Thursday, December 10, 2009

A convergence of many of my geek-like tendencies: I watched the video of Obama's Nobel Acceptance Speech (lecture) this morning while reading the text as prepared for delivery, and noted the differences between what was written and what he was saying. Later, when I viewed the text of the speech on the New York Times website, I decided I'd copy that version and the original prepared remarks into Word documents and then use the comparison software I have supported for the past 3+ years to compare the differences between the two.

It's an interesting read (for me) trying to guess what changes were ad libbed, what were written as last minute revisions, and what may have been edited by the White House Office of the Press Secretary and the New York Times itself. I first ran the prepared remarks against the New York Times version, and then I ran the White House version against the New York Times version to see if there was any further editing by the New York Times. I found one change: In the last paragraph, the word "depravation" was changed, by the New York Times apparently, to "deprivation." The correct spelling, taken context, is clearly depravation.

I copied all versions into Word files at the time I noticed them. I'll bet some of that will eventually be corrected. I'll spare posting all of those.

But here is the comparison of the original remarks and the official White House transcript.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Last weekend the nesting ritual began after a brief "Braxton-Hicks" scare, so we're by and large prepared for the arrival of our second daughter some time between now and next month. This pregnancy has been tougher on K's body, a lot more kicking going on. Overall it seems to have progressed a lot faster. And maybe I've been in a bit more denial than I should, as in "holy shit, we're actually about to have a second child and I don't feel prepared in the least!" That is, until this past weekend, where we rearranged things in the house to put up the new crib in our room, packed up our hospital suitcase, put together our checklist, did the hospital tour (since we'll be going to Oakland Kaiser and not Santa Clara this time) and so on. When there's a little bed waiting for our little one, it seems more "real," to me at least. I hope I am up to the task of taking care of Livie a little bit more, especially in those "mommy mommy" moments when the only comfort is when K walks into the room...and she can't because she'll be nursing. Only one way to find out. Brenna Kay, you'll soon be here!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Bay Area Toll Authority, otherwise known as BATA, is currently weighing a toll increase for all bridges in the SF Bay Area, purportedly for seizmic retrofitting and to make up a shortfall in revenue due to, according to this article, decreased ridership and increased operating expenses. They also reference to the fact that the bond markets have done poorly in the past couple of years.

Well, duh!

As a participant of casual carpool, I am especially concerned about one component of the proposed toll hikes: A new, $3 toll for carpool ridership. The carpool lane is currently free and we all know the benefits of that.

I wrote a letter to BATA last night and I thought I'd share it. If anyone else participates in casual carpool, I'd encourage you to do the same:

From: William Swan
Date: Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 11:08 PM
Subject: Objection to proposed $3 toll for carpool lanes
To: tolls@mtc.ca.gov


Dear Bay Area Toll Authority:

I am writing to express my strong objection over the proposed $3 toll for carpool drivers as a component of BATA’s toll increase consideration for 2010. At best, the inherent logic in doing so is flawed. BATA states that among the chief reasons for the need to raise an additional $160 million in annual revenues is due to a “steady decline in toll-paying traffic on state owned bridges during each of the past five years.” Isn’t that the point of a carpool lane, to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions?

I am an avid participant in the “ad hoc” or “casual carpool” program, and it is my view that the $3 toll proposal for carpool lanes would in effect kill this arrangement, one that has been in existence for over 30 years and works well for many people of limited and fixed incomes across the Bay Area. It works well now because no transaction takes place, and both riders and drivers benefit. But I believe a $3 toll in the carpool lane would create an insurmountable logistical hurdle to this arrangement. Certainly the carpool ridership would decrease, and I wonder how close such a shortfall would get to offsetting any potential gain in charging the $3 toll for carpoolers in the first place? Further to the point: It certainly doesn’t look good in a state that constantly wrestles with smog.

The factors likely at play here: rising unemployment, fluctuating gas prices, poor investment on the part of the toll authority, make it even more objectionable that the ultimate decision of BATA to raise tolls would be done unilaterally, without being placed on a ballot. It used to be that proposed toll increases were put before voters. Perhaps something was buried in the fine print in one of those propositions so that public accountability is no longer required now?

