Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanks in Old Age [Bryan]

Thanks in Old Age

Thanks in old age - thanks ere I go,
For health, the midday sun, the impalpable air - for life, mere life,
For precious, ever-lingering memories, (of you my mother dear - you, father - you brothers, sisters, friends,)
For all my days - not those of peace alone - the days of war the same,
For gentle words, caresses, gifts from foreign lands,
For shelter, wine and meat - for sweet appreciation,
(You distant, dim unknown - or young or old - countless, unspecified, readers belove’d,
We never met, and ne’er shall meet - and yet our souls embrace, long, close and long;)
For beings, group, love, deeds, words, books - -for colors, forms,
For all the brave strong men - - devoted, hardy men, -- who’ve forward sprung in freedom’s help, all years, all lands,
For braver, stronger, more devoted men - (a special laurel ere I go to life’s war’s chosen ones,
The cannoneers of song and thought - the great artillerists - the foremost leaders, captains of the soul:)
As soldiers from an ended war return’d - As traveler out of myriads, to the long procession retrospective,
Thanks - joyful thanks! - a soldier’s, traveler’s thanks.

~ Walt Whitman (1888)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The circuit of my expanding life [Bryan]

I am prepared to admit that finishing my basement is something of a mid-life crisis for me. I've been engrossed by it. I have preferred working on the basement to eating and sleeping (ask Ellie), reading and writing. I think about little else. I haven't let anybody else help. This is behavior that goes beyond the motive of simply wanted more finished space.

Let me give you some semi-serious reflections about all this. I recently read that some people run marathons "as a testament to the fact that there is still substance and life in them." Similarly, after getting tenure and after the necessary narrowing of focus and personality that comes with that, I am finishing the basement as a testament to the fact that I am still "alive" in the sense of developing my skills, my personality, and my substance. I will literally saw my way out of the narrow box that I may have constructed for myself. Only by continued learning do we become and remain fully human.

Some of you know I'm a huge fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson said it best:

"There goes in the world a notion, that the scholar should be a recluse, a valetudinarian, — as unfit for any handiwork or public labor, as a penknife for an axe. As far as this is true of the studious classes, it is not just and wise. Action is with the scholar subordinate, but it is essential. Without it, he is not yet man. Without it, thought can never ripen into truth. Inaction is cowardice, but there can be no scholar without the heroic mind. Only so much do I know, as I have lived. Instantly we know whose words are loaded with life, and whose not.

The world lies wide around. Its attractions are the keys which unlock my thoughts and make me acquainted with myself. I run eagerly into this resounding tumult. I grasp the hands of those next me, and take my place in the ring to suffer and to work, taught by an instinct, that so shall the dumb abyss be vocal with speech. I pierce its order; I dissipate its fear; I dispose of it within the circuit of my expanding life. So much only of life as I know by experience, so much of the wilderness have I vanquished and planted, or so far have I extended my being, my dominion. I do not see how any man can afford, for the sake of his nerves and his nap, to spare any action in which he can partake. It is pearls and rubies to his discourse. Drudgery, calamity, exasperation, want, are instructers in eloquence and wisdom. The true scholar grudges every opportunity of action past by, as a loss of power. It is the raw material out of which the intellect moulds her splendid products."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Posting this because I can [Bryan]

Oddly cool video from that "Blast" thing from a few years ago. It is called "Color Wheel."

How I would balance the federal budget [Bryan]

The New York Times has a fun interactive piece allowing you to balance the federal budget. If you are weird like me, you will actually have a lot of fun. Here is my budget. 40% of my plan comes through spending cuts, 60% through tax increases. Mostly I cut defense, raised retirement ages, eliminated certain tax loopholes, and went back to Clinton-era tax levels (which would still be fairly low historical standards).

1. Discretionary spending: Eliminate farm subsidies. (Easy call -- massive waste here.)

2. Military spending: Reduce military spending in nuclear arms, Air Force, and Navy; cancel some weapons systems; reduce presence of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan more quickly. (Fairly easy call -- no need to have a huge navy, for example, in current threat environment.)

3. Entitlements: Increase medicare eligibility and social security eligibility to age 68; reduce social security benefits for those with high incomes; tighten eligibility for disability. (This was a very hard call.)

