Shutdown, Debt Ceiling, and Hostage Taking

So here we are over a week into the Government Shutdown. From where I sit, it sure looks like the Republicans are being more like RepubliCANTs, completely unwilling to negotiate in a world where negotiation doesn’t mean “give us everything we want.” Not that the DemocRATS are angels here, please understand. Right now nobody likes Congress very much. Individual states like Nevada are chewing their collective fingernails (and probably, secretly, making contingency plans).

It’s gotten to the point where the markets are accounting for the fact that next week, the Government may well stop paying interest on the National Debt. That’s what the debt ceiling means in real life. If our nation stops paying the bills, it’s reasonable for holders of our debt to decide it’s not worth as much, and might even be worthless. Everybody always thought “oh that would never happen, it would be too catastrophic!” Now our [Republican] elected officials are falling over themselves to say it wouldn’t be that bad. “Oh jinkies, it might be a good thing!” Oh yeah? Tell that to China. Turns out they are our biggest foreign creditor.

Looking for a silver lining? At least big corporate mergers that enrich hedge fund managers and executives at the expense of employees and consumers may have to slow down a tweak.

Let’s hope enough moderate Republicans decide they don’t want to preside over our nation going into default.

In Closing: Securing the internet from the NSA; Student loans a drag on housing; Lief Erickson; USMC reading list; Jimmy Carter on the Middle Class; keeping a schedule on a crappy job; if part time employment spiked prior to Obamacare, how did Obamacare cause it?; pay no attention to the next trade pact that’s not going to be good for American workers.

Island of Lost Shorties



The Tall Shop? Boy are they barking up the wrong tree! Anyway, Shorties.

Let’s not forget about these guys: FISA, NSA, privacy, cracked crypto, due process, hearings designed to make the people feel all warm and fussy fuzzy (sometimes typos are funny) about something being done even though nobody in a position of authority is even thinking of changing anything.

Rain Falls on the Rich and the Poor Alike:  the income gap between the ludicrously wealthy and all the rest of us is continuing to get wider, now sitting at levels not seen since the Roaring 20s. Oh what is to be done, asks a member of the financial press.

Senate wants to decide who actually has “Freedom of the Press”: yeah, that’s right.

Whatever became of Tax and Spend Liberals?: On the debt and the deficit.

Right: Because I totally think of 7 Eleven when I want a healthy snack. And surely this will make 7 Eleven more attractive to the one in 20 kids and teenagers who are not just fat, not just obese, but severely obese.

Pointing out the Glass House: America and chemical weapons.

Entertainment: ThinkProgress has some brief info on the new TV shows, like which ones are skippable and which ones are abominations. Or, you could check out this ridiculous book.

A choice selection of NSA and spying on citizens links

So much for “We’re only using it to track bad guys overseas. Ok, well maybe Americans but only if they’re terrorists.” Turns out the DEA, CIA, FBI, and IRS got a piece of that action too. And then they tried to cover it up. Here’s a hint folks, government officials don’t try to cover up good and perfectly legal things.

Oh, and it turns out that they are only willing to go on the record about 13 “contributions” to an arrest. How much is this program costing taxpayers — in an environment where at least one party is constantly screaming about the national debt — per arrest? Any sensible CEO would have pulled the plug.

When CNN notices that 1984 is uncomfortably close to what we are experiencing, you have to wonder.

Cloud computing is now dead. After all, if you can’t trust that the government doesn’t have your data, how can you possibly trust that your competitors, enemy, or ex-wife doesn’t have it?

They know when you are sleeping, they know when you’re awake, they know when you’re downloading porn so be good for goodness sake! No, actually they just know the IP (internet protocol) address of every site you visit.

And they’ve hacked a major internet anonymizer to keep track of you when you don’t want it. Wikipedia is trying to lock them out. Good luck with that, seriously.

The frosting on this rotten cake? They won’t even tell Congress what they are up to.

Over 100 organizations think this is a bad thing that needs to stop now.

“A matter of national security — The age old cry of the oppressor.” — Jean Luc Picard.

Follow Up: Americans cars are getting older.

In closing: to do list; on pregnancy; lefties against Obama.

I guess with a zillion products, some are bound to be amusing

Has anybody else done Hip Hop Abs? There’s a great moment where they start playing Don’t Cha and big ol’ Shaun T. exclaims “That’s my soooong!” (alas, just before this clip starts).

