Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Voting and ID

The Supreme Court has just upheld a law in Indiana allowing the state to insist on voters carrying identification --- in this country, almost always a drivers' license --- in order to prove that they are entitled to vote.
Of course, the law was painted as a measure to repel the hordes of people attempting to vote illegally --- and the opinions upholding the law sign off on that as the reason, in spite of the fact that there have been essentially no documented cases of abuse, and there are hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps millions across the country who might be entitled to vote but who fail to have the appropriate identification.

I have a little sympathy with the idea that in order to vote you should present some identification. It makes some sense, even if the evidence is not there that there are unwashed hordes attempting to pretend to be dead people still on the voter rolls.

But if we are going to do this, then society should take the responsibility for providing the means to obtain the identification documents --- for free, and easily --- and also for making sure that the documents are validated.

And when the right wing shrieks that we are moving to a society in which we are required to carry identification papers (and believe me, this shrieking will come!) let's remember that it was their side which decided to impose these rules in the first place.

For now, I think that Obama could do a lot worse that getting out in front on this issue, helping poor folks obtain valid (and validated) identification papers in Indiana: even paying for the cost of the ID card, if necessary....

Yours, encouraging those with the right to vote to make sure that they have the right to exercise that right,

Massage oil

big oil, that is.

Both J. McCain and H. Clinton are proposing to cut the (actually already miniscule) federal tax on gasoline for the summer. To give her a smidgen of credit, Clinton is also suggesting a windfall tax on oil company profits to compensate the lost revenue, but this is a minor point.

The problem here is one of basic economics: the supply of gasoline is essentially inelastic: this means that if the customer were willing to pay double, it would not increase the quantity supplied very much at all. Part of the problem is a supply chain problem --- gas takes a while to produce, refineries have to plan what to refine to what, etc. Part of it is a "how much oil is pumped from the ground this year" problem.

Anyway, it is a basic fact of economics that when you take a product with inelastic supply, and cut the tax on it, what will happen is that the price will rise again until it stabilizes at the level at which customer demand meets corporate supply. In this case, the price is likely to be just about the same as the price we are paying already -- meaning that the 18 cent cut in gasoline taxes becomes an 18 cent per gallon subsidy to Exxon, Shell, et al.

In fact, what we should be doing right now is much more along the lines of taxing gasoline at a higher level --- as a windfall tax if you wish, or just making the 18 cent gas tax from ten years ago into a 90 cent gas tax now (as a proportion of the cost of a gallon, rather than as a flat rate per gallon regardless of price).

Given that the oil companies are making obscene profits right now -- I believe I heard yesterday that one company just posted the largest ever profits by any company anywhere ever --- we don't need to be pandering to the public and giving big oil a kissy-kissy tax break.

Yours, pouring water on troubled oil,

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A day without thought

leads to a day without blogging.
I feel singularly uninspired this evening, uninspired to post anything. But for the sake of the exercise, I'll try.

I decided a few weeks ago that I needed more lyrical French music in my life --- I've been singing M'sieur le President to Boo and Skibo every night for ages, and want to be able to vary the repertoire for them: when Szarkozy was visiting the UK a few weeks ago I heard a snippet of a song by his wife, Carla Bruni, and it sounded intriguing. So I ordered the cd --- it's pretty good, and growing on me: definitely lyrical, and gentle, though I haven't translated the lyrics yet (in fact, I haven't managed to figure out what she's singing most of the time!)

LOML's parents leave for the UK tomorrow: on the whole it's been a nice visit, but it has been somewhat stressful: especially since the children have been really mean to them on occasion: but hopefully with time the memories of meanness will fade and the niceness prevail. And they'll want to come visit us again.
Mind you, it's going to be nice to get our bathroom back!

Yours, feeling like I'm just phoning it in,

Monday, April 28, 2008

Testing a new blogger feature

Apparently you can now schedule a post to appear in the future.
I wonder how it works. I'm editing this, and see no way to schedule it: so perhaps I'll save a draft and then edit, and see if there's anything there.

Okay, now I see, reading further, that I'd need to be using the beta version of blogger to do this. Oh well, I'll try it some other time.

Yours, experimenting....

