Archive for the ‘random musings’ Tag

On the Nobel Peace Prize

One suspects that we have not just seen Malala Yousafzai win the Nobel Peace Prize, but that we have seen her win her first.


Stray thoughts part n, where n is a large but finite number

Re: the USA/Belgium World Cup match Tuesday. Now I know why Douglas Adams uses ‘belgium’ as a swear word. Well done, Red Devils, but dayamn.

I’m about ready to get a handlebar-mounted camera for my bike so I can record my trip to and from work, and use the stills from it to start a photo blog called “Stupid £µ¢«ing Assholes”. You know, the idiots who count bicyclists as if they’re the same as a break in traffic, or who think red lights and stop signs don’t apply to them, or are really just convinced that they drive the only real vehicle in the universe and everything else on the road is a hallucination — that last applying especially to local cab drivers.

On Our Current Coinage

I have started a petition on the White House petitions site; please consider signing it. It’s not anything earth-shattering, but it is something dear to my numismatist’s heart:

In 1904, President Roosevelt sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Leslie Shaw, in which he described the then-current coins in circulation as being of “atrocious hideousness”.

Our current coinage is again of atrocious hideousness: modern designs are flat and lifeless rather than sculpted, with all the character of an arcade token. The Native American and Statehood/America the Beautiful issues do not really combat this trend.

We ask the president to direct the Treasury to redesign all American coinage, both circulating and bullion/collectible issues. We also ask for a return to classic portrayals of Liberty rather than the commemoration of historical figures, or that persons so commemorated be deceased for at least 100 years, to avoid partisanship in choosing the new designs.

I’m a longtime believer that with very few exceptions, our coins should be celebrating who we are and what we stand for, rather than former leaders. I grant freely that Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln are in a different category; that’s why I put in the ‘one century dead’ provision, so they could be retained if there was a will to.

Even just in our own lifetimes, coin designs have degraded badly. Look for a quarter from the mid-1970s or earlier, and compare it with one from 1998 or later. Our coins used to be sculpted; now they’re flat and featureless. Compare the Kennedy half dollar to the Walking Liberty half dollar — or even the Franklin half. Now, I’m a Kennedy fan, but let’s be fair, he got put on the coin out of national grief, not for his record of accomplishment.

I would love to see a return to the classic (and non-partisan) Liberty designs — the Seated, Standing and above-reference Walking Liberties are some of our most beautiful coinage, to say nothing of the St. Gauden’s $20 gold piece which is for my money (no pun intended) the single most exquisite coin ever minted. The current nickel, which looks more like Miss Hathaway from the Beverly Hillbillies than it does Thomas Jefferson, simply isn’t in the running — although the preceding “peekaboo” design from 2005 would have made a lovely successor to the old Felix Schlag nickel.


I should be in bed by now, but I’m not, which is no suprise because it’s three hours before my usual bedtime. I’ll force myself to sleep soon, somehow.

Catching a bus in the morning for Cincinnati to spend the weekend with a friend for her birthday bash, which is coincidentally at the same time as my birthday. I turn 50 on Sunday… and it really doesn’t bother me, not the same way turning 40 did.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a midlife crisis of any recognizable sort yet, which implies to me that I will therefore live to be at least 100 since I’m obviously not midway through things yet. :D

What should happen in Washington–but won’t.

I genuinely believe that Speaker John Boehner would like to come to an agreement with the White House, for the simple reason that he’s an Ohio Republican, and we generally don’t grow extremist nutjobs around here, Joe (er, Sam) the (back-tax-owing, not really licensed as a) Plumber notwithstanding and Dennis Kucinich notwithstanding. Our Republicans generally look like George Voinovich rather than Ann Coulter, and our Democrats more like John Glenn than Abbie Hoffman. We’re a state that’s good at compromise. Even both our professional football teams wear essentially the same colors.

So I really do believe in his heart of hearts, John Boehner would like to find some sort of agreement that everyone will hate but can live with, and move on. But his own backbenchers won’t let him; if he dares try to compromise, the teabag contingent will happily revolt and throw him out of the speakership and either they’ll elevate one of the extremists to the speakership, or the teabaggers will sit on their hands and let Nancy Pelosi become a plurality speaker.

