The Shorties on the Train

What do Dave Johnson and Donald Trump have in common?: Both agree that we have infrastructure that needs to be fixed. But I’m not hearing mainline Democrats or Republicans joining in. It’s not a brave political statement to say “Maybe we could put some people to work fixing some roads.”

Speaking of American Politics: I’m not the only one who noticed it’s crazy out there. Hillary has her share of foot-in-mouth disease. And Bernie is closer to the true center — the one that wants decent jobs and affordable healthcare — than anybody in the establishment wants to admit (which is why Trump is more welcoming to Sanders followers than Hillary; see the speech text above).

The Noose Gets Tighter: The Senate failed by ONE VOTE to pass a law allowing the FBI to look at your browser history for funzies. Remember come November. Meanwhile, US Customs wants to know the social media accounts of people entering the country. Because no terrorist is smart enough to say “no I don’t have Twitter” or give a username more generic than the one they use to keep up with the latest ISIS jihabi memes. Meanwhile, the TSA is still pushing their “get out of the security line free” card as a way to shorten lines at the airport. One user gave the ringing endorsement of “not so hard as signing up for Obamacare.”

Free Electronic Music: Moby wrote himself some yoga and meditation music. He decided to share. Very nice of him.

Not sure what to say about Brexit: So here’s one of the more intelligent things I’ve read on the issue.

Obligatory Economy Item: Wages have been stagnant for over 40 years when adjusted for inflation. Maybe some of these ideas could help. Oh, and don’t let anybody scare you about Social Security. Forbes is hardly a “liberal rag,” and they say that the latest scaremongering is way overblown.

Shorties Box

Congrats to Jon Keeyes and Nightmare Box on its multiple nominations in the Winter 2015 Macabre Faire Film Festival.

Serial: High school students may be more, er, connected than they thought. And not in a good way.

The ugly truth: The NYPD work stoppage is showing how little what they do impacts public safety.

Economic Noble Truths: Who knew that Buddhism and economics had anything in common?

Fly Like an Eagle: To Lake Mead.

I’ve only been saying this since 1991: Colleges have no business whatsoever prosecuting crimes.

Pattern of Misconduct: Ferguson isn’t the first time that prosecutor presented a misleading case against a cop.

Republicans and Social Security: interesting.

And Finally: The Big Fat Book of Offensive Religious Cartoons.

See everybody tomorrow!

Music Monday: October 31

Sure, that’s Halloween. It’s also the anniversary of the founding of the Great State of Nevada. And there’s an interesting story concerning that. It involves lost documents, the most expensive telegraph ever sent, and Republicans trying to steal elections garner additional electoral votes.

So in honor of Nevada’s 150th birthday, please enjoy some Nevada items.

In Closing: how dare victims call sexual assault what it is; sugar; Russians turn back time (in a way); some nice juicy NSA items; wages; Israel; War on Drugs; some random global climate change (formerly global warming) items; maybe they’re not overpriced after all; diversity; smile, you’re on cop camera; fixing COLA would require admitting that inflation is higher than most people know; and American cat cafe.

A Bucket of Shorties

Department of Education: It looks like textbook publishers have decided to call a Texas-sized bluff and print science books that only have science in them. Elsewhere, Arne Duncan has realized that insulting “white suburban moms” might not be a winning strategy.

Defiance: Apparently you have to be ready to retire from Congress to actually work for We The People. That’s funny, because I have yet to see a corporation vote!

Poor Little Prince: Apparently it’s all our fault that Blackwater oops that’s Xe wait no now it’s Academi is not wildly successful. Couldn’t have anything to do with all the bad things they did.

It will do in a pinch: Cooking with nothing more than a coffee maker.

NSA, DHS, Snowden, yadda yadda yadda: I don’t think anybody really believes that they need all that information to catch terrorists (they’re “solving” the needle in a haystack problem by collecting more hay!). There is international concern over the security of banking data (hey, if they can get it then so can a Bad Guy). But at least it is raising concern among Americans, who are flooding the NSA for FOIA requests. Even the courts are saying “hey, wait a minute” to the DHS.

Turnabout is fair play: What happened to “If you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide”? Well, Boston PD?

The Old Fashioned Way: 200 pounds down through mundane diet and exercise. Perhaps Beachbody should start making Spanish editions of P90X.

Social Security: Does not have to be cut. Period.

Low Wages, Everyday: Robert Reich on Walmart employees who can’t afford Walmart prices.

Not Down With TPP (Yeah, you know me): Why did it have to be “leaked“? Because outrage would ensue. Remember that international treaties effectively force national laws to change.

