Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. For those of you who celebrate it, best wishes for a happy and comfortable day with family, friends, or whoever who choose to spend it with.

The rest of you, get back to work.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dave? Is That You, Dave?

The excellent crime fiction writers blog Working Stiffs ran this post today; the topic is the infallible ability of homeowner big ticket items to fail when you can least afford them to. This was a particularly timely post for me, as we have recently replaced our dishwasher (I mean the mechanical one; the Beloved Spousal Equivalent is secure in her position) and are looking for a toaster.

These events have made me realize appliances are smarter than we give them credit for, but not as smart as they think they are. Take our old dishwasher. We inherited it when we bought the house, and it had obviously been here a while. The BSE complained about it daily, with cause.

Earlier this month we ordered a new one. The old immediately started acting up: drying even less well than before, leaving more streaks. It knew we were talking replacement, which I thought was pretty perceptive for an inanimate object. It just didn't realize its actions were counterproductive. Not its fault; dishwashers rarely have the emotional maturity of, say, a combination washer/dryer. It can now contemplate its improper response in the Prince George’s County landfill.

Last week the toaster started burning toast even worse than usual. I pointed to the new dishwasher and said, "If I dumped a large appliance like that one, don't think I won't run your ass out of here in a heartbeat."

I haven't made toast since then. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Meanwhile, South of the Mason-Dixon Line

This is something that could not ever be made up.

If you get to wondering why there are no bestiality laws that apply, remember where this takes place. Legislators who pass laws are human beings. They have fond memories of their first loves, too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Time Out

A brief disclaimer: for those of you unaware of this, I voted enthusiastically for Barack Obama for president. View the rest of this post in that context.

I stayed up on election night only long enough to watch John McCain’s concession speech. I haven’t read any of the subsequent Obama statements, didn’t watch 60 Minutes last Sunday. When the lovely Spousal Equivalent asked why not, I explained that I’d been listening to him, and others, tell me what they’re going to do for over a year now. Voting was all I could do about it, and I did. Now I’m calling a time out until he actually does something. Then he can have my attention back.

Frankly, form what I can tell about him, I think Obama might consider that a healthy attitude.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Throw Money at It

That’s the standard Republic Party reply when Democrats come up with a program. “Those tax and spend Democrats just want to throw money at the problem.” Let’s see how well that argument holds up.

Since the Depression, Democrats have preferred government-sponsored job programs for economic stimulus. The Depression was full of them: WPA, TVA, Rural Electrification. Whatever kept people working and off welfare. Build roads, bridges, buildings. Run phone and electrical lines. Keep people busy while preparing the nation for the eventual good times, because having to play catch-up can stifle an economic rebound faster than anything.

This approach has benefits. First and foremost, the money wasn’t just flowing one way. People who are working pay taxes, as opposed to just taking in money like those collecting unemployment insurance and welfare. (Republics shouldn’t have to be reminded of this.) Same thing for the companies who get the contracts to actually do the work.

Even better, the program doesn’t have to work as well as expected in order to reap its rewards. Even if the economy doesn’t recover as much as you’d like, you’ve still fixed the roads and bridges, laid cable and fiber (the 21st Century equivalent of electric and phone lines). These are tangible benefits that will be there, ready and waiting, when things finally do get going again.

The Republic Party, on the other hand, likes to put checks in the mail, in the hope that people will spend them on goods and services. This approach, which owes much to the “trickle down” school of economics, is unreliable at best. Sometimes it’s a downright fallacy, as is so much of trickle down theory.

Let’s take this year’s example, where millions of people got $300 checks. What was the root of the economic problem? Overextension of credit. What did a lot of people do with the money? They paid bills. A worth endeavor, but hardly stimulating to the manufacturing or sales segments of the economy. Even worse, when it didn’t work, all we had to show for it was a bugger deficit.

Getting real work to take place will create a “bubble up” economy by putting the money in the hands of the people who need it most, and will be most likely to recirculate it in the desired manner, namely those who actually need it to make ends meet. Why this remains such a revolutionary concept is the real puzzler.

Putting people to work to accomplish something, or sending checks and hoping for the best. Who’s really throwing money at the problem?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not the Honeymoon, Still the Engagement

I’d hoped it would be over. I’d dreamed of a time after the election when the pundits (a Latin word for “capable of spewing excrement from multiple orifices”) would have nothing presidential to analyze and we could go back to actually getting the news.

Sometimes I wonder how I hold a job, dumb as I am.

Just because Barack Obama won the election with a comfortable, but not earthshaking, margin doesn’t mean everyone and his brother isn’t lined up to tell him what to do. It’s one thing for Republics and conservatives to do it; they lost, and a certain amount of sniping is to be expected. It’s the Democrats and others who voted for him who are crawling all over each other to let him know what he needs to do first, next, and everything after that.

Didn’t they (and I) just vote for him to lead? Did your vote at least imply that you trust his judgment? (I hope so; mine did.) True, times are tough and he needs to hit the ground running, but he seems to be a pretty sharp guy. Let’s see what he has planned.

Obama’s greatest challenge won’t be Republic Party resistance. It will be from the inevitable disappointment of his Kool-Aid-drinking supporters when they discover how much clay his feet contain. It will be that whole “woman scorned” thing, which I know quite a bit about. Oh, do I know about that.

The “feet of clay” reference was in no way an insult. Everyone has them. Obama will have them worse, if only because each of his supporters has a different idea of what they want him to do, so each will be disappointed in their own way. He can’t please them all, by definition; he’s bound to be disappointed himself from time to time.

So how about everyone just backs the fuck off for a few weeks? We’ll all feel better.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Random Political Thought

Does anyone else wonder how many of the members of the Republic Party now clamoring for Obama to begin a period of post-partisanship were also telling John McCain they’d desert him if he chose Joe Lieberman as his running mate?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

October's Movie Reviews

Doug List has posted his monthly compendium of movie reviews over at Thoughts on Film.