Saturday, January 2, 2010

You Can't Pay Rent With Food Stamps

From the NYT:
About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by The New York Times. In declarations that states verify and the federal government audits, they described themselves as unemployed and receiving no cash aid — no welfare, no unemployment insurance, and no pensions, child support or disability pay.
Their numbers were rising before the recession as tougher welfare laws made it harder for poor people to get cash aid, but they have soared by about 50 percent over the past two years. About one in 50 Americans now lives in a household with a reported income that consists of nothing but a food-stamp card.

The Lord Of The Rings

was supposed to offend your liberal sensibilities for some reason not quite clear to me.
A conservative Brit offers up the ten best conservative-satisfying movies made in the last 10 years, none of them by conservatives unless you count Mel Gibson, who is just crazy. Oh, wait.

And I say, what about Inglorious Basterds, an overrated piece of crap I actually sat through last week? I mean, they scalped Nazis. And they were led by a Southern, non-Jew. What could be better than torture and revenge?

Happy New Year From The Big Picture

From the Red Shoe Drop in Key West to the kids setting off fireworks in an African slum, the whole world celebrated 2010.
I spose it's like that every year, but tonight it just brought tears to my eyes, thanks to the fabulous folks at The Big Picture.
Hat tip MetaFilter.

Ooh, Interpol Is Coming

to et all yr cheezbgrs!
I saw an interesting comment on a local paper's blog asserting Obama had just given Interpol the right to search American homes and arrest American citizens, but thought nothing of it.
So, thanks to the Internet, the savior of Western all civilization as well as its curse, it has become necessary for the New York Times to put one of its Pulitzer winners on the story.
Yep, that's right, folks, nothing to see here. Move along. And STFU!

Dear Washington Post: I Am Stunned

WARNING: Inside baseball alert. If you're not a news junkie, you probably don't give a shit. And I don't blame you.

The Wapo's editorial page — and often its choice of freebie slots to right-wing liars like Sarah Palin as well as other questionable space choices — has come in for some deserved and frequently severe criticism from progressives, especially when it comes to President Obama.
I won't list them all here, I don't want to do the research, but Media Matters probably has run it down pretty well. If you're curious, just Google them.
So tomorrow's editorial knocked my socks off, so to speak. (I am wearing slippers.)
They actually took the right-wing nutjobs to task in a harshly critical editorial for their ridiculous criticism of Obama's record on terror.
Haven't looked to see if any bloggers have picked it up yet, but it's certainly worth mentioning. Maybe the slow ship that is the Village — the term used to identify the highly incestuous D.C. press corps and various pundits — is slowly turning around under all this heat from progressive.
I'm thinking that maybe the White House and other Dems are also fighting back hard, but not publicly, because in D.C., access is everything and it's a lot of hooey Kabuki.
Only today, Dkos commenters were expressing similar astonishment that Politico's Mike Allen, known as Cheney's stenographer by many who regularly read him, had called out Newsweek's stupid headline about Obama's terror briefing, which made it sound as if he had forewarning of the Detroit incident when the story said no such thing.
Allen is currently negotiating with Wikipedia for its entry on him for actually mentioning the Cheney criticism and Wiki's page was frozen to further tinkering.
Anyhoo, the concluding WaPo sentence:
A groundless campaign to portray Mr. Obama as soft on terror can only detract from that effort.

Cringe Comedy

I had forgotten what fun whatwhitepeoplelike can be. I don't take it personally. It's good to laugh at yourself, said the espresso-drinking, public-market shopping jazz fan. Did I tell you I love TV? But not Survivor.
Historically speaking, the music that white people have kept on life support for the longest period of time is Jazz.  Thanks largely to public radio, bookstores, and coffee shops, Jazz has carved out a niche in white culture that is not yet ready to be replaced by Indie Rock.  But the biggest role that Jazz plays in white culture is in the white fantasy of leisure. All white people believe that they prefer listening to jazz over watching television.  This is not true.

