Thursday, October 01, 2009

Grayson FTW!

First, Grayson (D-FL) calls out the Republicans...

...and then he talks to four Republican media types....

Love him or hate him, this guy's got big brass clankers!

As reported by John Nichols:

Congressman Grayson Has Just Begun to Fight

Washington Republicans are horrified, horrified, horrified by the bluntness of Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson.

The tough kid from the Bronx (and Harvard Law School) who represents an until recently Republican Orlando-area district pulled no punches Tuesday, when he declared on the House floor:

"The Republican health care plan is this: Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly."

After his GOP colleagues recovered from the shock of a Democrat actually calling them out, they demanded an apology.

Grayson returned to the House floor to announce that:

"I would like to apologize, I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America."

So unfamiliar with the notion that a Democrat might actually take the healthcare debate seriously enough to try and win it, the Republicans presumed that Grayson had gone off the deep end. The National Republican Congressional Committee screeched:

"This is an unstable man who has come unhinged. The depths to which Alan Grayson will sink to defend his indefensible comments know no bounds."

NRCC spokesman Ken Spain claimed in an interview with the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill that: "This is an individual who has established a pathological pattern of unstable behavior."

Grayson hasn't cracked.

The former assistant (on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to current U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, and conservative judicial icon Robert Bork) is dealing in facts.

Indeed, the Harvard grad has seized on a study produced by researchers at his old school that details how 44,000 Americans die annually because they lack health insurance. And he is laughing off a Republican attempt to formally condemn his choice of words.

Georgia GOP Congressman Tom Price does not think it is fair for a Democrat to counter months of Republican hyperbole with actual statistics. So the Georgian has drafted a resolution that accuses Grayson of committing "a breach of decorum and (degrading) the integrity and proceedings of the House."

Grayson's response:

"A resolution like that doesn't save one human being's life."

The resolution has yet to be introduced and is unlikely to get far in the overwhelmingly Democratic House. Like the silly Democratic resolution seeking objecting to South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson's boorish behavior during President Obama's address to the Joint Session of Congress, Price's proposal is a meaningless exercise.

Yet, Grayson's more cautious colleagues in the Democratic caucus (notably caucus chair John Larson of Connecticut) say they'll urge their Jewish colleague to back away from some of his remarks -- especially a Holocaust reference that, while on-point to the view of those who see the denial of healthcare to the sick as an act of brutality, seemed gratuitous and unnecessary to politicians who are ill at ease with such passionate language.

Grayson, whose official biography begins with a telling quotation from the Torah ("Justice, justice, ye shall seek..."), shows no signs of backing down.

The congressman, who beat an entrenched Republican incumbent in 2008 and is confident he'll win again in 2010 (perhaps with some support from libertarian Republicans who appreciate his loose alliance with 2008 GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul on issues of holding Federal Reserve bankers to account) says he is hearing a lot more praise than criticism

"People are calling us from all over the country to congratulate us for telling the truth," says Grayson. "People are happy to see a Democrat with guts."

In fact, Grayson has a lot to teach a Democratic caucus that has not begun to fight for health care reform.

While Republicans have been waging a war against reform, Democrats have been in duck-and-cover mode -- until now.

Grayson may sound a little over-the-top to some Capitol insiders.

Some of his language may unsettle even his allies.

But to Americans who this week witnessed the revolting rejection by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee of even mild reforms like the proposed "public option," the Florida congressman's words will sound like the sanest message coming not just from his side of the aisle but from all of official Washington."

In times like these, we must ask:

What Would Johnny Cash Do?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pie for the Apple of Your Eye!

An easy way to delight your lovely spouse (of whatever gender) is to bake a pie.
I mean easy; really, really easy!

Get a pie shell. In theory, you can make one, and I have done so; years ago that's the only way I baked. But pie shells are cheap and quick in the frozen aisle so, as long as you are fastidious about recycling the little pans they come in, grab some and feel no guilt. (This is about the only part of this method that I didn't get from an ancient Betty Crocker book. Check her out: her kung fu is strong!)

Now, check your oven. It needs three things: first, is to be basically empty. Some people like to store pans in there, which is not a problem, and some people like to forget the Thanksgiving turkey in there, which most definitely IS a problem - so safety first, have a look. Second, it needs a cookiesheet or some other thing like a splash pan on the bottom rack. This will cut down on the amount of very annoying cleaning you will have to do it you ever move out of your apartment or want to sell your home. Third, it needs another rack in the oven near the top; leave plenty of space for the pie to bake without getting caught on fire by contact with the heating elements. (Not that this has happened to me except for once, and in that case it was a pizza and it wasn't really in contact with anything bad except the cardboard it had come in on. Word to the wise!)

Set the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Now get to work assembling your pie!

You'll need fruit; just about any fruit will do, and this is the genius part: forget about measuring. You can't measure it precisely anyway so why bother? Just get about as much as your eyeballs tell you will more or less fill the crust.

