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My House

Spouse is out of town for a few days, so the house is mine. MINE. I am the master of all I survey, including all of the internal airspace, the surfaces, the furniture, the electronics, and each and every remote control. The house is a place that is now under my unquestioned governance. My decisions will be made unilaterally. I will announce them to the house and, hearing no dissent, execute them.

Maybe this is the weekend we make some long awaited upgrades. Can you say "plasma screen TV"? Can you say "giant beanbag chair in the middle of the living room"? Can you say "jacuzzi, firepit, prefab tool shed, lawn mower port and volley ball court in the back yard"?

For the front hallway: Nerf basketball hoop.

Silly stuff like framed artwork: Gone. Time to put up some ZZ Top posters! Which reminds me: ZEPTEMBER CAME EARLY!

I will load the dishwasher like a crazy man, and no one will stop me. Glasses and plates in completely inappropriate locations. Unless I call an audible and eschew all housekeeping. Just let it go. Let nature take its course. Left long enough untouched, dirty dishes will, in fact, turn to mulch.

Now watch as I take those plastic bags from Safeway and, pivoting deftly away from the recycle bin, brilliantly flip them over my shoulder -- no! -- behind my back! -- directly into the garbage. He shoots, he scores!

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 23, 2006; 10:13 AM ET
 
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Comments

Joel, you wish.

Posted by: slyness | June 23, 2006 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Lets see if your rebel attitude holds when your spouse returns. You kit brings up a good question, why can't some men learn to load a dishwasher the items go in virtually the same spot each time, how is that complicated. Sorry you touched on a sore spot.

Posted by: dmd | June 23, 2006 1:21 PM | Report abuse

i was just about to post this on the last boodle, but guess it's better to put it here.

desktop piles go virtual:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0ODskdEPnQ

is this really a good idea?

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 23, 2006 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Poor, poor deluded lad. *sigh*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 23, 2006 1:35 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I feel your pain, and lots of us are like Meg Ryan as Sally: we like things the way we like them. But I'm slowly learning to stop and think before letting myself get aggravated. What does it really hurt if it's not exactly the way I'd do it? As long as everything fits, everything gets clean, and nothing gets broken, does diswasher organization matter? Works for grocery shopping, too, and any number of other things. Takes a lot of the irritation out of coupledom, especially if he does the same for me.

Posted by: bia | June 23, 2006 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, speak you from experience and wisdom? Do tell!

Posted by: slyness | June 23, 2006 1:43 PM | Report abuse

JA,

don't forget to leave all the toilets seats up and only flush occasionally. Have pizza delivered nightly or frozen pizza works just as well (don't have to leave a tip). Mind expanding cable channels to watch: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, and ESPNews. And don't bother making any beds....

Posted by: farfrombeltway | June 23, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Toilet seats up, pal, first order of business. And who gives a rat's behind about which way the TP rolls off, while you are it. And yes, drink straight from the carton or jug, and a paper towel is WAY better than a napkin.

Posted by: Be a Man | June 23, 2006 1:48 PM | Report abuse

full disclosure: I say this after changing around pretty much his whole house when I moved in. (He got to keep two rooms -- those doors close when company comes.)

oh, and SCC: dishwasher, of course

Posted by: bia | June 23, 2006 1:48 PM | Report abuse

bia, I agree the irony in my case is that I am the laid back one, he is the neat freak except he can't figure out the dishwasher, and yes breakage occurs. We do have an loose agreement I reorder the dishwasher and he reorders the little piles of bills, school pictures, notes, glasses I leave in piles on the kitchen counter.

Posted by: dmd | June 23, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Me too almost! The boy is away at camp, and Ivansdad is either rehearsing or performing every night this week, so I've basically had the house to myself. I wish I were as imaginative about it as Joel has been (that is just imagination, right, Joel?). Basically I've done the same things I would have anyway (feed dogs, cook, dishes) only much more slowly, and everything is spendlidly QUIET. No need for television (except the newscast weather once a day). No video games. I finished a whole book, reading in the evenings with no interruptions.

Of course, I couldn't really institute any wholesale changes with Ivansdad actually present in the house daily. He'd miss the remotes, etc. That kind of unilateral change really does require absolute possession. Good luck to you, Joel. Just remember, unless the family is gone long enough for the dishes and dirty laundry to mulch, they WILL notice. Be prepared to accept the consequences.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 23, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Dishwasher? That'd be me.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

dmd writes:
Lets see if your rebel attitude holds when your spouse returns.

This phrasing "rebel attitude" puts me in the mind of a Spike Lee movie now coming into wider release in America: "The C.S.A." (Confederate States of America.

A review from the Broward-Palm Beach New Times:

CSA: Confederate States of America -- Writer-director Kevin Willmott's picture was bought by IFC Films at the 2004 Sundance festival... and then buried. It saw only limited release this year and spent most of its time cooling its heels on the film-fest circuit -- a shame, given its absolute genius. It's a mockumentary dolled up as a made-for-Brit-TV documentary about this country as though the South had won the Civil War, complete with antique photos and film footage subverted to tell an alternate history in which slavery is still legal and abolitionist. Canada is our enemy. This is easily the nerviest film about race, religion, and U.S. imperialism ever made.
--Robert Wilonsky

I saw the trailer and I hurt.

Posted by: Loomis | June 23, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

um, what about the DAUGHTERS? He didn't say anything about them being away. DELUDED indeed.

Posted by: omni | June 23, 2006 1:59 PM | Report abuse

LindaLoo: You're welcome. I trust that your health is on more of an even keel. JA, when I have the house to myself, all 13 rooms, it's a lonely place. Sometimes I just do a walkabout to make sure everythng is ok. This sounds trite, but we have a friendly ghost. It used to clatter marbles, bed rails and garden implements on the floor upstairs before we got it working. I haven't seen it for a while, and can't recall seeing it when I'm the only one home.

Posted by: jack | June 23, 2006 2:00 PM | Report abuse

dunno joel. like omni i was thinking that you're still outnumbered. good luck with that.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 23, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

What're all these sexist comments concerning loading dishwashers?! *stomping foot*

I'll have you know that I load the dishwasher correctly every time, while Mrs. D loads it with a reckless disregard for order and consistency!

Posted by: Dooley | June 23, 2006 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"Left long enough untouched, dirty dishes will, in fact, turn to mulch."

Scientific Proof:
One of my boys once decided to hide the fact that he had taken a whole litre of milk to his room by concealing it in a locked closet. It was one of those plastic jugs with a lid. He forgot about it.

Lets just say milk eats through plastic. It may have turned to mulch. I was too scared to look.

Posted by: dr | June 23, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

On my rare occasions of lording the house alone, I spend the first night being terminally lazy. The second day/night as well. Sometime about 6 hours before the hordes return, I feel guilty for not using this time to do everything that normally I am stopped from doing by the entropy-increasing legions. Then, I start vacuuming, and it stays clean. I change all the beds, and they look tidy. I install things that have been sitting on the floor. I throw away old newspapers that we have been keeping to "get around to." I clean the bathrooms.

Why, yes, I do have some obsessive-compulsive issues. Why do you ask?

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 23, 2006 2:13 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, I do the same thing, oddly I find I get more done when I am guilty for goofing off for days.

dr, I found a lunch my daughter didn't want under her bed, the plastic bag was intact what was inside was a science project.

Posted by: dmd | June 23, 2006 2:16 PM | Report abuse

The boy left an unopened plastic container of milk concealed in a seat-divider cupholder, which was raised, in my car for several weeks last winter. When it got unseasonably warm this became evident.

It is VERY DIFFICULT to get spoiled milk out of car seat fabric.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 23, 2006 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Joel, you can keep those ZZ Top posters up if you take a picture of them,frame the picture, and call it "art" Also, make it a paper plate and cup party. Then you can avoid dirty dish duty during the duration of Freedom Fest 06.

Posted by: Geist | June 23, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I hear you, Joel.

In another week or so, I will vacate the premises and leave my significant other in possession for nearly two weeks. Two things will happen: (1) at some point he'll call me to ask how to work the washing machine and (2) he will wait until 6 hours before I return before "cleaning" the mess he has been living in for the duration.

This year will be slightly different in that our daughter will be staying with him--usually she comes with me, but she has to work now that she's a college student. I told her that her job at home would just be to keep the cat alive. She can handle that. Both daughter and husband have the "piling disorder" that has been discussed at length. I dream of a clean house, but the reality is that my house will always be something like the Achendesk, and I don't have the power to change that.

Posted by: kbertocci | June 23, 2006 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, he'll be eating Kraft mac & cheese right out of the pot over the sink.

(Although I suppose it does matter whether or not the girls are out of town, too. He didn't say one way or the other. If the girls are home, then here's the weekly dinner menu:

Night #1: Domino's. Girls clean up the kitchen.
Night #2: Popeye's/KFC. Girls clean up the TV room.
Night #3: Guilt sets in, so he cooks a home-cooked meal: pre-cooked whole chicken from Boston Market, with Boston Market vegetables and sides. Dessert: four pints of Haagen Daz/Ben & Jerry's in four different flavors, since nobody can agree. Three of the four will feature chocolate and fudge in some combination (Rocky Road, Tin Roof Sundae, Chunky Monkey or New York Super Fudge Chunk, etc.); one daughter will claim to be on a diet and will ask for (and receive) Raspberry Sorbet Lite. Girls clean up.
Night #4: Joel has to work late, so girls make perfectly good comfort food dinner with nice tossed salad, proper veggies, main course (maybe grilled salmon), eat on real china with the daily silverware, load dishwasher w/three days of dishes, thoroughly clean kitchen, clean bathrooms/put dirty towels in laundry. Joel returns from work, doesn't notice, eats Kraft Mac & Cheese right from pan over sink. Joel puts leftover Mac in refrigerator, still in pot, no lid, no Saranwrap over it. Youngest daughter comes into kitchen, sees pot, sighs dramatically, puts Mac in proper tupperware, rinses encrusted Mac from pot and puts pot in dishwasher, runs dishwasher now that its safe to do so.
Day 5: Spouse returns, congratulates Joel on his expert care of the house while she was gone.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 23, 2006 2:28 PM | Report abuse

My daughter, my son-in-law, and I all have the same compulsive dishwasher loading habits. When we are all together, it is not hilarity that ensues. I am surprised that the dishes haven't figured out how to lock us out of the machine --- someone is always rearranging the other's "mistakes."

Posted by: nellie | June 23, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, I was a girl once, and never ever did any of that. My mother would no doubt be happy to verify this. My 3 sisters would also be happy to verify this.

Now that I am grown and have my own home, most of our food is consumed straight from the bbq on a trencher. The heck with paper plates. Eating ones plates is even more efficient.

Posted by: dr | June 23, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, you slay me every time.

Posted by: omni | June 23, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

This is completely random, but I just got back from lunch with my in-laws. My mother-in-law spends a few months out of every year overseas in Germany & Romania (father-in-law is former Air Force and she has a lot of friends overseas). Anyway, the MIL has gotten it in her head that since we live here in the scary DC-metro area, we need to stockpile antibiotics. You know, in case of the next "dirty bomb" or the bird flu. So she purchases over-the-counter antibiotics in Romania for us. That hands-down counts as the weirdest "gift" I've ever gotten from her. "My in-laws went to Europe and all I got were these lousy Romanian antibiotics." They're visiting for four more days.

Posted by: PLS | June 23, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Excellent, Mudge! Is that how it happens in your house?

I'm the messy one in my house, now that it's just the hubby and me. Of course, I do all the inside stuff, while he confines himself to yardwork. He's got the better end of the deal. I just can't leave the dishes undone or the laundry not finished, although I have been known to pile clean towels on the sofa and leave them for a week before I got around to folding them.

Posted by: slyness | June 23, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

My house? HAH! Joel has perfect kids. I have spawn from the following movies: Children of the Corn, The Omen, The Exorcist, and the two from the Addams Family.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 23, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the Catch-22 of modern wifedom. Most women become wives for some part of their lives. And most women work outside the home, which results in a wife deficit within the home.

Remember guys, cleaning a toilet is not an act of love. It's a chore that needs to be done. And it doesn't need a wife to do it.

Are we supposed to be lured now by some sort of mythical domesticity? And what do men want in the 21st century, a woman who wants to "give it all?" Problem is, guys, most women have left the building. *snicker,snicker*

I hope Joel's wife has the time of her life on her weekend away!

