Saturday, January 19, 2013

Spell Checker; Much tuning required; On sewer raccoons; Car-packing; Etc.

Her grammar advice:  
Say no more.

Harp Guitars
gathering information on:




Discussing day's agenda:

KD Cat habituates low post with elevated concepts, such as "You should dust that 1953 Megaphone." To demonstrate, she subsequently steps up on it, it falls off the speaker and leaves dust on her fur that she will have to clean off.  Self-possessed, she'll use only her tongue.


From the Writers Almanac
Jan. 14, 2013

In Memoriam (VII)

Dark house, by which once more I stand
    Here in the long unlovely street,
    Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,

A hand that can be clasp'd no more—
    Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
    And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.

He is not here; but far away
    The noise of life begins again, She
    And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.

"In Memoriam (VII)" by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Public Domain


Sewer Raccoons
Once sent to he Freeman

My congratulations and thanks for those who have so well freshened the mighty Fox River that flows through our community.  Very nearly the best job possible, given that we’ve built up to it all around.  It now isn’t possible to take it all the way back to native American times, when it was totally clear, drinkable, and lovely in it’s natural state. But the blending of the Fox in it’s cleaner condition with the commerce of our 21st century population is very nearly idyllic.

We have received with pleasure the artful representations of dragonflies, lily pads, cement foxes, and most recently the metal bears at river’s edge.  I only suggest that
attention might be paid to the raccoons who live beneath the city.  Not everyone is even aware of them, apparently.  We see them coming and going under darkness at the storm grate at our corner.  So accustomed to them are we that we refer to ourselves as inhabitants of a Sewer Raccoon District.

I understand it’s an ancient family of many many raccoons who have followed the tunnels of the sewer to various single family side dens in a commune that holds their meetings in a main chamber purported to be beneath the old post office downtown.

There they pay fealty to their ancient and rheumatic king who holds forth amidst a vast treasure of purloined goods that has been accumulated over generations.  The raccoon king, I’m told, wears a cape fashioned of a purple velvet drapery sample adorned with bottle caps and broken pieces of glass.

The king on certain nights sends his descendants out and up into the city with their burlap bags over their shoulders, to gently burgle.  Here we’ve made our peace with them and regard them as just another species that could be paid homage the next time a statue in the park is erected. (Ed.)



Some may have been along in 1954
when we pulled the Mukwonago caper

It was the raccoon editor's first run- in with the law.

It was the time of homecoming
and our football team was facing
Nathan Hale in the suburban conference.

My car, a 1951 Willys Jeepster,
was crammed with kids, car and kids painted up with
homecoming slogans in washable finger paint
- slogans like NAIL HALE! -
and the constable of Mukwonago pulled us over
for making a disburbance
and for too many occupants in a vehicle.

As the operator, sober as were all of us, I lost my license for 30 days. 

That's what I was reminded of when a friend
sent us the following video clip
which I highly recommend
especially to the above-mentioned group.
(Maybe have tissues handy.)


The Willys was ........



