Friday, January 07, 2011

Picasso had his guitars, I have my Chairs. (Life With Unicorns)

This is an older picture, but I didn't want to miss out on posting the fourth in what's actually become an ongoing series, one I couldn't have foreseen: Chair Pioneers.

This one is Mr F at the St. Vincent's "Dig and Save" outlet, where we went one day to look for a couple of used kitchen chairs to replace the ones that had been broken at our house. The Babies! are hard on chairs, especially Mr F, who likes to rock on them and who will toss them down when he gets mad -- a move that sometimes prompts Mr Bunches to mimic him and then look at us and say "oh, no," until we assure him that it's okay.

As Mr Bunches and I shopped around for chairs, Mr F made himself at home on this stack of two mismatched chairs. When I got him off and put the top chair right-side up -- I thought it wasn't that safe for him to sit this way -- he put it back this way and climbed on again. So I let him stay. That's called parenting.

Perhaps it's better for us if NONE of the Tea Partiers actually get sworn in. (Publicus Proventus.)

One thing's for sure: it's certainly not business as usual, so in part the Tea Partiers are making good on their pledge:

Two House Republicans missed the official congressional swearing in ceremony because they were hobnobbing at a fundraiser....Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and freshman Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., violated the Constitution by missing the ceremony, though apparently they did take the oath while watching the ceremony on TV from the shindig for Fitzpatrick at the Capitol Visitors Center. House Republicans had to put their health care repeal vote on hold when they found out that Sessions—who had been casting votes all day as a member of the House Rules Committee—wasn't a bona fide congressman yet. Committee Chair David Dreier, R-Calif., was forced to suspend hearings, and Sessions' blunder may cost the committee all their health care repeal work so far. House Speaker John Boehner is trying to persuade Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to approve the committee's work retroactively.

The best part about that? It's hard to decide.

First, there's the fact that the "shindig" that the people were at was a party to celebrate Fitzpatrick's swearing in.

Second, while the GOP/Tea Partiers want you to believe they take the Constitution seriously, Fitzpatrick and Sessions simply faced the TV and raised their hands to be sworn in -- and GOP Speaker John Boehner is trying to convince the rest of the House that it's no big deal that votes on health care repeal were cast by guys who weren't yet Congressmen.

Third, and my choice for the actual best part? The fact that Sessions and Fitzpatrick immediately lied about how this happened. Fitzpatrick lied and said, when asked, that being in front of supporters "wasn't planned. It just worked out that way."

But it was planned: The Bucks County Courier Times has an article noting that Fitzpatrick set it up exactly that way: Fitzpatrick bussed in 500 supporters to the Capitol Visitor's Center and was there with them at the time the swearing-in began, and posted photos bragging about how he'd been sworn in in front of the supporters.

GOP willing to spend $2 billion per month to kill children. (Publicus Proventus.)

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a nonpartisan, independent office that helps estimate the fiscal impact of bills pending before Congress. That's part of why it exists.

But when the fiscal impact of bills shows a contradiction of GOP policy, something has to give, and in this case -- as in all cases -- what has to give is fiscal responsbility.

The only-for-show bill introduced to repeal the health care reform was reviewed by the CBO, and the CBO found that repealing health care reform would add $230,000,000,000 to the deficit over the next 10 years. That's $23,000,000,000 per year -- nearly two billion dollars per mont added to the deficit if Republicans get their wish to repeal health care reform.

That bears repeating.

What does House Speaker John Boehner say about the estimate? He dismisses it as CBO's opinion, and one he doesn't believe -- this time. Although Boehner has happily touted CBO's opinions in the past, he doesn't want to listen to facts when they contradict his beliefs. Especially when the beliefs in question are making sure that the insurance companies who were his number one campaign contributor this last election get what they paid for.