Posted by: Loomis | June 23, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

We're having a party this weekend. We have to have a party because the house was getting messy. The only way it ever gets cleaned is in a mad rush when we have company coming (unless we have college students stopping by--they're more comfortable with our house in its usual state).

Posted by: Dooley | June 23, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

>Remember guys, cleaning a toilet is not an act of love. It's a chore that needs to be done. And it doesn't need a wife to do it.

Loomis, I do the dishes, the laundry, vacuum, clear spider webs, clean and dust the bathroom, kitchen, office, living room, bedroom and then do 3 hours on the tractor outside.

Tell me about it.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

My wife was gone all last week. Let me with a short to-do list and a plea to keep the house clean. I jumped out of bed each morning, completed chores and assorted odd-jobs, did some laundry and shopping, and completely forgot to sit and drink beer and play my guitar in my underwear. My wife praised me for my industry and achievement.

What's wrong with me?

Posted by: CowTown | June 23, 2006 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Eeeeoooooowwwww!

I just love it when men get all defensive!

I don't know, Cowtown, what *is* wrong with you? *w*

Like you, I often sit, drink beer, and play my guitar in my underwear when my husband is away! *w*

Posted by: Loomis | June 23, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

"A short to-do list" A mythical document, you ask me.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 23, 2006 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Linda, I agree with your underlying premise--I've often opined that my life could have been quite different if I could have had a wife, like my dad did.

But I feel inclined to point out that anything can be an act of love. When I clean the toilet, if it's just a chore I really hate it. But if it's an act of love, something I do for my family and for myself to make our lives a little bit better, then I don't mind it so much.

(What works even better, in the mind game department, is to treat it as an art/craft project--creating beauty out of household objects. A clean toilet is aesthetically pleasing, especially compared to the alternative.)

Since I'm the only person in my house who cleans (my fault, I know, for not training my daughter better) it is, in fact, an act of service when I do housework.

I've been known to tell my co-workers that "my second job is as a servant to a royal family"--I serve the King, and the Princess. Of course, my family knows who is really in charge of everything, as if that were any comfort to me.

Posted by: kbertocci | June 23, 2006 3:05 PM | Report abuse

You mean stacking dishes improperly in the dishwasher breaks them?

All this time I thought I was just buying crappy stuff. Growing up, my family must have gone through over 250 broken glasses. I never connected it to me having dishwasher duty.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 23, 2006 3:05 PM | Report abuse

It's the praise CowTown. You were suckered by the praise. For some men there's no escaping it.

Posted by: omni | June 23, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm still in shock-- glass doesn't break naturally?

Posted by: wilbrod | June 23, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Well, if the praise was followed up by rewards, why any man would complain, I don't see.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 23, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

pls: that is not a weird gift from people who've spent some part of their lives living in a totalitarian state. i lived in moscow 4 years, and there is a totally different mentality you get when you never feel completely safe and can't trust your government. in fact, anyone coming out of the former soviet bloc would probably never trust any government. hence the desire to plan and protect oneself from worst case scenarios. it's actually very logical, but it's not a mentality we're used to, except for perhaps the comparison to how people felt for a few months after 9/11.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 23, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I figured the house was yours alone these days, Joel... you've been Boodling at odd hours (is there such a thing in a 24/7 global Boodle?).

Just wondering... who picks up the mail when the family's out of town?

Ha ha ha ha ha

Posted by: TBG | June 23, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

>I just love it when men get all defensive!

Wait, I forgot sewing buttons and mending tears! The Joy of Cleaning The Fridge!

Good thing there's no one else there to bake for, although Aunt Doris did her best to teach me in 5th grade.

By the way, does anyone know the average lifespan of a groundhog? I've got two cute little baby groundhogs, Mom and Dad and maybe GrandPa Groundhog, and I'm wondering when they're going to start... going, given that GrandPa lives in/under the garage. Do they go to an ancient GroundHog Burial Ground somewhere, or just expire under the left rear tire? I could swear I saw the old guy try to climb into my truck the other day.

I mean jeez, after all the housework I'm not sure how much energy I have left for animal husbandry.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, cleaning toilets as an arts&crafts project.

You could do it! Buy glass paints, drain and dry the toilet bowl (after cleaning!) and add decorations to the interior. Vines. Cute l'il animals (where does the apostrophe go in 'lil'?). Brown stuff. Targets to aim for, improving the aim of male users.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 23, 2006 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Just to be totally technically accurate, I am not exactly "alone" in the house, since there's a kid underfoot, but it's the shortest kid, and she can just watch TV all day and night. When you're used to being vastly outnumbered, having just one is a rounding error, if you know what I mean. I can round down to zero.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 23, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Allow me to amend my previous menu post: it's going to be Domino's five nights running. (Maybe a night or two at Pizza Hut for a Father-daughter change-of-pace.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 23, 2006 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Joel, that's not a kid. It's a spy. Or perhaps a Malignant Agent of Chaos (the boy's nickname from infancy through toddlerhood). Forget any wholesale bacchanals or debauchery, because she's there to report everything. Even if she's just learning to talk. If she's already fully aware and verbal, watch out. Age doesn't matter -- it is intent and malice, every time.

Of course, you could co-opt her. Curmudgeon's fantasy of dutiful, cleaning & cooking daughters was, in my experience, just that. Certainly as a child it would never have occurred to me to help out or really do anything except expect (not patiently) to be fed, have clean clothes, etc.

PLS, wow. That's a great story. Save it, because you'll always win the "in-law stories" competition. Are you allowed to lose the antibiotics? Perhaps store them someplace so inaccessible that everyone will forget? Or just say you did, and your husband can throw them out during that cleaning frenzy apparently all men go through sometime while you're out of town?

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 23, 2006 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Joel, that's not a kid. It's a spy. Or perhaps a Malignant Agent of Chaos (the boy's nickname from infancy through toddlerhood). Forget any wholesale bacchanals or debauchery, because she's there to report everything. Even if she's just learning to talk. If she's already fully aware and verbal, watch out. Age doesn't matter -- it is intent and malice, every time.

Of course, you could co-opt her. Curmudgeon's fantasy of dutiful, cleaning & cooking daughters was, in my experience, just that. Certainly as a child it would never have occurred to me to help out or really do anything except expect (not patiently) to be fed, have clean clothes, etc.

PLS, wow. That's a great story. Save it, because you'll always win the "in-law stories" competition. Are you allowed to lose the antibiotics? Perhaps store them someplace so inaccessible that everyone will forget? Or just say you did, and your husband can throw them out during that cleaning frenzy apparently all men go through sometime while you're out of town?

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 23, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Apologies. Blame Movable Type (it said my post was empty). Either that or my technological ineptitude is coming out.

Posted by: ivansmom | June 23, 2006 3:37 PM | Report abuse

OK, I was going to let this slide from the last kit, but it's eating at me and I can't let it go.

Error made a comment concerning schools. While I agree with most of what he said (especially concerning wasteful spending), one comment bugs me-the question of why retirees and singles should have to pay for public schools.

Civic responsibility! Those poor kids who can't get an adequate education because public schools suck are the same ones who will grow up to rob your house and steal your car (if they wait to grow up). EVERYONE benefits when the population is well educated, so it's reasonable to ask everyone to pay for it.

That doesn't mean that I think schools are in good shape, or that they don't need fixing (although I think most of the serious problems come from politicians rather than educators). In fact, they're in such bad shape that Mrs. D just quit teaching after 9 years, and we've started homeschooling. But I still have no problem with my taxes supporting public schools.

But I'm still voting Error in '08!

Posted by: Dooley | June 23, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

PLS-- Awww.... the gift of life from your in-laws!

(Or the gift of triggering an epidemic of superbugs in your household to conquer the world, but whatever.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 23, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

>Of course, you could co-opt her.

A double agent! You have to start focussed. Don't get too ambitious. I would just work on the plasma tv. Joel: "wow, wouldn't the Doodlebugs [I googled it] be fantastic on that tv?" Achenbach Mark III: "I want it, I want it!"

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 23, 2006 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I agree I should pay back for my education, spirtually. However I disagree with the thesis that a groovy and expensive football field is desireable or necessary to educate children.

All you need is some grass, a groundskeeper, and heck, people can stand, sit on the ground or build their own bleachers.

I've been to oodles of elementary school and junior high level games, trust me you don't need a superdome for the attendance, which is usually like 30 minus the players, coaches, refs, and scorekeepers who are NOT sitting down. I've never seen a single bleacher in full use anyway, since they tend not to be giving the best view.

Even championship games, state champions etc don't attract hundreds of people.

And if truth be told, most HS games ain't all that either, except you might want a few more bleachers because the players have more friends who can show up without their parents in tow.

And even then, the taxpayers should have a say if they want to pony up or not- in many towns, the HS football team are a source of town pride and a social event.

I just don't see what freezing aluminum seats contributes to education myself.

They're not handicapped accessible and if bleachers take up ALL the seating room, where will the wheelchairs be parked? Behind the goalposts?

So that's wherein I agree with Error, even though he erred on some other points.



Posted by: wilbrod | June 23, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

>and completely forgot to sit and drink beer and play my guitar in my underwear.

Turn in your man-badge, CowTown. You're done.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 23, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps if my in-laws actually were Romanian I wouldn't think it was strange at all. But they live in Tampa. And have for years. Anywho.

The last thing I need is an epidemic of superbugs in our house! I'm just getting over conjunctivitis which my daughter lovingly passed to me. Last week, it was a stomach virus. And this morning when I dropped her off at daycare, there was a notice that one of the children in the infant room had a confirmed case of the mumps!

Posted by: PLS | June 23, 2006 3:50 PM | Report abuse

CowTown, alternatively, you can submit yourself to the punishment of the pirate lass linked in the last boodle.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 23, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

UGH! Doesn't every kid need to be vaccinated with the MMR vaccine for daycare?

Wait a minute, of course vaccinations, despite studies, makes kids autistic and people would rather let their kids have serious illnesses like scarlet fever and possibly die or live with permanent hearing, vision, and/or brain damage, rather than be autistic and healthy.

I am strongly suspecting the cause of autism is due to slightly premature births or other disturbance in the last 1-2 weeks of pregnancy when the brain is doing a lot of wiring last minute before birth-- they get catapulted into sensory overload before their brains are quite ready and the wiring goes awry.

But then since this crackpot theory is coined by me, nobody else has heard of it. Even though the average US pregnancy has gone to 39 weeks from 40 weeks thanks to scheduled C-sections and skyrocketing premature births.

Of course it's the vaccines, even though there is a clear genetic component to a type of autism that has the baby developing normally for a year or so and then showing degeneration, and that some babies are clearly "autistic" from birth, screaming and avoidant of touch, bright lights, etc.

I don't have kids, what do I know?


Posted by: wilbrod | June 23, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

>one comment bugs me-the question of why retirees and singles should have to pay for public schools.

Dooley, like I said, I went to public school, and I appreciate that someone paid for me. So I don't mind paying for education, but I do mind paying for entertainment, which is what my local school system seems to be doing.

A TV studio? I guarantee there is no house in my area that doesn't have a new PC and a camcorder or three. The local community college has a full-blown setup, if you're that into drive the 15 minutes and take a class.

11 fields with a million dollars worth of bleachers and concession stand? That I mind. I am not exaggerating the sums.

I went to school for 7 years on the public (5 in Catholic school) and now I'll pay $5k/yr (going up every year) for the rest of my life so someone can have their own sports empire? Is that really required for public education?

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Yep, children are the gift that keep on giving. Pinkeye here, a stomach virus there -- the list never ends. They do good hugs, though. SonofCarl has the idea, Joel. Present her with a reason to get on board (my son could define "bribe" by age 3) and she'll be with you always, or until a better offer. Also, be sure and order VEGETABLE pizza. That way she can honestly say you fed her vegetables. Maybe even try some of the fancy veggie-flavored ice creams (just don't tell her, she'll never eat it if you do).

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 23, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

11 fields? The local elementary school I grew up near has 4 fields which serve the whole community-- Little league, Ponytail, Pigtail, Little Pigskins, Little Ball-Foreheading Peles

I've even seen some adults play on those fields, and of course the 4th of July fireworks are held there.

So money spent there would indeed go back to the community. But the concession stands are mere shacks and bleachers are sparse, most fields don't have enough to seat more than 40 people. The whole place is too multipurpose to have lots of bleachers.

