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I've been busy.

We finally let ourselves be bashed over the head by the fact that M's eye problems ain't gonna heal. I think that's old news.

So we put the house on the market, at exactly the wrong time. The "good" time to do that is during the spring/summer, when all those nice people with children are hunting.

After the house had been on the market for three or four months, one day M came downstairs and said "so, you know, this is a really great deal!"

I said "what is?"

He said "$500 round trip to Istanbul."

I said "book 'em, Danno!"

So, naturally, the week after we bought our nonrefundable tickets to Turkey, we got an offer on the house. The house had been on the market for four months prior to that, so of course this was totally predictable.

There's been *disruption* in our regular schedule. I won't deal with the disruption that's already happened. But from here on out, the schedule is roughly:

Today, (Wednesday) the lady from the consignment place came. We get to sell most of our bedroom furniture, plus a few other things.

Tomorrow, (Thursday) the junk removal folks come. I hope everything I have them remove is actually junk.

Friday, M and I go on a long-anticipated trip to the coast that I'll be DAMNED if I'll miss. Partially because it's a research trip--have I mentioned that in October, M and I decided we'd start a new business? Yeah, we've come up with a TOTALLY FUCKEN UNIQUE way to lose money, because we didn't have enough to do. Yay!--and partially because I wouldn't miss it for the world.

We're planning on returning from the coast on Monday.

Tuesday, the movers come. We're not actually sure if the place we've put a deposit on and been approved for will be ready to be moved into by then. Hell, we haven't actually signed a lease yet. We're running on caffeine and optimism.

Wednesday and Thursday aren't actually fully accounted for yet, (well, Wednesday a maid comes because JESUS CHRIST I WON'T EVEN HAVE FINISHED PACKING YET) but somehow I find confidence that I'll find a way to make them busy.

Friday, we're supposed to leave Texas to drive to Chicago, where we leave O'Hare for Istanbul via Paris. This sort of makes sense because 1) M is from the Chicago area, so it's not as if we're leaving our car in a random airport for three weeks, because family in the area, 2) the flight out of O'Hare was significantly cheaper than the flight out of either Austin or San Antonio, and 3) yeah, it doesn't really make any sense at all, I'm'a stop lying to you now.

So December the 7th through December the 29th we'll be out of Texas. On (roughly) December the 13th we'll be 1) in either Turkey or Bulgaria and 2) closing on the sale of our house in a state that requires buyers and sellers to be in the same room with each other at the same time. This works out through the magic of FUCKING AWESOME friends, Power of Attorney rules, wireless networks, and Skype.

So, your takeaway from this post really ought to be either (depending on your personality) "I'm glad I'm not her" or "OMG I wish I was her."

Choose one. I'm not really sure where I fall.

Also, if you want a postcard from Turkey (or Bulgaria) send me your mailing address.
So I know I'm late to the party on this, but I haven't seen anyone writing about it on LJ so maybe y'all don't know either.

I'm going to tell you the most recent events in the sad, sad story of (former) U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter, from Michigan. He held that position from 2002 through July 6 of this year, when he abruptly resigned. His resignation forces his district to spend $650,000 on a required special election, which, it turns out, will be held at the same time the regular election would have been held anyway.

He was unlikely to be reelected this year, though he had held his seat for a decade. Originally, he wasn't going to be running at all; instead, he threw his hat into the ring for the Presidential nomination. Unlike virtually every other not-Romney who ran for that office, he never achieved front runner status. In fact he never polled more than one percent, anywhere.

Eventually he gave up on his Presidential dreams and decided to run for reelection in the Congressional district he'd held for ten years. He turned in the required signatures to get his name on the ballot, but when the Michigan Secretary of State took a closer look at the petitions, it turned out that the signatures were fraudulent. Damn near all of them were faked. Of the 1,830 signatures he turned in (only 1,000 were required, and there's an upper limit of 2,000), all but 244 were disqualified. Numerous petition sheets appeared to have been copied--in some cases, as many as three times--and in some cases a different canvasser's name was attached to one of the copies. Michigan elections director Chris Thomas conducted his own review, and said there was evidence signatures from 2010 petitions had been cut-and-pasted onto the 2012 sheets. His office's review revealed that dozens of petition sheets appeared to have been copied in what he described as an "unprecedented level" of fraud.

McCotter was alerted to the problems with his nominating petitions on May 25, according to his campaign. Six days later, Michigan's attorney general, Bill Schuette, a Republican, announced that he would conduct a criminal investigation into the petitions; his office would not comment further on the direction or progress of the inquiry. McCotter announced that since his name wouldn't appear on the ballot, he would run as a write-in candidate.

On Thursday, July 5, The Detroit News ran a piece describing a pilot for a television sitcom written by McCotter.

