Friday, April 17, 2009

The L Curve

Objective facts about American income distribution:

If you prefer a single image, here you go (...but the video above is better...):
"The US population is represented along the length of the football field, arranged in order of income.
  • Median US family income (the family at the 50 yard line) is ~$40,000 (a stack of $100 bills 1.6 inches high.)
  • The family on the 95 yard line earns about $100,000 per year, a stack of $100 bills about 4 inches high.
  • At the 99 yard line the income is about $300,000, a stack of $100 bills about a foot high.
  • The curve reaches $1 million (a 40 inch high stack of $100 bills) one foot from the goal line.
  • From there it keeps going goes up 50 km (~30 miles) on this scale!"


What We Learn from Obama's Tax Return

Some points to ponder about Obama's tax return released yesterday.
  • Obama paid more in federal in come tax ($855,323 ) than Bush reported as income in 2007 ($719,274). 
  • Obama's charitable contributions ($172,050 ) were more than half of Bush's federal tax payments ( $221,635 ). Not bad! 
  • Noteworthy:
"The Obamas contributed $6 in 2008 to the federal fund that provides public financing of presidential campaigns, a program the Democratic nominee bypassed himself."
In other words, Obama made a voluntary contribution to help his 2012 competitor!

Now I'm plenty suspicious of Obama's cozyness with the banks, reluctance to prosecute torturers and willingness to let political prosecutions by the Bush administration stand. But it is clear from his tax returns that Obama's not that bad at the whole successful-in-the-free-market thing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Bag Party Color Code Alert System

In honor of today's teabagging parties, I offer the following COLOR-CODED Teabag Warning System:
  • GREEN: All is calm. Your tea is nice and healthy, possibly minty.
  • BLUE: Slightly unusual situation, but little cause for alarm. Most likely, your tea has some dried berries added.
  • ORANGE: Moderate alertness. Your tea has a citrus base.
  • YELLOW: Warning! The situation is highly usual; someone may have pissed in your tea.
  • RED: Panic! Extreme danger that your tea has either redbush infusions of foreign origin, or is some bloody vampire concoction from Twilight fans. Flee In Panic!!!

Meanwhile: The Department of Inappropriate Humor Presents

Monday, April 13, 2009

Native Blackberrys for Sun and Profit

Today I planted blackberry shoots from my mother-in-law, and am looking forward to both shade and berries at almost no cost!

Previously, I'd stayed away from blackberries; even though that were a popular food source in the Puget Sound area since before history was recorded, I'd been told that cane fruit don't do well in pots. My "garden" was a limited number of containers on the patio and patio-roof of our apartment building, so I focused on what seemed more practical: sunflowers, nasturtiums, salad greens, tomatoes and several pots of things that died. While most of these were a complete delight, it was annoying to pay $29.95 for a current bush that flowered once ( very lovely! ), then dropped all its leaves and died. Surely there's a better way to get some foliage with a few berries!

Enter my mother-in-law, who gardens a plot at the home of her boyfriend-since-forever Larry. Every year she has to cut back the blackberries so there's room for anything else. She gifted me with a shoot last fall, which I dutifully put into a spare pot and waited for it to die. Naturally, it shot up four feet so far, in spite of the harshest Seattle winter in memory! I'm training it onto some repurposed bamboo and look for it to provide beauty, shade and, let us hope, berries!
Anything worth doing once is worth doing to excess!
Recently, our apartment complex's management cut back on plant service (...something about the economy seems to worry them. Wonder why?) In the past, they'd hire someone to bring in a few racks of flowering plants for some truly massive outdoor pots; the blooms looked nice enough but when the check cleared, they faded away. There are also some longer-lasting bushes that do o.k., but every couple of months, one of them suddenly turns brown, drops its leaves, and dies. Perhaps a plant vampire stalks Belltown? At any rate, the obvious thing to do is to as management if I can plant in the empty space in their pots as a pea-patch; they were quite agreeable, leaving me with the problem of following through; suddenly I had more "acreage" than I knew what to do with.

In a burst of technophilia, I texted my mother-in-law to request more shoots. She agreed swiftly and with amusement; in my pots, native blackberries are a godsend; in her pea-patch, they're just a weed.
Cue the music; there's a life-lesson there. Something about staying on good terms with your mother in law? That can't be right!
So today, I'm playing Johnny Blackberryseed. Er, Johnny Blackberryshoot. Whatever. While I am planting plenty of other food crops, I'm especially proud of this as its (A) native vegitation and (B) free free free!

May you have as much fun for as little money!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter: the Spring Festival of Hope

Easter derives from spring festivals of resurrection, rebirth and renewal. Its central idea is older than written history:
Winter can be hard, but spring always comes.
With or without religion, the spring festival is about hope.

Now it's time to get those gardens going!