Selling the Shooting

Thursday, 17 January 2013 00:00By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed
A boy looks on as a customer inspects a pistol at the Saratoga Arms Fair at the City Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Jan. 12, 2013. (Photo: Nathaniel Brooks / The New York Times) A boy looks on as a customer inspects a pistol at the Saratoga Arms Fair at the City Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Jan. 12, 2013. (Photo: Nathaniel Brooks / The New York Times)Fuck you, that's my name. You know why, mister? 'Cause you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight, and I drove an $80,000 BMW...only one thing counts in this life: get them to sign on the line which is dotted.
- Glengarry Glen Ross
A few hours before President Obama and Vice President Biden unveiled their proposals for gun reform in America, the National Rifle Association launched a preemptive strike on the president's children. To wit: an NRA-sponsored television commercial claimed that, because Sasha and Malia get armed guards in school and your kids don't, Mr. Obama is an elitist hypocrite.
Leaving aside the colossal tin-eared stupidity involved in attacking children in the midst of a debate that was initiated after 20 children were slaughtered, and notwithstanding the fact that, to no small degree, the presidential children need bodyguards to protect them from the very audience targeted by that NRA ad, the simple, ugly truth of the matter is that this most recent example of the NRA's psychotic nonsense is pretty much what we can expect to hear now that the gun gauntlet has finally been thrown down.
The substance of the Obama administration's proposals are historic in scope: enact a stronger assault weapons ban, limit the size of ammunition magazines, require universal background checks for all gun sales, strengthen mental health treatment options, and empower schools to deal with gun violence threats while addressing issues of bullying. Beyond that, Mr. Obama released a list of 23 Executive Ordersaimed at beefing up existing gun laws, allowing the Centers for Disease Control to research the underlying causes of gun violence (something the GOP successfully quashed for years), and reviewing safety standards for gun locks and gun safes.
On the whole, the administration's proposals are about as bold as one could hope for in this day and age; more than 900 people have been shot to death since the massacre at Sandy Hook, and Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot through the skull, and President Reagan was shot way back when, and his press secretary took a bullet to the head that day and has spent his whole life since trying to keep that from happening to anyone else, and Columbine happened, and Aurora happened, and the Sikh temple massacre happened, and the body count from American gun violence has been spinning like the fare meter on a Manhattan taxicab since Bobby Kennedy got his brains blown out in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen almost 50 years ago, and still, after everything that has happened and after everything we know, we all somehow became convinced that stuffing the Biblical camel through the eye of the Biblical needle would be easier than passing sensible gun control legislation on a national level in America.
That, my friends, is salesmanship.
Salesmanship the likes of which has rarely been seen in history, even in this nation of boiling commercialism. It is no small accomplishment to convince millions of people that their safety and security - indeed, their very existence as a nation - absolutely depends upon the astonishing preponderance of devices that kill them on the hour, every hour, every day.
All the gun lobby does is bellow about freedom, about the Constitution, about preserving the ability to defend oneself against the onset of an intrusive, tyrannical government. This is the song that has been sung for decades now, to the point that it is holy writ to those who think the ability to own an AR-15 with a magazine capacity large enough to take out half of Yankee Stadium, should the need somehow arise, is the apotheosis of American freedom. Good luck with that; send me a note from the front, hero. I'm sure your Red Dawn fantasy will unspool itself any day now.
Convincing so many people that their freedom is inviolably attached to things that kill them in piles every single day is amazingly successful salesmanship...and as we embark upon this national debate over guns, we must encompass this essential truth: all the grandstanding over personal freedom, over the Constitution, over the ability to defend oneself against the government, is the end-product of perhaps the most magnificent sales job ever deployed against anyone, ever.
Understand the bottom line here, best described by an astute observer: "I think the real problem gun manufacturers face is an inability to build planned obsolescence into their products. Unlike other instrument with moving parts, a gun can continue to shoot for a very, very long time. Hence, for gun manufacturers to remain profitable, the number of firearms in society and their lethality must continually increase if for no other reason than to maintain enough novelty to encourage new purchases."
There it is.
The root of the problem.
The NRA and the gun lobby in general getting into bed with the Republicans and the far right, all the shouting about freedom and the Constitution, is just window-dressing to the gun-makers. They don't believe that baloney; they just use it to sell their products, because unlike a Toyota or a blender, their products pretty much last forever.
There was a company once that made tractors, the best damned tractors ever assembled by anyone ever, and every farmer in the country bought one...and after a while, the company that made those excellent tractors went out of business, because all anyone needed was one, and the one they bought lasted forever, so no one ever bought another one.
For the gun-makers, it is about making the product they produce attractive enough to purchase over and over and over again. That is the only way they will be able to stay in business. Period, end of file.
We are going to hear a great deal of insane noise now that debate over guns in America has been fully engaged by - yeah, I'll say it - a president I am proud of today. Do not ever forget, no matter the rhetoric that gets wrapped up in this argument, that this is about the ability to sell guns. This isn't about freedom or the Constitution or anything else for the gun-makers and their friends.
It's a sales pitch, and nothing more.

SRN ed. footnote:  AMEN!



Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new

Whose names you meditate —
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,

Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical

Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.

"Child" by Silvia Plath, from Collected Poems of Silvia Plath. © Harper Collins. 


A crow came rapping, gently tapping at my skylight window

The Raven (excerpt)

Last minute inclusion in today's Saturday Raccoon
as it was today's Keillor's Writers Almanac poem

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,"

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you" - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

"The Raven (excerpt)" by Edgar Allan Poe. Public domain

Raven (crow) that rests as a chair-top finial at the Odd Fellows;
a copper, pine and map-tack creature we once made
inspired by Poe