August 31, 2011

pushing the old panic button . . .

Yes . . . No . . . Maybe? This from the Delaware News-Journal:

"We panicked," said Ken Crow, president and co-founder of Tea Party of America.
O'Donnell will speak for 10 to 15 minutes at the rally at the National Balloon Classic Field in Indianola, 18 miles south of Des Moines.

UPDATE . . . or maybe not . . . ?

where the money goes . . . and goes . . .

A report from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) finds that for some U.S. firms it costs more to pay their CEOs and their Lobbying firms than to pay their U.S. taxes.
In putting together its study, IPS chose to compare CEO pay to current U.S. taxes paid, excluding foreign and state and local taxes that may have been paid, as well as deferred taxes which can often be far larger than current taxes paid.

Peoria looks east . . .

. . . and from the Peoria Journal Star we learn that this is how it is playing in Peoria:

PEORIA — Rest assured, East Coast, Uncle Sam will be there for you in cleaning up. You may have to swap some other government services down the road for the immediate help, but hey, the most critical thing now is that your political leaders have arrived to do the math.

Earlier this week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on Fox News Channel that Congress would "find the money if there is a need" to assist ravaged local communities in the wake of the twin wallop of an earthquake and a hurricane, but that it would mean offsetting the price tag dollar for dollar "with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere."

You know, it goes without saying - which is why it should have been left unsaid - that the federal government has unprecedented budget challenges, that this is one more its leaders hadn't reckoned on, that "monies are not unlimited" and that it's probably going to require moving some dollars around. But with 41 people dead in 11 states as a result of Hurricane Irene as of this writing, $7 billion and counting in estimated property damage, nearly 3 million people still without power, homes and roads and businesses under water or swept away, don't you want a firefighter coming to your rescue right now rather than a bean counter to remind you the meter is running? Don't you want to hear from a sympathizer-in-chief rather than a scold-in-chief lecturing you about the foolishness of borrowing to buy that car when you should have been planning in advance for a loved one to get sick?

leaping public interest in a single bound . . .

This from the Detroit Free Press should be read in its entirety . . .
To understand why the income gap separating the nation's wealthiest citizens from everyone else is growing, and why it will likely continue to do so, it's instructive to examine the dramatic changes underway in presidential campaign financing.[...]
The notion that [super] PACs operate independently of the candidates they seek to promote is a fiction founded on legal distinctions that would be laughable if they were not so cynically fraudulent.

The only practical difference between the candidates' campaign committees and the new dedicated super PACs is the lack of fund-raising limitations on the latter.

The net impact of such chicanery is to assure that the nation's elected representatives, like its financial assets, are in the pockets of an ever more exclusive minority of 21st Century plutocrats.

August 25, 2011

24 days of triple digit temperature in Houston . . .

Wow! Houston's coolest day in August. It only reached 95 degrees today at Bush International. I was talking to A. about wearing a sweater tomorrow but maybe not. It is supposed to warm up again. And I haven't even cooled off any . . . Oh, bother!

et tu kinky . . .

I had always thought that Friedman's kinkiness hid a streak of real Texas gut-level common sense - turns out it doesn't hide as much as I had thought.

August 21, 2011

dulce et decorum est . . .

Latin volo ut lego. I want to read Latin and comprehend what I read (at least to the extent that I can read Chaucer (which is not without some stumbles). So I've got myself a "Latin Made Simple" book and have been working through it.

A. tells me Latin was a difficult slog for her (at high school). All languages look difficult to me. Part of the difficulty with Latin for English speakers is that Latin, unlike English, is a highly inflected language.

I should have a slight edge here since I studied Magyar and learned it well enough to be given a Diploma from the Defense Language Institute West Coast Branch at the Presidio of Monterey, California. Hungarian is also an inflected language - the spelling of the words rather than their order in the sentence indicates the meaning.

The impetus for this was an old army bud, another "Monterey Mary" (as grads of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey are called), who used a Latin phrase that I thought sounded familiar but could not decipher. When I deciphered the phrase, I realized that it fit the conversation so well that I was jealous that I could not as easily toss these bon mots into summing up a statement.

