Monday, March 31, 2008

What High School Did You Go To?

A little over a year ago, my parents and my younger brother moved to Saint Louis. One thing they found surprising was the ubiquitous question, "What high school did you go to?" Sometimes it's even shortened to, "Where'd you go to school?" which most thinking adults would think was a question about college.

Why all the interest in high school? Well, no one has admitted as much, but my suspicion is that it's an easy way to find out your socio-economic background, which then, in Saint Louis thinking, completely informs everything about you. Why get to know you when I can ask one question and find out that, several years ago, my dad was slightly richer than your dad, meaning I can look down my nose at you and gossip behind your back?

I read this retraction in yesterday's Saint Louis Post-Dispatch and noticed that one of the news-worthy items needing correction was the fact that the woman actually attended Parkway West High School, which is a pretty snooty public high school in a pretty well-off part of town. But I'm sure when she finally goes to jail in connection with her four outstanding (not in the "Dogs are outstanding!" sense of the word) warrants and her falsified driver's license, some fellow inmate will ask, "Where'd you go to school?" and she'll say, "Parkway West," and the other inmate will apologize for deigning to speak to her.

(PS: What do you think of when you hear the word "deign"? I think of the sense "thinking it fit for your station," which means it has a high and a low, but I think sometimes people only use it as a synonym for the word "condescend," which only has a low meaning. Here I meant it in the high meaning. Any thoughts?)

What Happens When Organ Transplants Are Given to Hillbillies

I read this article today and I thought, "The good news is that organ transplants are inexpensive and usually paid for privately."

Friday, March 28, 2008

The End of the World

I’d read before about the Large Hadron Collider possibly creating black holes, which most scientists theorize will then go away, but here’s one “scientist” (read: Hawaiian surfer with an interest in science) who disagrees, and since he’s an American scientist, he’s suing.

How do these people think law works? An American (at least until Hawaii separatists get their way) trying to use an American court to force a French scientific establishment to not operate? Brilliant!

Recycling

I put our kids in charge of recycling last week. At first, their only concern was that they would have to carry the stuff to the recycling center, which is about three miles from our house. When I told them we would drive them, they were 100% behind the idea.

Then I read this article today about an entirely different level of recycling. I don’t think I’m ready to go there yet. I mean, I care about the environment and crap, but not that much. After all, I used to be a Republican (back when that used to mean something besides “warmongering Democrat”).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Conservatives for the Liberal

A lot of politically conservative people I know are talking about supporting Barack Obama for president. (Whether they actually do it in the voting booth is something else.) I read this today in the Wall Street Journal, then found it online for your reading pleasure.

I don't know if it's just a bunch of people letting off steam about Senator Tiger Cage winning the nomination, or if folks are serious. One guy with whom I work, no matter how much he hates McCain, can't bring himself to vote for a Democrat. (To his credit, though, he knows enough to know that means he can't vote for McCain, either, so he plans to sit this one out). But as for me (and my wife), right now our votes are Barack's to lose.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Old People Ruin Everything

How can you read this crap and not hate every idiot over 50? This guy planned to retire at 54? Why? Did he plan to die at 56? Why did he think it made sense to expect to spend a third of his life not doing anything? Why did he think he could retire at all, considering he is a garbageman with a wife who doesn't work?

And that's just how angry I got from the first paragraph. I haven't even read the rest yet.

Identity

Persephone wants to change my name on her blog to some pseudonym so nobody makes off with me like Hottie McCann's baby. She asked for my suggestions, and I came up with:

Mr. Cool (she was okay with that)

Italian Stallion (she wasn't okay with that)

SeƱor Good-In-The-Sack (she didn't respond to that)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Toilet Seat Follow-Up

It’s not America unless someone gets sued or charged. This article confirms that the woman stuck to the toilet seat was, in fact, in America.

Ness County Attorney Craig Crosswhite said, “This is the law that most closely applied to the situation.” So what he’s saying is, “This wasn’t against the law, but it should have been, and it almost was, so we’ll pretend it was.” That’s some fine prosecutorial work there, Craig. You’re well on your way to a prime DA job in a big city.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stoic Sam's Counties

So far in his life, Stoic Sam’s been to the following counties:

Douglas KS, Leavenworth KS, Wyandotte KS, Jackson MO, Shawnee KS, Johnson KS, Platte MO, Los Angeles CA, Ventura CA, San Bernardino CA, Riverside CA, La Paz AZ, and Maricopa AZ.

Of course, he’s been to four states, too. His next new counties will probably be Franklin KS and Miami KS when we go to my brother’s house, or else the nine counties between here and Chesterfield, MO, when we go to my parents’ house.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Inflation

Just off the top of my head, here are some “record high prices” I’ve seen articles about in the past year:

In general, inflation seems to be back. Here’s my amateur opinion. Inflation, as Milton Friedman would say, is always a money supply problem. In past inflations, the increase in money supply has been an actual increase in M1 and M2. What this means is that, while inflation wreaks havoc with contractual values and savings, generally people are no worse off on present-day transactions. This is because in the circular flow of money, the new money makes its way into higher wages. So you make five dollars an hour and bread costs a dollar a loaf, and after the inflation you make six dollars an hour and bread costs $1.20. Your savings doesn’t buy as much bread, but your current income does.