I'm not listening to this today

but it really was my soundtrack: "I can't stand Mondays". It started with LOML rolling over, looking at me and querying "What time is it?"
As I had an eight o'clock meeting, and had to drive twelve minutes to get there, and it was already 7:45, well, let's just say that I didn't have time for a nice leisurely shower this morning. Or any shower.

But I made the meeting, with thirteen seconds to spare.

Yours, like old pajamas, feeling slept in,

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Curry redux

The beef-version-of-sag-gosh was better today: I put it in a low (300 F) oven for a couple of hours, and it became tender and luscious and lovely. It's so nice to be able to recover from a near-culinary-disaster and have it become delicious the next day.

Oh, and despite LOML's mother insisting she doesn't like pizza, doesn't like butter, and doesn't like white chocolate, she's insisting I make another dessert brioche pizza before they leave on Wednesday!

Yours, opening minds to new culinary sensations, one flavour at a time,

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Well, the substitution of beef for lamb in the sag gosh didn't work out quite so well: I didn't give it enough of a chance to get fully tender, and as a result we'll be eating that (and other leftovers) tomorrow. Flavour was quite good though.

Right now I get the opportunity to stand at my computer for three hours (my ethernet cable won't reach the table and the wireless router at work really doesn't like my linux box). Still, of that three hours, almost two have already gone. Seventy three blogs read, two commented upon, and counting.

Yours, still standing,


We had shepherd's pie last Thursday (well, truth be told it was cottage pie, since we could find neither ground lamb nor shepherds to put in it): this was a deliberate measure, since it ensured that we would have leftovers for today.
And we needed to have leftovers today, since LOML's mother is not a fan (to put it mildly) of Indian-style food.
And so I'm cooking several things today which will make the kitchen aromatic: lots of ginger, garlic, tomatoes, turmeric, cayenne, cumin, coriander, ilaachi nuts (that's cardomom to you and me).

Yours, promising recipes if I get froggy,

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fish and Chips

One of the nice things about having LOML's parents visit is that they like to have fish and chips on Fridays: which gives me an opportunity to cook it a few times while they are here.
I've been using Alton Brown's recipe for the beer batter --- which works well now that I've figured out that his measuring system is as sensible as the "gallons versus gallons" situation discussed above.

See, he calls for two cups of flour, and a bottle of brown beer (together with salt, old bay seasoning, cayenne pepper and baking powder). And cups of flour are a good measure, pretty much. (To within 4 percent, anyway: see the post about gallons versus gallons). But "bottle" means something less precise. And the first time or three I made the batter, I kept having to add lots more liquid to get it to a batter stage. And then I had an epiphany: he doesn't mean a regular 12 (US) fl oz bottle, he means a 16 (UK) fl oz bottle, which is marketed here as a 15.5 (US) fl oz bottle!
And once I had realised that, it made it much easier. Now I just pop open two of the smaller bottles, pour in one, and enough of the second to get the consistency I want, and then find something else to do with the other.
Usually it involves drinking it:-)

Yours, having adapted,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

On gallons

Everyone in England knows that "a pint of pure water weighs a pound and a quarter", and in the US children are told "a pint's a pound the world around".

Of course, the simplistic view of this is the following: a pint in the UK is 20 fl oz, whereas in the US it is 16 fl oz. This of course makes the rhymes consistent.

Until you investigate a little further, and discover that fluid ounces differ in the two countries too. The UK fluid ounce is small than that in the US, with 1 fl oz (UK) about equal to 0.96 fl oz (US). That is, the US version is about 4% bigger. And as to the weight? Well, the British rhyme is a lot closer to correct than the US version: the correct version of the US rhyme would be something like
A pint's a pound the world around, or it would be if it went on a diet

Yours, giving you the skinny,

Gas prices

That's petrol, as was.
Of course, by world standards, they are ridiculously cheap -- I'm not going to argue that point. But the rate of getting less-ridiculously-cheap is actually rather high: we have seen a five-fold increase in gas prices here over the last 10 or 11 years: shortly after LOML and I moved here we paid 68.9 cents for a (US) gallon of gas: as of this evening I saw a gas station with a price of $3.459 per gallon.
That corresponds to a sustained average rate of about 16% per year --- although price has gone in fits and starts rather than consistently.