Quote O' Teh Day

I was mad at these guys for awhile because they quoted somebody I knew to be a tool and failed to even interview anyone with any expertise. I hope they've changed.
Any economic forecast that you see that includes a decimal point should be considered a guess at best.

"...Excel doesn't recognize a twoish or threeish."
Simon Johnson from Planet Money today on This American Life

The Worldwide Recession

Japan has its problems, too, as if its infamous dead decades  lost decade — the result of government policy error, Krugman says, too tentative — weren't wasn't enough.
The rent is surprisingly high for such a small space: 59,000 yen a month, or about $640, for an upper bunk. But with no upfront deposit or extra utility charges, and basic amenities like fresh linens and free use of a communal bath and sauna, the cost is far less than renting an apartment in Tokyo, Mr. Nakanishi says.

The Contrarienne's Dilemma

is all about...oh, wait, I forget.
Um, rhymes with pain.
Oh, yeah. The brain.
Brains in middle age, which, with increased life spans, now stretches from the 40s to late 60s, also get more easily distracted. Start boiling water for pasta, go answer the doorbell and — whoosh — all thoughts of boiling water disappear. Indeed, aging brains, even in the middle years, fall into what’s called the default mode, during which the mind wanders off and begin daydreaming.
But there's a positive aspect to all this:
The brain, as it traverses middle age, gets better at recognizing the central idea, the big picture. If kept in good shape, the brain can continue to build pathways that help its owner recognize patterns and, as a consequence, see significance and even solutions much faster than a young person can.
So what you need to do is...wait for it...challenge yourself. I think meeting new people, talking to them and, most importantly, listening to them, has been a rejuvenating experience.
Jack Mezirow, a professor emeritus at Columbia Teachers College, has proposed that adults learn best if presented with what he calls a “disorienting dilemma,” or something that “helps you critically reflect on the assumptions you’ve acquired.”
The article is not very detailed, but the writer has a book coming out soon.

Time For Geitner To Go, Honorary Contrarienne To Take Over

Some guy named Joe Costello talking about Yves Smith.

Four other heroes of what he calls Feminomics are (of course) Elizabeth Warren, Meredith Whitney, Gretchen Morgenson and Sheila Bair.

Elizabeth Warren

Meredith Whitney

Gretchen Morgenson

Sheila Bair

Internet Aughts

is what Ezra Klein, a pretty good reporter/blogger for the Washington Post, thinks it will all come down to in time.
Time will tell, as they say. See ya in a decade, Ezra.
Our future will have a lot more to do with the internet than with Iraq. At least, so I hope.

Coming Up

100th anniversary of the biggest natural disaster in Washington State (recorded) history.
March 1, 1910:
"White Death moving down the mountainside above the trains. Relentlessly it advanced, exploding, roaring, rumbling, grinding, snapping -- a crescendo of sound that might have been the crashing of ten thousand freight trains. It descended to the ledge where the side tracks lay, picked up cars and equipment as though they were so many snow-draped toys, and swallowing them up, disappeared like a white, broad monster into the ravine below" (Roe, 88).
Nov. 8, 1910 52,000 male voters grant Washington women the right to vote, ten years before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Dreamy 2010

From Huffpo writer Gerald Sindell:
Justice Antonin Scalia is showing signs of serious judicial burnout -- ever more sarcastic and intemperate. He's not enjoying the court and the prospect of having to outlast Obama's second term, which will end in January of 2017 when Antonin will be 81, grates on him. He'll be thinking of resigning all this summer, and when the court returns in the fall, he'll announce. Two weeks later, Justice Clarence Thomas will also resign and the two will make public their plans for a joint memoir and tour via Thomas's motor home, both to be named, "None of your damn business."

He invites reader participation. I liked this one:
Dick Cheney's heart will attack him for the last time and Obama will send his dog to his funeral as a White House representative.
I would add one myself, but Dave Barry said the value of the dollar dropped below the lentil in 2009.

I Can't Watch Glenn Beck

Even when he's played by Jon Stewart. That and nine other top comedy videos of the last year.

