Debt Ceilings and Financial Basements

Last night, as I watched Obama and Boehner address the nation about their inability to reach a compromise about the debt ceiling, Steve wandered into the room and calmly stated that he plans on cashing out of the stock market on Wednesday. My husband, who is always a glass half empty sort of guy, is ready to retire to a family compound in Montana with a carload of beans and guns. I think they're going to have to come up with some sort of compromise in the next eight days, but they are going to wait for the clock to run out until the last minute. 

The New York Times' chart comparing spending during the Bush and Obama administration was flying around on Twitter last night. It's a nice one. 


A stand-off between Republicans and Democrats is nothing new, but what's interesting/disturbing about this fight is the influence of the Tea Party on the Republican Party. I think lots of us have been waiting for the emptiness of the Tea Party Republicans to become obvious and for politics to return to normal. It hasn't happened yet. 

It's forcing even optimists like myself to consider the outcome of doomsday events. It is beans and gun time? 

Reactions from the RSS feed: 

John Quiggan, Crooked Timber "One thing the Tea Party has shown is that, in the current dire state of the US, there are few penalties for abandoning moderation. What the US needs at this point is someone willing to advocate a return to the economic institutions that made America great – 90 per cent top marginal tax rates, strong trade unions, weak banks and imprisonment for malefactors of great wealth."

Andrew Ross Sorkin, Deal Book "While the sky indeed may fall if the sides cannot compromise, the fact that the market has been calm has served only to deepen the resistance to a deal. People who perhaps should be worried don’t seem to be, and worse, appear to have stopped listening to the warnings."

Megan McArdle "These guys are out of ammunition.  They don't even have any good arguments left to fire at each other.  Which I think means we're hosed."

Dan Drezner "After last night's stunningly useless set of speeches, I'd put the odds of the U.S. not raising the debt ceiling by August 2nd at 1 in 2."

Nate Silver "To get something that is mutually agreeable to at least some members of Republican Study Committee and the Congressional Progressive Caucus is going to be extremely difficult."

The Sentimentality of Stuff

In preparation of a move in four short weeks, Steve and I are throwing away vast quantities of crap.

IKEA furniture that can't suffer another move. Gone.

Four Boy Scout uniforms that Steve's mom lovingly wrapped in paper. Gone.

A box of baseball trophies from 1979. Gone.

4 boxes of folders of xeroxed articles with notes and underlines used for two dissertations and intended for use in VERY IMPORTANT scholarly books. Gone. 

It's surprising how little we care about this crap that has occupied our home for seven years. We even found one box of stuff that was never unpacked when we moved here seven years ago. Why have we kept all this crap?

We're definitely in a tossing-out sort of mood. Really, all I need in life is my contact case, my iPhone, and the kids. Can't toss out the kids. They have laws. I don't even need my computer, because everything – pictures, address book, drafts of articles — is backed up in virtual space. 

However, in the midst of this mad pitching frenzy this weekend, I came across one box of old letters. Back in the days, children, people wrote letters to each other, instead of texting. Phone calls cost money, so chums didn't have long chats on their cellphones on the way to the Freshman college classes. They wrote letters.

I saved every letter that people sent me and wound them up with string. I briefly waded through the box of old letters yesterday. Should I pitch them or should I send them back to their owners for laughs?  I have letters from my artsy friend, Sue, who sent me funny notes about getting nearly thrown out of Harvard. Her doodles on the margin later appeared on the cover of Harvard Lampoon. I have letters from a friend at West Point detailing the ways that he got around the mandatory drug testing.

I also found at the bottom of the box two letters from a girl who later died at Lockerbie. She was a couple of years younger, so I perhaps too casual with our friendship. She sent me long letters as I went off college, but I was too distracted with college festivities to maintain our friendship. Three years later, she took a flight to Europe for a college travel program and never came back. 

Her family still lives in the area and I spent the weekend wondering if I should track them down and send them the letters. Would they be happy to see a snap shot of their daughter, who they lost so long ago, or would it open old wounds? 

The letters are sitting here on the desk. I still haven't decided what to do. They feel like a horcrux, but a good and honest one. There's a bit of the girl's soul in those envelopes. 

Those letters did put a damper on the mad pitching-frenzy this weekend. I sealed up the box of letters, along with some old diaries with three pages of writing in them and a photo of The Who. They'll make the move with me. 

Sun Worshippers, Rejoice!

According to Lifehacker, new studies show that we aren't getting enough Vitamin D, due to sun block. One scientist said, "We are the first society of cave people," he lamented to me in 2010. "In the development process of creating the skin, nature never dreamed that we'd deliberately avoid the Sun so thoroughly."

Without Vitamin D, we can develop terrible diseases. Tumors can spread quicker. There are even a few that say that it can lead to autism (but I'm not at all convinced). 

Still, I think the main finding of the research – we are Vitamin D deficient – is a serious concern. Go outside and garden for twenty minutes today. If I can't get a bad sunburn in 20 minutes, then you're all fine.