If former students can’t meet their payments, lenders can garnish their paychecks. (Some borrowers, still behind by the time they retire, have even found chunks taken out of their Social Security checks.) - Robert Reich, "Why Ordinary People Bear Economic Risks and Donald Trump Doesn't"

(Earlier banner quotes)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mitch McConnell Goes To The Dog (sic)

If McConnell wants us to believe he is warm and friendly with at least eight dogs rather than eight images of one dog, he needs to have the Photoshop done by someone other than one of his grandkids...

Rolling Stone Does Koch

Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone gets "Inside the Koch Brothers' Toxic Empire."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Welcome To Hoover's FBI Reborn

AP via TPM: "FBI: We Faked AP Story To Catch Bomb Suspect But Didn't Spoof Newspaper." How virtuous... your government lies to you only when absolutely necessary. Somewhere in Hell, the shade of John Edgar is surely grinning...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

November March — Doggerel!

November March
Vote... vote... vote... vote...
If Donkey or Elephant, monkey or stoat,
If eagle or pigeon, but not a Pet Goat,
Go vote... vote... vote... vote!

Vote... vote... vote... vote...
Ignore the commercial with five-second quote
And shades of the Koch Brothers crossing the moat,
Just vote... vote... vote... vote!

Vote... vote... vote... vote...
If not, your opinion is not worth a groat,
You'll have no control of who's bless'd and who's smote,
So vote... vote... vote... vote!

Vote... vote... vote... vote...
Just think of the children on whom you do dote,
Or of your opponents, obscure or of note,
The beam's in their eye, and in yours but a mote,
You're useless unless you are rocking the boat,
Stay home and your policies never will float,
Get out of your house or your hovel or cote,
Go winnow the grain while you're feeling your oat,
Rely on your brain, or a list you may tote,
Use mind or use heart, or just do it by rote,
Steve Bates, 1998
(with adaptations)
Every election is important, but among off-year elections, there may never have been one as important as this one. You have, including today, just four days of early voting, plus Election Day a week from today (Nov. 4), left to make your opinion count. Get off your tails and get out and vote! And if you're a Democrat, or see the necessity of voting that way this election, take a few like-minded friends with you.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What Would It Take To Drive A Woman To A ‘Second Amendment Solution’?

Read this opinion piece by Robin Marty at TPM for a few examples of anti-abortion legislation possible (not likely, I think) if we end up with Republicans dominating both houses of Congress.

Remember: under Roe, a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion, subject to some restrictions which the current Congress and Supreme Court seem hellbent on extending. Those efforts notwithstanding, the woman's right is constitutionally protected, as a fundamental right to the integrity of one's own body should be.

Remember also that most of the same zealots who want to ban abortion also want to ban or severely restrict contraception. Even most Republicans whose lives I know anything about use contraception. Banning contraception is madness.

All you anti-abortion women-hating maniacs, think about what your approach means:

You are already prepared to declare women who have miscarriages murderers; several state legislatures have already attempted to do just that (e.g., Kansas, Georgia). (You almost certainly view me, along with every other supporter of a woman's constitutional right to choose abortion, a murderer.)

If you go forward with this... if you render many women and supporters of women's rights murderers under your obscene new laws (or under no law at all, as happened in Dallas in September; please read about this astonishing incident)... if women are already deemed murderers for suffering miscarriage, a phenomenon thought to end 10% to 20% of all pregnancies through no intent of the woman... what do they have left to lose by going after you?

Right. You give women motive, you give them opportunity, and in this society, means are truly no problem. Have a nice day. [/sarcasm]

Sunday, October 26, 2014


... is at the hospital this morning having her cast modified. This is in no way serious, but it requires immediate attention. In addition to the cast's causing her a lot of pain, she had at least one episode of numbness. The @#$%^& thing goes from tip of toe to top of thigh; she can barely sit down, and walking is difficult.  To top it all off, my car wouldn't start this morning and we had to call a cab. Stella is being examined and treated now; fortunately, this first-class hospital has a PC specifically for visitor internet access. Hey, it's browse the web or watch NASCAR...

We will probably be home before evening. Probably...