10:39 AM Best Thing About 2010 So Far

No football on TV. Because no TV. I know I'm gonna miss some stuff but, look, I haven't even reached the Mad Men DVDs on Netflix yet.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Power Of Nightmares

As a journalist, I can attest that scary, scary, scary wins out over hope, hope, hope any day.
Somebody convinced the BBC it was worth a six-part series of 10-minute shows. You can watch them all on YouTube. Guess I know what I'll be doing tonight.

ABC News Busted By Gawker

Bad journalism story of the decade.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

The Simple Life

All adults are autonomous and equal. There is no religion. There is no calendar. The only time is now. God is the sun. There is no worship. No one knows what comes after death. There are no settlements. And baboons taste good. Many children do not survive. The dead are not mourned, neither birth nor marriage celebrated. There is no marriage.
As we all were 100,000 years ago.
It is impossible to overstate just how much Onwas—and most Hadza—love to smoke. The four possessions every Hadza man owns are a bow, some arrows, a knife, and a pipe, made from a hollowed-out, soft stone. The smoking material, tobacco or cannabis, is acquired from a neighboring group, usually the Datoga, in exchange for honey...
...Onwas then reaches into the fire and pulls out the skull. He hacks it open, like a coconut, exposing the brains, which have been boiling for a good hour inside the skull. They look like ramen noodles, yellowish white, lightly steaming. He holds the skull out, and the men, including myself, surge forward and stick our fingers inside the skull and scoop up a handful of brains and slurp them down. With this, the night, at last, comes to an end.

Help, I'm Trapped In Pepperoni And Can't Get Out

and they make me sing in ronishop quartet.

And 29 other creepiest commercials of the year. Personally, I thought the sushi breath one sounded good, too.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dave Barry Used To Make Me Laugh

til I cried. This time, not so much. I guess 2009 was worse than even he could imagine.
Good tidbit:
To replace Souter, President Obama nominates Sonia Sotomayor, setting off the traditional Washington performance of Konfirmation Kabuki, in which the Democrats portray the nominee as basically a cross between Abraham Lincoln and the Virgin Mary, and the Republicans portray her more as Ursula the Sea Witch with a law degree. Sotomayor will eventually be confirmed, but only after undergoing the traditional Senate Judiciary Committee hazing ritual, during which she must talk for four straight days without expressing an opinion.
UPDATE: Okay, it grew on me, although I think that leaking from my right eye is an impacted tear duct. The left one, I'm not sure.
In a troubling economic development, the U.S. dollar, for the first time in history, falls below the lentil.

Scary, Scary Balls

The Detroit crotch bomber should not be treated the same as the shoe bomber because...well, just because. Must be something about them b@lls.

Sullivan's Top Hits

Why didn't Contrarienne think of this? All she had was the vagina prom dress and something else she can't remember. Oh, right, the headline "I Love America." Prom dress got 246 hits thanks to Stumbled Upon.
Anyhoo, "masturbating priests, Matt Stone's potty mouth, Sarah Palin's
gargantuan lies, taking a moment to make of Sarah Palin's
gargantuan lies, Chris Wallace's fellatial non-journalism, shit-faced
Brits, and stoned parents."

Have A Jib Jab New Year!

Love, julimac

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy New Year

via Andrew Sullivan, Andrew Sprung gives us some good news. Of course, he also proclaims "my core belief is that the electorate is smarter than all of us." I've heard a lot of politicians say that while holding public office.
Anyhoo, a tantalizing tidbit:
"Whereas real per capita income [worldwide] increased by about one fifth per decade in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, it is expect to increase by about one third in the 2000s...The poverty rate is expected to continue to fall sharply from 57.2 percent in 200 to 49.7 percent in 2010 at a poverty line of one-half of the mean." (Lynge Nielsen, IMF Working Paper, Global Relative Poverty, April 2009

Health: Global life expectancy at birth was 64 in 1990, 66 in 2000, and 68 in 2007. Under-5 mortality rates per 1000 live births were 91 in 1990, 78 in 2000, and 67 in 2007.From 1990 - 2006, the number of people in developing regions using improved sanitation facilities has increased by 1.1 billion; the proportion of the global population with access to improved drinking water sources rose from 76% to 86% in the same period. (World Health Statistics 2009.)

