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Always Everything at Once Mar. 31st, 2009 @ 10:20 am
I am back in school, am already overwhelmed, didn't feel the earthquake yesterday, and now am getting sick. :(

Happy Pi Day! Mar. 14th, 2009 @ 10:10 am
Happy Pi Day! Today, we are packing up our apartment to move tomorrow to another apartment in the city. It's bigger, on a big hill, and has a really nice view of downtown! When I drive somewhere from it, I can imitate the car chase in "Bullit" going down the hill! What's not to like?

Besides having to pack everything and move it, of course.

The Invisible Hook Mar. 12th, 2009 @ 08:27 am
Candidate for best book title ever

Stimulus Stuff Feb. 5th, 2009 @ 11:37 pm
Talking Points Memo, quoted entirely because I agree with every word:
This week, out on the broad wastes of cable news drekdom and the uplands of Beltway journalistic drivel, a simple fact has gone almost entirely unreported: virtually everything congressional Republicans are saying about the Stimulus Bill wouldn't cut it in remedial economics. Not that there aren't legitimate policy differences and criticisms to be made of the outline plan before Congress. But to call the Republican complaints 'policy differences' would be to engage in what that old president used to call the soft bigotry of low expectations, as though a political party with as legitimately proud a history as the GOP could not be expected to produce more than economic illiterates.

The ground under our feet might feel firmer if this were just standard order rhetorical abuse. But the truth of it is genuinely frightening, especially since these fellows are planted in Congress rather than on one of the sidewalk corner in Union Square yelling ranting about Socialism and Fluoride or Lyndon LaRouche.

But now there are some flickering signs that the tide may be turning, perhaps in response to just how nonsensical the conversation got earlier this week. For instance, in tomorrow's Post, business columnist Steven Pearlstein devotes an entire column to the fact most of Republicans on Capitol Hill don't even seem to grasp how a Stimulus Bill is supposed to work or even more basic stuff about demand, recession economics or even how jobs come into existence. As in, it's not a Stimulus Bill, it's a spending bill.

Tactfully, Pearlstein doesn't say explicitly for most of the article that it's Republicans he's talking about. You have infer that from the names of the members he dings. But toward the end of the piece he can't seem to help cutting to the chase ...

what's striking is that supposedly intelligent people are horrified at the thought that, during a deep recession, government might try to help the economy by buying up-to-date equipment for the people who protect us from epidemics and infectious diseases, by hiring people to repair environmental damage on federal lands and by contracting with private companies to make federal buildings more energy-efficient.

What really irks so many Republicans, of course, is that all the stimulus money isn't being used to cut individual and business taxes, their cure-all for economic ailments, even though all the credible evidence is that tax cuts are only about half as stimulative as direct government spending.

It really does approach flat earth territory.

When you step back from the immediacy of the moment and consider just what nonsense these guys are spouting and what games they're playing while the country is legitimately in danger, it's breathtaking. All the reporters have fallen down on the job. But we maybe we can hope for more tide-turning tomorrow.

Watching the whole experience has been very frustrating. First the banking-sector bailout last year, with nary a consequence in sight for the supposed leaders who caused or ignored the crisis. Then, the stimulus bill, which is supposed to be the bailout for everyone else, turns into massive tax cuts at the expense of actually building and repairing things with long-term benefit, like infrastructure. Next came the nitpicking of random minuscule programs that Republicans just don't like, like family planning funds, which were subsequently thrown out for appeasement's sake. After which, precisely zero Republicans voted in favor of the stimulus anyway. Gah. It's hard to shoot for bipartisanship when the other side won't play seriously.

Transit Subsidies Feb. 5th, 2009 @ 09:12 am
So this post from The Transport Politic discusses the rhetoric of "profitability" as it relates to transit systems. One justification provided for transit subsidy is that their are societal benefits in the form of social justice. While I don't disagree, I didn't think that was the strongest argument, so I posted the following comment. I'm interested in what you, my diverse friends list, think about it.

This article seems to ignore some of the economics behind transit systems. Now, I’m far from an expert…. I’m studying this stuff right now. But the theory goes like this: transit is subsidized not out of a sense of social justice, but because subsidies are A) necessary to optimize the transportation system as a whole, and B) compensation for positive externalities.

Drivers cause more cost (pollution and congestion delay to others) than they incur (in operating costs and delay). Partially that’s because we already subsidize driving with free roads, extensive infrastructure, and cheap, plentiful parking. And partially that’s the nature of single-occupant vehicle transportation: no economies of density.

