Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The last temptation of the KFC

In nearly six years at L.A. Youth I avoided the KFC until tonight. But it was late and I needed sugar so I spent $2 on a medium Sprite.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Last spending for the month

$10 on lunch at Big Mike's. And um stuff that I have receipts for, but not on me so this blog post is incomplete. :(

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I love Los Angeles today ...

... gorgeous summer like weather. amazing dim sum ($20 covering part of friends' share) and I got to see 9 to 5 the musical.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Losing discipline

~$40 today on lunch, cupcakes, and good Indian for dinner. but so worth it to eat well while on killing self on deadline. no money shall be spent tomorrow. zero.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Best schadenfreude day ever as a proud, unapologetic liberal

Where to begin? This morning I read on CNN.com that Campbell Brown is calling for an end to the sexist treatment of Republican VP-nominee Sarah Palin ... on the part of John McCain's campaign handlers. Brown asserts that by shielding Palin from virtually all media interviews, they are disrespecting her years as governor. As Brown says more eloqeuntly than I ...

I call upon the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower who will wilt at any moment.

This woman is from Alaska for crying out loud. She is strong, she is tough, she is confident. And you claim she is ready to be one heartbeat away from the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now. Allow her to show her stuff.

Well, then I read the transcript of Sarah Palin's interview with CBS's evening news anchor Katie Couric.

The final question and answer in the interview:

Couric: I'm just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

Palin: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.

When you watch it, she doesn't come across quite so teenager-making-an-excuse-for-not-doing-homework as she does in the typed transcript, but she still comes across as unprepared for the interview, at best, and Greek-tragically unprepared to substitute to lead the world at worst.

But wait, just when the campaign was going Hindenberg there's more, courtesy of John McCain's lie to David Letterman. McCain was scheduled to appear on tonight's show, but called Letterman personally to cancel saying he was rushing back to Washington, D.C. to assist in the negotiations for the Wall St. bailout. He might have fudged his timetable a little.

From the LATimes' Matea Gold: After Letterman learned that McCain was sitting down [while Letterman's show was taping] with Katie Couric, he had this to say:

I don’t want to keep beating this thing, but it just really is starting to smell now. Because he says to me on the phone, I took a phone call from John McCain – a lot of senators don’t call me – and so I felt like OK, as part of the national good, I understand and I said good luck and thank you for being attentive to the cause. And he said maybe next time I’ll come in and I’ll bring Sarah Palin. And I said, fine, whatever you need to do, that’s just fine. And he said, yeah, we’re going to go save the country. And then it’s like we caught him getting a manicure or something! [as video showed him getting powdered before the cameras started rolling for his interview with Couric.]

Letterman also says regarding McCain suspending his campaign and calling for a delay to Friday's scheduled first presidential debate to head to Washington to work on the bailout negotiations:

Sure, there’s an economic crisis. And here’s what you’re do if you’re running your campaign in the middle of an economic crisis and its about to crater…You’re a fourth term senator from Arizona. You handle what you need to handle. Don’t suspend your campaign. You let your campaign go on, shouldered by your vice presidential nominee. That’s what you do…

You say, I gotta get back to Washington to save this country. Good for you. And while I’m gone, campaigning in my stead will be my great running mate from the state of Alaska, Sarah Palin. And she comes out and campaigns. What happened there? What’s the problem? Why isn’t she doing that?

So what's happening to the McCain campaign? Seriously? The Washington Post's poll noted that Obama is starting to increase his lead over McCain. That's not unexpected as the RNC/Palin bounce is feeling gravity's pull.

And regarding McCain's call to cancel Friday's debate ... I say this not as a partisan, but as an American concerned about the faltering economy: I want that debate this Friday. I want to hear what the candidates have to say. They should recast the debate theme to the economy and domestic issues and let's hear what their proposals are. Let's make this about the issues, and stick a hot pitchfork in McCain campaign manager Rick Davis's eye who said that the campaign is NOT about the issues. And for the record, I felt this way before Barack Obama essentially said the same thing.

News outlets are reporting basically that Barack said that unless personally told his presence would be essential to finalizing an agreement he thinks it best to stay away from Washington so as not to inject politics/campaigning into the solution.

