And the Water Comes Again

Pleasant Progressive1“How do you know when an idea’s time has come?”

I was on a conference panel last week talking to graduate students about life in Washington, D.C., and to kick off our Q/A, a young woman in the crowd raised her hand and asked me this question. She followed it up with, “like, when do you know when the policy window is going to open for an issue you really care about?” Continue reading

Drops of Water Falling On Stone

curmudgeon logo2I’ve been spending a great deal of time with my 88 year old mother lately.  I’m constantly struck, as I talk with her, with the changes that have happened just in her lifetime.

Her father was a fireman.  There were pictures hanging in her home growing up of horse-drawn fire wagons racing through the streets to blazing buildings.   I have one hanging in my house now.  When she was very young the telephone on the wall had a crank to generate enough current to alert the operator that you wanted to speak to someone.  There was a radio, a monstrous wooden thing, manufactured by Philco, I think, that required a wire antenna draped over the roof and had shortwave as well as AM broadcast bands.  No FM.  No computers.  No microwaves, convection ovens, pacemakers, on-line banking, cable TV (for that matter, no TV).  There was still a crank on their record player. Continue reading

Debt Reset

Pleasant Progressive1According to Republicans, America is in the midst of a “debt crisis.” The GOP is using this crisis to push through bad economic policies, including huge cuts to important federal programs via the sequester. In the name of this debt, the hard right has all but scared off any Republican from supporting legislation that includes federal funding for anything, regardless of how meritorious a program might be. In their world, increasing revenue is not on the table, cutting taxes is the bottom line, and eliminating our deficit is their highest priority. Continue reading


curmudgeon logo2I’m sure this will come as a surprise to some of you, but sometimes I get cranky.  Life is short and there’s little room for cranky old men, so I have to get things off my chest in order to be acceptable to those around me.  One of the primary reasons I get cranky is that there is so much bullpucky being flung around right now that I spend more time ducking than drinking, and that will make any old man cranky. Continue reading

Infoglut, 10 – Informed Populace, 0

curmudgeon logo2When was the last time a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman stopped by your house?  These guys used to be a fixture during the summer months when the encyclopedia companies could hire cheap student labor for the job.  I know, because I was one of them… for about a week and a half!  We didn’t sell encyclopedias; we gave them away.  We placed them in lucky homes to generate interest in a neighborhood in advance of the real salesmen coming through.  There were two catches:  you had to be willing to pay more than the encyclopedias were worth for umpteen years of “yearbooks” – yearly supplements to keep your set up to date, and there were no salesmen coming through later.  We were it. Continue reading

Virtual Weirdness

Pleasant Progressive1When I was in elementary school, my best friend Devon and I used to host long play dates at each other houses on weekend afternoons. Each time we got together, we played a made up game that involved lots of handmade props and really cool voices—from what I remember, it was a combination of our best shot at British accents with a sort of adventurer plot in a made up world. We’d act out scenes of this imaginary world, using our fake voices and making up new rules as we went along. It was all very silly and weird, and I loved it. Continue reading

Snowquester Cogitations

Pleasant Progressive1It’s snowing in Washington, D.C. and the federal government has shut itself down. The Hill is still working, though it’s very unclear for what purpose. In observance of my semi-snowday—watching white stuff fall, stuck at work doing not much of anything important—I’d like to celebrate with a few random thoughts which I’ll thematically label “snowquester cogitations.” Continue reading

Does Obama Care?

curmudgeon logo2Politics is weird stuff.  Here we are being sequestrated (which may be something like being castrated), the president doesn’t actually sit down with the “opposition” until the 12th hour; the Republicans are planning the next stand-off rather than working on the present one; both bases are tickled pinko their guys “held the line,” and the rest of us are wondering if the right to vote isn’t about as important as a phone-in to American Idol. Continue reading