4. Taxes: Return estate tax to Clinton-era levels, increase income tax for those making over $250,000, increase payroll taxes for those making over $106,000, reduce mortgage deduction, implement millionaire tax and carbon tax. Maintain tax cuts for those under $250,000 and for investment income. (Fairly easy call, though my own taxes would go up a bit under this plan.)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Thoughts on the election [Bryan]

Some people have asked for my thoughts on the election, so I guess I will bore you with some post-election analysis. I don't have too much to say. The majority always loses a lot of seats in the midterm after a presidential election, especially under a weak economy -- happened to Reagan in 1982, Clinton in 1994, etc. This explains 90% of what happened on Tuesday. Still, there were many odd things about election day. Ohio voters, for example, supposedly furious, just furious, about "bailouts" and the economy, elected Rob Portman, who was the chief architect of the Bush economy, and John Kasich, who was a big shot Wall Street banker over at Lehman Brothers, to U.S. Senator and Ohio Governor, respectively. U.S. voters, supposedly furious about the deficit and tax increases, took it out on Democrats even though Democrats have both cut taxes to record lows and also cut the deficit since Bush's final year (down to $1.29 trillion from Bush's $1.4 trillion). Weird.

Surprisingly, though, I would say I feel actually kind of proud to be a Democrat this week -- prouder than I usually feel. The reason is this: Democrats had to make a lot of tough calls and cast tough votes over the past two years. They voted on health care, economic recovery, credit card regulation, spending cuts to Medicare, and so forth, votes that are easily vilified by powerful interests groups and that are based on long-term policy impact over short-term political calculation. When a party has control over Washington, you can see what the party actually cares about, and I think the Democrats come out looking pretty good. The Republicans used their power, when they had it, to give the wealthy tax cuts, to cut regulation for corporations, and to start stupid wars. The Democrats used it to try to give health care to children with preexisting conditions, to help women get equal pay for equal work, to revive the American auto industry, to take care of veterans, and so forth. Rachel Maddow sums it up well:
Democrats had a choice when they became the governing party. When they won those last two elections and they took control of the two branches of government that are subject to partisan control in our country, they could have governed in a way that was about accumulating political capital with the primary goal of winning the next election. They could have governed in constant campaign mode. Or they could have governed in a way that was about using their political capital, not accumulating more of it, about spending the political capital they had to get a legislative agenda done, to tackle big, complex, longstanding problems that had languished.

The record of legislative achievement of the last 21 months was not designed to win the midterm elections and it will not win the midterm elections. The pendulum will swing back toward the Republicans and we'll go back to divided government again. The legislative agenda of the last 21 months was policy, not politics. It was designed to get stuff done for the country. And in that sense, it's an investment in long-term political reward, not short-term political reward, as Democrats expect after a list of accomplishments like this to be judged as the party that took on problems when it had the chance, even if they had to pay a short-term political price....The fact is, that Democrats got a lot done, a lot of hard stuff done on hard problems in a short amount of time.

If you have the time, you should watch Maddow's full set of comments here:

Monday, November 01, 2010

Patch-Up Work by the Sub [Ellie]

If you've been reading our blog lately, you know that the primary blogger, Bryan, is currently down in the basement making regular, terrifying pounding noises. This blog is not meant to replace anything the aforementioned Dr. Warnick might produce. Your humble servant is merely attempting to fill in a few important gaps emerging in the Warnick record due to his absence.

Where Bryan is.

While Bryan has been down in the basement, Halloween happened.

The lion roars.

A Halloween party distracted Nora and Andrew from the fact that
we made them wear the same costumes as last year.

Bryan briefly emerged from the basement to join me for my first OSU football game. Anna and Spencer graciously let us have their tickets to the Purdue-OSU Homecoming Game. We did lots of cheering at first, until we realized our cheers were pretty much unnecessary--the Buckeyes had demolished the Boilermakers by halftime, 42-0 (final score 49-0). At that point we almost started cheering for the other team. "Go, Purdue. Make a game of it, PLEASE!"

The prize for most exciting part of the game goes to the Ohio State Marching Band, which performed a half-time tribute to Elvis, complete with a human guitar, marching hearts, and the famous "dotting of the I"--the I in Elvis, that is.

October's been a thriller!