The Good, the Bad, and the Habitual

Today’s question:

Do you think you have more good habits or bad habits?

I thought about going a little zen on this question and simply saying “yes.” I have good habits, I have bad habits, I don’t know that I ever bothered comparing the two. I suppose I’d like to think I have more good than bad, and there are people who might disagree.

Sorry, not the best post. But hey, yesterday you got a good rant!

In Closing: Stingray; the London Stone; Women of the Senate; with more people identifying as liberal, I wonder when politicians will stop fearing the word; climate denial; policy; and the Real Johnny Appleseed.

Music Monday: ?

Happy Birthday to both John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) and Alex Kingston (Melody Pond River Song).

 

In Closing: let’s just get all the TSA bashing out of the way; hope nobody is surprised that Federal law still says pot businesses aren’t legal; Sir Patrick Stewart; no plan is a plan; I already said this; perspective; and it’s getting worse; and even worse; oh, that’s why; actually, people’s opinions are center-left.

Music Monday: In “honor” of the Pope

It seems like everybody has at some point today said “I didn’t know the Pope could quit!” A lot of us remember John Paul II spending a lot of years being rather frail, so I am forced to wonder about Benedict XVI’s “health” issues.

Tim Minchin is hilariously funny, highly intelligent, a ridiculously good musician, and sometimes highly offensive. Not Safe For Work, Not Recommended For Catholics:

 

In Closing: this can’t be good; mood music for tortoises; how dare a government agency work in favor of the people; how to really help the middle class; McCain is a realist sometimes; college; on the post office; Reuters seems to misunderstand the term “liberal”.

 

Music Monday: Happy New Year

 

In Closing: My new favorite blog; disgraceful; AC saves lives; damned if he doesn’t sound reasonable; no deal may well be better than a bad deal, but it doesn’t matter because there will be no vote tonight; yeah, that does sound kinda dumb when you put it that way; Baby Boomer Nuns; they wouldn’t be there if they could farm it legally; we never had a chance; even a broken clock is right twice a day; and somebody must write a sci-fi epic based on this picture.

Gridlock and Opportunity

The next session of Congress is either going to be complete gridlock, or an era of great bi-partisanship. I say this based on this chart from Nate Silver. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s Nate “the man who got all the numbers right when everybody else got them horribly wrong” Silver:

 

Let me point out the obvious. It takes 218 votes to get most things done in the House of Representatives. Neither the mainstream Republicans nor the Democrats (with or without the Blue Dog crowd) have those votes. The Tea Party has become a de-facto third party. To get anything done, there will have to be a coalition and/or a compromise: either between the two parties, or with the Tea Partiers. This should be obvious to both Mr. Boehner and Ms. Pelosi. The President already said it out loud. As Mr. Silver points out, on this and pretty much every bill in the next session, Mr. Boehner “will need to win the support of at least some liberal Democrats. And a bill that wins the support of some liberal Democrats will be an even harder sell to Mr. Boehner’s Republicans. For each vote that he picks up from the left, he could risk losing another from his right flank.”

Nobody knows if the glass is half-empty or half-full. Was Mr. Boehner’s ill-named “Plan B” a symptom of his increasing irrelevance, or an attempt to enter a Post- Norquist political world? Will the 113th Congress be a more sane and bi-partisan body, or a place where the right hand and the left hand quite literally don’t know what the other is doing? Let’s hope for sanity.

In Closing: military research saving lives on battlefields and eventually on American streets; why re-invent public education with things we aren’t even sure work when we can just crib off Massachusetts?; yeah, it turns out there were good guys with guns at Columbine and it didn’t help (at least the good guys didn’t injure more students); and maybe this deserves more thought.

Let the Spin Begin

Ok, the good news first. Poverty is down ever so slightly. The number of people without health insurance is down, despite the fact that health insurance premiums went up 4% (far exceeding the official inflation rate).  The bad news is that  typical American income is down for the 4th year in a row. Adjusted for inflation, we’re back to the Clinton Administration.