Among the other reasons cited by BATA for the revenue shortfall is one that is sure to raise a few eyebrows: “Increasing operational expenses and rising debt, due in part to the upheaval in the municipal bond markets over the past two years.” It is not the carpool riders’ fault that the bond markets have tanked. Perhaps you can have a conversation with the Federal Department of Transportation if you really need a bailout.

BATA needs to step back and think more clearly about what is the greater good here. And charging carpool riders is counterintuitive at best, downright lunacy at worst.

With trepidation,

Bill Swan
Oakland, CA

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Digging the new Flaming Lips record, thanks to Brian at work for letting me borrow it. I have a deep admiration for anyone who has gotten to the point where they can do whatever the fuck they want and eke out a living doing that. But I sit here not knowing what kind of sacrifices are made other than knowing what they do is extremely difficult for the average group of people to pull off. And I don't mean that just in talking about the execution of their art and taking the show on the road, itself a very impressive feat - having witnessed a sliver of it in person at sxsw 2000 and also in reading a recent SPIN article about the new record, but in the "spaces between," the stuff that's not as noteworthy in the art world. Need I go on? I assume anyone reading can catch my drift about feeling adrift. The good news is we're in the middle of the lake, not near a rocky shore. And there's plenty of joy in that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Dancing with Daddy" is back. Starting this week, Livie has gotten back into this before bath time routine, now dancing on her own two feet instead of in the Bjorn like the early days. There was a time, when she was very little, where I would put her in the Bjorn and we'd dance to all sorts of fun obscurities. A favorite record became this one, an early record with the great Brazilian guitarist, Bola Sete. I'd hold onto little maracas, shakers and the like, eventually teaching her how to use them etc.

The following is a clip a little further along, as she was getting bigger:

From Livie Mini Movies


And then two things happened. She outgrew the Bjorn and there was a time when the dancing before bedtime got her too fired up to fall asleep. Back in those days we were at the in-law unit with limited, and open-plan space, so for a while every mouse fart on our side of the room would wake her up. So dancing with Daddy as we knew it ceased to exist.

This week, we brought it back. I am not sure what the catalyst was, but for the past couple of days, it's one of the first things she asks for when I walk through the door in the evening. Needless to say, I am thrilled that we can share this time and explore music together again. Oh, of course mommy joins in, too. Although right now she's almost 6 mos pregnant with our second daughter, so this dancing time give her a break. Video of dancing with daddy, part deux is forthcoming.

Friday, October 09, 2009

So, when I heard the news about Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize this morning, I'm sure my reaction was the same as everyone else's except for the committee in charge of awarding the peace prize: I was stunned. And for that brief split second, everyone on earth who follows the course of world events was united in that sentiment, probably. No one would have expected it.

Was it a bit premature? That was my next reaction. Probably. Obama's brief statement a little later in the morning acknowledged THAT. And I quote:

"To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize, men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace."

But he goes on to say:

"But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women and all Americans want to build, a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents.

And I know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.

And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century."

That about sums it up.

The expected hissy fits and coniptions were soon to follow from the predictable conservative pundits but, interestingly, except for a few of the usual suspects, by and large, the elected officials on the pachyderm side of the aisle have been silent. So far.

I am enjoying the ride in a sense, of watching those whose sense of entitlement and ego have blinded them to the fact that the world is moving on, and away from the conservative anti-government backlash of the past 30 years. This, of course, was a sequel. The original movie was more potent. You know, the one that talked about a return to normalcy, getting government out of our lives, etc. and all of those pesky progressive "regulations" getting in the way of the "business of america..." which was, of course, according to ol' Silent Cal, "business," as in, a vacuum. Surely a collective social contract which lead to the structures put in place for businesses of the type at the time to operate and come up with new ideas to sell had nothing to do with prosperity. And business was booming. There was certainly a lot of speculative behavior. And then, of course, the bubble burst and people with a more enlightened view, those who wholly understood what a "social contract" actually means, came in to try and clean the mess of the great depression.

Although it took a war to end it completely, you know the rest of the story. The post war years lead to the expansion of the middle class, the interstate highway system, GI bill and all the rest.

As an aside, I find it amusing that many conservatives hearken back to the 1950s as the good old days. Ike was President, after all. But, as I've mentioned before in here, the top tax rate was 91% (closer to 50% after writeoffs, loopholes and the like). I'd say that was still pretty progressive.