Yours, running on empty,

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

St George's Day

And a very happy birthday, Will S!

Yours, circling 2(B) on the exam,

Confusion over the meaning of "double digits"

I seem to be hearing this afternoon a lot of buzz about Clinton beating Obama by a "double digit" margin. This seems strange: as far as my arithmetic tells me, her margin was 215166 votes out of 2304518 votes cast (so far, that is: there are still a handful of precincts yet to be counted in Obama's territory, the city of Philadelphia).
Thus the current margin of victory is closer to 9.34% which is substantially less than 9.5% (which I could see being rounded up to make 10%).

Of course, the truth is that the media is unable to deal with decimals, and hence is reporting that Clinton got 50+(9.34)/2=54.67%, which they round up to 55%, and Obama's 45.33% gets rounded down to 45%. And of course, the difference between them is "10%", and so the media is spins that she beat him by double digits.

This only matters psychologically, of course. Just like waterboarding.

Unless of course some media head wants to explain that it is double digits; the two digits are 9 and 3, as in 9.3%.
Yours, counting on mistakes,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Something strange in CNN's count

Something strange just happened to CNN's count: the numbers went from
about 1054000 to 857000, a few minutes later to 1044000 to 862000.
That is, Clinton's vote as reported went down.

Yours, thinking it's odd, but probably an honest mistake.

I'm ready for this to be over

I really did hope that it would be a little closer this evening in Pennsylvania. It was clear that the expectation game had been played out this week to where an 8 point victory might count as "overwhelming" for Clinton, even if it carries few pledged delegates with it.
And now, it's looking like it will be between 7 and 10 points difference in the end: enough to generate another few rounds of circular firing squads of attack ads, until one candidate is left standing to oppose McCain.

Of course, I've already voted long ago, because of where I live.

Yours, in the state of ennui,

Monday, April 21, 2008

Another reading step

Another reading step for Boo this evening: she sat down with one of her "Bob" books, and started reading, to herself. We were within earshot, but this time she was reading just because she wanted to do so, not because we suggested it to her.

Of course, it was dinner time, and she ended up skipping eating to read, but... we decided not to push it this time (she's still not 100%, and if she didn't feel good or hungry we didn't want to force her).

Yours, as read,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

John Oliver neatly skewers the US and the UK in the war in Iraq, and more broadly, the war on "terror" (is that Terra?) in his show this evening on the Comedy Channel "John Oliver: Terrifying Times". His deadpan perspective, presenting official positions with a straight face and a steady voice in such a way that you see the inherent ridiculousness is brilliant.
This is Oliver as he is with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, in a stand up format. With guests to assist.

Yours, amused

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spring is here

You can tell.
There is sunshine in the sky, pollen in the air, and strep in the throats.
LOML, Boo and Skibo are all on antibiotics. LOML felt yesterday like I did two weeks ago. Boo and Skibo don't seem to be that badly off, but nonetheless were clearly not well: LOLM took them to the doctor this morning, and reported back that finally we seem to have found a paediatrician we can like; apparently she took great care to do things like actually swab and check the culture before just prescribing medicine.
Hopefully the next phase of the year, the post illness period, will arrive shortly.

Yours, in hope,

Friday, April 18, 2008

Doors and hinges

It all hinges on the following.... or rather, nothing hinges on the hinges.
Our front door came close to falling off this week, and so we are having to use the side door, the one that opens into our bedroom.
Gone are afternoon naps.
Gone is the sense of privacy that a front door protects.
And to come is the price of fixing the door.

The problem is not the hinge. Not even the children swinging on the door, which is what has probably pulled the hinge from the door frame.

The problem is the construction of the frame: the screws go into a gap between two pieces of wood, and with the years those two pieces of wood have separated, drawn apart --- and their divorce has left us doorless. We will probably have to perform reconstructive surgery on the door frame to make it all better again.

For now, though, we're begging you not to knock!

