Taken in my back yard with a “potato”*. At least one lantana is starting to bloom, which means the hummingbird and butterfly buffet will soon be in full swing.

In Closing: Why doesn’t Johnny just go to broadway and get it over with?; Save Our Post Office; Wingnut screaming about how if we had Russian wiretap laws we could have prevented Boston in 3…2…1…; there just has to be a middle ground between “college for all” (value of a degree for none) and “you are clearly doomed to menial labor because of your race/ethnicity/gender”; the monolithic “left“; dumbass; Compare and Contrast.

* Derogatory term for certain cell phone cameras.

Music Monday: Daft Punk Returns

Hey Kanye: Imma let you finish, but “Isotoner” doesn’t rhyme with “told you.”

In Closing: I really, really wanted to say something about austerity last week and it didn’t happen (how could they have looked at this chart and not suspected an error??); this only works if every single person has a fully charged smart phone with texting and nothing bad happens to the cell towers; Go West; not much; yeah, people at the low end having a living wage probably would help the economy (nice side effect, might make young people need student loans less); and now under 250 calories.

Open Letter to Los Angeles

Hi L.A., How are you?

This is a little awkward. See, the thing is that I do like you. I don’t mind your sprawl. I love your museums. How many cities have their very own tar pit?  You have a cute little Chinatown.

The thing is, I don’t think you are safe anymore. The problem isn’t you. It’s that police force of yours. I think he’s bad for you and I wish you could dump him for somebody better.

It isn’t just the thing with Chris Dorner — even though it’s obvious that LAPD never intended to bring him in alive for a trial. I mean really, they shot up two different pickup trucks, not one of which met the description of Dorner’s truck, and not one of whose occupants was even the same race as Dorner.

Unfortunately, this is just part of a trend for LAPD. I know there’s more to the story, but shooting somebody in the back as they run away from you isn’t exactly the textbook definition of “self defense.” And do you know what happens if you search Youtube for “LAPD Shoots”? Over 300 videos at the moment: shooting carjackers, shooting murder suspects, shooting those pickup trucks, shooting a deaf mute man, shooting a young Muslim man 90 times. Sure, there are films of the shooting range, and about cops being shot, commentary about people being shot, and of course some multiple-camera-angles-of-same-incident. An alarming number of these clips are recent.

I am starting to think that the real gun control needs to involve taking guns away from your officers.

Sorry Los Angeles. I’ll keep in touch, I promise. But don’t expect my tourist dollars any time soon.

In Closing: break the silence; broadband; nosy neighbors confuse maple syrup rig for meth lab; apparently, some cops think a car sticker is “probable cause”; not just at airports; glad Joe Biden cleared that up!; mainstream nutrition; Dave Johnson uses this thing called logic; have no fear, your homeowner’s policy covers meteor crashes; on Elizabeth Warren; please notice the very careful wording about 2/3 down; on consumer education; I guess she’s hoping no future employers Google her; and pot.

No Reason to Subscribe to Fortune

Let’s cut to the meat:

[I]f America fails to enact historic, structural reforms in spending, an entirely new source of revenue will be needed. And it’s likely to be enacted in haste and near-panic, as the only option to forestalling a crisis. “The gap between revenues and outlays will be simply too large,” says J.D. Foster, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation and a former budget official under President George W. Bush. “Three points of GDP need to be closed to make budgets sustainable. Either government spending gets back near where it used to be, or we’ll need an completely new type of tax.”

The new levy will need to be big, so big that the most probable choice is a European-style value-added tax or VAT. That looming revenue machine is the phantom in the room, the tax that’s still invisible to most Americans, but that threatens precisely the group that’s supposed to emerge from all the deal-making as the Great Unthreatened, our middle class.

Now then, let me explain why a VAT — particularly a hastily enacted VAT — is absolutely not going to happen. It’s called the 16th Amendment:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Congress has two ways of taxing us. The first is a tax based on the number of people in the state. It should be obvious that it’s not entirely fair to make your tax bill based on state population without regard for your ability to pay (it seemed like a good idea in the 18th century), so the 16th Amendment had to be passed to make income tax legal. I am not a lawyer or a constitutional scholar, but I don’t see a damn thing in the Constitution or Amendment 16 that makes a national sales tax legal.

