Saturday, March 13, 2010

Holy shit, i think this means I am old

15 years ago today, the Kid showed up in the world, late (by ten days) after having lived a warm and comfy life swimming around in my belly and eating second hand pickles and chocolate chip cookies.

He's the best thing that ever happened to me, this adorable ball of love and unshakable sweetness who I am so lucky to know. The Kid taught me that if it was okay for me to stand up for him to the cruelties of the world, it was just as okay to stand up for myself. He is unshakable in his kindness, which is not something i see in a lot of grown ups (or other kids for that matter) and he is undeniably himself.

He is a proud feminist boy. He is brilliant and thoughtful and geeky and perfect. And he made a deal with me about a year and a half ago that involved him giving up all teenage angst behavior at the age of 15 (Auntie says- yeah right, my kids are in their 30s and I still get that shit. She thinks I might be a bit delusional). But he's not really all that angsty. He's just himself, the Kid, who occasionally rolls his eyes at me but is way more likely to offer a hug.

In the last year he's grown taller than me. He likes to stand as close to me as he can and go "haha, taller than you".

The Kid has his own (sometimes frustrating) timeframe for doing things (see 10 fricken days late! 10! and only came out then because of a c-section).

He is the best person I know, and he's only 15. I cannot wait to see what marvelous things he does and thinks in the world.

But yes, I think this officially means I am OLD. OLD OLD OLD.

I love you punkin munkin, tater tot, sir rotten monkey, stinkerbell Mr. Potatey. Happy birthday and thanks for letting me watch you turn into such an awesome human being.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Failed bank gets FDIC bailout and STILL forecloses on little people

First- go read this about a blogger who is losing her house on Monday. Yes, Monday. Her, her husband, and her 3 teenage kids are going to lose the only house the kids have ever known.

That all totally sucks, but it is worse. The bank that refi'd their house, IndyMac, is the same bank that caused runs on their ATMs about 2 years ago. The FDIC had to bail its ass out.

Are you all feeling the hopey change yet? I, for one, am not actually happy to be welcoming more people into my little homeless corner of the world. Not because I don't welcome the company, but because I am real fucking familiar with the untethered chaos that comes from financial instability. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, except for the banksters themselves.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Inappropriate conversations with children

Me: I want soup

Kid: What kind of soup

Me: noodle soup, like pho

Kid: I miss pho

Me: we could make it. It's just rice noodles and broth and slices o' meat

Kid: And the extras, don't forget the extras

Me: like thai basil and cilantro and lime and hot sauce

Kid: BEAN SPROUTS! DON'T FORGET THE BEAN SPROUTS! They're my favorite part.

Me (to the tune of SirMixalot's Baby got back, complete with silly dance moves) I like bean sprouts and I cannot lie. You other brothers can't deny!

(ftr- Seattle is lousy with pho soup places. The best place to eat out if you've only got a few bucks is any of the Than Brothers places. You get a giant bowl of soup, bigger than your head, and cream puffs for under 5 bucks. OH and vietnamese coffee is pretty fucking rad too)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Talkin bout revolution

Over at Corrente they are talking about the possibility of violent uprising when you have large groups of angry young men. You should all go read the comments, they are very illuminating.

When you've done that- read the follow up.

I've actually read a lot about this stuff, being that my 8 year old pretty princess dream involved both a tiara and a bandolier of bullets. So here's my 5 cents.

1) Angry young men are good at destruction, but no so good at the reconstruction. They can be a useful tool, but you better have a pretty damn short leash or everyone gets the guillotine.

2) When women get involved, there is always a back up force, if you will, when the menfolk (inevitably) all get arrested. This is how the Irish Revolution was able to carry on after everyone at the Dublin Post office got arrested and most were summarily executed. Their wives, sisters, etc, continued recruiting, organizing and gun running.

