A quick question...
About how often do you have to deal with spam in your LiveJournal?

I keep getting spammers posting (almost always ads) on posts dating back years. The one I posted observing Syd Barret's death, in particular, seems to attract the vermin. It always kinda puzzles me why they bother - I always delete them as soon as I notice, and they very rarely last more than about fifteen minutes.

Everyone needs to watch this, now and as often as possible!

Madison Rising. These people should rise - to the top of the charts, and to unbelievable success. In an industry that seems to specialize in not cool, these guys are very cool. Rock on, dudes, rock on.

Well, the Fertility Holiday has spawned a whole new crop of vegetables...
Today, kestrelcat had an appointment downtown and found traffic, even public transit, disrupted by
these idiots.Collapse )

(no subject)
Just saw this headline on Yahoo: Could a Democrat challenge Obama in 2012? I kinda liked the presenter's interaction with a Magic 8-ball for answers (hey, it's at least as accurate as most political commentators), but my first thought on reading the line was, "Y'know, the way he's headed, a freakin' potato could probably challenge him!" And really, how much worse could a potato be?

Technical difficulties
Is anyone else having problems connecting to Yahoo? Has anyone heard of something going on which would knock them off the 'web?

Writer's Block: Best book ever!
Is there any book you can read over and over again without ever getting sick of it? Do you discover something new every time you read it?

Many. This is why my home is a bibliophilic event horizon - I don't get rid of books.

Writer's Block: Kill the music
What is the absolute worst song ever written? For what amount of money would you consider listening to it over and over again for 24 hours?
Hey There Dililah - and for 24 hours, I would need a lot of money... after taxes. And if the check bounces, you're a dead man.

The New Economic Realities...
The Same As The Old!

This week in U.S. News, there was an article on "How to Live Happily on 75 Percent Less" - an economic reality which all too many of us are going to need to face over the next decade, unless something nearly miraculous occurs. The article includes lots of happy-happy tips on how to get the same effect out of much-cheaper or do-it-yourself methods (something a few of us have been doing for years, and urging others to do), and much Pollyanna-ish rhapsodizing about things must be good, because they could be so much worse, but there was one part which, for the first time in days, brought me close to shouting at the computer screen. (Okay, so I have a short fuse. BFD.)

The Great Recession--which is technically over, economists insist--may be morphing into a broader epoch: the Great Humbling. Millions of Americans who felt prosperous just a few years ago are now coping with long-term unemployment, sharp cutbacks in living standards, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and a deep sense of failure. That could persist for years. "This is not like earlier recessions, where things fell, then they bounced back to where they used to be," says Dennis Jacobe, chief economist for the Gallup polling organization. "We haven't seen this before. It's the only time this has happened since the Great Depression."

First of all, if the recession is over already - less than a year after it officially began - then it can't really be called a "Great Recession", now can it? After all, many of us have already lived through longer recessions than that, and if that were the extent of it, harder ones as well.

But - as the add-on bit implies - the recession probably isn't really over. The phase we're in right now - a moderate upswing which shows all the hallmarks of being temporary - bears a strong resemblance to a phenomenon which economic historians and analysts refer to as a "dead cat bounce" - from the phrase "if it falls hard enough, even a dead cat will bounce." Economic analysts who aren't currently being paid to be professionally optimistic are cautiously skeptical of these claims that the downturn is over. They point out that there were rallies all through the Nineteen-Thirties as well... but those rallies didn't alleviate the major problems of that time; to wit: tight credit and high unemployment.

What conditions do we see in today's economy? Well, how about tight credit? I saw an article the other day on a national credit card company offering a new card program... with a top APR of 79.9%. Personal credit is as tight as it's been during my lifetime, and the housing market is no better, despite all federal efforts to the contrary. And, to be honest, I see no reason why credit should loosen up in the near term; the credit collapse was a clear indication that policies were not aligned with reality, and nothing which has happened since then would change that fact. The federal government has made funds available to allow financial institutions to continue lending money - on the proviso that they continue to lend it under the same failed policies (federally dictated policies, at that!) which landed us in this situation in the first place.

The functional definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result."

And how about high unemployment? Well, we currently have the highest unemployment rate this country has experienced since the Great Depression... with little prospect of that changing any time soon. Our Federal Cheerleaders are loudly trumpeting all of the jobs their programs have created... but the information which gets treated with the pianissimo approach is the fact that nearly all of those created jobs are of short duration - mostly less than fifteen days. Day labor is not going to cure unemployment, folks. In the meantime, those same Federal Cheerleaders are campaigning loud, long, and hard to put further burdens on both the employer (at all scales) and the individual worker. When these new insurance requirements go through, what, pray tell, will happen to the bottom lines of those businesses which provide jobs? And what will that do to the number of jobs which they can provide?

