Friday, January 14, 2011

Fallen cold and dead. (Friday's Sunday's Poem, but no Hot Actress this time, 70)


by: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up -- for you the flag is flung -- for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths -- for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


About the poem: Whitman wrote this poem after Lincoln was assassinated. The ship in the poem is our country. The trip is the troubles that the country had been undergoing during the civil war, and Lincoln, of course, is the captain.

It seemed appropriate to me to remind people of what happens when civil disputes about the direction and role of government in society become tinged with the language of violence. Racist conservatives led the country into war and death 150 years ago because they didn't want the government to assault their "rights."

Christina Taylor Green, and the others, may not have been Lincoln (we'll never know how great many of them might have been), but that doesn't make her death (and the woundings and killings of the others) any less of a political act.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two songs Sweetie likes, for no particular reason. (Stuff, and Junk.)

No particular reason for posting them, that is. I don't know why Sweetie likes them.

The first is Katy Perry's Firework:

Is that song really called just Firework? Apparently so, and yet another reason for me to dislike Katy Perry.

Sweetie played that for me last night, and later caught me humming the tune, and said that proved I liked it. I pointed out that something can be catchy without being good -- most of pop music being my Exhibit A -- but she didn't believe me.

The second was Grenade by Bruno Mars:

And while I'm not crazy about that, at least it's not Katy Perry.

And I have to hand it to Sweetie, who I've frequently pointed out is the least hip person in America: She's getting better. Her taste in music isn't, but she is.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mr Bunches hits the red crayon jackpot. (Life With Unicorns)

Looking for a post? It's been removed and can now be found in my book "Life With Unicorns." Look for it on Amazon and Kindle. Click here for a list of all my books.

Oh, for God's Sake! (Publicus Proventus)

I didn't think I was getting this political. But I am. Sorry. And the latest outrage is this headline on

That sounds DRASTIC! Yes, even DESPERATE, as the headline says.

But the reality is much less drastic. In a story that begins by describing the increases as "massive" Yahoo reports that:

Lawmakers worked overnight to pass the increase to raise the personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent for four years — a 66 percent increase. Corporate income taxes also will rise, but Quinn rejected the notion that it would decimate businesses.

From 3 percent to 5 percent. That is not a "66% increase." It is a 2% increase.


If you make $100,000 per year, then you paid 3% of that last year -- or $3,000 -- in Illinois. And you will pay 5% this year -- $5,000 -- on that same income. That is a $2,000 increase, or 2% of your income.

I'm not sure if the headline and resultant outrage/fear is the result of stupid reporters, stupid taxpayers, or both.
While it might be mathematically correct to point out that 2 is in fact 2/3, or 66% of 3, it's misleading to keep describing the income tax hike as massive or as a 66% increase. The decision by reporters to use the 66% number -- rather than a less misleading/hyperbolic headline like "Illinois increases taxes by 2% of income" is essentially a decision by the reporters to take the side of the Republicans in the tax debate -- not a bad idea, considering that opposing the GOP these days is likely to get you shot in the head.

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Enjoy driving your kids to nonexistent schools over rutted roads made up primarily of potholes. (Publicus Proventus.)

As Governor Patsy fights to get his tax breaks passed -- tax breaks that would apply to less than 1/3 of businesses, on average, and which accountants say will not likely save even the smallest businesses enough money to hire even a single new employee -- keep in mind that the tax cuts he's proposing are going to increase the state's budget deficit, which, in light of Walker's "no new taxes" pledge means that the government will have to cut services.

Which sounds great, in theory: less government! Lower taxes! More freedom! But what, exactly, are you getting less of at the state level? Do you know what the state government budget is used for?

According to one estimate, about 31% of all Wisconsin's spending is on education. 2/3 of that is spent on primary education -- grade school through high school.

Are we going to cut that?

