Thursday, February 28, 2013

2Political Episode 83


2Political Podcast Episode 83 is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode (you can access the five most recent episodes from the list on the right side of my blog).

So far, the new recording schedule is going pretty well! We begin today with Jason's trip to the Open Day at the Library of Congress—and to a real estate open house.

When we begin talking about current events and politics, we talk first about C. Everett Koop. Then, we move on to the sequester. Then it's on to the Republicans and their obsession with destroying democracy. Charter schools—clearly one of Arthur's pet peeves—also gets a look in. All of that leads us to talk about instant runoff voting, of all things (Arthur suggests watching the video in the links—it explains it much more clearly than he says he did). While it wasn't the best explanation, the system nevertheless could be part of the way forward.

Please leave a comment (anyone's welcome—agree or disagree!), or you can ring the 2Political Comment line on 206-350-3982.

Links for this episode:
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born February 25, 1841
Tex Avery was born February 26, 1908
The Alternative Vote Explained – C. G. P. Grey’s video that Arthur recommended
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

A Perfect Cartoon for Sequestration

Wow. I came upon this cartoon just today. I think this really and truly shows what Congress especially the Republicans must be thinking about sequestration. 

Why I can even seen Speaker Boehner adopting this as his official motto. Come to think of it his actions certainly show that he has.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Odds and Ends

A Great Book on Presidents

The books called Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents by Kenneth Davis. This is of course part of the Don’t Know Much series of books. I find this one to be very enjoyable.

There are short biographical sketches about each of the presidents. A section called milestones which are the important events in the president’s life. Fast facts which cover religion, military service, political party, wife and kids. They the biography itself. At the end of each sketch, there’s a grade given in what’s called Final judgement. After that is administration milestones.

There’s not a huge amount of depth in any of the sketches but there is a whole host of useful information about each president. One thing I find interesting is the firsts that take place in the White House. First inside plumbing, first time central heat was installed. It gives a good idea of how the country was progressing.

I’m in the early 1900s. I should probably finish the book in the next couple of days. I highly recommend this if you want a great snapshot of each president and what he did or in some cases did not accomplish.

C. Everett Koop

In the upcoming 2political podcast Arthur and I discuss the legacy of Dr. Koop. What he did about AIDS and smoking was certainly unexpected. When few important people in government were talking about AIDS he was.

From the Post:
Dr. Koop, however, believed information was the most useful weapon against HIV at a time when there was little treatment for the infection and widespread fear that it might soon threaten the general population. In May 1988, he mailed a seven-page brochure, “Understanding AIDS,” to all 107 million households in the country.

“He was a guy who surprised everybody,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who was Dr. Koop’s chief tutor in AIDS matters and became a close friend. “People expected one thing, and they not only got another thing, they got someone who was amazingly effective.”

Open Houses

One of the things I like to do is go to open houses on Sunday. It is a great way to get some exercise especially if it is a nice day out.

I went on Sunday to one such open house. It has 7 bedrooms, five full baths and a half bath too. It is a huge house. It is three stories. 4,785 Sq. Ft. in all. Finished basement. In fact it would be huge house if it was only two stories.The price $775,000.

There is a deck on the back of the house. It is on all three levels of the house. It is in the back of the house.

I went up to the second floor and looked at the bedrooms. The master suite is truly impressive with a huge walk in closet. A fantastic master bath with a huge shower and an immense tub. It is a rather a unique looking tub and I wish I had taken a picture of it. There is a small version of the master suite on the third floor with a smaller version of the tub too.

Now here's the interesting thing. There is this great balcony on both floors. There is just one very small problem with it. There isn't any door on either floor in which you can go out on to the balcony. There are a couple of doors on the first floor but none on the other floors. At first I thought I was missing something so I asked the other people viewing the house. They didn't find any doors either. And they thought it was just as peculiar as I did.

You figure for that price they could have put in a couple of doors.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Library of Congress Main Reading Room

A little more about the Library of Congress.