Transit users provide more benefits to society than just the personal benefits they receive. Transit users cause less pollution & energy usage per user than cars. Transit makes possible land use densities necessary to make interesting & economically powerful places. The length of time of a transit trip imposes an upper bound on the delay that will occur on a parallel auto route. Transit gets cheaper per person when more people use it…. economy of density.

The transportation network is really concerned with the flow of people, not vehicles. More flow is possible when more people choose the most efficient method. Cars may be efficient for diffuse travel, but to sustain large flows into and out of dense places, especially during peak-periods, transit is needed.

Subsidizing transit, reducing its user costs, incentivizes the efficient behavior AND compensates transit users for the positive externalities they generate.

Social justice? Just a great bonus! (Or maybe another positive externality….)

(Just to tack on to my comment.
When I say drivers cause more costs than they incur, I mean in congested situations.
And I don’t mean to disparage provision of road infrastructure either… clearly the government (i.e. society) pays for it because it makes possible lots of economic activity. Transit should be viewed in the same way, for urban areas that achieve large enough size and density.)

Strange.... Feb. 4th, 2009 @ 11:14 am
A robot LJ accound by the name of jglujrbe seems to have friended me and several other people I know. I guess it doesn't hurt anything (as long as I don't friend it back or click on its links), but it's annoying.

Bars & Beef Houses Feb. 1st, 2009 @ 09:46 am
Last night we were waiting to eat dinner, and having a drink at the adjoining bar. The bartender had no idea what a Manhattan was.

After dinner, we went to a bar that was having a benefit for a dog rescue organization. I had heard that people bring their dogs to these events, so I was super excited, but there were actually only three.

Anyway, happy Superbowl Day! I am missing Pat's Beef House* right about now. Hopefully all the deliciously bad-for-us food we bought will ease the nostalgia.

*Note: Wanted to give you a link that communicated some of the awesomeness of Pat's Beef House, but apparently, other than me, Pat's Beef House patrons and Yelp/Internet users are mutually exclusive.

[Edit: I also won a raffle at the benefit! My prize was also not dog-related, but still nice: a CD Box Set of 70s punk. I am a lucky dog.]

See what happens without me there to plan the sidewalk snow removal? Jan. 29th, 2009 @ 06:22 pm

More randomness Jan. 27th, 2009 @ 11:02 pm
So school is full swing, now in the second week, but I'm still unsettled on which classes to take.

Part of the problem is that there are just too many interesting-sounding classes to possibly fit into my 5 semesters here. I need to accept that and deal with it... and focus on priorities.

Another part is that I'm always overly ambitious at the start of the semester. I want to do it all. But I really need to leave myself some slack later on.

I'm also concerned because all the classes this semester have writing. One has a very serious term paper that potentially could be publishable if it's any good. I feel out of practice with writing normal, non-businesspeak-legalese English. I also feel like I don't have very good research skills at the moment. So to make it through the term, I will have to get my writing and researching muscles into shape.

One thing is certain. I'm keeping the Phys Ed class.

Happy Birthday Jan. 26th, 2009 @ 03:39 pm
Almost forgot, happiest of birthdays to logrus101, who is 2^5 today!

Another view of the Inaugural Address Jan. 21st, 2009 @ 05:13 pm
from ThinkProgress:
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl told Arizona radio station KTAR that he thought Obama’s speech was “low-brow“:

“His speech was not high-brow, it was more low-brow and a bit surprising in that regard,” said the Senate Minority Whip. […]

He took exception to Obama’s call for “an end to petty grievances” and a political truce in Washington.

“If the idea is we have to avoid controversy by getting in line behind his proposals, that’s not patriotism,” Kyl said. “If he is asking that everybody agree with him and thereby have a truce, that’s not going to work.”

I'm not sure if we should interpret this to mean that Kyl thinks actual dissent is merely "petty" or that what the new President considers petty, namely blind partisanship, is actually quite important to him.

UPDATE: And Rush Limbaugh, yesterday:
So I’m thinking of replying to the guy, “Okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.” (interruption) What are you laughing at? See, here’s the point. Everybody thinks it’s outrageous to say. Look, even my staff, “Oh, you can’t do that.” Why not? Why is it any different, what’s new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what’s gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here. Why do I want more of it? I don’t care what the Drive-By story is. I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.” Somebody’s gotta say it.</a>

This from a guy who has unceasingly accused those who disagreed with Bush's policies of rooting for America's failure. Hard to get more hypocritical than this.

The point of talking about these two jackasses? We should remember, when nitpicking starts, that no matter how sensible some of it seems, it comes from the same place of rabid, party-over-country mania as these comments.

