Friday, March 31, 2017

Dumb Democrat Emails

Democrats are my second least-favorite political party.

Here's an email I received today - from the DCCC.   It makes me angry.  (Should be easier to read if you click on the picture.)

(Here's the same text written in text to help dumb search engine bots:)
Subject: AUTO-CONFIRM: [Member Status (03/31/2017)]

We hate to bug you again, but this is the FINAL NOTICE OF YOUR DEMOCRATIC MEMBERSHIP before tonights End of Quarter Deadline

(my email address appeared here)
2017 Membership: Pending

This is our first End of Quarter deadline since President T---p took office . . . 
and we're desperately behind our goal.
That's why every top Democrat asked for your help:
Martin Sheen emailed you!
Carole King emailed you!
Donna Brazile emailed you!
Barney Frank emailed you!
James Carville emailed you THREE TIMES!
Keith Ellison emailed you!
Khizr Khan emailed you!
Nancy Pelosi emailed you SIX TIMES!

This is your FINAL NOTICE to answer their calls before the Triple Match expires.
Pitch in $1 before the deadline hits in 11 hours:

Triple match your $1 >>

Triple match your $35 >>

Triple match your $50 >>

Triple match your $100 >>

Triple match your $250 >>
Or triple match another amount >>



Let me just tick off some of the issues I have with this communication:

  1. "We're desperately behind"?  Desperation is not a good image for America's second ranked political party.  Quarterly fund-raising goals are made up things, nothing I can get excited about.  This is fake news.
  2. "2017 Membership: pending"?  My "membership" in what, exactly?  I'm a Democrat only by virtue of my local voter registration.  Giving money to your political action committee doesn't make me a Democrat (or a democrat) - even if that's what I wanted to be.  (What I am call myself now is "progressive".)
  3. FINAL NOTICE?  Believe me, this will not be the last email I get from the DCCC (even if I unsubscribed, which I probably should.)  Threatening me with loss of my membership is just plain silly.
  4. My email?  (I covered it with a red bar.)  I never gave you my email, DCCC.  I gave it to that guy Bernie Sanders - you may have heard of him.  He talks about issues in his emails.  After he lost the primaries, I started getting emails from someone named Hillary.  I don't hear from her anymore.  I suspect you party guys have been trading email lists.  (Also: instead of inserting my email into your form letter, try inserting my name next time.)
  5. "Every top Democrat"?  I believe Martin Sheen and Carole King are entertainers.  James Carville and Donna Brazile are party hacks.  I liked Barney Frank when he was in Congress and I have great hope that your latest runner-up, Keith Ellison, will not become yet another hack.  I feel sorry for Khizr Khan - he lost his son in the fight for . . . what exactly?  There may not be all that many "top Democrats" left - but can't you do better than this list?
  6. Nancy Pelosi  Nancy, how are you still a Democratic leader, a top Democrat?  Why weren't you replaced after the Democrats lost control of the House in 2010?  Or after the elections in 2012, or 2014 or 2016?   Didn't you hear me screaming at you in my car recently as I listened to you being interviewed about health care on NPR.  "Mention single payer!" I shouted repeatedly at you.  You couldn't say the words or even hint at the idea.  Your goal was simply to defend the status quo, Obamacare (which, I like to point out, was originally a Republican idea to give corporate welfare to insurance companies.)
  7. "Pitch in $1"?  Only one?  Don't worry, you're not going to get even a buck from me.  Leslie and I do give money to organizations that protect Americans from the shenanigans of other political party - including ACLU, SPLC, LDF, the Brady Campaign, Planned Parenthood.  These are things we believe in.  I suspect that if I gave my extra buck to a homeless person on the street it would do more to change society that it would if I gave it to you, the DCCC.  If you're going to ask for our money - and you do that repeatedly in a continuing stream of emails - you need to articulate some goals I respect.
  8. "Triple match"?  Really - matched by whom exactly?  A special interest of some sort.  Possibly a big Wall Street bank?   Isn't this just a ploy to make me think my money somehow can become more valuable than it really is?  If you need to show that Americans support the Democratic party by inflating the number of donors, the party needs to give us Americans things to believe in.
Hey DCCC, your emails make you look like losers.   This one in particular does that and all the many others begging me for a spare buck have done the same thing.  You're doing this to yourselves.  You're branding yourselves as also rans.  Meanwhile, the other "team" is busy trying to get its own act together.  All you've done is to make yourselves look foolish and irrelevant.

