakin cough syrup (I’m talking to you, Absolut!). But now we’ve got crap flavors like cake, marshmallow, and whipped cream.

Listen kids, if you don’t like how real vodka tastes, don’t drink it!

In closing: Princess; turns out the so-called pro-life nuts were wrong about Plan B; unintended side effect; unprepared; gold; he’s baaaaaack; maybe I spoke too soon about hope.

The Decline of the Butcher Counter

When I was a kid, any decent grocery store had a butcher counter. The butcher was there every day. He could help you pick a cut of meat for your recipe, or grind some beef for you, or get “specialty cuts” for you. If you only needed a small roast and all that was out were big ones, he could cut a big one down for you. And of course, he always had lollypops for little kids. Of course, some things were out of his realm — bison, lamb, venison, kosher or halal meats for example — and for that you’d have to go to a specialty butcher shop.

A lot of grocers still have something they call a butcher counter, but it’s not what it used to be. Most of the meat that gets sold comes to them already packaged and ready for sale. A small amount of meat is in the counter, mostly common items like ground beef and chicken breasts, and sale items. The “butcher” is also responsible for the meager selection of seafood, often half of it pre-cooked shrimp in various sizes, along with seasonal items like salmon in Springtime. The “butcher” himself knows cuts of meat, but he’s unlikely to know much about meatpacking. I really only know one traditional grocer in town that has a real butcher, and that’s a kosher butcher in a heavily Jewish neighborhood. Ask him about chopped liver and you’ll get a regular dissertation.

Some stores don’t even have that much. Just try to find a butcher in a Wal-Mart Supercenter or a Fresh And Easy. Every bit of meat arrives shrink wrapped, much of it half-frozen. What’s in the cold case is what they’ve got. The end.

So this brings me to an interesting discovery. Some ethnic markets still have actual butchers! That’s right, a human being who hacks up cows and chickens and pigs and sells the parts. I don’t worry about “pink slime” in the ground beef from my local Asian grocery store, because I have every reason to believe there’s a guy dumping chuck steak into a grinder in the back. Because most of the clientele isn’t interested in traditionally Western cuts, things like sirloin and filet mignon are downright cheap. This particular store even has a fish counter where you can buy frozen or fresh seafood (some of it still swimming). And as if that’s not enough, the produce is fresh, plentiful, and inexpensive. We also have a terrific Hispanic superstore that has a whole section devoted to different kinds of bananas. Shopping at these alternative stores is also a great way to stay away from heavily processed “Standard American Diet” foods.

So do yourself a favor: head out to your local ethnic market and see what they’ve got. You might have a new favorite grocery store!

In Closing: she doesn’t post often but she’s interesting; two views of the Apple ebook case; I really don’t want to step into the latest round of Mommy Wars; guerrilla gardening; GOP says we don’t need any consumer protection; counter-intuitive; and Sakura.

Shorties Night 3D

Ok, I’m all tabbed up so let’s get rolling!

Not sure what to think: Ron Paul wants to make sure kids aren’t subjected to mandatory mental health screenings. On one hand I don’t want to see kids needlessly medicated. On the other hand, I know people who really could have and should have been diagnosed with treatable mental health disorders as kids!

Side Effect: Women are suing cops for tricking them into long term relationships with their undercover alter-egos. Oops.

Never Thought I’d Link Glenn Greenwald: But he’s right about the detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act. It’s there in black and white, no matter how people spin it.

Cat Herding: How Occupy Portland outsmarted the cops (without necessarily planning it that way).

Good Grief: 10 things you didn’t know about “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

I hope they didn’t spend a lot of money on that research: “The more a person drinks the more likely they are to have unprotected sex, according to research.”

This looks good: Dark Chocolate Macadamia Bark with Sea Salt.

Remember this when your Christmas bills arrive: Minimum payments will eat you alive.

Let’s see if that’s more than talk: Most Americans think we need a third party.

Turns out the Military is a way out of a bad neighborhood in more ways than one: Military schools smack around local schools, particularly when it comes to poor and minority kids. Now if only there weren’t the occupational hazard of being shot at!

You’ve seen my musings: Now here’s Anderson Cooper on traveling.

Turning Japanese: 68% of Japanese cars sold in the U.S. were made here in America, in 29 plants that employ 50,000 people. For reference, “American” car manufacturer GM has roughly 68,000 employees in the United States.

About Time!: 6 Fannie/Freddie execs charged with fraud. They might actually go to prison. There’s another big mortgage fraud suit here in Nevada.

