Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday night

Desperate Housewives was so-so, but at least it was back. Tonight it was more like a soap--hardly any humor, but the dramatic parts were good and the actors did a fine job with the material. I was glad to see the gay theme around Bree's son being re-introduced. Lately he's been coming across as a weirdo eunuch.

The whole story line about Gaby having to lose weight since Carlos will be getting his sight back is ridiculous--as if he couldn't feel that she's gotten fat (and Eva Longoria hasn't gotten fat, by the way). He's been sleeping with his wife for five years since he went blind.

The kids really are fat, however, which I don't find funny. It's grotesque and kind of sad. But I guess it's a fitting statement on our kids' health here in the U.S. and is what it's meant to be. (Too much macaroni and cheese, which is of course the lazy parents' fault.)

* * *

Was at the store after the gym. Then puttered around the apartment a bit, cleaning and putting the place back together with a new twist here and there. Also made myself a fat turkey sandwich to take to work tomorrow.

I didn't hear from Home Depot all weekend about the bill for the electric work. I guess this will get resolved next week, when business returns to normal. I also have to tell them about the problem with the sink shifting when I put some pressure on the inside of it (which then broke the caulk seal). I don't know how that's going to get resolved. Maybe with epoxy glue. They'd have a hell of a time drilling something into the bottom of the counter top from inside the cabinet. It's extremely tight in there. The sink is almost the length and width of the cabinet itself, and deep also.

I'm really enjoying the ceiling fan in this room. It's on a remote control, so I don't have to get up to change the speed when I get the hot flashes or the chills. (Kidding.) I think I'm probably using less A/C, and the fan should be energy-efficient since it's basically new and a good one.

We'll see what my next electric bill looks like since I've been cooking again and running the dishwasher and this fan. But since I've been back cooking, I've almost eliminated my spending in restaurants (Flanigan's especially, which is half a block away and has excellent New York Strip steaks and fried shrimp, which ain't exactly cheap.) (I've been eating cubed steaks here at home, with flavor enhancements.)

P.S. I love the Silestone. For one thing, it doesn't stain, as did the old laminate countertops which came with the place. I don't have to worry about juice stains, for example. I used to have to clean the old countertops with Clorox.

Openly gay marchers debut at Haiti AIDS rally

Full AP story here. (Emphasis added.)

A dozen men in T-shirts declaring "I am gay" and "I am living with HIV/AIDS" marched with hundreds of other demonstrators through a Haitian city on Sunday in what organizers called the Caribbean nation's first openly gay march.

The march, held a day ahead of World AIDS Day in the western city of St. Marc, called for better prevention and treatment in a country long plagued by the virus.

Organizers said they hoped the march will break barriers to reach more HIV-positive people and gay men with programs that have helped decrease the country's infection rate by two-thirds in the last decade. . . .

The nation of 9 million remains the most affected by HIV in the Caribbean, itself the region with the highest infection rate outside Sub-Saharan Africa. . . .

[G]ay men remain at risk because they hide from social programs due to prejudice and harassment, despite making up one-tenth of reported HIV cases in the Caribbean, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS reported. . . .

On Sunday, opposition was muted to the small contingent wearing white T-shirts bearing the word "masisi" -- a Haitian Creole slur for gay men that the marchers celebrated and chanted as their own.

Sunday evening

Did maintenance on the computer today. The hard disk sorely needed defragmenting. Took forever. Now all the programs are running faster.

No cooking today, just eating and cleaning. Wait, I did make an omelette for lunch, with tuna, pepper jack cheese, salsa and basil. Really good. Also fried some bacon.

It's off to the gym.

Living room almost back to normal

Lacking counter space, the contractors (and I) were piling all kinds of stuff on top of the coffee table. I got that cleared off tonight. I still have the sander sitting in the living room (cord at left). Not finished with that.

At least it's starting to look like home again, rather than a construction site. (Gerber daisies are fake but fun.)

Saturday night late

Had a relaxing day. Ate leftovers. Made West African Tuna Casserole from old Joy of Cooking. Was at Starbucks twice for tea (Earl Grey and Zen green). Communed with cats and plants. Talked to friend in Canada tonight.

Last night I hung the wreath on the door. It's made of bells, which jingle every time I go in and out the door. Puts me in the spirit (if only briefly).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

BACON!

Yesterday I bought some bacon. I hadn't cooked bacon since before the kitchen was torn out (before Lucky arrived). I just went into the kitchen to cook a couple of pieces of bacon in the microwave, and Lucky went nuts when I opened the package on the counter. He was right up there. I'd never seen him do this with any food (catnip, yes). He would have licked the raw bacon had I let him.

I broke off a few pieces of the cooked bacon and put them on the plate for Lucky. I wasn't sure whether he'd actually eat it, but he snarfed all the pieces down. Bootsy came a little late to the party but he also got a piece (and ate it). But Bootsy is much more into human food than Lucky is. Lucky won't even eat the fresh turkey breast I made.

'World's Oldest Stash of Pot Found in Tomb: 2700 Years Old'

From Talk Left here.

The Toronto Star reports:

Researchers say they have located the world's oldest stash of marijuana, in a tomb in a remote part of China. The cache of cannabis is about 2,700 years old and was clearly ``cultivated for psychoactive purposes," rather than as fibre for clothing or as food, says a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany.

The 789 grams of dried cannabis was buried alongside a light-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian man, likely a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwestern China.

Batteries of tests were performed on the substance. It had a high "THC" content. Other items in the tomb indicated the deceased was of "high social standing."

The tomb also contained bridles, archery equipment and a harp, confirming the man's high social standing.

Saturday at sunset

This aloe on the terrace, which is normally green (i.e., the aloe), was turning a deep salmon pink and sending up a flower stalk. I guess it was in desperate need of watering. Pretty, though. (That's a pink flamingo hiding in there.)

I didn't do much today (and there's still lots to do around here), but I did water the plants. I don't have much of a green thumb and thus don't have a lot of plants, but the ones I do have are hard to kill. (I have three aloes, e.g.)

'Bush's Legacy: Never to Change No Matter What'

Look where his "values" have gotten us. From Mary at The Left Coaster:

This week Bush provided his assessment of his legacy:

"I came to Washington with a set of values, and I'm leaving with the same set of values. And I darn sure wasn't going to sacrifice those values; that I was a president that had to make tough choices and was willing to make them," he said. . . .

The president told his sister he is proud of the "tough decisions" he made.

"I surrounded myself with good people," Bush said. "I carefully considered the advice of smart, capable people and made tough decisions."

Or as Stephen Colbert said so much better a few years ago:

The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man's beliefs never will.

Indeed, befitting the simple mind of a simple man, Bush has always found it easy to make tough decisions.

Friday night

Still working at putting stuff away. Managed to clear off this counter tonight. It had been covered with stuff since after it was installed. I put a lot more away today. I'm practically done. Now I can now sit at the counter and eat, if I choose to. (I've been eating on a TV tray here in the computer room, when I haven't been eating out.)

Lucky not into Christmas hype

Time to snooze.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving night - cooking edition

(Thanksgiving's pretty much all about cooking, n'est-ce pas?)

Did my cooking. Fresh turkey breast and chicken-liver spaghetti sauce turned out excellent. Ended up throwing away the roast beef--apparently I'd left it too long to thaw in the fridge and it was turning brown. It still smelled fine but I tossed it anyway. For $8, I didn't feel like dealing with it. I'd bought it a few weeks ago, thinking the kitchen would be ready any day. Then I ended up freezing it.

