Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Endless Afghan...

I do not know how my Granny did it. So many afghans, both big and little ones. I'm sorry - I'm sooooooooooo over the Nephew Afghan! Now, I'm wondering why I ever took this on. And why it's a family tradition - well, that's my fault. Why couldn't I just do "wedding pillows" or something???

Perhaps for the next one, I'll start it now, and do it in neutral colors so that it won't matter. Just so I'm not on an afghan deadline. Afghan deadlines are the worst. I can think of about a dozen things I'd rather be doing than knitting on this thing. Up to and including CLEANING - anything... 

Today in History...

In 1964, the 24th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, eliminating the poll tax in federal elections. That was only 50 years ago. That could be someone's lifetime. 

Kiddos - a poll tax is an evil thing. And if conservatives have their way, we'll go back toward that. A poll tax was a tax set on people - one per head - to be able to vote. You see, we have the right to vote. But that's mainly us white folks. The poll tax was a great way to keep black folks from voting, as they usually couldn't afford the tax. Measly though it might seem now, a poll tax of a dollar was something back in the 1800s and even in the 1930s. A dollar was something big. 
Poll tax receipt

Here's what a poll tax receipt looks like. Study it, kids. And learn. This one is from 1964, from the state of Texas. You know - that great progressive state to our south. (Sorry -- I can dream, right?)  You see that it shows that Miss Kinsey is a white female, age 23. See, the thing is, poll taxes are a really good way to disenfranchise certain demographics. The poor, mostly. And the poor generally don't vote "the right" way - Republican, I mean. So, in this day and age, we really probably can't get away with an in-your-face poll tax. But hey - what we CAN do is gerrymander. 

To gerrymander is to set the boundaries for a particular precinct or geographical area to more heavily favor a certain party. And make no mistake, Democrats do this, too. But lately, with the Republican party chipping away at the Voting Rights Act, they're just the ones being more obvious. I mean, look at this graphic for a gerrymandered district. This is District 4 right here in Illinois. 

One would think that a voting district would have some geographical relevance, right? You'd be wrong. It's got POLITICAL relevance. Geography? Why bother? I mean, technically, there's no way that this district should be U-shaped. But it is. Because it heavily favors the Democratic party. And while I'm a Democrat, I have to say that this is insane. Here is an article showing, once again, that Illinois is the butt of political jokes. IL District 4 is a national poster child for dysfunctional drawing of districts. 

But hey - it gets Luis Gutierrez reelected. And it hasn't been challenged yet. 

And honestly? The Republicans aren't going to do any better. 

So what's a voter to do? 

Get off your rear end, for starters. Yes, it's early, but that means you have plenty of time to do your research. Look at the candidates running for local, state and federal offices. Do some digging. Decide what means the most to you and then go support the candidate you feel supports that issue.

I don't care, honestly, if you're one party or the other. The political inequality in this country is horrible, and with the Tea Party shoving the Republicans off the cliff all in favor of some restrictive, theocratic, run-by-old-white-guys government? Well, that's kind of their problem. 

It is, however, time for the sane people to reclaim this country. Take for example, this woman running against Jan Schakowsky. God, apparently, is mad at the US. So S/He sends us plagues in the form of autism and dementia. Because of gay marriage. 

Here's my biggest problem, aside from the fact that she's an idiot: "I'm a conservative Republican, and I believe in God first," she says. Ummmmmmmmmmm. No. Sorry - you may BELIEVE that, but that does not entitle you to hold public office. As a matter of fact, it's a disqualifier. You may NOT push YOUR religion down MY throat. 

Here, my dear, is how it's done, courtesy of now-Secretary of State John Kerry, when he was a senator:

“Too many people in America believe that if you are pro-choice that means pro-abortion. It doesn't. I don't want abortion. Abortion should be the rarest thing in the world. I am actually personally opposed to abortion. But I don't believe that I have a right to take what is an article of faith to me and legislate it to other people. That's not how it works in America.”

Notice the highlighted area. Then, see that last line?? "That's not how it works in America." That goes back all the way to our First Founder, George Washington. The United States of America is not, and was not ever meant to be, a Christian nation. 

Just wasn't. So all you conservative uber-Christians who want to have "less government" unless it means getting yourself into our bedrooms? You can't. It's not happening. 

The rest of us really need to get out and do our homework. We can't let the clock turn back. We could easily become India. Apparently, tribal elders decided that gang rape, in public, was an appropriate punishment for a girl in an "inappropriate" relationship. 

I could go on. But it's nauseating, and I think you get my point. 

Raisa Howls...

For your random picture/cute puppy thing today, I have a video of Hubby teaching Raisa to howl. The look on Quinn's face is amazing. "HOW is all that sound coming from that puppy???" 

She can howl just fine, actually. But it's fun when they talk back to you. Of course I say that now; I may regret that. I hope her voice mellows out. Right now, it's very piercing and "yappy." She has not yet learned to howl when the Elkhounds bark. Thankfully. 

Yet. It could happen. You never know. 

Other Than Knitting...

We're under a wind-chill warning. As we speak, here near Joliet, it's 4*F and it "feels like" -13*F. We may get all the way down to -30*F with wind... I was talking to our campus police chief, and he said he remembers the snow more than this kind of cold. 

I believe he's right. I remember snow and lots of "below zero" days, but not too many in the double-digits; and certainly not this kind of string of -20 being "the norm."

It's supposed to be like this till next Tuesday or thereabouts. I can handle the cold, but I can also say that I'm not used to being outside in THIS kind of cold.

As far as my brother's estate, the final tax returns have been prepared, and it looks like we'll be able to wind it up on schedule. Thank goodness. I'll be glad to have this done. I've sorted through everything and I have the "not important crap" and the "important crap." I will be shredding a lot of stuff, that's for sure. 

And otherwise, I'll be entering at least one of my France pics in our local photo contest. I'll have to keep you updated on how that goes. It's an "artsy" thing so I'm not sure. One person won an award last year for a picture of a couch on the street. Not so sure where that's coming from, but I've been told before that I'm entirely "too literal." 

I'm certainly not "artsy" and I don't get a lot in the art world. But we'll see if anyone has any affection for some gorgeous scenery. 

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