Yours, hoping to avoid the knock-on effect,

Colbert, Clinton, Edwards, Obama

Who won this one? Clearly, the big winner was Colbert.
For those not in the US, and for those who are, but who don't watch Stephen Colbert's show every night: he has a late night comedy-talk show, parodying, at least to a certain extent, right wing political talkshows.
Last night he had been expected to showcase Hillary Clinton. And he did: she showed up and was tech-y about fixing his superbig monitor at the back of his tv set. All of a minute, and she was gone.
A few minutes later, he had Edwards on, talking about how he wasn't going to endorse unless he believed in the candidates (oh, and he'd like a jet ski please). Funny as hell, but he's not running any more.
Finally, at the very end of the show, Obama shows up on the huge monitor (yes, the one that Clinton had "fixed"). And was okay.

I think that the big loser in all this was Clinton -- word had been out for days she was going to be on the show, and everyone was expecting a Colbert-bounce for her: but then Edwards and Obama got in the way.
I thought that Edwards was good -- great, even, but I'm biased --- but it didn't matter. What mattered was Obama muted Clinton's thunder.

But above all, I'm blogging about Colbert's effect, and have even mentioned the bounce...

Yours, proclaiming a winner,

Thursday, April 17, 2008


It was brought home to me this afternoon just how much a change in hair style can change ones looks: Boo has long had a pageboy-bob, cut at about shoulder length at the back, not quite long enough to easily put up into ponytails or pigtails.
At least, not easy for LOML or me, that is.
For Nanna, however, it was no problem: inspired by the wonderful Robert Munch book "Stephanie's Ponytail", Boo asked Nanna to put her (Boo's) hair into ponytails. And it completely changed the way she looks. A completely different child!

Yours, still the same,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tonight's democratic debate

Everyone seems to be saying "it wasn't a good night for Obama". Well, should we be surprised? One of the two questioners was George Stephanopoulos: key advisor to Bill Clinton for his first presidential run, de facto press factotum for the first few months of Clinton's presidency: and people expect a fair and balanced debate? Why, this wasn't even on Fox News!

Yours, pointing out the obvious....

Renewing old acquaintanceships

This afternoon I had the pleasant experience of renewing a friendship: or more precisely a friendly acquaintanceship: I went to a seminar given by someone I hadn't seen since I was a student, almost half a lifetime away. At the time we had had several long conversations about a bunch of stuff: he was a bit older and wiser, more senior than I, and it was interesting and useful.
Funny: we both look thrumptysevix years older: he is still a little older, and seems a little wiser: we had a good conversation, on interesting and useful topics. Somehow it seemed almost like there had been little time in between.

Yours, now older and wiser too,

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eating habits start early

We went to friends for dinner this evening: a lovely meal of pot roast, carrots, potatoes, broccoli and salad. And for once I was flabbergasted by the way that Skibo and Boo ate their food: Boo cleared her plate completely (and we'd given her a reasonably filled plate!) --- and Skibo not only ate his broccoli and carrots, he went back for third and fourth helpings of each of them!
LOML and I must be doing something right!

Yours, proud -- if surprised!

Fish markets

I miss fishmongers. Even though, growing up, I didn't live particularly near the coast, there were always fishmongers around: shops whose sole purpose (pun intended) was to sell (uncooked) fish. I miss being able to go into a store knowing that the person behind the counter will understand what I'm looking for, and be able to suggest a good alternative.
Some supermarkets have reasonable fish departments inside them, but somehow it's not the same. The non-fishy, almost briny smell of a good fishmongers is missing.

And now Alice tells me that she has been to the Mediterranean, and that she has stories of fish markets to tell. And I'm jealous.

Yours, old, and scaly,

Monday, April 14, 2008

I like Crown Royal

A fine Canadian whisky. But I am rather surprised that a candidate for president of the US would choose it as her shot of choice.

Yours, glassy-eyed,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Planning the week's menus

LOML had the idea at breakfast this morning of polling everyone, including grandparents, for an idea for a meal to have this week. From this we constructed this week's menu.
Tonight, pasta with meat and tomato sauce (not really a bolognese, but that style): tomorrow, beef in guinness stew (for both the pasta sauce and the stew I'll be splitting the batch in two, so one can have mushrooms in, and the other can be without them): Tuesday we go to friends for dinner: Wednesday we get chicken soup with rice: Thursday is pork chops and salad, and for Friday, naturally enough, fish and chips. Saturday and Sunday will get, between them, breaded chicken breasts one night, and pasta with sausage and peppers the other.

