Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Terrorist" is everybody's Word of the Day

Apparently the hateful terrorist analogies weren't just something that was dreamed up by a local contributor. They seem to have become a constant refrain in the media:

Steve Rattner on MSNBC: “It’s a form of economic terrorism…These Tea Party guys are like strapped with dynamite standing in the middle of Times Square at rush hour saying either you do it my way or we’re going to blow you up, ourselves up, and the whole country with us.”
William Yeomans at Politico: "It has become commonplace to call the tea party faction in the House “hostage takers.” But they have now become full-blown terrorists."
Maureen Dowd in The New York Times: "[M]any Democrats...yearned to see the president beat the political suicide bombers over the head with the Constitution."
Thomas Friedman in The New York Times: "If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission."
Martin Frost at Politico: "We now have a group of U.S. politicians seeking political purity, who seem to have much in common with the Taliban. They are tea party members..."
Margaret Carlson on PBS' "Inside Washington": "[T]hey’ve strapped explosives to the Capitol and they think they are immune from it. The Tea Party caucus wants this crisis..."

Strange how the same metaphor is suddenly popping up all over the place. You'd almost think they had gotten together and agreed on the line to take....naah, that could never happen.

H/T: Verum Serum for most of these links

Friday, July 29, 2011

Stay classy, Austin American-Statesman

Today's local paper had two opinion columns that make for interesting reading when juxtaposed. The first, by Thomas Palaima, was written as a plea for more civility in political discourse:
Leach pinpoints "the increasingly hostile and ad hominem tone of national politics" characterized by "anger and name calling" that "damage our social cohesion."...Recognizing you in me and me in you would be a first step toward making mutual plans for a better future, toward moving forward in mutual respect. A first step toward bringing decency and humanity back into our public actions, before it is too late.

This is followed by John Young's column, which I suppose the editors felt epitomized the mutually respectful tone Palaima was calling for, with comments like these (bolding mine):
By air, the missiles of a warring party — the tea party — are observed registering red on the map, anti-tax drones beep-beep-beeping their way toward the mainland.....

The president seeks to rally the nation with a prime-time address. A menacing House Speaker John Boehner follows, pulling out a golf shoe, hammering it on the lectern, and implies that unless the White House and Senate capitulate to Republican demands, in so many words: "We will bury you."
(Funny, I watched all two minutes of Mr. Boehner's address yet somehow managed to miss the Khruschev imitation. If we weren't being so mutually respectful and all, I might call John Young a liar at this point. But that wouldn't be nice. I'll settle for respectfully wondering what medications he's on.)
As President Barack Obama said Monday night, the voters asked for a divided government, not paralyzed government. Fiscal jihadists in the House are dedicated to the latter, with belts of explosives hugging their hips.

Way to go, Austin American-Statesman. I'm so proud that my local paper doesn't promote any name-calling or hostility.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A modest proposal

I assume by now everybody has heard more than enough of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal and its subsequent shut down. I just want to mention that this morning an article in the paper gave me a brilliant idea. It seems the Taliban are claiming that text messages announcing the death of Mullah Omar are false and that somebody has been hacking into their phones.

I have no idea about the truth of this, but it does seem to me that hacking into the Taliban's phones would be a Good Thing with lots of possibilities for causing dismay and disruption. And since we suddenly have all these unemployed journalists with much experience along these lines....couldn't Britain install them all at, say, Bletchley Park, and set them to work serving their country?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Place your bets (on our fiscal future)

Today I love this quilt by dellastella; first because I'm shooting for a dimensional effect in my next bed quilt (of which more later) and second because the image of blocks falling out of the sky and piling up uncontrollably (at least, that's what happens when I play Tetris) seems like a perfect metaphor for our financial dilemma.

Normally I don't say much about economic issues, because they're big and complicated and I'm not an economist. But after reading the last week of pronouncements from pundits, I'm not so sure they understand economics any better than I do. I've read all of the following predictions and probably some more that I've forgotten:

1) There will be no debt ceiling raise, old people and military families will starve, the credit rating of the US will crash, Armageddon is coming and it's all the fault of the Republicans for refusing to raise taxes. (The default Democratic position.)

2) Ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto and it's all the fault of Obama and the Democrats for not putting forth any budget at all, let alone agreeing to spending cuts. (The default Republican position, except they usually leave out the part about starving Grandma.)

3) Ditto, but it's no big deal because the government has plenty of money coming in to pay interest on the debt, Social Security, and military pay; we'll just have to immediately cut almost all other spending. (Sounds to me like, "I've maxed out my credit cards but it's no big deal because I can pay the interest and the rent on my apartment as long as I quit using electricity and eat only once a day.")

4)Even if the debt ceiling is raised, our credit rating is going to crash because we have a ginormous debt and a humongous deficit and no credible plans for dealing with either. (Standard and Poor's position, I think.)

5) The economy will be saved by a flat tax and spending cuts, but we're not going to fight very hard because we're afraid nobody will love us. (Republicans)

6) The economy would be destroyed by a flat tax and spending cuts, so we're absolutely not going to agree to anything along those lines. (Democrats)

7) Look, we've agreed to compromise and allow some spending cuts, why won't you cooperate? (Democrats)

8)You say "everything is on the table," but won't say what, specifically, that means; we're not going to sign on to vague generalities. (Republicans)

9) Eric Cantor is childish and a lousy negotiator (Democrats)

10) Oooh, look, Obama just banged his sippy cup and threw his strained peas all over the room (Republicans)

Now why would I think that none of the pundits have a clue? One thing for sure - they can't all be right.

