Monday, November 29, 2010

Mr. Vacation's Facebook-based Holiday Report

For the non-Facebookers in the crowd, here is my report on "How I Misspent the Last Nine Days," courtesy of a selection of my Facebook postings:


John Magee Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Vacation is in the house for the next *nine* days! November 20 at 12:15pm

John Magee has updated his Profile Picture
November 20 at 2:07pm


Lisa Serniuk Eeeeeeeeemmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Beer!
November 20 at 2:31pm

John Magee Thus peace.
November 20 at 3:39pm

Lisa Serniuk Is it time for more peace yet?
November 20 at 5:01pm

John Magee Cue the music: All we are saaaaaying .... is give peace a chaaance.
November 20 at 10:55pm


John Magee Oh, Lions. *That* was bad. That was really, really bad.
November 21 at 2:54pm

John Magee And so was *that*.
November 21 at 2:57pm

John Magee Oh, no ... and especially *that*. Wow was *that* bad.
November 21 at 2:57pm

John Magee Why must the wheels all fall off so fast and all at once with this team? November 21 at 3:00pm

John Magee Aaaaaand here come two consecutive *HORRIBLE* calls by the refs.... November 21 at 3:25pm

John Magee ‎... and there's the Dallas TD, proving me right for starting Miles Austin on my fantasy team. Monique has had enough. She just retreated to the garage to look for the sweaters she boxed up last Spring.
November 21 at 3:28pm


John Magee Mr. Vacation's a wild man. He just put *two* habañero peppers in the big pot of chili that he's cooking.
November 21 at 7:37pm


John Magee That's right, peeps, Mr. Vacation slept in 'til 10 am on this rainy Monday morning. Now I'm flopped on the couch with a nice, big stack of books.
November 22 at 10:46am


John Magee Today, on "The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Vacation!" ... Mr. Vacation eats a bowl of cereal, reads the (virtual) morning papers, has a big mug of coffee, and then -- in a burst of caffeine-inspired frenzy -- begins to make a grocery shopping list for Thanksgiving.
November 23 at 10:47am


John Magee This morning's Mr. Vacation adventure? I'm watching "Match Game '75" and reading the (virtual) paper.
November 24 at 10:58am via iPhone

Natalie Mark Kamenias Kali mera that is greek for good morning. there must be a big sag hole in the couch by now. ... Katy Beagle must be in hog heaven-someone home and on the couch all day. A dog fantasy. Share ur treats with her.
November 24 at 12:14pm

Natalie Mark Kamenias ps via iphone-you are such a slug you can't even make to the computer keyboard???
November 24 at 12:14pm

John Magee Fortunately, Katie the Beagle and I swap couch positions on occasion, so as to ensure even wear. The keyboard was a good dozen feet away. It's an outrage to suggest that Mr. Vacation should move that far before noon.

No book today, though.... After lunch I had to go fetch the turkey from Roperti's Turkey Farm in Livonia (26 pounds for four people and one beagle ... I may have overdone it) and a couple of bottles of mead. Work, work, work.
November 24 at 3:30pm

Mary Campbell-Droze Match Game '70s!! My all-time favorite game show.
November 24 at 5:50pm


John Magee Mr. Vacation is feeling like a bit of a dunce today because he forgot he was supposed to meet some friends for drinks last night. One freaking item on my social schedule for the entire week, and I forgot about it. Four days into my staycationing my brain may have already proceeded beyond rest to achieve genuine atrophy.
November 24 at 3:32pm

Steve Mace "Are you here for "Coping With Senility?" -- "No. I'm here for "Microwave Cookery" ... No, wait, "Coping With Senility".

