Saturday, April 28, 2012

Life in general

I'm sitting here this morning wondering just how many close-to-blind drivers are cruising the highways in Michigan at the moment. I finally got around to getting a Michigan driver's license yesterday, and for the first time in about 20 years my license will not have the "must wear eyeglasses or contact lenses" restriction on it. Just how does a person pass the eye exam when she's been wearing glasses for two decades? I can't argue with the fact I did read the line on the eye chart as instructed, but how on earth did that happen? It shouldn't have. 

It does, however, provide a partial explanation for some of the weirdness I see on the road. Maybe a few of those people I notice at intersections who persist in pulling out in front of oncoming traffic aren't really clueless or stupid. They actually can't see that humongous log truck thundering down the highway -- it's all just a blur to them, so what the heck, drive by memory.

This afternoon the S.O. and I will be going down to the Eagles hall to pick up our Croatian chicken dinners. I have no idea what a Croatian chicken is -- I doubt the bird spoke Croatian before ending up on a platter -- but apparently it's now a popular dish for fund-raising dinners. The Croatian chicken dinner at the Eagles is a fund-raiser for the L'Anse High School Senior Class Lock-In (that annual fantasy that allows people to delude themselves that if the kids can celebrate graduation in a safe space they won't also go out and have one helluva kegger in an undisclosed location, e.g., the beach at the mouth of the Huron); a couple weeks from now there's going to be a Croatian chicken dinner over in Baraga to support something socially worthy happening on that side of the bay.   

Rolling rust heap of a Dodge tries to earn its keep by pulling stumps.
 Yesterday the S.O. finished pulling stumps out of a corner of the yard. There had been a couple apple trees there, but a few winters ago a heavy, wet snow did so much damage we cut them down. The S.O.'s been wanting to get rid of the stumps so they wouldn't get in the way when plowing snow. 

Yes, that white stuff is snow. On April 27.
The stumps make a pretty good base for a brush pile. Now we just need to get busy and build it up more. If the weather cooperates (things have been rather dry lately, so we need rain to green things up), we might be able to have a decent bonfire for Vappu

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Listening to NPR this morning and heard more of the same old shit about Social Security and fixing its problems. The so-called expert did the usual bloviating about the only solution being to make some cuts somewhere down the road because it would be so difficult to increase revenues. She did the usual tap dancing around, mentioning various solutions that all boil down to reducing benefits, but never mentioned the most obvious and easiest fix: eliminate the earnings cap. Right now, any earnings above $110,100 are exempt from the Social Security tax. Eliminate that exemption, and there's an instant infusion of cash. But do any of the "experts" ever toss that out as a possibility? Nope. It's always blathering on and on about the sacrifices we peasants, the poor saps who will never earn close to $110K, are going to have to make.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm home, albeit reluctantly

I knew when we started the trek north we'd probably be swapping this:
View from the Younger Daughter's deck, April 15, 2012. There are roses blooming in a neighbor's yard, although they're hard to see without enlarging the photo.
for this:
View from our back porch, April 19, 2012. Siberian squill is blooming under the apple trees, but it's a little hard to see when it's covered with  fresh snow. 
I would have been perfectly happy to stay in Texas until the summer heat and humidity drove us north in early May, but the US postal service has this ridiculous rule that they won't hold mail for more than 30 days -- and our 30 days were up yesterday.

Sorting through the accumulated mail had its amusing moments. The S.O. is going to hit 65 soon so is being inundated with advertising from various insurance companies all trying to sell him Medicare supplements. AARP must be mailing several a week. For a change, the junk mail from insurance companies is outpacing the junk mail from Capitol One and the junk mail from various political fundraising organizations. No new Obama bumper stickers -- maybe the campaign's computers have figured out that if I didn't send them money after the first dozen or so Obama 2012 stickers that they've given me, I'm not likely to send them money now. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Specious arguments

I'm not particularly inclined to comment on the Trayvon Martin case -- it's been talked to death elsewhere -- but I have been noticing one particular piece of sophistry that keeps coming up over and over and over. It's a classic among the specious arguments that crawl out of the woodwork whenever racism is an issue: more blacks are killed by blacks than by whites.

So? And more whites are killed by whites than by blacks. Most homicides are committed by people who know the victim. You're a lot more likely to get shot by your brother-in-law or your next door neighbor than you are to get shot by a total stranger. If you're black, odds are most of your close acquaintances (friends and relatives) are also black so odds are anyone deciding to kill you will be black, too. If you're white, most of your close acquaintances are also going to be white so your murderer is likely to be white.

If, however, you have an incident such as the Trayvon Martin case -- someone shot by a total stranger -- it doesn't really matter that most murders involve acquaintances who share certain demographic characteristics. It's irrelevant. It's like looking at a case of arson and saying "But why aren't you talking about all the fires that get started by lightning strikes?" Tossing in black-on-black violence in an attempt to deflect attention from racism is specious, an attempt at sophistry to nullify concern about the real issues  raised in the Martin case: possible racial profiling by a wannabe vigilante and incompetent law enforcement by the local police department. It's not as despicable as trying to retrospectively make a murder justifiable by smearing the reputation of the victim, but it still isn't pretty. At the very least, it's intellectually lazy. It also signals an unwillingness to engage with the reality of racism by trying to conflate two different issues and pretending that the existence of one problem means we can ignore the seriousness of the other.