Spending blog note: $3 for caramel iced-blended from Coffee Bean.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My memory is only kinda good nowadays

I've needed Shead Spread Country Crock for more than two weeks. I have been to a grocery store or Target (where they also sell it), at least five times since I ran out. I have failed to buy it every time. But hey at least I remembered the aluminum foil today, which along with the Blistex I bought, cost me $8.51 at Target today. I also spent $8 at lunch and $37+ on gasoline filling up my tank.

Oddly, speaking of memory, I recently surprised the shit out of my friend Kerri, as I remembered that she was listening to a James tape like 19 years ago when we were at All-Erie-County music festival. WTF? Why is my brain power so poorly allocated?

I hate Sarah Palin and John McCain, but I no longer fear them. Barack Obama is going to win. I feel it in the same way that I knew the Buffalo Bills were going to comeback against the Raiders yesterday.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I'm too tired to be inspired

$4 for caramel iced blended.

$6 for Famima pre-made panini. I couldn't drag my ass out of bed this morning to make lunch before hand and for some reason eating Spaghettio's in front of my co-workers ... well, I couldn't bring myself to do that.

Free night tonight. Not as in call me, but as in I'm old and a cheapskate (at least for this weekend after a week in which I spent a fair amount of money).

Someday I'll be a fun person again. For now, I'm just old and tired. Wow, this entry is so fucking depressing. Next blog post will have some sizazzle.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Money, money, money -- how quickly it disappears

$18 on beer and scotch at the Jenny Lewis show Thursday night.
$4 coffee Friday coming on the heels the previous night's concert, which didn't start until 11:50 p.m.!
$15 for dinner at the Bright Spot Diner on Sunset Boulevard before the Jenny Lewis show on Friday night.
$33 for gas (only $3.63.9 per gallon in Torrance!) Friday night.
$3 for coffee Saturday. There was no way I was making it through a full work day going after back-to-back concerts without coffee.
$19 Chinese food, my share of our sci-fi-geek night fest.
$11 an import copy of Gemma Hayes' debut CD Night on My Side, won on eBay. Songs come in a different order and there are three different songs than the American release. She's amazing so I'm happy to support her. Gemma, please come back to the States.

I've not been blogging about the campaign as much lately, b/c quite frankly I'm angry. Very angry. The John McCain/Sarah Palin campaign of lies, not misunderstandings, not claims, not half-truths, but FUCKING OUTRIGHT LIES offends me. But it's really more than offense.

It's a feeling of betrayal. I used to admire John McCain, who endured so much during the Vietnam War, and I felt badly for how the Bush campaign smeared him in 2000 while he tried to take the high road. But he has gone and done what I at-one-time (and regrettably) felt like the Dems should do in 2004, out-Rove Karl Rove. Even the ladies of The View tore Johnnie Mac a new one for being a liar. Why must the pretty be outdone by a comedienne, like Joy Behar who had the brass to demand better from John McCain.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Weakness for carbs and music

$2 cheese-jalapeno bagel at CoffeeBean. We need to move our offices. I also just bid on eBay for the UK edition of Gemma Hayes's debut album Night on My Side, which has a different track list. She's also got the U.S. release of her third album, The Hollow of Morning, coming out and there's a new track. Hopefully iTunes hooks me up!?

$15 for the new Jem CD. I bought it on Newburycomics.com to get the free autographed liner notes and to avoid giving any money to Best Buy.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Food costs money

$10 for lunch at an Indian buffet. $11+ in groceries at Albertson's (sliced turkey, pasta, sauce, loaf of bread). $20.56 at TJ's for fruit, cheese, tomatoes and other groceries. $7.50 on pizza.

Shopping white whales

There are few things in life that will force me to suspend sleep and even reading Harry Potter ... and sadly, they are retail. For a dozen or so years I have endeavoured to find the perfect bowl. It's probably best described as a pasta or hearty-soup bowl. It needs to be perfectly round and smooth (no etchings or bevels). It needs to the right depth (biggest problem) and diameter. And the color and thickness must also be harmonious. I've searched in every housewares store/section out there. I've dug around ceramicists' shops at markets (including the Saturday Market in Portland, OR). Snake eyes.