And then came Reagan. And the sequel. And only now it seems we've sort of come to our senses. Health Care is about to pass. And the Nobel was awarded primarily as a rebuke of the cowboy diplomacy of more recent years as anything else.

So let the wingnuts spew their venom. Fuck 'em! They're irrelevant. Well...when hate speech is so prevalent, this also means there are more John Wilkes Booths than usual, but I'll try and pretend I didn't say that out loud. Congrats Mr. Prez. As you've said, this award is a down payment for saner things to come. And what is a down payment but a statement of hope?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's been a while. What, with Facebook, Twitter, trying to stay busy (and employed) at work, and a seemingly endless list of chores around the house, and with baby #2 approaching, I'm trying to find the brainspace to think other thoughts (besides politics and how outrageous some people in this country are at the moment). I will say things: something's bugging me, but I can't quite put a finger on it. I'm feeling a little restless or unsettled. Career blahs, perhaps. More on this subject in a while (when there's time and aforementioned brainspace).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Here's a slideshow of our trip back to the midwest.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brett, eat shit. May you have 30 picks this year.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Lifting a Weight:

Today is my last work day for a while, we go on vacation to Wisconsin to visit my family. I'm up early for one last client "beat down" conference call at 7am sharp. It's 5:40 now and I can't sleep. Partly this is because, thanks to a discovery on our bookshelves by way of "special delivery" from Livie, of a passage of a letter contained in a collection of letters by one Kahlil Gibran, artist and author of The Prophet--both author and novel until now I had not known or heard of. Livie has this way of finding the means to coax the things I used to do out of me, such as playing guitar, reading a passage from an old book. She'll point to one of the guitars I have hanging on the wall--my "rock museum," as I call it, or she'll grab a random book and say "read it!"

This book, "A Self Portrait," which is a collection of his letters, was once owned by K's mom. It's so early that I cannot yet ask K when or why she obtained it. But--and this is what got me up early--there is a passage in one of his letters, which I'll share, that makes me think of how I feel about my own brother.

My on again - off again relationship with my brother is legendary to those in the know (a.k.a. the two to three people who read this blog). Lately things have been off again, and as we approach our journey this year back to see family, I have some anxiety as to how the two of us will get along.

The following passage made me think about this relationship, and is written with more eloquence than I could ever dream of mustering up. It captures the essence of how I feel--if a bit dramatic--while not bearing much literal truth about who he is, or exactly what our relationship has been during the good times. I guess I could also say it makes me think of some oppositional forces inside my own self, and of some tendencies in our family lineage. But such as it is, it triggered something, and here it is:

"TO JAMIL MALOUF - 1908

Dear Brother Jamil:

When I read your letters I feel the existence of an enchanting spirit moving in this room--a beautiful and sorrowful spirit that attracts me by its undulation and makes me see you as two persons: one hovers over humanity with enormous wings similar to the wings of the seraphim whom Saint John saw standing before the Throne by the seven lamps; the other person is chained to a huge rock like Prometheus, who, in giving man the first torch of fire, brought on himself the wrath of the gods. The first person enlivens my heart and soothes my spirit because he sways with the sun rays and the frolicsome breeze of dawn; while the second person makes my heart suffer, for he is a prisoner of the vicissitudes of time...

You have always been and still are capable of causing the torch of fire to come from heaven and light the path of mankind, but tell me what law or force has brought you to Sao Paul and fettered your body and placed you among those who died on the day of their birth and have not yet been buried? Do the Greek gods still practice their power in these days?

...

Oh brother, I feel a gnawing hunger in my heart for the approach of the great works of art, and I have a profound longing for the eternal sayings; however, this hunger and longing come out of a great power that exists in the depths of my heart--a power that wishes to announce itself hurriedly but is unable to do so, for the time has not come, and the people who died on the day of their birth are still walking and standing as a barrier in the way of the living."