I thought that the idea was a stroke of genius, since LOML's parents have various food likes and dislikes, and it got them, and the children, involved in planning the food menu. Of course, it could be that it doesn't work in the long term, but perhaps it will become a Sunday morning tradition.

One nice feature of it was that I was able to think about what to prepare today: the pasta sauce for tonight is simmering on the stove, the stew has spent some time cooking low and slow in the oven, the stock is simmering for Wednesday's soup: LOML is preparing garlic bread for tonight with a loaf of bread from yesterday, and bread for tomorrow is rising in a bowl. Quite a productive afternoon of cooking!

Yours, sliced, diced and still as nice,

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Who put yeast in the bread flour prices?

As I have mentioned before, I'm a big fan of King Arthur flour -- and their other products. I support them when I can, and I have long paid premium prices for ingredients.
But I think that I may have hit my cut-off price.
Over the past two weeks, the price of King Arthur flour at my local grocery store has increased from the already ridiculously high $3.09 for a five pound bag, to the unimaginably high $4.49 a bag.
I recognise that transport costs are out of sight at the moment, and that buying northern flour in the south is going to be pricey. I realise that wheat prices are going through the roof globally, and that that is certainly going to have an impact.
But when the next most expensive flour is about $3 a bag, and there are other brands available at well under that, it makes it hard to justify the premium.

Yours, mad at having to change brands,

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hyperbolic paraboloid

Today I tried something rather more challenging with origami than I have ever done before; in the past, I've taught young children (little learning sponges) to do origami, and we start from scratch, with simple models, and work up gradually to harder models.
But this afternoon, I taught more than 150 teenagers to fold a hyperbolic paraboloid: it's not a particularly difficult fold, but there are a few challenging steps, and I'd usually like to be able to go and see each one individually, and check that they are getting it all right.
The setup was that we had a vertical camera positioned above my folding surface, projected onto a big screen, and a microphone so that everyone could hear me.
And I have to say, I'm impressed with all the students: all but a handful of them did a wonderful job!
Of course, they were to an extent self-selected: they were participating in a calculus competition, so they were already a bit math-y and perhaps a bit geeky to start with.

Yours, delighted with the success of the attempt,

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I love having relatives, mine or LOML's, come and visit.

But that said, they do break into our daily routines: little things, like settling down to watch the tivo'd political news at 10:30 instead of sometime around when it is actually broadcast at 8pm: it sets back the whole evening by a good couple of hours.
Which of course, I'll take out of my sleep time:-)

Still, better to have them visiting!

Yours, off schedule,

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Parents visiting

More precisely, LOML's parents are visiting: LOML drove several hours to and from the nearest big airport to pick them up this afternoon, while I took the kids to gymnastics, cooked dinner, etc.
Good to see them: they are nice people, gentle people, and it has been about a year and a half since they've seen the grandchildren: so we are especially delighted to have them here.

Mind you, they're staying for three weeks, so there will be bound to be tension of some sort at some point. The trick will be to keep it under control:-)

And of course, they are escaping the weekend's snowfall, and coming to tomorrow's 80 degree, sunny weather.

Yours, pleased to see them,

On reading and resolution

With the coming of a new year (in my life, that is), and with the lying abed for two days that was brought on by strep throat last week, I made a discovery and a resolution.
I'm going to learn to read again. Or, in discovery fashion, I have learned to read again.
Regular readers (all three of you) will recall that I finished a book last month: not only that, but I had only been reading it for a few months: fewer than six, if I recall correctly.
In the week or so since then, I've read another two books.

How did I manage this feat? How did I take back control of my life to the extent that I can read again? This is where resolve comes in. I am trying to force myself to sit and read a book for half an hour every evening, prior to falling asleep. In the course of a week or two, words are taken in, chapters pass, books fall. And in another few months I will have reduced the "must read" pile sufficiently that I can justify buying more books. Not that I will actually wait until then to buy more books, of course!

Yours, all booked up for months to come,

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What's next?

After this, can smellevision be far behind?

