If you’ve never listened to John Hodgman’s 700 Hobo Names, you should spend an hour listening to it. I can’t decide which name is my favorite—I can come up with a dozen favorites in the first hundred (examples: “Cheesequake O’Lennox”, “Drinky-Drunky Tom, The Drunk,” “Ghostly Nose Silvie,” or “Ovid”).
You know what would be cool? If someone with a lot of money bought a bunch of black tactical jumpsuits and visored helmets and combat boots, and distributed them to the Occupiers before one of the city’s “clearing actions.”
Colorado’s having some school voucher issues, where Jefferson County, for example, is wanting to do school vouchers. For every student going to a non-public school, the parents get $X in vouchers to use at a private school—and “private schools” can include religious schools.
Of course, opponents claim church vs. state separation, and say we can’t use public tax money to support kids going to religious schools.
Proponents say, “Oh, but the ‘church vs. state’ thing is only in regards to ‘establishing a state religion! It doesn’t extend to ‘state can’t give money to churches to provide a service!’”
Fine and dandy. But according to their own argument, churches ought to be taxed, right? Currently churches are exempt from any kind of tax, under the absolute separation interpretation. But if they argue that the separation clause only covers “establishing a state religion,” then there’s nothing that says that churches ought to be tax exempt. I mean, if you argue that the separation clause doesn’t preclude money going one way (government to religious organizations), then you have to argue that it shouldn’t preclude money going the other way (religious organizations to the government).
So it’s taken me months and months to make this wooden puzzle for John. Finding the right kind and dimensions of wood; cutting the pieces out; sanding them down to a super-fine sheen; etc. Right now, the puzzle is complete—and absolutely beautiful!—but unpainted/unvarnished.
Last night, I did some tests of the water-based dyes that I got to color the puzzle. I got water-based, because it’s tons easier to clean up. I got dye (rather than paint) because I wanted the wood grain to show through. Unfortunately, I spent a ton of money on buying pints of the dyes when I only need a tiny bit, because that’s the smallest size they had. But as my friend points out, I’ll have them forever… (Plan on all future toys being tinted in these six colors.)
Anyway, so I sanded a piece of scrap wood down to the same fineness and tested the dyes on them to see how they worked. Unfortunately, the “water” part of “water-based dye” raised the grains on the wood, so on the test piece, it’s now rough and bumpy, not silky smooth. I’ll see this afternoon what sanding it down again will do—hopefully, it won’t mess the colors up, and I can go ahead with using the dyes, even though it means I’ll have to sand all the pieces yet again…
It’s a learning experience, but man, this is taking forever!
So November 30 is St. Andrew’s Day, the day to celebrate all things Scottish. Like, the one day I can do something cool with my Scottish heritage. And I’ve been looking forward for months to wearing my kilt today. My Scottish kilt, that I got in Scotland. Och aye, an’ all that. So I pack up this morning, and got the kilt, got the hose, picked shoes and a shirt that would work. And I could not find the sporran. It should be hanging right on the hanger with the kilt. But it is not. And a kilt without a sporran is…well, a lot like a skirt. Also, I wouldn’t have anywhere to hold my keys.
So I start looking in my closet. I haven’t fixed the bedroom light, and I’m working in the back of the closet, anyway, so I have to do this by flashlight. Not there. I start looking more and more…not there. Now a box from the shelf on top of the closet falls down on my head and spills open all over the floor. Now a bag from the shelf on top of the closet opens and spills stuff all over the closet. Meanwhile, Rocky’s in the shower, so she can’t watch the baby, and the baby’s crying and roaming around flushing the toilet and it’s way past time for me to leave and I’m gonna be late to work. And on top of all that, I have a cold, so I feel rotten.
Anyway, it was just something that I was really looking forward to, and got screwed up at the last minute because I have too much stuff and not enough space and I’m not organized.
I like this idea of Burners in like, thirty, forty years:
By then, the Main Event may not actually be held any more. But we’ve got all this creativity and energy, plus the culture and history. Yes, there will be regional events. But I imagine Burners—or some Burners—turning into a fraternal organization, along the lines of the B.P.O.Elks or the Grange or Oddfellows or Masons or what have you. By then, the old meeting houses of those other organizations must be opening up—the average age of the members of some of those organizations must be, like, in the sixties right now. So we Burners buy up a meeting hall in each city, and become our own fraternal organization, complete with classy lapel pins and secret handshakes and the most awesome parties.