Would it be too hard to mention a few issues the next time you write to me?  For example, why can't you mention raising the minimum wage?  Why don't you talk about Medicare For All?  Just a hint that you want to help students afford college tuition would be great.   I hope you support those things.   Those are positive things that many Americans can get behind.  There are many more.

Here's my advice - mention at least one of these major, positive  issues in every single email.  You send me a lot of emails and every one is a chance to address an issue.  Also, you should find a way to mention these issues every single time you open your mouths in public.  Do it in every interview on NPR or, for that matter, anywhere else.

Start talking about the issues and eventually I might start to think you're worth an extra buck.

Hey, DCCC - if you're really curious about what you, the Democratic Party, is doing wrong - I suggest you read Don't let establishment opportunists ruin the resistance movement, by Thomas Frank,  in The Guardian.  I'll quote some of it for you:
But opportunism never sleeps, and with the rage and the resistance of recent weeks some far less noble characters have seen a chance to develop a new con. They’re up on the resistance bandwagon right now, rending their garments, shaking their fists and praying that no one holds them responsible for the dead end into which they’ve steered us over the years. Inveighing loudly against Trump has become, for the people I am describing, a means of rescuing an ideology that has proven a disaster.
There is a possibility that the resistance to Trump will turn out the same way – that it will become a vehicle for our Enron Democrats to avoid accountability. “I don’t think people want a new direction,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in December. Now is not the moment for infighting, others have insisted, but for unity and togetherness. Unity behind the existing leadership, that is. Changing the personnel in the C-Suites will only weaken us, they will say; hell, we can’t even afford to see our leaders criticized.
And so the thinkers of the “center left” proceed to hold their failed leaders above scrutiny and to redouble their commitment to the shabby ideology that allowed Trump to win.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Articles of Politics

There's been a flood of thoughtful editorial writing analyzing recent political changes in our democracy-based republic.  There was already a lot during the election, but now there's so much more.  I try to keep up as best I can, really I do, yet I'm losing the battle.

To cope, I've started saving links to articles which I think I might want to refer to later.  That list is growing out of hand.

Meanwhile, today is the last day of February and I haven't posted to Mixed Meters yet.  I figured it ought to be easy to link to some of those articles.  Now you can not refer to these articles also.  Don't expect much continuity in this post.  Just go with the flow.

Deep Throat said "Follow the Money".  At least he said that in the movie.  Here's a short article about why the Republicans hate Obamacare so very very very very much.  (Hint, it's about money.)  Here are quotes:
at its most basic level, [Obamacare] raises taxes on the top 1 percent to pay for health insurance for the bottom 40 percent. So undoing Obamacare would undo a lot of taxes at the top, and a lot of subsidies at the bottom.
It's a reverse Robin Hood. It's taking tax subsidies from the poor to give as tax cuts to the rich. The starkest way to think about that is that the bottom 60 percent would get negative 61.1 percent of the total benefits of getting rid of Obamacare, while the top 1 percent would get 117.5 percent. That's right: the wealthiest would gain more than the country as a whole would, because the working class wouldn't be gaining anything at all. They'd be losing tax credits, and the health insurance those bought them.

Deciding who rules the country has come down to convincing a few percent of the people in a few swing states to switch sides.  Apparently these people flip from left to right based on catchphrases and short soundbites.

One author, George Lakoff, is trying to explain to the Democrats that how you say things is as important as what you say.  He's a professor of linguistics and he talks a lot about framing of an argument.

As an example he suggests that governmental regulations should be referred to as "governmental protections".  Here's a quote from an interview called Don’t think of a rampaging elephant:
what are regulations? Why do people have them? They’re there for protection of the public in every [case]. Why do you have environmental regulations? To protect against pollution and global warming and so on. Things that are harmful. Why do you have an SEC regulation? To protect investors, and protect people who have mortgages. Why do you have food and drug regulations? To protect against poisons. This is important. You’re protecting against corporate malfeasance. Corporate harm to the public. When they say, “We’re getting rid of these regulations", no one reports in the media, “They have gotten rid of protections, and they’re going to get rid of more protections!”