Another big chunk of spending is on what's loosely called "Other spending." That includes forests, waste management, water supply -- like that chromium, Madison? Get used to it... -- and then on transportation. Together, education, "Other spending" and transportation make up about 45% of all government expenditures, according to that estimate.

So when you cut services to get more freedom, you are cutting roads, education, safe drinking water, clean forests...

And who's going to do those things? Are you? Probably not -- or you're not going to like it. Last year, in an apparent effort to avoid raising property taxes, my city opted to switch garbage companies. The new company has all kinds of restrictions, number one of which is that if it doesn't fit in the can, you can't throw it out. So when a kitchen chair broke, I couldn't throw it out. I have to take my garbage myself and find a landfill and throw it out myself, at my own expense.

Maybe you like doing that. Maybe you don't. I don't. But whether or not you want to be your own teacher/garbageman/road builder/forest ranger, you should at least know that's what you're getting when you keep insisting that government cut spending.

Taxes don't go into a wormhole, and much of what state and local governments do is provide necessary services. Keep insisting on cutting spending, and you'll have plenty of former-tax-money left over to send your kids to private schools, schools you'll have to send them to because the public schools will be terrible. And good luck getting your kids to those schools without a public transportation system or decent roads to drive on.

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"You're never more than a few feet from a raccoon" will hopefully be a good selling point when we put the house on the market.

You wouldn't know it to look at me, but occasionally I do hard work. Like the time I cleaned out the garage and got rid of all the old junk we'd been throwing in the garage for years.

True, that was back in September, but the point is that I did some hard work -- and, me being a pretty smart guy, I made sure that I had some decent work gloves to wear.

That was important because we had everything from old broken croquet sets to discarded furniture to mousetraps to some things that I don't know what they were and I'm pretty sure were left there by the people who lived there before us, all in the garage. Plus, at our house, you're never more than a few feet from a wild raccoon.

And I have no desire to get a splinter, a cut, a bite, or zapped by some electrical wire I didn't see hanging there. I'm ALREADY doing hard work, so it's unpleasant per se, but I don't need to make it worse -- and I don't need to get another tetanus shot.

So if you're like me, and once a year you'll finally cave in and do something your wife asks you to do, make sure at least you're protecting your hands. You'll need them to eat the nachos while you watch "Piranha" on DVD.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jobs' Jet, Kobe's Copter (This Is Why I Hate People)

I try to have a positive attitude and look on the bright side (within reason), so when I first read that Steve Jobs only got paid $1 last year, I thought to myself "Hey, that's reasonable because even though he's worth $1.84 million, making it irrelevant if he gets paid any more, he's at least doing what I suggested people do, which is to stop making money yourself once you've got more than you could ever need."

Which is a topic for a different day, because Steve Jobs doesn't not get paid, not exactly: While he (and the media) were trumpeting that Jobs was only paid $1 last year, what went with little or no mention was that Apple reimbursed Jobs for $248,000 in expenses -- the "expenses" being Jobs flying his $90 million personal jet around.

Why can't Steve Jobs fly commercial? I get why Obama can't. But what is it about Steve Jobs that makes it impossible for him to sit in a first-class lounge or brush elbows with some people at an airport? Why does he need to own a jet worth $90 million that costs a minimum of $248,000 to fly around?

People are dying because we think we don't have money to pay for organ transplants but Steve Jobs gets reimbursed $248,000 so that he doesn't have to check his bags? That's $100,000 more than the average cost of a heart transplant -- so Steve Jobs flying commercial could save two people's lives per year, if Apple simply gave the money to organ donor programs.

Jobs isn't alone among the wasteful people: Kobe Bryant flies to work in a helicopter most days, saying that with his body being his employment he can't possibly risk sitting in traffic for two hours.

There's no explanation given as to why Kobe can't live closer to the Coliseum during the season, of course -- just as the stories that say how cool it is that Kobe can fly to work in a helicopter don't mention the expense of doing so and don't mention that that Kobe is frequently seen driving around in the Range Rover he owns -- unless he's seen driving around his Ferrari, which he also owns, or unless he's seen driving the Bentley Continental GT coupe, Azure Mulliner convertible, Cadillac Escalade, or 1963 Chevrolet Impala he also owns.