Dim Bulb: One idiot thinks those curly light bulbs are so bad, she says she’s giving incandescent bulbs as Christmas presents. Don’t let her kids anywhere near her car with a carton of eggs.

How does that work?: As condition of a plea bargain, a man had to agree to give up a home he didn’t own and never did own.

And Finally: A boy chokes on a meatball in the school cafeteria. The sad part is that rather than make sure all the staff know CPR, they will probably take meatballs off the school menu.

Ignore Them

I am completely disgusted with pretty much all politicians, and even more so with politicians that try to position themselves as “I’m a [insert noun] first, not just another politician.” Those ones are dangerous because half the time they don’t understand what the heck they are dealing with. I’m talking to you, Dr. Joe Heck!

I’m tired of politicians who think we can balance the budget without increasing taxes.

I’m tired of politicians who think we can balance the budget without addressing our 2 1/2 wars.

I’m tired of politicians who think that just because I’m not 55 yet, I just need to kiss Social Security goodbye.

I’m tired of politicians who are so ignorant of history that they think there can be a “private sector” solution to Medicare.

I’m tired of politicians who use the phrase “death tax,” when only a few thousand people will ever pay it.

I’m tired of politicians who use coded words to whip the ignorant into a frenzy. (“Domestic enemy”? Why not just call him Satan or the Anti-Christ? What a shame that you really mean he’s an “uppity ******”!)

And most of all, I’m tired of the other politicians who won’t call them out on this nonsense. Don’t even get me started on the media that lets them lie on the air and call it the truth.

Go ahead. Close down the government. Do it! Do it right at “tax day” and completely screw yourselves.

In Closing: defense; a man and his boat; two takes on dessert sushi; WHY??; if you won’t stop for humane reasons, or justice reasons, how about fiscal reasons?; about time; I like Kathy; it’s all about cheap labor; gaming inflation through housing prices; if you haven’t heard about the real Tea Party yet, watch it today; resist BAMTOR; I knew this would happen! Throw the book at them!; and a picture of a random cat. If anybody knows the source, put it in comments so I can attribute it:

Mulholland Shorties

Was I Wrong About Rahm?: He’s not even sworn in yet, and he’s announced that something he wants to do is enlarge a good old-fashioned public works project! Granted, it’s just bike lanes, but it will put people to work and help other people get around when it’s done.

Food Insecurity is just a fancy word for Going Hungry: Here’s a viewpoint from somebody who once had to endure it. It turns out there are a lot of issues in play.

So You Want to be a Revolutionary: This man wrote a book about non-violent revolution. There’s a link to the PDF, which is credited with change around the world.

Income Inequality: When people in other nations notice it, it’s bad. If that has too many words, this one has lots of pretty pictures. Here’s more.

Release the Hounds: An Indiana Deputy Attorney General suggested using live ammunition on protesters in Wisconsin. Thankfully, he didn’t have the authority to order such a thing. But sanity did prevail: he is now unemployed on the grounds that a man in his position must demonstrate civility.

Speaking of Shafting the People who Teach Your Kids: Providence just sent lay-off notices to each and every teacher. They will decide later who actually gets the axe. Way to promote morale! And just a reminder, the average teacher in Wisconsin makes less than the Wisconsin median income.

Your Insurance Company Believes in Global Climate Change: Because 2010 was one of the worst years for climate disasters ever! That would include things like storms. Oh, and I sure hope those of you in San Francisco enjoy the expected snow.

Too Big to Fail is Too Big to Exist: Seriously, even people from the Fed say so.

Making the Situation Worse: Banks are moving branches from poor neighborhoods to wealthy ones — despite laws requiring them to serve the entire community. In this vacuum, payday lenders and check cashing businesses spring up out of need. And did you know that one in nine banks is in danger of collapse?

Some People Have Never Heard of the First Amendment: Some people think you can outlaw “shariah.”

Who Knew: It turns out Americans like having clean air and water.

Priceless: It turns out you can download sheet music of the classics for free. Mozart’s copyright rights are long since expired.

Truth in Comics: Drew and Bors.

Can we Stop Calling it the Party of Lincoln?: It turns out President Lincoln would disagree with almost everything the current Republican party stands for.

They Really Would Prefer All Women were Pregnant: No word on whether they think we should be allowed to wear shoes.

Plastic Tubes and Pots and Pans, Bits and Pieces: Kids need to do more science.

Batshit Crazy: Qaddafi.

The Only Evidence that I am “Moderate”: I’m clearly somewhere between these two crazy extremes. Honestly, I think of myself as left of center. You know I think that the banks are the root cause of much of our current economic woes, but it would be childish to assert that “Wall Street causes all bad things.”