I have my own advice for the Democratic party.  I think that every time a Democrat talks in public they should change the subject to one of these issues:
  • protecting the environment, 
  • protecting civil liberties,
  • a living minimum wage, 
  • universal healthcare, 
  • income and wealth inequality, 
  • making college affordable, 
  • protecting the rights of minorities, 
  • women's rights,
  • freedom of the press.
Unfortunately, the Democrats are spending way too much time thinking about that goddamn elephant.  Hey Democrats, the elephant is irrelevant.  These actual issues that will protect and improve people's lives are what you should talk about incessantly.

We are repeatedly told by Republicans that government should be more like business and that successful business people would make good politicians.  This philosophy of course is a lie designed to benefit people who own big businesses.  This pro-business attitude has a name, neoliberalism.

Liberalism gets a lot of negative coverage from the right-wingnut press, but liberalism is very different than neo-liberalism.  Neoliberals never call themselves neoliberals.  It's a well-deserved term of derision.  This article entitled Neoliberalism - the ideology at the root of all our problems, by the excellent journalist George Monbiot, is a good intro to the subject.  Here are some quotes:
So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power. Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.
The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows. Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

I think this Toy Story meme refers only to Democratic neoliberals.  The Republican ones want you to have lots of guns but not women's health care or marriage freedom.

Like it or not (and I don't much like it although there's nothing I can do about it), the United States has only two political parties.  This is not going to change.  The Republican party insists on being wrong about everything, so that leaves the Democrats as our only hope.  Sadly, some Democrats aren't much better.

Robert Reich, an estimable if somewhat lonely liberal voice in today's Democratic party, wrote this article The life of the party - 7 truths for Democrats, in which he speaks directly to what the Democratic party needs to do in the future if it wants to survive.  Here are his seven points (mostly as paraphrased by me):
  • The party is on life support.
  • We are now in a populist era.
  • The economy is not working for most Americans
  • The party's moneyed establishment are part of the problem.
  • Democrats have to fight like hell against regressive policies.
  • The excitement of the Sanders campaign is the future of the party.
  • The party must become a movement.

As long as we're into lists, this one about how to deal with the Republican administration appeared on the Internet.  It's unattributed.

Rules of Engagement
  1. Don't use his name (he who shall remain nameless)
  2. Remember this is a regime and he's not acting alone;
  3. Do not argue with those who support him--it doesn't work;
  4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state;
  5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow.
  6. No more helpless/hopeless talk
  7. Support artists and the arts
  8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it.
  9. Take care of yourselves
  10. Resist!

It's very possible that the Republican presidential candidate was a con-artist.  This article How I Accidentally Helped Elect [The Republican Candidate] was written by a man who produced infomercials for a living.  He lists five ways in which the Republican campaign was like an infomercial.  These are:
  • Use gaudy, fake wealth to lure people.
  • Build credibility via conspiracy theories.
  • Create a problem we didn't know we had.
  • Establish a mantra.
  • Repetition.
The article goes into a bit of detail on how the Republican candidate used these techniques in the last election.

Here's another article about [his] salesmanship techniques.  It's called [He] Sold America A Miracle Cure and the reference is to huckster traveling snake-oil salesmen.  The article addresses the question of what will happen when his supporters figure out that he sold them a bill of goods.  Answer - not much.  Quotes:
When people make big bets on miracle cures that fail to work, they rarely turn against the treatments or their merchants. Instead, they rationalize their misplaced faith, in order to save face, remain hopeful, and preserve an identity that’s defined by their courageous ability to reject the status quo.
Many who trust Trump to heal our body politic do so for the same reasons that people like my friend—normal, reasonable people—trust quacks to heal their bodies. They have been swayed by a powerful confluence of factors—specifically, epistemic uncertainty, existential panic, and anti-elitism. These factors ensure that even when reality hits, when insurance rates go up but the wall does not, the marks will place the blame somewhere else.
Those fancy terms get explained in the article.