Kobe Bryant's body can't bear to be squeezed into a car for two hours? Then how come he owns and frequently drives six cars?

Because he's a hypocritical liar, that's why. Yet another reason to hate Kobe Bryant.

People who fly privately are among the most wasteful people I can imagine, and I'm sickened that people look up to them in any way.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sarah Palin and the GOP want children killed. And before you start claiming that I'm being unfair to Palin... (Publicus Proventus)

... by saying that, and in my post below, pointing out that Sarah Palin, Tea Partiers, and the GOP in general are guilty of being accomplices to murder for the Arizona massacre over the weekend, you might want to consider that Sarah Palin thinks it's okay that a 9-year-old girl was killed because that 9-year-old might have grown up to be a liberal:

A blog called "Obama London," as well as Dan Savage's blog, have the full story, but here's the gist of it: In the midst of removing critical comments about her inciting murder from her Facebook page, Sarah Palin (and/or her staff) let stand this little gem, first on the list below:

Christina Taylor Green was the 9-year-old girl that was killed. That post on her page was allowed to stand... and stand... and stand, even when pointed out by others posting on the page. It was still up much later.

I don't know if it's up still -- I don't have a Facebook account, because you can be on Facebook advocating for the murder of 9-year-olds who might be liberal, but you can't ask too many people to read your book -- but the fact that it stayed up at all shows just what you so-called conservatives, and people who don't pay attention, have wrought. We now live in a country where political assassination is justified by the party in power.

And where 9-year-olds aren't just sad collateral victims, but are seen as rightly targeted.

GOP postpones health care repeal vote to give supporters more time to reload. (Publicus Proventus.)

Nicely done, GOP; you've turned your ragtag bunch of misfits into a well-oiled racist killing army led by a "candidate" who can barely read but who has the unique ability to get away with inciting murder while still remaining a popular speaking draw.

I'm talking, of course, about the shooting rampage that killed six people and injured 20 people -- a shooting pulled off by a man whose "conservative" leanings included backing reverting currency to the gold standard, as Ron and Rand Paul (among other Tea Party wingnuts) do, and who bought his gun legally because Tea Partiers are all about letting any fringe lunatic carry a gun anywhere they wanted and encouraged people to go armed to health care reform debates.

As if that's not enough direct responsibility for the murders of six people -- has anyone tried to indict Boehner on this yet?-- remember that Giffords was one of the Democrats who was literally put in a gunsight by the moronic -- and that's giving her credit -- Sarah Palin.

Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic is quoted as telling people that

"No one is saying Sarah Palin should be viewed as an accomplice to murder. Many are merely saying that her recklessly violent and inflammatory rhetoric has poisoned the discourse and has long run the risk of empowering the deranged. We are saying it's about time someone took responsibility for this kind of rhetorical extremism, because it can and has led to violence and murder."
But I'M saying that. I'm saying that Sarah Palin is an accomplice to murder. As are the other members of the GOP who continuously incite people to violence and use rhetoric intended to make individuals targets of violence.

They hoped for this. They planned for this. They deliberately encouraged people to carry guns and used gunsights aimed at the people who opposed their plans as political speech. It couldn't have been any more obvious if Sarah Palin had, in her garbled idiotic speech, called for the murderfication of elected Democrats.

I don't expect the Obama administration to try to bring prosecutions; they're too busy conceding. But we've crossed a line here. There have always been political extremists and insane people, and sometimes those have been combined into the same people.

But what's never happened before is that we've never had elected officials, or would-be elected officials, deliberately encouraging acts of violence against their opponents. Welcome to Iran, everyone. I look forward to John Boehner handing out souvenir "health care reform bullets" on the floor of the House. And to taking a bullet to the head the next time I vote Democrat.