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.

Happy Thanksgiving


In Closing: That would be bad; Googlegator; Japan Crush; Rolling Jubilee gets more press; the last cooler than average month was during the Reagan Administration (maybe hell froze over when he compromised with Democrats or raised taxes?); Lost Decade, American Style; Forbes and USA Today disagree on the buyer, but agree that somebody will make your freaking Twinkies (and screw workers in the process); of course, you could just make your own freaking Twinkies; maybe if the so-called adults made it clear that we must treat others with respect, this wouldn’t be a problem; vintage pictures of Japan; Susie’s right; so is Robert.

Cyrus: Shorties of a Serial Killer

8 Years: Somehow I managed to overlook my Blogiversary.

Next time you have a hard time getting through to your doctor’s office: Remember that the Feds are tying up the line trying to figure out how hard it is for you to get an appointment.

He’s just so nice: Matt Damon is trying to find ways to help African people get clean, safe water. And he’s good looking, and he can act.

On Fitness: Ladies, please ignore the fact that it comes from a publication called “Men’s Journal.” The Truth is unisex.

Let’s Get This Out of the Way: Everybody knows that yet another appeals court says there’s no Constitutional problems with the Affordable Care Act, right? Ok, moving on then.

In other news, Bill Gates Doesn’t Understand Capitalism: Ignoring the diseases of poverty isn’t a failure, it’s a sign that there’s no money in it. That’s why it’s called “poverty.”

Shut up and get back to work!: Yeah, it sure would be nice to have paid sick days. I have no idea how you’d do that for those of us who are self-employed.

Professor is Correct Again: Cutting the budget deficit won’t put a single person to work. In fact, it will put some government employees out of work. It will also reduce GDP — which by definition includes government spending. Who are the President’s economic advisers? The ghost of Herbert Hoover? A least he understands that there is no way to balance the budget without taxes.

Computer Security: Don’t stick strange memory sticks in your computer! You don’t know where they’ve been! Stupidity makes hacking possible.

Missing Cute White Girl of the Week Club: Why it’s bad for all of us. Amen, brother.

Senator Bernie Sanders: Speaking Truth in a place where it has been lacking.

To those of you who just got out of medical school: Sage words of a Dinosaur.

Too Big To Fail: Simply must be Too Big To Exist.

Sahara: The sign is going to be at the Neon Museum.

Most expensive used car ever: A painstakingly restored 1963 Volkswagen Microbus.

Looking forward to it: Shatner‘s latest film is a documentary wherein he interviews all 5 actors who have played a Star Trek captain.

Speaking of documentaries: Everything you know is probably wrong.

Screw Infrastructure: Apparently it is more cost effective to build a bridge in China and have it shipped here. We won’t have any lasting recovery until we get away from the Latte Economy.

Tomorrow, I’ll have some exciting news for you. In the meantime, stay cool.

Public Service Announcement

If you’ve noticed that a bunch of your favorite blogs that usually update every day don’t have new posts, there’s a reason. I have it on good authority that Blogger is down. This good authority goes on to wonder how “fun” it would be to have a cloud computing outage when trying to get work done.

In Closing: Nat Geo decides they don’t want any trouble with the Yakuza; dead terrorist; happy; reality; new thing to do in Vegas (no gambling or drinking required); homeless in Vegas; scrutiny; statesrights; McCain regains sanity; awwww; reading; kids are capable when we let them be; on immigration; Social Security; and does Michelle Bachmann know more than a high schooler?

A story

The President keeps talking about making the hard budget decisions that families make around their kitchen tables. Let’s turn that table.

Once upon a time — ok, long about 2001 — there was a family that was finally coming up for air. Once they paid off their bills each month, there was actually money left over. Of course, they were still making the minimum payment on all their credit cards, and they still had mortgages and car payments and all the little expenses of suburbia. And like most Americans, they didn’t have nearly enough money saved for retirement. Nevertheless, this little budget surplus was a big deal!