I have often said that writing is a form of exorcism as well as expression. If you have an idea, you of course express it. As well, if something is troubling you, best to get it down on paper. I'll now extend this thought to sharing a quotation, if and when one's own writing is not quite up to snuff. And, of course, no paper here.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

 
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Oldie but a goodie.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

So...my mother in law decided it was time to give up the old 1990 Toyota 4Runner V6 4-Wheel drive on account of this new "Cash for clunkers" program. What I didn't really know at first is what was in store. It turns out what she had in mind was to cash it in and get a new 2009 Honda Fit. Thing is, she recently had bought herself a Honda Civic Hybrid, so the question was...who would drive this new Honda Fit? Turns out she had me in mind. I'd be the main signer, with the idea that my credit was probably in better shape. She'd pay the car payments (!) and we'd add it to our insurance, so, in effect, it would be my car, but she'd be making the payments.

My first thought was..."Is this too good to be true?! What have I done to deserve such generosity?" Then the next thought was..."Okay, what's the catch?" Best I can figure is I let her use it whenever she needs it for hauling extra stuff etc. There is no catch. And now it's sitting in our driveway, ready for tomorrow's commute. One of Oakland's casual carpool is a block and a half away from our house. And now I have a car that rider #3 can feel comfortable in the back seat with, so the idea here is I will start participating in the casual carpool with it...two extra riders so I can cross the bay bridge for free in the carpool lane every morning, saving about $100 a month (max) in bridge fees, and of course that's two less cars on the HWY potentially. Better on the conscience. I mean, I could have done this with the 2 door Civic, but I have a feeling it would be harder to get people to want to jump in my car in a timely fashion (I usually see a few cars lined up in the morning). Now with this brand spanking new roomier car, no problem.

The program began late last week, $1 billion in Federal money. Once it's gone, it's gone. Better get to it.

Turns out the best day was today, for a variety of reasons. The only thing was, I had an event with my coworkers tonight, my first night out in a while...bowling, which I was looking forward to. So, since Margo's off this summer (teacher), she, K, Livie and cousin Kelsey headed over there about 1pm. The idea was, they'd get it all started and I'd take a late lunch ('bout 3:30 or so) to go over and sign all the stuff I needed to sign, then hop back over the bridge in time for the event, and maybe even drive a couple of carless coworkers to the alley at the Metreon.

It was not to be. One hour dragged into three and then eventually four, seemed like five. There was a trip to the DMV at 4:55pm to try and get the proof of ownership printout Margo had gotten earlier in the day (which apparently, according to the dealership's lawyers in interacting with their governmental contacts, did not conform to the standard that was needed). "Um, the DMV closes at 5, right?" We were close, but the clock was ticking. But then I remembered a shortcut. Wally Sound's studio, where I'd done a number of trumpet sessions and also where Beulah did some b-sides for "Coast," was right across the street. Right. Throw away the directions from the dealership...turn here. A shortcut, if you will.

Just. In. The. Nick. Of time. Well, the door was just being locked, but Margo has a way of getting what she wants, and...sign...STAMP. By the department Manager. Done. Back to the dealership--Where we waited. And waited, tick tick tick. 7:15 we finally signed off on the financials and the keys were in our hands at about 8 O'Clock.

Here is a picture of Margo with Livie.

From Olivia 2009


After this shot was taken, Margo got the first drive to the ice cream shop and then to our house. Then she and Kelsey drove off with my old Civic (well, OUR old Civic, Kiera and I, the first step in our commitment back in '97 - Kiera now has a Toyota Matrix we got a couple of years ago) with the signed off title so Margo's stepson Isaac has a slightly peppier car to call his own for Junior and Senior year of High school. That old 4Runner that he was using didn't exactly have a lot of pop. And this old Civic, though on it's original clutch at 240,000, still does.

Needless to say I am looking forward to tomorrow's commute!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

This is big. A whole lot of people made a lot of money off of regular folks' misery, especially last summer. And then some of those, of course, gambled, then lost big.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Cheney can bloviate all he wants but this story tells us the real truth about why we went into Iraq.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Trundling deep into the week already, yet thinking about last weekend at Camp Mather and Yosemite. I must remind myself that I work on a set schedule for something I may not exactly be that passionate about so that my family can do things like this:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Now that I have shown some selected photos of the interior of our house - well decorated, tastefully designed, thank you very much (Kiera)...there is the curiosity that is the outside (and underbelly) of the house. It is this subject to which I now turn my attention, and the amount of work that lies ahead. I will start with the exterior. To wit, a photo worth at least 1,000 words:

From Our New House


What can I say about this 80s vinyl siding and choice of color scheme for the crappy faux blinds? I mean...fuckin' TEAL?!