Watching a chef challenge on the Food Network (Thanksgiving dinner--what else). I noticed they were cooking on glass-top electric stoves. I also cook on a glass-stop electric stove, but I've also cooked on conventional electric stoves and gas stoves as well. I can't say I have a preference when it comes to electric or gas. I've never had trouble cooking on any type of stove (i.e., once I learned how to cook).

I know that gas stoves are all the rage now for home kitchens. But I have to say that I really like my glass-top stove. You never have to worry about a pot boiling over and gunking up the burner contraption, which can be very elaborate especially on a gas stove, and which then has to be removed and scrubbed clean and/or put in the dishwasher (not to mention that the holes where the gas flames come out can get clogged and have to be reamed out). And then the surface where the boil-over ultimately pooled up also has to be cleaned. And it's difficult and time-consuming to clean these parts, especially after the heat bakes the gunk onto them. I'm not much of a cleaner and would rather not have to deal with gunk in my stove parts.

I have to say, the smooth top is a lot easier to keep clean (even if you have to use a razor blade). But once it's cleaned, you know it's clean and there's no stuff building up somewhere perhaps unseen.

Anyway, if gas ranges are what chefs prefer, why did they have these chefs cooking on glass-top electric stoves? (I guess if you're a professional chef, you can cook on anything and don't complain.)

I've seen ads about the new glass-top stoves that boil water in seconds. I think this technology is the wave of the future, at least in the home. I can imagine that in restaurants, however, glass tops might be too delicate for the abuse the stoves get, with slamming pots and pans down on them in a frenzy. The stoves need all that (difficult to clean) iron architecture around the burners to withstand the abuse.

I have to be careful with Lucky when I'm using the stove now, since he's used to walking across it when he makes his rounds of the new counters. (I don't mind that he gets up on the counters, and there's really nothing I can do about it anyway, since I'm not here all the time.) I think he thinks I'm unhappy with him since I've been shooing him away from the stove now that I've been back to cooking again. (He's really never seen me cooking before.) When I was occasionally cooking chili before the electrician disconnected the stove, there were no countertops next to it. (There were no countertops at all.) By the time Lucky came here, the old countertops had already been torn out. The stove was standing alone in the kitchen.

This just happened: I had washed two plastic sponge-holders in the dishwasher tonight, the kind that attach to a surface with suction cups. I'd bought these a long time ago and was re-attaching them to the inside of the new under-mounted sink, where I'd attached them after it was installed and I had running water again. (For months they'd been attached to the bathroom mirror.) Tonight, however, the sink moved when I was pressing the suction cups against the side of the sink. That shouldn't happen, right? The seal of caulk broke where the sink met the countertop. Not good.

The sink is supposed to be permanently and I would assume immovably affixed to the underside of the countertop. It shouldn't move around. I'll have to tell Home Depot about this. Damn!

Made an excellent turkey gravy tonight as well. Just the breast alone gives off enough juices to make a gravy (although I supplemented it with a package of Publix turkey gravy mix, but you'd never know). Tomorrow I'll go back to the store for some bread to make hot open-faced turkey sandwiches. I also plan on making turkey salad and will make sandwiches of that as well (on light toast). Gotta get some celery too.

Thanksgiving Day

Turkey breast was in the oven at 5:25 p.m. It weighs 6.81 lbs. and will probably be done in 2 3/4 hours.

Made myself stay in bed till almost noon. Then had turkey dinner at Flanigan's at around 2:00. Even for $10.99, it was really bad -- fake turkey and fake mashed potatoes, most of which I brought home in a to-go container and will probably throw away. Glad I had the Steakhouse Soup before the meal came. It was especially thick and beefy today. Lingered over coffee outside at Starbucks afterwards.

The weather was so gorgeous today, I hated to stay inside for too long. Right now I'm sitting here with the windows open and the fan on. Eventually I'll make the chicken liver spaghetti sauce.


Barbara Walters interviews Obamas

Click here.

'In Feeble Bid to Be Cool, Bush Pardons Rapper'

Amusing post here.

Guess those Peruvian Pisco sours finally caught up with W and left him feeling mellow. Or maybe it was the phone calls from Carly Simon. Whatever the reason, George Bush pardoned rapper John Forte, who was convicted of smuggling 1.4 million dollars worth of liquid cocaine through Newark Airport.

Carly's son Ben Taylor went to school--well to be precise, Philips Exeter Academy--with Forte who performed with the Fugees on their multi-platinum, Grammy-winning album The Score and sang back up with Simon-- and Carly put up $250,000 in bail money for Forte upon his arrest. [?]

Fellow musician Utah senator Orrin Hatch also lobbied for Forte's pardon.

(At Firedoglake.) (See here for more details.)

Cat blogging

Lucky watching "Designed to Sell." We've never seen this one. (Lisa LaPorta at left with power tool.)

He watches the commercials too. Luckily, he doesn't have much buying power here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday night

Took a nap after work, then went to the gym and the store. My employer gives everyone $100 Publix gift cards at Thanksgiving, so lately I've been getting free groceries. I've got $3.95 left on the card.

Tonight I bought a fresh turkey breast -- the last one they had. The fresh ones weren't that much more expensive than the frozen ones, and fresh turkey does taste better. I also bought cubed steaks and chicken livers, along with yogurt and cat provisions. I also have a roast beef thawing in the refrigerator that I bought on sale not long ago, and some frozen vegetables I got the other day. I'll have plenty here to eat over the long weekend. I'll make spaghetti sauce with the chicken livers. I have to use up some Ragu sauce that was packed away while the kitchen was being worked on.

I first had spaghetti sauce with chicken livers at an Italian restaurant in Coral Gables while I was in high school and ordered it all the time there ever since. I love it and it's and easy to make. I'll doctor up the sauce. I should have bought fresh garlic but didn't think about it. (There's old garlic in the fridge that I don't think will be usable, but we'll see.)

Had a green tea at Starbucks after putting away the groceries, and now I'm in for the night.

Tomorrow I'll walk down to Flanigan's for turkey dinner. I hope it won't be too crowded. I like to sit at the bar and of course there will be football games going on. I'll sit there and read my magazine.

Update on Home Depot

I called the kitchen estimator this morning and left a message, asking her to please fax me an itemized bill from the electrical contractor. I never heard back from her or received a fax. I also called the District Service Manager and talked to him about the situation. He said he would call the kitchen expediter about getting me an itemized bill. He also suggested I go to the store and sit down with the expediter and go over the bill. I can do that.

Tuesday night

One more day of work this week for me. I'm tired and looking forward to the long weekend. I have a million things to do here but I also need some rest, after all this wrangling over the kitchen.

The bill for the electrical work still hasn't been paid, and of course I intend to pay it, when I see it. I'd left a half dozen messages (at least) with various people at Home Depot (including the District Service Manager and the Customer Care lady in Atlanta) and hadn't heard a word back. I was just asking for an itemized bill for the services rendered. I wasn't going to accept the fax of the original estimate which was presented to me by the electrician on Saturday as the final bill. There's stuff on the estimate that wasn't done (and probably wasn't necessary to begin with). I suspected from the beginning that the electrical contractor was trying to sell me stuff I didn't need (like an outlet at the end of the bar, which was never installed even though the estimator had said it was "Code").

(The electrical inspector passed the electrical work last week, and the lack of an electrical outlet at the end of the bar was not an issue--which really got me suspicious of the electrical contractor and their original estimate for what was required.) (The electrical contractor has probably done the most work here in terms of hours spent, and the work it excellent, but I don't trust the people in the office. To tell me that I owe the amount stated on the estimate, when several hundred dollars' worth of that wasn't done, raised a red flag.)