Thoughts from yesterday morning Jan. 21st, 2009 @ 07:31 am
  • If I drive this morning, I'll catch it on the radio.

  • I was hoping to tune in just after this part. Well, it's boring enough anyway.

  • The Supreme Court Chief Justice is not very good at following the Constitution literally, despite what he claims.

  • It's amazing that some things, which should be mere practicality and common sense, should sound so radical.

  • This is more than a change in administrations or parties; it's a change in generations. Thank goodness.

  • This is a call. We haven't been called before to serve or build or sacrifice or imagine. We've only been called before to shut up and look where we're told and clap when the applause sign goes on and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Will we answer the new call?

  • How big a dork am I that I keep thinking of Lord of the Rings lines? Is it sad that that is the only frame of reference I have for epic historic events happening before me?

  • And afterward came this, much more modern, but no less epic or moving:
    We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

    We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

    Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

  • And now on with the building.
  • Tags:

    Google search results for "KH(Ax)N" for x=1 to 100 Jan. 16th, 2009 @ 02:18 pm
    RIP Ricardo Montalban.

    The Rose Pose Dec. 27th, 2008 @ 03:20 pm

    The Rose Pose
    Originally uploaded by rmadlo119
    She wants something...

    Dixie and this beaver do not get along. Dec. 24th, 2008 @ 10:37 pm

    Other entries
    » Music

    Oh the says_bomb outside is frightful
    But the fire is so delightful
    And since we've no place to go,
    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

    Let It Snow
    from the Christmas Song Generator.

    Get your own song :

    » Wild Turkey Bourbon Ice Cream!

    Wild Turkey Bourbon Ice Cream!
    Originally uploaded by rmadlo119

    » Back to Dogland!

    Back to Dogland!
    Originally uploaded by rmadlo119
    Yay! It's Wiley!

    » Why is he so sad? He must have some difficult exams ahead.

    » Last.FM ! Get it!
    Last.fm Meme

    List the Top 25 from your Last 3 Months list:
    Rank Name Playcount(Last 3 Months) [* = seen live]
    1 Electric Six 94 *
    2 Matthew Sweet 72 *
    3 Barenaked Ladies 57 *
    4 Spoon 46
    5 Weezer 44
    5 Nellie McKay 44
    7 Modest Mouse 43
    8 Garbage 38 *
    9 The White Stripes 25
    9 West Side Story - Original Broadway Cast 25
    11 Fountains of Wayne 24 *
    12 The B-52's 23
    13 Mark Ronson 21
    14 The Killers 19
    15 OK Go 18 *
    15 Hall & Oates 18
    17 Beck 14
    17 Radiohead 14 *
    17 Alanis Morissette 14 *
    20 INXS 13
    20 Phantom Planet 13 *
    20 They Might Be Giants 13 *
    20 Neil Diamond 13 *
    24 Madonna 12
    24 Ben Kweller 12 *

    What was the first song you ever heard by 6? (We'll go with Nellie for this one.) "The Dog Song." So cute!

    What is your favorite album by 2? "Girlfriend" is his classic for a reason.

    What is your favorite lyric that 1 has sung? Here are two: "Every mutiny begins with the cooks. Every queen cheats on the king with the rooks. Every nuclear war begins with two... dirty looks." "Stop! ... Continue!"

    How many times have you seen 11 live? Hoo boy. Maybe 10?

    What is your favorite song by 7? Hmm, I always go back to "Bury Me With It" when I'm mad.

    What is a good memory you have involving 20? My small sample size nets you four memories for the price of one!
    INXS: In high school, going to breakfast after a Saturday morning final I think, when "Need you tonight" came on the radio in my Green Jeep and Vennette said "Ooh! This is the song where they say 'sweat!'"
    Phantom Planet: While Jason was working at the Globe, he and the other interns got invites to this house party at a promoter's gorgeous pad in Brookline. Phantom Planet were there and played a brief acoustic set, with Jason Schwarzman playing an empty water jug. We ended up talking to the guys in the band most of the rest of the evening.
    They Might Be Giants: Hmm, there are a few, but for timeline diversity's sake I'll go with seeing the animated videos for "Particle Man" and "Istanbul Not Constantinople" on Tiny Toons.
    Neil Diamond: I remember listening to "Crackling Rosie" on the record player at my Grandma's house. My sister and I would sing along to that and songs by Andy Williams and Crystal Gayle.

    Is there a song by 3 that makes you sad? "The Old Apartment," of course.