If I ever won the lottery, I’d get rid of all my current clothes and re-build my entire wardrobe from just two places: all my sporty clothes would come from LL Bean and all my dress clothes would come from Brooks Brothers.
American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.
There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.
“Abortion is a highly personal decision that many women are sure they’ll never have to think about until they’re suddenly faced with an unexpected pregnancy. But this can happen to anyone, including women who are strongly anti-choice. So what does an anti-choice woman do when she experiences an unwanted pregnancy herself? Often, she will grin and bear it, so to speak, but frequently, she opts for the solution she would deny to other women — abortion.”
The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency …
The nice thing about turkeys is that they vaguely resemble a child’s outstretched hand. Clearly, there is no stronger argument for an intelligent designer of the universe than the fact that, when Thanksgiving comes around and authoritarian art must be created in the nation’s elementary schools, the students need only trace their off hand with a washable marker to create an instantly recognizable Thanksgiving icon, modulo the beak and wattle of course. It’s also interesting that so many of our images of Thanksgiving turkeys involve them not being killed, plucked, and eaten. The President pardons a turkey, cartoon turkeys on TV manage to avoid the axe, but when it comes to the actual dead turkey on our table, pass the gravy. A
I’ve always had this conceptual problem with food for decoration versus food you eat, and especially that nether realm occupied by parsley. And don’t even get me started on plastic sushi grass. Dried Indian corn is clearly on the “look but don’t lick” side of the equation, and it bothers me that the corn we display and the corn we digest are not the same corn. It’s disappointing, like those majestic billboards of steaming fast food burgers that look monstrous, but end up being approximately the size of a gearshift knob when you actually order them. C-
I sometimes find myself wondering things that no sane man should wonder. To wit: why did Pilgrims have buckles on their hats? Were they actual head fasteners or did the Pilgrims just have this whole belt theme happening, kind of like Lulu from Final Fantasy X, only with less cleavage and more threshing? Buckles or no buckles, Pilgrims signify one of the most important aspects of Thanksgiving: remembering those who fled religious oppression so that they could finally live free to oppress others for once in their lives. And who also ate food when it was available. C+
The cornucopia has never really appealed to me as a symbol, and I finally figured out why. It’s always pouring out wheat and gourds and fruit and healthy shit like that. That sort of thing is only paradisical if you were born on a hippie commune and never left. Those of us who know and treasure the feel of asphalt and the smell of plastic expect a bounty of cheese snacks in interesting shapes and deep-fried appetizers. Or at least some marshmallow bits. C
It’s interesting how many things we like to have around as holiday symbols, but hate when we have to clear them off our driveway—leaves, snow, leprechauns…I believe we account for this disparity by spending money. By dropping five bucks on mass-produced cardboard autumn leaves, we reassert ourselves as a first-world country, not one of those icky places where the leaves in your living space are the result of the natural actions of gravity and wind. Also, I think fear of Lyme disease may be a factor. D+
Ratings from the defunct Brunching Shuttlecocks site
You know what I love? When cops or judges or anyone who’s accused of wrongdoing gets suspended with pay “pending the outcome of the inquiry.”
I understand that if someone turns out to be not guilty based on “the inquiry,” then they shouldn’t be penalized. And it’s not really fair if you suspend them without pay and they turn out to be not guilty, then they’ve had a financial hardship.
But if they are guilty (UCD Police Lt. John Pike, I’m looking at you)? Doesn’t that mean they just got a paid vacation? (in Pike’s case, he earns >$110,000/year, which means he’s getting >$400 a day sitting around at home…) Even if they get fired, I doubt they have to pay back all that money they got while on paid suspension.
(And another thing. This kinda thing only happens if you’re in some cushy job anyway. You think if you’re a laborer/service industry/lower-level employee they would bother with an investigation, whether you’re right or you’re wrong? Nope, in that case, you’re disposable…)
If they’re found guilty and fired, do make them pay back what they got. Or take it out of their vacation leave payout.