Anybody who wants a VAT had better start working on an amendment to the Constitution. That cannot be done in haste.

This article is supposed to scare you and I into insisting on austerity rather than implement this improbable, middle class “crushing” tax. Heaven forbid we should raise additional revenue through higher taxes on the wealthy at the rates they were under Reagan, or Nixon, or heaven forbid Eisenhower (all “conservative” Republicans of their day). Nope, easier to frighten you into giving up the things your taxes have paid for: well maintained roads; safe water coming out of your tap and safe food available at your local grocer; police and fire services; public schools that make sure businesses can hire literate employees anywhere in the nation; a minimal retirement income you already paid for. Nope, gotta cut back somewhere.

In Closing: scientific method suggests that when your experiment doesn’t work, you change the hypothesis; what a sleeze; let’s not lock kids up in solitary; wealth gap grows; agreed; women will die because their parents are afraid they will think sex is ok; I find it hard to believe that’s cost effective; “Just how many female-headed single-parent families with two children under 10 are there in the United States making $260K/year, anyway?”; and wouldn’t that be a waste.

Cat Ass Trophy

Or, Caturday, Film Festival Edition

Ok, I like cats well enough. I even have a cat. Sure, I occasionally look at pictures of cats online, with or without witty catpions (intentional misspelling). I’ve been sucked in by video of Maru the Box Cat at least once. I have posted about Stationmaster Tama and  library cats. IBKC and Cute Overload are linked in the sidebar. But you know, I think this cat thing has officially gone off the rails. 

Thursday night in Minneapolis, ten thousand people turned out for a festival of short films starring cats:

The crowd — easily double what organizers expected — packed the lawn outside the museum, spilling onto the sidewalks across the street. There were local cat lovers and out-of-state fans of Fluffy; many wore kitty-theme T-shirts or simply ears and whiskers. Some took real cats on leashes. A few dogs came, for irony.

They all settled in for a screening of cats behaving badly, or cutely, or mysteriously, sometimes all at once. That much of the audience had already seen the clips on YouTube did not seem to diminish the enthusiasm. Quite the contrary.

Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat allegedly wanted to be paid to attend. Inasmuch as Nyan Cat is animated, I’d like to know how that would even work. I won’t link to those furry freeloaders now just on principal.

Did they actually use film, or did they just cue up 60 tabs in YouTube?

In Closing: more stuff to do in Vegas; we don’t need no steenking warrant; just say no to huge birthday bashes for little kids; “The recovery continues to be skewed toward low-wage jobs, reinforcing the rise in inequality and America’s deficit of good jobs”; of course job growth is variable by region (which is why we need streamlined short sales nowDouble Dose of Ezra; is that where I’ve heard it before?; Etch-a-sketch; mathematically impossible; yes the Republicans have a place for single women, I guess; low carb diets do work; the study never said skinny monkeys, just underfed monkeys; and great timing.

Turkey Sandwich Wars

As nearly as I can tell, it started with a regional chain called Capriotti’s and a sandwich known as The Bobbie. It’s basically “Thanksgiving Dinner on a sub bun”: Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayo. Delicious if a bit carb-heavy.

Then a local sandwich shop called Eddie D’s threw down with their own version. As Eddie himself put it, “I call it the Robert, because it’s the Bobbie’s daddy.” It’s served hot with turkey, melted cheese, stuffing, cranberry sauce and you can order it with hot gravy. Also delicious.

Expect some variation to come to fine dining near you and then eventually filter down to the casual dining set. The other day I was exposed to Marche Bacchus’s take on the Thanksgiving sandwich. Their version features housemade cole slaw, swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and cranberry coulis. A huge improvement over the turkey panini they used to serve.

I think this trend could be the next Slider of the culinary world.

In Closing: Iceland wants banksters in jail; and that’s why they fear Occupy; why is this not an election talking point?; food safety rules delayed; she gets it (BTW, love the content hate the font); walking changes linked to cognitive decline; loose lips sink viruses; upscale pawn shops (because the economy is so great); spoiled; doesn’t everyone need an espresso maker in their car??; seriously; the mayor is a cat; and why we wear pants.