Here’s what’s different about this inflation: a lot of the new money in the economy over the past ten years has come from housing appreciation. You buy a house for $200,000 and enter a contractual agreement to pay a mortgage on a $200,000 house. Now, ten years later, your house is “worth” $1,000,000. Your contract is still for a $200,000 mortgage. You’ve gained access to $800,000 that wasn’t there before. You cash it out and spend it. You’ve increased the money supply, which raises prices. But it’s not a general inflation, meaning the money didn’t come into the market through higher wages. So people relying on wages see higher prices with no corresponding rise in wages. Bread is $1.20, but you still only earn five dollars.

Normally the new money would work its way back around to wages, but not if housing values collapse, since the money was only in the market as a result of higher expected resale values. When you go to sell your house for $1,000,000 and end up getting only $700,000 for it, you have $300,000 worth of stuff that was given to your for nothing of value in return. Like an auction with play money, you’ve bid up the price of goods without contributing anything of value to offset the higher price.

Anyway, all this inflation is kind of funny, given Alan Greenspan’s prognosis of steady global deflation in his book The Age of Turbulence. He says rising incomes in developing nations, which have less consumerism and higher savings rates, has increased global investment, leading to lower prices. That works for things like DVD players and cell phones, but not for basic staples such as food, which are seeing an increase in demand as people now make enough money to eat food regularly.

Well, that was just what I thought of while I was driving home from work on Friday. It’s probably not very intelligent. Oh well.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Getting Courts to Do Your Dirty Work for You

When my younger brother was a kid, he didn’t have interests, he had obsessions. Wave after wave of fleeting obsessions. And my mother would “aide” his playing by sewing costumes for him that matched each new obsession. There was a time when he would watch "Batman” three times a day and he had a full Batman costume, complete with luchador-esque mask. Then he moved on to “Sleeping Beauty,” watching that movie three times a day and wearing a complete Prince Valiant costume. (Our family was lucky that some of his obsessions didn't involve costumes, like “Lady and the Tramp,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Dino-Riders.”)

The crowning event, though, was probably when he was obsessed with “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and he had a Captain Jean-Luc Picard costume that included a skin-colored latex bald head he’d wear. My mother let him miss school one day to go to a convention in Pasadena, and he was on KCOP-13’s news that night. (I’d post pictures in this post, but my mother doesn’t allow any of us to have pictures from our childhood.)

My brother used to attend my sister’s high school basketball games in his Batman costume, and once when dressed as Prince Valiant, he ran onto the cross country course at my older brother’s race and tripped the lead runner, who was trying to set a state record that day (and, thanks to being tripped by a costumed fan, didn’t achieve it).

Why do I tell you this? Two reasons: 1. to embarrass my brother. 2. to ask, why didn’t we just get a court order requiring him to stop? That’s what these folks in Britain did when the neighbor kid kept coming outside dressed like Bob the Builder. Now he can’t carry tools, and his mother can’t play loud music or have more than three visitors a day.

Remember when people used to refer to our British heritage as the source of our political freedoms? But if we still have Magna Charta and John Locke, why don’t the Brits?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stuff I Thought Was Funny (Until It Hit Too Close to Home)

A coworker tipped me off to this blog. I thought, “This is hilarious. My wife will love it.” But then I saw this one and thought, “Well, at least I still think it’s funny.” Then I saw this one and thought, “This blog is juvenile.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kansas On the March!

I thought I was too busy to write a blog post. Until I saw this story, that is. I’ll never be too busy for this story.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hold the Presses!!!eleventy!!! - New Child Care Tips

I thought I was the master, but now I realize I am just a humble pupil. Getting my four-year-old drunk? I never thought of that! (And sending my four-year-old to an elementary school? I never thought of that, either!)

Child Care Tips

Wow, lunch is pretty entertaining today. So far I've read the following:

  1. A Kansas man (woo-hoo, Kansas!) wanted to show his girlfriend's children how to have a good time without having to spend money, so he put them in the dryer.
  2. A Florida woman took a little girl to a car wash to use the high pressure hose on her. She was overheard saying this would teach the girl to respect her. I disagree.
  3. A family picnic in the park turned into a baseball bat murder (isn't that how they always end?) for these Houstonians (read: former New Orleanians?). A minor traffic accident led to a confrontation, which then led to fired shots and a baseball bat beating. Like most minor traffic accidents.
  4. An Arizona teen shot his father for restricting his time on MySpace. This dad could have saved himself had he gone to more schooling, which would have made his son more likely to kill him over Facebook instead.