Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cramming for Nov

Grasping at straws.

Via 3QuarksDaily, a link to a New York Times Magazine article by David Leonhardt discussing Obama’s economic leanings. (A tangential note that’s already out of date but nonetheless: 3Quarks has another Obama related piece today which I think is what one writer imagines he’d like Obama to say at the convention. I found it quite confusing, neither sincere enough nor satirical enough to interpret. 3Quarks is one of my favorite sites but I don't expect to agree with everything.) I’m trying to absorb this as well as I can. Years ago I would have been unable to force my eyes to focus on word strings of this type. But now I’m motivated to try and follow the money and figure out where we’re at and where we might be headed. I found the following very educational:

It’s helpful to start with a little history. When Reagan was elected, in 1980, tax rates on top incomes were so high that even liberal economists now say the economy was suffering. There simply wasn’t enough of an incentive for rich people to start new companies or expand existing ones, because so much of their profits would have gone to the federal government. Someone making the equivalent of $5 million in 1980 — in inflation-adjusted terms — would have paid a combined federal tax rate of almost 60 percent, according to research by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, two academic economists. (These calculations cover not only income taxes but also payroll taxes, capital-gains taxes and others.) Reagan, by the end of his second term, had cut this rate to about 35 percent. Clinton raised it above 40 percent, but the current President Bush has reduced it to 34 percent. So over the same period that the rich have been getting much richer before taxes, their tax rates have also been falling far faster than the rates of any other income group.

[By the way, I haven't read the link embedded in the quote above, I just didn't know how to get rid of it.] I knew that Reagan and Bush presidencies meant tax cuts for the wealthy but I didn’t know any numbers. I appreciate this summation. I didn’t realize that taxes were (considered) so onerous pre 1980.

All right, that’s enough learning for one day. Onward with the stream of consciousness.

Parents nights kill me. And I’ll bet they kill the teachers too. It’s the working all day and then having to be presentable and attentive in the evening. Luckily they don’t last long. I am very glad to have met Katy’s first grade teacher. I’m making Nod go to tonight’s for Lexi’s preschool. I’ve done my time! I’m going to sit on my spacious butt tonight and watch Project Runway. I let Katy watch half of the drag queen episode of PR last week and then sent her to bed halfway through. She was mad and I don’t blame her. But I didn’t realize how interested she would be in it. She watched the second half when it was on at 7am!! on Saturday morning. So thank you Bravo for playing them over and over and over again.

Books. I have checked out almost 50 items from our local library. That is the limit and I was told I was close to it last visit. The whole family uses my card. Nod is a bad library citizen so he doesn’t use his own card any more. Most of the books are not for me, except that I try to pick out story books that I like so I will enjoy reading them aloud. But I have managed to snag some of my own reading lately. Currently I am trying to get through Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett. I find that title annoying. I have been enjoying the book. I’m about two thirds of the way through and am waiting for the drama that will begin the end. I hope it gets tight and eventful again soon. I love the Rhode Island setting and her blunt assessment of the citizens there.

Last week I finished Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks. I was staying up too late to read it and enjoyed it immensely. I especially liked the world she created, her history was convincing and her vocabulary was really good. Even the swearing sounded organic which is quite hard to manage. “Accuser bugs” are a wonderful invention. Minor cavils: the across the board bisexuality was hard to swallow. (I’m a little disappointed in myself but that was my reaction.) And our heroine got banged up three times too many for my taste. Especially the last abduction, come on! I’m sure there could have been another mechanism to ensure the final showdown. Those items aside, it was a good romp. I am hoping the sequels are good too and have requested the second through inter-library loan.

Started this at the beginning of the week and will post it now before it ages any more. Still marching along briskly at work but the waves are smaller now. I’m not going anywhere for Labor day weekend. I just told Nod that I want to plan one outing and one major piece of housework each day. Our floors are killing me. I would like to feel more satisfied with the state of the house by the end of the long weekend.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Barge turkey

Sturdy Banana. Sturdy banana! I wish I had a production company so I could name it... Sturdy Banana Co. This silly phrase brought to you courtesy of my morning debate on which banana would best survive the trip to my office. The title of the post is a misreading of the name of one of the construction companies working on campus right now. I think it makes an excellent dismissive insult. You barge turkey.