I also still hope to one day find the blood red vinyl Converse All-Stars. I love my maroon vinyl converse One-Stars, but still ...

But perhaps the ultimate Ahabian quest is for sunglasses that truly fit my face/head. I have a wide face, almost no bridge to my nose, and narrow set eyes. That's a rough sunglasses combination, and one found with some frequency among Asians. I've even Googled "wide-face sunglasses" and found many an-Asian-man weighing in.

To adequately cover my eyes and still wrap around my head I've learned that wrap-style sunglasses are often best. But I've compromised on fit (often too tight) or need to find a pair that's partially broken to make it work. Or I've allowed myself to wear huge glasses that look funny. Once I even spent (or the parentals did) like $110 on a pair. Needless to say they were broken within two months. Steve Jimenez hit me in the face while messing around at marching band rehearsal in college. Dammit! Granted, I didn't love them anyway.

Now I've discovered that Oakley has found this market and resolved to meet the demand. They have "Asian Fit" sunglasses. I've found a style that I like and customized them to my specifications. Of course, being Oakley, they cost $155 before taxes and shipping, etc. And the bigger rub is that I have a history of not getting more than about eight months from a pair of glasses before breaking or losing them. I have truly had three pairs of glasses that fit me great, but only two of which I really liked. All three were misplaced. The pair that I liked least (gold frames and brownish lenses) is outside Portland, OR.

I Like:

Flak Jacket® XLJ Asian Fit by Oakley at Zappos.comFlak Jacket® XLJ Asian Fit

On my austerity budget, which has been loosened already a bit this month, there would be no place for such an indulgence. Hrmmmmm. Update, I have found them for $142 on Zappos.com and that includes shipping, which is always free.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Spending update

$4.95 at Coffee Bean for a caramel iced-blended on Saturday. It was tastey. $73+ for four tickets to see Jenny Lewis Thursday and Friday (two for each night). $18 of that will be reimbursed. But I went off half-cocked regarding Thursday's show at The Echo and bought a second ticket without a commitment and so far all attempts have yielded one doubtful. That's it. No worries. If I have to eat $18, I can manage that.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

John and Sarah might want to get their message straight

Tonight toward the end of his speech Republican Presidential candidate John McCain implored his sycophantic, myopic audience members to stand up for the principles they believe and do things to help, like teach an illiterate adult to read or fight for someone oppressed. OK, well why did his VP choice, Sarah Palin, make a mocking comment about Barack Obama wanting to make sure that prisoners were treated according to the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions?

I hate them.

But I love Scotch. I dropped $42 on a bottle of 12-year-old Glenfiddich. And then $10.36 on buns, milk, sausage and one other thing at Trader Joe's. Oh yeah, and $50 to B.O. I am putting my country first.

Jon Stewart for President

Today's spend ... $10 on lunch at Milk. And last night, $38 on gas.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The end of the world moment at tonight's Republican National Convention

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Michael Williams said: "Let me make it clear. Drill, baby, drill! Drill now!"

Then the whole fucking crowd chanted "Drill baby drill! Drill baby drill!"

And a few more points about the campaign:

First is this one about journalism and ethics. The "liberal media" is getting attacked now for "going after" the Palin family. Republican VP nom Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol is pregnant. When news broke pretty much everyone said that this was a family matter, including reporters and Barack Obama. Obama said anyone on his campaign who brought it up as a talking point would be fired.

But then the Palins and McCain decided to "use it" staging a photo opp this afternoon with McCain hugging Bristol and shaking hands with Levi Johnston, Bristol's fiance and the father of the baby.

Well, to quote the Poynter Institute on this one ...


Palin's Choice: From Privacy to Photo Op
Levi Johnston, Bristol Palin's boyfriend, has joined the vice presidential nominee's family at the Republican National Convention, greeting Sen. John McCain at the airport in front of cameras and eliminating whatever compulsion I might have had to lay off the pregnancy story now that the campaign is trotting out the kids for a photo op.