UPDATE: the orthopedist replaced Stella's cast with one considerably shorter, an inch or two off each end, thigh and toe. As a result, not only can she walk much better (still with a walker), but she can actually drive. She was truly depressed at the thought of being off work for so long (about a week); now she can return to that grindstone...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Astonishing? No. Offensive? Yes. Mayor Annise Parker's Daughter Was Refused A Driver's License Because Her Birth Certificate Lists Two Mothers

Houston Mayor Annise Parker
Just how far does anti-gay bigotry go in Texas? Usually not very far in places like Houston, where the gay community is large, active and not shy about asserting itself. But in this case, Houston Mayor Annise Parker's daughter presented her documents at a Texas DPS office when applying to take a driver's test... she'd already done everything but the test... and was rejected because some of her documents were listed under mom A, and some under mom K. Can't do that, says Texas DPS.

A few phone calls from Her Honor the Mayor resulted in a reversal. But what if she had not been the Mayor's daughter? This is embarrassing to Houstonians who appreciate what the LGBTQ community... and particularly the Mayor herself... bring to the city. Want a truly great symphony orchestra? how about a major ballet company? Try building those without gay members; it simply can't be done. Then there's Mayor Parker: she was one of the first in the "awl bidness" to master the limited software available 30+ years ago; it's not just the arts that would be bankrupted without the gay community.

Three cheers for our Mayor, and for her daughter. Someday this flavor of raw bigotry, like many others before it, will be ancient history.

Early Voting Is In Progress!

I voted today. Have you voted?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Lush Life With A Sophisticated Lady

I just finished watching the PBS special featuring Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. As unlikely as the pair may strike you... Tony of my parents' generation, Lady Gaga of my children's (if I had any)... the result was splendid. The post subject names the two songs by great songwriters/bandleaders of Bennett's generation (Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington) who wrote the centerpiece solos by Gaga and Bennett respectively... which I have never heard performed with greater passion, craft and drama. This show is available on DVD; if you missed it on the air and you like 40s music, you might consider hearing it from the disc.

Kos Miscellany: Tut-Tut; GOPer Blames The Children; Jailed For Untidy Lawn; Cops Claim Right To Excessive Force

Oh, and... don't forget to VOTE!

Thursday, October 23, 2014


... has a serious medical problem, not life-threatening, but requiring a huge cast on one leg for 4 to 8 weeks. Her limited mobility keeps her at home most of the time; indeed, we are not sure when she will be able to drive to work again.

Just to complicate matters, her computer monitor blew out overnight late last week, rendering some work from home difficult if not impossible. Today I went to Micro Center to get a replacement; the old monitor lasted 7 years, so I have no complaint... as you know, as computer equipment goes, 7 years is a long lifespan indeed. I replaced it with a Samsung 22" diagonal display, movie-screen proportions (as most all of them are these days). It proved truly plug-compatible: within 5 minutes of plugging it in, I had a perfectly satisfactory Windows main screen. For better or worse (better IMHO), the new monitor has no speakers and no iPod dock; the old monitor's speakers were dog-awful, and Stella's life revolved around the iPod for only about two months several years ago, so she won't miss the iPod dock.

I won't be blogging as much for a while. I already prepared probably half the meals; now, for a while, it's all meals and all cleanups. Trust me: Stella is worth the effort, and she's already done the same for me during my most crippled period a couple years ago.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Have You Voted Yet?

No, we haven't. Stella works full-time, but other obstacles came up yesterday. Stella is hobbling around on a walker, one leg in an extremely uncomfortable brace, but that would not have prevented us. Her computer's monitor quit; that in itself would not have prevented us. But the lawn guys' mower threw a rock and shattered our glass "screen" door into a pile of shards on our porch and (slightly) into our living room. So as the stay-at-home partner, I'm pinned to the house this morning until they obtain either a new door or a pane for the existing one and someone to install it; that will likely take all morning. Sigh!

Don't forget to vote when you're able; see the links to basic info here. For us, it will probably be Saturday.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Texas Early Voting Starts Today

Early voting runs from today through 10/31. Election Day is 11/4. See here for days and hours if you live in one of the six largest counties, or here if you live in Harris County and want to find your early voting locations or your Election Day polling place.

Early voting poll hours in Harris County:
October 20-October 24:    8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
October 25:               7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
October 26:               1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
October 27-October 31:    7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
BRING AN ID (e.g., a driver's license or a gun permit) AND YOUR VOTER CERTIFICATE... note that a college student ID is not good enough.


(NOTE: in these days of deceit by the GOP, you may vote and still suffer the consequences...)

Tennesseeans May Vote To Outlaw All Abortion, Even For Rape, Incest Or To Save The Mother's Life

I don't know why this hasn't crossed my desk earlier. Here's Sahil Kapur at TPM:
The ballot initiative "Amendment 1" is the culmination of more than a decade of plotting by anti-abortion advocates, who are finally ready to strike. It says:

"Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother."

