June 25, 2011

Wake the serpent not

I have no idea what this poetic fragment by Percy Shelley means or where he was going with it. Perhaps the Gentle Reader may have better luck:

Wake the serpent not -- lest he
Should not know the way to go, --
Let him crawl which yet lies sleeping
Through the deep grass of the meadow!
Not a bee shall hear him creeping,
Not a may-fly shall awaken
From its cradling blue-bell shaken,
Not the starlight as he's sliding
Through the grass with silent gliding.

June 24, 2011

The grammar police

It isn't her full time gig, but the Spousal Unit sometimes serves as a member of the axillary grammar police. In this capacity, she lacks the formal power to conduct arrests and criminal investigations and impose formal sanctions.

This does not deter her, however, from running around the house ranting and foaming at the mouth about particular grammatical or semantic atrocities.

The latest offense that set off a tirade was an ad that said "To each their own." This mingling of singular and plural was in her eyes an offense which all the waters of the Mississippi, the Volga and the Yangtze could never wash away.

Had I but the courage, I would have said "Irregardless, I could care less"--just to watch the sparks fly.

UPPING THE ANTE. The prospects for an agreement on raising the federal debt limit hit a snag.

WONKY BUT IMPORTANT. Here's a look at why spending caps and a balanced budget amendment are bad ideas.

WHY DO DOGS BARK? Click here.


June 23, 2011

In the spirit of fair play

I don't always agree with WV Senator Joe Manchin on issues regarding Medicaid, the federal budget and such, but in the spirit of fair play, I think he is right on directing priorities away from war spending in Afghanistan.

Manchin was quoted in the New York Times as saying

We can no longer, in good conscience, cut services and programs at home, raise taxes or — and this is very important — lift the debt ceiling in order to fund nation-building in Afghanistan. The question the president faces — we all face — is quite simple: Will we choose to rebuild America or Afghanistan? In light of our nation’s fiscal peril, we cannot do both.

And this is from the Charleston Gazette:

"We cannot afford to pursue our current costly strategy in Afghanistan when we face devastating cuts and a death spiral of debt here at home," Manchin said.

KOCHED UP. Here's an item with a video on the right wing noise machine.

UNEMPLOYMENT. Here's Jared Bernstein on trends over time.

CUTTING MEDICAID means cutting jobs.



June 22, 2011

Water wars

There have been many great naval battles in history that shaped the future of the world...

from the Greek defeat of the Persian fleet at Salamis in 480 BC...

to the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 when European forces defeated the Ottoman Empire...

to the Battle of Midway in 1942 that was a turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II.

This aquatic encounter between Little Edith Ann and a box turtle probably won't make the cut. The engagement was indecisive.

AN IMMODEST PROPOSAL. Here's an appeal from a labor lawyer and writer not to "save" Social Security but to actually raise it.

THERE IS A GREAT GULF BETWEEN US. Here's a look at the growing economic divide in the US.

AN INCONVENIENT UNTRUTH. Here's a look at the political denial of climate change and how it has impacted public opinion.

PLAYING CHICKEN. Economist Dean Baker calls for a tough line on a clean vote to raise the federal debt ceiling.


June 21, 2011

Words and birds

"Auspicious" is a great word that shows up now and then on solemn occasions, but the etymology is kind of interesting. It is related to the word auspice, Latin auspicium, meaning someone who looks at birds.

Lots of peoples historically and probably now as well look to signs from the flight of birds for omens. The Romans were particularly bonkers about it. We got the word auspicious from those times when the signs from the birds were favorable.

I kind of wish the Spousal Unit and I had an auspicium with us on a hike we took this weekend. It happened really fast--too fast to take a picture. We saw in broad daylight an owl fly by with a young rabbit in its claws.

It's still unclear how auspicious it was. We thought it was cool, but the rabbit probably had his own take on the situation.

DOS AND DON'TS. Here's economist Jared Bernstein on how to handle a fragile economic recovery.

SLAVERY IN THE MODERN WORLD is alive and well.


WHY DIDN'T WE JUST KEEP HUNTING AND GATHERING? Archaeological evidence suggests that the rise of agriculture was a downer for those involved. After spending several hours pulling weeds this weekend, I can see why.


June 20, 2011

Happy 148, West Virginia!

Today is West Virginia Day, the anniversary of its formation as a separate state from Virginia in the midst of the Civil War on June 20, 1863.

On this special day, this poem seems to be a good fit:

By Muriel Miller Dressler

I am Appalachia. In my veins
Runs fierce mountain pride; the hill-fed streams
Of passion; and, stranger, you don’t know me!
You’ve analyzed my every move–you still
Go away shaking your head. I remain
Enigmatic. How can you find rapport with me–
You, who never stood in the bowels of hell,
Never felt a mountain shake and open its jaws
To partake of human sacrifice?
You, who never stood on a high mountain
Watching the sun unwind its spiral rays:
Who never searched the glens for wild flowers,
Never picked mayapples or black walnuts; never ran
Wildly through the woods in pure delight,
Nor dangled your feet in a lazy creek?
You, who never danced to wild sweet notes,
Outpouring of nimble-fingered fiddlers;
Who never just “sat a spell,” on a porch,
Chewing and whittling; or hearing in pastime
The deep-throated bay of chasing hounds
And hunters shouting with joy, “He’s treed!”
You, who never once carried a coffin
To a family plot high up on a ridge
Because mountain folk know it’s best to lie
Where breezes from the hills whisper, “You’re home”;
You, who never saw from the valley that graves on a hill
Bring easement of pain to those below?
I tell you, stranger, hill folk know
What life is all about; they don’t need pills
To tranquilize the sorrow and joy of living.
I am Appalachia: and, stranger,
Though you’ve studied me, you still don’t know.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, here's an article on how it happened.

THE CHOPPING BLOCK. Here's an op-ed by yours truly in defense of Medicaid.

YOU'VE HEARD ABOUT IT, NOW WATCH THE VIDEO. Just for fun, here's that Paul Revere history lesson from Sarah Palin.