The place is situationed next to the community center, which handles the parking for field use, and near the fire and police stations so no soccer rioting going on here, folks.

Don't know how much the groundskeeping costs, though.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 23, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

In Florida, at least, football stadiums are considerably more important than mere classrooms, at least until a tornado shows that real classrooms aren't a frivolous luxury.

Thinking of which, Florida Atlantic University (state university in Boca Raton) is thinking about a $45 million baseball stadium, and USF (Tampa) and UCF (Orlando) are dreaming of football programs to rival the University of Texas. UCF will, after all, soon have more students than UT-Austin. Maybe they'll become the nation's first university with its own beltway and toll roads for commuter students. It might be nice if they added indoor surfing pools, too. Could improve the collegiate teams. After all, doesn't Yale have an indoor rowing tank?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | June 23, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

My daughter is completely up-to-date on her vaccinations, so I'm not too worried. I agree, I think there's no excuse for not getting your child vaccinated. Here's an article on the issue from babycenter.com:

"Concern about a link between the MMR vaccine and autism began in 1998, after the British medical journal The Lancet published a study connecting the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine with autism. The researchers were investigating the theory that intestinal problems, like Crohn's disease, can result from viral infection and can contribute to the development of autism. The study was very small, however (only 12 children participated), and has since been called into question by several of the original researchers.

Another British study, published in 2002, seemed to suggest an association between measles (not necessarily the vaccine), intestinal bowel disease, and autism or related developmental disorders.

In that study, researchers found measles virus fragments in 75 of 91 children with intestinal bowel disease. Traces of measles were found in only five of the 70 controls. But the way the study was designed made it impossible to know whether the MMR vaccine caused the bowel disease and developmental delays or if the association was a coincidence.

In 2004, a much larger study in The Lancet compared 1,294 children with autistic spectrum disorders with 4,469 unaffected children and concluded that the MMR vaccination doesn't raise the risk of autism or other autism spectrum disorders.

A number of other studies have compared the incidence of autism among children who received the MMR vaccine and those who didn't, and concluded that autism isn't more common in vaccinated children.

Most experts think that autism may be at least partly genetic, and point out that there's no plausible way for a vaccine to trigger it. After all, there's no known connection between measles, mumps, or rubella and autism. It doesn't make sense that a vaccine would cause a condition that the disease itself doesn't cause, since a vaccine is essentially a symptomless infection.

It's also important to point out that the MMR vaccine never contained thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative that some people believe may be linked with autism. (Thimerosal has now been removed from all childhood vaccines except the flu vaccine, so it's no longer a concern.) Nevertheless, the Centers for Disease Control continues research in this area to try to resolve the issue."

Posted by: PLS | June 23, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh and Dooley, thanks for your continued support. Perhaps the Mrs. would be interested in Sec. of Education?

I mean, I don't have kids so I try to give the benefit of the doubt on this stuff, but it makes me crazy when we vote something down and they do it anyway. A lot of retirees in the area have had to leave their life-long homes because new parents are so demanding, and the school board just caves. I don't think that's right.


Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Back on topic (houses and husbands) for a moment. Have a wonderful weekend. Joel, enjoy yourself!

It's so nice to have a man around the house,
Oh, so nice to have a man around the house,
Someone sweet who's glad he found you,
Who will put his arms around you,
And his kisses just astound you, It's so nice,

Oh, a house is just a house without a man,
He's the necessary evil in your plan,
There are many things about him,
you just cannot do without him,
Tho' it's just a constant game of cat and mouse,
It's so nice to have a man around the house.

Compliments of Dinah Shore

Posted by: Nani | June 23, 2006 4:29 PM | Report abuse

In other news, Harriet the turtle has passed away. Harriet was approximately 175 years old, and is believed to have been alive on the Galapagos Islands when Darwin was there.

http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2006/06/23/harriet-turtle.html

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 23, 2006 4:32 PM | Report abuse

As shop steward, I'm asking all boodlers for a moment of silence.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 23, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Thank you. You may proceed.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 23, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Funny, as of this week, I have the opposite life. S (short for Sherpa) has sold his house and moved in with me. Although he has previously been with me on a part-time basis, it was in the bigger house I had before my recent move, and he didn't have all his stuff with him. I cannot fathom what all those tools are for, but he is very handy and there is a lot to do here so I'm sure I'll find out. Also, I have a cellar full of "stuff" that he swears he will go through, sort out and throw away. He is something of a pack rat but he is neater than most men I know and he will vacuum and dust, the dusting part being a complete 'wow,' for a guy.

There is one thing, and I think we may need to add on a room for them. He has tons of music CDs, some of which are dups of mine but many are not. They are also not my taste in music, at all. I guess that's why God gave us CD players in our cars.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | June 23, 2006 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Incidentally, SofC, in the third Obrian Aubrey-Maturin novel, "HMS Surprise," Maturin discovers a giant Galapogos-type tortoise and names it after Aubrey, as Testudo aubreii. It is later mentioned in "The Reverse of the Medal."

(IMHO, HMS Surprise may be the best of the series.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 23, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but this is just plain, not true:
"'Thimerosal has now been removed from all childhood vaccines except the flu vaccine, so it's no longer a concern.' "

Go up to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and see what they are giving active duty soldier's children. It contains Thimerosal.

I have nothing against vaccines and believe that it is irresponsible not to vaccinate children. However, Thimerosal contains MERCURY. You will never convince me that injecting mercury into an infant is harmless.

Posted by: NewHere | June 23, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Holy mackerel, does your knowledge of seafaring literature know no limits, Mudge?

You need to type up a full seafaring literature list one of those days with your recommendations.

Looks like I have maybe 50 books to read so far from your comments.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 23, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

First page of Google search:

http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/thi-table.htm

Posted by: NewHere | June 23, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

As the above-linked story notes, "Harriet" was thought to be male for over a century and was called "Harry".

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 23, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim,
My high opinion of you and any curiosity about your artistic sensibilities has just gone down the toilet. Post photos, please!

kbertooch,
Mind games for housework. If it works for you as a survival mechanism...Of course, you could just mind-game yourself out of reality completely...

Nani,
Singing Dinah Shore's old ditty to explain current domestic labor relationships...Now you are showing your age! *w*

Of course, my *ultimate fantasy* is sitting, drinking beer, playing my guitar while my hubby is on his business trips, with Matthew McConaughey playing the bongos naked in the background, just over the backside of my easy chair.

Posted by: Loomis | June 23, 2006 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, activities for a dad and daughter left on their own.

If the weather is right, tent in the back yard over night. If for any reason this is not possible or unsafe, move all the furniture, and set up said tent in the living room, and tent in the living room. If no tent is available, use blankets and twine to approximate tent. The adult advantage to the indoor model is that in the dark of night, when your back is killing you, you can slip quietly off to your own bed.

If you are the principal cleaner of your kitchen, please skip the next part.

If you have no fire pit or fire place and the weather is inclement, but you find the camping experience requires a wiener roast, impale wieners on long fork and roast over an open stove burner. Consume. Impale marshmallows, and do same. Just don't tell your spouse you did this.

Posted by: dr | June 23, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

SofC, was it Harry/Harriet who was confused about his/her gender identity, or just others who were confused?

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 23, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Once a year I spend a week like Joel's. I eat oatmeal cookie dough. I make mix drinks with non-standard ratios. I rent Monty Python films and then speak the lines aloud. It is fun, for about 4 days. Then I want a grown-up around.

Dishwasher? That's what paper plates are for.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 23, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

NewHere - the chart that you linked to says that there is no thimerosal or mercury in current MMR or DTAP vaccines. Let me put it this way: as far as I know, there is no sound medical research connecting vaccinations to autism. But I do know that diseases like mumps, measles & rubella are nothing to mess around with, and I would not want to needlessly subject my otherwise perfectly healthy child to them. Vaccinations have done far more good than harm in this country - remember polio, for example. And if enough people start believing that vaccinations cause harm to their children (again, without sound medical proof) and stop vaccinating their children, we are going to be faced with new outbreaks of these awful diseases.

Posted by: PLS | June 23, 2006 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Heh heh heh heh

I just picked my first tomatoes of the season...3 ripe cherry tomatoes!

Posted by: Slyness | June 23, 2006 5:19 PM | Report abuse

You wanna talk vaccines?

First ponder these grafs from NYT op-ed columnist John Tierney's June 10 column, "Mourning in America":

Grieving relatives certainly have a right to be heard, and their stories need to be considered by legislators and judges. But having tragedy strike your family does not make you an expert on public policy. Instead, it warps your perspective. You become the most narrow special-interest group, obsessed with redressing a personal loss no matter what the cost to society.

When Michael Dukakis was asked during a presidential debate if he'd want to execute a man who raped and murdered his wife, he blundered by calmly explaining his opposition to capital punishment. The audience wanted to hear an angry, vengeful husband, but Dukakis tried to be a dispassionate arbiter of justice -- a completely different role.

When those roles are conflated by victims-turned-activists, the result tends to be good television and bad policy. The parents of abducted children couldn't anticipate all the wasted police resources and harassment of innocent adults that resulted from their laws. Putting photogenic patients in front of Congressional committees is not the best way to divvy up budgets for medical research.

The widows and widowers of the victims of Sept. 11 are not urban planners who should get veto power over the rebuilding at Ground Zero. The parents of Americans killed in Iraq do not have special expertise in foreign policy.
***

Having a tragedy stike your family doesn't make you an expert on public policy, Tierney writes. No, but it sure as heck gives you a set of experiences others in the public policy arena can't even come close to having. My left arm almost got hacked off at the shoulder because of the smallpox vaccine when I was 9 years old. My take: we don't know enough about the human genome and its infintesimal variations to be able to recommend universal vaccinations. We DO NOT live in a one vaccine fits all universe--yet. It's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So, PLS, feel free to propel yourself forward at a rapid clip and immerse yourself in an oversized body of water. Please don't hesitate to call Mr. Tierney to accompany you. If you feel like a rebuttal to me, start with the number of payments made by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program since its inception.

Posted by: Loomis | June 23, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

PLS,

I must have included the wrong link. And again, I don't disagree with your general premise. My problem is that vaccines are still being made with thimerosal. All the supporters I talk to say "no medical study has ever shown a connection between vaccines containing thimerosal and any negative health effects." How can something containing mercury (even at miniscule levels) not be considered extremely hazardous?!

Posted by: NewHere | June 23, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Try this link:

http://www.thimerosal-news.com/html/vaccine.html

I know that a vaccine (either DTaP or MMR) given to my infant by the NNMC in Bethesda contained thimerosal and I was not told this until AFTER she was given the vaccine. Fortunately, she has not shown any adverse effects.

Posted by: NewHere | June 23, 2006 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering whether Curmudgeon spelled "aubreii" correctly. Um, yes.

http://www.hmssurprise.org/NatlHist/tortoise.html

O'Brien wrote a nice bio of Joseph Banks, the botanist who ended up running the Royal Society.

Regrettably, the guy who operates a hot dog cart in front of the only gas station in Melbourne Beach may be put out of business by the town--too undignified, or something of the sort.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | June 23, 2006 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Error and Wilbrod on inappropriate use of funds by schools. But I don't think the solution is chopping the funds off--vouchers will be a death sentence for public schools. The people who make those outrageous spending suggestions are generally the school boards--typically elected officials, and typically with no expertise whatsoever in education. If they spend millions on a ballfield, toss the bozos out! But don't punish the people that need those schools.

I mentioned homeschooling. We really aren't huge fans of homeschooling. But it's our ONLY option other than public school. There is only one secular private school within 60 miles of our house, and they have no openings (and even if they did, they are $8000/year). They could give us all the vouchers they want--where would we spend them? We make enough (barely) to homeschool, but if we were on my salary from 2 years ago we'd have no options at all.

I'll mention Sec. of Ed. to Mrs. D. I think she's and excellent choice (I might be somewhat biased...)

Posted by: Dooley | June 23, 2006 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Barbara Loe Fisher's National Vaccine Information Center:

http://www.909shot.com/PressReleases/pr92799nvicp.htm

PARENT VACCINE SAFETY GROUP ASKS CONGRESS TO KEEP THE PROMISE OF SIMPLE JUSTICE FOR VACCINE INJURED CHILDREN

Washington, D.C. - The National Vaccine Information Center will call on Congress tomorrow to keep an old promise made to parents of vaccine injured children 13 years ago when it passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and created a federal vaccine injury compensation alternative to a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers and physicians.

