seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy


Miscellaneous topics

Links to Amazon

I have decided to become an Amazon Associate as an experiment. I am trying to review more books and make more book recommendations and so I am going to provide links on Amazon to these books. If you purchase a book via my link, I'll get 4%. If you are going to purchase other items from Amazon and you go to Amazon via a link on my site (even if you do not purchase that item) I think I will still get a 4% piece of the action.

So, if you are going to buy a book I recommend, or something else - please go to Amazon via this site. Though I would hope that first check a local independent bookstore - Amazon is great, but we need our independent book stores too!

As an example, I'm including the newest book by one of my favorite authors, Christoper Moore.

Thank you.

Wall Street Journal

All Hail Monday Holiday

Earlier today, Michelle and I returned from another wonderful weekend at her parents' place. Time up there seems to go so fast - we spend a lot of time relaxing, eating great food created by her Mom (which always includes lots of dessert) and getting some reading done.

Got back in town in time to clean up the apartment a bit before Kimmi, Garbe, and daddYman descended and proceeded to slaughter Michelle and I (particularly me) in poker. This was what you might call a learning experience. Fortunately, we play small stakes so a rough night barely sets us back - less probably than if we did anything social outside the apartment.

Nonetheless, thank you Aunt Cheryl and Jabbour for bankrolling us this game with the great Valentine's Day card and gift - much appreciated!

April 3, 2009

The best day of the year.

Oh - and one for Kimmi and I - we love this cast!

Scrubs is Back!

I used to love the Scrubs TV show. Over the past year and half though, I started losing interest in the show. It seemed like it lost the magic that was so incredible for the first several years. But it is back. And it has recovered the magic.

It is on ABC now ... I guess - really, it is on my TiVo. Between that and My Name is Earl, Michelle and I are watching more TV than ever! Also, working our way, slowly, through season 2 of the Wire.

Watching some movies also. Just saw War Inc., the John Cusack sequel to Grosse Point Blank. I didn't realize it was the same character until a day later (though we commented on the similarity) and I like the movie better knowing that. War Inc. is a distopia flick - and one of the better ones in this sad genre. Not a great movie, but it has its moments and I suspect Cusack fans will find it worth seeing once.

Beowulf was bad, as was Step Brothers - but at least Step Brothers was intentionally bad.

The House Bunny was way better than expected. Still not great but it had some lines that Michelle and I still use - so it was well worth watching. Some may need a buzz to get through it. You've been warned.

The latest Indiana Jones was painful. I regret watching it - yes, I think it was less worth watching than The House Bunny.

Journey to the Center of Earth was better than expected, but still terrible (and more enjoyable than that Indiana Jones puke fest).

Nim's Island was was cute - but mostly because of the little girl and my love for Jodie Foster's characters.

Pineapple Express was funny but not nearly as good as the 100 other movies like it - Superbad, for instance, which could cause me to pee my pants when I recall some of the scenes.

Who Pays for What?

After reading another insightful article from The New Republic on the Auto Industry, I reflected a bit on some of the ways in which we have seriously mixed up who pays for what in this country.

Jonathan Cohn's "Auto Destruct" is an excellent article that quickly explains one of the factors in the downfall of the Big 3 automakers. Unions have been blasted by many on the right for being the main problem, but that is far from the truth and ignores many of the benefits these unions brought to the United States - particularly, a strong middle class.

Union power is at historic lows and the middle class has been stagnating - these are not unrelated factors. But the truth is that the middle class would be suffering anyway, and businesses would be moving offshore even faster (I believe) if unions were stronger now.

The problem is that we have greatly mixed up who gets what benefits in this country - and who pays for them. For decades, higher wages, retirement benefits, subsidized daycare, health care (HEALTH CARE!!!), went to those who were working for the right company. These companies tended to be unionized or run in a more non-profit manner (giving employees more benefits than the market was otherwise offering similar employees elsewhere - as with Half Price Books, a company I worked for after undergrad). Make no mistake - these companies made profits, but did not treat employees like crap just to make more.

This is not an equitable manner of distributing important "benefits" like HEALTH INSURANCE, affordable daycare, and retirement benefits. Fortunately, we do have a fairly equitable system of retirement benefits - it is called Social Security and the government runs it. This is good because you should not be forced into poverty after you turn 65 merely because you worked for the "wrong company" or lost your job.

Health Insurance, affordable daycare, and other benefits should be available to all citizens - especially in an economy designed to run at 4% ish unemployment. If you tie these benefits to jobs, then you are intentionally forcing - under the BEST of circumstances - 1 in 25 people to go without.

One could imagine your child's education being tied to your employer. Is it so different than health insurance? It is just as bad an idea - some things must be available to all if we are to be a free society with social and economic mobility.

As we fix these problems, I think it important to remember that putting such societal responsibilities on private businesses was never the best approach - and unions like the United Auto Workers fought to put these responsibilities on the government where they belong. But they were fought, in many cases, by stupid companies like GM that have made an art out of biting off their nose to spite their face.

If we want to be competitive and keep businesses local, we need to free private businesses from the responsibilities of health care, daycare, and retirement. By continuing to expect companies to provide these things, we are making a policy choice that rewards companies like Wal-Mart that explicitly screw their employees to cut their prices - which drives responsible companies out of business.

Merry Christmas!

Another great holiday season!

I spent wonderful time with both my family and Michelle's. Took a number of photos - and even edited a bunch of them already! However, I do not anticipate doing much with them or posting again before the New Year. I have a number of deadlines that must be met before I head to Pennsylvania with Michelle.

Gran Torino

A tribute to the old man on the porch. Looks like a good flick.

Moved! is live on a new server. You should not notice any changes - if you do, please let me know.

As soon as I'm done moving the rest of my sites, I'll have no more excuses for not posting regularly.

Enjoy this

Missed Days

Thursday night already? Whoooosh!

Spent two days at a conference this week in the SW suburbs. Good conference, but I'm worn out. Found something else to be thankful for: not having a commute that touches 494. Yuck.

I've been working a lot lately. I'm really getting worn down. Did I mention that I'm worn down? Fortunately, I have some good feedback at the conference that my work is creating good results. That helps a lot. Looking forward to the weekend with some Wii-laxing and maybe even some fiction reading on Sunday.

Saturday is cookie day! For us Mitchells, that means lots and lots of cookies - baking for probably 10-12 hours.

For now, I'm trying to finish some photo editing.

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