seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Vaclav Smil

This guy is sharp. Vaclav Smil.

Smithsonian Mag - Bunker Hill and Women in the Middle East

Both Michelle and I have been loving the Smithsonian magazine, which we became acquainted with after Uncle Seanly gifted a subscription to us. We've been renewing every since - one of the few magazines we both read regularly.

Of the many article that have captured my attention, the true story of Bunker Hill and the issues women face in a changing Middle East.

I've heard several interviews with Nathaniel Philbrick and already planned to get the book but the article only increased my interest. I thought the piece on women in the Middle East was thoughtful and a reminder that the radical Islamists are afraid of women, not unlike the conservative "Christians" in this country that want to shackle women as well. Of course, our radical "Christians" are not blowing themselves up to make their point, but then the radical Islamists don't have Fox News working for them, giving them an outlet for their insanity.

End of digression. I recommend those articles...

Why Wall Street Got a Pass from Democrats

Very good article from The New Republic: "A Wasted Crisis?" by Paul Starr. The subtitle is "Why Democrats did so little to change Wall Street.

He reviews several books discussing the Democratic Party response to the economic crisis and Wall Street, each of which I put on my reading list. All of it reinforces my very strong belief that if we do not reform the campaign finance system, our Republic will remain beyond our reach. Support the Rootstrikers!

From the Paul Starr piece:

Finance-friendly government has also resulted from the industry’s increased lobbying and political contributions in an environment where countervailing pressure from consumer groups is negligible. Even in the latest battle, the imbalance has been staggering. According to Kaiser, a consumer coalition in 2009 announced it would raise $5 million to support financial reform; in comparison, the lobbying expenditures by the finance industry in 2009 and 2010 totaled around $750 million. Wall Street political contributions, McCarty and his co-authors point out, have gone to both Democrats and Republicans, though not indiscriminately. “The more conservative wing of each party (moderate Democrats and conservative Republicans) garners substantially more contributions than the more liberal factions.” The finance industry is bipartisan in the sense that it pushes both parties to the right.

Former Senator and present lobbyist, Chris Dodd was a chief author of the effort to ensure Wall Street didn't once again kill our economy. From the article:

Dodd, whom Connaughton describes as “Machiavellian,” readily made concessions to Republicans who were not going to vote for the bill, while ignoring his own Democratic colleagues. “Dodd and the Treasury Department wanted a squishy bill,” Connaughton writes, “and the Republicans were willing to work with Dodd to weaken it.”

Where have we seen this before with Democrats? The stimulus is the first thing that comes to mind - where the stimulus was watered down and included major non-stimulative tax cuts to woo Republicans than never supported it. The problem is that Democrats can't even count on the middle-of-the-road Democrats to vote for a bill unless they give major concessions to Republicans who will never vote for it anyway.

And why is that? Probably because those Democrats come from districts where Republicans are far better at winning elections with deeply flawed talking points that nonetheless play well on television. So Democrats have to avoid doing anything that Republicans can easily demagogue (often by lying and recognizing no one will call them on it).

Great Sand Dunes

In 2012, Michelle and I took an AWESOME road trip through the southwest, stopping first at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. We spent the night in a tent, with lows around 15-18 or so. Hard to tell at that temperature. Full gallery here.

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Economics of Equality

Published on January 23, 1915, in The New Republic by Walter E. Weyl, an early economist of the 99%.

There can be no equality nor any approach to equality except among men economically independent and economically comparable. You may talk of equality and fraternity of equal civil rights of equal political rights of the brotherhood of man and all the rest but unless your man has a secure economic position a chance to earn his living in dignity and honor he has no rights whatsoever. Political equality is a farce and a peril unless there is at least some measure of economic equality.

Read the full article here.

Hiking and Hanging in Texas

After a work trip to San Antonio, Klinkers met me in Austin and we headed a bit west for some hiking and relaxing. We went to Enchanted Rock state park, did some hiking, found some great pit bbq, and had an all-around swell time. Full gallery here.

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Out Back in Chaska

I think Adele is something like 4x older now than she was when I took these, but here are photos from 2012 at Gina and Perry's place. Full gallery here.

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September Boating on the Saint Croix

Yes, still more photos from 2012 are waiting to be published! Here is another gallery of boating on the Saint Croix with John.

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Replacing the Patio Door

Michelle's Dad allowed me to assist him in replacing our patio door - a long one day construction project. More photos here.

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A Weekend in Philly

Michelle and I visited Autumn and James in Philadelphia in 2012 - a great time with the photos to prove it. Among other fun places, we visited the Franklin Institute.

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