In testimony submitted to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources for a hearing on the compensation portion of the law (Sept. 27, 1999--10 a.m., Room 2154, Rayburn House Office Building), NVIC charges that the Departments of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Justice have violated the "spirit and intent of the law" and turned what Congress promised parents would be a "non-adversarial, expeditious and informal process" into a "highly adversarial, lengthy, traumatic and unfair imitation of a lawsuit."

Pointing out that three out of four children are turned away for federal compensation for permanent immune system and brain damage following receipt of mandated vaccines, NVIC co-founder and president Barbara Loe Fisher stated that the public hearing offers hope to families with vaccine injured children that Congress will act to insure that "the qualities of justice, equity, charity and mercy do, in the end, prevail in our society."

NVIC is asking Congress to roll back the changes that DHHS made to the 1986 law, which the parent-led vaccine safety advocacy organization terms "a fatal compromise of its integrity" and is urging the addition of new incentives for DHHS and Justice to adhere to the "spirit and intent" of the law, including:

Restoring the guiding principal of "presumption" allowing evidence that certain signs and symptoms of a vaccine reaction has taken place within proscribed time periods wherein the vaccine(s) can be presumed to be the cause of the child's injury or death if no other alternative biological cause can be found;

Reinstating the original rules and definitions of vaccine injury governing compensation awards endorsed by Congress in 1986 which were eliminated or significantly weakened by DHHS in 1995;

Extending the time period for the filing of vaccine injury compensation claims to the age of majority and instituting deadlines in the compensation system process to expedite awards;

Re-opening the compensation program to children denied compensation after DHHS narrowed the rules for compensation in 1995; and

Prohibiting the addition of future vaccines until further scientific research is conducted to better define the biological mechanism of vaccine injury and death.

Posted by: Loomis | June 23, 2006 5:37 PM | Report abuse

On vaccines, count me in as a member of the Damned If You Do camp.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 23, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

As for me, I celebrate & rejoice in Mr. Pixel's Obsessive Compulsive Tidiness Disorder.

It's a feature, not a bug.

(Have a nice weekend, everyone.)

Posted by: Pixel | June 23, 2006 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Loomis-- if you were at risk of getting smallpox, the live vaccine was still the better choice. You likely would have gotten a much more dangerous reaction from the actual disease itself.

I do agree that one jab fits all is inappropriate and that many frail infants may be exposed to vaccines too early.

Newhere--Thimerosal is not pure mercury. It is a mercury compound that contains sulfur and an ethyl group. The risk is that it can sometimes break into mercury.

Giving tetracycline, amphillicin, and neomycin will enhance thimerosal toxicity. Estrogen seems to be protective.

Chlorine is a deadly gas, but we take in chlorine everyday as part of table salt (NaCl) and our body, in fact, has specific proteins called chloride channels that pump chloride around the body. Just to make a point here.

Mercury has no known essential role in the body. It and other heavy metals harm the body if they are not grabbed up by specific proteins to guard them against coming in contact with other proteins.

This is because heavy metals look like other elements, chemically, but are far larger and can bind to proteins and warp them, deforming them. Sometimes those deformed protein develop new properties or just clump together, uselessly.

This is one reason why aluminium has been suspected as a catalyst in alzheimer's disease.

The problem with this mercury theory is that specific signs of mercury toxicity are well recorded and dissimilar to autism, and not all "autistic" children are alike, anyway.

One thing that has been reliably noticed is that many autistic infants are malnourished-- deficient in one or more key nutrients, and often have digestive problems.

This would be logical in premmies and other infants under acute stress because stress depletes various nutrients at an accelerated rate, and any malabsorption issues will naturally affect nutrient levels.

Bodily stress could be triggered by fighting off viruses, or the immune barrage caused by vaccines, but I'd put my money on a virus rather than a vaccine.

What we have learned in the last 20 years about viral research is that for some viruses, any exposure at all can be dangerous.

The HIV that causes AIDs still lacks a successful vaccine because it mutates rapidly, and it's a retrovirus, meaning it can copy itself into the human genome. when viruses do that, they often trigger cancer due to cutting up genes or fusing genes by accident.
Studies indicated that even a dead viral vaccine had the risk of triggering cancer.

They are still studying what a partial virus vaccine might do and why some people manage some immunity to HIV.

Gene therapy had some fatal failures because they used adenovirus vectors, which seemed to trigger the immune system.

There's just so much to cover on the subject of vaccination, but the basic concept-- if you're gonna get it anyway and it can be given to you in a weakened, less dangerous form, that is always preferable to "getting it anyway."

I missed my flu vaccine one year and I wound up nearly having pneumonia, and took months to recover from the flu so I'm not passing up the vaccinations.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 23, 2006 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Damned if you Do camp:

Damned if you: eradicate polo, wipe out smallpox, make scarlet fever rare rather than a routine thing, make whooping cough so rare most doctors would be hardpressed to give you a firsthand account of such a case, diptheria nearly bye-bye.

The TB vaccine needs updating badly-- the vaccine strain hasn't been changed in decades.

We could do a lot to study and develop effective vaccines against bacterial diseases because our antibiotics are failing and superbugs are being born.

Bacteria normally do not carry the risk of causing cancer and other things that viruses do, so this would be a damn smart idea. The problem is that bacterial vaccines are hard to make.

We NEED to focus on how to make flu and other viral vaccines quicker, so we can actually research and change them as needed on a realistic cost/time basis.

Right now it takes 6 months to grow a flu vaccine, and they just have to hope they picked the right strain.

As for losing an arm to smallpox (nearly)-- a 2 year old girl died of chickenpox. Millions die of flu.

I myself wound up in the hospital after I had chickenpox due to a deadly secondary infection from bacteria thanks to a weakened immune system. I was in a wheelchair for months after I got out. I was 7.

No vaccines were available for chickenpox then, and 100 deaths from chicken pox occured annually before the vaccine was introduced.

Now kids, thanks to daycare and preschool, are being introduced to chickenpox at even earlier ages which puts them at greater risk for complications.


Posted by: wilbrod | June 23, 2006 6:18 PM | Report abuse

You can't fool us Mr. Achenbach. Oh sure, you would like us to believe you are going to spend the weekend doing respectable guy stuff like intoxicated air-guitar to Kashmir whilst surrounded by cigar smoke. But I know your type. I am sure that you and your chaperone will engage in at least one hotly-contested game of Yahtzee. And it will not surprise me if you are spotted treating said young lady to a nice dinner in a grown-up restaurant. I'm on to you. At some point you will be watching one of those kind of videos. You know, the ones with animated fish. For the temptation to spend special time with a female who thinks you are the best guy on the planet can be irresistible.
We will forgive you if you cave.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 23, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, that's why I count myself in that camp. I have an uncle that got polio as a child and he's my living reminder of the world before vaccinations.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 23, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

>hey could give us all the vouchers they want--where would we spend them?

On books buddy, and maybe a computer or two. If you're homeschooling you should get the value of the voucher to offset your out-of-pocket costs. You should be able to keep a large percentage of your school taxes because obviously you're not using the resources of the public schools.

I understand there are people who want to kill the public schools, and I'm against that. I think that's where all the heat about vouchers come from. Around here you can't walk down the street without tripping over a private school, and yes they're $8k a year or more. But in areas where the public schools have completely failed, I think it's fair to let people choose their options and get a break.

The goal of my approach is to forge reasonable compromise, with concrete executable policies.

It sounds to me like Mrs. Dooley is well-qualified, so do please run it by her.

Of course, we have to get me elected first. Kudos to Wilbrod for the "Honest Error" tag!

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 6:30 PM | Report abuse

sounds like an Achenbro kind of weekend Joel... you'll have to celebrate with some beer butt chicken and some footie of course :)

Posted by: Miss Toronto | June 23, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Regarding vaccines. I think this link might be helpful.

http://www.cdc.gov/node.do/id/0900f3ec8000e2f3

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 23, 2006 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Error, I just got caught up and read the last paragraph of your 4:16. That's a tough fight, when part of the electorate (the parents) are causing the elected officials to act irresponsibly.

Kind of a model for the entire country right now.

I remember my junior and senior years in high school, after years of awful atheletic equipment (our football field was a lake if it rained) we finally got new equipment--and as I recall it was all paid for by donations and fundraising by students and parents, and not by increasing taxes.

The schools that I'm used to don't have million-dollar anythings--stadiums, TV studios, or classrooms. When I was teaching high school, my textbooks were published before I was born (not that I used them), and I had to bribe other teachers to get enough desks. The football team had so little money that I had to do double duty as asssistant coach and atheletic trainer, and I had to by the medical supplies out of my own pocket.

So I admit, I don't really have the prospective you descibe with those parents.

Posted by: Dooley | June 23, 2006 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Although we homeschooled my daughter this past year I strongly oppose vouchers. Sure, I paid for a year I haven't used, but overall we have gotten way, way more than our fair-share out of the school district. I do not want to be billed for the overrun.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 23, 2006 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, read my posts. I have vaccinated both of my children. I AM NOT AGAINST VACCINATIONS! (sorry, I usually avoid all caps)

However, for my second child I shopped around until I found a Thimerosal free vaccination and asked that instead of the MMR vaccine, my child be given the M one month, the second M a month later, and the R a month after that. It wasn't hard, except for putting up with tsk-tsking nurses who gave me the company (including the CDC) line about no "credible" study showing a link.

I just don't understand why thimerosal is still used in ANY children's vaccines. I have not heard a logical answer to that question.

Posted by: NewHere | June 23, 2006 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Dooley, my wife was trained as a teacher in math and biology, but she hasn't taught biology since she graduated. It is my running joke that her biology text was the Pentateuch. Which, when you think about it, isn't really all that funny these days as it may be coming back.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 23, 2006 6:52 PM | Report abuse

regarding public schools and taxes:

I, too, agree that state-of-the-art sports facilities are not what I'd like my tax dollars spent on (but then I'm bitter because my cigarette taxes helped pay for Jacob's Field in Cleveland, and you're not allowed to smoke there).

That said, the point I wanted to make is that childless and/or retired homeowners DO get a return on their school taxes in the form of higher property values. If the local school is a rundown dump, nobody will want to pay top dollar to buy your house. I know in this area (Northeast Ohio), property in good school districts can fetch several times what similar properties go for just a few miles away.

Posted by: martooni | June 23, 2006 6:54 PM | Report abuse

when my dad was a kid, he had whooping cough and chicken pox at the same time. pretty bum luck, but at least he survived.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 23, 2006 6:56 PM | Report abuse

http://www.whale.to/a/kops.html

Assume the following scenario: A child was given the oral polio vaccine;
the father (wage earner), changes the child's diaper and he becomes
paralyzed from the neck down because the vaccine administered causes
contact polio, a fact known both to the regulator, the vaccine
manufacturer and physicians since the early 1960s.

The parent remains completely paralyzed with his motor functions
completely destroyed, while his sensory functions are not affected one
iota. Basically, he can only move his eyes. The medical expenses for the
first 18 months are nearly $1 million, but he has no insurance. During
the 18 months he is aware of everything, but he cannot move any of his
limbs or any part of his body, other than his eyes. Eventually, the
polio causes respiratory failure and he dies.

It is now time to bury this innocent victim. His widow has no money,
since no income was coming in for the last 18 months. The
government/respondent not only will not pay for the funeral, it won't
even pay for the burial plot. The government/respondent's position is
very simple - if you die the only thing the estate is entitled to is
$250,000; the $1 million in medical expenses are the obligation of the
widow. The costs of the burial and the burial plot are the obligation of
the widow.

The fact that during those 18 months the widow, the children and the
husband suffered unbelievably, and the widow and the children will
continue to suffer for all the years to come, is unimportant. It is not
compensable. A victim who dies as a result of the vaccine receives no
money for the pain and suffering no matter how long they lived or how
severe the suffering was for that victim. This is not a hypothetical
case, but rather a recent decision handed down in the case of Clifford
v. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, July 30,
2002, No. 01-424V.

Posted by: Loomis | June 23, 2006 7:04 PM | Report abuse

>But in areas where the public schools have completely failed, I think it's fair to let people choose their options and get a break.

