15 April 2016


I just finished Benjamin Constant's book Adolphe. As this is an older work (1816), I thought it might feel very dated, but the descriptions of the psychological torment associated with the thin line between infatuation and love is right on. I highly recommend this.

5 April 2016

My Skype nightmare

Skype recently deleted my account. When I asked why, they claim I've violated their agreement. However, they refuse to say how. (I'm totally mystified by all this since I only use Skype to call family and friends.) I have a significant amount of money in my Skype account, which they apparently plan on keeping without providing a refund. Needless to say, I'm very pissed off about the whole thing. Making matters worse, it's simply impossible to get anyone on the phone or a chat who has authorization to do anything. For all of you who use Skype, I'd think twice about giving them any money. There are much better (and cheaper) services available, such as Google Hangouts.

Panama Papers

The appearance of the Panama Papers is providing welcome limelight on the illegal practices of the wealthy and well-connected. Hopefully, it'll go beyond that, educating the public about the infrastructure of our plutocracy. As just one "nugget" (with presumably many more to come), Rachel Maddow today mentioned that the Panama firm had knowingly laundered money from a famous 1983 British gold heist.

18 March 2016

Joe Wang

This is dated but kind of fun.

6 March 2016

5 March 2016

If job interviewees told the truth...

Clash of Republican con artists

Krugman has a great article that succinctly sums up the craziness of the Republican field.

4 March 2016

March 3rd Republican debate

Watching the March Republican debate, I was amazed at how vulgar the debates have become. We're literally down to conversations normally relegated to a corner of the junior high school men's locker room. The debate was disastrous for Trump. At one point, Fox News cornered him when they pulled up some numbers demonstrating that his claim that he'd magically balance the budget simply by eliminating waste was pure nonsense. (This is the perennial canard of the Republican right--this idea that fixing the budget will somehow be painless.) Of course, Fox News could have done the same for the entire Republican field who are spouting the same ideas with their disastrous track record over the last couple decades.

25 February 2016

Illinois Republicans go after single moms

When I first came across this, I'd assumed it was from the Onion, but apparently it's real. Illinois Republicans have proposed a law that wouldn't give birth certificates to children of single mothers who can't (or won't) name the father of the child.

HB6064Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Vital Records Act. Removes a provision concerning use of the biological father's name on the birth certificate if not married to the biological mother. Provides that if the unmarried mother cannot or refuses to name the child's father, either a father must be conclusively established by DNA evidence or, within 30 days after birth, another family member who will financially provide for the child must be named, in court, on the birth certificate. Provides that absent DNA evidence or a family member's name, a birth certificate will not be issued and the mother will be ineligible for financial aid from the State for support of the child. Provides an exception for artificially inseminated mothers. Amends the Illinois Public Aid Code. Provides that a family that does not comply with the Vital Records Act provision concerning birth certificates of unmarried mothers shall be ineligible for aid for support of the child. Effective immediately.

Have any of these Republican geniuses considered the fact that lacking a birth certificate might be a major problem for the child. Of course, it's insanely unjust for the mother as well. Laurel Dickman discusses just one very realistic scenario in which this might be problematic...

...say I had a one night stand – oy, you can say that QUITE A FEW TIMES, if you get my drift… There have been a couple of times where after a few drinks and a night of flirting, last names were simply not a priority. I may have wanted to see that person again, I may not have, but that choice was not always mine to make. Several weeks later, as my period is a couple of days late, I play the “what if game” and wonder if I should have an abortion or have Mr. I’ll Call You’s baby. The same portion of the government that would demonize me for having an abortion would be punishing me (and my theoretical child) for not being able to track down the father if I had it.

It's also conceivable that the guy gave the girl a false name or the girl couldn't recall the spelling. Beyond these details, we must ask why so many of the Republican proposals are designed to shame, blame and humiliate the poor or socially disadvantaged. Don't single mothers have enough on the their hands already? Why are the righteous right's posses so silent when the miscreants are members of the affluent classes?