Instead of putting them on paid vacation suspension, have them do some other work for the organization. Have Lt. Pike or Judge Adams clean toilets, or take out the garbage, or mow the lawns.
Beyond this, I’m trying to find a way I can get put on paid administrative leave “pending the results of a [long] investigation” that in the end (of course) finds me pure and blameless.
John really likes the interactivity of some of our toddler books like Pat the Bunny and CAT. He strokes the fake fur, looks in the mirror, sniffs the flowers (sometimes sniffs the mirror…it’s on the next page, but it still smells like the flowers), lifts the flaps, etc..
But because these are mass-marketed books, they necessarily take short cuts. The patch of fur to touch is just on the animal’s tail, not the whole animal. The sandpaper of “touch Daddy’s scratchy face” is a black patch that looks like a hideous mole. That kinda thing.
I wonder if I could make him a really great quality interactive book. It would be one-of-a-kind, definitely, and would take a lot of work. And I have no idea what the “storyline” would be. But wouldn’t it be cool to create a book just for him that’s really top-quality? Lots of different textures to touch (fur, sandpaper, leather, metal, velvet, burlap, wood…). Smells. Motion (pop-up, or other things he can move or spin or turn or flip). Sound, if I can fit a little squeaker or something in it. Maybe even a little LED to make “light” one of the senses, or to light up parts of the book.
It’s probably too much work and would take forever, but I like the idea.
So we’re reading a baby book to John, and there’s a picture of an old-fashioned train. And it occurs to me that there are many examples of things that even now we’re brought up to see as the archetype of something, even though that thing is totally out of date.
I’m not explaining myself as well as I’d like, but basically, in kid’s books, toys, and other imagery, the image of “train” is more often than not an old-fashioned steam train—i.e., the kind that hasn’t been regularly been around in the real world in 100+ years. Similarly, the standard image of a “phone” is a round-dial desk phone, whereas a desk phone probably represents a fraction of the phones a child would see, and I doubt if actual dial phones still exist.
Though I doubt it’s going to cause any kind of long-term cognitive dysfunction, I think it’s kind of interesting that we have these archetypal images of things long after that version of a thing is common.
The intent and effect of such abuse is that it renders those guaranteed freedoms meaningless. If a population becomes bullied or intimidated out of exercising rights offered on paper, those rights effectively cease to exist. Every time the citizenry watches peaceful protesters getting pepper-sprayed — or hears that an Occupy protester suffered brain damage and almost died after being shot in the skull with a rubber bullet — many become increasingly fearful of participating in this citizen movement, and also become fearful in general of exercising their rights in a way that is bothersome or threatening to those in power. That’s a natural response, and it’s exactly what the climate of fear imposed by all abusive police state actions is intended to achieve: to coerce citizens to “decide” on their own to be passive and compliant — to refrain from exercising their rights — out of fear of what will happen if they don’t.
The genius of this approach is how insidious its effects are: because the rights continue to be offered on paper, the citizenry continues to believe it is free. They believe that they are free to do everything they choose to do, because they have been “persuaded” — through fear and intimidation — to passively accept the status quo. As Rosa Luxemburg so perfectly put it: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Someone who sits at home and never protests or effectively challenges power factions will not realize that their rights of speech and assembly have been effectively eroded because they never seek to exercise those rights; it’s only when we see steadfast, courageous resistance from the likes of these UC-Davis students is this erosion of rights manifest.
So Saturday evening, I’m pulling away from the front of our house, and in my headlights there’s a fox just sitting in the front lawn next door.
I shouldn’t be surprised, because I’ve seen foxes (and coyotes) down by the river; Rocky’s seen evidence of coyotes by the lake nearby; I’ve seen skunks and raccoons in our own backyard. But a fox this far into the neighborhood is a new one for me.
The main thing is, we’re going to have to secure the chicken coop really well; it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make the back yard a bit more secure, too (as best we can, anyway). And not let the cats out to play after dark (which we don’t do, anyway, but we have to be more careful about it…).
“The principle difference between an adventurer and a suicide is that the adventurer leaves himself a greater margin of escape (the narrow the margin, the greater the adventure), a margin whose width and length may be determined by unknown factors but whose successful navigation is determined by the measure of the adventurer’s nerve and wits.”—Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All