You can save a little time by purchasing bags of already-cut-up fruit, if you're the sort of person who would light a cigar with a paper money. Don't do it! Just get whatever fruit is on sale, then pull out your knife and cut it up! A couple of apples come apart in less than a minute each, and it can be a soothing meditation to do it well. I favor peaches; we love them around our house, but there's always one or two that we don't get to until a little too late. No problem! when they get soft, just make them into a pie. You can also use almost any sort of berry; part of my standard car kit is a couple of breadbags so we can go berrypicking if we spot blackberries by the side of the road. Either way, pie is a great way to save a little money and reduce a little wear on our planet by using food items that might otherwise go to waste.

Now you may want to add a little sweetener and a little moisture to the fruit. I do both at once with agave nectar; again, it's not important to measure, just dollop some on like you're putting ketchup on fries. If you prefer, you can use sugar and a little water. Some people add a little lemon juice to perk up the flavor.

The last element is something to thicken up the mess. While some people swear by cornstarch, to my mind that gives the pie a strange, glossy look. Much better is just a little bit of flour; a couple of dashes of the most unrefined flour you can find will do. Mix it all up so you have a jumble of fruit bits coated by the liquid-and-flour mix; not swimming or embedded in it, just coated.

Drop the fruit mix into the pix crust. If you have too much fruit mix, make a 2nd pie, or use it for cooking something else. If you have too little, add in a little of what ever other fruit you have around. Berries are especially handy for this; their flavor may be too intense for a standalone pie but they make great add-ons to pies made with their bigger brothers. After a while your eye will learn how much to prepare; you've got to expect a few screw-ups at first. Nice thing about cooking is, you can eat your mistakes and there's no evidence left.

For extra quality, put on a pie ring (the pie, not on you!) The pie ring has two purposes: one is to protect the exposed edge of the crust from the heat of the oven; the other is to show that you've been listening to your wife when she was telling you how handy they are. It's an inexpensive gift that lasts longer than cut flowers!

In theory, you can improvise a pie ring with tinfoil; just take a strip of foil in width one inch and in length the diameter of your pie shell times pi (3.14+), then run it around the edge and fold over the exposed bit of shell. HOWEVER if you do this, you will be wasting the metal; the result will be caked with food and pretty much non-recyclable. Anyway, you do NOT want to have tinfoil in your kitchen at all, since it is the easy and wasteful solution to too many problems. Follow this week's Change the World Wednesday tip and Just Say No To Tinfoil. You will be occasionally inconvenienced, but with a little thought (and cribbing from Betty Crocker), you will find a way around it that will actually deliver better results ... as the pie ring demonstrates.

Now slide the pie in the oven for about an hour. Take note of the time, and set two or three alarms for about an hour; if you get deep into a game, you do NOT want to forget the pie in the oven! (If you are really really sure when your wife is coming home from whatever she's doing while you bake, you can earn EXTRA points by putting the pie in the oven 50 minute before that... let HER open the oven and be enfolded by its hot sweet fruitpie breath!)

Making a pie for your honey is 100% guaranteed to score you some major points, and it's easy.

As easy as 3.14+

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Social Media in One Hour

Our goal is to set up a use social media environment in one hour.
  • Pick a brand name. This is some text to appear on all your communications so that they may be aggregated. For example: rewinn, 4freeCLE. Be sure that this does not occur elsewhere on the net; if your initials are USA, IBM or SNAFU, you'd best try something else. I picked "prototypebar"
  • Set up a blog with your brand name, e.g. . I set up
  • Set up a twitter with your brand name, ( ) ( I set up prototypebar)
  • Link the blog to the twitter using twitterlink. (This took me half an hour because I can never remember my twitterfeed fu. I had to read the help page ... again!)
Now, once a day, post a press release to your blog.
  • Monday: We start the week with 132 open files. We need 4 attorneys to help out. To volunteer, contact
  • Tuesday: NEEDED: Emergency need for a family law attorney in Skamania County. Please call 425-999-9999 if you can help.
  • Wednesday: Training next month for volunteer attorneys. 1 CLE approved. To register, see link.
  • Thursday: FILLED: emergency need for family law attorney in Skamania County. Thank you! STILL NEEDED: creditor/debtor attorney Chelan/Douglas County - could be done by fax & telephone. Please call 425-999-9999
  • Friday: This week we closed 12 client files successfully. We opened 14. To volunteer, contact
  • Monday & Friday are "canned remarks", needing changes only to the numbers.
  • Wednesday is a repeating message; just change the date when your training date changes.
  • Only Tuesday/Thursday require original work and they're very brief statements of your urgent needs.
  • Twitterfeed will forward your press release to your twitter
  • For business purposes, short is better.
  • Now when you recruit, you have an online, easily seen, datestamped record of accomplishment to include with all your recruiting materials.
2nd Level - Manage Via Email

Advanced Course:
  • Set up an email box with your brand name in the major mail services: gmail, yahoo, hotmail ... and of course, your own domain.
  • In your leisure time, you can route email from those mailboxes to your preferred mail delivery system.
  • Set up a listserve with your brand name, e.g. When you send out a press release, send it to the listserve. Some people just prefer lists, that's all there is to it.

Link to it periodically on your blog etc.

