Friday, December 26, 2014

1914 & All That

Happy holidays, and let me apologize here for my absence (in case anyone is actually reading....is that crickets I hear?).  I've been spending 2014 learning a lot about 1914, military history buff that I am.  I've been watching things on the History Channel, listening to podcasts, looking at maps....sort of how I followed the 150th anniversary of the US Civil War for a minute, until it became exceedingly dull.  Now the sesquicentennial of Lincoln's death is approaching and I'm all, zzzzzzz...I'm sure it'll be interesting again in April.

But the centennial of the Great War is completely fresh, as of July anyway.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The conversation I wish I could have with certain people I work with

In Michigan, if a person is so psychotic they are liable to walk in the street without knowing it, or if they have made a serious suicide attempt and are still at risk, they may be hospitalized against their will.

Sounds creepy, I know.  But there are several steps that keep this procedure on the up and up, so we're not going back to the bad old days when, say, a husband could sign his wife in to a hospital on a whim.

Two pieces of paperwork have to be completed before hospitalization can be considered:  one is a petition, which any concerned person can complete if they have reason to believe the future patient has a mental illness and/or is a danger to himself or others.  The second is called a "certification", which can be completed by any physician or PhD level psychologist.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Holy Show Trial, Batman!

OK, after a few weeks hiatus, your Cold War anti communist "McCarthy was right dammit!", Soviet-kitsch-o-phile blogger is back to "The Americans."

Actually, I've seen all the episodes, but episodes 11 and 12 were kinda boring.  Except for the fact that Nina (remember her?  She's the KGB agent the FBI guy who lives next door to the KGB spies masquerading as The Donna Reed Show,  fell in love with, and whose activities and pillow talk Nina is faithfully sharing with the Residentura at the Russian embassy) is in a bit of a pickle.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Implosion of the State Through Education Only?

One of the things that has been hard for me to grasp as a recovering statist is the notion that "you can't use the state's methods to topple the state."  I agree with it wholeheartedly, because I'm not into violence, and I don't think that libertarians getting into power, then enacting their own laws, would create anything better than what we have now.

But at the same time, as a behavioral scientist, I know that when most people come accross new information, particularly if it goes against what they believe, it's unlikely they'll absorb it in any helpful way.  That is my instinct anyway, and my observations in my own half-century one rat study.

Something clicked for me yesterday as I pondered my Christian beliefs, my (limited) knowledge of history, and the history in particular of liberty.  And now I'm thinking, maybe their have been times in the past when the State was toppled, or at least challenged, by those who wanted to educate their fellows that it was simply an imaginary construct that they could shrug off whenever they were ready.

Friday, April 25, 2014

"The Americans" Update: "Martial Eagle."

More about the show that makes you wonder, "So is there a TV show in Russia about CIA spies with perfect Russian accents living in Moscow called, 'The Russians'?"

WARNING:  Spoilers-a-plenty ahead.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

LIST OF MIGRAINE CURES THAT HAVE NEVER WORKED; but which I have feltcompelled to re-test long after I figured this out:



cold stuff on my head

Aspirin

Tylenol

chocolate 

fiorinal

Child Pose

More chocolate 

Beer

Fiorinal and beer

Feverfew

Magnesium supplements

Co EQ

Chocolate and peanut butter

Lemon filled Girl Scout cookies....

Monday, April 21, 2014

Statistics

I have a theory about why the federal government invests so much time in promoting stupid solutions to problems that don't exist.  Take the cries for the banning of firearms because there are "more and more" school shootings.   This is despite the fact that, statisticaly, millions more men,, women and children die in car accidents, diving into shallow swimning pools, stay home for the hurricane party, or have a cement block dropped on their car from an overpass.  And in fact, violence against school children isn't increasing.  Although the news media is indeed paying more attention to it.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Pastorale: Not for the Peasants, Anymore?