~Jasper Beardly, The Simpsons
November 24 at 4:00pm

John Magee Who are you whippersnappers? And why won't you get off my lawn?!
November 24 at 4:15pm


John Magee Katie the Beagle thinks I should be feeding her andouille sausage stuffing instead of looking at Facebook. She's rather insistent about it.
November 24 at 5:30pm

Sheila Nason Cady the Lab wants to come visit and help her eat it.
November 25 at 12:01am

John Magee Katie eventually gave up, but the smells drove her to such a frenzy that she chewed on her rawhide bone for about an hour.
November 25 at 1:36am

Natalie Mark Kamenias give the pup some fancy sausage don't be so selfish
November 25 at 2:54am

John Magee I gave her a bit of a cheesie, what more could she want?

Fret not, Katie the Beagle fans. She'll do okay before this day is over.
November 25 at 10:19am


John Magee Breaking Thanksgiving Eve news: Two mincemeat pies, done; one chocolate-pecan pie, done in ten minutes; two pumpkin pies, prepped and ready to go in the oven.
November 24 at 7:39pm


John Magee Turkey in the oven: 10:08 am.
November 25 at 10:20am

John Magee ... a bit past its intended start time because I forgot to cook up the gizzard and liver for the stuffing when I started prepping it this morning.
November 25 at 10:21am

Natalie Mark Kamenias How could you forget that you nit wit. If you want a really good bird here is my secret ingredient-BEER. Dump a can o beer over the bird before you put it in the oven. OK I admit beer is my secret ingredient in everything. It gives great flavor and adds a bit of stickyness. throw on a few spoons o honey and it is bliss.
November 25 at 10:30am

Derek Lamport That bird isn't getting a drop of beer around my place.
November 25 at 11:27am


John Magee Breaking Thanksgiving News! 12:13 pm: Katie the Beagle tallies her first score of the day, some chopped up skin and meat from the turkey neck.
November 25 at 12:14pm

Natalie Mark Kamenias Give the damn dog the whole neck you skin flint!!!!
November 25 at 1:48pm


John Magee As Arsen and Brigitte arrive we have turkey odors wafting through the house; five pies standing ready; deviled eggs, olives, cheesies, chips, and salsa on the table; and the Lions winning at halftime. I'd say this Thanksgiving is shaping up nicely.
November 25 at 1:59pm

Pamela Tolleson I hope your Detroit Lions dont let me down...want them to win today
November 25 at 2:05pm

John Magee Oh, I wouldn't advise *expecting* anything out of the Lions. That way can only lie disappointment.
November 25 at 2:28pm

John Magee Well, okay, I have to admit that I expected *THAT* out of the Lions in the second half. Alas, they didn't disappointment me.
November 25 at 4:28pm


John Magee Thanksgiving update -- At 4:16 pm the turkey came out of the oven and was declared to be "delicious."
November 25 at 4:27pm


John Magee Curled up on the couch with Katie the Beagle, a tummy full of turkey-and-stuffing sandwiches, a pile of books, and the Michigan high school football championship games on the tube. Not too shabby.
Friday, November 26 at 1:58pm via iPhone


[Then on Sunday, November 28, a bazillionty birthday well-wishes suddenly appeared on my Facebook wall. Thanks, everybody!]


John Magee Mr. Vacation has enjoyed a splendidly lazy day today as I finished off this week of staycationing by ... well, by doing absolutely nothing: eating Thanksgiving leftovers, watching football, and fiddling with the new Kindle that Monique gave me for my birthday.
Sunday, November 28 at 11:28 pm


John Magee Mr. No-Longer-On-Vacation Report: Whittling down the ol' e-mail pile after my splendid little break. I've deleted 143 e-mails so far today.
5 hours ago

Marti Bush HA HA HA... and how many did you actually do something with?
5 hours ago

John Magee Today's final count of progress on the e-mails that came in while I was away: deleted, 163; still unread, 73; read and acted upon, 77.
28 minutes ago

Marti Bush HA HA HA
22 minutes ago

Indy Sings the Week 12 Blues ...