This electrical work is well over $2,000. You'd think I could get an itemized bill. When I got home today from work, I had a message from the kitchen expediter at Home Depot. She'd left the message at 9-something this morning on my home phone while I was on the way to work. Home Depot has all my numbers--if she'd really wanted to talk to me, she could have called me at work or on the cell. Maybe she was afraid I'd chew her out (a possibility) (and I'm normally a very easy-going person).

I'll call her tomorrow and try to get this straightened out and the bill paid. But I do want to see an itemized final bill for the parts and the services rendered before I pay it. Is that such an unreasonable request?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

'Spooking The Spook'

From Digby here.

Oh my goodness, the mean liberal blogs spiked John Brennens' possible nomination to CIA or DNI. Greenwald has the details at his place.

It's very nice to be seen as being so fearsome, but I suspect this has more to do with Obama's foreign policy. He simply cannot be seen around the world to be backtracking on torture, Gitmo and the rest. If he insists on not investigating or prosecuting anyone for past crimes, which unfortunately seems likely, then he absolutely must make it clear through his appointments, public statements and actions that the practice has ended. . . .

I'm gratified that liberal blogs are considered critics with enough stature to sink a potential CIA chief. We've come a long way. If that means that anyone who had knowledge of this torture regime and failed to unequivocally denounce it in clear and unambiguous terms, simply cannot hold high office in the intelligence community, then we've done well.

Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher on Rachel Maddow tonight

'Salt Lake Tribune: Prop 8 has become a PR "fiasco" for Mormons'

From the always rancorous John at Americablog here. (See here also.)

When your biggest negatives are that people think you're pushy, rich, secretive, weird, and hell-bent on imposing your seemingly-cultish way of life on them, the last thing you should do is use gobs of money to force your views on millions of others. It's not clear what the Mormons were thinking, but in the process, they may have made a few friends on the religious right - friends who still think the Mormons are a cult, mind you (even the Mormon's evangelical "allies" have this to say about them, "Our theological differences with Mormonism are, frankly, unbridgeable") - but they've just convinced millions of other Americans that they're hateful heavy-handed bigots.

And it seems we're not the only ones who are thinking this way. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Mormons around the country are now being forced to deal with the fall-out from their ill-fated decision to become hate's banker.

* * *

In some minds, the so-called "Mormon moment" heralded at the start of 2008 has stopped short.

Stopped short? Try, set you back 150 years. In one fell swoop, the Mormons just convinced somewhere between 10 million and 30 million gay Americans, and their 40 to 120 million friends and families, that the Mormons are filthy rich bigots who want to come into your town, take over, and force you to live under their rules (rules which include accepting Jesus as a polygamist who married his mother and was the brother of Satan, rules which include being forced to convert to Mormonism against your will), or else they'll destroy your families and ruin your lives.

Hell of a way to stop people from hating you.

North Miami gay man can adopt 2 kids

This follows up a post I did a few weeks ago about this case. Miami Herald story here.

A Miami child welfare judge Tuesday declared Florida's 31-year-old ban on adoption by gay people unconstitutional, rejecting the state's claim that the law promotes public morality and the best interests of foster children who may be harmed by same-sex parents.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman approved the adoption of two half-brothers, identified only as John and James Doe, by Frank Gill, a gay North Miami man who has raised the two foster children since they were brought to him in December 2004 by a state child abuse investigator. The boys now are 8 and 4 years old.

''John and James left a world of chronic neglect, emotional impoverishment and deprivation to enter a new world, foreign to them, that was nurturing, safe, structured and stimulating,'' Lederman wrote. ``They are a family, a good family, in every way except the eyes of the law.'' . . .

Florida is the only state that excludes all gay men and lesbians from adopting -- though it allows gay and lesbian foster parents. Last month, voters in Arkansas passed a measure forbidding adoption by single people after a court there dismissed a state rule excluding gay people from fostering children.

The fate of the controversial law is likely to be decided by the Florida Supreme Court, to which Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to appoint at least two new judges in coming months. Crist, a former attorney general who has expressed support for the adoption ban, declined to comment Tuesday, saying he hadn't yet reviewed the ruling. . . .

Lederman, who oversees Miami's juvenile and child welfare courts, is the second judge this year to declare the state's ban on adoption by gay men and lesbians unconstitutional.

In August, Monroe County Circuit Judge David John Audlin Jr. permitted another gay man to adopt, declaring that the 1977 gay adoption ban arose out of ''unveiled expressions of bigotry'' when the state was experiencing a severe backlash to demands for civil rights by gay people in Miami.

Forbidding gay families to adopt ''while assuring child abusers, terrorists, drug dealers, rapists and murderers at least'' a chance to prove their cases in court, Audlin wrote, was so disproportionately severe'' that it violates the state and U.S. constitutions. . . .

Lucky watching 'Curb Appeal'

Since I got rid of the card table in here that was serving as a kitchen counter, I put an ottoman in front of the TV so Lucky can watch his shows.

'Bernanke: I Misread The Subprime Crisis'

He was also drinking the Ayn Rand Kool-Aid. See here. (Link from TPM. I was reading the story today myself and haven't quite finished.)

Daily wrap-up from TPM

Monday, November 24, 2008

California to investigate Mormon aid to Prop 8

AP story here.

California officials will investigate whether the Mormon church accurately described its role in a campaign to ban gay marriage in the state.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission said Monday that a complaint by a gay rights group merits further inquiry.

Executive director Roman Porter says the decision does not mean any wrongdoing has been determined.

Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, accuses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of failing to report the value of work it did to support Proposition 8.

A representative from the Salt Lake City-based church could not be reached for comment.

See here also.

While conservative churches are busy trying to whip up another round of culture wars over same-sex marriage, Rodriquez says the real reason for their panic lies elsewhere: the breakdown of the traditional heterosexual family and the shifting role of women in society and the church itself. As the American family fractures and the majority of women choose to live without men, churches are losing their grip on power and scapegoating gays and lesbians for their failures.

See here also.

You might think that an organization that for most of the first of its not yet two centuries of existence was the world’s most notorious proponent of startlingly unconventional forms of wedded bliss would be a little reticent about issuing orders to the rest of humanity specifying exactly who should be legally entitled to marry whom. But no. The Mormon Church—as anyone can attest who has ever answered the doorbell to find a pair of polite, persistent, adolescent “elders” standing on the stoop, tracts in hand—does not count reticence among the cardinal virtues. Nor does its own history of matrimonial excess bring a blush to its cheek. The original Latter-day Saint, Joseph Smith, acquired at least twenty-eight and perhaps sixty wives, some of them in their early teens, before he was lynched, in 1844, at age thirty-eight. Brigham Young, Smith’s immediate successor, was a bridegroom twenty times over, and his successors, along with much of the male Mormon √©lite, kept up the mass marrying until the nineteen-thirties—decades after the Church had officially disavowed polygamy, the price of Utah’s admission to the Union, in 1896. As Richard and Joan Ostling write in “Mormon America: The Power and the Promise” (2007), “Smith and his successors in Utah managed American history’s only wide-scale experiment in multiple wives, boldly challenging the nation’s entrenched family structure and the morality of Western Judeo-Christian culture.”

“MORMONS TIPPED SCALE IN BAN ON GAY MARRIAGE,” the Times headlined the week after Election Day, reflecting the views of proponents and opponents alike. Six and a half million Californians voted for Proposition 8, and six million voted against it—a four-point margin, close enough for a single factor to make the difference. Almost all the early canvassers for the cause were Mormons, but the most important contributions were financial. The normal political pattern is for money to get raised in California and spent elsewhere. This time, Salt Lake City played the role of Hollywood, rural Utah was the new Silicon Valley, and California was cast as flyover country. Of the forty million dollars spent on behalf of Prop. 8, some twenty million came from members or organs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . . .

Aside from the fact that people shouldn't be allowed to vote away other people's Constitutional rights, which is a sham, this just isn't right.

Meteor lands in Canada, big as truck rig (?)

This happened last Thursday. See CBC story here. CBC says it was the size of "a chair or a desk." (??) There doesn't appear to be any large impact site.

Obama's stimulus package announced

According to what I've read, $700 billion is what's needed.

More on the tax cuts for the very wealthy, from Firedoglake here.

Rich people, their accountants, and corporations spend a lot of time thinking about taxes and how to avoid them. They are also capable of understanding the government's long term economic situation. What they know is that current levels of taxation are below what is needed for the long term fiscal health of the government and the country. Most other western countries tax between 3 to 8 percent more of their GDP than the US does, and the US was in severe deficit even before the huge expenditures related to the financial crisis . . . .

If you know taxes are going to have to be higher in the future, what you do with money now is you try and pay tax on it now. That means you cash it out now. This is why many corporations paid record dividends all through the 2000's, rather than reinvesting money in the business: they knew they had to get the money out to their shareholders now. It's one reason why they paid record salaries and bonuses: they knew they had to pay themselves lots of money now, while it was taxed less, because they knew that in the future they would lose that low tax rate.

What this has meant is that corporations have, in effect, looted themselves instead of reinvesting properly in business. Short term profit has been even more the mantra of the day, because you had to make money and get it out now, while taxes were lower.

Any short term delay in repealing the tax raises will only mean more looting and less reinvestment because the rich will still be able to read a budget statement and know it's not permanent, no matter what anyone says. The tax cuts need to be repealed as soon as possible to encourage corporations to reinvest and rich people to invest in projects for the long term. Reinvesting for the longer term is good, it's the sort of money that goes into creating new companies, products and therefore jobs, while short term investment from the rich tends to go into various types of securities games. . . .

So I sincerely suggest that Obama not avoid the repeal of the Bush era taxes on the rich and follow through on his own promise to increase their taxes. It will help the economy, whereas letting them off the hook for taxes will hurt the economy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday night

No Desperate Housewives tonight. Damn.

Was back at the gym tonight. I hadn't been there in two weeks, since I came down with the stomach flu. (I went earlier than usual so I'd have time to do some shopping and cooking before Desperate Housewives started.) Made chili and boiled a pound of Florida wild pink shrimp. Tomorrow I'll make West African Tuna Casserole, a Joy of Cooking recipe that appeared in an edition of the cookbook from the '70s. My first partner made it while we were at FSU, learning how to cook (while going to school). It's very tasty and healthy and pretty simple (it's online now, but that recipe uses tomato sauce instead of 2 TB of tomato paste--as in the original). I don't put the au gratin topping on it. I don't think it's necessary and just adds extra calories to an otherwise perfect dish.

It's great having food smells back in the apartment. Tonight I boiled the shrimp in Old Bay Seasoning and McCormick pickling spice, plus ground cloves and fennel seed that I first cracked in a mortar, etc. I let this simmer for a while before putting the shrimp in. The place smells great. (And the shrimp were tasty and fragrant.) I was quick to remove the shrimp's packaging and shells from the shrimp I'd eaten to the garbage chute, however, since otherwise the place would be stinky by the morning.

Getting used to the fan in this room. It's very powerful and I don't want to catch a cold.

The electrician was funny yesterday. He saw all the feathers on the floor and asked whether I was feeding the cats live birds. I then showed him one of the plush feathered cat toys. (Lucky eventually chews all the feathers off them.) I'm indulging him and allowing him to have the kittenhood he may never have enjoyed as a foster cat. He's a happy cat here and finally has a home now.

Bootsy's happy here too. I just wish B. would come to see him, but the new BF probably doesn't allow it so long as B.'s back with him. (I can imagine the BF saying: What more important: me or a cat?) Maybe it would upset Bootsy anyway.

Bootsy's doing fine here--it's been his home for years--and with the way B. has been moving back and forth between the mother's and the BF's (as reported by B.'s sister), Bootsy would have suffered had he been with B. Cats are very much attached to their physical environment and generally don't like being moved around. It's very stressful for them.

Sunday afternoon cat blogging

Saturday night even later

Was cleaning out a closet and found these old photos. These are my paternal grandparents. Hung them on the wall. My grandmother was French. Grandfather German and whatever. Love the hair. These two produced four children, one of whom (my uncle) was born after my grandfather died in an automobile accident on the way to catch a ship in Savannah to attend a real estate convention in Boston. My grandfather was president of the Miami Realty Board.

I never knew my grandfather, but my grandmother remarried later in life, so I had a step-grandfather. He was an educator and has a public school named after him in Miami (Oliver Hoover Elementary).

Saturday night late

Took that nap and woke up after midnight. Lordy, how I've f***ed up this weekend. But that's OK. It's just the weekend and I have no commitments, not even laundry to do. The only thing I had to do was be here for the electrician today. Now I'm glad I've got the place back to myself.

I think I'm a little shell-shocked over the kitchen being done. But now I have to put this place back together. It's a good occasion for a complete cleaning and de-cluttering (or a "throwing out party" as my mother used to say). I've got my work cut out for me.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday afternoon III

Whaddaya know. The kitchen is done! Yippee aye oh kai yeah!! (But there's still a final inspection.)

Home Depot, or I should say their contractors, did a great job, despite the fact it took so long (Home Depot's fault). (I signed the contract at the beginning of May). The Home Depot kitchen designer was great (she did everything right). Someone told me I'd have my kitchen by Thanksgiving. Pretty accurate.

The rest is up to me. Now I have to clean this entire place (and do the backsplashes and some sanding and painting in the kitchen). The electrical contractor's bill is being negotiated. Sure enough, the electrician came here today with the original estimate as my final statement, which included things that weren't done (and apparently weren't necessary according to the Code, despite what the estimator originally said), such as installing an outlet at the end of the bar (not cheap). I told him I was going through Home Depot to get billed for the work and would not pay the electrical contractor directly (as per Home Depot's instructions last night) and that I needed an itemized statement of the work actually done. All this should be resolved next week. I'm not cheap but I'm not going to be taken advantage of. The electricians who have worked here (2) have in any case been great.

The card table in this room is gone. Lucky used to sit on it to watch TV. Oh well. He'll have to sit on the floor.

I'm so elated right now that I can't take a much-needed nap. I should take a Valerian root or something. I'm already having a cocktail in celebration. This is an occasion if there ever was one in my rather dull life these days. (No complaints.) Hallelujah!

Obama's weekly address: Economic stimulus to come

(From TPM)

Americans demand change; health care top priority

Pundits love centrism, but voters want change

Tuning out the brain-dead megaphone

Pundits claim we're a center-right nation -- but polls show voters elected Obama to enact his progressive agenda.

Full article by David Sirota at Salon here.

For weeks, your television, newspaper and radio have been telling you that America is a "center-right nation" that elected Barack Obama to crush his fellow "socialist" hippies, discard the agenda he campaigned on, and meet the policy demands of electorally humiliated Republicans.

This is the usual post-election nonsense from the Braindead Megaphone, as author George Saunders famously calls our political and media noise machine. When George W. Bush wins by 3 million votes, the megaphone blares announcements about a conservative mandate that Democrats must respect. When Obama wins by twice as much, the same megaphone roars about Democrats having no mandate to do anything other than appease conservatives. . . .