My immediate family, or those I live nearby, anyway, are coping with a particularly voracious stomach flu bug, and I'm not feeling all that well myself, so this Easter the cockatiels and I are staying home...avoiding the Easter goodies, doing some light spring cleaning, and participating in a ritual I've enjoyed since my senior year on high schillings:  Playing Beethoven's Symphony #6 and enjoying the spring it portends.  It's a good day for it too; sunshine streaming in, probably teasing us mercifully before the next big polar vortex with its 10 inches of snow and the thousands of Michigan parents being treated for a new illness:  snow day fatigue.

It looks very springy today, on the other hand.








Thursday, April 17, 2014

From Russia With a 2 Kid, 1 Car Family, 2 of whom are Soviet Spies, a Clueless FBI AGent who Lives Next Door, and a Promise of Sympathy Distortion


Those are my words, those last two, and sympathy distortion is something the fan of FX's "The Americans" must learn to live with.  Or stop watching it.


The KGB family brings brownies for the FBI agent under whose nose they reside



If you don't watch much TV, then you, like I before a friend told me about it, may not know about this show. It's a little difficult to explain unless you are a Cold War nerd like myself, but basically, the "stars" are a couple (marriage arranged by the KGB) from the Soviet Union, their accents somehow magically erased, living in a cushy split level in 1980s Washington, DC, next door to a clueless FBI agent; amusing themselves with kidnapping, forced repatriation of the odd Russian intelligentsia, a fake marriage (the husband's), meeting cool people and killing them, and by magically keeping their kids from knowing they are KGB spies from the Soviet Union (don't these kids wonder why they never meet their grandmas?)  While all this is going on, the clueless FBI agent not only misses the KGB agents under his nose, but has fallen desperately in love with the woman he believes is his KGB informant, but who used him to get her way back into the good with her "Soviet ambassador" boss, and who may have been in love with him, but is now sleeping with another sort of free-agent agent who is extorting FBI information from the FBI agent by threatening the life of his KGB "informant"/triple agent informant/lover.  All in the context of wives, children, and innocent bystanders who are flicked away like so much acceptable collateral damage.


Are you getting all this?


Friday, April 11, 2014

The 2013 Tax Year Tax Dirge: Don’t Fine Me, Bro!


Or, All I really want to do….is claim you as a dependent.

The reason for the tax dirge:

The tax dirge is perfect music for seeking lost bits of paper, Googling tax code minutiae (and isn’t it all minutiae?)…and for holding your breath until your accountant calls and says you're getting a refund, or a bigger refund than expected....or until you enter all the numbers into Turbo Tax and the amount "overpaid" comes up positive.  On the other hand, it's good music to drown your sorrows when you see there is no way in H-E Double toothpicks you're getting a refund...in fact, you may have to sell your house to pay your bill!!


To be honest, many times the songs in the annual playlist known as the Tax Dirge aren't evocative of those feelings viz their music or lyrics; many times the title just, well, fits.

As usual, the Dirge features songs of all or most song types.  This one includes reggae, hip-hop, opera, 70s punk, folk and country.  And 2014 sees the debut of Mr. Marshall Mathers on the Dirge with not 1 but 2 selections from "The Eminem Show".

We end as usual with the Mother of All Tax Dirge Songs, "Taxman", written and performed mostly by George Harrison....the Grumpy Beatle[1].  If you're singing along to the finale this year, and wondering what to put in place of the descant, "Uh-uh, Mr. Wilson; Uh-uh, Mr. Heath", then "Uh-uh, Mr. Boehner, Uh-uh, Mr. O" works pretty good.  Unless you're Canadian, in which case you have a couple of weeks to figure out how to fit Messrs. Harper and Mulcair in the song in a rhythmic and clever way, eh.

Happy dirging, taxpayers!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Things People Never Really Believed

This post occurred to me because I've been thinking a lot about an upcoming post on religion and the state, or specifically, Islam and the state.  This has brought me head on into the claims, by jihadis, non-muslims, talking birds and probably spacemen, that one of the hallmarks of Islam is "conversion by the sword".   I can't believe that average people of average intelligence and average sanity, anywhere in the world, speaking any language, practicing any faith, could ever really believe that you can change someone's mind by threatening to kill them.

Looking around for information on that got me thinking, how many other dumb things do we believe about other cultures or historic beliefs?