Recorded a total of 155,357,302 items in the collections, including:
  • 23,276,091 cataloged books in the Library of Congress classification system
  • 12,638,773 books in large type and raised characters, incunabula (books printed before 1501), monographs and serials, bound newspapers, pamphlets, technical reports, and other printed material
  • 119,442,438 items in the nonclassified (special) collections. These included:
    • 3,420,599 audio materials, such as discs, tapes, talking books, and other recorded formats
    • 68,118,899 manuscripts
    • 5,478,123 maps
    • 16,746,497 microforms
    • 6,589,199 pieces of sheet music
    • 15,704,268 visual materials, including:
      • 1,354,126 moving images
      • 13,640,325 photographs
      • 104,270 posters
      • 605,547 prints and drawing

Monday, February 25, 2013

Views of the Library of Congress

Over the next couple of days I'll play catch up with my trip to the Library of Congress.

From the outside you really would not know just how incredible the inside of the building is.

Here's a little about the Library from its web page:

Today's Library of Congress is an unparalleled world resource. The collection of more than 151 million items includes more than 34.5 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages; more than 66.6 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.

The main entrance to the Library of Congress

The main lobby of the Library. The far door way is to the main reading room.            

These are the stairs that go to the observation balcony where you can look down on the main reading room.

The ceiling

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ann Hornaday at the Newseum

I got to go to the Newseum yesterday and hear the Washington Post' film critic, Ann Hornaday, talk about the Oscars. This is the second time I've gone to this. This time I even asked a question.

I asked her if she thought expanding the number of best picture nominees was a good idea. She thought it was good because it allowed other types of films to be nominated. Also getting a best picture nomination helps the financial bottom line of many of the pictures nominated which might lead Hollywood to make more of those types of pictures.

She also said she thought 2012 was a good year for films across the board. What was popular and made money matched up to what critics thought was good. Something that doesn't always happem

From one of her articles in the Post today:

But 2012 also included the terrific action thriller “The Grey,” starring Liam Neeson; Steven Soderbergh’s playful and tone-perfect male-stripper comedy “Magic Mike”; Rian Johnson’s wildly inventive science-fiction thriller “Looper”; and the franchise installments “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Skyfall” — all of them exceptionally smart, good-looking and well-crafted.

I went down early and walked around and saw some exhibits and had a wonderful lunch.

In all just a great day.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Passport Arrives

When I applied to renew my passport, I'd signed up to receive e-mail updates on the status of my passport renewal.

Wednesday I got an automated e-mail from the State Department saying: Thank you for submitting your application for a U.S. passport book! It is currently being processed. It went on to say that applications take 4 to 6 weeks to process.

Thursday I got this e-mail message: We have finished processing your passport, and it has been mailed to you. It went on to say I should receive my passport around February 26.

Then yesterday in the mail I received my passport.

That means it took a little over three weeks to send it in and get it back. Here's my post on when I sent it in.

So now I'm set to travel the world of course I have to figure out where to go first.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sequester = Epic Fail

That’s the best way to put what is about to happen. An epic fail on the part of our elected officials. In both parties. In Congress. In the White House.

As the Washington Post in an editorial put it yesterday:
... neither party has staked out anything like a serious negotiating position. Last year, the GOP-led House passed a bill to replace the defense sequester with cuts to funding for Obamacare insurance exchanges, nutrition aid, social service grants and other Democratic favorites. Since then, the Republicans have agreed to postpone the sequester for two months as part of the year-end “fiscal cliff” avoidance deal, but otherwise they seem to have concluded that allowing the sequester is in their political interest. Even ill-advised spending cuts are more base-pleasing than none, apparently.

A plague on all their houses. But probably more on the Republicans than anything else. They just continue to stand for blocking everything proposed by Obama or the Democrats and not coming up with any ideas. They say over and over and over again that the sequester is President Obama’s sequester. Except for one small problem the Republicans in Congress agreed to it. They voted for the provision in the law. So the sequester is just as much their’s as a Obama. But both parties seem to love to act like 10 year olds and play I’m rubber you’re glue.