Public opinion surveys show that most Obama voters knew the Illinois senator was a progressive when they cast their ballots — and that those votes for him weren't just anti-Bush protests; they were ideological. According to a post-election poll by my colleagues at the Campaign for America's Future, 70 percent of Americans say they want conservatives to help this progressive president enact his decidedly progressive agenda. . . .

Judging from his advertisements, Obama identified a no-more-important priority than guaranteeing healthcare for all citizens. The Campaign Media Analysis Group reported that he devoted more than two-thirds of his total television budget to ads that included healthcare themes. In mid-October 2008, a Pew Poll found 77 percent of Americans said healthcare would be a decisive concern in their presidential vote.

The moral case for universal health care is obvious. In the world’s richest country -- in a country that builds lavish sports stadiums and showers Wall Street with trillion-dollar bailouts -- 18,000 people die each year because they lack health insurance. We permit this annual massacre while our wasteful system exacerbates our debt and saps our economic competitiveness by forcing us to spend more money per capita on healthcare than any other nation. . . .

Overcoming inertia on such a thorny issue requires budget pressure -- which Obama definitely faces. While some claim the deficit should preclude bold healthcare legislation, it’s the other way around. The Congressional Budget Office says America’s fiscal gap is “driven primarily by rising healthcare costs,” meaning a fix is an imperative.

"People ask whether [Obama] has the fiscal breathing room to push health-care reform," economist Jared Bernstein told the Washington Post. "He doesn't have the fiscal breathing room not to do health-care reform." . . .

Fifteen years ago, Republican strategist William Kristol warned that the Clinton administration's universal healthcare proposals represented "a serious political threat to the Republican Party" because, if passed, they "will revive the reputation" of Democrats as "the generous protector of middle-class interests." . . .

Saturday afternoon II

They're finally getting around to replacing the railing around the pool deck that was destroyed by a hurricane a few years ago (not Katrina but the other one that came through at around that time). As you can see, they're also enclosing the pool. Probably the insurance company made them do that. The pool deck has been closed for weeks since they've been doing this work. Normally there would be people out by the pool at this time. It's a beautiful day here.

At the bottom: It's difficult to see now for the trees, but there's a "party pavilion" by the pool (see the brown roof), complete with a bar and barbecue pit and plenty of room for tables and chairs.

Saturday afternoon

The electrician was here. He came around 10:15. He replaced the dimmer in the kitchen and installed the fan in here. He couldn't wire through the wall, so there's a strip there now (as on the ceiling, which is solid concrete). Kind of loftish-looking.

Not thrilled with this but that's the way it has to be. I'll eventually repaint the walls. You could put a tall piece of furniture up against the wall there (like an armoire or highboy) and never notice the strip. It's great having the fan, however. It's heavy-duty and makes no noise. And I can save on A/C.

I also pretty much finished putting everything away in the kitchen. The spices are arranged mostly alphabetically. They didn't all fit in the spice rack, but that's OK. I've got room to spare now.

I just can't find my wooden salt shaker that matches the pepper mill. That's OK--I plan on buying some new Peugeot white-acrylic ones at Crate & Barrel. I saw them at the mall the other day. (Not cheap, like the one(s) I have.)

Made a 3-egg omelette with diced ham for lunch. Excellent.

Friday night late

On a more personal note... At the beginning of the week, I called B. up to offer my old microwave oven to his parents (actually his mother and her boyfriend--she's still married to B's father). The microwave is like new and I don't need it anymore since I bought the new microwave for above the stove. B. said he'd tell his parents.

Haven't heard back anything, but that's OK. I'd wanted to end this relationship (I wasn't the one who brought about the ending, however) on a positive, conciliatory note, especially after all the anger and recriminations I'd expressed. (The parents actually moved B. out of here after they found out (from me) about his infidelity, saying I would never let B. hear the end of it--or words to that effect.) Anyway, my conscience is now clear.

I'd also told B. that if he wanted to see his cat, let me know, since I'm not trying to keep him away from his cat. (He'd wanted to come see him a few weeks ago while I was taking a nap after work. He even came to the building but they wouldn't let him up here--I'd given the office express instructions not to let him up here, not that that figured into it.) But apparently the new BF is back controlling B. with drugs, etc., since B. has never called me again. (That was after I told him not to call so long as he was back with that guy, except if he wanted to see his cat.) (I feel sorry for his cat.)

B's still kind of drifting, however. His sister told me recently he lives back and forth between his mother's and the BF's. B. had also told me that he still has my address on his I.D. Meanwhile, his important mail still comes here and I see that he gets it--so apparently he hasn't notified the state and county (for Medicaid, voting, etc.) that he's changed his address. He's in a drug fog, but that wears off and he still manages to keep his job. God bless him. He doesn't have to go to work till late afternoon.

More on challenges to vote in Minn. Senate race

As you may know, this is an extremely tight race.

(From MyDD)

'Vulgar Randism'

From Digby here.

It's heating up. . . .

I don't believe in banning books or censoring curriculum, but just because Atlas Shrugged is a nauseatingly puerile exercise in hot capitalist fantasy doesn't mean it doesn't contain some dangerous and powerful ideas that need to be taken seriously and countered systematically. It's very bad for our culture for that piece of trash to be so influential. The Randians are donating millions of books to high schools and endowing chairs at universities to sell this pernicious protection racket for the malefactors of great wealth. Far more people have been exposed to this received conservative wisdom than have even a bare knowledge of Karl Marx (or Adam Smith.) It's not just another bad romance novel.

See here. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Alan Greenspan is--or was--a Randian and has, since the financial meltdown he helped precipitate, admitted the error of his ways.

Friday, November 21, 2008

TGIF!

I have almost a normal weekend this weekend. The abnormal thing is that the electrician is coming tomorrow between 10:30 and 1:30. There's also the matter of paying the bill. I've already put $500 down and paid an extra $200, over and above the original estimate of $2,333.85, for rewiring the recessed lights. The electrical contractor wants me to pay them directly tomorrow when the electrician comes. The Home Depot kitchen expediter told me today she hasn't seen any details of the work they've done (apparently it's supposed to be in the computer system). I talked to one of the kitchen designers tonight, and he said to tell the electrician that Home Depot said I had to pay through Home Depot, and that if they had any questions, to call the store. (I also left a message with the District Service Manager.)

I'm concerned that the electrical contractor could be overcharging me behind Home Depot's back. Also, they didn't do some of the work shown on the estimate, and here today they're quoting me the full $2,333.85. Sorry but I don't trust them. I'll also talk with my own kitchen designer about this tomorrow morning before the electrician gets here.

Tonight, after a tea at Starbucks, I put away a lot more stuff in the kitchen. I still have to figure out where I'm going to put some things before I can put it all away.

Now at least I can prepare a meal. All the bags of kitchen items have been cleared from my bedroom. I'm also about ready to fold up the card table here in this room, which served as a kitchen counter for months.

(Click photo to see big mess.)

'Get over it, Clinton haters'

"Obama's choice of rival Hillary Clinton for secretary of state shows his political wisdom. And the vetting suggests the Clintons -- surprise! -- have little to hide." Joe Conason in Salon here.

For a broad array of editorialists, pundits and kibitzers, as well as anybody else still obsessed with old resentments against the Clintons, the weeks since Election Day have inflicted a profound sensation of cognitive dissonance, as Barack Obama kept naming the friends and allies of his former rival to run his transition and his government. Now with reports that Hillary Rodham Clinton will indeed be appointed secretary of state, those feelings may even induce a stroke here or there.