And Finally, Food for Thought: In the most well off of states, 7% of the population is on food stamps. In the worst off, it’s 1 out of every 5. Random group of 20 people, children or adults? 4 of them on food stamps. Remember, Thanksgiving is next week.

I thought this was called “Extortion”

Extortion (also called shakedown, outwresting, and exaction) is a criminal offense of unlawfully obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion…. Making a threat of violence which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence is sufficient to commit the offense…. Neither extortion nor blackmail require a threat of a criminal act, such as violence, merely a threat used to elicit actions, money, or property from the object of the extortion.

So here we are, getting ready to argue about the debt ceiling again. And Speaker Boehner is telling us there’s no deal without gutting Social Security. He’s willing to tank the nation’s credit to get his way.

What, Grandma doesn’t need to eat, does she?

How dare he. And if the President thinks for one minute about appeasing him, how dare he.

Remember that Social Security doesn’t add one penny to the national debt — in fact, the Feds borrow money from Social Security so they can pay the bills!. Further, the anticipated problems with future cash flow can easily be fixed by raising the maximum amount taxed for Social Security. Without Social Security, count on a lot more poverty.

Now, it’s all well and good to say that individuals must be responsible for [read, pay for] their own retirement, it’s just callous to say that in an environment where minimum wage is less than it was in 1963 when adjusted for inflation and many Baby Boomers experience long term unemployment. How the heck are people supposed to “be responsible” for retirement in that environment?

Be sure to contact your Congressperson and Senators to let them know how you feel about this. Remind them that you — and your parents — vote.

In Closing: you know these days it’s hard to end a post without giving you some choice tidbits about the NSA and/or Snowden; when the heck are schools going to learn that their authority ends when students are dismissed and off school property?; blurred lines; they needed a study to show that laptops in class are a distraction even for the kids without them?; a couple comics ladies might appreciate; pragmatism (or, you can’t ship your busted toilet to India); and TR.

The economy sucks so bad they have to add Seinfeld to the calculations.

No joke!

For the first time in four years, the Commerce Department will revise its estimates of U.S. gross domestic product — the value of U.S.-made goods and services — back to 1929. The biggest of the changes affect money spent on research and development and on artistic endeavors such as writing books or filming TV shows.

For the first time, R&D spending and money spent on the arts will count in GDP — if they’re intended to generate long-term streams of income, such as a decade or more of drug sales or profits from syndicated reruns of a hit TV show.

That led the government to decide that spending on TV comedies and dramas — such as Seinfeld — will count, but game shows and reality shows, such as Keeping Up With the Kardashians, will not, because they have a limited syndication market.

Fewer young adults are working full time. Politicians are arguing about whether it’s better to have millions employed at starvation wages or risk making them unemployed by giving them a living wage. Official unemployment might be down, but employment is not up. Toyota is giving logistics help to charity rather than actual money (clearly they needed it but still). And government safety nets — that RepubliCANTs want to cut, are the only thing keeping millions of people out of poverty.

Oh well, at least we don’t have to add the Kardashians to GDP.

In Closing: silly women clearly don’t know what men think is good for them; turns out that when you treat kids like criminals, they live up to your standards; anyone surprised?; and the Burka Avenger.

Music Monday: Christmas in July

Ok, this is not actually the track I wanted. Brave Combo is a North Texas based band with a following in Japan. A while back they did a Christmas album. As the story goes:

We never considered recording a Christmas album before. Everyone had already heard most of the famous songs enough for a lifetime and the challenge to make them fresh would be immense. Plus, Brave Combo walks a pretty thin line between novelty and serious anyway. A Christmas album would just never have Crossed our minds. However, in early 1991, during our second trip to Japan, a man from P-Vine Records asked us if we would be interested in the idea. “What, an album of Japanese Christmas music?” I asked. “No, there are no Japanese Christmas songs,” he replied, which meant to me that he wanted an album of standard melodies and songs that Americans hear and sing every winter. It seems that Christmas is a big holiday in Japan as well, stripped of all religious significance: a time of indulgent buying and gift-giving (a Japanese art) when Jesus Christ is acknowledged, but no more important an icon than Frosty, the Snowman. The idea was definitely interesting. We could choose a bunch of our favorite Christmas songs, mutate them into new shapes and release them in Japan only. Plus P-Vine had big plans. They would re-release it every year and perhaps it would become a classic. If the album came out too corny for jaded western ears, it wouldn’t matter. No one in the U.S. would even have to know about it.

So I had hoped to post their track “Christmas in July,” but it’s just not out there as far as I can tell.

In Closing: race relations; common sense on Social Security; eggs; on our shrinking freedoms; some good news for a change; and “Tiny Rat Cocktail Parties.”

John Dies at the Shorties

Baby Dinosaurs: More accurately, embryos in various states of development.

