Sunday, November 21, 2010

youth gun season

"It's a beautiful evening for teenagers to kill some deer" said Drew.

There was a lovely sunset tonight.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dumb Trucks

If you've been watching sports on TV in the last year, you've seen one of Ford's truck ads. They're voiced-over by hack Denis Leary and are partly animated, with the words popping up on screen as they're spoken, in a neat effect cribbed from music videos, like the Hit Song.

One of the more recent ones tell you that all other trucks are just manly strength (dumb brawn) and the new Ford F-150 has strength and brains. And by brains they mean multiple separate computer systems. One to connect to the internet. And one to have radio control over your minions. And Sync. And another one that uses computer chips in your tools that announces to the truck that they're in the truck (if they're Dewalt-brand tools anyway).

These are all profit-makers. Except for the screen and rear-view camera, the computing power is about that of your average 300$ cellphone (which, of course could do 95% of the functions of your trucks computer systems). But all told, I'm sure adding these to your truck adds 4000$ to the price.

There was a time when truck makers sold a bare-bones compact and bare-bones full size. Crank windows, no A/C, no leather, basic radio. It was a truck. A box on the back of a cab. An engine connected to a manual tranny. They were cheap. Let us have a return to these times.

It's a good idea. Throw in a bulletproof engine. Offer 2 and 4WD options. Build some brand loyalty. In twenty years the crank windows will still work and the A/C still won't. How many of these computer nonsenses on a new 150 will be functioning in 20 years?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vote No on Issue 2

Farms make food. We need food to survive. Food is pretty damn important.

Food issues are complex.i

Issue 2 will create, through the Ohio Constitution, a board that will “set standards for the care and well-being of livestock in Ohio.” This is bad.

The suggestion that we need such a board comes directly from the agribusiness interests within Ohio. The (national) humane society plans on introducing legislation that would require factory farms to provide their livestock more humane living arrangements.ii This would be an economic hassle for the agribusiness interests. This would be a public relations problem for the agribusiness interests. They decided to put Issue 2 up to preemptively stop such actions. The problem starts in that Issue 2 goes so far past fixing their little humane society problem. It gives them control over every future aspect of livestock care.

Issue 2 is a Constitutional amendment that will place 13 unelected individuals in charge of every decision that would effect livestock. It would remove you, the voter, from addressing any of them. Agribusiness' fear of a fight over animal rights led them to write an amendment giving them TOTAL control over a very large and important source of food and income for many Ohioans.

All the talk about “family farms” and “local, safe food” is just lip-service. Family farms compete on uneven grounds against agribusiness as it is. Giving the Cargills, ConAgras and Tysons a legislative blank check cannot in any way help the small independent farmer. Everyone wants safe local food. Safe local food is a wonderful goal. Blank legislative checks to agribusiness to turn a better profit will never lead to safer more local food. (And my local Farm Bureau can go fuck itself. You were created with the intent of helping farmers. But you sold your soul before I ever joined 4H. You're a corporate shill, a total sham.)

For some real vitriol and hyperbole, join me below the fold.

i Grocery store costs, employment from farmers to grocers to truckers, pollution from cow farts methane to pesticides to manure disposal, human health from E. Coli to mad cow disease to irradiation, the environment from wetland/forest degradation to topsoil loss to monoculture destruction of viable species, animal ethics, genetic modification.

These are not things you want to give up the right to make decisions upon.

ii How ever you feel about the possible inhumanity of confinement farming does not matter. If you're against tampering with the rules and ethics of how farms are currently run, save that for the actual issue, when it is raised in the proper place.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Snake bit, twice shy.

I had the pad of my ring finger forcibly removed by a flailing drain snake yesterday. It hurt physically. It will hurt financially. But I was a bit baffled when I realized that mostly I was ashamed, embarrassed.
Accidents happen. Maybe to me a little more than on average, but they're still accidents. Some of them could have been prevented with a little extra thought or care or lesser speed, but they are accidents still. While in high school I landed awkwardly playing ultimate and broke my wrist. I kept playing for a few minutes. Not because I didn't think I'd hurt it. I was embarrassed. Like a grade-school-er denying aloud he's pissed himself while standing in a warm puddle. Haley broke my finger once, simply by grabbing it and twisting. I told my dad I slipped on the ice, but it wasn't to avert the blame for her or the shame of having my finger broken by a little sister, but just a panicked attempt to will the thing away.
It's like admitting a fault or flaw. Even when it's a clearly visible one with no one to blame but the fates, I can't stand it.