But the thing is most people don't have any options. This might work for relatively educated parents in affluent, high-population areas. But in rural areas private schools are out. We can only homeschool effectively because between us we have a zillion years of college, and we've taught everything from 3rd grade to graduate school.

Unfortunately most parents are incapable of teaching their own kids. Either they don't care whether their kid gets an education or not, or they do care, but they don't have the knowledge or skills to teach on their own (there's a reason you have to go to school to be a teacher).

As for the urban poor, I doubt that many of their children are going to get into limited private school slots, vouchers or no. Private schools get to pick and choose their students.

Posted by: Dooley | June 23, 2006 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I remember having two diseases back-to-back, so I was out of commission for about a month, when I was four. Was it chickenpox and measles, or measles and mumps? Another question for my mother, who is no longer with us.

Both my kids had chickenpox before the vaccine came out. The elder was so mild, I really wasn't sure she had it till the younger got it a couple of years later and she didn't. The younger kid was pitiful.

My smallpox vaccination was done before I remember, but I recall the kids across the street getting theirs, and how ugly the scab was, and how much it itched.

I am indeed grateful that our kids don't have the diseases we had to survive.

Posted by: Slyness | June 23, 2006 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Dooley writes:
Loomis-- if you were at risk of getting smallpox, the live vaccine was still the better choice. You likely would have gotten a much more dangerous reaction from the actual disease itself.

Dooley, I was not at risk of getting smallpox, since the last case of smallpox/variola in the United States was down in southern Texas (Elsa) in the spring of 1949. But doctors kept administering the vaccine throughout the country into the early 1960s. Nor did my parents opt to have me vaccinated against smallpox.

My own maternal cousin had polio, just as my own paternal uncle had spinal meningitis and was left permanently deaf.

Posted by: Loomis | June 23, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Dooley, I have you on the brain. I meant Wilbrod in my previous post. SCC that.

Posted by: Loomis | June 23, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

>That said, the point I wanted to make is that childless and/or retired homeowners DO get a return on their school taxes in the form of higher property values.

Only if you sell, man. Otherwise all you get is higher taxes on the higher property values.

Folks, I realize this is a complex issue and it'll take more than a blog's worth of comments to work it out sufficiently, but work it out we must.

I think the word "vouchers" is loaded and does not correctly describe what I'm suggesting. I'm basically just suggesting your school tax should be variable depending on your situation. If you have 4 kids in school you should pay more than a retiree with none, who's been paying all their life. I think that's only fair.

The idea is to compromise to move the issue forward, because right now the politics of it is dug in and can't get beyond the word "vouchers".

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Drifting back on topic:

My husband is currently visiting D.C. at the same time I'm visiting Australia. I'd briefly considered that maybe it would be better if we weren't away at the same time -- so there'd be someone to take care of the apartment in case there's, you know, a typhoon or something. But I really had trouble deciding which would be worse: leaving him home alone, or leaving the place unattended. I went with unattended.

Posted by: Achenfan | June 23, 2006 7:34 PM | Report abuse

> If you have 4 kids in school you should pay more than a retiree with none, who's been paying all their life. I think that's only fair.

It sounds like you're suggesting a complete re-write of the tax code, maybe even the principle of what taxes are. Which is a whole different issue than education. Now we're talking about a topic I know nothing about, so I feel free to say any wild illogical thing that pops into my head!

You could apply that same argument to anything that is paid for by taxes (roads, military, police, whatever). Should people stop having to pay taxes after a certain age? Or, maybe after you've paid $200,000 in taxes you never have to pay them again?

I'm not sure I really like those ideas, but hey, maybe they have some merit.

Posted by: Dooley | June 23, 2006 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, a Dooley on the brain is a dangerous thing. It'll get you in trouble every time.

Posted by: Dooley | June 23, 2006 7:42 PM | Report abuse

i think the small pox vaccine was generally given until 1970. i was always told that the consensus of doctors shifted during that year (at least where i grew up) with the result that those born earlier in the year usually had the vaccine and those born later in the year (like me) usually didn't.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 23, 2006 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Error, how are schools funded where you are? Here in NC, the state pays for much of the basic cost of education, through sales and income taxes. Counties can use property taxes to supplement that, which happens a lot in the urban counties but not so much in the rural ones. Sales tax is rather regressive but income tax isn't, so there's not a groundswell of protest.

There is a suit in the NC courts about how much money is spent and how well or poorly schools are doing. The judge threatened to shut down a couple of local high schools, to which everyone said, sure thing! Right, that's gonna happen!

My basic thought is that a kid gets out of school what he or she puts in, even in bad schools. I'm not a proponent of homeschooling; Dooley's right, if you don't know how to teach, your kid won't get a good education. Besides, the social aspects of school are just as important as the academic. Where else do you learn how to get along with your peers without your parents around, and learn how to succeed or fail on you own?

Posted by: Slyness | June 23, 2006 8:44 PM | Report abuse

>You could apply that same argument to anything that is paid for by taxes (roads, military, police, whatever).

Well we were just talking about school taxes, but yeah you're right. I'm all for scrapping the federal tax code as written today.

It's a balancing act; we all have to pay for stuff we may not agree with or need, but actual users of those things do (or should) pay more. For instance, we all pay for Amtrack. You pay a little to make sure if you want to go from D.C. to NY it's there for you, but you don't ride for free.

We all pay for toll bridges, but the people who use them daily pay more.

I'm basically a proponent of a simple tax code, somewhat progressive but closer to a flat tax. I don't believe in using taxes to rig social or business behavior. I think the current setup is basically what enables the ethically challeneged to do their back-room deals.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 8:53 PM | Report abuse

[More off-topic-ness from Oz:]

In The Weekend Australian today I saw an interesting review of a book called "Seeing Red: A Study in Consciousness," by Nicholas Humphrey. Here is an excerpt from the review:

"Some years ago, I slipped in the shower and smacked my head against the sink. The glass doors had been left open. Severely concussed, I walked down the stairs, plucked a T-shirt from the laundry and walked outside. It was eight at night. I knocked on a door and stood there, dripping and without pants. I don't know what I said; I recall only the door being closed and then, 20 minutes later, becoming aware that I was in a car with a man I did not know. My panic was fierce. He drove me to [the] hospital.

"The doctors could not explain what had happened. Somehow I had walked and talked without awareness, engaging in the mechanics of being human but not the broad spectrum consciousness by which human beings are distinguished. Through this, I discovered it was possible to act without the experience of action. The kind of zombie functionality familiar to shift workers (and U.S. presidents) [Ha!] is similarly independent of awareness; while the two generally work in tandem, it is possible to function without any 'temporal depth' -- that is, the layers of consciousness that brand a moment into memory."


I also like this bit:
"Consciousness, [Humphrey] elegantly posits, is the privatisation of sensation and experience. 'Whatever could be the payoff -- the functional biological payoff -- of feedback that brings about a thickening of consciousness? . . . I think the payoff is that it gives the subject a quite new sense of Self. It lifts the subject out of zombiedom.'"

Interesting stuff.

[I now return you to your regularly scheduled 'boodle.]

Posted by: Dreamer | June 23, 2006 9:20 PM | Report abuse

slyness,

Here it's paid almost totally through property taxes, and the cost of housing is high. It creates major imbalance between districts and all sorts of weird effects on the housing market. I think your kids should get a good education no matter what side of town you live on.

I'm also not a proponent of home schooling for the same reason as you and Dooley. It's a shame that people feel they have to do that to make up for a failed public school. I think a small minority of people can do it right, and the social aspect is very important. I'm also concerned that they may not get to hear different viewpoints from their parents, or be exposed to different walks of life.

For instance, I went to high school in a fairly urban environment. I met a lot of black people I wouldn't have met in our neighborhood, and through that I learned that my father was really a racist and I didn't agree with him. That led to a lot of arguments between us, but I didn't grow up to be a racist.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Home-grown, Alamo City toilet art for Tim:

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/TXSANtoilet.html

Five photos accompany the article. And y'all wonder why I'd like to leave Texas.

Posted by: Loomis | June 23, 2006 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I think the toilet seat art is pretty cool.

I was thinking of you today; I listened to Lyle Lovett's "That's Right (You're Not from Texas)". Cracks me up.

Btw, I just cleaned the stove. :-)

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 9:38 PM | Report abuse

returning to an earlier theme, does toilet seat inspiration encourage the men folk to put the seat back down?
might be worth it.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 23, 2006 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Homeschoolers are a very eclectic bunch. Some think the public schools are part of a liberal plot to brainwash their kids. Some take it as an article of faith that Jesus hates the NEA. Many have simply lost faith in their local schools and figure they can do a better job. And some have kids with special needs.

A surprising number of people also do a hybrid approach, with education shared between the school and home. This is especially common with children with emotional or learning problems.

I think many of these people would probably send their kids to private schools if they had the money. The point is, even more than most groups, they are hard to generalize.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 23, 2006 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I had the place to myself last Wed-Sun. I tried to have food that I could fix quickly for dinner after working all day, but I ran out Fri. But I could listen to music, turned up loud, and boodle guilt-free. I clean more when my husband's not here - partly because things *stay* clean, and partly because I'm not concerned about having things torn apart with someone else around. I cleaned the fridge late Sunday afternoon, at my leisure. The fridge is old - I was so glad when it started right up when I was done! One of these days, it won't.

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 23, 2006 10:02 PM | Report abuse

EF, watch out for those "cute" groundhogs. I lost my affection for them when they would take one bite out of my perfectly ripening vegetables. Varmints!

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 23, 2006 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Error,
If you like the toilet seat art, then I can no longer cast my vote for you for President. I shudder to think what you'd do to the White House! Or the Offal Office! I shudder to think what you would do with the concept of "extraordinary rendition."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offal

Posted by: Loomis | June 23, 2006 10:11 PM | Report abuse

>EF, watch out for those "cute" groundhogs.

Yeah, I unexpectedly (and unintentionally) cornered Grandpa Groundhog in the garage one day when I went to get the car, and I just backed away slowly. Pretty fearsome teeth and claws, no way I wanted to tangle with that guy.

I can't bring myself to do violence to them though. I figure it's their ancestral lands more than mine. But with the young-uns multiplying... I dunno. I fear insurrection. Of course, if they'd just kick in for their part of the tax bill...


Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Error, that being the case for school funding, I completely understand your umbrage. What we do here isn't perfect by a long shot, but at least it's generally fair.

Posted by: Slyness | June 23, 2006 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, just goes to show the downside of a piecemeal approach to all of this. The testing thing too.

Loomis, I'm not sure I'd even live in the White House if elected. I just like wacky stuff. I appreciate all manner of proper "art", but my prize possesion is a 1969 Schwinn Lemon Peeler.

I do hope you'll reconsider.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 10:54 PM | Report abuse

i am pleasantly surprised that our governor is not being fully cooperative with the bush administration regarding the mexican border control issue:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-guard24jun24_wr,0,5500493.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 23, 2006 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Supposedly we pay taxes for a government and services that serve the common good of a community or nation--water and sewer, roads, street lights, education, social services, public health services, parks, environmental protection, fire and police and the military. The system of taxation to support those services has been conceived as a progressive, with those who have more generally paying higher rates than those with less. (That sounds didactic, but we need to remember the foundations of what we're talking about here.)

Each of us, given the opportunity, would drastically change spending priorities at all levels of government. But we don't individually have that power, so we elect people to exercise it for us, more or less imperfectly, sometimes more corruptly than at other times.

Room exists in our system for variations of financing public services, such as user fees for parks, or toll roads or higher gasoline taxes for trucks that cause wear and tear on highways.

But some services are of such value to the common good that they should be paid for by the entire community. Education is tops among them. If we're able to opt out of taxes that pay for an expenditure that doesn't benefit us, where does it stop? If I have no children in public schools, should I pay no taxes for them? If I have no elderly relatives, should I not be required to pay for others? If I can afford private guards for my gated community, can I sign up on "Do Not Protect" list of the police departments and save my tax dollars?

Seems to me if we get to this level of personal interest, we're not much removed ethically from retaining our seat on the bus, regardless of who has to stand. I didn't ask that woman to get pregnant, did I?

Posted by: kindathinker | June 23, 2006 11:01 PM | Report abuse

kindathinker,

I think you should take the "kinda" out of your name. You should call yourself "onehelluvathinker."