Our doorway:

From Our New House


Upon closer inspection you shall find the current 30 amp electrical service connected to the house.

From Our New House


Now, for what will be the up-to-date 125 amp service once PG&E gets around to changing out the transformer for the neighborhood and bringing the line over:

From Our New House


What else do we learn from the above photo? Well, we already knew the house was originally stucco. What we DIDN'T know, and took a leap of faith on based on the inspector's best guess, was what the true condition of the stucco underneath would be. In order to attach the new electrical service, our electrician had to remove a section of the siding. He was the bearer of good news: "Looks like all you need is a good patch 'n paint job." He knew of some guys. They probably would have come in that afternoon, that's how the market is these days. Anyway, to remove some additional bits of the siding to expose the left side here...

From Our New House


...and another view:

From Our New House


...and to patch, paint (matching current paint on the, um, siding), haul all of that crap away, etc. cost us $300. Our inspectors, based on their survey underneath, had said that this area here showed the most dryrot...no major pest issues, etc. But the stucco here seems ok. In fact, most of the patching was for the damage that was done by the idiots who put on this siding in the first place.

It's not just a matter of us hating the siding, it's a matter of how it was put on and the potential for water to get in from the top, and get trapped further down. If this is the worst of it potentially, then we're in good shape. Guess who has a major project starting mid-late August? What goes up must come down!
Skunk hat, this from my mom:

"The skunk hat was made for fishing guide Bud Norton who gave them to his favorite fishing customers in the late '50s or early '60s. Bob had one made extra-large for himself and wore it a few times just for the hell of it."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Halloween, 1987:



The hat I'm wearing is, in fact, real skunk fur. I'll have to fact check with my dad for the story, but it was a Truesdell Furs creation, back when he was a relative youngster. Guessing it was a prank. The only link I could find online about Truesdell's, which at one time was run by my grandpa and later, my dad, was a realtor site indicating the old building has been sold. About halfway down the page.

At any rate, the crew in this picture - this being Villa Park, Illinois, which is where we moved to after we left Berlin when Dad took a new job at York Furrier in Elmhurst, later stopped by Baker's Square, and I bunched up the hat and cradled it in my arms "just so," to see if I could freak anyone out. The person at the front desk, speaking slowly as if concerned said "Um, that's...got to go."

UPDATE: Another link to the Truesdell building.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some Livie pics so far this year:

Friday, June 12, 2009

In all of my political ranting and raving, I failed to mention officially in here that we have, indeed, bought a house. So what I mused about here has in fact come to pass. I still can't believe it. I have to rub my eyes on a daily basis.

Since closing on March 31st and moving in on April 18th, we've been slowly settling in as well as making some modifications. I'll probably spend the next few entries talking about the experiences, just as soon as I get around to taking a few snapshots for illustrative purposes. These shall come soon. But first, a couple of snapshots from right after clearing out the remaining bins/boxes for our family shindig last Sunday.

First, the front hallway:

From Our New House


Living Room:

From Our New House


Dining Room:

From Our New House


Pass-thru to the kitchen:

From Our New House


Potty etc.:

From Our New House


Master bedroom:

From Our New House


More to come.

I need to thank my lovely wife, Kiera for "willing this house to happen" for us. She handled much of the negotiating and management as a whole of this process. It would not have happened otherwise. Getting this house feels like a victory of sorts, of a long struggle to get beyond the debts that, at first, coming out to California with no real roots, and later, juggling day gigs, school for K, and trying to carve out a legacy in music, brought us. There was a fatalism that made us think we'd never be able to afford out here, but then we got lucky, we happened to be saving and living with in-laws in during the "last boom" years, which then collapsed the market enough to where we could afford a place here in a neighborhood we feel comfortable in. It ain't Pacific Heights, but the Dimond District is where we'll be for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In fact, I'm more shocked by this.
The California Supreme Court ruling on Prop. 8 yesterday was a foregone conclusion. I'm somewhat surprised that anyone would be shocked by it. It was more shocking that the Proposition passed in the first place. Point is, opponents of same sex marriage have a small window of time. Eventually it will pass in California, and I suspect it will be on the ballot again and again until it does. And I suspect that when it does pass it will look something like this.