Our Colts-granddaughter-beagle haiku correspondent reports on the Lion-esque performance from Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts on national TV last night:

San Diego Picked a Peck of Peyton Poopers

MVP 5 waves
Bye-bye, but Kaylee learns to
Wave hello. (Kate wags.)

--Mary Campbell-Droze

Monday, November 22, 2010

Colts-Beagle-Grandaughter Haiku: Week 11

Peyton Manning and his teammates weren't the only ones dismayed by Indy's performance in New England yesterday. Today our Colts-Beagle-Granddaughter haikuist recommends a remedy for Colt fans still suffering from yesterday's drubbing.

'The AFC-ville Horror'

Ghosts of '03 haunt
The Colts. Kate and Kaylee make
Great sports exorcists!

--Mary Campbell-Droze

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just a wee thought I had at lunchtime today...

The best reason to do something in a democracy: it works, and it doesn't compromise our core values.

The worst reason to do something in a democracy: it doesn't work, but it does pander to our political base.

There must be a lot of room in between to figure out stuff we can all do together that make things better.

EDIT (11/21): corrected the second line above to more closely represent what I was trying to say.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another 50-Questions Thingie from Facebook

Yup, it's another one of those Facebook 50-questions thingies, this one courtesy of John "Tank" Davis. You know the rules. If you write up one of your own, please post it (or a link to it) in the comments below, so that I can see what you wrote.

1. What time did you get up this morning?
8:30 am.

2. How do you like your steak?
Medium rare.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
The "It Came from Outer Space!" in 3D and "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" Halloween double-header at the Redford Theater.

4. What are your favorite TV shows?
Current: The Daily Show, 30 Rock, Mad Men
All-time: Star Trek: The Original Series, M*A*S*H, Twilight Zone.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
On a lake in the Adirondacks most of the year, as long as I could escape to various sub-tropical and tropical places in the Winter. (Living on a lake in Michigan isn't a bad backup plan, though!)

6. What did you have for breakfast?
Cinnamon-flavored instant oatmeal.

7. What is your favorite cuisine?
Mexican or Italian. Or French. Or Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Indian....

8. What foods do you dislike?
Liver, though I'm okay with pâté and liverwurst.

9. Favorite Place to Eat?
Our lakeside porch in the summertime.

10. Favorite salad dressings?
Italian, Thousand Island, Blue Cheese.

11. What kind of vehicle do you drive?
2008 Honda Civic Hybrid, 2000 Dodge Dakota pickup.

12. What are your favorite clothes?
Jeans and a flannel shirt (winter), shorts and a tank top (summer).

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?
New Zealand.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?

15. Where would you want to retire?
Either here or the Adirondacks, though I'd snowbird to someplace warm during the winter.

16. Favorite time of day?

17. Where were you born?
Inglewood, California.

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?
Football, rugby, baseball.

19. Who do you think will not tag you back?
No idea.

20. Person you expect to tag you back first?
No idea.

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this?
Everybody. I always like these little quizzy things.

22. Bird watcher?
Yes, both at our bird feeder and out front in the lake. For a few years I did the waterfowl counts for our village.

23. Are you a morning person or a night person?
Night owl.

24. Pets?
Katie the Beagle!

25. Any new and exciting news that you'd like to share?
I received the top # of votes in our Village Council election, and was also then re-elected by the council as our Village President for the next two years.

26. What did you want to be when you were little?
An astronaut or a pro football player. (Well, at first a jockey, but then the odds of me staying under 100 pounds became clear.)

27. What is your best childhood memory?
Summers on Loon Lake.

28. Are you a cat or dog person?
Dog, but I like cats, too.

29. Are you married?

30. Always wear your seat belt?

31. Favorite kind of music?
Classic rock. I also like folk, classical, and jazz.

32. Any pet peeves?
Cable "news".

33. Favorite pizza topping?
Peppers, especially with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and onion.

34. Favorite Flower?
Beds of phlox in the Summertime.

35. Favorite ice cream?
Chocolate soft-serve.

36. Favorite Fast Food Restaurant?

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test?