3) Progressives should never ever ever make a pact with slightly less heinous neolibs to form a revolution. It will not work. Period. Back to the irish- if you ever need some inspiration go read about James Connolly.He was a socialist and a republican (in the Irish sense, which means a democrat). He was executed after the Easter Rising without a trial. There were those in the revolution who just wanted England out but were otherwise okay with the abject poverty of their fellow citizens, and there were those who wanted England out and for Ireland to be not just free but fair. Connolly and his ilk were of the latter breed.

England, not wanting to lose their financial interests in Ireland, gave the neolibs a choice, sell out the the socialists and Northern Ireland, and well let you go. Eammon De Velara saw which way the wind was blowing and set up Michael Collins to make the devil's deal, which led to civil war between the socialists and those against partition, and the neo lib, pro treaty people.

It's 88 years later. Northern Ireland is still British, and while Ireland has a better social system than the US, it ain't no Sweden. I think it might even have a worse social system than England, which is why Northern Catholics stayed put. They got more money on the dole there than they would in the republic.

We cannot, whether it is in elections or revolutions, muddy justice by allying ourselves with those who would throw us under the bus. It never works.

4) The best non-violent protest are those with a purpose. Sit in and marches are all lovely ways of meeting like minded people, but real change only comes from real disobedience that proves the ridiculousness of the current system of law. Think about Ghandi walking to the sea to make salt, or Rosa parks taking a seat on a bus. Protests should be pragmatic. This is why I am in awe of the people who can afford to pay their upside down mortgages but are choosing to default anyways. And priests who advise their poor hungry congregants to steal from megastores. Protest must be pragmatic. It should produce an image in the minds of the watchers that strikes the very core of justice. They should see it and go "why the fuck would anyone be against (whatever activity you are attempting)".

5) When revolutions happen, the people with the guns win before the people with the ideas get a chance to get started. Seriously folks. Take a look around. It's the fricken teabaggers who are going too blow violently first. Do you really want them to be the ones running the country? Then perhaps we need to do more than just talk about things. Am I saying we should all go out and arm ourselves? Well I'll leave that to each of you individually. But it might be a really good time to remind those in power that our way will cost them dollars and power , but the teabaggers way will cost them their heads.

6) OMG- are we really talking about this? I mean not in an abstract "I wish" kind of way but in the "it's just a matter of time till someone forms a militia kind of way. Peeps, I am thinking the Chinese proverb, may you live in interesting times.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What if you got to be queen for a day

or king, gender not important, and you got to do whatever you wanted to change the current economic system?

I like playing the What if game, it's always so much more hopeful than the What new fresh hell is the government serving up now game.

So here goes.....

1) Medicare for all, private insurance outlawed, dental included, Hyde amendment lifted.

2) Everyone who is unemployed or under employed gets a full ride to college, including living expenses and child care costs without having to jump through stupid hoops OR taking crappy certificate courses approved by Welfare. It takes a huge chunk of people out of the labor market (thus eliminating the current glut) AND trains workers to replace the baby boomers in high skill fields who are all about to retire. It also throws a shit ton of feed money into the educational budgets of states who are cutting secondary funding left and right. And all those people getting living expenses will be spending money on food, transport, books, etc.

I'd also allow community colleges that use PhD's to offer 4 year degrees. Education doesn't have to be prestigious, it just has to be effective.

3) Mortgages - upside down, in foreclosure, whatever get renegotiated to 1) their current market value or whatever is owed on the home, whichever is lower and 2) not to exceed 30% of the borrowers income. That should teach the banksters to stop playing fast a loose with the world economy.

4) The tax system gets a serious overhaul and simplification. No more deductions except for the standard deductions. No more itemizing. These things only ever serve as a way to make the rich pay less, really. And then I'd implement a real progressive tax system. The rich have gotten a 400 percent increase in their incomes over the last 10 years, perhaps it's time they had a 400 percent increase in their tax payments.

And no more fucking capital gains shit. It's income, pay taxes on it like it's income. You shouldn't get to slide out of half your taxes just because you don't have to work for your money.

As far as business taxes, the only deductions they get to take are labor costs for people working in the US and goods and services bought or provided in the US. Deductions are an incentive, let's make paying people well and buying local economically worthwhile.

