We were in an ice cream parlor the other day, and my son was looking at some old-time paintings on the wall. One was a decades-old picture of a sundae with a price tag: 10 cents. Despite my efforts, he couldn’t comprehend it — which may not be difficult to imagine since my grasp of macroeconomic issues is wanting . I had similar success explaining to him that gas, the stuff that makes our car go, was once a quarter.
10. His last client was Gary Busey
9. It takes him 45 minutes to figure out his tip at the Hair Cuttery
8. He claims bajillion is a real number
7. He promises to visit you in prison
6. When you get a closer look at his ‘calculator’ you realize he’s just playing Angry Birds
5. He says he spend a lot of time consulting with his own tax adviser: Johnnie Walker
4. When you point out a math error, he says, “Ahhh, five of one, half a dozen of the other.”
3. He claims your refund is actually supposed to go to him
2. He does his calculating in the nude, so he can count to 21
1. Before every number on your tax form, he puts one of those ‘more or less’ squiggles
Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.
March Madness concludes, an event handled something like an outbreak of typhus in workplaces across the country; treated with quarantine and let to run its course. Recent racial tensions notwithstanding, it culminated in a charmingly integrated riot. But if it weren’t the parade of paid amateurs in their skivvies, it would be some other diversion; perhaps the buttons on our shirts or better, the buttons on Kim K’s shirt. Are the flags still at half-staff? Must be for Whitney, national treasure that she was. It couldn’t be that there are caskets burdened with the bits of American soldiers pouring into New Jersey as they have never been lowered for that yet. There is a drought across the nation. It is a drought not of water, though that, too. What we thirst for, seek and find absent in every dusty bucket on every rusted hook is seriousness for the serious matters; sobriety in the face of sobering events. We desperadoes are a small and vilified minority. Instead of frank discourse we meet the mouthpieces of vested interests or free-lance mouthpieces without portfolio who, on speculation, ape the paid press agents. For any who question the state of affairs, whether it is the public debt or private vice there is one ready rejoinder with all the insight and subtlety of a vuvuzela; lol. [Read more →]
We might think that people never have to pay for anything, with all the things we hear are paying for themselves. Most times, when someone says, “It pays for itself,” the proper response is, “No, it doesn’t.”
I know someone who buys annual memberships at several aquariums and zoos because doing so only costs a little more than the one-day pass. He once told me that if you go to the Baltimore Aquarium just twice in a year, the yearly pass “pays for itself,” which is why he has bought the yearly pass. Baltimore is a four-hour drive from where he lives, but no matter. He is determined to have his pass pay for itself, so he loads the kids into the car and takes a second trip to Baltimore within the year. Not to do so is to have paid for a yearly membership when only a one-day pass was needed. Driving to Baltimore costs money for gas and tolls, but if you add it all up, as I’m sure he has, it still costs less than paying for two separate day passes to the aquarium. This math convinces him that the yearly pass pays for itself. If he goes to the aquarium a third time in the year, it will pay for itself even more. If he goes ten times, the yearly pass pays for itself so much it’s practically free. [Read more →]
As the vast majority of Americans have never been polled, so the vast majority of Americans have never made their viewing or listening habits public knowledge through the ratings systems. In radio there is Arbitron and in TV, the Nielsens. The politicians and their staffs live and die by the polls as the professional talkers go on air and off by the ratings, just ask Keith Olberman (if you can find him). The dealers in brouhaha, have a moist, delicious controversy on their plates. The most coveted delicacy, a Rush of Limbaugh seems to be within reach of their forks, knives and fingers. Who could expect them not to tuck in? The implements for cracking the shell and exposing the delicious Limbaugh underneath are many but one is foremost. The ratings and for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks and Mitt Romney is hurtling towards Washington; it’s where the money is.