Yours, uncertain whether this passes the smell test,

Monday, April 7, 2008

soccer for the little set

I got to watch Boo and Skibo play in a soccer "match" today: their team, the Green Hippos were playing the orange team (as an aside, the green team chose their nickname themselves: hippos was unanimous). The first minute or two after warmups consisted of the coaches reminding each team which direction was the goal they were trying to get the ball in, and which direction was the wrong way. And they they were off. Or not. Or yet they were --- or not. Stop start play, four for each side on the field at any point: punctuated by the two players who had played last year (and one has an older sister who practices with her as well): when they came on, it was a case of race down field, kick the ball into the goal, tackling ones own side along the way.
The coaches don't seem to have a tremendously good handle on how to cope with the fact that there are two tremendously mis-matched players on the team: and it makes for an upleasant experience for the rest of us.
At one point during warmups the ball-stripping tackler stripped the ball from Boo (at this point they were all supposed to be dribbling and kicking their own balls) and then couldn't understand why Boo was upset at her --- and came and pouted to her parents that that other girl was looking mean eyes at her!

Strangely, the same child's parents were the ones who were screaming their daughter on at every turn: the rest of the parents seemed to be cheering for good plays on both teams parts --- all players on both teams, not just a single child.
That fact in itself spoke volumes to me.

Yours, not built to be a soccer parent,

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Dinner with adults

and children...
We had an impromptu dinner party this evening, two other couples, three other children, all around Boo and Skibo's ages: and the kids all sat at one end of the extra long table and behaved (relatively) well, ate (relatively) well, and were only relatively noisy. And at the grownup end, we all talked pleasantly and laughed, and had occasional children come and sit on our laps, or...

It felt just like being relaxed, in the summer time, at the beach. Except it was in the living room at our house, in spring.

Yours, relaxed,

A quote of the day

My igooglized home page includes a list of quotes of the day: one of today's quotes was
America believes in education: the average professor earns more money in a year than a professional athlete earns in a whole week.
Evan Esar
American Humorist (1899 - 1995)
This struck me as an interesting quote, and also, perhaps, a little anachronistic. Indeed, I believe that as stated, its validity may depend on the particular athlete chosen. Pick an unsuccessful athlete in an underpaid sport (let's say, tiddlywinks) and it is almost certainly true that an average professor (average? take the median annual income over all college professors, all levels, let's say) earns more money in a year than a professional athlete earns in a whole week.
On the other hand, in the years since Esar said this, professional athletes' compensation has risen sharply by comparison with just about anyone else (except for those in the upper echelons in corporations).
As such, his statement might need to be modified. Something along the lines of
Some well paid professors might even earn more in a year
than many successful professional athletes earn all day!

Yours, overpaid, at least by tiddlywinks standards,

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Annual town fete

Our little town has a festival on the town green every spring: it's mainly a collection of vendors, selling pottery, jewelery, handmade glassware, woodwork, etc. Most years we seem to get really lucky, and the weather is with us: this morning, we had about an inch of rain.
Fortunately it's a two day festival, and the forecast for tomorrow is 74 and sunny, which I hope will make up for everything.

I used to particularly like one vendor: a wonderful origami folder, who sold shadow boxes with models mounted inside. He was here every year, and it was usually my sole contact each year with another folder.
Unfortunately, he was not a US citizen, and he inadvertently overstayed a visa post 911 -- and as soon as it came to light, unfortunately trying to re-enter the country, he was shipped out on the next flight. I gather that he was told he had to wait five years before applying for another visa (and I suspect that he will never be given the right to live here again) but I keep hoping that one of these days I will run into him on the square.

Not this year.

Yours, disappointed,

Party time

I feel sorry these days for Skibo. Although he and Boo are in parallel classes at the same school, (both having the same age range of students, the same number of students, etc), it appears that Boo is getting invited to about six or seven times as many birthday parties as he is. Over the past three weeks she's had five invitations, two per weekend, to his none.
And given the modern tendency at kids parties to give the guests grab-bags of minigifts as they leave, we can't just assume that he'd be welcome (or really even ask if he'd be welcome) in most cases.
So, while LOML or I take Boo off to have fun at a party, the other of us stays and tries to do something fun with him. It's not always easy, and he often resents the fact that he can't go along.....

But we are trying...