No True Scotsman, No True Conservative

Claiming that no conservative would advocate violence, and that therefore Timothy McVeigh, the Tiller Killer, the Atlanta Olympics bomber are not conservative, is a good example of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

As I learned it:
Uncle Angus was shocked to learn that a man in Mercia was caught buggering a sheep. "No Scotsman would do such a thing".

"But Angus, they caught a sheep-buggering man in Glasgow."

"Nay, lad, that were no true Scotsman."

"But Angus, they caught a sheep-buggering ring in Edinburg."

Nay, lad, they were no True Scotsmen."

"But Angus, we caught ye're very neighbor buggering a sheep."

"Lad, are ye daft? That were no Scotsman, for No TRUE Scotsman would bugger a sheep. Begone with ye!"
Conservatives today can listen to Glenn Beck joking about poisoning Nancy Pelosi and Ann Coulter joking about poisoning a Supreme Court justice, cries of "You'd better buy a gun because you're going to need it", and even threats to schools celebrating Black History Month ... and shrug it off ... because no TRUE conservative would bugger a sheep.
In case you think I'm being unfair, take a look at today's advertisement for Scott Brown, a Republican trying for a Senate seat, right next to John Perry's open call for treason:

Taken from:
Perhaps by the time you read this, Scott Brown will decide that violent treason is not going to sell well with the voters. Or may be not. It's up to him!1

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thank You, Ms Cathy

A stoutly-built, middle-aged woman was offerings for sale several tables of books, games and other useful things from her career teaching kindergartners. "I have been promoted to teaching other teachers," Ms. Cathy explained (...when asked, she said "Just Ms Cathy"...), and therefore needed to clear out her stock of classroom materials. It was late in the day, so she was letting things go at unbelievable prices; "I don't want to store these," she said.

We were happy to be helpful. Our friend and real state agent Charlene had been showing houses to Kris and I, and the day (however fruitful) was getting long.

Ms Cathy's stack of children's board games had caught my eye, as we slowly drove through a West Seattle/Burien neighborhood; by general acclimation, we pulled over for a break.
It seems odd that teachers have to supply a lot of their own equipment. We don't ask firemen to supply their own hoses, or policemen to provide their own sirens. But when it comes to educating children, our priorities are different; teachers need to supply boxes of books and other materials. That's just the way it is in our country, I guess.
As we picked through the materials, I thought I'd put in a pitch for the thrift store where I volunteer. Perhaps in the future she'd be looking for more stuff? I suggested, We stock a lot of children's books there, and we're always happy when teachers come looking for more early readers, Magic Treehouse, or whatever. Ms. Cathy replied that she wanted whatever didn't sell to go to a good cause, like a preschool or a thrift store. However since it was Sunday, a lot of the donation facilities were scanty. I volunteered to take whatever would fit in my trunk, and we had a good time filling it up with useful, resellable goods for educating and amusing children.
Donating resellable items to thriftstores, and purchasing them there, is an efficient form of sharing our goods. Anything bought secondhand not only saves you money, it always helps save our environment, since any production cost (e.g. carbon) is already paid for during its 1st use; subsequent uses are basically cost-free from an environmental standpoint (less a minor restocking fee.)

It's also efficient in that it saves money for our schools; I can't tell you how many times teachers have bought stacks of books from us at $1 each that would retail new for $4 and up.

A third way in which cycling these materials through thriftstores can be efficient is in changing the attitudes of our children toward where you get things. Too often it seems that the most important part of a gift is whether it comes New-In-Box, wrapped in massive packing that confirms that it is not only an authentically licensed version of some large corporation's intellectual property, but also that it had been made and packaged on another continent and shipped here at great energy expense. If you can think of a way of making any equivalently fun toy or book from a thriftstore seem as wonderful as its younger and pricier cousin, you may be installing thrift and environmental consciousness at the same time
By pure coincidence, this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge is to "write about ways that we can get kids involved in an Eco-friendly lifestyle."

Ms. Cathy's donation suggests that perhaps a place to start is by checking with a local school as to their needs for classroom equipment, and their openness to getting some of it at a thrift store. I state without fear of contradiction that most teachers would be very open to any parent that can help them get books and supplies for less, and if this helps re-use materials, so much the better!

It might be helpful to involve your children in the process. If you're looking for school items, let your children know; they may spot things you'd miss and surely they'd enjoy being part of the process. (There's no time to early to develop the love of spotting a bargain!)

Another step would be to encouraging children to work the other side of the Reuse Cycle by donating items they have outgrown to your favorite local thrift. Children outgrow books, and you might encourage them to do donate the books they've outgrown by letting them shop the store after donating. Some children will swiftly notice that their dollar goes way farther at a thrift. You can add the extra lesson about the environment yourself, and it won't hurt for them to learn how to evaluate a used item for quality.

At the very least, we can all teach children that we don't throw away usable things; what we cant' sell, we give away - to a friend, family member or a thrift store.

It was a fine ending to a good day to have a trunkful of stuff that on Monday will see a second life at no extra environmental cost. For her fine donation, and excellent example to us all, I say Thank You Ms Cathy!