Curbing Government

A friend and I have exchanged emails lately about my town’s requirement that I directly pay for repairs to my sidewalk and curbing in the public right-of-way — a looming prospect here. While not solely peculiar to Pennsylvania, I don’t think most towns impose this upon property owners. After all, we do pay real estate taxes, and here in our town, we pay ridiculous amounts of them. In fact, a similar town in Massachusetts typically levies a rate of one-third what we pay. Surrounding towns are no better. We pay higher taxes than my friends in Massachusetts and yet theirs include such services as trash pickup, sidewalk maintenance as well as the schools, police, and fire department.

My friend went off on a tangent, expressing his frustrations with government taxation in general. As a Canadian, he understands better than most about the imposition of extreme tax rates, which in Canada mostly pay for a shrinking amount of their much-ballyhooed health care coverage. As he explains most eloquently: Continue reading Curbing Government

The Randy Regimen

This has got to go.

About a couple of years ago, I decided to get serious about my weight. I had finally tipped the scales at about 215 pounds, and I figured that at 50-something, it was now or never. At only one other point in my adult life had I made a similar decision, and that happened in the second semester of my freshmen year at college. Like a true cliché, I put on the “freshmen 15″ requiring me to buy pants another inch larger in the waist than my previous pair. In a few months, I went from 180 pounds to 155, going into my sophmore year without any fear of walking around shirtless.

This time, I faced a greater challenge. Older, with a slower metabolism, and with a daily routine that kept me in a desk chair most days, I needed to make some fundamental changes to my lifestyle. I wanted to lose 40 pounds, and it started with a simple thought:

Continue reading The Randy Regimen

SNL at 40: The Boomers’ Last Guffaw

I downloaded the SNL app on the day after the Fortieth Anniversary Show aired last Sunday. If you’re a fan with a smartphone, the app won’t disappoint. They have done an amazing job archiving 40 seasons of sketches. I spent the better part of yesterday watching a lot of show I missed over that time, in particular the 1980 disaster season with Jean Doumanian. (Yes, it was pretty bad.)

The app allows you to browse through each season, and then tap on a cast member to show all the sketches that in which they appeared. It’s amazingly comprehensive, but NBC limits use of the app to your smartphone only. It doesn’t allow you send the video to your AppleTV (or equivalent) and no iPad version. So, this isn’t a communal experience, which ranks as the app’s biggest flaw.  Continue reading SNL at 40: The Boomers’ Last Guffaw

I like football, hate the NFL.

This advertising relationship runs both ways. The NFL funnels about $800,000 a year to various military charities through its “Salute to Service” program—a pittance for a multi-billion dollar operation that pays its commissioner $44 million annually—and in return the league gets to drape itself in hollow pro-soldier branding.

via Super Bowl XLIX as a Case Study in the Mechanics of Pro-War Propaganda – Hit & Run :

The Peter Project

Peter ChoyceFor reasons not fully understood, even to me, I have taken on a very special project called Peter Choyce. I first became aware of Peter during his days as a college-radio disc jockey for WZBC in Boston. Today, he’s a recovering addict living in Knoxville, Tennessee, subsisting on the generosity of the taxpayer and a few dear friends, who like me, see something very special in Peter, and who think the world would be a lesser place without a voice like his. I’ve taken on this project purely for selfish reasons. I get access to Peter’s fantastic archive of radio shows, and I get ground floor access to what might become one of the most amazing come-back stories ever.

My fascination with college radio began, ironically enough, just about the time I left college. The early 1980s saw the beginning of the end for “progressive rock” radio, a time when musically savvy DJs enjoyed some autonomy in the studio. Much of the nascent “New Wave” movement got airplay on these stations, but those that played someone as “radical” as Elvis Costello soon became as rare as hen’s teeth. By the mid-1980s, the commercial radio landscape had devolved into the wasteland of classic rock and top-40 schtick that still festers today.