"Bumper Sticker: Made On Motown" starred McCotter hosting a crude variety show cast with characters bearing the nicknames of his congressional staffers, his brother and a drunk, perverted "Black Santa." They take pot shots about McCotter's ill-fated bid for the White House while spewing banter about drinking, sex, race, flatulence, puking and women's anatomy. It features a cartoon intro and closing snippet with an Oldsmobile careening through Detroit and knocking over the city's landmarks. The double-finned car has a Michigan license plate reading: "Made on MoTown."

McCotter told The News the work was unfinished and was given to a reporter without his permission. He said the show was a "cathartic" creative outlet that helped him through the humiliation of the presidential campaign flop. "Bumper Sticker" brought to life a possibility of something that could be worse than his political failure — being trapped in a bad TV show that takes away "any shard of dignity left," he told The Detroit News.

McCotter maintains he didn't write the show on the taxpayers' time: "Most of my writing is done in my garage … where I can smoke."

The character named "Wardo," the nickname others acknowledge is used for District Director Paul Seewald, dresses in a matador costume, gets drunk on a whisky-laced Slurpee and runs off stage after puking.

"Chowsers," the nickname for Deputy District Director Don Yowchuang, leers at women's body parts and snaps cell phone pictures of them, goes "cougar hunting" and repeats the line "I'm Thai."

There's more at the link. You really should go read that article.

According to former congressional staffers, McCotter was also pitching a script for a movie with the working title, "Think Dink," starring a character played by his brother, Dinky McSweeny, running for a Senate seat.

The day after the Detroit News article was released, Friday, July 6, McCotter resigned his position. He wrote a resignation letter that has to be seen to be believed.

Today I have resigned from the office of United States Representative for Michigan's 11th Congressional District.

After nearly 26 years in elected office, this past nightmarish month and a half have, for the first time, severed the necessary harmony between the needs of my constituency and of my family. As this harmony is required to serve, its absence requires I leave.

The recent event's totality of calumnies, indignities and deceits have weighed most heavily upon my family. Thus, acutely aware one cannot rebuild their hearth of home amongst the ruins of their U.S. House office, for the sake of my loved ones I must "strike another match, go start anew" by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen.

I do not leave for an existing job and face diminishing prospects (and am both unwilling and ill-suited to lobby), my priorities are twofold: find gainful employment to help provide for my family; and continue to assist, in any way they see fit, the Michigan Attorney General's earnest and thorough investigation, which I requested, into the 2012 petition filing.

Who talks like that?

And to explain my choice of icon, I'll leave you with this: Screaming Lemurs is the name of the band he plays in with his brother, Dennis, a school teacher.

Reality catches up to satire

Satire, from last May: Romney: "Of course I'll win, I'm the white guy"

Romney turned to the man seated on his left and seemingly forgetting the ten plus reporters in the room said, "Well between you and me, we have to think about the reality of the situation. Obama is a popular guy and his supporters are hell-bent in getting him reelected. There is one thing that his campaign seems to keep forgetting over and over, and that is how many Americans can't stand the guy for an obvious reason. Of course I'll win, I'm the white guy."

Reality, from last Tuesday: Mitt Romney would restore 'Anglo-Saxon' relations between Britain and America

"We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special," the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: "The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have".

Yes, really.
I'd like you to Compare and Contrast what two different artists did about the perceived problem of someone else making money off their products.

Obviously, the cases aren't identical, and the specific solutions applied in one case don't even apply to the other. But I'm not asking you about the specific solutions: I'm asking you which general philosophy you prefer.

So, a poll!

Poll #1852821 Scalping and Flipping

Whose solution do you prefer?

Louis C.K.
Jack White

Jul. 3rd, 2012

GlaxoSmithKline agrees to $3 billion settlement with Justice Department in largest sum of its kind over health care fraud

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline will plead guilty and pay $3 billion in the largest settlement of health care fraud in U.S. history, the Justice Department announced Monday.

The settlement will resolve criminal and civil liability from the company's unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs. The company is to plead guilty to a three-count criminal information, including two counts of introducing misbranded antidepressant drugs Paxil and Wellbutrin to interstate commerce and one count of failing to report safety data about the diabetes drug Avandia to the FDA. The criminal complaints will total $1 billion.

GSK will also pay $2 billion to resolve civil liabilities relating to Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia, as well as other drugs and also resolves allegations of pricing fraud.

For Avandia, the U.S. alleged GSK failed to report certain safety data between 2001 and 2007 that have since led to "black box" warning labels of about the drug's potential to increase risk for heart failure and heart attack.

But hey, who needs all that stinky ol' government regulation anyway?

Jun. 29th, 2012

The Texas Republican Party has just published its 2012 platform.