The most annoying thing is that, as always, this will impact everyone but the politicians. Here’s an idea Congress has been doing less with more for years. It’s time that that is stopped. I think that Congress and its staff should take a 10% pay cut. Then there should be a 10% cut in Congressional staff. Maybe then Congress will get an idea of what the public as a whole has been going through.

But that’s not going to happen. Congress will do what it does best pontificate and “stand up” for their principles while everyone else suffers.

Yes indeed an EPIC FAIL!

Me in New York

Here's a picture of me from my trip to New York City in January.

This is so very appropriate because I'll be going to Mamma Mia on my next trip to New York which is two weeks away!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Library of Congress Open House — The Card Catalog

Before computers came along the way you looked up a book was using the card catalog. The card catalog used to be in the main reading room at the Library of Congress.

I remember using it when I was doing research when I was in college. I especially remember doing a paper on The War of 1812. I used the card catalog and got books about it. Several were from the mid 1840s. I thought it was so cool to be holding in my hand a book that was over 130 years old.

Here are a few pictures of the catalog. It is stored just off the main reading room. It is still used. You can also see that not all of the books in the Library of Congress are in English. Many in fact are in other languages as you can see from the the last picture. I did over hear one of the librarians say that because of budget cut backs fewer foreign language books are being purchased.

A Blast from the Past at the Library of Congress — A Rotary Phone

While looking around during the Library of Congress Open House on Monday, I came upon these. It was in the area where the old card catalog is stored. I saw these old rotary phones. For people of a certain age, we got a huge kick out of seeing these. Many people took pictures of them. Then there was a group of people who walked by the phones and didn't notice them at all.

As I was heading out, I said to one of the librarians that some people really enjoyed the fact the phones were there. She laughed and said she forgot that the phones were rotary.

More pictures from the open house later.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Smile

Here's a funny series from Peanuts where Linus decides to become a polled Hereford rancher. Enjoy.

Open House at the Library of Congress

Yesterday I spent a delightful time going to the open house at the Library of Congress. Twice a year the main reading room is opened up to tourist. They get to come in and take a look at the reading room and take pictures. I'll have more on what on saw later today but thought I'd put up a couple of pictures to show just how fantastic the main reading room is.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2Political Episode 82



2Political Podcast Episode 82 is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode (you can access the five most recent episodes from the list on the right side of my blog).

Ah, that's better: Got the episode number right, no HUGE editing problems… but we did run a little long (not our longest ever, however!).

Today we start with some chitchat about stuff—all kinds of stuff. Then we move on to the Big Speech. Naturally we laugh at Marco Rubio and "WaterGate". What did we think of the, um, "responses" to the State of the Union Address? This leads to a longer discussion about the Republican Party and its ongoing problem with the "tea party".

We also talk specifically about the State of the Union Address, including what we liked. Then, it's about some of the implications of what was said. But no, we weren't done yet: There was more chitchat at the end

Please leave a comment (anyone's welcome—agree or disagree!), or you can ring the 2Political Comment line on 206-350-3982.

Links for this episode:
Sheherazade, Bolero and more at Strathmore – Jason’s blog post on the concert he mentioned
Marco Rubio Dry Mouth – the funny YouTube video Arthur mentioned
Republicans Back A Path To Citizenship Unless Obama Supports It – the ThinkProgress post
So much for shedding the 'stupid party' label – the MaddowBlog post
Top Donors to Republicans Seek More Say in Senate Races – Karl Rove’s new thing
An Electric Car Charger – Jason’s blog post on what he saw
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pictures of the Family

Here are a series of pictures my brother took at Christmas time. He'd gotten a tripod as a present and wanted to try it out. He wanted to be in the pictures and so had to figure out how to make the timer on the camera work. We were all at my dad's so my brother went back to his house to get the camera instructions to figure out how to work the timer.

It was rather a gray day so we decided to take the pictures outside. Here are the results. I think they turned out very well.