38. Who did you get your last email from?
Work: Michael Burggren
Village: Sharon Miller
Personal: Ray Brace

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit ?
None. Good heavens, I hope to *never* max out my credit anywhere! I do, however, like our local comic-book shop (Comic City in Novi) and visit them every Wednesday. So, I'll use this space to give them a plug.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?
Nothing big. Lots of little things.

41. Like your job?

42. Broccoli?

43. What was your favorite vacation?
Hard to say ... a lot of good ones. Usually my favorite vacation is the *next* one, since planning and anticipation are a lot of the fun.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with?
Monique. (Mexican food a few Fridays ago.)

45. What are you listening to right now?
Assorted office noises.

46. What is your favorite color(s)?

47. How many tattoos do you have?

48. Coffee drinker?
Yes, with cream (usually milk) and no sugar.

49. How many children do you have?

50. How old were you when you lost your virginity?
MYOB, you nosy questionnaire!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review Ragout Meets Frankenstein

It's been several weeks since I've inflicted some reviews of my 2010 reading list on you all. So let's catch up some, shall we? The reading has been quite good lately...

--Scott Pilgrim, Vols. 5 & 6, by Bryan Lee O'Malley - We begin with a quick mention that I finished off the Scott Pilgrim series with volumes 5 and 6 -- Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe (2009) and Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour (2010). I don't have much to add about the series beyond what I wrote in the August roundup but the final two books were both great fun and lived up to the earlier volumes. I highly recommend the series, and I'm really looking forward to catching the movie when it finally hits Netflix.

If you do want to read the Scott Pilgrim books, you should definitely start with Volume 1, Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life. The whole thing'll make a lot more sense that way. At least, it'll make about as much sense as it's going to make.

Next up: two Nero Wolfe novels:

--Prisoner's Base (1952) by Rex Stout
--If Death Ever Slept (1957) by Rex Stout

This was simply further continuation of my habitual re-reading of the adventures of my favorite fat detective. These two novels come from the peak of the series in the 1950s. There's really no need for me to recount the plots here. Both are great reads and strong entries, but if you've never read a Nero Wolfe novel, and would like to try one, I'd say that Prisoner's Base might be a slightly better bet. It's really one of the best of the entire series.

--The Windup Girl (2009) by Paolo Bacigalupi

Well, whaddya know? I bought the novel that would go on to win the 2010 Hugo six months before it won the Hugo this year. Alas, I didn't get around to reading it until now. (Okay, technically it co-won the Best Novel Hugo with China Mieville's The City & the City after a rare tie. It's still a winner)

I'm glad I finally did pick this back up off my pile, since it's well worth the read. Bacigalupi creates a truly amazing and complex post-peak-oil world in the brutal Bangkok of a hundred years or more from now: an environmental-police state of carbon limits and vast swaths of genetically engineered plagues and foods from the calorie companies that rule the world. The "Windup Girl" herself is Emiko, a beautiful genetically engineered servant/sex toy left behind to fend for herself in a city in which genetically engineered "New People" are illegal.

The last hundred or so pages of this book thunder down the tracks with great speed, plot turns, and revelations. Unfortunately, the first 250 or so pages of set-up are hampered by slow pacing, a lack of sympathetic characters, and a couple of truly brutal scenes. If you pick it up, my advice is to enjoy the scenery as Bacigalupi builds his world in the first 2/3 of the book. Rest assured, it's all going somewhere.

--The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It'd been a couple of decades since I last read Gatsby, and I was curious to see what I'd think about it with the benefit of a couple of decades of perspective -- especially the experience of having lived through our own Gilded Age when I was in Silicon Valley during the boom.

Yup, it's still a great book, and it just gets better with age. Most people read Gatsby while they're in high school or college, but so much of the book is about regrets for choices made early in life that I found that reading it at a later stage in my own life really deepened it for me. If you haven't read it in a couple of decades or more, you might want to give it another whirl.