The health care reform law in part provides for continued insurance coverage to the age of 26, ends lifetime caps on care for insureds, and provides other protections for people, and especially children. But the Republicans have made clear, over and over and over that they do not care about the good of the country or the good of individual people if they can line the pockets of the rich who put them in power. Worst President Ever George W. Bush threw "conservatism" out the window when he bailed out Wall Street. Congressional Republicans threatened our country's safety and withheld unemployment compensation until they got "Hey I'm Still President" Obama to agree to tax cuts for millionaires, and now Boehner is willing to spend two billions dollars per month to make sure that children don't get health care.

It all just makes me sick. Which isn't good, considering I'm not rich.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

At least creating a redundant commission will create jobs, right? (Publicus Proventus)

Wisconsin's Head Cheerleader Patsy Walker-- who by now has been in office 56 hours, so we should have 392+ new jobs already -- continues his mission to make sure that all his businessmen buddies get on the government payroll by creating a commission to root out government waste and fraud. The commission, which will include three people handpicked by Patsy, will be chaired by "a representative of the private employers designated by the Governor."

While Patsy's order included a list of areas that the Commission should look at for fraud, the list appears to misstate or misconstrue some "findings," such as the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau's report on "Wisconsin Shares." Patsy's order says that

According to a report by the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau, fraud in the Wisconsin Shares child care program cost the state $20 million in 2008 due to problems like illegal immigrants receiving compensation and false child care logs.

That oversimplifies the report, and doesn't note that only ONE PERCENT of the people in the program were illegal immigrants, and also doesn't note that Walker's commission is now the second one looking into this: Back in 2009, the State already formed a Task Force to look into the issue of fraud in the Wisconsin Shares program.

So if I may be so bold as to suggest an additional area of inquiry for Patsy's Fraud Commission, I would point them to looking at government waste caused by creating redundant, useless commissions designed to give businessmen buddies jobs.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Sometimes, the road gives a man too much time to think. (I Get Paid For Doing This)

A long time ago -- when I used to drive around even more than I do now, I noticed that no two blinkers ever synch up. Unlike snowflakes -- whose differences are exaggerated by poetic license -- it seems to me that there's some sort of deliberate effort on the part of car makers to ensure that blinkers always blink out of synchronicity with each other, as ever since I first noticed that I've tried to get my blinker to match up with the cars around me... to no avail.

I bring that up because today, when I had to drive 476 miles (round trip) for a 10-minute-or-so hearing, I had plenty of time to think -- I started at 6:30 a.m. and the coffee had just kicked in -- and what I began to think about was whether it's true, or merely a psychological trick, that gas gets used faster the fuller the tank is.

That's a theory I've had for about 20 years now, because I used to always fill up my tank whenever I stopped at the gas station, but I began to notice (suspect) that the first half -- from full to half-full-- of the tank seemed to be going faster than the last half -- from half-full to empty.

So I began to wonder: am I burning more gas when the tank is full (maybe because the car is heavier) or is that just a trick of the mind, or is the gas gauge not accurate like I think it is, or... what's the deal with this?

Today, staring at 3 and 1/2 hours (one way) of driving, I decided to put it to the test. I filled the tank up, and began tracking it.

The first photo I took was about 7:59 a.m.: 1/4 of the tank used, after having traveled 96.8 miles. About 90 minutes of driving continuously had used up about 3.5 gallons of gas.

Not long after that, I got to 165.5 miles-- and a half tank. So... proof! The first 1/4 tank had gone 96 miles; the second 1/4 was good for only about 66 miles.

I'll note, for you out there who care, that only the first 10 miles was non-highway driving. The rest was a uniform highway drive of about 72 miles per hour.

Also, I did not text these while driving.

A little while later, at 9:54 a.m., and 225.3 miles, I was down to a quarter tank. So the third quarter of the tank was good for under 60 miles -- again, at the same uniform rate of speed and highway driving.

The final check was after my court hearing: 286.9 miles, and almost on empty -- so the final quarter of a tank was good for about 60 miles, too.

Which, after all that, actually disproves my theory -- and suggests that I should always fill up the tank, as I got the best mileage on the first quarter tank.

But I couldn't worry about that anymore -- not because my "check engine" light was on; that goes on all the time. I couldn't worry about it because I was listening to Stuff You Missed In History Class' podcast about whether Oliver Cromwell actually cancelled Christmas, and I was getting distracted.

