Jan 16 2014

Cookie-Cutter Tiny Houses

You know it’s a first world problem when your efforts to curb consumption are co-opted by copycats:

Are tiny houses becoming too “cookie-cutter”?

That’s the fear of Phoenix Vo-Dinh, a tiny-house renter who fears the rise of “miniature McMansions.” And she knows from McMansions: Before her current home, she lived in a Maryland house 10 times its size. The Maryland house had four bedrooms and four bathrooms in its 3,500 square feet, with seven entry doors.

Vo-Dinh now lives with her 24-year-old son, Christopher Lollar, in what she calls a “witch’s cottage” in Portland, Oregon. Its interior walls are papered over with Trader Joe’s grocery bags and pinto bean and flour sacks (coated in linseed oil); the exterior makes use of a local pizzeria’s tomato-sauce cans; and flowerboxes are made from discarded stove hoods turned upside down and poked with drainage holes.


 “In Maryland,” she says, “the size of the house — it was too big! It was a big house with no hiding places in it! It was the weirdest thing. I didn’t know that would happen.

“And this is huge. This is 364 square feet.”

No hiding places. Now that makes me wonder about Ms. Vo-Dinh. And everybody else who thinks tiny houses are the “it” thing. Didn’t they have playhouses or the imagination to create one from blankets and a table when they were children? And just where does she think she’s going to hide from her son in that tiny, though chic and fashionable space?

And what the hell is her son thinking? Perhaps… “Well, Mom is a bit nutty, but she still controls the purse strings. And the apron strings.”

Nov 23 2010

Congratulate The New Mayor

Tag: my family,politicsDonna B. @ 10:28 pm

My dad won!

The turnout for the run-off election was amazing — around 28% of the registered voters showed up and 68% of them voted for my dad! The mayor’s race was the only thing on the ballot.

Nov 13 2010

It’s Just A Small Town Race For Mayor

Tag: my family,politicsDonna B. @ 1:27 am

NOTE: The following is me thinking out loud, organizing my thoughts, and a journal of sorts. This disclaimer is meant to serve as notice that none of the following thoughts are set in concrete. It’s all a learning experience.

My father is running for mayor of his small town for the 2nd time. I wasn’t involved much the first time other than getting a kick out of snagging a hat and a pen with his name on them.

This time my father asked me to help him. And while he truly has nothing but the well-being and survival of the little town he lives in at heart, he was also at a bit of a loss when I asked him just exactly what it was he wanted to accomplish.

I sat across from him in his living room and said “Why do you want to be mayor? Convince me to vote for you.” I made notes of what he said then and asked lots and lots of questions. 

The first time he ran he was facing an incumbent who got enough votes to avoid a run-off. People adjust and anyone proposing to change the status quo faces an uphill battle. Thus, incumbents have an advantage.

This time, there is no incumbent running and there were four people asking the voters to give them the job. Oh wait… because I am totally biased let me rephrase that – there were three people asking for the POSITION and one asking for the job.

To be completely honest, one of those three who asked for the position is thoroughly naive, well-meaning, and would probably have performed decently, if with less competence than needed. I told my Dad several times that if he didn’t win, I hoped this man did.   

Out of the four, my Dad got the most votes – around 38% – but not enough to avoid a run-off with the guy who got around 22% of the vote.

Thus, 40% of the original vote is theoretically up for grabs.  

Let’s backtrack to my question to my Dad: why do you want to be mayor? His first answers were truly political. “I can do a better job.” “I’m more qualified than the other candidates.” “I have experience.”

But… after some not completely pleasant conversations it boiled down to “I want to, and know how to, fix the water, drainage, and street problems.”

AHA! I can work with that. Everybody in town wants those problems solved, so all the candidate has to do is convince the voters that he knows how to and can fix them. Now that we’ve identified the problem to be solved, all I’ve got to do is convince the voters that all those “political” answers are true. This candidate is more qualified, experienced, and can do a better job than the others.

Those issues are also indisputably something local government should be concerned with. 

One of the candidates that did not make the run-off presented himself as a union-affiliated progressive with some (rather unrelated) experience. The other presented himself as more or less a blank slate with limited, but possibly more leadership-related experience. The two in the run-off are more equally matched — neither are progressives or blank slates. They both have experience, though one of them (not my father) also has an easily identifiable financial interest in one aspect of city services.

The two candidates that most prominently campaigned on the city acting to change something are my father and the progressive. Obviously, the greater number of voters think basic infrastructure is the area where action is needed vs. the other’s idea of getting federal grants for beautification. (Of course, I’m not biased… what makes you think that?)