I could type on and on about Gatsby at this point (as I did in many an English class in college ... really, by the time I finally graduated I could crank out a 12-page Gatsby paper before most students finished Chapter 1) but instead of going on for pages about Gatsby, I'd rather mention something to you that hasn't had millions of pages already written about it and that could use the plug:

--Knights of the Dinner Table: The Bag Wars Saga by Jolly R. Blackburn, Brian Jelke, Steve Johansson, and David S. Kenzer.

This graphic novel collects up a long-running thread in strips from the Knights of the Dinner Table (KODT) comic book over the last 15 years, The Bag Wars Saga. However, it's not a strict reprint. It instead collects up all of the old Bag Wars material, adds 35 pages of new material to it, and gives new artwork to all of it. The result makes a great graphic novel: complex, readable, fun, and very funny.

For those who have never read Knights of the Dinner Table, the comic tracks a batch of friends as they play Hackmaster -- their version of Dungeons & Dragons -- over the years. (Here's a link to an overall KODT review that I wrote last year.) One of the most noteworthy things about this comic is that while the artwork of most D&D-based comics are chock full of dwarves, dragons, and demons, KODT mostly just shows four or five people sitting around a table talking and rolling dice.

The real action takes place in their heads, and by extension in our heads as well, and this mechanism somehow perfectly captures that role-playing game spirit.

Part of what makes The Bag Wars Saga so extraordinary is that it starts out with a small side-joke in the game when the players stash a platoon of soldiers in their "Bag of Hefty Capacity," then forget about them for several years. Needless to say, Sergeant Barringer and his men are not amused.

Hilarity ensues, as worlds within bags within worlds within games collide.

If you've never read KODT, this makes a great jumping-on volume. Give it a try!

Two NFL Haiku Today

The first comes from the Indianapolis Colts fan, and cleverly incorporates the ridiculous cuteness of a granddaughter and a beagle:

Haiku makes for weird sports cheers

Indy sits at six-
and-three! What beats that? Our grand-
baby! A-a-a-a-a-and: Katie!!

--Mary Campbell-Droze

The second comes from me, after watching yet another Lions loss, this time to the 0-8 Buffalo Bills:

Seventeen Syllables of Detroit Lions Football

Oh, God, make it stop!
Aaagh, my eyes! My eyes! The pain!
They're horrible! Ugh.

--John Magee

Friday, November 12, 2010

...And the Week 9 Haiku Staggers in Like a 3rd-String Player

Colts "Balsawood Boys"
Get battered. Kate and Kaylee
Ease Bowl hopes shattered.

--Mary Campbell-Droze

Rest assured that Mary's pay has been substantially docked for the unseemly tardiness of this week's Colts-Beagle-Granddaughter haiku.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Restful Weekend

Sigh. There was so much I should've done during the weekend just past, since I've spent so much of the past several weekends working on the campaign and setting other things to the side. Alas, this is all that I did:

--Enjoyed a lovely martini on Friday evening. (Enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I had another one on Saturday evening!)
--Wrote a post-election blog post
--Had a lovely lunch with Monique, Arsen, and Brigitte
--Bought a much-needed new pair of gloves
--Re-read "The Great Gatsby"
--Watched "The Wolf Man" (1941, with Lon Chaney, Jr.)
--Read several sections of the Sunday New York Times
--Pulled the rowboat and the boat lift from the lake
--Watched the Lions snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Ugh!
--Watched a good "Masterpiece Mystery" (The Inspector Lewis series) off the DVR
--Washed a few dishes

... and that's about it, really.

When your list of "accomplishments" includes two martinis and "The Wolf Man", I think it's safe to say that vast world-beating achievements may have been scarce.