Wasn't Obama the One who would exorcise the Clintonite demons from our midst and cleanse the capital of their sins?

Whatever the merits of any of the president-elect's particular personnel choices, he has hardly betrayed the faith of his supporters -- and in fact has displayed the very character and maturity that they always attributed to him. To say the least, he has showed that he cannot be swayed from exercising his own judgment by the petty backbiting of Washington at its worst. . . .

Whether Obama's appointments make sense can only be judged when those he has chosen have an opportunity to perform -- a caveat that applies to Clinton along with all the others, from Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff to Eric Holder as attorney general. But it should now be clear that the president-elect does not share the jaundiced view of the Clinton administration -- or the Clintons -- held so insistently by some of his own supporters. . . .

Meanwhile, the president-elect in his wisdom has repudiated the Clinton-bashing mythology of the '90s. Perhaps that is what he meant when he promised to say goodbye to all the partisan poison of the past.

'Obama Rejects Clinton Derangement Syndrome'

From Big Tent Democrat here.

In all the talk about Hillary at State, I have been remiss in giving President-Elect Obama real credit for performing an incredibly important task for the Democratic Party - his rebuke of Clinton Derangement Syndrome. Via Digby (whose post is also a must read), Eric Boehlert wrote a great piece on the matter:

We've said it before, but we fear we're going to have to make this point many more times in the coming weeks. It's now clear that a portion of the opinion press viewed the historic 2008 campaign through the extremely narrow lens of getting rid of the Clintons; of driving them off the national stage and humiliating the highest profile Democrats of the last 15 years. That's what the campaign was about for them. Not politics or policy or the future of the country. It was about them not liking the Clintons. The campaign represented some sort of deliverance from them.

But now that it's becoming clear that the new Obama team does not necessarily share that deep-seated disdain, and now that it's clear that the media's CDS is not being embraced by a new generation of Democratic Party leaders, some afflicted pundits are very, very angry. What was the point of that election, they demand.

(Emphasis supplied.) Full disclosure, Eric is a friend of this blog.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday night

Forget the white vase. I went back to Pier One tonight and got these white birds instead. I thought they were kind of cute and unusual. This is about 10 1/2 inches tall.

About the post below re: the health insurance companies. Ultimately, the U.S. government shouldn't be subsidizing the health insurance companies by helping the American people pay their premiums. I suspect someday that will end. Meanwhile a lot of people in the health insurance business are going to have to find other jobs or retire. My father was in the insurance business himself (and is a Republican), so I can understand the concerns of the insurance companies and their employees. Time for a change, progress, whatever.

I think insurance is a great business (but not when it comes to health care). When I went to Europe after high school, my father got me an appointment with someone at Lloyd's of London (in London), who showed me around Lloyd's, including the main floor, where they ring the bell to signal a disaster (such as the sinking of a ship). (I saw the bell--it's brass. It didn't ring.)

Now that I have my kitchen back (almost), I've been filling the apartment with wonderful cooking smells. The last two nights, I've made myself an egg fried in butter. (At least I can eat again--after that intestinal flu.) You can imagine how upset I was when the minute the kitchen became operable again, I couldn't eat anything but crackers and bananas.

One more day of work, and I'm off for two days. The electrician is coming in on Saturday between 10:30 and 1:30 to finish up the work in the kitchen and install the ceiling fan in this room.

More naked Daniel Radcliff romping onstage

(No, that's not Daniel Radcliff. Click on the arrow.) From Equus.


Find more videos like this on !! omg blog !!

(Via DudeTube)

Health insurance industry sees writing on wall

From Washington Monthly here (via Talk Left).

BRINGING ALL THE HEALTHCARE PIECES TOGETHER.... Following up on Hilzoy's overnight item, momentum for major healthcare reform in the next Congress got a little stronger yesterday, when the health insurance industry said it would support extending coverage to everyone, in exchange for a healthcare mandate for all Americans. Given the insurance industry's role in helping kill the Clinton plan 15 years ago, this is obviously an important development.

Hilzoy noted that the mandate is clearly the right policy, so the insurance industry's demand is arguably a positive development. But then there's the politics -- while the Clinton/Edwards approach included a mandate, Obama's campaign plan didn't. Is this a problem? I doubt it. For one thing, I suspect Obama would be thrilled to have external forces force his hand on this. . . .

From the Wall Street Journal article mentioned in the post (emphasis added):

On Wednesday, the insurance industry's Washington trade group issued a statement saying it could accept new rules requiring companies to cover sick people, as well as healthy ones, as long as all Americans were required to have insurance, with subsidies for those who need them. The declaration by America's Health Insurance Plans is a switch from the industry's long-time opposition to rules that bar the common practice of weeding out customers who are likely to rack up too many bills.

(You may wonder why these companies are in the health care business to begin with if they refuse "to cover sick people." (Emphasis added.) What's the point of having private companies involved in our health care if they can't afford to pay benefits for sick people? It's insane.)

At any rate, the question now is: At what cost--to pay all those expensive executives and their duplicative bureaucracies? Single-payer is still the way to go. Someday...

Ballots challenged in the Minnesota race for Senate

Interesting article here. You can vote on what the voter intended and see the results. (Via The Left Coaster)

'Is it OK to be liberal again, instead of progressive?'

I'll stick with "progressive" -- "liberal" carries too much baggage. "Progressive" is more descriptive anyway. Now move along. (Salon story here.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Joan Walsh: 'Trust Obama on Clinton'

I also think Obama knows what he's doing. Her column is here.

I find myself in a very strange position this week. When the world was overtaken by Obamamania last year, I was a late swooner. Some may recall that I even occasionally criticized the Democratic nominee. So why am I mainly happy with the way Obama's handled the presidential transition, when so many early swooners, especially in the blogosphere and mainstream media, are so critical?

Since his most controversial move is (reportedly) considering Hillary Clinton for secretary of state, it's clear my respect for Clinton has a lot to do with it. I thought she'd be an excellent president, so it's not surprising I think she'd be a good choice for secretary of state. She's smart and tough, has a lot of respect worldwide, she had an international portfolio as first lady, and she's strengthened that experience as a senator and on the Armed Services Committee. She'd also be a strong voice for women's rights globally.

But there's one qualification to my belief that she'd be a good choice: I only think so if Barack Obama thinks so. . . .

'Tough luck, Sarah'

Left Coaster post here.

Here's some good news:

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens loses re-election bid

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has lost his bid for a seventh term. The longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate trailed Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by 3,724 votes after Tuesday's count. That's an insurmountable lead with only about 2,500 overseas ballots left to be counted.

Apparently, the state will pay for a recount at a 1500 vote difference, but Stevens would have to pay if the difference is higher. I doubt he'll go for it, but you never know. Whatever plans for another go at national politics Sarah Palin may have had, this result definitely closes a door she can't "plow through," at least not in the near future. That makes me very happy. Go Al Franken!

I just heard on Countdown that Stevens won't be contesting the vote.

'Hugh Jackman crowned People's "Sexiest Man Alive"'

Yahoo story here.

See here too ("Whose chest is best?"). (I didn't know Matt was so toned.)

Wednesday night

Was out shopping tonight, looking for a big new white vase to go on the new bar top. Went to four stores: two Rosses, Pier One, and a linen store. Saw the perfect thing at Ross, but it wasn't white. (I can always spray something white.) Was also at Sports Authority looking for tank tops (they had one, on sale, in XXL) and Walgreen's for new clip-on sunglasses, which I found right away. Ended up buying a lampshade at Ross and a $20 cap (!) at Sports Authority. I guess it's not the season for tank tops. So I wasn't at the gym tonight. That's OK.