A Cenk Uygur is on the case. Heck, they all are, but this character who could not reveal his Easter Island head in public if we didn’t know where Mohammed Atta is, shows up foremost on Bing. Statistically you are unlikely to know the name as this Delta smelt of media barely registered in the ratings system when he was on MSNBC of which you may also be blissfully ignorant. The Young Turk has landed on his feet after being replaced by Al Sharpton. He has, like Olberman and Algore, carved out a place for himself on the internets at CurrenTV, from which perch he assails Limbaugh’s much vaunted audience claims as phony-baloney, plastic banana, good-time rock ‘n roller codswallop. Since this is an attempt at media nose-punching we should weigh in the contenders. Uygur asserts that he and Limbaugh may well be in the same class. He refers us to his youtube channel where, at my viewing, nearly all the vids have almost exactly 300 pageviews with one exception. His manly challenge to Rush has ten thousand. [Read more →]
In the 2008 election my bedrock, must satisfy requirement was fulfilled; not John Edwards. In like fashion it seems low expectations have paid off, my one absolute necessity, that Mitt Romney NOT stroll to the nomination like a frat boy into the Student Body Presidency has also been fulfilled, or will be so if a Super Tuesday triumph can be denied him. Triumph or even Victory have proven to be terms as slippery to the Romney camp as is was to Bill Clinton. Iowa was a crowning, crushing Triumph! until it was a narrow defeat… a tie, really, if you look at the stats. New Hampshire was a solid win but the trumpets blew briefly. Somehow Romney’s resident gunslingers had talked around the fact that Primary wins where you are expected to win, had better be crushing or they are losses just as narrow losses where you are expected to lose also have a point-spread. Team Romney never thought they would have to engage in such PR gymnastics. As modest an achievement as it may prove to be, still it has been worth it to muss up the princeling’s hair while we may do so.
It is not quite time for fatalism. Even casual observers have had Romney’s inevitability driven into their psyches by the blathering jack-o-lanterns. Nearly all of Mitt’s street-level support seems to be based on this assumption masquerading as a truism; He can win! Electoral Determinism is the frontrunner’s friend though it seems to be no one else’s. On the theory, possibly mistaken, that no one can predict the future, I resolve to take the tiniest bit of electoral action, subsuming my judgement, my apprehension and my gag reflex beneath a mantle of desperate tactical calculation as cold as a bone chisel. I propose to vote for Newt Gingrich in the upcoming Georgia Primary. [Read more →]
Events have disappointed Massachusetts Mitt but not fatally. On the Monday before the Tuesday there were Rep Est douchebot gunslingers out on the airwaves openly speculating that if Romney couldn’t put Santorum away in Michigan!? Well, the muckies would have to entertain a late term abortion, drawing Romney out like a bi-racial bastard and replacing him, Torch-style… with whom? Jeb Bush seemed to be warming up but he did so by taking the contempt and revulsion Romney has for those who think the problem with the nation is excessive socialism, and doubling down. How this could be done, legally or even within existing Party rules is not discussed. As with the government proper, in the penumbras of Leviathan like the Party machinery there is not a disdain for the law, precedent or simple fairness. Rather these are alien concepts; really alinguist exhalations like the moan of a ghost to the bi-partisan, multi-racial and gender mixed claque of face-smilers and back-stabbers. Their enthusiasm for Jeb, the Chris Christie of the Dynastic Bushes, should be enough to cool the ignorant approbation his name and mug commands. But while Romney did NOT put away Rick, neither was he put away himself. It cost him some four times as much to earn his 41% as Santorum expended to get his 38% but what the hell? To Mitt, it’s only money. [Read more →]
From Change we can believe in to It was like that when I got here. It’s not so great a leap, really. Who thought the ocean’s level was rising disastrously in June of 2008? Who believed that Obama’s seeing off the Hillary juggernaut would stop it? No one and no one. We have simply gone from optimistic nonsense to a fatalistic nonsense. Now, instead of a Bright New Tomorrow we are offered a Bleak Repetitive Today.
If you’re willing to put in the work, the idea is that you should be able to raise a family and own a home; not go bankrupt because you got sick, because you’ve got some health insurance that helps you deal with those difficult times; that you can send your kids to college; that you can put some money away for retirement.
Yesterday’s was a sunny post, optimistic and inclusive as befits the holiday. But now, when everyone is nursing a Love Hangover, and perhaps other sorts, it is time for The Rest of the Story. Let these two posts be married, to live and die and be buried but side-by-side for as long as the Coliseum should stand.