They thought for several months about what to do with this extra money: Pay down the credit cards? Put it in the retirement account? Buy a boat? In the end, they decided to cut back on their hours at work so they could use the extra time to pursue a dream: an online business selling homemade wicker baskets. (A real basket case!)

Years passed.

The economy went sour. It turned out that not only did they really not have enough patience to spend all their free time making wicker baskets, but few people wanted one for the price. After all, cheap, Asian made wicker baskets are available lots of places. They had a couple babies. A raise they were expecting didn’t pan out. They ended up underwater on their house — thankfully not New Orleans style. One of the cars needed a new transmission, and it wasn’t under warranty. The water heater at the house had to be replaced.

And not surprisingly, their debts went up. Finally, those debts got to the point where they got alarmed and decided something had to be done.

So they got a free consultation with a financial adviser down at the bank. “Free” was a price they could afford!

The adviser confirmed that their situation was completely unsustainable, because at some point they would reach the limit on their credit cards. Visa and Master Card were unlikely to extend them more credit at this point, and there was no equity in the house for a loan. However, bankruptcy was simply not an option. So, the adviser asked, what have you thought about doing to get back on track again?

“Well,” answered the woman of the house, “We’re thinking of getting out of the house and renting a cheap apartment. And we might get rid of the cars. Cable TV has gotta go, and even though the kids love Sesame Street, we’re going to have to stop giving to PBS.”

“Let them get commercial sponsors like everyone else!” the man of the house interrupted.

“Actually we’re going to have to stop all donations, even giving clothing to Goodwill. After all you never know when something’s going to be handy. No more discretionary shopping, of course” the woman of the house continued.

“Oh, and one more thing,” the man of the house announced, ” she’s gonna stop taking birth control pills. That’s another $20 copay every month!”

“Um, ok,” said the adviser, and he looked down at the notes he had been scribbling while they talked. “Let’s think this through. I don’t know if you’ve priced apartments lately, but I think you’ll find you won’t save very much. Particularly once you figure in the mortgage interest tax deduction. Plus a foreclosure will show up on your credit report and could make trouble for you at work.”

“Nobody said foreclosure! Just send the bank the **** keys!” the man shouted.

“That’s called deed in lieu of foreclosure. It’s pretty close to the same thing. Now, about the cars. Why do you want to get rid of them?”

“Well, there’s the payments of course. And gas is so expensive. And then there’s repairs and oil changes and things like that,” the woman answered.

“I see,” said the adviser. “If you sell them, how will you get to work every day?”

There was a silence. The man and the woman looked at one another for a moment, and stammered something about walking and the bus.

“Let’s move on,” the adviser suggested. “I think you’re on to something cutting cable, but that’s still not much money. So, uh, what other shows do the kids like?”

“Oh, our oldest loves Pokemon!”

“Bugs you to buy cards for him all the time, doesn’t he?”

“Oh yes!”

“Do you really want Sesame Street to have commercials?”

“Well, when you put it that way, I guess not.”

“Ok then. No donations doesn’t hurt anything, but it’s not helping you either. And remember, you can take a tax deduction on stuff you give away, so you might reconsider that one too.” The advisor took one more look at his notes before going on, “Have you discussed the birth control together, before today?”

“She’s my wife and I can make decisions for us!” The man announced.

“Well, that’s between the two of you, but have you considered how expensive it would be for her to get pregnant again? You could have thousands of dollars in expenses! It seems to me that $20 a month is a bargain.”

That’s right, dear,” the woman said, glaring at her husband.

The adviser sighed, then said “Look, these are all very interesting ideas, but even if you add them all up that’s just a teeny bit of your budget. And we haven’t even talked about the fact that you don’t have nearly enough in your retirement accounts, and you have absolutely nothing put aside for your kids’ education.”

“What are we going to do?” the woman asked. Now she was starting to panic.

“You’re going to have to get some more income. Is there any chance of getting more hours at work?”