Abraham Lincoln, Shorties Hunter

2%: Ok, you don’t normally find good articles about taxes at a science website, but here’s the truth about the Obama Tax Plan. Would you prefer an economist’s take on the bad news coverage that makes it seem like a better idea to get your news from a biologist?

Speaking of Economics: Economics textbooks may be dangerous to real life economies.

Sad but true: Not paying the mortgage is not the only way to lose your home to foreclosure. You can also lose it because of unpaid taxes, unpaid  sewer bills,  and in some states unpaid HOA fees/fines.

A pair of potentially related education items: Many students report school being too easy. Here’s a free book on how schools fail our children.

What?: Who are these morons putting the baby monitor close enough to the baby that baby can strangle him/self with the cord??

Rmoney: I’m not big on nicknames, but this one fits.

TSA: Sign the petition to make them follow the law.

And that’s the word from Vegas, where the projected high temperature is 114 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 10 degrees hotter than the maximum thermostat setting of a modern hot tub.

Pair of Docs

Who knew doctors were good at cooking Chinese food! You would think they’d practice medicine instead. Free blood pressure check and egg rolls with purchase of family dinner?

Also, I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s Club Ash Pa, Lash Spa, or Cash Spa for 6 months now.

In Closing: a fun game you can play at home; Darwin Award nominee; what??caffeine; don’t keep it simple; wages and rents; and, um, Unicorners. Stay tuned for a book review tomorrow to round out my own month of everyday blogging (sometimes over at my pro site). Nope, not gonna call it NuPaBluGagEvQ or whatever the cutesy name for “blog every day month” is.

My First Book Review

Maybe you knew — and maybe you didn’t — but I like to read. The nice people over at BlogHer asked me to take part in their BlogHer Book Club review-cluster (somebody needs to think of a word to describe dozens of reviews of one book) on Jean Kwok’s semi-autobiographical novel, Girl in Translation. Just want to jump to my review? It’s called “Nobody in America Lives Like This,” Except They Do. I’ve already spawned a spoilers discussion!

There’s a new “Book Reviews” category. Don’t know if you’ll see more in it yet, but I’m leaving myself the option.

Update: per comment from P.D., they are now “Book Events.”

In Closing: yes, there are jobs making clean tech, in China!; on higher education; Judge realizes that you are not your IP address (just one fatal flaw in pretty much every online ID scheme proposed); I think there will be some mighty surprised people in a couple of weeks; UPS’s safest driver; disenfranchisement; you are not a storm-chaser, get your butt to cover!; screw austerity; Senator Dean Heller; looking forward to this book!; I [heart] Amazon; what do soap and school vouchers have in common? (heck, I talked about vouchers within my first 10 posts); on McJobs; must be nice to be that lucky every day (what? you don’t suppose they are manipulating the system, do you?); and the Black Hole.

Revisiting the BAMTOR Principle

Banks Always Make Their Own Rules, and this has been a banner week for demonstrating it!

You’ve heard of course about the lady who arrived at her second home to discover new locks and all her stuff missing, including her late husband’s ashes, right?

What about Deutsche Bank agreeing to pay a bunch of fines for helping wealthy Americans dodge their taxes?

Arizona and Nevada are both suing Bank of America over loan adjustments, and the Nevada AG has evidence that B of A has engaged in massive deceptive trade practices.

In California, Wells Fargo has been forced to admit that “pick a payment” was a bad idea and strongarmed into modifying a whopping 15,000 homeowners (sounds much more impressive if you say $2 billion in mortgages, doesn’t it?).

Meanwhile, the federal agencies that should be regulating the banks and protecting the citizens are protecting the banks from the citizens. The Federal Reserve has actually blocked new foreclosure regulations.

Even MarketWatch suggests that the banks have pulled on over on all of us.

We don’t just need rules for Big Banks, we need them to be forced to follow the law. Put a few bankers in jail, and I imagine the rest will be more likely to resist criminal activity.

In Closing: less American Pie; when Pat Robertson says to decriminalize pot, you know the War on Drugs is a failure; duh; security threat; Schneier; look, there’s never going to be a “get out of the security line free” card, so stop wishing for one!; gee, whoda thought?; good idea, wish somebody thought of it during the Clinton Administration; and idiot motorists drove through wet cement, getting stuck and delaying a project that would have been open in time for Christmas until probably Easter. Hope they’re real proud of themselves.