Earlier today, my Poynter colleagues Kelly McBride and Bob Steele offered good ideas and thoughts on the Palin family troubles and right to privacy. Steele says:

My concern for this 17-year-old and her privacy is deep and genuine. As the father of three daughters, I can relate to what she and her family are experiencing. Yet, I strongly believe the American public deserves to know about this piece of this teenager's life. Bristol's mom –- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin –- could become the vice president of the United States.

The White House, Barack Obama and John McCain have all urged the media to give the teenage couple their privacy. To back off. But you can't have it both ways, asking journalists to back off while putting the teenagers in the spotlight on Sarah Palin's biggest night.

Second point, watch this ...

Third point referencing Slate.com and the LATimes.

In recent days, several pieces of information have come out that dispute McCain's description of Palin as a government reformer who has "stopped government from wasting taxpayers' money." But perhaps none of it is as damaging as a story in today's LAT because it turns out that McCain himself criticized some earmarks that Palin's small Alaska town received while she was mayor. In "pork lists" that the senator has published to call attention to wasteful government spending, McCain has included earmarks for Wasilla, Alaska, as "objectionable" three times in recent years. Palin was far from embarrassed about these earmarks, as she defended the practice in a newspaper column. And although McCain's campaign is trying to say that Palin had no choice but to work within a broken system, the LAT couldn't be clearer: "Wasilla had received few if any earmarks before Palin became mayor."

I take back what I've said about at least some TV reporters

CNN anchor Campbell Brown NAILS Tucker Bounds, John McCain campaign spokesman for obfuscating, evading and dodging. This is NOT liberal bias. This is accountablility and clarification, something that McCain and Sarah Palin have said they hold as fundamental traits of a good President.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sweet tooth and sweet music tooth

$3.15 on a Dr. Pepper, bag of Reese's Pieces and a candy bar. No way in hell I was making it through today's 13+-hour day without a sugar fix. $3.84 for new Stars EP.

Three weeks until Acid Tongue!!

Start to this month's spend-a-blog

To celebrate Labour Day, I had lunch with Amy and her friend Christina, who works for 826LA. A hot, carefree afternoon at the Farmer's Market cost me $25 in lunch and four lemonades. I bought two for me and two for my pals. I heart fresh-squeezed lemonade on a hot Los Angeles afternoon. Otherwise, this blog post is very not interesting.

Other things I did to celebrate the working person, not clean much but instead read about 1/3 of Harry Potter and Half-Blood Prince.

I also found this article in the New York Times ...

August 31, 2008
Economic View

Is History Siding With Obama's Economic Plan?


CLEARLY, there are major differences between the economic policies of Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. Mr. McCain wants more tax cuts for the rich; Mr. Obama wants tax cuts for the poor and middle class. The two men also disagree on health care, energy and many other topics.

Such differences are hardly surprising. Democrats and Republicans have followed different approaches to the economy for as long as there have been Democrats and Republicans. Longer, actually. Remember Hamilton versus Jefferson?

Many Americans know that there are characteristic policy differences between the two parties. But few are aware of two important facts about the post-World War II era, both of which are brilliantly delineated in a new book, "Unequal Democracy," by Larry M. Bartels, a professor of political science at Princeton. Understanding them might help voters see what could be at stake, economically speaking, in November.

I call the first fact the Great Partisan Growth Divide. Simply put, the United States economy has grown faster, on average, under Democratic presidents than under Republicans.

The stark contrast between the whiz-bang Clinton years and the dreary Bush years is familiar because it is so recent. But while it is extreme, it is not atypical. Data for the whole period from 1948 to 2007, during which Republicans occupied the White House for 34 years and Democrats for 26, show average annual growth of real gross national product of 1.64 percent per capita under Republican presidents versus 2.78 percent under Democrats.

That 1.14-point difference, if maintained for eight years, would yield 9.33 percent more income per person, which is a lot more than almost anyone can expect from a tax cut.

Such a large historical gap in economic performance between the two parties is rather surprising, because presidents have limited leverage over the nation's economy. Most economists will tell you that Federal Reserve policy and oil prices, to name just two influences, are far more powerful than fiscal policy. Furthermore, as those mutual fund prospectuses constantly warn us, past results are no guarantee of future performance. But statistical regularities, like facts, are stubborn things. You bet against them at your peril.