Sully's The View From Your Recession

Andrew Sullivan runs an occasional glance from his readers into the impacts on a very diverse assortment of Americans. This guy, wife, kids, mortgage, middle-class career, seemed to have it all. Until.

Before this year I never gave much thought to social programs, frankly, I neither needed or qualified for them. However, when the time came that I needed assistance, the government was there to help. I am extremely grateful to our President and his allies in Congress, as their policies have had an immediate and direct impact on my family. Without the MHA and Cobra subsidy, it is likely that we would have lost our home and filed for bankruptcy.

I Had That Coat!

One of the major regrets of my life is that I did not keep the winter coat my mother bought for me in high school and which I wore until I tired of it and bought one I thought was more fashionable.
My coat was just like the one Michelle Obama is wearing in slide #2 of this — not just unremarkable, but worse — slide show from The Vacation All America Should Hate.
Well, mine wasn't just like hers. Mine had a stand-up collar. And it was dove grey. But it was knee-length and had those great bell sleeves. And it was CASHMERE! Mom was a great sale shopper. Soft as a lamb and warm as toast in those Midwest winters. Very classy with elbow length gloves. Great over formals.
So sometime in the later 60s I saved my pennies and paid monthly on the coat I put on layaway at Nordstrom. It was a pure hippie-mod dream, cut velvet tapestry fabric, — golds and browns, quilted lining — calf length and fitted, with Russian looking toggle buttons and trimmed in faux fur. It made me look skinny and felt like a model.
I wish I had saved that one, too.
But then, I wish I had saved all my formals, as girls used to do. And that we hadn't traded in the Corvair convertible — ocean blue with a white top. Or the '68 BMW 2002.
Yes, just full of regrets. Sigh.
I have many treasures, just not anything as tangibly retro and cool.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Milking Spiders Is One Thing

I will not do. Nor think about any further.
But sucking the spit out of leeches? Well, if it will get rid of my  wrinkles, why not?
Metafilter gives you all the good links, including a full photographic tour of the Russian cosmetics labs.

On The Ronnie Earle Thread At Daily Kos

A nice Texas, defense attorney kind a joke:

So this guy is busted by the Fort Worth cops with his penis in the mouth of the calf in the First Methodist Christmas Creche at about midnight on a Friday and the cops have photos. He gets a lawyer who tells him if he wants to win he has to pony up the money for a jury consultant, so he does. The jury is seated, all the evidence has been presented and he takes the stand. He explains that he had been drinking beer with pals, stopped off behind the creche to relieve himself on the manger structure and the calf just spontaneously started sucking on his tool. The jury foreman leans over to the guy next to him and says "A good calf'll do that."

You Probably Never Heard Of Ronnie Earle

because who outside Texas pays attention unless there's a presidential assassination or innocent man executed or something.
But he's a feisty prosecutor who went after Tom DeLay (some say it brought him down) and now is running for Lt. Gov., which supposedly in the strange system that is Texas is the most important statewide office. (I've often seen reference to the relatively impotent powers of governor in the state when discussing the brushcutter, but never pursued the details.)
Anyway, Earle left off prosecuting awhile back and here's an update of how things are going in the DeLay case from one of his campaign workers:
DeLay retained a high powered trial attorney -- Dick Deguerin -- who recently got a man acquitted on murder charges in Galveston when the dismembered body was found in the trunk of his car -- and they're dragging out as slowly as possible.
A court of criminal appeals recently ruled that for the purposes of the money laundering charge that checks would NOT be considered funds.
So that's what the Travis County DA's office is dealing with.
Never forget that all the criminal judges in Texas were elected and putting in a completely locked down GOP judgeship in Texas was one of Karl Rove's biggest accomplishments.
Ronnie will definitely be addressing these issues.
 I really miss Molly Ivins at times like this.

More on the DeLay case and the amusing state of Texas justice.