Do you get it now? THIS ISN'T ABOUT RELIGION, AND THIS ISN'T ABOUT THE FETUS: THESE PEOPLE HATE WOMEN. THEY WANT TO CONTROL WOMEN'S MOST PERSONAL DECISIONS. If you live in Tennessee, get thee to the polls. If not, don't be surprised to see such a measure on your own ballot, not this election, but not very long from now either.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

(In)Famous Quotation

—"President" George W. Bush

*Offer void where prohibited by Republicans. Some restrictions apply (race, ethnicity, wealth, etc.). Political party membership may disqualify some voters. All voters must be identified by local driver's license and DNA test performed in three labs with halls of sufficient width as specified by law. Voters regardless of age must have been qualified to vote according to laws in effect prior to August 18, 1920. Votes to be counted by machines manufactured by corporations with directors certified to be GOP activists. Have a nice day.
(If you wonder what inspired this "quotation," see the previous post.)

Supreme Court Reverses Lower Court Decision, Allows Texas Voter ID Law To Stand

@#$%^&*! this partisan Republican, politically activist Court!

Actually, a higher federal court reversed the decision, then the Supremes allowed the reversal to stand with three dissents (Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor). Here's an excerpt from Ginsburg's dissent:
The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.

Note that the Texas voter ID case was independently tried, based on evidence gathered in Texas, and that "[t]he judge found that roughly 600,000 voters, many of them black or Latino, could be turned away at the polls because they lack acceptable identification."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Esther Rides The X

Esther and Lily have new toys, each an identical foam-rubber 'X' like this one. Each cat claims both of them, which is only a problem when both cats happen to occupy the same room with both 'X's. Generally we take some trouble to see to it that this does not happen! No amount of persuading would cause Esther to face a flashing camera, so we see her ride the 'X' with her back facing us. Sic transit gloria mundi. (OK, so it's Friday.)

P.S. The toy comes with a bag of catnip, which sometimes enhances the fun... and sometimes simply provokes a fight.

Robert Reich: ‘Why We Allow Big Pharma To Rip Us Off’

Reich's article opens:
According to a new federal database put online last week, pharmaceutical companies and device makers paid doctors some $380 million in speaking and consulting fees over a five-month period in 2013.

Some doctors received over half a million dollars each, and others got millions of dollars in royalties from products they helped develop.

Doctors claim these payments have no effect on what they prescribe. But why would drug companies shell out all this money if it didn’t provide them a healthy return on their investment?

Why, indeed.

My PCP is a very pharmaceutically oriented doc. He knows the whole pharmacopoeia... new and old, drugs profitable to developers and drugs more typically profitable to manufacturers because they've been around for a while. One reason I go to him is that he prescribes newer drugs only when he feels there is a very good reason to prefer them to older, well-established drugs. In a presumably honest response to my inquiry, he says he's not hurting financially... he's living a very comfortable life indeed, thankyouverymuch... but he doesn't appear to earn that livelihood by taking kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies. If only more physicians took that approach!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Stolen Prosthesis Is Antithesis Of Civilized Behavior

Sonny Forriest Jr. took the theft of his prosthetic leg by a drunk woman at a tailgate party with better grace than I would. I have to wonder: what kind of person thinks that is a joke?

All of us who wear these things realize they are a mixed blessing: on the very positive side, they allow us to walk around on two legs almost like a real person; on the not-so-positive side, they are a sweaty and occasionally slightly painful nuisance in hot weather. Mr. Forriest is not alone in removing his prosthesis when he knows he will be sitting in one place for an hour or two.

But I still can't think of what the woman, even allowing for her drunkenness, thought she was going to do with the artificial limb. They are not interchangeable: Mr. Forriest's would not fit me, nor would mine fit him. That, in turn, means there is presumably no market for a stolen one. The prosthesis cost Mr. Forriest (or his insurance company) a couple thousand dollars; the woman who stole it could get $0.00 for it... indeed, she probably couldn't give it away.

I wonder if she votes Republican...

ADDENDUM: Here is an article that contains a news video with more details about the incident. Scroll down a screen or two. The woman fled the scene of the theft, carrying the prosthesis; it turned up some time later on the platform at the end of a mass transit line. The woman has not been caught.

Mr. Forriest says that despite his exasperation with her, he does not want her to serve jail time. I agree. I think a more fitting punishment would require her to perform her regular job for 30 days... strapped in a wheelchair, not allowed to leave it even for bathroom breaks. (Yes, I've lived through that, too; there are suitable receptacles to use for potty trips, though the risk of soiling oneself is non‑negligible.)