My dad dropped a tree wrong while cutting firewood years ago. He got an x-ray on it weeks later when his leg wouldn't stop hurting. He'd broken it. Did he not know, or was he just passing the truth on down the road for a bit, working with that much more pain being fully worth it? He died wrapped around a PTO shaft; I wonder if he's too mortified in heaven to admit that?

Scars, after being there for a while, I take a pride in. But while the wound is still a wound, I'd rather you all couldn't see it. My dirty laundry is my inability to keep myself from harm.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Andrew Bird's new album isn't any good.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Coed layers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fog bees

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Trixie night

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Christmastime at Walmart.

This is the bailout as advertised - buy up the junk bonds on taxpayer's bill so that maybe in a few years they'll be worth something and we won't be left holding a gigantic bag.
This plan was boneheaded enough that people were momentarily up in arms against it. That's incredible in and of itself. At least until the media return to the old standby of asking us to trust in the superiority of the thought process our political minds. And then the bailout passed.

But before Paulson could completely destroy us, Britain and the governments of Europe forced his hand, and he was somewhat forced into directly injecting cash into the largest banks. An unwanted loan in a time when everyone is refusing to lend. The idea was that this was supposed to ease the mistrust, to prove there was actual money there to back the loans and thereby free the banks up to loan amongst themselves again. This was the solution which the experts quizzed by Ira Glass had staked their hope upon. This American Life had swayed me.

Unsurprisingly in retrospect, the banks didn't start lending this extra money. They bought up some smaller banks, the ones that didn't get the money. They paid some VIPs they owed. They tucked the rest away for a rainy day. Loans still aren't being made. Quite a bit of our money is now sitting out there. We're back at square one, except the DOW is drunkenly stumbling and we owe more in taxes now.


We cannot continue as we have for years, buying more, living on debt and hoping against hope that the bubble that is our entire economy doesn't burst. They always do. The whole world's economy as we can now clearly see, has also been banking on this ever-growing bubble. Even on an individual level - with the money people earn stagnating, more people getting older (more kids entering a shrinking job market, more seniors citizens needing ever increasingly expensive health care), the sudden jump in the last 20 years of personal debt isn't going to fix itself. So far the Federal response to this has been to ask us to dive a little deeper into our wallets out and keep this economy working. Christmastime at Wal-Mart. Like the Christians in my past used to quip "Give till it hurts."

I never took Economics. OK, I did, but it was a requisite course at a Liberal Arts college. So I don't understand how these things work at a higher level. Federal debt creation, leveraged insurance options, the fact that we owe China so much, I don't understand how these things interact, let alone operate.
The 700 billion was supposed to free banks up to lend again. People would cheer the action, and the media would reassure the majority of us that enough had been done. The stock market bought that hype for one full day. I'm glad the injection didn't save the plunge, as we might have just buried our head in the sand again. The US as a thriving economy is now necessary for the world to function. Fucking Friedman and his flat world. We're not addressing that. Our way of living is unsustainable. What options are out there?


The libertarian radio program I listen to is derisive to the extreme when it comes to FDR's New Deal. They claim it garners far too much credit for the turnabout. This is where I split with the libertarians anyway*, but what's the truth there? I only have a 3rd graders understanding of it all (high-school textbook level, anyway). Could an administration do a new new deal with any positive results? Green technology, sustainable small farms, science and math education, a new civil corp to rebuild the infrastructure, maybe this time with rails instead of interstate highways?

Is this a good direction? What other options and or thought are out there? Does the entire culture that creates CEO's pay at 500x the level of the average worker need reworked from a different angle? Would unionizing the big boxes help more than the hassle it would cause?

* hooray for personal civil liberties, but a total free market DOES NOT WORK you Ayn Randian assholes.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

absolute zero

parade again
Today around noon there was a parade on Broad Street in South Philly, in other words right in our locale.

Apparently it's Columbus Day, or rather tomorrow. Note in the median the two cars that were not moved. (Ours.)

Also note the remarkably low attendance, which surprised me since it wasn't a half-bad parade despite the lack of candy-throwing.

lone balloon