Posted by: TBG | June 23, 2006 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, TBG. But I'll say something REALLY stupid before too long and I'll need the "kinda" to hide behind.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 23, 2006 11:29 PM | Report abuse

>If I have no children in public schools, should I pay no taxes for them?

No, but you should pay less than someone who has four kids. Having kids is a conscious decision you should be responsible for. Again, someone paid for me to get an education, and I am willing to pay in kind. But if you choose to have kids, you should expect to pay more for the services they require. What's the problem with that?

>If I can afford private guards for my gated community, can I sign up on "Do Not Protect" list of the police departments and save my tax dollars?

Yes, I think so. The police are now able to spend more time on other problem areas, right? They don't have to patrol your gated community. But you'll get no help from them if something goes wrong, so that's a decision to make carefully.

Giving up your seat for a pregnant woman is justified on the basis of common courtesy but is hardly something that should be codified into law. The person who retains their seat may be bleeding internally or undergoing chemo, or have a heart problem and you wouldn't know it.

I don't see what that has to do with taxes.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 23, 2006 11:33 PM | Report abuse

That's how I feel, kindathinker. I feel the same anger of misuse of public funds that EF describes. But I've always considered it a patriotic and moral duty (really!) to pay my taxes, with the knowledge that even if some of it was wasted, or used for things I don't like or need, that at least the bulk of it was helping the country (the last 5 years has shaken my belief, though).

Posted by: Dooley | June 23, 2006 11:36 PM | Report abuse

jack, Error, (and anyone else interested):

I've posted the plans for "Traditional Shutters" that can be made from a single 2x6x10 stud (for each shutter). It's a PDF file so you'll need Adobe Acrobat or some other PDF reader. It comes complete with measured drawings, materials/cut list, tool requirements, assembly/finishing/installation instructions.

Enjoy.

http://workshop.substanza.com/traditional_shutters.pdf

If I get a chance tomorrow, I'll post a pic or two of the finished product installed on my humble abode.

Posted by: martooni | June 23, 2006 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Error, they are related in this way: If each of us is allowed to opt out of duties or responsibilities based solely on personal interest or on how much of a service we consume, then we're each making our own rules and owe nothing to a common good. Seems to me that propels us toward naked self-interest and anarchy.

As a nation, we've rejected that path repeatedly. The lack of an effective organizing principle for the new states under the Articles of Confederation led to the re-formation of government under the Constitution. Washington didn't tolerate the Whiskey Rebellion, in which farmers refused to pay duties on what they produced.

Perhaps we're in the process of rejecting the organizing principle of government as provision for the common good--that is, the general welfare of the people.

It was spelled out in the Preamble to the Constitution: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We can go in another direction, toward libertarianism, I suppose. I'd object, but I'd at least hope people thought about the consequences and the history we'd abandon.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 23, 2006 11:58 PM | Report abuse

>If I can afford private guards for my gated community, can I sign up on "Do Not Protect" list of the police departments and save my tax dollars?

>Yes, I think so. The police are now able to spend more time on other problem areas, right? They don't have to patrol your gated community. But you'll get no help from them if something goes wrong, so that's a decision to make carefully.

But if we extend that argument, if you can afford your own private army, why not reject the protection of the military as well, and every other government service? You then end up with a small number of ultrarich individuals or families, armed and largely self sufficient, and everyone else left to fend for themselves. Essentially, a Middle Age feudal system (not all that dissimilar to Afghanistan today).

I do see the connection kindathinker was pointing out between taxes and the bus seat. As citizens, we have a responsibility to provide what assistance we can to other citizens. A country is nothing more than a collection of individuals providing support to one another. If that support is removed, all we have left is the collection of individuals.

Posted by: Dooley | June 24, 2006 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Or what kindathinker said at 11:58, more coherently and eloquently.

Posted by: Dooley | June 24, 2006 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Dear kindathinker,

I am an avowed libertarian. During a local tax rebellion many years ago I stopped at a Libertarian Party desk and was given a test. They had a pyramid with stars to show your level of belief. When I took the quiz, the lady manning (womaning?) the booth put a star at the top of the pyramid with my name on it, asd asked if I would be interested in running for office.

I live in the middle of the most densely populated state of the Union. I don't have sewer services. I don't have water services. I pay for my own garbage removal. I believe in the need for many common services, and I have no problem paying for them. Highways, a common defense, and basic schooling are among them.

But the fact is we make our own choices in life and we should be willing to pay for them. I don't ask you to pay for my DVDs, cars, or actually, anything other than basic police protection.

I don't see why you should ask me for more.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 24, 2006 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Nicely said, Dooley.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 24, 2006 12:18 AM | Report abuse

I feel like I stumbled on a pathetic "rant" page from my local Gannett rag about the favorite red state complaint "MY PROPERTY TAXES ARE TOO HIGH!"

No school district can do in a generation what Congress does daily when it comes to wasteful spending on highways to nowhere, other absurd earmarks and the "mission accomplished" in Iraq. And both parties do it, and will continue to do it forever because it is built in to the system. Get some perspective.

BTW, that RD Padouk had it right about dads on his 6:23 post.

Posted by: distant lurker | June 24, 2006 12:24 AM | Report abuse

As a final appeasement before bedtime, and in fairness, if I describe EF's libertarian views as resulting in feudalism when taken to unhealthy extremes, then my views could result in socialism if taken to unhealthy extremes. I think our positions are not actually all that far apart.

Posted by: Dooley | June 24, 2006 12:27 AM | Report abuse

I don't think EF is ranting. I think he's stating his case well. I'm pretty sure I don't agree, but it's making me think about it, and making me actually think about my own beliefs and my justifications for them. No Rovestorms here!

And now, definitely past my bedtime!

Posted by: Dooley | June 24, 2006 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Dooley, well said. It's the unhealthy extremes we have to reject, on all sides.

Very insightful post from "distant lurker".

'Night all.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 24, 2006 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Error, glad to know your predisposition. I tend to the libertarian side on civil liberties and many matters of personal choice.

It seems to me that all of us, as Americans, are rightly asked to pay for something other than what we personally consume, however. Otherwise we would leave Medicare and Medicaid or emergency room services and a wide range of others to churches or volunteer organizations, if we felt the ethical or moral obligation to do anything. Limiting the scope of our collective responsibilities sounds attractive in many ways but poses insurmountable practical problems.

I recognize limits to what this philosophy of common good can and should support. We wrestle with that daily in town councils, legislatures and Congress. That's part of the unavoidable tension in a democratic society, as we calibrate governmental action along a continuum that extends from pure libertarianism on one end to a European-style social democracy on the other. The challenges of globalism and the new information era probably will alter the debate, in unknown ways. But every society always has to wrestle with questions about what government should be asked to do and how it should be paid for.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 24, 2006 12:39 AM | Report abuse

> If each of us is allowed to opt out of duties or responsibilities based solely on personal interest or on how much of a service we consume, then we're each making our own rules and owe nothing to a common good.

I agree 100%.

> Seems to me that propels us toward naked self-interest and anarchy.

YES! And when you think about it, doesn't that kinda describe where the current administration has been taking us? (no offense to Error, honest!). They're all about an "ownership society" where everyone gets to "manage" their own retirement, medical coverage, choice of schools, etc., but they conveniently forget to tell us that the majority of us are going to be on the short end of that stick. School vouchers, in principle, don't bother me so much as "No Child Left Behind". As far as I'm concerned, we should have one or the other, but not both. If a school district is going to be penalized for not meeting some standard set by a government unwilling to finance it, and will then be subject to lost revenue because people will pull their kids from "substandard" schools to place them elsewhere, the schools that need the most help are basically screwed.

I agree with Error that there needs to be some change in how education is paid for, but "pay based on usage/need" is not it. The current system has everyone in a district paying a percentage of their property's value. But this is only fair in districts where property values are neither inflated nor deflated. Districts with inflated property values pay more than necessary to sustain what the district really needs. Districts with deflated property values pay less than is required to keep things going, but even that is a hardship on its residents.

Maybe the taxes should be at the state level instead of the district. Or the federal level. Maybe we need to get rid of local school taxes altogether and rely on a state-level or national-level pool so that the poor districts stand a chance and the rich ones don't have the excess to squander on multi-million dollar sports complexes, acoustically perfect recital halls, cutting edge/state-of-the-art chem/computer/biology labs or whatnot.

Corporate America biatches and moans that they "need" to off-shore to get qualified workers because the local crop just isn't up to par. If they need skilled workers so bad, why can't we have an "education tax" that is targeted at larger corps instead of struggling homeowners?

I dunno. I'm just a long-haired hippie who don't trust "the man" as far as he can kick him, but at the same time thinks the "the man" should have had this cr4p ironed out decades ago -- for "the man's" own good (I hear they're rejecting applicants for interpreter positions because the candidates actually lived in the Middle East at some point in their lives or have distant relations still living there -- go figure).

Posted by: martooni | June 24, 2006 12:40 AM | Report abuse

for those trying to figure out the "evil filter"...

me had difficulties posting last post.

could have been "cr4p" with an "a"

or maybe "biatches" minus the "a"

or possibly "S.O.L" (which i changed to "screwed")

Posted by: martooni | June 24, 2006 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, most states have an equalizing system of distribution of property taxes so that rates are not disproportionate in different areas. This principle of equity goes along with adequacy in assessments of states' effectiveness in providing public education. Some states lag, of course.

And then there's the argument that money from my county is taken away from our schools to pay for schools on the other side of the state. That's true and unfortunate, but seems to be the lesser of all evils.

I agree with the comments of both martooni and distant lurker about our current situation. Fortunately, we can keep demanding better. One day we might score a victory or two.

Thanks for a fun discussion.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 24, 2006 1:03 AM | Report abuse

You folks are the best.

I'm going to have a beer.

I'm just another schmoe. What we need in power are people who will listen to the likes of you.

Cheers...

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 24, 2006 1:29 AM | Report abuse

What a weenie! Waiting for the wife to exit before making a grab for house control!

Our house is the result of an endless guerilla war between two sides of opposing and irreconcilable standards of taste. No surrenders, not even any temporary truces.

As a result it looks pretty good.

Especially her entertainment center with my 37 inch HD LCD TV, DVD recorder and VCR inside and the antique shotgun mounted on top.

Posted by: jjk308 | June 24, 2006 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Other blogsters should visit this boodle's discussion from last night about taxes and responsibilities. Wow.

Opposing viewpoints, stated clearly and with examples. Then they all agreed on the points they agreed on and thanked each other for the hearty discussion, even pointing out the validity of each others' arguments.

Wow. I love this boodle.

Posted by: TBG | June 24, 2006 8:31 AM | Report abuse

kindathinker, you are exactly right and I appreciate how elegantly you expressed the principles of fair taxation. FWIW, I have a master's degree in public administration and know a little about which you speak.

Error, I love you, man, but what happens when your septic field goes bad and starts polluting groundwater, yours and your neighbors? Will you foot the bill for cleaning up the mess? All of it?

Perhaps the public service with the greatest disparities in service delivered is fire suppression. There are 32,000 or so fire departments in the US; less than a thousand consist of fully paid firefighters. Thus, most departments are volunteer, or a combination of volunteers and some paid. To have a successful outcome at a residential structure fire, we know that 12-14 firefighters should respond within 7-9 minutes of receiving the call. A fire will reach the flashover point - where a room and contents are fully involved in fire - in 6 to 8 minutes from ignition, so time and manpower are of the essense. Ask your local department if they can get that many people on scene within that time frame. Many cannot.

This is not to denigrate the efforts of the volunteers, who are giving their time and skills for a concrete public good. If your department can't meet these criteria, you pay more in fire insurance premiums, as you should. There is a continuum of risk between what the public and private sectors assume, and the point of intersection is how much you pay in property taxes for fire protection versus how much you pay for fire insurance.

I live in the city; I like my city services and don't mind paying for them. I work for City government, and I know firsthand how much effort is put forth to provide good services for the most reasonable cost. You may disagree on some of the services and priorities, but, folks, there ain't much fat left. We don't waste much money because we don't have it to waste.

Posted by: Slyness | June 24, 2006 8:39 AM | Report abuse

TBG... shhhhh!

*- hiding the reason and courtesy under the couch for safe-keeping in case the "others" come back -*

Posted by: martooni | June 24, 2006 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Child.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 24, 2006 8:59 AM | Report abuse

> Child.