Sit back and watch the two parties fight about what this means and who is to blame.

In Closing: converted RINO; crass; type 3 diabetes; turns out that training makes for better employees, who knew?!?!?; apples and oranges; voter suppression works too well; and the rules.

Compare and Contrast

Alright. I’ve been trying real hard to stay away from talking about Paul Ryan. Every newsman, blogger, and their dog have been on about Paul Ryan for the last 36 hours. That being said, I would like to point something out.

One of the core things that Mr. Ryan wants to do is replace Medicare with a “voucher system” where seniors can pick out and pay for their own private medical insurance. That’s the number one thing CNN has to say about him! Of course anybody who actually understands math and insurance knows that a premium that would actually cover a typical Medicare patient’s medical expenses would be unaffordable for most seniors, even with a voucher (just like with private schools). Therefore, it would be most accurate to say that Mr. Ryan wants to abolish Medicare.

Now then, please consider this second item. The Head of the RNC says that it’s Obama that wants to destroy Medicare. Even the NBC interviewer had to step back and ask but what about Paul Ryan’s voucher plan.

Listen. It’s pretty simple. Obama is no saint, but he’ll do less damage to Medicare than the Rolls-Royce Romney/Ryan ticket.

In Closing: I hate to say it –and I’ll probably never say it again! — but Insane Clown Posse has a good point; by contrast, Chris Rock will probably have another good point in the future; how much of high food commodity prices are the drought and how much is banker speculation?; there’s got to be a way to legally troll this system; on White Terrorists; what? you mean housing and unemployment are related issues??; and your brain.

And Now for Something Completely Different: A “Life Well Lived” Special Post

Ok, I know this isn’t what most of my readers are used to. If it isn’t your cup of tea, I bet you can find the “In Closing” bits in their usual location at the end.

I’ve been asked by the nice people at BlogHer (see that banner ad over there? Great!) to write a post on “How do you care for your hair in the colder, drier months?” If you would like, go take a look at the official tips first. Back yet? Great. Add your comments here for a chance to win $250.

So what do I do about my hair? The sad truth is “not much”:

  • I make sure I don’t go too long between hair appointments. A lot of bad hair days are caused by split ends and growing out of a good trim. I know it’s tempting for a lady to grow hair out over the winter, but that’s only a good idea if you love ponytails… Every. Single. Day.
  • I already live in Vegas, where it’s “drier” most of the time. There is no substitute year round for a quality everyday conditioner, and perhaps a weekly deep condition. My hairdresser insists I need a leave-in, and I admit that helps on days where my hair is fighting all efforts to be combed.
  • Again, this is one I can only get away with because I live in Vegas. Never ever do this if you live someplace it freezes in winter. I am lousy with a hair dryer, so I just don’t use one! I just “gel, scrunch, and go.” As a result, I don’t have to deal with heat damage.

So no, I don’t do a lot special on my hair in winter. My skin is another story! I get very dry skin, and I have a strategy to deal with it. Of course, it involves a moisturizing sunscreen on my face. It also involves a good quality moisturizer on my hands and legs. But there’s more: my daily supplements include fish oil and Vitamin D (which I’m not getting through sun exposure); and quality anti-aging products selected with the help of a physician.

In Closing: yeah, we’ve really made things better for Afghan women, not! (I particularly like the line about “Shockingly” this is common!); using “facts and logic” — I  know the bumper sticker says that should confuse a liberal like myself — to prove CRA didn’t cause the housing bubble; How to talk to people at Thanksgiving who are likely to have read “How to talk to a Liberal, if you must” and other family members; the new poor; maybe they liked the scenery; the banks finally stole too much; police bust down the door and kill the dogs… over a stolen Xbox that wasn’t even there (ya know, I bet Microsoft would have gladly told cops what IP address it was on!); as usual, Dave Johnson is long-winded but correct (I’d add “water and sewer” to his list); Grayson is hilarious (and knows the Bible); and Shatner on Turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

The Road to Ruin is in Disrepair

It turns out that there is one thing — one pretty big thing! — that both business leaders and union leaders agree upon: “America has an urgent need for more spending on critical infrastructure like roads and bridges.”