Arkansas State Supreme Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law

... as violating the state constitution.

Another one bites the dust...

Can The US Seize A Citizen's Passport?

Yes, says Peter van Buren:
Can the U.S. government seize the passports of American citizens who it believes may travel abroad to join ISIS or other terror groups? Yep. The process is almost no-cost to the government, extra-judicial, can be made secret and requires a lengthy court process to even try to contest. No passport, no international travel, the ultimate no-fly tool against would-be jihadis. ...

And the procedure is ostensibly legal... but it has not been much used. Read van Buren's post to learn why.

Static Pages (About, Quotes, etc.)

No Police Like H•lmes

Current and Recent Reading and Viewing

• King, Laurie R., Mary Russell series.
—. The Beekeeper's Apprentice.
—. A Monstrous Regiment of Women.
—. A Letter of Mary.
—. The Moor.
—. O Jerusalem. ...
If you are unfamiliar with Ms. King's Mary Russell series of Holmes novels, please do yourself a favor and begin with the first, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, and just keep going. If you have female children of the right age, you may want to introduce them to these books; Ms. Russell is a splendid role model for someone who would become a strong, intellectual, adventurous woman. King's prose is beautiful, too. Highly recommended!
• Rennison, Nick. Sherlock Holmes: The Unauthorized Biography.
Rennison weaves the scant information Conan Doyle provides on Holmes's background into the fabric of the stellar lights of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with such convincing detail that one could almost believe Holmes was an actual historical figure. If you like reading British biographers (face it; Americans write biography wholly differently) and you have a passion for Sherlock Holmes, you will very likely enjoy this book. As in eating a Dagwood sandwich, it helps to take it in small bites at a time.
• PBS Masterpiece - BBC. Sherlock, Season 3. Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman.
Sunday 1/19/2014, Premiere, "The Empty Hearse".
Sunday 1/26: "The Sign of Three".
Sunday 2/2, "His Last Vow".
Need I even comment on this?

I imagine people, especially Sherlockians, will either love this series or hate it. I am inclined to take each episode at face value, as a sort of parody of the traditional Conan Doyle Holmes story model, having (in my opinion) very little obligation to conform to that model as long as it does not deliberately poop on the basic conventions Doyle established. The setting is either present day or near future (some of the technology, and the reference to hardware Holmes apparently has installed in contact with his brain, lead me to call it the future), and many of the human elements are right out of Doyle: Holmes, who has just returned from his "dead" period, is an absolute a(bleep!)hole to Watson; Mrs. Hudson starts out talking to Watson, who announces he is recently engaged, as if he is surely gay; Watson is played (to type) as not the brightest bulb on the string, etc. My advice: do watch, but just sit back and enjoy the fireworks, the effects, and the unsubtle humor. I've read that women find Cumberbatch very good-looking; perhaps some men will as well.
• Douglas, Carole Nelson. Irene Adler series.
—. Good Night, Mr. Holmes.
—. The Adventuress (formerly Good Morning Irene)
—. A Soul of Steel (formerly Irene at Large)
—. Another Scandal in Bohemia (formerly Irene's Last Waltz)
Here's Dr. Watson (i.e., Conan Doyle) on Irene Adler:
To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler... yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.
Carole Nelson Douglas, perceiving the memory of Adler as anything but "questionable," frames a series of mystery novels in which Adler is the detective, accompanied by her own Watson, Penelope "Nell" Huxleigh, Adler's husband Godfrey Norton is the strong male lead, and Holmes appears only incidentally. Adler is granted an astonishing but undeniably plausible variety of skills to ply in her role, and her background as an American opera diva contributes to the stories in an entertaining way. Douglas has done us a real favor in fleshing out this character, who is only once mentioned in the Canon but deserves and receives a much deeper treatment in Douglas's books.
• Millett, Larry. Sherlock Holmes in Minnesota series.
—. Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon
—. Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders
—. Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery
—. Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance
—. The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes
Millett writes a flavor of Holmes novels that I call either "American Sherlockiana" or "Sherlockian Americana," take your choice. Either way, the series comprises novels in which Holmes and Dr. Watson have an adventure involving America, which nation to all appearances Conan Doyle himself admired. Millett sets his stories in Twin Cities in Minnesota, adds his own detective, Shadwell Rafferty, a barkeep with an analytical mind, and lets loose with a series of five adventures well worth your time. I read these years ago, but they have been recently re-released; see Millett's web site at the link above.