Now there's an enlightening post. Minimalist, maybe, but it does speak volumes about the poster. I wish I could be so eloquent with such economy of words.

jack, Error, kbert, etc:

A quick pic of what the finished product looks like...

http://workshop.substanza.com/traditional_shutters.jpg

Posted by: martooni | June 24, 2006 9:09 AM | Report abuse

To stray kind of on topic, here, my husband waits for us to go out of town to eat food that we don't really care for. The only thing in that category that springs to mind immediately is tongue, but there are others.

But speaking of food (what a segue), when Joel wrote about man food a while back I remembered some essays that my husband, DBG, wrote a few years ago that he also titled, "Man Food." I finally found them on an old hard disk and have offered them for posterity.

I hope you enjoy them...


http://www.man-food.com

Posted by: TBG | June 24, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Wow, martooni... those are some incredible plans and beautiful shutters. I'm impressed.

Posted by: TBG | June 24, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

TBG... The "pickled eggs" had me laughing. I used to tend bar at a joint that has the very first liquor license issued after Prohibition here in Youngstown (the license number is literally 000000001). Anyway, we were clearing out one of the beer coolers one night and found an old one-gallon glass jar filled with large olives soaking in an unknown marinade. The current owner had no idea where they came from, so we called up the grandson of the previous owner (at 3am, no less) and asked him. It turned out that his grandfather had filled that jar with olives and vodka back in the Fifties and forgot where he stashed it -- apparently, they looked for it sometime in the Seventies and never found it. To make a short story longer, I was the one who volunteered to eat one. Great googlie mooglie! Dem was some damned good olives! We ended up selling these "antiques" for $5 each and they were gone in a week (of course, I snuck quite a few of them).

btw... thanks for the compliments on my wood-mauling.

Posted by: martooni | June 24, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

TBG, love the Manfood recipes!

Didn't Joel do a manfood Rough Draft within the last year or so, in which he talked about the Achenbro? I may have my timing wrong, but I think the memory is correct.

Posted by: Slyness | June 24, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Joel has an article in tomorrow's Outlook on the everpresent, effervescent eff-word:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/23/AR2006062301378.html

I always thought that Mailer's use of 'fug' in Naked and the Dead was even uglier than the real thing, so to speak.

And it took me a while, but I finally got Pynchon's use of radio station KCUF in Crying of Lot 49.

Posted by: pj | June 24, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Back from vacation, trying to review the Kits & Boodles (sounds like a breakfast cereal, doesn't it?).

This weekend's RD is up,
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/20/AR2006062000854.html
no doubt Joel and the laurel-laden WaPo.com folks will get 'round to posting it as a Kit soon enough. This RD is timely for me, as I'm going camping with the family over July 4 weekend (it's been a famliy ritual since the Bush I administration).

The idea about paying for levels of service from government and others made me think of the evolution of private schools, gated communites, homeowner associations, the private security sector, and Neal Stephenson's book "Snow Crash". Stephenson describes a wacky future where the well to do live in private enclaves maintained by security firms that in some cases are managed by The Mob.

Of course, the idea of security provided in return for cash (or something else) ain't new. Pretty much goes beyond human history to apes, proto humans, and animal pack instincts (clearly an evolutionary success trait).

Hopefully, you gets what you pays for.

Ach, more reading for me.

bc

Posted by: bc | June 24, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

TBG - although I loved the man-food link, I have a terrible confession to make. You see, ever since I was but a small child I have suffered from a strange compulsion that some have even dared to label unnatural. You see, I, well..., I really like vegetables. I lust for steamed broccoli with a light hollandaise sauce. Cauliflower with clarified butter makes me all woozy. And don't even get me started about my fixation with Brussels sprouts.
Look, I'm not proud of this. But we all have our little kinks.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 24, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

This week, I was contacted by what seems a well-intentioned above-board foundation that's trying to promote family-friendly, preferably G-rated movies. I'm afraid I don't buy into the notion that "They Who Run The Movie Industry" don't share the general public's values and need to be educated about the entertainment desires of earnest Midewesterners (the foundation's in Michigan) and so forth. Good grief! The movie industry's in business to make money, unless you count those arty films that directors and such make to establish/burnish/change their reputations.

I suspect that we're actually in a golden age of kid-friendly movies. Some 14 animated features this summer, Nacho Libre, more Pirates, and even Prairie Home Companion to make your teen's ears turn red.

On the other hand, one of the marvels of the 1967 "Italian Job" with Minis and the great Michael Caine is that Caine somehow manages to talk like a London gangster while being both intelligible to the American audience (I've heard him do unintelligble East Londonese) and he uses no bad words. The thing has a G rating, despite horrible violence perpetrated on expensive cars.

Now, back to planting some freshly-purchased coonties in the yard before the disturbed weather in the Bahamas totally freaks out the local TV meteorologists.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | June 24, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Hello, friends. I've missed a lot. Still have that crowd I hang with. We've done VBS, and they're all over the place. My hearing-aid has gone out so many times, I have to have quiet time to get myself together. Slyness, congrats on the tomatoes, and I know what you're talking about concerning the schools. Judge Manning seems serious about those situations, but closing schools is serious. Kindathinker, you make some good points. Very good points. It has always been my thinking that government above anything else wants peace, not chaos, so it employs those policies that will keep that peace. Education, care for seniors,and disable, the common good of the population, rank right up there at the top of the list that enable us to have that peace. I believe selfishness breeds chaos. We're off, have to check on some of my friends that don't feel too well. PLS, I hope I don't pick up anything from this crowd I'm hanging with, like I need something else. Joel, enjoy your house, and your complete control of it, it probably won't last, and I bet you really miss those folks that aren't there. I love you all, take care, have a good weekend, get some rest. And please know that in this life, and the life to come, that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Nani, you make some good points in your comments about poverty. I did not read the link to Edward's on poverty, but poverty should be our focus, no matter what's going on in the world. That focus will keep peace also.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 24, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Nice piece by Joel in Outlook. I let one slip in the car one day with my daughter riding along when I offered it as a one-word evaluation of someone's driving skill. Neither of us commented on it, of course. Later I saw it in a message from her friend on her myspace page, used in the proper, private subversive manner. Turns out I won't have to teach my daughter how to use it.

The funniest use is in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, I think, in the scene in which Steve Martin and the rental-car staffer exchange pleasantries.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 24, 2006 12:26 PM | Report abuse

From Joel's RD on the f-word "It does not have the sting that it used to,"

Trust me, if you've ever had your mouth washed out w/Dial soap for using that word (and I didn't know what it meant!), it will always have a sting.

Posted by: Gran | June 24, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

> SonofCarl: "Her biology text was the Pentateuch. Which, when you think about it, isn't really all that funny these days as it may be coming back."

When Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, Send me away, that I may go to my own place and country. Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served you, and let me go; for you know the work which I have done for you. And Laban said to him, If I have found favor in your sight, I pray you [do not go]; for I have learned by experience and from the omens in divination that the Lord has favored me with blessings on your account. He said, State your salary and I will give it. Jacob answered him, You know how I have served you, and how your possessions, your cattle and sheep and goats, have fared with me. For you had little before I came, and it has increased and multiplied abundantly; and the Lord has favored you with blessings wherever I turned. But now, when shall I provide for my own house also? [Laban] said, What shall I give you? And Jacob said, You shall not give me anything, if you will do this one thing for me [of which I am about to tell you], and I will again feed and take care of your flock. Let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted animal and every black one among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages. So later when the matter of my wages is brought before you, my fair dealing will be evident and answer for me. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the sheep, if found with me, shall be counted as stolen. And Laban said, Good; let it be done as you say. But that same day [Laban] removed the he-goats that were streaked and spotted and all the she-goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every black lamb, and put them in charge of his sons. And he set [a distance of] three days' journey between himself and Jacob; and Jacob was then left in care of the rest of Laban's flock. But Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane trees and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white in the rods. Then he set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred and conceived when they came to drink, The flocks bred and conceived in sight of the rods and brought forth lambs and kids streaked, speckled, and spotted. Jacob separated the lambs, and [as he had done with the peeled rods] he also set the faces of the flocks toward the streaked and all the dark in the [new] flock of Laban; and he put his own droves by themselves and did not let them breed with Laban's flock. And whenever the stronger animals were breeding, Jacob laid the rods in the watering troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed and conceive among the rods. But when the sheep and goats were feeble, he omitted putting the rods there; so the feebler animals were Laban's and the stronger Jacob's. Thus the man increased and became exceedingly rich, and had many sheep and goats, and maidservants, menservants, camels, and donkeys." Genesis 30:25-43 Amplified Bible

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2030;&version=45;

Now, you really ought to read that in context. The machinations between Jacob's wives and between Jacob and his father-in-law are a hoot. I remember a neo-classical canvas in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, a huge thing as big as a wall (no image on the Net), showing well-to-do Jacob on his knees with his smirking wives and all his worldly possessions behind him. The artist tried to show how the homecoming in Genesis 33 must have looked to his brother Esau.

A simple little sympathetic magic explains the ascendancy of Jacob, but even the original story-tellers would have admitted that DNA was the more elegant explanation. Laban thought that removing all the dominant colors would leave Jacob only the recessives to work with, and so it would, but he also must have been aware that Jacob could surreptitiously obtain colored stock for hybridization. Laban merely misapprehended the speed with which the whole herd could be turned over and underestimated the value of the vigor obtained. He hadn't seen selective-breeding technology in action and took too conservative an approach.

Posted by: Entenpfuhl | June 24, 2006 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Joel's piece on the unprintable word mentions John Boorman's wonderful movie of a kid's view of London in wartime, "Hope and Glory."

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | June 24, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Regadarding Joel's outlook piece.

I don't curse. As a result, when even the suggestion of an obscenity escapes my lips, it tends to make an impact. Once, I was helping to locate machinery to be used for a field test. The devices were all designated by two letter combinations. The schedule was getting tight and I couldn't locate one of the sensors I was responsible for. In frustration I stood in the middle of the lab and yelled the following in a tone of primal desperation:

"Has anybody seen my FN sensor!!?"

Much laughter soon followed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 24, 2006 1:31 PM | Report abuse

>Error, I love you, man, but what happens when your septic field goes bad and starts polluting groundwater, yours and your neighbors? Will you foot the bill for cleaning up the mess? All of it?

slyness, thanks but you're getting me wrong. I'm not an extreme nut-case libertarian against all community and public services, I just don't understand why my retired mother is still paying for school taxes after paying for 40 years.

But to answer your question: if there's any hint of septic problems here they make you put in a new system, usually upwards of $30k, and yes you get to pay for it yourself. Along with drilling another well if required. There's no septic system fairy. This happened about a mile from here to quite a few houses on streets with small lots, so I do know what the actual response was. The best they got was some reduced-interest loans arranged by the township so there was no delay in fixing the problems.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 24, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I hear you don't get the police protection you pay for in New Jersey because the force is so corrupt. True?

I did some research and I am STRONGLY against privatization of water. Cleaning water eats up a lot of money, and whenever it has been instituted (in USA and elsewhere), it leads to higher water costs, less safety. Also, poor people often find their water sources being stolen by industry.

In South Africa, they charge for water, and they hiked the price a little. Well, that put the cost of water at 40% of the income of the poorest households. 40%. And that's just drinking water. Millions of people started getting their water from contaminated lakes and other water. The government wound up paying a LOT in medical treatment for cholera and whatnot.

There are progress being made in clean water technology; in fact, there are means to make the sludge fuel the water purification process with some electricity left over to sell. But that kind of R&D does not seem to occur with privatized companies-- because frankly, where they are, they tend to be somewhat monoploistic unless it's a crowded area and more than one water company available (such as in this area).

Secondly, when you privatize water purification, you take that step somewhat out of the loop. Many new viruses are always being found, and new epidemics may not be reported to the company and you know, you're asking people who are not civil servants to decide whether to sacrifice profit to protect against a tiny unknown risk of sickening millions of customers?

Also, when you think about it, water safety is more than cleaning water. It's fining people who pollute water, preventing people from building toxic chemical factories right next to water sources-- the classic role of the government. To privatize water purification is to add an extra layer and pretty much guarantee the person who has to oversee water safety at the plant is out of the loop in zoning decisions.

Safe water: The best prevention against disease, ever. Vaccinations come a pale second.