I have just erased my half hearted complaint about the heat and humidity. I'll save it for some truly vile weather. The busker fair is happening tonight and tomorrow downtown. I hope it's as fun as it sounds. I wish I had $20 in dollar coins to pass out to them. Hm, maybe I'll do that.

Lexi has given up her school day nap and so arrives home v. tired and a bit grumpy. I keep being surprised by it and having to remind myself that it's a tired child yelling. But yay for the earlier bedtime. She barely has enough energy to complain that she is too scared by herself in her room and she will never fall asleep. And then she's out!

We watched Joseph King of Dreams yesterday, an animated VHS tape from our library.* It gets points for bible story faithfulness but loses the entertainment prize. Katy was very upset by Joseph's sale into slavery and subsequent imprisonment.

*I believe I've complained before about the library phasing out its video collection. But let me tell you again! They're going to get rid of all the videos in favor of DVDs. I must bow to the inevitable. But I probably won't ever borrow kids' DVDs from the library because they're always scratched up and unwatchable. What's the point?! Video tape is comparatively sturdy and glitchproof. Ugh.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back and not

Below are the links and thoughts I was gathering for a fun post. But then I ran out of time and I can’t seem to make more. So I’ll throw out this quick greeting and you can enjoy those things at your leisure.

Back from ABQ. It was a mixed bag. Mom’s looking good but having eight extra people in her house pretty much threw her around the twist. She was the stressed hostess. The pool was great. Four of the cousins bonded and had a good time. One didn’t stay long enough, poor guy. The dogs were sweet. Including Ruby the wonder pup! Michael looks and smells as wonderful as I remember and we had such a nice time dropping in on him and Christopher at his ABQ High loft.

Saw Batman, v. good even though it’s true that that universe has no use for women. It started out very conventionally, new ersatz batcave, new suit development, and then it went all over the place. Afterwards I had a backache from the tension. I’m all for HL getting the posthumous Oscar.

Lexi’s night nerves took a turn for the worse this week which is part of my being strapped for time. Tuesday night I was in the bed for eleven hours straight, thank gods. Both Sunday and Monday I was up between two and four trying to help her go back to sleep. ‘I’m too scared when you’re out of the room’ was the complaint. It occurred to me just yesterday that I could have slept on the couch in her room. If you want sense out of me, don’t wake me in the middle of the night, you won’t get it. She’s doing better since then. I brought back the nightlight and gave her a quieter fan. Let’s hear it for sleep.

Work is a crashing wave. The start of semester is upon us and our first-week-of-Oct conference is closing in too. My think-positive Northern California self is picturing myself surfing or maybe jumping through the waves at the shore. The rest of me is selfishly hoping all this actual work recedes back across the sands quickly.

Katy started first grade yesterday and has 15 or maybe 17 kids in her class. What a great small number. She seems chuffed that she knows many of her classmates but not all. Hopefully the I don’t want to go to schoolitis will leave now. Lexi is one of the older kids at Montessori school now. The sandbox mosquitoes are chewing her up, ack. Otherwise all is well.

That was more than I expected to write. Back to work now. Leave the blogging light on for me.

From a British article exploring the concept of ‘good character’ and what helps create it.

“The necessary sacrifices of good parenting collide with the assumption that the individual is entitled to lead his or her life only by reference to their own desires. Parenting is a sacrificial, self-negating activity, and not all adults are up to the job. Finding the time, energy and commitment that needs to be spent over decades to raise a child well is tough. This has always been the case—and it should be noted that most parents now spend more time with their children than in previous generations. But the assumption that parents can have it all is entirely at odds with the reality of successful child-rearing. One of the most positive developments of the last half century is the entry of women into the labour market, but it has, of course, subtracted from the time and commitment to making homes and children, and men have seldom stepped in to fill the gap.”

I think this is extremely well put. I wish I had read it as a young adult although I suppose that wouldn’t have worked. (I would either have had a defensive reaction because I feared that I was never going to get to be a parent, or I would have found it irrelevant to my current life.) “Parenting is a sacrificial, self-negating activity,” what a profound and stark statement. I have felt sometimes like I was erasing my personality during my last six years of parenting. No regrets, mind you, but it has been an extreme ride.

For further exploration of parenting, I present to you, the Belgian Waffle.

Making me hyperventilate with amusement even while I worry about her body image. And the craft fete deserves further attention. I found her via Whoopee. Who also provides superlative cranky laughs. I can’t believe I forgot to link to Whoopee’s naked lady post, here it is finally.