5) it doesn't have much to do with the economy as a whole (though it has a shit load to do with home economics) I'd lift DOMA and DADT and include homosexual couples in all benefits currently provided to hetero couples. Then I'd remind the states that the full faith and credit act of the constitution says they have to suck it up an honor marriages they don't approve of.

6) I've said this before (I've said most of this before) but I'd eliminate Social Security, Welfare, and Unemployment benefits all together and replace them with a mandatory minimum income that puts people just above the poverty line regardless of why they aren't working and tag the payout to inflation.

7) Require deadbeat parents to do the same Welfare to Work activities the poor (mostly) single moms have had to do for a decade. Don't want to sit through 8 hours a day of job search and lectures by social workers? Pay child support.

So that a pretty fucking long list, and it doesn't include universal childcare (but it would really!)

What would you do?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Images of the homefront

My dear friend Sylviiiiiiiiaaaaaaaa (always said in the accent of an aging English lady) sent the kid an email with this in it, cause it reminded her of him and she misses us. (We miss you too!!!!!!!!!!!)

Kid sent this back:

Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We miss you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My mom wants a box o wine

There ya go folks, the Kid is out hustling boxes o wine for me on the intertubes.

The insidiousness of advertising

I am a person who almost always has a song stuck in my head. The other night Wonder started playing "your song" by Elton John, and I was maniacally compelled to sing along. It is just one of things. I get songs, phrases, ideas, what have you, stuck in my head. If you said to me "the sun" I would have to finish by singing "is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace". Have to. Can't not finish the song.

It's ridiculous, I know. But of all the problems in the world, it is one of the more minor ones. Or so I thought.

Because now it is happening with idiotic feminine hygiene commercials.

Now everytime I go to refresh (shit, I even almost spelled that with a ph) my email page, which is often because this compy doesn't do well with anything beyond basic html, I hear "rephresh" in that morphine dosed lady voice from the commercial.

This may be the thing that finally cracks my fragile hold on sanity for good, the compulsive repeating of vagina cream commercials.


Quick and dirty guide to the other economy

First- there is the real economy. You go to work in this economy, you get a paycheck, you buy your groceries, put gas in your car, buy shoes for the kids in this economy. This is where real goods and services are exchanged.

Then there is the other economy, the one of wall street and banks and insurance companies. This economy doesn't produce anything. No actual good or service is made or traded. It is the speculation economy. It is Vegas, but in way more expensive suits. It is all, entirely and completely, gambling.

And every dollar that goes into the speculation economy is a dollar that ain't buying groceries.

But it's worse than just being a resource sucking drain on those of us who live in the real world.

Imagine, if you will, that the book makers in Vegas, while setting the odds for the Super Bowl, were capable of changing the outcome of the real, actual game. Not by illegally fixing the game, but by legally changing the odds. This is what the speculation economy does. Insurance companies do this by constantly changing what it they cover, who they cover, how much they cover, this is hedging their bets. Mortgage companies do it with rate changes and slice and dice mortgage backed securities. Economists call this "interest in exchange for risk assumption" but as we all know, banksters don't take any risks. They hava government bailouts. Wall Street is at least slightly more upfront about its gambling habits, but companies that treat their workers well don't make nearly the same gains on Wall Street that companies that shit on their workers do (see the difference between Costco and Wall Mart for a very very clear example). This is called "minimizing overhead to increase profit", and Wall Street loves some minimized overhead.

Maybe some of you all remember the go go 90's. I do, I was middle class. And every time a new, historically low unemployment number came out, the stock market fell. Yeppers. Gains in the real economy make the speculators pee their pants in fear. Now, every time one more thing gets between us real folks and say health care reform, health insurance and pharm stocks rise. Because the speculation economy needs every dollar it can suck out of our sick, tired hands.

The speculation economy produces NOTHING.

And I think we should put an end to it.

But there ain't no class war going on...

via Corrente