I've been in India and I saw people buy and truck their water by truck. Water shortages hit all over town in middle of loo season.

Anyway, I do believe there is a need to track disease spread and epidemics as part of national security. It's epideminology 101-- you have to know who got the disease to figure out how it spreads and how it may be stopped.

The father of epidemiology perfected his art by figuring out cholera was coming from contaminated water.

http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/fatherofepidemiology_part2.html

As for school taxes... I think high property taxes due to school needs is unfair to the long-term residents who are well below the median income level.

I do not buy the "houses are worth more" benefit argument because it's not necessarily a permanent gain, and to benefit the person must sell and move.

This something most senior citizens do not want to do, and in fact which could be adverse to their health and well being.

Gentrification through property taxes is inappropriate. It actually forces people who in fact are way past schoolage children to sell out to people who do have schoolage children, further burdening the schools.

In VA I believe that schools are partially funded by state income taxes, and partially by property taxes. The problem is to prevent the locality from the temptation to tax excessively, I am fairly certain the property taxes are sizeable in Fairfax country, for instance.

I think income tax is a much more reasonable distribution of the burden.

If I build a shack on 5 acres of land that I bought for a song, have an median income below poverty level after I there for 40 years, I should NOT be forced out from my property because I now have to pay taxes on land that is worth a few million dollars thanks to a city growing up around me.

I might have options-- sell the easement and try and make my land worthless to build on and drop my property taxes, etc. Still, I might wind up paying more in taxes every year than I originally paid for it 40 years ago.

So, ultimately, what the (*^*&^ is that? It's robbery by demand.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 24, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Still, vote Honest Error in '08!

And my libertarian side comes out whenever somebody suggests I buy a condo.

Like I want to pay fees and have a committee decide what I can do with my own space, like I have no brains to do it for myself.

For instance, my friend has a condo, she's not allowed to have dogs. I told her about the Fair housing act-- she's disabled and she can have one in no-pets housing.

But you know--the concept of buying a place is it's your property. And when it's your property you can have anybody and anything you damn well please in it as long as you don't break the law.

And unlike an apartment you can't just pull up stakes and call in your notice if you loathe it, get a new job, or move elsewhere. No, you have to sell the condo, for whatever the market price is.

This adds up in my head for me to decide: No way I'm paying more than my parents house cost for what is essentially a well furnished jail.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 24, 2006 5:05 PM | Report abuse

So, while I think many Guvmint services are worth the deal (depending on various factors), and that government was invented for a specific reason...

I'm with Error-- nobody should be paying property taxes forever. I don't care if old people get income tax break if they sell their house after 65. They shouldn't HAVE to sell or indulge in dubious reverse mortgage deals because land developers made their neighborhood too pricey to live.

Schooling is beside the point. The issue is the tax system. I'm not in favor of taxing young families with kids extra, even with income tax breaks they still are not coming out ahead.

Although I wouldn't say no to revoking dependent exemptions on their income tax returns for people who earn a LOT of money.


Posted by: Wilbrod | June 24, 2006 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I think federal employees shouldn't have to pay taxes at all. Mo - your thoughts?

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 24, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Changing the subject, slightly.

Just saw An Inconvenient Truth. Very powerful. Gets to a common good question, namely whether we're ever going to act to keep this orb livable.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 24, 2006 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Error, come out for a fair tax system and everybody will vote for you! I certainly can't disagree with you about financing education solely from the property tax. It's much fairer to do that out of state income and sales taxes.

Wilbrod, thanks for making the case for water as a public good. Sewer is a public good also! And, with public water, you get the added benefit of sufficient water for fire suppression! Error, do you know how your local fire department gets water for suppression, if you don't have mains and hydrants?

It's been a long time since I read a study that found that the property tax is progressive and falls mainly on those who can afford it. I'd like to see what the data show now.

Posted by: Slyness | June 24, 2006 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Let me just say that if you ever want to visit Seattle, the next week is the time to do it. Temperatures in the 80's, low humidity, cloudless blue skies, a slight breeze - this is the weather we long for in the dark, dismal days.

My bamboo is "shooting" - new canes are breaking through and almost visibly growing right before your eyes. There is one that is about an inch and a half in diameter. This is golden bamboo - I thought it was a clumping type, but it's actually a running bamboo. So far it hasn't gotten too out of hand. I trimmed it last weekend, taking out the smaller diameter canes and keeping it away from the neighbor's yard. I wish I had room for timber bamboo and a panda or two.

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 24, 2006 8:41 PM | Report abuse

>I hear you don't get the police protection you pay for in New Jersey because the force is so corrupt. True?

Wilbrod, I can't speak for other areas but our local force is excellent. Very professional, and a good example of something I'm glad to pay for. Except you have to do exactly the speed limit. *sigh*

>I think federal employees shouldn't have to pay taxes at all. Mo - your thoughts?

RD, I thought you could just change that yourself. I mean, uh, you're good with databases, eh? :-)

>Error, do you know how your local fire department gets water for suppression, if you don't have mains and hydrants?

slyness, I believe they have big water trucks if they really need them. Otherwise it's a couple of firetrucks. Glad you reminded me, I have an envelope for the volunteer first aid/fire squad on my desk, they deserve everything we can give. I wish we did have public water, but the local pols are against it on a slow-growth platform. When I bought the place everyone told me there'd be sewers and public water in a couple of years, but I'm still waiting. I can't add a room w/o a new septic system, and if I do that they'll probably come through with sewers the next day.

mostlylurking, do you have a link for any bamboo stuff? I've been thinking about putting it out by the road. I spent like $5k on 15 pine trees and half of 'em died. A guy came into the chiro office while I was waiting and showed this thing that was 4-5 ft long, he said it was an inch or two last week. Like you said, literally grows before your eyes!

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 24, 2006 9:02 PM | Report abuse

If you want fast-growing, try Kudzu ;)...

On second thought, don't. They're nicknamed Ironweed for good reason.

Bamboo does grow well in DC, surprisingly enough. Nice to know they do as well in NJ. Just invest in a really good pair of hedge clippers that can handle thick bamboo stems. And they're useful, too! To say the least, you'll always have blowpipe material ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 24, 2006 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Miss a day of boodling and see what happens. I agree with whomever praised the whole kaBoodle. What a great conversation. Kindathinker, you are my hero. Anyone who goes right to the Preamble to the Constitution is where we all should be. I taught the boy the School of Rock (or whatever) version of the Preamble as soon as he could lisp the words.
I'll still vote for Errol, though. Anyone who'll appoint Cassandra Secretary of Reconciliation or Inner Peace and Harmony or whatever it will be called is also thinking right.
Joel, almost through the weekend. Which was it -- vegetable pizza or a grown-up restaurant? I hope you're enjoying this opportunity to be Great Dad (or co-opt the spy, whichever).

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 24, 2006 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Ivansmom. Joel, having already finished his piece for tomorrow's paper, must be busy establishing his dominion over his abode. If he hasn't peed off the porch yet, I'd suggest that tonight's the night.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 24, 2006 10:54 PM | Report abuse

So would I, because I think he'd be a lot better at picking gifted people and letting them do their thing, honestly and with low corruption, than many previous administrations ;).

Posted by: WIlbrod | June 24, 2006 10:56 PM | Report abuse

You can thank slyness for "Secretary of Reconciliation".

I was thinking "Secretary of Inner Peace and Kindness", but I'm sure these departments could be combined. Save money ya know.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 24, 2006 11:24 PM | Report abuse

This would be a fine weekend to sneak away to Seattle (or my former abode, Portland). Even if Portland always managed to have the last rainfall of spring on the fourth of July weekend.

Young males from our part of Florida go on surfing trips to Costa Rica (where it's now the rainy season or "invierno"). When they return, they want to grow palms, bromeliads, heliconias, and even the occasional orchid. At least a few of these guys have been known to pee on their heliconias to provide some extra nutrients.


Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | June 24, 2006 11:25 PM | Report abuse

For the first time in 57 years, I have the house to myself for a week. No spouse, no children, and only one dog. The Tivo is mine; the remote is mine; I eat what I like for dinner.

If only we didn't get lonely . . .

Posted by: mary.amitin@gmail.com | June 24, 2006 11:37 PM | Report abuse

A couple of bamboo-related websites, one near Seattle:
http://www.bamboogardenswa.com/index.html

One near Portland, OR:
http://www.bamboogarden.com/default.htm

I consulted the second one *after* I had thinned my bamboo - was pleased to see that basically you can't hurt the stuff. Ours is about 10 years old, about 15 feet high, in a 5 foot wide clump. They also have a big section on what to do when bamboo flowers, and dies - which I didn't quite understand (sounds like they're still figuring it out too).

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 25, 2006 12:08 AM | Report abuse

mary, I know what you mean. I don't have the house all to myself very often. It is nice in some ways - but I have to keep a radio on so it's not too quiet.

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 25, 2006 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Another good bamboo site, especially for those outside the Pacific NW -
http://www.americanbamboo.org/index.html

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 25, 2006 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. There isn't any quiet in this house, not during the day. I look forward to the quiet again, but I know I will miss the noise when it's gone. Error, thanks for the consideration of the job. I read Joel's piece this morning. I sent him an email. I must say that was a lot to say about a word. And a nasty one at that. Have to get my guest up, and dressed, for Sunday school. After that, we going to just hang out. I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. We've had quite a bit of rain here, and my tomatoes are looking good. The roses are still blooming also.
You know, I've not met any of you, and don't really know you that well, but I miss you when I don't get a chance to keep up with the comments. I believe if anything ever happened to any of you I would feel like I'm missing an arm or a leg. I pray for you always, and feel a closeness to you, almost like family. I hope this doesn't offend you. Please remember that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 25, 2006 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Have posted the Rough Draft column, and I guess tomorrow I'll post the f-word piece from Outlook. (I have to talk about it on Post Radio tomorrow morning around 8:20 and I can't imagine how I can actually discuss it. That's going to be dicey.)

The house is a shambles.

Clearly without a spouse I would descend into barbarism within a week. Like that Zucchini character that Gene wrote about.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 25, 2006 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the heads up about the radio appearance Joel. May I suggest an agreed upon pseudo for the offensive word? Maybe something like "Luxembourg." Nobody every gets offended by Luxembourg.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 25, 2006 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Luxembourg! I take offense, sir!

Posted by: TBG | June 25, 2006 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Hello!

Took a complete mental vacation for the past week. Didn't read the papers, didn't listen to the news, nothing! Total relaxation. Even did some crafting. Now I've got hours of catching up.

Interesting discussion on taxes and schools. If parents with more kids have to pay higher taxes to cover for education, doesn't that get close to China's taxing of parents of multiple children?

Posted by: a bea c | June 25, 2006 9:02 AM | Report abuse

>doesn't that get close to China's taxing of parents of multiple children?

a bea c, in a word, no. Having children or not is a choice we each make, and only a fool would expect them to not cost you money. The more kids, the more money. We are *all* currently taxed the same for the education of all children in our area. I don't understand why it's such a controversial thought to suggest that people who consciously use more of a given resource should pay more.

Presumably the joy they give you along with support in your old age well and truly covers the cost, and you don't begrudge that. I think basic education *should* be guaranteed but there are a lot of activities which frankly I don't think fall under that category, and they tend to expensive. In the best of all worlds I'd like every kid to be able to sail on a yacht over the summer. Do you want your tax dollars to go for that? It's nice, yes and probably a terrific educational experience, right? But is it necessary? Hardly.

I have health insurance, which is shared risk. I choose to smoke cigars once in awhile, so I have to pay more. I don't have to smoke cigars, so I accept a higher insurance premium because I want to be covered. If I choose to not have children, I'm HELPING the district by reducing the headcount. If I've been paying for 45 years and now have children who are paying, I think it's time for a break. Not nothing, but a break, say half. So when I have to hire a nurse because I don't have kids to help me, I can maybe pay for it.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 25, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Error,

Thanks for bringing up another good example of how nonusers are "taxed" for services used by others.

If you are part of a group health insurance plan at work, ALL the participants could be paying higher premiums because you smoke cigars.

If it affects your health and your insurance company is covering it, the rates will go up for your entire group eventually.

Chances are, the people at your hypothetical workplace who are in their twenties are paying higher premiums because of their coworkers who are in their sixties and going to more doctors.


Posted by: TBG | June 25, 2006 4:31 PM | Report abuse

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