Among other things, they have a no-questions-asked support policy for Israel because

"Our policy is based on God's biblical promise to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel and we further invite other nations and organizations to enjoy the benefits of that promise."

Also, they oppose critical thinking. No, that's not hyperbole. From page 12:

– We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Their official party platform also includes opposition to ACORN, a group which has not existed since 2010.

There's more, but seriously, people . . . THEY OPPOSE CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS. Explicitly.

Jun. 7th, 2012


Seattle, Wash.
Sept. 22, 1931

Dear Sir:

My husband is in the habit of buying a quart of wiskey every other day from a Chinese bootlegger named Chin Waugh living at 317-16th near Alder street.

We need this money for household expenses. Will you please have his place raided? He keeps a supply planted in the garden and a smaller quantity under the back steps for quick delivery. If you make the raid at 9:30 any morning you will be sure to get the goods and Chin also as he leaves the house at 10 o'clock and may clean up before he goes.

Thanking you in advance,

I remain
yours truly,

Mrs. Hillyer
Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath?

While queuing up a Pokemon video on the family's computer upstairs, Michael turned to me and remarked crisply, "As you can see, I don't really like Allan." When I asked if that was really true, he said: "Yes. It's true," then added tonelessly, "I hate him."

Glancing down a second later, he noticed my digital tape recorder on the table. "Did you record that?" he asked. I said that I had. He stared at me briefly before turning back to the video. When a sudden noise from the other room caused me to glance away, Michael seized the opportunity to grab the recorder and press the erase button. (Waschbusch later noted that such a calculated reprisal was unusual in a 9-year-old, who would normally go for the recorder immediately or simply whine and sulk.)

The Childhood Psychopath: Bad Seed or Bad Parents?

Nine-year-old Jeffrey Bailey, Jr. pushed a three-year-old friend into the deep part of a motel pool in Florida in 1986. He wanted to see someone drown. As the boy sank to the bottom, Jeffrey pulled up a chair to watch. When it was finished, he went home. When he was questioned, he was more engaged in being the center of attention than in any kind of remorse for what he had done. About the murder he was nonchalant.

Bush and Blair found guilty of war crimes for Iraq attack

A tribunal in Malaysia, spearheaded by that nation's former Prime Minister, yesterday found George Bush and Tony Blair guilty of "crimes against peace" and other war crimes for their 2003 aggressive attack on Iraq, as well as fabricating pretexts used to justify the attack. The seven-member Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal — which featured an American law professor as one of its chief prosecutors — has no formal enforcement power.

Wealthy Americans queue up to surrender US passports in Bern

Rich Americans renouncing US citizenship rose sevenfold since UBS AG whistle-blower Bradley Birkenfeld triggered a crackdown on tax evasion four years ago.

About 1,780 expatriates gave up their nationality at US embassies last year, up from 235 in 2008, according to Andy Sundberg, secretary of Geneva's Overseas American Academy, citing figures from the government's Federal Register. The embassy in Bern, the Swiss capital, redeployed staff to clear a backlog as Americans queued to relinquish their passports.

Eduardo Saverin renounces U.S. citizenship ahead of Facebook IPO

In a blow to Uncle Sam, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has renounced his U.S. citizenship ahead of the company’s hotly anticipated initial public offering.

Facebook is expected to make its public stock market debut on May 18. The company priced its shares in the $28 to $35 range last week, and will raise as much as $11.8 billion with a $96 billion valuation through its offering.

Bachmann Accused of "Treason" for Swiss Citizenship

Michele Bachmann's short-lived experiment as a Swiss citizen ended awkwardly this week, when her beloved philosophy of American exceptionalism came back to bite her in the tushy. It turns out the far right concluded that her brief bout of dual citizenship made her anti-American. Remember that this is the congresswoman who skyrocketed to fame on an accusation that Barack Obama was anti-American. Oh, the irony!

(Money quotes:
More recently, Bachmann's famously disorganized office changed this account, claiming that she's actually been a dual citizen since she married Marcus in 1978, and that it happened "automatically," as if without her consent. Whatever.
And my personal favorite,
A former Bachmann congressional staffer told POLITICO that the congresswoman sometimes acts "impulsively" and suggests that she must have registered for citizenship without considering all consequences.

You don't say.

I really can't stop laughing at this one. For an article with (slightly) less snark and a few more facts, go here.

Emotion Can Shut Down High-Level Mental Processes Without Our Knowledge, in Our Native Language

Psychologists at Bangor University believe that they have glimpsed for the first time, a process that takes place deep within our unconscious brain, where primal reactions interact with higher mental processes. Writing in the Journal of Neuroscience, they identify a reaction to negative language inputs which shuts down unconscious processing.