The Republican Agenda Gets A Bit Off Course. (Publicus Proventus)

The Republican Agenda, as expressed up to and including the first business day of the year:

Jobs jobs jobs jobs jobs jobs keep people from voting jobs jobs jobs jobs let kids drive ATVs on roads jobs job jobs let people take guns to schools jobs jobs arrest people for traffic tickets jobs make it harder to do stem cell research jo...let homeowners shoot people ...

Which of those were the issue you voted on?

If we're lucky, Cheerleader Walker will be too busy giving tax cuts to wealthy businessmen and padding the government payroll with his buddies to hurry up and make it legal for 12-year-olds to shoot teachers who use the words "stem cells" in class. If we're lucky...

Monday, January 03, 2011

In the dark of the night, what evil lurks the Wisconsin Capitol? (Publicus Proventus)

What do you suppose Cheerleader Walker was up to last night, in the dark hours while the rest of us slept? He must have been up to something, or else he wouldn't have taken a secret oath of office last week to allow him to officially become governor as of 12:01 a.m.

So for all you know, state workers, you've already been fired. I'd call the office before you deal with the rush hour traffic, just to be sure.

Whatever is, he must have been doing something. Cheerleader Walker wouldn't have done something solely for symbolic purposes, would he have? Sure -- he'll mislead people about what he's going to do with rejected light rail funds, and lie about his small business tax plan, but at least he's actually doing something. So you know he was spooking around the Capitol last night, up to something.

Also: The JOB COUNT is on! Walker promised 250,000 jobs in four years as governor. That's 7.13 jobs per hour. He's been on job for 6 hours, 42 minutes as I write this -- so let's hear from you 48.15 people who found jobs overnight! YAY!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Quote of the Day, 53

"They always put scales on sale today."
-- Sweetie, on January 2.

She's right.

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Seventy-Three

73. Reliability checkers for Internet sites.

I remember a thing, when I worked at a computer network company for a summer (a summer that took place during the time when I did not own a computer and did not know anything about computers other than how to change the screen savers, which at the time included those "flying toasters" that Microsoft used to use, and a summer in which I was a temp worker, so be careful, you employers who are hoping to use nothing but temps as you go forward into the brave new world, because you get what you pay for, even with employees)...

... where was I? Oh, yeah: I remember a thing called ISO 9000 -- some sort of business scam that involved people going around and checking businesses' procedures to see if they followed them. The idea was this: Businesses would establish a procedure, any procedure, and ISO 9000 would then see if the business actually followed that procedure, and if they did, the business would be ISO 9000 certified.

I know, but lots of things in the business world don't make sense. Anyway, that idea, only in a logical, actually practical way, could be used on the Internet, which is chockablock full of misleading information, historical inaccuracies, and Lady GaGa's tweets, all of which are contributing to making the Internet the least reliable source of information we have -- by this point, Conan O'Brien's monologues are more accurate. They're just not as handy.

So what we need is an international body that would let sites apply to be checked for accuracy -- and re-checked, as necessary. This international body (let's call them the Trilateral Commission, just to have some fun with the Tea Partiers)(or didn't you realize that the people who nowadays are taking back their government were, two years ago, worried about codes on the back of street signs guiding black helicopters?)(Go, Wolverines!) would, upon a site applying for verification, check through that site to make sure that each and every fact mentioned on the site was accurate, as measured objectively -- not by comparing other sites and the like, but by comparing them with actual knowledge. The Trilateral Commission would then rate the site's accuracy on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100% (of course) being the most reliable.

That way, when I go google my symptoms (stuffed nose, sore left foot, kind of weird feeling in my finger) I can be 100% certain that the results (common cold, or superfatal brain cloud, either is equally likely) are accurate.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

Is this working? You bet --

1001 Ways also helped change the world here!


1001 Ways also helped change the world here!


Claudius wanted to be the first man to reach the stars... but it was murder to get there. Read
Eclipse, the haunting sci-fi book from Briane Pagel. Available at and on your Kindle.