People need to be asking questions like this: What has more intrinsic value to a society? A starter marriage between a man and a woman or the marriage of a longtime committed same sex couple?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Three Pillars of Dysfunction in California’s Government:

1. Term limits for the legislature
2. 2/3rds majority requirement to pass a budget
3. The proposition system

John Lennon once quoted Harry Nilsson, who obviously had a Yogi Berra moment when he said “Everything’s the opposite of what it is, isn’t it?” So goes for our current system of governance here in the state of California. Three well intentioned, artificial constructs created to combat the corruptions of their day share an equal part of the blame for the impasse in getting any significant business done today.

Term limits, originally enacted in 1990 on the premise that we would be rid of “career politicians” like Willie Brown, have brought us a revolving door of career politicians. Legislators now have to stay in the good graces of their party machinery so that they can run for the next seat up the ladder that comes open after they’re termed out. You can forget anything but ideological grandstanding by a merry-go-round of — mostly — nobodies.

One needn’t look any further than how hard it was to get anyone to cross the aisle for the emergency budget plan passed this past February, in particular, among Republicans. Think Abel Moldonado has any chance of moving up the GOP food chain now? Fat chance*.

The 2/3rds requirement to pass a simple budget was a change in the State Constitution originally enacted to thwart the New Deal agenda by Republicans and conservative Democrats, who were the majority in California during the 1930s and fearful the Roosevelt surge would take root in Sacramento. The rule was strengthened in 1962 during Pat Brown’s reign, again as part of that dreadful Prop. 13 in 1978 and finally, in 1996, when Prop. 218 passed and all remaining “loopholes” to the rule were “closed.” The 2/3rds rule essentially means that the minority party is given a handicap of 1/6th of the vote, for no reason other than this stupid rule, enacted by way of our third great pillar of dysfunctional governance:

The proposition system.

Officially known as the initiative process, this “fourth” branch of government dates back to the Progressive era, where a movement towards direct democracy coalesced against the disproportionate influence of monied interests, such as the Southern Pacific Railroad, over the legislature. An amendment to the California Constitution established this process in 1911, but the increasing reliance on referendum democracy dates back to more recent decades, into what is now termed by some as the “Initiative Industrial Complex.”

“Everything is the opposite of what it is.” This is the legacy direct democracy hath wrought: a system where democracy matters most, the passing of undemocratic rules in a series of short sighted attempts to, apparently, save democracy from itself.

Today, our Governor can’t get the legislature to do much, so time and again he opts for the ultimate cop-out: Let the voters decide. Which begs the question, “Why then, do we have a legislature?” If you look through the amount of hyper-specific, complex, and sometimes contradictory propositions that have passed over the years, it’s a wonder anything gets done in this state. This explains the low turnout in yesterday’s special elections and, one can hope, the roots of a movement for a way out of this.

Government works best when there are checks and balances, not artificial constructs and governance by way of the immediate passions of the day. Just imagine if all of our laws were decided by propositions or referendums. Do you think the U.S. Constitution and system of government would have survived this long?

The odds are long, however, at getting anything changed. The only way we can abolish term limits, the 2/3rds rule and the current proposition system is through a Constitutional Convention, ultimately at the mercy of, yep, you guess it, a 2/3rd majority vote. Fat chance.

But consider this: If things continue on their current course, it won’t be long before the voices calling for a split-up of the state once again take center stage in the current political debate. Nothing solves a problem like smacking it with a blunt instrument—or slashing through it with a scythe. Will the outcome be any different this time? I’d say the odds are 50/50.

*9/28/10 Update: Ok, so I was wrong about that one...

Monday, May 11, 2009

What a Dick.

I'm reminded of Ceau┼čescu. Unrepentant to the end. Think Cheney could survive a waterboarding? How about a dunk tank? Hot tub?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mwahahahaha, keep pointing fingers at each other repubs. I dare 'ya! Losing sucks, doesn't it? Nice to be on the other end once in a while.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Smaller, but better. Hordes of folks are fleeing the Socialist Northeast and moving south so that they can vote Republican. Classic.
With all of the job losses, it's amazing how some manage to hold down a job, much less in the U.S. House of Representatives. Bachmann is better than the Onion.

