The Daily (or whenever) Eruption


Letter to Congress: Wednesday 1/16/19

Dear Congress-Critters,
Surely by now you are aware of the sad primary, secondary, and even tertiary effects of closing down the Federal government’s operations. While employees will now receive back pay, it may not be in time to repair their finances. Federal contractors are even worse off; many won’t get any back pay. Small businesses that depend on government employee patrons will also be out of luck and some undoubtedly will go under. Do you care?

What the news media isn’t telling us is that Trump’s shutdown might be more than a negotiating tactic. He says it’s on account of funding for his Wall, but his holding the Government up for ransom could have ulterior purposes. His brain trust is full of people who want to cut the size and sway of the Federal Government until it’s small enough to “drown in the bathtub,” in Grover Norquist’s memorable words. Shutting down government programs indefinitely is certainly a strong step toward eliminating or privatizing them and cutting their budgets.

Whether that’s your hope or not, as a legislator, your response to the shutdown should be based on what you believe our nation is obligated to do for its citizens. It is certainly not fulfilling its current obligations, but the way to dismiss them is not to stand by and starve them, but to bring to the floor bills to eliminate agencies and programs you feel have outlived their usefulness. Then debate that with your colleagues and vote on it

If you don’t take legislative action, you will be seen as an accomplice to Trump’s shameless blackmail and will be judged accordingly. Just sayin’.

File under Shirking Responsibility.

Need a Last-Minute Gift? Friday 12/21/18

Books are always appropriate and usually appreciated. To warm someone’s devious heart this winter, give them the gift of radical action—my thriller Turkey Shoot published by Perfidy Press (read about it here). It’s available on order at most independent booksellers (find one near you here), or if you’re really in a hurry, at Amazon (or click the cover below).

Continue reading “The Daily (or whenever) Eruption”

What Would Henry Do?

[Dug out this 2006 essay from my archives because it seems to apply as much now as a decade ago. Only the technology has moved on, not the human species.]

Dedicated to Peter Balen

If life has you feeling more overwhelmed and less able to cope all the time, it might not just be encroaching senility, the accumulation of bad chemicals in your body, or even 9-11. Consider what might connect such random areas of interest as

  • Prescription drug programs
  • Retirement planning
  • Airline deregulation
  • The blogosphere
  • School vouchers
  • Globalization

Continue reading “What Would Henry Do?”

Talking Back to my Radio

Have you ever reacted badly to a newscast on radio or TV and shouted at your set things like “Why not admit our wars in the Middle East caused all this chaos!” or “Ask him how much he was paid to mouth that b.s!” or “I’m sick and tired of hearing those stupid stump speeches!” whenever they fail to get to the bottom of things. Happens to me a lot.

Right now, one of my local NPR radio stations (WBUR, from Boston University) is surveying listeners to find out how we think they’re doing. I normally skip such polls, but given that I listen to it most days and occasionally answer phones for them I decided to pitch in and ended up at SurveyMonkey. As I had hoped, beyond the usual demographic data and how/when/where/why I listen or browse their site, they actually wanted reactions to their programming, so I belted some out. Continue reading “Talking Back to my Radio”

Punching Back

As they say around the Texas Legislature, if you can’t drink their whiskey, screw their women, take their money, and vote against ’em anyway, you don’t belong in office.

~ Molly Ivins

When I’m outraged by events, which seems to happen more and more often lately, I sometimes vent my spleen at the venerable and irritable  CounterPunch, the home of many diatribes. Here’s a sampling of mine. The rest are available at here.




WordPress: DIY or die

Getting into WordPress publishing is like cooking a Thanksgiving dinner when you subsist on fast food and frozen entree. There’s a cookbook with a table of contents an index, and a bunch of descriptions of cooking techniques, but all the recipes are blank.

For example, I wanted to create a page that duplicates an existing on, change it slightly, and post it. After 20 minutes of mousing around the dashboard I gave up and went to WordPress Forums (e.g., this one), only to lean that this isn’t a built-in feature; you need to get a plug-in for that.

But other things I need to do are built in, but how to know how and when to use them? They’re all nicely documented in the WordPress Codex, but there aren’t very many how-to’s except for the code examples (that don’t necessarily tell you where you must put them to make them work.)

When something doesn’t seem to be working, is it a bug, misconfiguration, or my ignorance of how it works? So many mysteries, like why the Categories widget doesn’t show my categories when placed under a post, but does on the sidebar. I just know if I asked a forum (but which one?) about this, some kind soul would give me code to patch it, not telling me where it should go.

The second week things got better after I concluded that plugins are my friend. Of course, no matter what you want one to do, you first need to come up with terms to describe it and then pick from umpteen search results. So you need to consider: Does its author describe the gizmo cogently? Does it do what you want the way you want it? How many users does it have? Is it compatible with the current version of WP? Is it loaded with features you’ll never need? Does it tease you with features only to tell you oh BTW, they’re only in the premium version?

So far I’ve only encountered one plugin that didn’t work. I junked it and got another I’m happy with. But now I worry I’ll  plug in one too many times and my install will run out of memory. Actually, that happened almost as soon as I unboxed WP. Eventually found a nice forum user who had posted fixing up wp-admin/includes/media.php to allocate more memory to solve this problem (obviously), which worked but then I had to up it again.

So I have a site now that more or less does what I want. All I need now are visitors to give me feedback telling me what sucks.