Salutations from the Cradle of Liberty

Megabus was everything I thought it would be and more, and I would use it a helluva lot more if it were around me. Seventeen bucks from Hartford to Boston is a pretty solid deal, the wifi was good, and there were outlets. What more does a man need? I was a little pissed at the old white dude sleeping in my seat and lying about it, but I just sat somewhere else.

I have an exquisite hotel view:

I hope I am not charged extra for that. Walked around for a little bit, and I managed to find a place to eat other than fucking Dunkin Donuts (christ you people in New England and these fucking donut shops), ordered some chowder and fish and chips, and everything on my plate was off-white and bland and tasted similarly. No wonder you people are drunk all the time.

Also, who the fuck serves gourmet ketchup? There is Heinz, and there is shit. Choose accordingly.

I need a nap before I get cranky.

How I Came to Own Five Boxes of Girl Scout Cookies

ABC is in town, so we went shopping to buy curtains and rugs and all sorts of stuff to make my house beautiful. Unfortunately for all, no matter how charming and wonderful the company, I max out at about 4-5 hours of shopping, particularly when it is 900 fucking degrees in the store and there are people everywhere doing annoying human things. I may or may not have been overheard stating “If we don’t get out of this store soon I’m going to be on the fucking evening news.”

At any rate, as we were leaving, hauling umpteen bags, I kept myself focused on the exit, thinking “fifteen yards, twelve yards, ten yards” at which point I was accosted by some young naif peddling her goods. It went like this:

Her- “Would you like to buy some Girl…”


When I got outside and felt the rush of the cool air of freedom, a certain decent human being brought me back to reality and stated “You do realize I just had to apologize to a nine year old, don’t you.”

And that is how I ended up buying five boxes of girl scout cookies.


*** Update ***

For the record, the cookie count was three Samoa and two Thin Mints.

ATTN: People of Connecticut

Your roads are fucking amazing. I felt like I was driving on velvet. No potholes. I’m amazed. I honestly didn’t know roads could be that nice.

At any rate, I made it here, but it wasn’t easy. At exactly the four hour mark of an eight hour trip the check engine lights came on. I blurted out “you gotta be fucking kidding me” because I had just gone through this last week with the damned spark plugs and I was in the middle of fucking nowhere (although everyone’s nowhere is someone else’s somewhere and it’s hard to call places the middle of nowhere when you are from West fucking Vigrinia) and dutifully found an advanced auto parts to go get this diagnosed.

Apparently it has something to do with the cam being out of whack or timing or something but it is caused by a plugged oil something or other so I had the engine flushed and the oil changed, The engine light was still on, but I talked to the Subaru people and just said YOLO and will have the mechanic look at it while I am here.

At any rate, I am safe. I will note that ABC made me remove the overalls when I arrived (I’m surprised I was allowed to cross the threshold, tbh) and hid them so I had to unload the car in boxer shorts.

The residents of Connecticut will probably seal the borders when I live.

A question for Doug J

Yesterday, Politico highlighted my post on the distributional impacts of expanding actuarial bands. I like that piece a lot. It gets into the weeds very quickly on a relevant policy discussion and illuminates some of the trade-offs and quirks of the structure.

Politico highlights a couple of writers a day. These links and names get blasted to their morning e-mail list which is heavily DC focused with political and policy implementation power as well as narrative setting power.

From yesterday’s list everyone except for the Weekly Standard is a good factual value. I learn something from those other writers when I read them.

So my question to Doug is does this engagement make sense? Is it better for people with very high leverage and influence to read me layout complex policy options with my set of priors or to read someone who is either not aware of the distributional consequences of this policy change or whose value structure and/or paycheck renders those considerations irrelevant?

If we’re going to have a system of fairly tightly clustered policy and political professionals we will have narrowly tailored publications that sets the minimum standard of being well enough informed with background knowledge of major events for that cluster. I think we will always have specific political/policy niche publications as every other tight cluster has their own publication (Cat Fanciers Daily, FantasyFootball has an entire industry of rapid update publications, Transportation planners have their own publications, marketing professionals have multiple publication channels that cater to their need. ) So in my opinion, engagement is better than passive rejection even as engagement comes from an almost top-10,000 political blog with lots of puppy pictures.  Politico and Axios both have policy dissemination channels which are solid and highly influential.  Liberal engagement in that channel adds value to the conversation and slightly shifts it in our direction.

I want to hear your opinion on this.



Allow Me a Slight Indulgence

This is one of my major pet peeves about our society, so please allow me a moment to rant. I stumbled across this in the Washington Post:

People like this exist, and I hate them. I already hated them halfway through, but when I got to the “if they wash my car” I wanted to hunt them down so I could spit in their food and save the wait staff from getting fired.