A thousand thousand old jokes were born of marriage. I was married by a judge but I should have asked for a jury, said Groucho. WC Fields was harsher still, I believe in tying the marriage knot, as long as it’s around the woman’s neck. With the masters consulted no need to quote further except to note the great philosopher, Al Bundy, favored gay marriage because, hey, why should they get off easy? So what’s it all about, Al-y? Isn’t it love? Of course, in part it is about love. But in part it is about money. It is also about the love…. OF the money, so the scales are a bit off center. [Read more →]
An alarming thing has happened and the most alarming bit is that no one is alarmed. Things seem to be proceeding apace in Egypt and the intellectuals are salivating at the prospect of a new Egyptian constitution, to be drafted by around June. That doesn’t leave much time so they are soliciting advice from foreign corners and from one corner was dislodged sitting Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg who used the occasion to suggest that under no circumstances should the Egyptian reformers consider the US Constitution as any sort of guide. It is, after all, laughably aged and enfeebled. Much better ore is to be had in the post-War world. Look right at 10:00 to see where she swallows the Constitution she has sworn to defend in one gulp. Most emphatically does she advise the Egyptians NOT to look at this document for guidance even as she describes the ordinary Rights of public participation and arrest that have been made real in the world, in large part, because of the attention given them in our Constitution and the spread of these, through means fair and foul, to every aspiring society. How the Egyptian fellow did not show shock or even surprise is a bit mysterious but a larger puzzler is how this could have been on youtube for a week and only now drawing attention. Hopefully this was a clever bit of disinformation. The dimmest Cairo cabbie could not fail to realize, Ginsburg is a Jew. Perhaps the State Department and the Justice came up with a plot of reverse-psychology. “Ruthie,” Hillary might have told her. “You go in and you tell ’em, don’t you look at our Constitution. There is NOTHING in there for you, and they will tear into it like Bill through a Ladies’ Auxiliary!” But no, with the specifics and enthusiasm it is plain, this is Ginsburg Unplugged. [Read more →]
In Action Comics #8, published in January of 1939, Superman decides that housing conditions are responsible for juvenile delinquency. If only kids didn’t live in slums, they wouldn’t be getting in trouble with Superman. But what to do about the existence of slums? Superman sees a newspaper article that gives him an idea (click on any image to enlarge).
Residents are warned to remove their belongings from the homes. Then the world’s strongest man springs into action. [Read more →]
A fake candidate has ended his fake campaign. Or did he? Jon Huntsman is far, far from a household name like Spiro Agnew or Alger Hiss. Largely, the relief of that condition was his reason for running. Not that this should indict Huntsman particularly, it is the case with anyone whose name you have heard on the ballot at any but the most piddling level and once said level of piddle is achieved… Katy, burn the barn! Yes, the evidence is in and we find it as have all honest observers of politics since time begins. It is not merely that the trough of government draws pigs but it also turns the odd honest man or woman who blunders to office into boar or sow respectively. Lord Acton told us not just that absolute power corrupts absolutely but that power corrupts; it corrupts proportionately as the petty tyrants of your Home Owners Association demonstrate, it corrupts opportunely as we see in the semi-secret rapes of children by authority figures in sports, academe and the cloisters. Subtle power corrupts with subtlety. Profane power corrupts profanely. Incremental power corrupts incrementally and provisional power corrupts provisionally; this last is the best state we can hope to achieve. [Read more →]
Maybe we shouldn’t have the end of the year during the holidays. Yes, it is one of the holidays itself but maybe they are too concentrated here on the long tail of the annum. Legislative and other periods link to the end of the calendar year causing deadlines to loom just when offices are empty or emptying. Once phones rang unanswered from Thanksgiving Wednesday to January 2nd. Now they roll over to voice. Which is more cruel? There are a few folks still on the job although they eye the clock nervously and jostle their keys. They are trying to “get things done” and whatever that means it apparently means the same thing two days before Christmas as it means on any other day at the Capitol and the White House. [Read more →]
Media automation and access sometimes still let you down. There was an excellent video on the local news which I cannot find a link for. If only I had taken the lo-tech approach when it aired and scribbled down a few notes or at least written the channel on my arm. A more practical explanation of the predicament is here but I will try to reproduce the irony and agony of the original piece that we might call The Pie-man Learns About Free Money. [Read more →]
In days of old when knights were bold the French used to call being gay, The British Disease. Of course the yobs called it The French Complaint. With today’s accusations against the Brits from the French, it amounts to a similar near stalemate. France is pushing back on the ratings agencies warning that their Triple A is about to be cut. Mes amis, cut them, not us, you know why? Blah blah. It’s the classic diverting behavior of the addict, in this case the addiction is to printing money. And that is one I can understand quite well. I’m about ten stitches away from running off a few Benjis myself at the Kinko’s. But it doesn’t “work” for me or them in that the practice, like treating anemia with leeches, makes the underlying conditions of which the downgrades and high borrowing costs are a symptom, fatally worse.
But the ratings agencies DO have it right, at least in regards to France vs Britain. Sarkozy’s peeps point to minor advantages they have over Cameron’s crew on macro numbers like debt:GDP, total size and overall growth. The margins are not impressive although some of it was surprising. I thought Britain had more growth than France even now but nothing goes with snark like a bit of cherry picking which I’m not about to try to rubbish piecemeal.
The reason France is clearly a worse credit risk than the UK is obvious. [Read more →]