The progressive didn’t make the run-off. My father’s competition in the run-off does have some experience but is unfocused.

As one of the unofficial campaign managers for my father, I’m rather flummoxed on how to appeal to those who voted for the two candidates that didn’t make the run-off.  At the same time, I am thinking that if those who voted for my father show up again, that will be enough.

So… the run-off campaign is more complicated. How do I motivate those who originally voted for my father to turn out again? How do I motivate those who voted for the candidates who didn’t make the run-off to vote for my father instead of his opponent?

The other unofficial campaign manager got unilaterally vetoed on the issue of ever mentioning an opponent in the general election. All the campaign materials focused on the issues of water/drainage/streets and the knowledge/experience to fix those problems.

My gut instinct is to continue that focus. The other unofficial campaign manager is suggesting “politeness” in asking specifically the voters who voted for the two losing candidates for their votes, while thanking those who voted for my father and suggesting that those who voted for his run-off opponent vote “as they wish”.

Can we say “wimpy”? Of course we can. But is that right? Maybe it is gracious instead.

I should also say that I think my father’s success was mostly due to his and his supporters going door to door asking for votes. That tactic really has little to do with issues. Neither of us unofficial campaign managers had anything at all to do with that. (We’re both recluses.) Our focus was on newspaper ads and printed campaign material. AND on getting the candidate to present a coherent and easily repeated message. Oh wait… that was just me.

Bottom line for my father is that my method wins because I’m the only one of his unofficial campaign managers that will provide him with ad copy and campaign materials that he can actually use.

But… I worry that I’m wrong in my methods and way of political thinking. Perhaps my opposing (though less mechanically capable) unofficial campaign manager is right. Are appearances… politeness (in politics???) and personalities more important than issues?

The one thing both unofficial campaign managers agree on is that our candidate would serve the interests of this small town best. He has nothing to personally gain by winning. His status is secure. So is that of his family. And, since it’s a small town, it should be noted that family status is secure regardless which of the two run-off candidates win. It’s not that they are related, but it’s not that they are not unrelated either. If you don’t understand that, you are  not from a small town!

To me, that’s simply one more reason not to mention the other candidate in any campaign materials.

On a purely personal level, I wish my father had never entered this race. I figure he’s got another 10-13 years to live and I selfishly want him spending that time leisurely with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

On the other hand, he wants to do this. He asked for my help. I’ve got to give him my best… and hope that what I think is best (if he agrees) will win. Because he wants to win, I do to.

Oct 01 2010

Campaigning Is Hard

Tag: my family,politicsDonna B. @ 9:30 pm

It is for me anyway — it requires thinking!

I cannot quite imagine the work that goes into a large campaign because the one I’ve been working on is for mayor of a very small town. There are no large events to plan, not much travel (gotta get to the county seat occasionally), and only one reporter to deal with. He’s a nice guy who asks questions by mail, and so far the same ones of each candidate.

It’s all very low key although my father is one of four candidates. Yet even in a small town that one thinks they know a bit about, there’s still research and planning to be done. One of the main questions I needed answered was “Why do you want to be mayor?” After that got distilled down to one or two sentences, it was a little easier to put together some campaign rhetoric.

For a small, low-budget campaign, I don’t think we’ve done too badly. There are signs up, there are campaign cards being distributed, newspaper ads are in the works, and we’re trying this social media thing out. The campaign has a Facebook page and email! It will be very interesting to see what kind of response that gets.

Roland Bush for Mayor

Promote Your Page Too

Aug 29 2010

Only For People From Shreveport

Tag: politics,stupidityDonna B. @ 6:00 pm



Jul 29 2010

Links That Spur Questions And Thought

When theory and fact fail to intersect – Bookworm Room. Political lessons from buildings.

Who Goes Nazi? – The Anchoress, via Assistant Village Idiot. Suggested further reading: The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.

Masterminds or Muddlers? - the glittering eye.

The prototype for a mastermind would be Napoleon, someone who with a combination of brilliance, insight, savvy, guile, and the urge to power was able to bring complicated plans with many moving parts to fruition.

Letting Go: What should medicine do when it can’t save your life? — The New Yorker, by Atul Gawande. And… as I see it, a complete misunderstanding of that article by Megan McArdle and most of her commentariat. That misunderstanding is further displayed in this McArdle post:  Does Medicaid Kill? Though not easy to identify, there are multiple points where medicine becomes harmful rather than helpful. Part of this has to do with the way we evaluate drugs — by choosing an endpoint (ie, blood pressure reduction) without evaluating whether that leads to longer life, much less the quality of that life.