It's my belief that SCROTUS wouldn't have won the presidency without his appeals to the very real racism in America today.  This article from Vox details a statistical study which shows a stronger correlation between racist and sexist attitudes and voting Republican than between economic concerns and voting Republican.  Here's a quote:
voters’ measures of sexism and racism correlated much more closely with support for [the Republican candidate] than economic dissatisfaction after controlling for factors like partisanship and political ideology:

What if statistics just isn't your thing??  What happens if words like correlation send you running for the aspirin?  Here's another article, this one written by a musician, albeit a very smart accomplished musician who just happens to be a college president.  His name is Leon Botstein.  In the article he says this:
What [...] white America has expressed by endorsing [the] campaign to “Make America Great Again” is not merely anger against elites in general but targeted resentment against the recent history of success by Americans of color. The racism in this year’s election was not about an older stereotype of the Willie Horton-type, but directed against Barack Obama. It is precisely the parity in the achievements of black Americans, those who have become CEOs, scholars, scientists, artists, doctors, lawyers and politicians—and now even president—that has fueled the resurgence of intolerance and anti-immigrant sentiment.

This article Debunked: The Myth That Ralph Nader Cost Al Gore the 2000 Election is the link I have needed to refer back to most often.  It is about the presidential election sixteen years ago.  This usually happens in Facebook discussions with Democrats who haven't admitted to their defeat in the 2000 election yet, let alone the one last November.

Yep, people misapply blame for Al Gore's loss to George II in Florida to Ralph Nader, rather than to Gore himself who surely deserves the blame.  Nader is still around and still saying things which most Democrats don't want to hear but should listen to.  One can hope that Bernie Sanders, who is not responsible for Hillary Clinton's loss (she is), will still be around in sixteen years saying whatever needs to be said.

Here is an excellent recent interview that Nader did with Tavis Smiley.  A couple quotes:
While the media is distracted with Trump’s braggadocios, falsifications, personal accusations, etc., the playbook is clear. He has invited big business to completely take over the U.S. government. So it’s a government of big business by big business for big business like never before in American history.
you can’t beat the entrenched Republicans with people who sound like Republicans
Finally, here's a Republican who's starting to sound like a reasonable person, even though he made a really lousy governor.  This is his most important movie ever.  It's called "Why Herpes is More Popular Than Congress".  It's about gerrymandering.

Move along.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Expect the Unexpected

You may have heard: a new U.S. president is being inaugurated.  You know who I'm talking about.

Many confused people and a lot of confusing pundits have been pouring out endless verbiage trying to predict the future under this new guy.  We all have a burning desire to know what he's going to do before he does it.  We need predictions NOW!

What, we ask over and over again, can we expect from the next four (or, more likely, eight) years?

The easy answer is, of course: "expect the unexpected."  That's exactly what we should have done during the election and history repeats itself, don'tchaknow?

Except, I hear you reply, that answer is unsatisfying and unhelpful.  Douglas Adams, in his Mixed Meters-approved The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, agreed with you. "This advice has annoyed many Hitch-Hikers in that it is ‘A’ - glib, and ‘B’ - a contradiction in terms." he wrote.

Okay, try this instead: "expect the worst".

We liberals know that things are not going to be pretty under the new administration.  And the good guys, by which I mean the Democrats (who are the best good guys we can expect these days, such as they are), have been left nearly powerless to fight back.

What's the best way to oppose the new president?  Sorry, I have no clue.  If you're reading this hoping for suggestions on how to persevere during the coming dark times, I apologize in advance.  Nothing useful will be found below.

Also, a word to the wise, don't expect this essay to end on a hopeful note.

There are some things I confidently expect will happen in the U.S. during the next four (or, more likely, eight) years.  For example, we need to expect that racism will be come much more obvious.  And hatred.  There you go . . . expect racism and hatred.

Also discrimination.  Expect racism and hatred and discrimination.  And bigotry.  Racism and hatred and discrimination and bigotry will become conspicuous throughout America under the new administration.  Just like it was, for opposite reasons, in the previous administration.  Bigotry, I sadly predict, will seep from America's pores.  It will ooze from orifices we forgot existed.

Expect that the new president and his administration will in large part be responsible for this reemergence of American racism, through sins of either commission or ommision.  Expect the new federal government to fight racism with half a heart (or less) and one hand tied behind its back (or more).

Expect that his racist supporters will respond to being called racist by calling their accusers racist.  Expect schoolyard name calling.  Expect that pretty soon everyone will have been called racist by somebody.  Expect Barack Obama to be blamed for everything.