I concede that I may have needed a restful weekend, which is just what I had. Now I need to get the gearshift out of "N" and back into drive, since a busy week looms!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Few Thoughts about Tuesday's Election and What the Next Two Years Will Bring

Let's start on a cheerful note. It's hard to be too down about an election in which I received the highest number of votes in my own race, so let's start with the Village of Wolverine Lake results:

--John A. Magee, 923 (4-year term)
--Linda Champagne, 858 (4-year term)
--Pamela Kaznecki, 780 (4-year term)
--Brian Nedrow, 748 (2-year term)
--Ron Cumbo, 662

It's truly an honor to have been the top vote recipient both times I have run for a council seat.

Like any politician who did well in his election, I shall now claim a mandate.

I believe that the outcome of our village election reflects an expression of confidence in the way that I have led the village for the last four years. I've tried very hard to keep our focus on facts and solving problems; to ensure that as a council we work well and respectfully among ourselves and with the village employees; and to improve our relations with our neighboring governments, so that we can get more done together. I think that approach has been proven to work for the betterment of the village during a very difficult time, and that my vote total above is a statement from the village residents that they want me to keep on the same path.

And so I shall continue to work to solve our problems with courteous, civil, fact-based governance.

At a state level, I'm not sure I've got a lot to say right now. It was a total Republican sweep of the governorship, the state house, a supermajority in the state senate, and the state supreme court. As you all know, I'm a Democrat and have expressed some pretty sincere doubts about the math and the lack of detail that most of those Republican candidates used during the campaign. Our state government in Michigan has been bitterly gridlocked for the last decade as deep partisan differences kept us from seeing real action on the huge problems of this state. Now we'll get to see if the Republicans can make it work, since they have 100% control of the mechanisms of government.

I truly hope they can make it work because this state is in dire need of improvement. I wish them well.

Where I'm most discouraged is at the national level, where all I can see coming out of this election is two years of bitter partisanship. And so there, rather than taking on detailed analysis of the races, the exit polls, the electorate, etc. -- and haven't enough Internet electrons already been sacrificed those topics? -- I'd like to write a bit on why I'm so glum about what I think we'll see for the next two years.

I think there were two things that really, truly mattered during this election:

1) Republican moderates took a severe beating from Tea Party candidates during the primary season, while moderate Democrats took a severe beating at the polls on Tuesday. As a result, it looks to me as if very few genuine moderate votes will be left in the next Congress, while both party caucuses are going to swing heavily towards their base for the next two years.

2) Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's "Rally to Restore Sanity" was by far the largest political gathering and rally of the last year. Three days before the election more than 200,000 people showed up on the Washington mall, most of them in support of this "political" position: "We're tired of our elected representatives putting their partisan battles ahead of fixing the genuine problems in this country." And then we went out and elected the most bitterly partisan and extreme Congress of our lifetimes.

So what happened? And why -- if we can accomplish civil, reasonable, fact-based governance in Wolverine Lake, Michigan -- can't we seem to accomplish the same things at the state or federal level? My own two cents is that while the 24/7 "news" cycle and vast gobs of unregulated campaign cash have worsened the problem and need to be fixed, the root of the problem in Congress stems not from whom we choose to represent districts. The root of the problem lies in how we draw the districts themselves.

As redistricting methods have grown more sophisticated the gerrymander has greatly contributed to increasing partisanship and extremism in legislative bodies at the local, state, and federal level. This happens because sophisticated gerrymanders carve out a large number of "safe" districts in which the real election becomes the party primary that selects the safe party's candidate.

Why have moderates disappeared from Congress, state legislatures, and county boards? The gerrymander is the mechanism that has squeezed them out. Lawmakers who are no longer are accountable to the center of the political spectrum have stopped responding to the center of the political spectrum.