Sheepishly, the man admitted “My supervisor offered me more hours just a couple months ago. But I turned him down. After all, if I take those hours I won’t have time for our wicker basket business. I’m investing in the future! Someday those wicker baskets will mean I don’t need that job anymore.”

“That’s interesting. How long have you been in the wicker basket business?”

“Nine years.”

“Really? How much money did it bring in last year?”

The man started to stammer about the recession, but the woman cut in, saying “Net profit of $99.12.”

“Seriously? Oh come on, you’ve got to be kidding me. Nine years building a business and all you’ve got to show for it is a profit of $99.12? You know that at your hourly wage, you can earn that in a day?”

The man looked at his hands in his lap. The woman glared at him.

Finally the adviser spoke: “If you are serious about digging yourself out of this financial hole, you need more work. I’ll help you out, but not until you get those hours back. If you’ll excuse me, I have other clients waiting.”

In Closing: one more time, if your job requires you to do something that goes against your conscience, quit!; WI and more WI; middle class incomes going down; talk about the wrong guy to hassle; and about time somebody did the right thing.

Too Mad to Write about Politics

Seriously. If I write about any of the crap spewing from Washington — whether from Congress, Timmy Geithner, or our gutless President who is more conservative than Nixon or Reagan — I’m likely to say something regrettable. So here’s what some other people have to say. As it is, I use a little more salty language than normal, so deal with it.

Here’s something on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. You know, the group of fatcat businessmen that President Obama was begging to create jobs? What a bunch of “greedy fucks.”

Here’s what an 11 year old girl has to say about Gitmo. Notice where she admits that some of her information may be biased? I have hope for the critical thinking skills of the next generation, somewhat less hope that the War on Terror will ever end.

There’s a lot to be said about Egypt today. How about we start with a picture:
Bill Day

But really, this sums up my thoughts well.

There’s really a lot to say about the Anti-Woman forces calling themselves “Pro-Life”, but I’ll let Nancy start the parade. Remember, HR3 has a much wider reach than most people know. That’s even before we start talking about conscience clauses that would allow ignorant ******* to turn people away whose pregnancies can kill them. That’s before we talk about the fact that if these ******** had their way, women whose “babies” would be born with fatal birth defects would be forced to carry that corpse to term, endure dozens of well meaning people asking “Is it a boy or a girl? Have you picked a name??”, go through all the complications of pregnancy including the possibility of death in labor, all so some ******** can pretend he — and I do mean HE — is preventing abortions. People who think that is acceptable can rot in hell. Republicans want to cut family planning too, so we know they don’t really give a damn about preventing abortions.

Here’s something on states declaring bankruptcy to get out of paying people the retirement funds they were promised — and remember, state employees pay no Social Security taxes, so those pensions may be all they’ve got.

Speaking of bankruptcy, here’s something on how the bankruptcy “reform” of a few years back contributed to the foreclosure mess.

Nobody seems to remember that almost all regulations are put in place to protect somebody. Of course it’s dumb to say that regulations are automatically “job killing.” If the people whining about “job killing” gave a shit about jobs, maybe they wouldn’t be trying to cut and gut jobs programs! Here’s an urgent message for our elected officials: JOBS are still the number one issue on Americans’ minds. Put people to work, and some of the other problems — national deficit, social security, foreclosures — might start to fix themselves.

But this one really makes me mad. Ornery has it right when he calls the move to cut emergency funding for heating in the middle of a colder than average winter “so fucking tone deaf it boggles my fucking mind.” Heaven forbid we should raise taxes on people making, say, a million dollars a year when we can just freeze Granny to death! Who needs a death panel when you’ve got a blizzard? Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot!

See how mad I am, and all I’m really doing is quoting other people? Over the weekend I promise to have something happier to say… about something.

In Closing: Kafka-san; tip of the iceberg?; junk fees and foreclosure; too lazy; secret air travel; pot of gold; is it snarky if it’s true?; the status quo is bad; on conservatives and the Bible; city-states; zero tolerance means zero thinking; vaccinate; the budget.