Expect dog whistles, a lot of racist dog whistles.  Expect all their deplorable dogs to howl on cue when they hear the whistles.  When accused directly of whistling for his dogs (i.e. saying stuff that invites intolerance), or when actual blatantly hateful stuff comes directly out of his mouth, expect the new president to feign offense.  Expect him to tell us, over the sounds of baying hounds, that he never intended the thing he said to be interpreted that way.  "I never meant it like that" will be the new presidential plan for promoting equality and tolerance.

That's one thing to expect.  There are others . . .

Expect wealth transfer.

We need to expect that the rich, and only the rich, will get richer.  Expect to hear constant repetitions of the Republican dogma that tax cuts for the wealthy will trickle down in the form of jobs for average Americans.  (This dogma is pure bull shit of course.  It will not be seriously challenged while Republicans rule the roost.)

Expect billionaires to run the government for the benefit of their friends.  Expect kleptocracy.   And nepotism.  Expect tariffs.  Expect trade wars.  Expect deficits.  Expect cutbacks at the SEC.  Expect Wall Street and big banks to make out like bandits.  Expect another market crash.

Expect earnest sermons explaining that the free market will solve every problem.  Expect government rules designed to protect average people from rapacious capitalists to become a mere historical curiosity.

Expect the economy to get much worse for most people.  Expect that 99% of Americans will get screwed and half of those people will have no idea who is doing the screwing.  Expect increased inflation, unemployment, homelessness and hunger.  Do not, under any circumstances, expect to see his tax returns.

Expect Republicans to continue being wrong on every single issue facing America today.

Expect the Republicans to screw up.  

Expect kakistocracy.  Expect incompetence.  Expect infighting and confusion.  Expect mistakes.  Expect a long period of on-the-job training.  Expect lots of turnover in the cabinet.  Expect royal fuck ups.  When these fuck-ups finally get corrected (or, more likely, are papered over) expect the president to take full credit for fixing problems he himself caused.

Expect lots of Republican men to get caught in troglodyte-style sexual scandals.  Expect lots of grabbing of things which shouldn't be grabbed.  Expect decreasing moral standards.  Expect their ends to justify their means.  Expect those caught red-handed to chant hosannas of "I have sinned but now I'm saved.".

Expect heads in the sand.  Expect many cans to be kicked down the road.

Expect tweets.

Expect a growth industry in explaining his tweets.  And doctoral dissertations on his tweets.  And university courses.  And scholarly books and articles.  Finally, expect "The Collected Tweets", hardbound and softcover, self-published.  Also, expect Twitter to crash and burn as a company.

Expect double talk, shitloads of double talk.  Expect explanations that make no sense.  Expect pre-formed, think-tank-tested rote talking points.  Expect misleading answers to complex questions repeated over and over again.  Expect to hear the President of the United States talk at a fifth-grade level.

Expect narcissism.  Expect him to take offense.  Expect revenge.  Expect an enemies list.  Expect the IRS and FBI to harass his enemies for him.  Expect him to gloat when he wins.  Expect him to testify in civil lawsuits.  Expect many presidential vacations.

Expect incomprehensible shifts in foreign policy.  Expect him to favor those foreign countries where lots of blonde people live.  Expect to hear an awful lot about Vladimir Putin.  Expect that our president will be easy to provoke.  Expect some wannabe Osama bin Laden to attack unexpectedly.  Expect innocent people to die.  Expect knee-jerk reactions.

Expect that it will become increasingly difficult to distinguish real news from fake.  Expect that you won't be certain what the real facts are on countless important issues.  Expect half the population to use Snopes as a swear word.  Expect his press conferences to be a joke.  Try not to think about his State of the Union address.  Expect him to redecorate the White House.

Expect the polls to be less and less accurate.  Expect him to pay careful attention to his ratings.  Expect him to take credit he doesn't deserve and to announce imaginary accomplishments.  Expect reality television to become reality.

Expect him to be all over the map, literally (as in being the globe-trotting pomp and circumstance world leader of the world's most militant super power) and figuratively (as in saying whatever contradictory shit pops into his head the moment he thinks of it).   Expect his speeches to make early-symptoms-of-Alzheimer's Ronald Reagan look like a university physics professor cogently explaining string theory so well that even you can understand it.

Meanwhile . . .

Expect the Democrats to screw up too. 