When a single party controls the gerrymander they carve as many seats as possible for themselves by putting the opposition party in overwhelmingly safe districts while carving out a larger number of districts that lean in their direction. (That will be the case in Michigan, for example, where the Republicans will be able to unilaterally draw all of the federal and state districts because of their victories on Tuesday.) When control of redistricting is split between two parties, the overall number of seats that go to each party is more balanced; however, incumbents on both sides carve out as many safe districts as possible for themselves. Again, this greatly increases the number of legislators who need only appeal to their party's base to win a primary election. Either way, moderate lawmakers are squeezed out as moderate districts are eliminated, and what used to be a substantial swing vote needed to pass legislation has mostly disappeared.

The replacement of so many "blue dog" Democrats with Tea Party Republicans on Tuesday doesn't bode well for the restoration of moderation and civility in the House of Representatives. As for the Senate, since Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said immediately after the election that the top priority of Senate Republicans would be the defeat of Obama in 2012, I think I can safely forecast two years of bitter partisan gridlock their.

In a country with as many important problems as we have, I wish I could say that I expect both parties to sit down together, work with the facts, and find practical solutions to our problems. Sadly, I have absolutely no expectation of anything other than two years of partisan wrangling and posing in anticipation of the 2012 Presidential election.

Worse yet, I expect most of the tattered remnants of American journalism to engage in two more years of verbal cockfighting instead of factual reporting. The gerrymander may have killed the moderate bloc in Congress, but cable "news" dug the grave and cheered the firing squad. And yes, the entire shindig was funded by vast uncontrolled, unreported, untrackable gobs of money donated by special interests whose only interest in the system is their own benefit, no matter what the cost to the rest of us.

In two years one party or the other will lose, but what I fear is that in the two years until then, all of us will lose as real problems go unsolved.

Not a very cheerful thought, I suppose.

But maybe it gets us to the heart of our problems. Our biggest problem as a nation right now isn't a matter of who is winning or losing elections. Our problem is that our electoral process itself has become badly damaged by gerrymandering that leaves the majority of Americans feeling that they aren't represented by the outcome of our elections. We need to fix a broken electoral process if we expect to elect politicians who will focus on fixing our problems. In the next few weeks I'll try to have a few more thoughts on how we can go about fixing that problem. Because it damn well needs fixing.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Katie-Kaylee-Colts Haiku, Week 8

Not content with including a ridiculously cute beagle and a ridiculously cute granddaughter in her Indianapolis Colts updates, our sports-haiku correspondent Mary Campbell-Droze has expanded her 17 syllables of commentary to include a World Series observation.

Plus Colts-and-Giants nexus!
(Bad night for Texas.)

--Mary Campbell-Droze

Monday, November 1, 2010

Two Quick Pre-Election-Day Thoughts

1) I endorse a YES on Proposal One, the call for a Michigan State Constitutional Convention. The rules under which we form our government are not working well for us right now.

Most especially I'd like to see us eliminate gerrymandering and term limits. The combination of those two items has created a toxic partisan environment in our state legislature. As a result, partisan warfare all too often seems to trump practical solutions in a state that has all too many problems that need practical solutions now.

There are a few other things I'd also like to see, including requiring a good deal more than 50% vote to pass a constitutional amendment. That 50% threshold makes it far too easy to amend the constitution, which leads all sorts of special interests to put their pet projects on the ballot. I watched that process slowly make California practically ungovernable, and I don't want to see it repeated here.

Our state government isn't working well right now. We have a chance to try to design a better one, and we should take advantage of it.

2) I think my village council campaign has been a good one, and I enjoyed it this year more than I expected. We've had a relatively quiet campaign in Wolverine Lake this year, but I'm glad that I got out on the streets, wrote and distributed flyers, and had to seek our local paper's endorsement. It let me hear from some folks in the village who aren't all that involved in everyday village politics. What they had to say has given me some ideas for things we might be able to work on to improve the village during the next four years.

Most of all, I want to say, "Thank you!" to Monique for all the work she has put in on the campaign as: campaign treasurer; literature designer, printer, and publisher; Canvasser #1; staff photographer; and all-around good egg.

Some might claim she does it all because she likes having me out of the house on Wednesday nights. I just think she's the greatest wife in the world.