That’s enough deep thought for a while. I will now return to my regularly scheduled whining, ranting, silliness, and non-blogging.

Jul 01 2010

What A Novel Idea!

Tag: nostalgia,politicsDonna B. @ 8:33 pm

The Assistant Village Idiot overhears some original thinking. Fancy that.

Jan 29 2010

Dadgum Furriners

Tag: politicsDonna B. @ 6:41 pm

How dare they interfere with our politics? Why… there oughta be a law!

Of course there is a law saying foreign nationals do not have all the rights of political free speech granted to natives, both corporeal and corporate. And despite what some (our President, for example) are saying, the recent Supreme Court ruling doesn’t say that restriction is unconstitutional.

But… I have long had misgivings about interference of simple speech, ie speech not directly tied to a cash contribution, in our political shenanigans. For example, I thought the Guardian’s Operation Clark County was astoundingly arrogant, but not illegal.

In this same light, I felt it both legal and “OK” to express my desire that Scott Brown beat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race. I did not feel that it was right for me to donate money to him. I’m not a Massachusetts resident — I am a foreigner to Massachusetts. (on several levels!)

While I am completely comfortable with the idea that cash — however generated — enables free speech, I’m not comfortable with cash from outside the boundaries of the election. I would be highly irritated if Bossier City residents poured money into the campaigns of Shreveport mayoral candidates, for example.

I’m not entirely comfortable with Lech Walesa openly campaigning within this country in a governor’s race also. He’s definitely a foreign national and he’s raising money for a candidate in a U.S. race? That does not set well with me.

But, more importantly… is it legal?

Jan 28 2010

Alito Mouths Truth To Perversity

Tag: legalities,politicsDonna B. @ 9:43 pm

It is appalling that President Obama, with his background, cannot — or refuses — to speak accurately about a Supreme Court decision:

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.

Full text of 2009 State Of The Union address

Alito’s reaction

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (pdf)

You know my opinion. Read and view the above links and decide for yourself.

Jan 27 2010

“A Permanent State Of Election”

Tag: politicsDonna B. @ 1:37 am

“…it’s as if we’re politically stuck in a permanent state of election. A political priapism. The United States of Viagra or something. The “they” run for office, the more “we” run. Against them! And the more I wasnt to run. Away”

Yup. I often feel as if I should blog more about politics but when I get that feeling and look into it a bit, I’m repulsed. Plus, I usually (always) find another blog or article where someone else has written essentially what I am thinking much better than I could write it.

However, one thing I am disgusted with is blind partisanship and I haven’t really seen a lot written about that. The fact that Coakley — arguably the worst senate candidate from any state in decades — got as many votes as she did can only (in my mind) attributed to a willful blindness. See here.

Jan 19 2010

Coakley Concedes!

Tag: politicsDonna B. @ 8:37 pm

Jan 17 2010

It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Votes

Tag: politicsDonna B. @ 4:02 pm

I was thrilled by the possibility that Scott Brown might win the special election for Senator from Massachusetts… now it’s beginning to be a bit more thrilling: it’s looking probable.

It’s hard to imagine a worse candidate than Martha Coakley for any office. Even her defenders are having a hard time with her record. See this question and answer post at Bitch Ph.D.: Just Doing My Job?  

It’s almost enough to render me speechless, but not quite.

Basically, a reader of that blog wants to feel better about having decided to vote for Coakley, but can’t quite dismiss Coakley’s insistence on keeping an innocent man in jail. Basically, M. LeBlanc answers that all prosecutors do that so don’t worry about it.

So, what’s the moral status of advocating that someone who is likely innocent remain in prison? It’s a tough question.

Is that a tough question for my few dear readers?

Usually when you hear a lot of bad stuff about a political candidate, someone on his/her political team comes out screaming “it’s not true”. But that isn’t the case here. Coakley’s supporters are acknowledging some pretty awful acts and inactions, yet voting for her simply because… because why?

Does partisanship trump morals? Ethics? Everything? If so, we are truly doomed.

Dec 22 2009

A Lump Of Coal

Tag: politics,stupidityDonna B. @ 7:12 pm

That’s what the Senate seems prepared to give the American public for Christmas this year. It’s as if they know we might need it to keep us warm next winter. Too bad about that global warming and all.

Nov 19 2009

A Complaint Free World?

Tag: political correctness,politics,stupidityDonna B. @ 12:31 am

Touted as a revenue neutral proposal, Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) is pushing for 1% of the world’s population (approx. 60 million people) to become ‘complaint free’. The day before Thanksgiving is to be the ‘Complaint Free’ Day.