Follow-up on FPS Russia: Yeah, not a lot of meat on this story. Since when does the ATF get involved in “murder” investigations?

Random items on Real Estate, biased towards Vegas: Foreclosures are returning to where they were before the bust, with Nevada leading. However, prices are 30% higher than last year and distressed sales are down by a similar percentage. Interesting.

When you have a minute: Check out BustedKnuckles‘ new site.

Backtracking: CNN/Money might have thought Chained CPI was a great idea to save the budget a few days ago, but now they realize what way the wind is blowing.

I can’t believe we are back to “Jobs Americans Won’t Do”: They want to solve this “problem” with a new class of serf permit visa. Seems like these hypocrites are all about “let market forces do the magic” when it’s raising prices, but against the same when it might mean paying an American a decent wage! Go ahead, watch a bit of Dirty Jobs and tell me there’s such a thing as “jobs Americans won’t do” with a straight face! It isn’t that Americans won’t do them, it’s that they want more money (and perhaps safety equipment) than an easily exploited semi-legal immigrant worker.

Meanwhile, there are 3 unemployed Americans for every job opening: Yeah. Go ahead and push that serf permit visa program.

At some point, the Baby Boomers decided that they were never going to get Social Security; then they went about insuring just that: 1983 was the important year.

Le Petit Prince: Prince Hisahito goes to Kindergarten. You may remember him from this adorable picture.

Prep Your Guest Room

Because if Mr. Obama gets his way, your parents will eventually have no choice but to move in with you.

CNN/Money describes Chained CPI as “The Geeky Debt Fix That Might Work.” It will do no such thing. The assumption is that “CPI overmeasures inflation” when in fact, inflation has been systematically undermeasured for many years. So the answer — according to people who don’t have to balance their own checkbooks — is to adjust inflation yet again so we don’t have to pay more going forward.

That means lower cost of living raises for Congressmen, sure. It also means lower raises for mail carriers, IRS auditors, soldiers and sailors (support our troops, right), and everybody on Social Security. So relative to real inflation, all their paychecks will feel smaller and buy less. In general, wages in this nation haven’t kept up with inflation for most of the last 50 years, so that’s going to hurt even more.

And it’s not going to cut deficits. Even if it works as planned, it will only reduce the rate at which the deficit gets bigger. That’s like going on a weight loss plan and bragging that you’re only gaining 2 pounds a month instead of 5.

Never mind that Social Security does not contribute to the national deficit in any way. Never mind that if the eggheads in Washington were really worried about the idea that at some hazy date in the future, Social Security will pay out more than it pays in, they would suggest raising the maximum contribution.

So go ahead and write or call your Representative and Senators. Send email to the White House too. Ask them point blank:

If Chained CPI is enacted, can my mom come live with you? Because I don’t think I can afford it.

Maybe if they get enough calls, they will notice that this is a bad idea.

In Closing: If this were a math test, they’d fail; Judge cuts political gordian knot; Too Big To Fail is Too Big To Exist; his little outburst earned him a $75k fine and a $100k bonus (explain again how sports makes money for colleges??); Kim, even Castro thinks you’re going too far; and huffing bears.

Follow Up: The Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners at Walgreens are a poor substitute for a Doctor. Some are so dangerous, they don’t even know what they don’t know.

Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Shorties

I haven’t been as posty as I’d like lately. As some of you know, I have recently gone back to school. That means I have a lot of reading, and a bit of getting used to classmates who occasionally make me feel like this:


I remind myself that I am old enough to be mommies to some of them. So without further ago, shorties.

Social Media: It’s embarrassing that social media is now little more than yet another way to send me ads.

Social Security: There’s only a crisis if you want there to be one.

Too much Social, too little work: Up to 80% of a worker’s internet time might be spend “cyberloafing.” It’s easier to hide that you’re doing nothing at the computer than at the water cooler.

Bad Association: Turns out that Countrywide kept doing “business as usual” after B of A took over. I hope this surprises none of you.

Social Promotions for Educational Reforms?: I still like Kevin Drum.

Social Studies: The Avengers and The Breakfast Club.

Fitting in to Society: On immigration reform.

Vegas: Visitors are at a record high despite reduced convention traffic.

Reducing the deficit without slashing our own throats: From the progressives. But it won’t happen because the conservatives really want to make the majority of us into modern serfs by slashing the safety net instead.

Speaking of modern serfs: A third of student loans are subprime. They can’t be discharged through bankruptcy. They are creating a generation that may always be in debt.

Obesity is bad for you: even if you are the Governor.

On Republicans: From a Republican woman (endangered species, I know).

Gee, you don’t say!: Global climate change might adversely effect agriculture. Who knew?!?