2008 Seems So Long Ago

Friday, 29 October 2010, 15:10 | Category : Politics
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All the projections I’m seeing say that next Tuesday the Republicans are going to take control of the House in something approaching a landslide, and may take the Senate. Which means that Wednesday morning, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell will proceed to try to make Barack Obama into the most irrelevant president of our lifetime. How the hell did we get here?

Flash back to November 7, 2008. As the election results sunk in, people spoke and wrote of the end of anti-intellectualism, of a new wave of optimism, of how the Republicans had been dealt a devastating blow that would set them back for years. Nobody realized that “years” meant “two”. A bungled health care bill, an economy that refused to recover from the damage of the Bush years, and a skillful Republican spin machine that managed to deftly shift blame from themselves to the new Democratic administration combined with a seemingly clueless liberal strategist camp that forgt they needed to accomplish three things:

  • clearly define the problem
  • tell us what they were going to do about it
  • tell us how they were going to do it

In the ensuing vacuum on the left, the Tea Party’s “know nothing and say stupid things” game dominated the field, and Republican strategists effectively rode the wave of anger and frustration that washed over those few who tried to point out that Republican policies caused much of the mess. So next Wednesday morning we’ll awaken to the sight of this country holding open the door to the national henhouse and inviting the Republican foxes back in.

Euphorbia “Diamond Frost”

Monday, 25 October 2010, 16:19 | Category : Gardening
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Euphorbia Diamond Frost

Euphorbia "Diamond Frost"

This is my favorite new plant for 2010. I planted two of these in pots back in the spring, and they’ve flourished inthose pots all summer and into fall with very little care.  No fertilizer, and only occasional waterings.  They have bloomed all summer, and seem to be increasing now that fall is here.  A great plant that I’ll use more next year.

How Not To Find A Comet

Monday, 11 October 2010, 12:48 | Category : Stargazing
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-Get binoculars down from closet shelf – Check!

-Get telescope out of workshop, set up in yard – Check!

-Pick out low-power and medium-power eyepieces to avoid fumbling in eyepiece case in the dark – Check!

-Position nice comfortable chair in location for best observing spot – Check!

-Get up at 2:30 in the morning when comet is in best viewing position – Check!

-Locate comet using star map showing comet’s location for that date – …

-Locate comet using star map showing comet’s location for that date – …

-Locate comet using star map showing comet’s location for that date – …

-Fail to find comet because star map was for previous day – ummm, check, OK?

Carrying the Mail

Friday, 1 October 2010, 15:43 | Category : Other Stuff
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USUS small truck

Reading about yesterday’s action by the Postal Regulatory Agency, wherein they denied the postal service’s request to raise first-class rates from 44 cents to 46 cents, I started thinking that the post office is, and has been, getting a bad rap. When you step back from all the complaints, her’s what you see:

For 44 cents, you can hand the post office a letter and have them take that letter for you anywhere in the United States, and in a couple of days, they’ll deliver it for you. Anywhere in the country. That’s not a bad deal. In fact, it’s a pretty damn good deal. And this from an agency whose competitors – FedEx and UPS, mainly – have been allowed to cherry-pick the most lucrative delivery categories for themselves.

I don’t drink coffee, but on rare occasions I’ve picked up a coffee-type drink for someone (I say “coffee-type”, because honestly I don’t know what else you would call the lattes and grandes and cappucinos that people drink now. Some people even still drink just plain “coffee”). It amazes me that they’ll pay $4, $5, $6 (or more) for one of those drinks every day. And then complain that mailing a letter is too expensive. In this day of email and Facebook and text messaging, sometimes you just need (or want) to send a letter. If it were up to me, I’d say make it an even 50 cents for first class postage. No need to mess with pennies, and they could use the extra money.