I say "read Latin" because I have some expectation (hope!) of being able to do that - but there is small chance (shrinking to zero) that I will also learn to speak it - reading it out loud perhaps (like the Lord's Prayer which I understand a lot of people are able to read aloud).

As an aside - there is a story of sorts behind how I found myself at the Presidio in Monterey studying Hungarian. I did not do so well with trying to learn Spanish in junior high school, but ah well . . .

After high school I had decided to join the service with the hope of travel, etc. So, I went to the Army recruiter in Odessa, TX and was sent by bus to Abilene, TX for a physical. Well, I didn't pass the physical - I am deaf in my left ear. It is a birth defect and something that I was so used to coping with that it never occurred to me that the Army would think it a problem. They did. I wasn't accepted. So I tried again to pass the physical - and again was denied. I was in Albuquerque where my Dad lived and decided to give it one more go. As I sat in my soundproof cubicle pushing the button when I heard something in one of my ears - I just starting pushing even when I heard nothing. The midshipman giving me the test (don't know why I was being tested by naval personnel) stopped the test and spoke on the mike into my (good) ear, "Boydstun, you really want in that damn bad?" I said, Yessir. I soon learned that you don't say Yessir to midshipman, but there it was, I wanted in that damn bad. Anyway, the midshipman flung out his arms toward me, as though showering me with gifts, and exclaimed, "You're in the Army!"

I was in the Army. So I went to Monterey and studied Hungarian and was stationed in Germany as a voice intercept operator. In Germany, I was trained on radio receiver to intercept military voice transmissions. There were several of us in the same room performing a variety of intercept chores and we needed to inter react with one another - I was told to keep one side of my headset on one ear with the other ear exposed to the room so that we could coordinate as necessary. Well, I obviously couldn't keep my deaf left ear exposed to the room so I covered it with the headset and then propped the other side on my good right ear in such a way that I could hear both the noise from the receiver and the noise from the room. It was an interesting 2-3 years in Germany.

But I never felt the need to learn Latin until now. My Latin is good enough to read Wilfred Owen, but I want to go beyond that. And, as Poirot might observe, it should help keep the little gray cells active.

August 18, 2011

I liked this guy . . .

Change is inevitable. Change for the better is a full-time job.
- Adlai E. Stevenson

free women too . . .

"The history of free men is never written by chance but by choice - their choice."
— Dwight D. Eisenhower

from Americana . . .

This is a quote that I should perhaps attempt to memorize and utilize (the memorization should be easy enough . . . )
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.-Winston Churchill

August 03, 2011

missed birthday . . .

I seem to have missed the birthday (yesterday evidently) but the mystery birthday is . . . one of my favorite actresses . . .

It's Not the Uke Blues

I was so sad and forlorn I was going to sing the blues.
So I pulled out my Ukelele and tried to pay my dues.
I pulled up a few minor chords just because.
But...then ...what I didn't know was...
You can't play the blues on a Ukelele.
No, you cannot play the blues on a Uke.
You should try a mouth harp, a guitar or even a banjo,
But. you shouldn't play the blues on a Uke.
I mean how can you be sad thinking of Hawaii?
With those palm trees and the ocean all around.
How can the plink tink of a Ukelele.
Do anything but get rid of your frown?
You can't play the blues on a Ukelele.
No, you cannot play the blues on a Uke.
You should try a mouth harp, a guitar or even a banjo,
But. you shouldn't play the blues on a Uke.
Well Jake Shimakaro plays “while my guitar gently weeps”
But he's known for doing the Ukelele impossible.
Picking up and singing with my Uke makes me sappy.
I suddenly forget all the reasons to be unhappy.
You can't play the blues on a Ukelele.
No, you cannot play the blues on a Uke.
You should try a mouth harp, a guitar or even a banjo,
But. you shouldn't play the blues on a Uke.
Geneva Fry
used with permission