Read it all here.

I am SO glad I got all the complaining out of my system earlier this week. But just in case something else comes up, I have a week left to complain.

Am I the only person who now feels compelled to complain about something through Nov. 25th?

Oct 17 2009

Good Morning Dear Reader!

Tag: brains,grandchildren,politics,Shreveport/LouisianaDonna B. @ 4:23 am

Having just awakened from one of my infamous 15 hour naps, I find I have nothing important to say. I know that surprises you.

Get used to it, OK? Even the President has mostly nothing important to say. What I lack is his ability to say nothing eloquently.

What could possibly be said meaningfully or eloquently about poor Meghan McCain’s twitter castastrophe… and why is everyone so upset that she has boobs? I have boobs. Some people are boobs. Boobs are ubiquitous, right? Then… the feminist side of me jumps up screaming why are boobs associated with foolishness and ignorance, er… I mean dumb and blonde?

Is there an actual association between hair color and boob size? Or is there an association between women of average or better intelligence who happen to be blonde and have big boobs who have “made hay” of a perceived link?

As a big-boobed blonde of above average IQ who has given birth to a redhead, blonde, and brunette of above average IQ (and I won’t comment either on the boob size or gender…) I gotta ask… does penis size correlate with IQ? Is smaller smarter?

If I remember correctly, women with bigger boobs have more trouble breastfeeding than to do women with smaller ones. In some way this makes a lot of sense since lower primates and mammals do not develop big boobs. So is this smaller breast size and greater ability to breastfeed a sign of greater evolution or a sign of the productivity of lesser evolution?

At what point in human evolution did the appearance and associated utility of mammary development become  important? If only nourishment of the next generation were considered, small breasts with large nipples would be the norm.

Where did humans go ‘wrong’ in their preference? And did males have anything to do with it?

And what are we to do with the incredibly stupid JP in Tangipahoa Parish who will not marry “mixed” race couples?  It’s fairly obvious that this man opposes only black/white marriages. How would he decide on an Asian/Caucasian marriage or on an Native American/Caucasian marriage? An Hispanic/Caucasian marriage?

While we are given little information on his opinions of “mixed race” marriages not of the black/white type, I am not reluctant to “guess” at his opinion of other mixed “race” types.

And… once again, I am compelled to remember my sharing of photos of grandchildren with a black woman. Her grandson had blue eyes and blonde hair while my granddaughter had black hair, near black eyes and “much darker than white” skin.

It’s rather ironic that my caucasian genes might lower the IQ of my Asian granddaughter and that the caucasian genes might raise the IQ of the black woman’s grandson… theoretically, at least…

And while we’re thinking about racism and it’s incomprehensible negative effects, do not forget those who think that Barack Obama’s black heritage is of a higher intelligence than those whose black heritage is through slavery.

There is a cognitive dissonance thing going on among those who think Obama’s blackness is more “pure” because he is descended from an “actual” African and those who think his “African” descendance is less pure than an American African descendant.

Frankly, as “post-racialist” I think it matters not at all. He chooses the background that most helps his agenda. Unfortunately, his lack of understanding of history confuses him in identifying his agenda.

Sep 30 2009

Loony Left Meets Deranged Right

Tag: military,politicsDonna B. @ 12:08 pm

Gore Vidal: We’ll have a dictatorship soon in the US. You have to get to the 13th paragraph to find he actually said a “military” dictatorship.

Hmm… where else did I read about the military taking over the U.S. today? That’s right, Newsmax, as noted here at Memeorandum. But even Newsmax columnist, John L. Perry, didn’t say that it was a sure thing like Vidal, but just that is wasn’t “unrealistic.”

Via Villianous Company, where Cassandra apparently has a stronger stomach than I, as she appears to have actually read Perry’s column:

There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem.” Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic.

To further quote Cassandra:  “All right, moron. I won’t call it unrealistic. How does batsh*t crazy strike you?” I couldn’t agree more and the same applies to Gore Vidal.

But… back to Vidal’s interview and something even a bit more batshit crazy:

Vidal raises his fingers to signify a gun and mutters: “Bang bang.” He is referring to the possibility of Obama being assassinated. “Just a mysterious lone gunman lurking in the shadows of the capital,” he says in a wry, dreamy way.

Now that’s holy batshit crazy.

Cui bono? Should Obama die in office (even if of natural causes) it will be the left and their policies which would most likely benefit. That would assure his status as hero, martyr, or both. It would assure no Republican president for at least 8 years, probably more.