Expect permanent outrage from the Dems.  Expect futile gestures.  Expect a circus of ineffectual protest.  Expect them to say pretty much anything to disparage those damn Republicans.   Expect them to tell us that everything his government does is dangerous and threatening.  Expect irrational expectations.  Expect bubbles.  Expect to hear predictions that he won't finish out his term until nearly the end of his second term.  Expect great disappointment.

Don't, under any circumstances expect the Democratic party to come together over issues.  Or at least be very surprised and relieved if they manage that trick.  Instead, expect them to waffle on the issues while they play petty politics.  Expect contradictions.  Expect double talk, shitloads of double talk.

Which issues will the opposition party ignore? Here are a few: protecting the environment, a living minimum wage, universal healthcare, income and wealth inequality, making college affordable, protecting the rights of minorities, women's rights.  I'm sure there are many more.  Expect that promoting positive issues aimed at improving the lives of average Americans will be the only way to defeat him, you know who I mean.

Instead, expect to actually hear the Democrats talk a lot about how Russia stole the election.  Expect to hear about how the new president is a really bad dude.  Expect to be reminded endlessly that he lost the popular vote.  Expect that all that may actually be true, if irrelevant.

Don't expect anyone to mention that we live in a republic not a true democracy.  Expect that negative talk will not change anything.  Sadly, expect that you have not heard the last of Hillary Clinton.  Expect neo-liberalism to retain full control over the Democratic party.  Expect Wall Street and big banks to make out like bandits.

Expect eventually to face facts.

Expect that realism will be a late-comer.  Like it or not, if you're a U.S. citizen, he is going to be president and that means he'll be your president.  We only get one president at a time and you're going to get used to him somehow.  Expect normalization.  Expect massive normalization.

I know you're saying "Nope.  Not me.  No normalization for me."  Good luck with that.  Expect your hopes to die.  Expect to be unhappy all the time.

Expect that the liberal hatred of the new president will not last as long nor be as intense as the conservative hatred of President Obama.  This is because the right wing confirmation bias is better funded by billions of American dollars spent by the evil Koch brothers and their ilk.

Expect bad news every day.  Expect a steady stream of new, gob-smacking, face-slapping, out-of-left-field news items about him and his sycophants and the stupid things they say and do.  Expect shocking, disgraceful, scandalous, dreadful, appalling leaks about his personal life.

Expect him not to care that he's a laughing stock who makes no sense to a majority of Americans. This is because his fans, the Deplorables, will always forgive the stupid things he says and does.  Expect them to ignore the most bizarre presidential behavior as long as the high court gives them freedom of public hate speech.  They mostly care about Supreme Court justices who are younger, handsomer and more conservative than Antonin Scalia.  They want a justice system which allows open expression of intolerance, racism, sexism, hatred, discrimination and bigotry to be an American right.  Expect them to get it.

Expect to hear the most horrific awful things about gay wedding cakes and transgender people who need to pee.

Expect a cult of personality.  Expect all the news will be about him - every news item, story, cartoon, movie or television show will remind you of the guy with orange hair and tanning salon skin.  Expect everything, every fuckin' thing on the planet, eventually, will turn to trump.  Yes, I'm using the phrase "turn to trump" as a euphemism for "turn to shit".

Expect all predictions will be wrong, including these.  Expect that there will be no comforting way to predict the future.  Expect that you won't know what to expect next.

In other words . . . expect the unexpected - which, as glib and contradictory as Douglas Adams said, is still the safest prediction.

Finally - - expect him to be lucky.

Reflect on the fact that this man, the one who will be the leader of the free-market world, has had a lifetime of lucky breaks.  He was lucky to be born blond and wealthy.  He was lucky to became a billionaire despite six bankruptcies.  And he nurtured his uncanny, almost supernatural talent for hucksterism and publicity all the way into the Oval Office, a place where, by any reasonable standards which I can fathom, he simply doesn't belong.  To me that story seems really really lucky -- fantasy-story lucky.

And here's a surprising suggestion:

I suggest that you pray for his luck - although I have no clue who or what you should pray to.

Yes, you read that right.  Pray that his epic personal luck holds.  Believing in prayer is no more or less irrational than believing in luck.  What have you got to lose?

He's never going to be a qualified president.  You might as well at least pray that he'll be a lucky president.  His election to the presidency turned his luck into our luck.  And we, as a nation, will need lots of luck while he's the president.  The less real harm he does, the luckier we will be.  If he screws up, everyone will suffer, so we'll all be lucky if he doesn't screw up.