"We haven't seen this before. It's the only time this has happened since the Great Depression."

Okay, outside of the built-in contradiction this pair of sentences carries (If it happened during the Great Depression then we've seen it before, twit!), there's something to consider here. If this has happened before - and the chief economist for Gallup said it has, right there in black and white - then maybe it's time to consider that we may be going through the same thing? The economy is acting like it's in another depression. If it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, perhaps we shouldn't insist on keeping it in a goldfish bowl?

A day in the life...
Okay, it's Friday... which means that Kestrelcat is at work and I'm watching JT for the day. It's been a good day so far, with a trip down to Rainy Day so the boys could acknowledge the dominion of their Baby Overlord - their phrasing, not mine - and then back home.

About ten minutes ago, he started fussing, but apparently didn't want his bottle - refused it pretty clearly. So, I sat him up on his rug in the middle of the floor and gave him a couple of his toys. No joy, or not much. He'd play for a couple of seconds, and then put whatever it was aside and start muttering - not crying, but clearly discontent. Bored, was the impression I got.

So I popped up my music program on the computer (best sound system in the place) and brought up Bond, intending it as a placeholder while I searched out something more to his taste.

I don't think there's likely to be anything more to his taste. He's sitting there, rocking out hard (literally; he's nearly headbanging the rug) and shaking the maraca/rattle Kestrelcat found for him, in pretty fair approximation of on-beat. (Let me be fair here: as energetic as Victory is, I'm not sure I could keep time with a single maraca! He's doing well for seven months.)

I think I'll stack up some TTF to follow this album. By then, KC should be home... and probably ready for sleep, given the way the weather has messed with her this week.

Obamanomics in Action, Part Two
From today's press releases: New Obama plans: 'spend our way out' of downturn.

Does this bother anyone else the way it bothers me? What would this mean applied on a personal, rather than federal, level? "Our household budget is really kinda strained this month, honey, so we need to replace the water heater and the window panes and reshingle the roof." Uh, what? Has this man never had to balance a budget?

I don't see this downturn ending for quite some time. Not unless we default and remonetize - the national equivalent of going bankrupt and walking on debt. And even then, the effects are going to last a long time.

A rare example...
Okay, I have to say this: Donte Stallworth has managed to impress me.

Not with the DUI that led to this whole mess - never that. But in the actions he's taken since that horribly immature, tragic and idiotic decision... as his attorney said, he's acted as a man, as opposed to the spoiled little entitlement-whore boy that all too many of today's celebrities are. He stopped at the scene, he called 911 - despite the fact that he had to know what it would mean for him - he cooperated fully with the authorities when they tested him for intoxication. Despite the poor decision which led to this situation, he behaved with dignity and maturity ever since, and he's said that he's going to abide by all the provisions of the court decision.

In the society of today's celebrity culture, this is a nearly aberrant display of adulthood and responsibility. I would be much happier with Mr. Stallworth being held up as an example to emulate for today's youth than, well, fill in the blank with most of the celebrated icons out there right now...

Obamanomics in action
Received via e-mail:Collapse )

Okay, slow day at the headlines desk...
"Officials recover black boxes from charred Denver jet"

Ain't it cute when they try to be cute?

To all my Portland area friends...
It's snowing out there, starting to stick even on the paved areas, and the temperature is pretty much as high as it's going to be for the next 36 hours. So be careful if you absolutely must go out, and don't go out if you don't have to. If you're going to drive - which I heartily recommend against - go slow and allow more time than you think you need.

Me, I'm currently at work and giving serious consideration to leaving. As a matter of fact, I've already told my manager that, if it's still coming down like this on my next break, I'm taking off. And the weather report is already saying that's likely.

Take care, all. I'll catch you on the flipside. (Hopefully, I won't be the one flipping!)

A line out of context...
I figure it's either a stepladder or duck-tape.

From today's headlines - Fed chairman: Approve bailout plan or risk recession
Well, at this point I have to think: maybe it's time.

Another side...
Okay, I just got done reading Lyndsey Parker's take on the Kaitlyn Maher phenomenon (see here: new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/realityrocks/98433/kaitlyn-maher-the-kids-not-all-right). And I have to say: I agree with her. Kaitlyn's parents need to be slapped with a wet halibut until they WAKE UP. They're setting their daughter up for one of two paths - either she's going to learn the hard way about losing in the big, high-stakes world of the grown-ups, or (and possibly worse) she'll win - and land in a million-dollar-a-year contract to perform, for an hour and a half a night, every night, in Vegas. The girl's a four-year-old, people. Who in their right mind could consider this a good thing? (Come to think of it, what venue in Vegas is going to be willing to host such a blatently child-exploitative act? If I was on the controlling committee of such a business, I'd certainly be telling anyone who brought me this idea that, one, they were nuts, and two, if they ever brought me something of that nature again they would be fired in the most public and messy way possible, with all the reasons published. To me, this is not much removed from, and is morally/ethically identical to, child prostitution.)