Placebo: Dogs just want to please their masters. That’s why drug sniffing dogs only have an accuracy rate of 44%. That rate drops to 27% when the person in question is Hispanic.

Lily the Pink: Or, Who Knew Moldovans Drank So Much?

Advice for Democrats: Stop using the Republican’s terminology! I want to scream every time i hear one of you talk about the “death tax” or “tax reform” or “Obamacare” or “Social Security reform.” For pity sake, all these things have names that don’t admit that their way of looking at it is correct!

What Happens When This One Pops?: College textbook price bubble.

Shorties in the Sky

Impressive: America needs roughly $2,200,000,000,000 in repairs to things like roads, tunnels, bridges and the like. You don’t suppose doing something like that might result in some kind of fiscal stimulus?

Stick to feeding the poor and preaching peace: young people increasingly turned off by the hateful political crap spewed by many churches.

Do Not Grope the Pilot: He would also like you to not take naked pictures of him, and moreover he would like you to assume he is not a terrorist.

Is it time to resign yet?: Senator John Ensign (the guy who isn’t Harry Reid) raised a whopping $18,000 last quarter. Unfortunately he had to shell out over a half million dollars in legal fees.

Color By Numbers: There are more black men in prison today than were enslaved in 1850. You don’t really believe that’s because the overwhelming majority of crimes are committed by black people, do you? You don’t suppose that there could be just a wee tiny bit of racism going on?

I Dare you?: D.A.R.E., encouraging children to put their parents in prison and themselves in foster care, all for the unworthy goal of the long since lost “War On Drugs.” Heck, we couldn’t even win the “War On Drugs” by re-destroying the #1 opium producing nation in the world!

Go Ahead, Make the Case for Medicare For All: Some insurance companies are threatening to stop writing policies if they are forced to follow the law in 2011 instead of a largely theoretical future date of their choosing. Yeah, you just go on and do that, suckers. In the meantime, the Feds are taking on Michigan Blue Cross for stifling competition in a way that raises prices. Nice to see them the Feds actually giving a darn about normal people over corporations for a change.

Obligatory Items on the Economy: Reich’s Perfect Storm; donations down 11% at the top 400 American charities; the problem with the economy so that absolutely anybody can understand it.

No Woman Should Have to Put Up with This Crap:Some students and the Yale Women’s Center board complained after pledges were videotaped last week, chanting about necrophilia and a specific sexual act.” Pledge activities have been suspended, but as far as I am concerned, some wealthy young [insert offensive plural noun] needs to get suspended or expelled. Let them explain to their daddies and mommies what they did on videotape and why. “Boys will be boys” my ass!

Password protection for your internet connection is a good idea: “Deputies arrested Candice Miller only after they raided the wrong house. Investigators busted into the neighbors’ house suspecting they were sending child porn. Turns out Miller’s neighbors didn’t secure their wireless Internet connection.”

The Difference Between Theft and Piracy: boils down to what you’ve got afterward.

If Only: Myth Busted! Can we move on to where you were born?

Smart people drink more: Alcohol consumption correlates with intelligence.

I guess I know what I’m wearing tomorrow: purple. Relevant.

It’s less annoying than air travel: record number of riders on Amtrak.

No I don’t really need this: but a pizza cutter shaped like the Enterprise is still pretty cool.

I promise it’s the only thing I’ll say about it here: (But expect a post over at about foreclosures later) Ladies and gentlemen I present the dumbest thing anybody has said about a moratorium on foreclosures! “For instance, in Cleveland, where there are over 18,000 vacant homes, lives Millie Davis who recently earned her Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Cleveland State University and just bought her first home – one that had fallen into foreclosure and sat abandoned for years. Had a blanket moratorium been in place, that sale would have fallen through — not only deferring her dream of homeownership but leaving neighbors on the block to stand by and watch as their property values continue to plummet.” Now then first of all her Master’s degree couldn’t possibly have less to do with the situation. I’ve got one of those myself and a fat lot of good it’s done me. Second, I don’t think anybody is talking about going back and examining the paperwork on homes that “sat abandoned for years.” That is all water under the bridge. The priority right now is to make sure that the banks or other entities that are foreclosing on homes a) have the legal right to do so and b) follow all the applicable laws when they do it (and they probably don’t). Failing to find this out now could result in millions of homes that can’t be sold at all because nobody can prove who really owns them. Oh, and c) “vacant” and “foreclosed” are two different things, which is something I would have expected the Secretary of HOUSING and Urban Development to know.

And one last thing: great descriptions of things on TV.