Today I attended a training session at work on Internet Explorer 7, which I've been using at home for months. Learned all about the tabbed browsing and links features, and tonight made some useful links here at home.

Talked at length to my friend in Canada tonight. His mother had been in the hospital with potential cardiac problems. It turns out she only needed her drugs adjusted. From everything I've heard first-hand about Canada's universal health care system, it works fine. We're gonna get it here too. It's about time. I think our corporations will breathe a sigh a relief, since their competitiveness worldwide is hampered by their health insurance costs in the U.S.

Most countries with whom we compete have excellent universal heath care programs, which cost much less than our hodgepodge system that supports so many insurance company bureaucracies and their expensive corporate officers, with their exorbitant bonuses and golden parachutes. And meanwhile, they do everything in their power (and spend all amount of money) to deny benefits to people who truly need them. It's immoral.

Aside from being immoral, this system doesn't work. It's a perfect example of the inappropriateness of relying on laissez-faire capitalism to solve all our problems (the Bush administration's mantra, supported by Alan Greenspan, who recently discredited himself by admitting his ideological adherence to Ayn Rand was mistaken and has resulted in the disastrous situation we now face in the unregulated financial sector, with all of its repercussions). Unless the health insurance companies deny treatment to people who need it, their business can't be profitable. It's ultimately a no-win situation for them.

No amount of tax breaks and other gimmicks (touted by John McCain) can salvage this decrepit system.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday night

Alison Stewart sitting in for Rachel Maddow tonight. She's a helluva lot better than Rachel. Much more articulate, better energy (or, I should just say, energy). Doesn't trip over her words. More professional. Much better looking (and that matters in a visual medium). Rachel should go back to Air America. I really don't like her (as I've said before), and don't think she's doing Obama any good at this point (and she is--or was--a staunch Obama supporter). She's just trying to get attention.

Also, Obama pretty much decided Joe Lieberman's retaining his committee chairmanship today. Rachel was essentially bucking Obama on this. How could she? Sorry. I'm just not a big fan. I'm sure Obama knows what he's doing. I think Rachel has failed. (Where is she, anyway?)

GI problems are gone. Next.

Didn't try to get anything done in the kitchen tonight. I'll wait till the weekend. There's no rush, and I'm still thinking about what goes where. Was back at Starbucks tonight for a leisurely tea. Hadn't been there in a while. Needed to chill.

Nice weather we're having. Back to the gym tomorrow.

Obama and the Supreme Court

Salon story is here.

So will an Obama presidency usher in a new liberal era on the court? The short answer: probably not . . . . Since the justices most likely to retire are from the court's liberal wing, Obama will have less of an opportunity to tilt the court's ideological orientation. Currently, the court has a rough balance of power, with four conservative justices, four liberal and a swing vote in Justice Kennedy. . . .

Stephanie Miller's on Larry King tonight

At 9:00 EST on CNN.

Update: Apparently she was bumped by Thomas Friedman. He was very good, however. But I missed "The Stagers" (looked like a repeat anyway).

I'd received this email earlier:

Hey Everyone!

Just wanted to let you all know that Steph has just been booked on CNN's "Larry King Live" tonight at 9pm Eastern / 6pm Pacific. Be sure to tune in to see what she has to say this time!

Sincerely,

Team Steph

Obama speaks to Global Climate Summit in LA

'FDR On The Comeback Trail'

Read Big Tent Democrat's post here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday night

Feels like Tuesday night, since I worked yesterday. It's going to be a long week. Fortunately next week is Thanksgiving and we have the Friday off, too (on which day I'm trying to schedule the final inspection for the kitchen remodeling project).

Arianna Huffington sitting in for Rachel Maddow tonight. You'd think she could afford to get some lessons to lose some of that heavy accent. Sorry, but I have a hard time understanding what she says. (And to think she was schooled at Oxford (or Cambridge).) She definitely shouldn't be on TV. She's a sharp person, but I think her accent is a distraction and an impediment to getting her message across. (The Gabor sisters could get away with it, since they didn't have much to say.) Arianna comes across much better in writing.

I guess some people just have a deaf ear when it comes to accents. Not to brag, but I've been told more than once, by Germans, that I speak unaccented German--though it's been a while since I've spoken it. (I still have dreams in German, however.) I got my fundamental training in German at the Goethe-Institut in Ebersberg outside of Munich, a great place to learn it. (I think that the school there has since been turned into a spa.)

(Gays appear to be good at languages, judging by the number of gays with language skills that have been booted out of the military on account of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." And a lot of these people knew Arabic.)

I think my stomach flu is gone (I won't go into the details). Tonight I made a lean hamburger for dinner (had to add olive oil for it to fry in) and a recipe of chili to take to work. Now that the kitchen is back in order, it's time to clean out the freezer. I haven't cleaned it out since before B. left. (That'll take ten minutes.)

The water here lately has been horrible, very heavily chlorine-tasting and -smelling. See here. Since the water has been hooked back up to the refrigerator, I've been drinking the filtered water from the fridge. Before that, I went through almost all my hurricane emergency bottled water. But the hurricane season is almost over, thank God.

Weather has been beautiful. This is the time of year when South Florida really becomes almost magical.

Nobel economist Krugman swats down George Will

I'm so sick of these ideologues.

Gingrich: 'gay and secular fascism'

From Media Matters here, via Dibgy.

I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion. And I think if you believe in historic Christianity, you have to confront the fact. And, frank -- for that matter, if you believe in the historic version of Islam or the historic version of Judaism, you have to confront the reality that these secular extremists are determined to impose on you acceptance of a series of values that are antithetical, they're the opposite, of what you're taught in Sunday school.

I went to Sunday school too and dare say I turned out to be a better Christian than Newt Gingrich or Bill O'Reilly.

'Powerline Proves Universal Health Care Makes GM and Chrysler Profitable'

From Firedoglake here.

The simplest thing to do to help the US economy (by not losing millions of jobs and one of the few remaining export industries) is to just pass universal health care, taking those costs off them, and in the meantime give them bridging funds to get them by until that's done. Foreign car companies have far fewer health care costs, so all universal health care does is even out the playing field. . . .

Obama on '60 Minutes'

(From Talk Left)

Georgia Dem's new ad features Obama

From Salon here.

'George W. Hoover?'

Neoconservative William Kristol (the one who brought us Sarah Palin) writes this in his New York Times column today.

Last week, assembled at Miami’s InterContinental Hotel for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association, the governors seemed cheerful. . . .

But there was an almost-never-mentioned elephant in the Versailles Ballroom (yes, that’s its name) full of Republicans: George W. Bush. For the hard fact is this: The worst financial crisis in almost 80 years has happened on his watch. The Bush administration will leave behind probably the most severe recession in at least a quarter-century. Fairly or unfairly, this will be viewed as George Bush’s economic meltdown.

If Republicans and conservatives don’t come to grips with what’s happened — and can’t develop an economic agenda moving forward that seems to incorporate lessons learned from what’s happened — then they could be back, politically, in 1933.

From 1933 to 1980, Republicans repeatedly failed to convince the country they were no longer the party of Herbert Hoover — the party, as it was perceived, of economic incompetence, austerity and recession (if not depression). . . .

I don’t pretend to know just what has to be done. But I suspect that free-marketers need to be less doctrinaire and less simple-mindedly utility-maximizing, and that they should depend less on abstract econometric models. I think they’ll have to take much more seriously the task of thinking through what are the right rules of the road for both the private and public sectors. They’ll have to figure out what institutional barriers and what monetary, fiscal and legal guardrails are needed for the accountability, transparency and responsibility that allow free markets to work.