Researchers find thinking in a foreign language causes people to make more rational decisions

In a study with implications for businesspeople in a global economy, researchers at the University of Chicago have found that people make more rational decisions when they think through a problem in a non-native tongue.

Child’s letter to KVUE meteorologist goes viral

Some day when I become supreme Ultra-Lord of the universe I will not make you a slave, you will live in my 200 story castle where unicorn servants will feed you doughnuts off their horns. [...] Thank you again for teaching us about meteoroligy, you're more awesome than a monkey wearing a tuxedo made out of bacon riding a cyborg unicorn with a lightsaber for the horn on the tip of a space shuttle closing in on Mars while ingulfed in flames.
Believing that men will act in their own best interest is not cynicism, but sheerest optimism; in reality men do not meet so high a standard. -- Less Wrong
So, I'm really, really sorry that I haven't been updating. I said I'd start again around the beginning of this year, and then Stuff Happened, and LJ has been the last thing on my mind.

We're selling the house. This has involved paying out a ton of money and workmen swarming over it, to do things that M and I mostly can't do or just find more efficient to pay someone else to do, so they've been building up. We don't have the tools to take down the dead trees in the back, for example. And even for silly things, like repainting the trim on the second story: The workmen can show up, prop a ladder up to the window, and paint it. That's because they're tall men with commensurate arm reach. I'm an average-height woman who hates ladders; I have to climb down and move the ladder halfway through the painting process so that I can reach the other half of the window. My husband is shorter than I am, and has shorter arms proportional to his height; he either has to lean out to dangerous stretches or move the ladder three times to paint the same window trim. And have I mentioned that we both hate ladders?

But the upkeep isn't the reason we're leaving. Remember M's eye injuries? We still don't know what's wrong. We will likely never know what's wrong. It turns out that it's standard for people to have lots of small variances which aren't marked enough or intense enough or common enough to get labeled a "syndrome". M's "symptoms" are just part of the standard deviation of human existence. His eye problems still mean that it's dangerous for him to drive home at night, especially since his main routes are either currently festooned with flashing lights or about to be. Yay construction!

His parents are unhappy about our "choice" to sell the house, because they view it as financially irresponsible to sell a house only seven or so years after you've bought it. I swear to god I don't know what planet these people are living on. They have seen him partly incapacitated after a minor injury but they don't seem to have connected "can't see in bright light" with "can't drive past construction lights or even a police car at night without going painfully blind" with "it is not SAFE for him to live where he does, since most every time he comes home on this well-patrolled piece of highway that is scheduled to be widened, he drives past precisely those lights that mean he can't see any more".

I want to tell them that if they're willing to pay the rent for an apartment in Round Rock for him to stay in during the work week, then we won't sell the house. But until then, since M periodically cannot drive at night, they can SHUT THE FUCK UP about the choices we're making to accommodate his medical condition.

I don't think that's the sort of thing one is supposed to say (out loud) to one's In-Laws, but I'm on the verge. I am on the motherfucking verge.

We're having the final Moviegasm this weekend. We currently have one working toilet and no way to show movies. I haven't promoted it or published the menu. The house is a wreck. Tomorrow, I am taking a health-insurance-challenged friend to the ER in the morning (UTI, which has spread to kidney and bladder infections because she's been too poor to have it treated and I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL HURT THE NEXT PERSON I see earnestly explaining why America shouldn't have single payer insurance like every other First World country does) and my dog to the vet in the afternoon (for the auto immune disorder, not for the arthritis) and calling local people to offer them lots of money to clean my floors. I may not be at home when these local people show up.

We've accidentally, again, scheduled a Moviegasm for Easter weekend, which automatically decreases attendance. It's also the first day of Passover, so we're having traditional Passover foods (matzah! kugel! charoset! brisket!) but I haven't had time to explain the theme to most people yet. This oughta be fun.

So. Yeah, Stuff. I still have political opinions but I rarely have time to express them.

Please, ghods, may that change.
So an Oklahoma Senator (Republican, natch) has introduced a law that aborted human fetuses cannot be used in food products.

To my mind, the money quote from the article is

In an e-mail to The Associated Press, U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Pat El-Hinnawy said: "FDA is not aware of this particular concern."

followed closely by:

The executive director of the anti-abortion group Oklahomans for Life, which has successfully pushed some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country through the state's GOP-controlled Legislature, also said he had never heard of human fetuses being used in food research.

"I don't know anything about that," said Tony Lauinger.

Regardless. The Senator in question found "suggestions" online that led him to believe such a ban is necessary.

There is significant historical precedent for accusation of murdering Christian children for food.

So here's the poll:

Is this bill

Straight Up Anti-Semitism
Just Plain Stupidity

Guess Who?

"We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

. . .

"The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority."


I am an interactive leaf on the wind!

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