I am somewhat annoyed that we're sinking into a bottomless sea of debt and the folks on Capitol Hill seem to be interested in pointing to the other guy and shouting, "It's his fault! Look, people. If I'm about to drown, how about you stop arguing about who pushed me overboard and somebody throw out a life preserver?

I do notice a couple of things that would seem to weaken the Democrats' position (but then I would, wouldn't I?)

1) We've been told and told and told that Social Security funds really do exist, inside a sacred lockbox that is never ever opened for any other purpose. Now Obama says we may not have funds to cover Social Security in August. I wonder who's lying?

2) Historically, tax revenues have hovered at around 20% of GDP. So I'm not at all sure that tax increases would produce more tax revenues. Eliminating, say, the Department of Education would certainly result in less spending.

Not that it matters, because Armageddon is coming on August 2... or is it? Faites vos jeux!

Friday, July 15, 2011

What to do with all that leftover yarn

Now this would have been more creative than simply putting the stuff in sacks for the Elder Spawn's yard sale. On the other hand, I didn't have anywhere near that much yarn. I might have been able to yarnbomb a chopped Harley, but not a bus.

This week's excuse for not getting much done is that the Younger Spawn, aka the Fashionista, is favoring us with a visit from New York. Today the two of them are off having a Sister Day so I went to Barton Springs...ah. They're back, looking all tan and sleek. They went to Barton Springs too, but later in the day, so they got in on the excitement. Apparently the lifeguards started blowing their whistles and screaming, "Get out of the pool! Get out of the pool!" which never happens there. Then all the lifeguards dived in and went underwater. Apparently somebody had lost track of a child.

That's a big pool. And much of the bottom is covered with water weeds. If it had been my child, I'd have had a heart attack.

Happy ending: they report that the missing kid reappeared safe and relatively dry, having (I assume) simply wandered off somewhere else without mentioning it to the parent. There are enough sloping green banks and trees and bushes around that pool that a child can easily disappear without ever going near the water.

Nothing exciting like that ever happens when I go swimming. Probably just as well; see heart attack, above.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Virtually scintillating

The Austin American-Statesman has come to the rescue of us fireworks-deprived people in thirsty Texas* with an interactive virtual fireworks show. No, really. Check the link. They do suggest that for a really good simulation of the Independence Day show you should first turn off the air conditioning to get the full experience of being outdoors on a July night; then, after watching the virtual fireworks, go sit in your car for 45 minutes to simulate the post-show traffic jam.

I think I'll stay in the AC and re-read the Declaration of Independence. It still reads pretty well.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

You tell 'em, Mr. Jefferson.

I hope that, as a country, we still have the collective spine demonstrated by the 56 gentlemen who signed this document, many of whom paid dearly for having done so.

(*Round Rock and Georgetown are going ahead with their fireworks shows. If Austin goes up in flames because of a straying Round Rocket, we're going to declare them colonies and tax the bejasus out of them.)

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Some time after writing the previous post, it occurred to me - not that it matters - that I'm probably not getting my eyes checked tomorrow. The optometrist's office probably won't even be open tomorrow. Reset alarm clock for Tuesday morning.

Now I'm even more confused; I don't know whether it's tonight or tomorrow night that we're not having the traditional lakeside fireworks show because Texas is so dry that we don't light matches outside this summer. Heck, we even avoid heated argument and inflaming rhetoric. Nobody wants to be the one to send Central Texas up in flames in the middle of the Dryest Summer in Living Memory. It's actually worse than 1951. It's time to recycle my father's old joke from the Seven Year Drought:

Bartender says, "I give up, it's never going to rain again."
First man in the bar says, "I'll bet you twenty-five bucks you're wrong."
They shake on it and first man leaves.
Second man in the bar says, "Are you crazy? There's no way you can win that bet."
Bartender says, "No, you're crazy; I've collected on that bet three times already."

It's never going to rain again.

The trouble with invisible thread... that it's really, really hard to see.

I will bear this in mind next time I machine-quilt something. Is the time it takes to change threads for different areas of the quilt really more of a nuisance than constantly chasing a thread that's so fine I can't see what I'm doing?

Heck, a lot of the time I had trouble seeing the quilted line. It's easier now that I've worked my way down to the bottom of the quilt, where there's a layer of Solvy covering the top layer of corals. Still, I'm looking forward to a switch to brightly colored threads as I do some FME to finish the bottom edge.

Meanwhile, I'm getting my eyes checked tomorrow. Although I suspect the doctor will tell me the current prescription is already as good as it's going to get and the only problem is that I'm OLD. It's hell getting spare parts for something that was made in 1947.

Friday, July 1, 2011

How well do you see color?

Test yourself here.

I got a 27, which isn't disgraceful for someone over 60, but I had expected to do a lot better.

(Via Ann Althouse.)

The die is cast.

Les jeux sont faits. The Rubicon has been crossed. I've drunk the Kool-aid....I've spray-adhered the beautiful ombred sheer fabric onto the front of the piece and have begun quilting.

Above is a close-up of the "improved" corals after I added those transfer-painted bits of lace. Everything above the bottom edge of the quilt will be somewhat obscured by the sheer overlay, then I'm going to put some more coral pieces on top of it. In fact, production is momentarily stopped since it occurred to me late last night that it would be a heck of a lot easier to spray-adhere the new corals down and quilt them into place rather than applique-ing them down later. So I'm back to the stage of pinning stuff up, wandering around the room and saying, "Hmmmm...." Fortunately, since the Great Clear-Out, there is actually some floor space in which to wander; I wonder how long that will last?

Taking snapshots of the piece and downloading them to the computer seems to help me figure out what arrangements work. Anybody know why this is helpful? I haven't a clue.
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