UPDATE: Why Texas Lt. Gov. Is So Powerful
"When the Texas Constitution was written in 1877, it was deliberately designed to create a very weak executive and legislature. The Governor has only two real powers -- the veto and the ability to call a special session of the legislature.
The legislature for its part only meets every other year for five months.
Over time the Lt Governor emerged as the de facto President of the State Senate with more ability to drive the legislative process than any other official.
A series of powerhouse (Democratic) Lt Govs in the 20th Century cemented that status -- Ben Barnes, Bill Hobby and Bob Bullock all dominated State Government during their tenures in office."

Christmas Shopping Season

Okay, the card tracker reports are in and according to them, sales were up 3.2 percent, better than I'd assumed.
Except. Except there was an adjustment that said, without explanation, it was more like up 1 percent, since there was an extra shopping day this season.
So I got out my little calculator and found that if you spent $100 at Christmas time in 2007, you only spent $97.70 in 2008, but you spent $101.22 this year or, if that extra shopping day is discounted, $98.67.
What was even more interesting to me is that online retail sales are only 5 percent of total no matter what season it is. I would have guessed higher.

Gonna Miss The Oughties

Juan Cole sums up.

UPDATE: Ya know, it sounded familiar. And it was. See below. Heh.

You Don't Want To Read This

But you can't say you weren't warned.
The trouble is, it's so easy to read even I understood it. Well, most of it.
I didn't want to read this, I really didn't. It only reinforces the doom-and-gloom I've been feeling for several years and which I attributed to age, cynicism and alcohol. Well, I'm still old and I'm still cynical, but being sober means it all kind of makes more sense now.

So far, the commenters on the thread seem to think "the fed will monetize the debt" by printing more money, and that we have to, at long last "eat the rich" by taxing them at a higher rate.
Or we'll die or something, also part of my MO.

But I Liked The Oughties, We All Did

That old curmudgeon, Paul Krugman, has to go and spoil it all. Sigh. Look away. Clip your coupons. File for unemployment. Cancel your Direct TV. I did that this morning. Feeling freer already.
No more Charlie Rose butting in and sucking up. Bill Moyer's going off anyway. Okay, I'll miss PBS, and HBO first runs. But I think I can watch what I want online, and I've still got Netflix. At least for now. Push comes to shove, I'll still have the library, although they're cutting hours.
from an economic point of view, I’d suggest that we call the decade past the Big Zero. It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Tried To Learn About Israel

I really did, but the shiny objects of the upcoming election distracted me. And I know I should try to learn about Iran (not to mention Afghanistan), but there are always so many shiny objects. Health care is still out there, then there will be cap-and-trade.
Before you know it, it will be time for the upcoming Congressional elections.
So I'm just going to try to remember this:
...a mafia state writ large
and see how it works for awhile.

Isn't That Interesting Dept.

Supporters of the current health care reform bill despite its acknowledged flaws like to point out that Social Security and Medicare weren't so hot when they started either and improvements can be made as we go along.
So I did a little browsing at Wikipedia and saw, much to my amazement, my Gramma Bertha.
Well, not really, but she looks like her.

The first monthly payment was issued on January 31, 1940 to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont. In 1937, 1938 and 1939 she paid a total of $24.75 into the Social Security System. Her first check was for $22.54. After her second check, Fuller already had received more than she contributed over the three-year period. She lived to be 100 and collected a total of $22,888.92.[24]
How Ida May got SS is in itself a story, since most women workers weren't covered because the jobs they tended to hold weren't covered, e.g. teachers, social workers,domestic workers, etc.

Women's Health: I AM Shocked

From Huffpo, 10 most significant changes in women's health during the last decade.
After all, birth sets the stage for the health of our future generation. Most people are shocked to learn that the maternal mortality rate has doubled in the past 25 years despite all the new technology. The incidence of prematurity is now one in eight. And birth by C-section is 30-50 percent in many hospitals. (The World Health Organization says that a five to 10 percent C-section rate is optimal and that anything over 15 percent does more harm than good.) A C-section increases maternal mortality by a factor of four to six times that of vaginal birth. [3]