Well, at Walmart you’ll find that the Pussycat Dolls have their own workout DVD:

Right. You’re totally gonna look like working out just 4 minutes a day. If you are a cheapskate, there are excerpts over on Youtube.

In closing: Presidential Beer; Republicans, Taxes, and Debt; young people don’t necessarily care about cars (why would they if Daddy will drive them everywhere?); and Atomic Ranch.

Practice Makes Perfect

I have a degree in music. Many hours of my life have been spent practicing piano, voice, and flute. Many more hours of my life have been spent leading others in rehearsal. Moreover, I have spent yet more hours of my life practicing physical activities such as yoga, weightlifting, dance, and drama. I know a few things about effective practice and rehearsal.

My current occupation has skills that must be practiced as well. We even have scripts to read and use. Whenever someone has to explain something many times, a script naturally develops. If you check in on a math teacher’s classroom, you will find that she has her own way of explaining concepts, and that she does it almost exactly the same way every time. She may not know it, but she has developed a script. Even when she gets derailed by a question, she will give an answer and then return to the unwritten script. Some people think they are above the use of scripts: “it sounds stilted” or “that’s not me.”  Actors use scripts every day: they work to make them not sound stilted, and they are paid to be someone other than themselves.

Just like some movies are better than others, some scripts are better than others. The math teacher in room 101 may have better scripts than the teacher in room 102, and her students learn more as a result. Which would you rather use: an organic but untested script, or a carefully developed and tested script?

Realtors generally don’t like to use scripts, or at least ones they are aware are scripts. Real estate trainers, on the other hand, are big on the practice and use of scripts. Trainers insist — and rightly so — that these scripts are proven to work, and will practice they will sound natural. However, first you have to learn the script. This goes beyond knowing what the words are and what they mean. It must be internalized, so the next line is the most natural thing you could possibly say: yes, just like “who’s there” naturally follows “knock knock.”

Recently, a trainer advocated “internalizing” by reading the script as quickly as possible and/or in funny voices and accents. I could not disagree more with this approach. The natural tendency is to perform in the same manner that we practice. For example, I once had to break a performer of doing a funny walk between music stands. He’d always done it that way in the practice room, and now he was unconsciously doing it on stage!

Practice itself does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

In closing: 500 new fairy tales; fact checking; the TSA is a security risk; national debt; an excuse to keep people in prison past their sentences; federal deficit; and Too Big To Fail.

The Cabin in the Shorties

Gee, no kidding: When young people pay all their money on student loans, they don’t have money to take out mortgages.

Separate but Equal?: On women’s workouts.

I hate agreeing with Kip: I’ve said a lot of things about former TSA director Kip Hawley over the years, but the Kipster is making sense these days. Among other things he says that there cannot and will not ever be a get out of the security line free card, even though he wanted to make it happen. Turns out that he’s starting to agree with Bruce Schneier at times.

They can only get away with it because mostly poor people ride the bus: Houston is going to put undercover cops and TSA officers on buses to paw through bags, report suspicious activity, and “interrogate” passengers. Where are they getting the money to pay somebody to ride the bus all day?

On the standard of living and the dual income family: Making twice the money but barely having the same standard of living means we are half as well off. Tricks of counting inflation are partly to blame. Of course, some moms (and a small number of dads but CNN doesn’t mention them) are finding that the costs of working can completely devour a paycheck. This is particularly true when the pay gap between men and women is taken into account. Oh, and when the minimum wage is worth less than in the Johnson Administration (when, by the way, the highest tax bracket was much more than it is today).

How nice for them: Bank of America is making money hand over fist again.

Peeing in a Jar: It turns out that Florida‘s drug screening program for welfare applicants was a big waste of money and found drug use rates roughly a third what they are in the general population. Funny, when you barely have money for food you can’t afford weed.

Don’t panic: Yeah, chicken sometimes has E.Coli in it. That’s why you don’t see Chicken Sashimi at your local sushi bar.

It’s back from the dead: Bowles-Simpson. I have a better idea: repeal the tax cuts that gave us a budget problem in the first place, and bring troops home from places they don’t belong.