Now I am not going to get into a debate about whether our current system of tipping makes sense, because it doesn’t. Wait staff should be paid a salary. But I doubt we are going to change that, so here is my own personal rule of tipping. Always tip 20%, at least. If you go with a large group that takes up a lot of the time, tip 20%. If you are alone, then definitely tip 20%. And if your bill was super cheap, like say 6-7 bucks, just give them a ten.

These people work hard, bust their ass, and there are a whole lot of good reasons why you should tip well:

1.) They are not paid minimum wage.
2.) They have to deal with you. Now you may think you are a fucking ray of sunshine and source of eternal joy, but I am here to tell you that you are not.
3.) Most of the “mistakes” aren’t their fault. The cook fucked it up, their boss is a jackass who has a stupid system in place, they are overbooked, etc.
4.) They have to deal with you, and as mentioned before, you suck. You really do.
5.) Often times their owners find ways to fuck them on the wages they do earn.
6.) They work horrible hours, have shit sleep patterns, and almost never have a stable or normal schedule.
7.) If they are female, they are being sexually harassed all day every day. Trust me on this. And it probably isn’t just the customers doing it.
8.) It’s hard work. It really is. I was a waiter, a bus boy, a doorman, a bartender, a cook, and a barback at different times in my life. By far, the hardest job in there is being a waiter. You’re constantly on your feet, being yelled at by everyone, and they have to deal with you, who really suck even though you still don’t believe me.
9.) The absolute best way to put money into the economy is to tip people. These people will spend it.
10.) It makes you feel good.
11.) It ensures that you will get good service the next time you come back.
12.) When you tip appropriately or overtip, they aren’t getting rich. It’s probably just making up for the degenerate scumbags above who think 10% is appropriate.
13.) They probably don’t have health insurance. I remember hoping for a busy night when I was a waiter so I could afford a prescription for an antibiotic and cold medicine.

Now look, I know not everyone feels this way, but my attitude is if I am eating out I should be able to pay 20% or better. If I can’t, and a couple extra dollars is going to break the bank, I should be eating at home. Most people tip 15%, which is the norm, but I have my own rules. Obviously there are different rules for booze, but since don’t drink anymore I am not up to date and don’t want to say anything.

So, for all these reasons and more, if you go out tonight, tip your staff well. I sometimes even write notes on the bill- “Service was great, thank you” or something of the sort.

And yes, I know this sounds strange coming from someone who seems grumpy and angry all the time. That’s internal. I believe in being decent to people in public because being in public is horrible because, well, you are there. And you suck.

Thursday Night Open Thread

Another day with more progress on the house. I didn’t take any pictures because I could not go in all the way, but the area in the front entryway and the livingroom have flooring in, and the flooring should be done except final touches on the molding by Saturday.

I couldn’t go in because I had on my yak trax, which are the most amazing thing on the planet. I still walk gingerly because I am terrified of slipping in the snow/ice, but it is a very confident level of gingerly. I love them.

Even though I can see the end of the renovation in progress, at least the parts when I can move in, my stress levels are at an all time high, because the bills are coming in and I am juggling them. My savings are literally drained. I’d socked away a bunch of money and cruised through all that, and am now just juggling until I can get my VA home equity loan or whatever it is called to pay what remains off and do the last big thing I want to do (a full house natural gas generator so when the power goes out my parents will have a place to stay) and some other things. I’ve never used my VA benefits before so I figured I might as well do it now before Cheeto Benito has our interest rates at Weimar levels or the deregulation frenzy has us in the middle of a worse financial collapse.

Also, I have noticed that the people who show up two weeks later than they said they would are always early with their billing. My favorite are the fuckers who mismeasured my counter, said there was no way to return it, but they would “take care of me.” By taking care of me, they meant sending a contractor out to charge me 500 bucks to fix it, on top of the four hours I had to pay Dean to do extra work to make it fit. The guy from the store called me and said “hey, do you want to stop in and pay this?” I was good and didn’t tell him to go fuck himself, but did tell him “Don’t you all normally mail bills?” He’ll get his money in 30 days of receipt of the bill, and I am deducting the amount the contractor cost. These guys have received 20 grand from me (bought the flooring, paint, cabinets there), and this is how they treat me? Fucking assholes.

At any rate, it’s very stressful. It’s been 20 years since I was in juggling mode as a grad student, and deciding between going to the dentist or doctor or putting gas in the car, and while stressful, I am so grateful that I am one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to live like this all the time. It’s gonna suck for a year or so, but then it will be ok and manageable.

Oddly enough, even with this recent economic anxiety and the fact that I live in WV, I haven’t become racist as all fuck, so maybe all these assholes claiming Trump supporters are economically anxious are just full of shit.

Slim hope open thread

My only hope for the new year is that 2017 is not telling 2016 “hold my beer and watch this…..”


Open thread