The second big historical fact, which might be called the Great Partisan Inequality Divide, is the focus of Professor Bartels's work.

It is well known that income inequality in the United States has been on the rise for about 30 years now — an unsettling development that has finally touched the public consciousness. But Professor Bartels unearths a stunning statistical regularity: Over the entire 60-year period, income inequality trended substantially upward under Republican presidents but slightly downward under Democrats, thus accounting for the widening income gaps over all. And the bad news for America's poor is that Republicans have won five of the seven elections going back to 1980.

The Great Partisan Inequality Divide is not limited to the poor. To get a more granular look, Professor Bartels studied the postwar history of income gains at five different places in the income distribution.

The 20th percentile is the income level at which 20 percent of all families have less income and 80 percent have more. It is thus a plausible dividing line between the poor and the nonpoor. Similarly, the 40th percentile is the income level at which 40 percent of the families are poorer and 60 percent are richer. And similarly for the 60th, 80th, and 95th percentiles. The 95th percentile is the best dividing line between the rich and the nonrich that the data permitted Professor Bartels to study. (That dividing line, by the way, is well below the $5 million threshold John McCain has jokingly used for defining the rich. It's closer to $180,000.)

The accompanying table, which is adapted from the book, tells a remarkably consistent story. It shows that when Democrats were in the White House, lower-income families experienced slightly faster income growth than higher-income families — which means that incomes were equalizing. In stark contrast, it also shows much faster income growth for the better-off when Republicans were in the White House — thus widening the gap in income.

The table also shows that families at the 95th percentile fared almost as well under Republican presidents as under Democrats (1.90 percent growth per year, versus 2.12 percent), giving them little stake, economically, in election outcomes. But the stakes were enormous for the less well-to-do. Families at the 20th percentile fared much worse under Republicans than under Democrats (0.43 percent versus 2.64 percent). Eight years of growth at an annual rate of 0.43 percent increases a family's income by just 3.5 percent, while eight years of growth at 2.64 percent raises it by 23.2 percent.

The sources of such large differences make for a slightly complicated story. In the early part of the period — say, the pre-Reagan years — the Great Partisan Growth Divide accounted for most of the Great Partisan Inequality divide, because the poor do relatively better in a high-growth economy.

Beginning with the Reagan presidency, however, growth differences are smaller and tax and transfer policies have played a larger role. We know, for example, that Republicans have typically favored large tax cuts for upper-income groups while Democrats have opposed them. In addition, Democrats have been more willing to raise the minimum wage, and Republicans have been more hostile toward unions.

The two Great Partisan Divides combine to suggest that, if history is a guide, an Obama victory in November would lead to faster economic growth with less inequality, while a McCain victory would lead to slower economic growth with more inequality. Which part of the Obama menu don't you like?

Alan S. Blinder is a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. He has advised many Democratic politicians.

My conservative friend, Kevin, raised the standard conservative's objection to Blinder's premise: "Go look up what % of the tax burden "the rich" already shoulder. You might be surprised. :)"

In fact, I did look it up to be exact, but I wasn't at all surprised. I'd read these numbers before and similar numbers are all over the Internet.

The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 33.7 percent of all individual income taxes in 2002. This group of taxpayers has paid more than 30 percent of individual income taxes since 1995. Moreover, since 1990 this group's tax share has grown faster than their income share.

BUT (me again) ask yourself practically, who can afford more? if someone earns $1 million a year before taxes, they can still easily live on $575,000 a year after taxes.

If someone earns $40,000 a year, it's a lot harder for them to live on $30,000 a year.

And if we want to stim the economy then middle class people need to spend. there are MORE of them. And if we want to have a Just society the poor must be assisted. Horatio Alger is fiction. That's the really sad thing about John Edwards career as a public official going in the toilet after his affair getting publicly disclosed. The Dems have lost their best and most prominent advocate for the poor. I loved Barack's speech, but his emphasis on the middle class should have also included the poor and working poor.