Meanwhile, expect him to screw up.  When that happens, expect the worst.


One more (I can't resist):  Expect lots of baby boomer pop stars will die of old age.

Douglas Adams suggestion "Don't Panic" was good advice.  Douglas Adams was a smart guy.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wine Bottle Sizes

I have a hard time throwing things away.

Today I've been spending time trying to sort through piles of papers in my office in hopes of finding some empty desktop space underneath - actual empty physical space.

In one pile I found this small piece of paper clipped from a Wired Magazine - dated November 2012, more than four years ago.

I saved this because I thought it would make a nice subject for a blog post.  I tossed the rest of the magazine and have since stopped my subscription to Wired.  There's just so many articles a guy can read in one lifetime making the point that computers and the big businesses they inspire will save the world.  (It's not true no matter how futuristic you think you are.)

Anyway, here's that scrap of paper . . .

And here's the same list in list form:

Containers for wine and spirits (by liters):

  • Magnum: 1.5
  • jeroboam: 3
  • flagon: 3.785
  • rehoboam: 4.5
  • Methuselah: 6
  • Salmanazar: 9
  • Nebuchadnezzar: 15
  • rundlet: 68.2
  • tierce: 159
  • barrique: 225
  • hogshead: 239
  • firkin: 318
  • butt: 477

Only "rundlet" fails Google's online spell checker.

Most bottles of wine and booze in the stores around here are 750 milliliters, or half a Magnum.

Why, I wonder, are some of these items capitalized and others not.  If only names are capitalized, who is Magnum?  Here's an actual picture of Nebuchadnezzar that I found on line.

And here's our cat, Spackle Puss inspecting the magnum of beer - oops, excuse me - the Magnum of beer gifted to us on New Years.

We also had a Magnum of champagne gifted to us on Thanksgiving.  I guess Magnums are the thing now, huh?  Thanks to Mark and Peter for the magnanimous gifting.

Now that the clipping from the magazine is safely preserved for eternity here on Mixed Meters, I've tossed the physical paper into the trash.  A very very small amount of empty space in my office has thus been created.

Here's an MM post with a picture of a skunk hunt.  Same deal - the picture got tossed in a cleanup after it was preserved in online pixels.

And here's another post called Desktop Stilllife - with pictures of cats and a video with music.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

A year, a parade

This New Yorker cartoon by Paul Noth made me guffaw even before I read the caption.  I share it with apologies to any relevant copyright legislation.

The humor here for me is a Pasadena thing.  Pasadena marks the solstice with fantastic flower-covered flat beds and horse patrols and pretty girls and marching bands and minor celebrities moving inexorably down the middle of our main drag.  Maybe the coffin has a minor celebrity in it.  (This page has a list of all the grand marshals - how many can you identify?)

In 2017 the parade is on January second because New Years Day falls on a Sunday and, you know, the Christian god has his rules.  Parade goers start marking their territory at noon on the day before the parade and some of them bring signs to show us where their heads are at.

For example, this guy.  I snapped him about 2:00 today.

Here's the text on his sign with links:
Lucifer is the original divider.
And the angels which kept not their 1st estate, 
but "left" their own habitation. . . (Jude 6)
One third of the angels under lucifer fell. (Revelation 12:4)
- Rules for Radicals - Alinsky was dedicated to Lucifer.
And on the T-shirt:
Make America Great Again - Revelation 12:24-28

Dire.  Crazy. Frightening.

Meanwhile, here's a musical theater reference to lighten your mood:

And the lyrics go on from there:

You are 16 going on 17
Baby it's time to think
Better beware
Be canny and careful
Baby you're on the brink

You are 16 going on 17
Fellows will fall in line
Eager young lads
And rues and cads
Will offer you food and wine

Totally unprepared are you
To face a world of men
Timid and shy and scared are you
Of things beyond your ken

You need someone
Older and wiser
Telling you what to do
I am 17 going on 18
I'll take care of you

Sounds like perfect Republican paternalism to me.

Anyway, happy new year if that sort of thing makes you feel better.

Mixed Meters has covered the Rose Parade before.  Never with much enthusiasm.  Click here to see all MM posts marked "parades".

And view this video to see more sign carriers (starting at about 1’45”):