And I don’t see why conservatives ought to defend a system that permits securitizing mortgages (or car loans) in a way that seems to make the lenders almost unaccountable for the risk while spreading it, toxically, everywhere else. I don’t see why a commitment to free markets requires permitting banks or bank-like institutions to leverage their assets at 30 to 1. There’s nothing conservative about letting free markets degenerate into something close to Karl Marx’s vision of an atomizing, irresponsible and self-devouring capitalism.

If conservatives do some difficult re-thinking in the field of political economy, they can come back. If they don’t — well, there were a lot of admirable conservative thinkers and writers, professors and novelists, from 1933 to 1980. But conservatives didn’t govern.

'The New Liberalism'

New Yorker article here.

Obama will enter the White House at a moment of economic crisis worse than anything the nation has seen since the Great Depression; the old assumptions of free-market fundamentalism have, like a charlatan’s incantations, failed to work, and the need for some “new machinery” is painfully obvious. But what philosophy of government will characterize it?

The answer was given three days before the election by a soldier and memoirist of the Reagan revolution, Peggy Noonan, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Something new is happening in America. It is the imminent arrival of a new liberal moment.” The Journal’s editorial page anticipated with dread “one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven’t since 1965, or 1933. In other words, the election would mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s.” The Journal’s nightmare scenario of America under President Obama and a Democratic Congress included health care for all, a green revolution, expanded voting rights, due process for terror suspects, more powerful unions, financial regulation, and a shift of the tax burden upward. (If the editorial had had more space, full employment and the conquest of disease might have made the list.) . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Obama on '60 Minutes' tonight

Was unable to watch it--I was at work. See '60 Minutes' here for videos (unable to embed them). (See here also.)

Cynthia Nixon, Joy Behar talk Prop. 8

From The Advocate

Wanda Sykes comes out in wake of Prop. 8

Advocate story here.

Interview will Bill Ayers

From Salon. Full interview here.

Sunday night

Natural air conditioning tonight. Have the electrical mechanical energy-guzzling A/C contraption off and the windows open.

Had to work today till 7:30 p.m.--thus no posts. Picked up a Mexican pizza from Taco Bell on the drive home, fed me and the cats, then watched "Desperate Housewives." Really good. Even the garage band silliness redeemed itself. (Why did the owner of the night club have the emergency exit padlocked?)

I really don't mind working on the weekends. Much less stressful. No phones, no emails, no dress code, no traffic, nobody there.

Saturday night late

GI problem seems to be abating (in case you'd like to know). I'd been afraid I might end up in the hospital, diagnosed with some exotic tropical disease.

Finished off the shrimp and scallops from Red Lobster tonight (not bad cold). I've been so hungry but afraid to irritate my GI tract with the wrong foods and suffer the consequences. I weighed myself at Publix a few days ago, and I'd lost 7 pounds since last Sunday at the gym. Not a bad thing, however. I was a little flabby. (Still am.)

Have to work tomorrow, but not till 12:30.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I can has cheezburger?

I've seen these cartoons before but didn't know where they came from. Saw this story in Salon. See website here (if you haven't already). Funny stuff.

(I did this one.)

Incredibly dumb law to be amended

Saturday night chaos

Spent most of the day putting the kitchen back together. As you can see, I'm not quite finished. (I'm probably half-way through, if that.) I also cooked a hamburger--first time I'd been able to use the stove in a while. The exhaust fan in the new microwave above the stove kicks ass.

The fan on the counter (at right, sitting on top of the Building Permit) will be hung here in the "computer room" next Saturday. (It used to hang in the kitchen before I sprayed it white.) The new fan looks a lot better in the kitchen (see below).

The first thing I did today was hang the paper towel holder (at an angle) from the cabinet above the sink. Unfortunately I also pierced the inside of the cabinet. Fixed the damage, however. It was minor. You can't even tell.

I haven't been out of the house all day, not even to the garbage chute.

Talked to my father today. He hasn't heard from my brother in "months and months." (He was homeless for a while. Long story.)

Fontainebleau grand re-opening

Miami Herald slide show here. Lots of celebrities in attendance, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Martha Stewart, P. Diddy, Kate Hudson, Paris Hilton and Heidi Klum, to name just a few.

Hundreds protest Florida's gay marriage ban

From The Miami Herald.

Hundreds came to Miami Beach City Hall Saturday afternoon as part of a national Join the Impact movement to protest this month's passage of anti-gay-marriage laws in Florida, California and Arizona. About 1,000 protested in Fort Lauderdale.

See here (lots of photos).

'Saving Detroit From Itself'

New York Times editorial here.

We have seen a lot of posturing, but we haven’t heard a lot of sense in the debate over whether the government should spend even more to bail out Detroit’s foundering automakers.

Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican of Alabama, is wrong when he says that the troubles of the Big Three are “not a national problem.” The Detroit companies support nearly 250,000 workers and more than a million retirees and dependents, as well as millions of workers at part makers and dealerships. A messy bankruptcy filing by any of the big car companies, in the midst of this recession, would likely cost the government and the economy more than trying to keep them afloat.

At the same time, Congressional Democrats and President-elect Barack Obama, who are pushing for many billions worth of emergency aid for the nation’s least-competent carmakers, must ensure that tough conditions are attached to any rescue package. If not, the money will surely be wasted. . . .

The automakers hitched their fate to gas-guzzling trucks, and they obstinately refused to acknowledge that oil is a finite resource and that burning it limitlessly is harming the planet. They lobbied strenuously against tighter fuel-efficiency standards. That wrongheadedness did them in as gas prices spiked and consumers flocked to energy-efficient cars made by Toyota and Honda. . . .

Obama premieres weekly YouTube address

"Everything Old is New Again"

'Keep Lieberman in the Caucus (For Now)'

This also from The Nation.

Lieberman's ridiculous appearance at last summer's Republican National Convention should have been sufficient punishment for the senator from Connecticut. After all, the man who was himself the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000 had to try and find nice things to say about McCain's veep pick, the absurdly unqualified Sarah Palin.

But there are many Democrats who now propose to purge Lieberman from the party's Senate caucus -- a move that would strip him of committee assignments and the advantages that accrue to a senior senator serving with the protection of the majority party. The issue will come to a head in short order, as the new Senate majority determines whether to kick this particular senator out of the club.

Were I a senator, I'd oppose the purge.

It is not that I have any particular taste for Lieberman or his policies. I have interviewed the man a number of times and covered him in many settings and, frankly, he has always impressed me as a self-serving petty moralist who is a bit too bemused by himself . . . .

But it strikes me that purging members from caucuses never looks very good and never has the desired effect of achieving the ever-illusive goal of ideological purity. . . .

My sense is that Democrats would be wiser to keep Lieberman in the Democratic circle for so long as he sides with the caucus on cloture votes. After all, if Al Franken prevails in the Minnesota recount and Jim Martin wins the Georgia run-off -- both serious prospects -- a Democratic caucus that includes Lieberman will have 59 Senate seats. And if Alaska's Nick Begich comes from behind as that state counts the last of its ballots -- a more remote prospect -- a Democratic caucus that includes Lieberman will have the 60 seats needed to block a Republican filibuster. . . .

If Democrats did somehow get to 60 in the Senate, and if Lieberman then betrayed the party on a critical vote, that would be the point at which to debate expelling him from the caucus.

At this point, the discussion sounds more like venting than smart, or serious, politics.

So there, Rachel Maddow!! (And this is ridiculous.)