UPDATE: It’s possible this post should be titled “Loony Left Meets Loonier Left”.  John L. Perry, the author of the now-removed Newsmax article worked on the White House staffs of both LBJ and Carter.

Aug 17 2009

Open Carry

Tag: gunsDonna B. @ 9:40 pm

One thing, and one thing only IMHO, is promoting the idea of open carrying of firearms and that is an attempt to lessen the fear of people who own firearms.

Of course, I could be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time.

The shock and horror of some people when they see a firearm is what has spurred this movement. It’s an attempt to debunk the idea that anyone who owns or carries a gun is a domestic terrorist.

It is a backlash against years of scare-mongering from the media. The question of whether one should do something merely because they legally can is somewhat (not entirely) mitigated by concerted efforts of those who desire to remove legality from the action.

Aug 14 2009

Mulch For The Tree Of Liberty

Tag: guns,History,humor,Responsibility,wordsDonna B. @ 10:56 am

Mulch for The Tree Of Liberty

unidentified, first-time shooter trying out various handguns

UPDATE: What does mulch do?

  • Retains water
  • Inhibits weed growth
  • Moderates temperature
  • Prevents erosion

Jul 22 2009

A Comparison of Conservative and Liberal Thought

Tag: History,politicsDonna B. @ 10:47 am

The Liberal

A month or so ago, I got involved in several discussions over on ScienceBlogs in which conservatives were maligned rather harshly by other commenters. So I asked one of them to define what he meant by “conservative” and he directed me to his blog’s Ideology archives.

Obviously some of the entries are simply political snark and Coturnix of A Blog Around The Clock is a prolific blogger. He refers to George Lakoff’s books, particularly Moral Politics, very often. I haven’t read that book. After having read so much of Coturnix’s writing about it, I’m tempted, but then wonder if I’d just be bored.

I’ve chosen what I hope are representative posts of this one liberal’s idea of conservatism. Note that neither the author nor I have made any attempt to organize these in a manner of one thought flowing to another. They are basically chronological, which is fitting. Some of the following links go to a previous blog written by Coturnix. 

Regressives: What Should We Call Them? – March 28, 2005
Moral Order - June 23, 2006
Nurturant is not Coddly! – July 21, 2006
Why Creationists Need To Be Creationists - July 26, 2006 (see last comment for links to updates)

The Conservative

Assistant Village Idiot has thoughtfully arranged links to his series of posts on the roots of liberalism here. I cannot thank him enough because that makes finishing this post so easy on me.

Jun 14 2009

Off The Cuff Thinking

Tag: politicsDonna B. @ 10:17 pm

Are there two distinct “political” or “worldview” tendencies based on biology?

The current Democratic and Republican parties do not define either liberalism or conservatism in terms other than the liklihood of re-election. The political parties exist only for their own self-interests, the public’s interest be damned.

The political parties are too self-centered to actually realize and put into play what might actually work in their interest because of the “public be damned” attitude of both.

The two party system has rendered “the house divided” a reality.

Both parties have doubled down on their ill-considered bets and the house will win.

But what is the house betting on? It’s safe to say the house is betting on both losing, but when the house wins, who wins? My guess is ultimately nobody because that is who the house ultimately represents… if all have placed their bets on one side or the other.

What happens to those who didn’t bet? These are the ultimate losers. Or, if some definition of political unity could be written, they would be the ultimate winners… and as such could lessen the penalty of the losses on the extremes.

So perhaps the middle — those who do not place a bet — are the ultimate winners. And because they are, those who did place a bet will not suffer the extreme punishment of winner take all.

Why and how could this be so? Precisely because the middle bet simultaneously that the extremes were both right and wrong. The only way is for one or the other of the extremes to be completely correct. How likely is that?

It’s not very likely because the extremes are, in reality, very similar. Let us take for example the extreme ID view that all reality was created at once and universal truths can therefore never change AND the opposite extreme view that reality is always changing and that there are no universal truths.

At least, I think these views are presented as opposite. Is that correct?Opposites are very unique things in that they have nothing in common and when combined yield something neutral.  It is only by accepting grey as the outcome of all colors that opposites make sense.

Thus grey would be the color of utopia, would it not? It is, as well, the color of moderation. Therefore there might be a connection between moderation and utopia. Is it as much a fantasy to wish for a moderate world, accepting of all as it is to wish for one ruled by either liberal or conservative values? Which of the three would be the worst? The second worst?

Is the thing most wrong with the middle is that it lacks conviction and the fire of certainty? Is that lack what makes it appealing to some?

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