More than 100 to 1 against: Corn producers want to change labeling of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to the more benign sounding “corn sugar.” They can’t change the fact that some scientists consider it “unsafe for human consumption.” Consumers don’t like the idea.

Let’s Go!: The literal translation of this blog’s title, Ikimashoo.

Right, cause there’s no discrimination any more: Romney thinks it might be time to get rid of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Never mind the other things HUD does. Never mind the portfolio of FHA foreclosures.

Money Quote:First, if suburbanites with above-median incomes are big fans of a program aimed at helping minorities and the poor, it’s a safe bet that it’s not actually helping minorities and the poor.”

And finally: Crime must not pay.

Mama Economy

Remember Tay Zonday? He’s back, and he understands economics.

In Closing: Autopsy; Castro; Google thinks I’m a dude too (clearly I need to search more for shoes and makeup); Just for fun, read the first paragraph to somebody before telling them it’s Bob Dole; Because surely her hair is more important than anything else; Okay, maybe that’s a problem; and have a great weekend.

The Economy is Depressing.

So the poverty level is at its highest level in decades. Think about that a minute. Most people didn’t know what the internet was the last time poverty was this bad. Household income is down 7% since the Bush Administration began. In fact, income hasn’t been this low since 1996. And plans to slash the federal budget to the bone — the heart of the current GOP platform — only make poverty worse. It’s worse for kids: 22% of kids under 18 live in poverty. Remember that. Walk into a typical classroom of 30 kids, and 6 or 7 of them live in poverty (more at someplace like Vegas’s Whitney Elementary, of course).

Since poverty and school performance are directly correlated — that means that poor kids always on average do worse than rich kids, even when you account for how well educated their parents are and how good their local schools are — that says some very, very bad things for our future as a nation.

Heaven forbid we should put people to work building things we need, like better roads, bridges, and school buildings. I mean, that sounds like kind of an FDR sort of idea.

In Closing: Salem was governed by “Christian Values” (and that explains the First Amendment); E-Verify is even more flawed than the Do Not Fly list; more than half of Americans support gay marriage; why is it that Republicans keep forgetting that the Post Office is one of the few government functions explicitly required by the Constitution — you remember, that document that they and the quasi-Libertarians claim to so revere?; turns out the sheep don’t like it when you molest the lambs; or, we could just disband the whole corrupt system.

Things I Learned from the President


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


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


  • 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.


  • 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.”


  • 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.”


  • 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.

Oh Nuts, It’s Her Annual Feminism Post

If you don’t read Natalie Dee, you should:

She’s married to Drew of “Toothpaste for Dinner” and “Married to the Sea.” You should go check it out and maybe order some T-Shirts.


I’m trying to link to more news than other people’s opinions. No point in being part of the echo chamber. Nevertheless, PunditMom is right to point out that the “SuperCongress” (it’s a bird! it’s a plane! its Unconstitutional!!) has some fundamental problems with it’s makeup. Namely,  nobody’s wearing any. Not even the token female member, Senator Patty Murray — for whom I once voted. One token woman, one token black man, one token Hispanic, no Asians, nobody controversial. So 9 white guys and 3 other. And these people are supposed to decide that we can make do without by Thanksgiving. Worse yet, nobody seems to be able to stop them.

Other bloggers have done a great job talking about Christian Dominionism, an offshoot of Christian thinking that would have horrified both Jesus and George Washington. And while it may seem like a tangent to bring it up, hair pat-downs and other TSA intrusions are quite a nice way of telling the sheep — particularly brown and/or women sheep — to shut up and obey daddy/husband/authority.

And before anyone says that profiling is the only answer because only scary brown people are terraists, don’t make me slap your worthless ass with Tim McVeigh and William Krar! The Unabomber was a white man planting bombs before the War on Terror, too. If you think only Muslims are terrorists, you are too ignorant to participate in this discussion. Kindly close this tab and go away.

I am a woman. I don’t need a man’s permission to live my life, do my job, or much of anything else. If that offends you, I sure hope somebody invents a time machine so you can go back to the 50s and enjoy an era when each of us knew his or her place.

In Closing: math lesson; download this coffee; SF/F; won’t somebody please think about thinking of the children?; You tell’em, Professor!; Taibbi nails it again; sex offenders; the Costs of War; and seriously, go check out Drew and Natalie.