Yours, feeling the unfairness of it all,

Friday, April 4, 2008

John McCain's three am ad

I just got my first chance to see John McCain's version of the "It's 3 a.m. Do you know where your president is?" advertisement. And while I know what the ad is about (how his version of "continue the Bush economic strategy" is the way to solve the mess we're in as a result of following Bush's economic strategeries) I found it hard to focus on that.
All I could focus on was the picture of his face. A big brother-esque shot of his head, chin proudly forward. All I could think of was
This is not your father's presidential candidate.
This is your great grandfather's goitre's presidential candidate!

Yours, still freaked out by the image,

Origami class becoming origami club

As we are moving the children out of the Montessori school after this term, it seems unlikely that I will continue to do origami there every Friday afternoon. As much as I love doing it, it's a long way to go each week, and there are other even more deserving groups to teach it to.
But I do care about this group, though. And I don't want to see it die out.
So today I did two things towards seeing if I can give it a life of its own.
The first was talking to some of the staff about getting the physical setup: a place for the students to meet, a time, supervised by staff: this is actually pretty easy.
The second thing was to get some of the older students to start thinking about their being leaders as well as followers: I got another of them to teach the younger ones how to make frogs ("But I don't know how frogs!" he complained --- but I pointed out that he knew how to read instructions, also that teaching is a great way to learn. He took to it like a duck to water.

Yours, hoping that all the ducks will swim off together,

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A thought, or perhaps the opposite

I don't want to live in suburbia. I want to live in absurdia.

Yours, at home there,

Clinton's argument

Clinton's argument seems to be that if Obama can't win white working class folks from her in Pennsylvania in the primary then he can't win them from McCain in the general election, and hence she not he ought to be the candidate.
I think that it is an invalid argument, but let's just run with it a little, shall we? Senator Clinton: would you be willing to make the following statement (and mean it!) to all Pennsylvanian democratic voters:
"I want to make sure that this primary is a real test of Obama's strength, to show that he can't win in the General Election. So I'm asking you: if you feel you could vote for Obama in the general election over McCain, even if you'd prefer me to win the primary, I'm asking you vote for Obama. If you feel you can't support Obama over McCain, then press the Clinton button."
Of course, she won't say this: it is an all but guaranteed-to-be-smaller share of the vote than she'd get if it is a real contest between her and Obama.

Of course, her refusal to put the question this way does mean that we can't apply the outcome of this primary to solve the particular question of the general election. Negating her ridiculous talking point.

Yours, in reductio ad absurdum,

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


All it took was LOML bullying me into going to see the doctor --- and I'm on the mend. It turns out that it was a bad case of strep throat: I've never had it hit me anything like that hard before: usually it is just a sore throat and mild headache.

And thanks to the excellent health insurance provided by my job, I'm only $30 out of
pocket. So far. For when the insurance company discovers that I haven't filled my deductible for this year, they'll add another couple of hundred bucks to the bill.

Still, today I feel much better: still not normal, but just a little under the weather, instead of completely battered down. And from what the doctor said, and he should know: he was 14 years old: I should feel completely back to normal by the end of the week.

Yours, not missing the delerium,

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I don't bowl. I have done so some indeterminate number of times in my history, probably fewer than 5. And the one time of which I have a clear memory, I probably bowled as badly as Barack Obama did a few days ago.
He and I share a secret, you see: in addition to our ages (the same for much of the year): our politics (okay, he's a mite more successful than me!) and the like, we are both left handers. And probably, like me, nobody bothered to mention to him that balls have a handed-ness, and if you just pick one up from the return, it will almost surely be a righthanded ball.

C'mon, choosing a president you'd want to go bowling with (or worse, one you'd want to have on your bowling team) is an awful way to pick a leader. It's right up there with "who do you want to have a beer with?" answered, apparently by a majority in 2000, GWB. In spite of the fact that Bush had apparently been teetotal for years.


Yours, looking for a president to go talking with, perhaps....

I can count a lot higher than this, you know...

just don't make me do it....
I'm at work today; Tuesdays are harder for me to miss (they require my getting somebody to cover for me, which is always hard to do). If I feel this way tomorrow, I won't be back again until Thursday.
I'm trying not to get close to anyone, though: don't want to spread it to much....

Yours, Still counting,