So, if you loved music, and sought out new music, you sought refuge in college radio. Western Massachusetts, as it happened, provided a fertile music scene thanks to the many colleges up and down the Connecticut River valley, especially from those centered around Amherst-Northampton. When I moved to Boston in 1984, I mistakenly believed things would get even better. College radio in western Massachusetts consisted mainly of relatively low-powered, student-run stations that rarely stuck to any particular format. The kids played what they wanted for the most part in two-to-three-hour blocks. Their inexperience was part of the “charm” of it all, but from this I discovered some amazing music. Continue reading The Peter Project

Another click of the ratchet

Once again, we see the not-so-invisible hand of government setting us up for yet another major economic disruption. And then, we can expect people of a certain political stripe call for greater government involvement to bail us out of the mess they helped to make.

The problem we face today, however, is that financial institutions, flush with easy Fed money have become heavily invested in the oil industry – just as prior to 2008, financial institutions, flush with Fed money, poured money into housing. If the oil industry contracts, the losses will extend deeply into the financial sector and the other bubble industries that have grown up around the industry in recent years.

via Blog | Mises Institute.


Get out from under the thumb

We even take it all for granted. In reality, the ground is shifting beneath our feet. Those in power feel it, and it scares them. The innovation can be slowed, but it can’t be stopped, much less reversed. This great transformation is already underway.

via Fifty More Ways to Leave Leviathan : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education.

Obama plays the “got nuthin left to lose” card


I wish this didn’t have to happen, but the Telcos and cable companies have been total dicks about this. They’ve created bandwidth scarcity where this is none. They’ve colluded and they’ve conspired to have it both ways — money from customers and money from content providers — all the while with plenty of profit to make our internet the fastest on the planet for half the money. Instead, they bought themselves new houses in Telluride and Teslas to take them there. Fuck ‘em. I’m all for free enterprise, but bad boys need to get spanked. Hard.

Reason contributor and Clemson University economic historian Thomas W. Hazlett defines Net Neutrality as “a set of rules…regulating the business model of your local ISP.” The definition gets to the heart of the matter. There are specific interests who are doing well by the current system—Netflix, for instance—and they want to maintain the status quo. That’s understandable but the idea that the government will do a good job of regulating the Internet whether by blanket decrees or on a case-by-case basis is unconvincing, to say the least. The most likely outcome is that regulators will freeze in place today’s business models, thereby slowing innovation and change.

via Obama: Government Should Regulate Internet to Keep it Free – Hit & Run :

School sucks. Here’s why.

But students move almost never. And never is exhausting. In every class for four long blocks, the expectation was for us to come in, take our seats, and sit down for the duration of the time. By the end of the day, I could not stop yawning and I was desperate to move or stretch. I couldn’t believe how alert my host student was, because it took a lot of conscious effort for me not to get up and start doing jumping jacks in the middle of Science just to keep my mind and body from slipping into oblivion after so many hours of sitting passively.

via A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned | Granted, and….

This is a natural result of the mechanized learning we have imposed upon our young people. I had professors at UMass who pointed this out. School is not about bolstering the intellect or even rote learning as much as it is about social conditioning. We don’t have the resources to treat every student as an individual, but as a raw piece of clay we can at best hope to mold into something productive.

Not every kid is going to be an Einstein or a Bill Gates, but the requirements to address kids as individuals will forever outstrip our ability as a society to provide the resources to make this happen. Sorry to say, but some kids probably deserve more attention than others. Just don’t tell that to the parents.

Stop it! Just stop with the double spaces already!

If you do even a little bit of research on this topic, you’ll find plenty of articles practically begging you to stop using two spaces. Slate‘s Farhad Manjoo went so far as to say that it is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.

via Nothing Says Over 40 Like Two Spaces after a Period! | Cult of Pedagogy.

I learned to type in the 1970s on big, heavy Royal typewriters under the instruction of the indomitable Mrs. Porter and Classical High School in Springfield, Massachusetts. We learned the double-space  after period convention for all the reasons cited here in this story.

On the very day I learned that the Mac used proportional fonts and therefore no longer needed a double space, I stopped. I just stopped. It wasn’t hard, and in fact, it was good because the new way actually saved me some effort.

Now thirty years into the PC area, it shocks me to see how many manuscripts I receive from clients for their websites, brochures, and whatever — where the double-spaces still show up. Who is still teaching the kids to do this? No one in any decent public school even knows what a Selectric is!