But getting away from that, I feel the need to comment on another side of the video linked in that blog entry. While Kaitlyn is not yet ready for this sort of prime-time exposure, there was another person there who clearly is ready, and is a class act (in terms of manners, at least - I haven't seen his act) on top of that. When Flambeaux was called forward with Kaitlyn, he already knew his fate - you could read it in his expression. He knew he hadn't made the cut, which was why he'd been paired opposite the cute little girl that no one would dare vote against... and yet he gave almost no indication of that realization, he went up in front of the crowd with her, and he smiled doing it. He knew he had lost, and he still went out graciously and did his job with class and style. And when the verdict was announced against him, he gave Kaitlyn an honest smile and a hug, and he said something to her - I couldn't tell what, because his mouth was concealed by her head - that helped boost her flagging confidence and made her smile a little less of an effort. And let me say this loud and clear: To lose to someone else, and then have the character to honestly and genuinely congratulate them and give them a bit of support to go on beyond you, is a rare bit of character these days. Flambeaux demonstrated that, and I sincerely hope that any and all professional talent scouts who may have been watching have taken note - I know nothing about his talent, but talent can be learned. That sort of personality and attitude is a much rarer thing, and much more valuable in any sort of cooperative undertaking. Regardless of what I was doing, that is the sort of person I'd want by my side, watching my back and helping do the job. The man's a class act, and deserves respect and success wherever he chooses to take that act.

This is a warning!
I just received an e-mail purporting to be from the IRS, regarding my Economic Stimulus Rebate payment. The sender wanted me to click on a link in the message, ostensibly to go to an information verification form so the payment would be sped up. I'm passing this message along, specifically meant for all US citizens and residents who read my journal.


If you receive such an e-mail, do NOT click on any links it may contain. Either delete said message unopened, or forward it to phishing@irs.gov so that their fraud department can deal with the perpetrators.

"Verifying" the sort of information such forms request can allow the perpetrators access to your funds and your financial information. With that information, these people can not only drain your bank account(s), they can also open fraudulent account in your name, running up debts which you will then have to contest or otherwise legally handle. This can range from an annoying hassle to a (potentially very) expensive legal undertaking. Do not be taken in by such scams!

If you've already been fooled by such a tactic, I would advise you to contact the IRS (if their name was used), and possibly your local District Attorney's office and/or your local FBI office (as such schemes are legally classified as wire fraud and thus fall, at least partially, into the FBI's jurisdiction). Any of these offices should be able to help you, and such services are part of what you pay taxes for.

The weather
  Galadrion here, reporting from work.

I just got here, walking in as opposed to biking, and boy am I glad I opted that way. Not only is it rather chilly out there (below freezing), but the humidity is rediculously high for the temperature... which adds up to one thing: icy patches everywhere. Slid several times on the way, but I was taking it easy so I never actually fell. (Kestrel, be careful out there today - and at all costs avoid those stairs at Streets of Tannasborne: they're gonna be deathtraps today!) Here's how bad it was: I saw two seperate accidents on a two-mile walk, at five freakin' AM! On a road which is nearly deserted at that hour, yet.

Right, enough of that.

Do you people who drive realize just how much you miss that way? Okay, so it was cold, and I was out in it for... well, forty-five minutes this morning; it's usually a half-hour walk, but as I said I was taking it slow. But the cold isn't really too bad out there, and with a little planning, you can dress for it pretty easily. But as I was walking in, it started snowing - little tiny flakes just drifting down, pretty and gentle. I'm willing to bet that the people whipping past me (at way too high a speed for these conditions, incidentally - as two people illustrated quite pointedly) either didn't see it at all, or only saw it as yet another annoyance. It seems a shame, really. There's so much out there that you really ought to take the time to look at, but nearly no one does any more.

Case in point: as I was crossing Rock Creek, I heard an owl hoot - very clearly. Too clearly: normally, they're fairly far back into the trees, but this one wasn't. I stopped and took a look in that direction, and there was this simply huge owl sitting on a tree limb not more than twenty feet from me, just watching. He (?) met my eyes, blinked a couple of times, and then stretched out his wings and took off, circling behind me and winging off across the road into the trees. Beautiful. And nothing I'd have ever seen in a car.

No real point to this, but it was a nice experience. Get out there, folks. There's a whole world to see, and it won't wait for you...

*Snicker!* How did they know?
My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
His Most Serene Highness Lord Galadrion the Feline of Mabe Burnthouse
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title


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