What Boehner should do, and won’t, is this: take a good head count of the votes he’ll lose by compromising, and speak to at least that many conservative Democrats (and there are plenty to choose from, especially from the south, and more than enough to cover the potential defections), and basically tell his extremist wing to go fuck themselves, this country needs to operate. At a stroke, he looks like the grownup and the statesman, and can claim the mantle of bipartisanship, rather than being the tool of his backbenchers and the poster boy for obstructionism.

Won’t happen. Ever. Not a chance.

Which is the real tragedy here.

One more delicious piece of irony

The shutdown the GOP engineered over opposition to Obamacare… is having no impact on it. Only discretionary spending is impacted, and the ACA is on the non-discretionary side of the budget.

The sooner the GOP fragments into an extremist right-wing party of teabaggers, and a more moderate right-of-center party with whom it would in principle be possible to actually debate and work and come to agreements and negotiate and get things done, the better off the country will be. And maybe then the Democrats can go back to actually being left of center instead of just right of center and we can get away from the ‘greed is good’ mentality that dominates both parties right now.

I have to laugh at those who call Obama and the Democrats “socialists” and “communists”. In any other functioning democracy on this planet, they would be considered the centrist party, even just a touch on the conservative side. In the UK, President Obama would far more likely be a Conservative than he would be in Labour. The leadership of the GOP simply would not be in power anywhere, because they would be in UKIP and other extremist minority parties.

You want to see actual socialists in action? Look at the Nordic states. And note that Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland reliably land at the very top of just about every measure you can think of for measuring social well-being.

That was odd. Pleasant, but odd.

Among my vices, I’m a coin collector, and I always go to the Ohio State Coin Show which is held the day before Labor Day every year. Now, it’s held up at the Crowne Plaza in Dublin, which is where OVFF used to be, and uses much of the same convention space.

So even though I know intellectually I’m going to turn a corner and bump into a coin dealer, I keep half expecting to turn a corner and bump into a musician. It’s a fun kind of weird. There is a fountain pen show up there two weeks after OVFF, and no doubt if I were to go to that, I would get confused by the lack of guitars and coins. :D

Huh. Is there any numismatic filk? Maybe written with a fountain pen?

More admissions from our spooky friends in Langley

Just days after admitting Area 51 exists, the CIA now admits their role in the 1953 coup in Iran, which is at the root of much modern international… mischief, let’s say.  A larger example of blowback is hard to imagine — the overthrow of a popularly elected president to install an authoritarian monarch at the behest of a corporation (Anglo-Iranian Oil Co) annoyed because Iran nationalized their oil industry was probably the biggest domino leading to modern militant Islam (the other being the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan).

One starts to wonder what further soul-baring is coming, and what they’re hoping to slip under the radar amidst other revelations (however widely publicly believed before they admitted them).

Oh, and Anglo-Iranian Oil?  Today they’re known as BP.  Make of that what you will.

Aaaand… big deal

The CIA officially admits Area 51 exists. This tells us one thing: they’re not doing the really sensitive research there anymore.

What, did you think I was going to say something about UFOs?


Went to Rodizio’s today with Evil Twin et famille to celebrate him getting his Master’s. Nuclear Enginneering. It’s now his responsibility to provide the rest of us with superpowers.


Rodizio Grill is basically The Parade of Meat. It’s brought to you on a skewer, fresh from the grill, and you have a pair of tongs with which to get your serving as they slice it. And not just one kind of meat, but beef, fowl and pork, all in an endless conga line. There were a couple different cuts of beef, there were two different marinaded chicken, there was bacon-wrapped turkey, there was ham (make sure you get the ham together with the grilled pineapple) and there was sausage.

It’s the sort of place where you will eat until you can no longer feel your left arm. I lost contact with mine around noon, although there have been a few signals from it since then, and it expect to be fully back on line by dinner. Tuesday.

Ironically, I’m going to a vegetarian place with another couple friends tomorrow for lunch. Out of the frying pan, into the salad, I guess. Fortunately, I’m an omnivore.