In other news, here is a couch.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

One needn't look much further than Arlen Specter's defection from GOP ranks today to see that the current trajectory of that party spells disaster for them. Form ranks behind the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other talk radio blowhards at your own peril. We saw signs of it in the election (Colin Powell and, for what it's worth, Buckley Jr.'s son), and it continues. It is a two party system, and I am sure eventually the pendulum will swing back. But I think it's going to be a good long while, and thank God.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Check out the guitar solo at about 3:25ish. 11 years old. Hahahahaha! School of ROCK!

On the other hand, I am reminded how l o n g that Journey song is.
So many things are converging at once it's hard to say how I'm feeling. We're settling into our new house, liking the new neighborhood so far, staying focused on that. Meanwhile, another round of layoffs at work, safe for now, but one can never be too sure. I've been through a number of downturns, but have managed to stay standing. I take solace in the fact that there will always be a need for technical support for complex hardware or software and that, in this day and age, we are all free agents. Fear is not an option, but uncertainty vexes the mind some. Head down, go to work, keep grinding. Such is life. "Onward and outward," announces one who approaches middle age with a fluctuating waistline.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Memo to Dick Cheney: Go fuck yourself.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Love the quotations from Reuters in the following paragraph:

Cheney said in a "Fox News" interview with Sean Hannity that he found it disturbing that Obama did not also release memos that Cheney said documented the effectiveness of the interrogations -- a point contested by some experts.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I've been threatening to do this for years, and finally got around to it. Thanks to the expanded playlist on myspace, I've created a page for les plymouths and have managed to post 5/7ths of the record, "cruz is the lilac." I was going to wait until I scanned some old photos, but then thought...fuck it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

With all of this apocalyptic talk from the wingnuts of America, old white dudes flying their flags upside down, carrying pitchforks and such, I am reminded of what Molly Ivins said (RIP) a number of years ago about Pat Buchanan and his "culture wars" crap: "That speech was probably better in the original German."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Looks like this "crossed in the mail," as it were. It was my dad who was making this very argument just yesterday. If Laurence Tribe is coming out and saying the bill is probably unconstitutional, you know the Roberts/Scalia/Thomas/Kennedy/Scalito will too.
The 90% "AIG" bonus taxation bill currently in Congress is all about the 2010 House elections. These guys know it will die in the Senate, or if not there, you think the Supreme Court as currently configured will let that one stand? I keep hearing all this talk about populist rage, how Obama and the administration are becoming endangered by it. As I mentioned before the election, and will repeat now, I don't see it. I think people realize that the root of this shit goes way back. And who are these populists gonna vote for? Palin? Hahahahahahaha. This is the topic du jour, and while there is something larger at play here, I think the people who overwhelmingly supported Obama in this election will give him a chance to get the structural stuff fixed so this type of thing doesn't happen again. I don't think people are gonna put sheets on and take to the streets with burning crosses just yet.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

While disappointed by President Obama's Special Olympics bowling crack last week, I look forward to watching him get his ass kicked in a match against Kolan McConuighey, and that will do more to remind people that people with physical or cognitive disabilities can be very gifted, too.

I'm actually bullish on the economy for the next few years. We're back to reality, that wealth that was made and lost was fake. We close on our house next week. Onward and forward. You won't be seeing me stockpiling the canned cream corn and freeze dried food in some fallout shelter. I've read Cormac McCarthy's The Road. It's fiction, people. Ain't gonna happen.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The party of Limbaugh. I like the way that sounds. It sounds like marginalization. Couldn't see that coming with those McCain/Palin rallies in October, could you? You know the ones, where the old geezer has a monkey hanging from a noose labeled "Obama" and the "Osama Obama is a terrorist" meme? Yeah, good luck with that.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Right. So the Dow's back to 1997 levels. When you consider the fake dot com boom/bust and resulting mortgage echo boom/bust, this number seems closer to the truth to me. I'm not an economist, but what made all that wealth created, then lost, on a macro scale, any different from what went down with Bernie Madoff?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gotta love those repubs and their "principled opposition" to the stimulus package.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Since my last post, we found a house we liked, put in an offer, got a counter offer, we countered again and they accepted. I'm not going to jinx it just yet, but it looks like we'll be homeowners in the Bay Area by April. Inspections are next, as well as finalizing the loan process we've been preapproved for. There are some hurdles to go before we can say for sure, but I do believe I hear the fat lady warming up in the dressing room!