    What is your favorite lyric that 14 has sung? So this is a band that has more than a few clunky and/or mystifying lyrics (Are we human or are we dancer? He doesn't look a thing like Jesus?). Even though I don't completely get this lyric, I love the Springsteen-esque delivery so much: "It’s funny how you just break down, Waitin' on some sign. I pull up... to the front of your driveway, With magic soakin' my spine. Can you read my mind?"

    What is your favorite song by 19?
    Beck: Earthquake Weather
    Radiohead: The Bends. I'm old school.
    Alanis: Even after all this time, I still have to go with "You Oughta Know." It's primal.

    How did you first get into 22? I already covered the bands in this position, so I'm gonna go answer this for #24, Ben Kweller. I think Jason had his first album. One lyric caught my attention ("She is a slut, but X thinks it's sexy") because it made me think of my friend Alex who sometimes got called X. So I borrowed the album and loved it. Oh I also realized somewhere that he was in this band Radish, which had a minor hit I liked in the 90s (Failing or Leaving).

    What was the first song you heard by 21? I already covered the bands in this position, so I'm gonna go answer this for the other #24, Madonna. It was definitely "Like a Virgin" and I remember having no idea what it meant. Thank you "Reservoir Dogs" for finally explaining it to me years later. ;) Oh, I also remember the first video I saw by her. It was "Open Your Heart" where the little boy has the fantasy of sneaking into the strip club and "saving" stripper Madonna. In retrospect, I think I just thought the boy was cute.

    What is your favorite song by 4? "Everything Hits at Once." Good lyric: "merging in traffic cross the lanes and then we become; Something bigger than just any one."

    What is a good memory you have involving 13? Hearing his superfunky cover of Radiohead's "Just" for the first time and being blown away.

    Is there a song by 23 that makes you sad? Uh... not really.

    What is your favorite album of 15?
    OK Go: They have two albums so far (OK Go and Oh No) and I like them both and am impatiently waiting for a new one!
    Hall & Oates: I made myself a greatest hits a while back, and that's my favorite. I was inspired to do it by hearing "Out of Touch" in "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City." I even turned Jason onto them.

    What is your favorite lyric that 9 has sung?
    West Side Story: It's Sondheim, it's all good. Incidentally this made the list because I tend to give it a listen every fall. It reminds me of one particular fall afternoon that my sister and I (in middle school) spent hanging out with my dad in his IROC Camaro. Ah, the 80s.
    White Stripes: First that comes to mind: "CAW-AW-ON.... QUEST!!!!!"

    What is your favorite song by 8? Hard to pick a favorite song, but my favorite album is actually "Beautiful Garbage," which many fans hate. It's their most stylistically diverse.

    How many times have you seen 5 live? Aww, I haven't seen either of them. I'm dying to see Nellie McKay live sometime though.

    What is your favorite album by 12? I'm really liking their new album, "Funplex." I always considered them more of a singles band in the past.

    I've talked enough and don't have good answers for the next four, so I'm skipping them. Here they are if you take the meme from me:
    What is a good memory you have involving 25?
    What was the first song you heard by 18?
    What is your favorite song by 17?
    What is your favorite album by 24?

    How many of your top 25 have you seen live? Twelve. That seems to be the most popular answer to this question! I asterisked the appropriate bands. And except for Radiohead (who I actually saw when they OPENED for Alanis Morissette in 1996), I've seen all of them live more than once each.
    » Sad Endings
    You know that moment in the action/war movie, when the good guys realize they've won the battle, and the dust settles, and they say "Hey. Where's mybestfriendandcomicreliefslashactualmoralcenter?," and it turns out that person's been hit and is in the process of bleeding out?


    Only it turns out, in this case, he was actually capped by someone we thought was a fellow soldier.

    There better damn well be a sequel.
    » In lieu of my encouraging everyone to vote directly....
    Interesting scholarly article on rationality and voting [Warning: pdf]
    » Help Save My Marriage
    If you have been thinking about donating to help defeat California's proposed Same-Sex Marriage Ban (Proposition 8), today might be a good day... the Human Rights Campaign will match your donation.
    » Rodents of Unusual Size?
    I don't think they exist.

    » Same-sex marriage approved in CT, but threatened in CA!
    Yay for Connecticut!

    But here in California, things aren't looking so good. Two recent polls have shown Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban, surging to a slight lead!! Read more about them here.

    Basically, the ban supporters have tons of money as the Mormon Church and other anti-gay religious groups are considering this a last stand. And that money is starting to have effects, as it is funding lies and whisper campaigns in an attempt to cause panic.

    I was married to my husband in Massachusetts last year. This year, we moved to California for grad school and a new job. So I have a very direct stake in this.

    I encourage everyone to help out any way they can. Go to the No On Prop 8 homepage to learn more.
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