They’ve got a good point. Roads and bridges have many benefits. They help people get to work. They help companies get products to consumers. A new road can mean new business opportunities along the path it runs. And finally, building and maintaining roads and bridges means jobs: many thousands of jobs for workers, who will in turn do crazy things like pay taxes and buy things.

So why exactly is this the least bit controversial?

Because the Republicans are choosing to channel their dear departed member Herbert Hoover (rather than Ronald Reagan, who at least wanted to put people to work building missile-destroying systems! Pew! Pew!). Republicans are demanding huge cuts in the next Transportation Bill, including cutting highway maintenance spending by a third. This bill must be passed by the end of September.

Right, because there’s no urgently needed road repairs out there. No bridges in danger of collapse. And no business leaders agreeing with union leaders that we need more money — not less — spent on our roads.

The hilarious part is that I fully expect these same people to turn around and run on a platform of “Government has failed you! Just look at these roads!”

In Closing: It’s good to be CEO; follow-up on Steven Seagal and the tank; dumbing down; Neanderthal; did you know that “Red States” actually bleed tax money away from “Blue States”? (so much for “the hard working red states can’t support the blue welfare states any more!”; protein is good for dieters; and 3 charts.

Things I Learned from the President

Nixon:

  • It’s possible to proclaim innocence too much.
  • Clean air and water are good things.
  • Chinese food is tasty!

Ford:

  • Be Careful!
  • Sometimes success is stepping up when you happen to be in the right place at the right time.

Carter:

  • It’s possible to be a good man and not-so-good a President.
  • Telling people the obvious won’t make you popular. Sometimes they just don’t want to hear it.
  • Being too diplomatic can backfire.

Reagan:

  • Sometimes a pithy one liner is the best “argument.”
  • Don’t lose track of reality when you are negotiating.
  • Call it “supply side” or call it “trickle down,” it still doesn’t work.
  • Tell an outlandish enough lie, and somebody will call you on it.

Bush 41:

  • Don’t make a pithy one liner you can’t keep.
  • It doesn’t pay to lose track of the little people and their concerns.
  • If you feel sick, you shouldn’t go out.
  • It takes a lot of skill to pretend to not know something that theoretically should have been discussed with you in the room.
  • You’re never too old to do something fun just because you want to on your birthday.
  • All your sons can’t grow up to be “the smart one.”

Clinton:

  • Take credit for things you do — or good things that happen when you’re in charge.
  • Do your dry cleaning promptly.
  • Sex with the help is a bad idea.
  • If someone wants to hurt you bad enough, they will find a way.
  • Just because you walked to McDonald’s doesn’t mean a cheeseburger is good for you.
  • Repeating one meme over and over is almost as good as a pithy one liner.
  • Don’t lose track of the important stuff. Stand your ground when it’s important.

Bush 43:

  • There are no Illuminati.
  • People will do almost anything if it’s for “safety” and “security.”

Obama:

  • We can elect a black man President and still have a big race problem.
  • “Liberal” and “Conservative” have changed so much that we call Mr. Obama a Liberal despite the fact that he’s well to the right of Mr. Nixon.
  • We really do have a plutocracy.

Technically I was alive during the Johnson Administration. I don’t remember any of it.

In Closing: death penalty; Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill isn’t over yet; Hurricanado; Women’s Equality Day; the sad state of humans when it comes to searching; terrorism since 9/11; this could be part of the illegal worker problem; school quality; why The Steve resigned now; debt; decoding book reviews; the role of metabolism in weight loss; Cheney takes credit (bet he never travels outside the country again); and Chemistry.