Back to politics. Frank Rich has it just about right. The only folks who still believe the GOP is relevant at this point in time (besides the increasingly racist right wing wackadoos who thought it would be a good idea for Palin to be a breath away from the White House)...is the still-wired-for-the-dubya-era beltway press. I think I'm going to begin purging my bookmark list of the likes of Politico, WaPo, etc. Name another President who's passed such a large piece of legislation so soon after inauguration day. It is going to take time for the Neo-Hooverites to go home.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I've had a frustrating morning trying to edit a couple of small .mpg videos, and have given up for now. I'm also coming to the realization that Macs confuse me. I mean, it makes sense, my day to day existence is on PCs, and haven't owned a Mac for very long. I'm typying this on K's new PC laptop, for instance. But that's because of the way our apt. is laid out and where Livie's crib now is.

We're going up to Oakland to look at another house we probably:

A. Won't like
B. Will realize is too expensive
C. Will come to the conclusion that the neighborhood is shit

Things seem just "this" much out of reach as far as buying in the Bay Area. We have a pre-approval, but for an amount that lands us in marginal areas in Oakland. And we don't want to live in the exurbs. So...we'll keep plugging.

Limbo is never fun. I think I'll be all right on the job end of things, and if we had to, we could stay down here in Santa Clara for a bit longer, but we are ready...have been for a bit now...to have our own space. But we must weigh the reality of the world right now into our own sphere. Long story short = the big Peet's cup will wear off soon and then I'll calm down.

Friday, February 06, 2009

New correction. It has come to my (own) attention that I was wrong in citing the Viking choke against Arizona as a game in 2004. It was actually this game, in 2003.

Hats off to the Steelers (that was SO last weekend). It makes sense, they were the first to get to four, so it only makes sense that they leapfrog Dallas and SF to 6. I don't think SF's gonna be back for a while, and I'm going to venture the same guess for Dallas. Too much hubris down there.

This afternoon at work has been slow, the calm before next week's storm. I'm running two large webinar training sessions, one for a client on Wed. and another for the general public Thurs. Training is draining, but it ends up being strangely rewarding. It's kind of like teaching, but without the discipline or having to keep grades and correct tests. I don't mind having stumbled upon that aspect of the job at all.
Been a while. I'm spending more time on facebook than in here these days, so it goes. Too much media. So what's new? Livie's 16 months, walking, talking, climbing, causing a ruckus. She's very strong willed. That part she gets from her mama. And she's a little bit of an imp. That part she gets from me. I'm starting to put some mini videos up on YouTube.

Monday, January 12, 2009

On to other subjects. How about that Cinderella Bloodbath (patent pending) over the weekend in the NFL? The Cardinals?! Really. And the Ravens? Hmmm. Who'd have thunk it. Well, I hate the Baltimore Ravens, but could the coming Super Bowl matchup play out like this T-Shirt?













On one of the Beulah tours, forget which one, we played a show in D.C. and some kid wearing this T-Shirt managed to make it backstage and have a beer, so my foggy recollection of the story goes. "That's a cool T-Shirt," someone in the band (forget who, but it wasn't me) said. Apparently when the Cards were set on moving from St. Louis to...anywhere but there...someone in Baltimore pumped out a few "Baltimore Cardinals" tees. Somehow the kid ended up asking me if I wanted the shirt, that we could trade. So we did. He ended up with a Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate) "Return of the Frog Queen" shirt so I think I got the better of the bargain.

This picture of me wearing it was taken (at my insistence) during the holidays of 2004 when, thanks to the last minute heroics of the Arizona Cardinals in beating the hated Vikings, the Pack squeaked into the playoffs. It (the picture, that is) was sent to Steve St. Cin, a long suffering Cards fan who had only witnessed his team make it to the playoffs once in his life (1974, age nine).