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Halloween Wonk

If you tramp the gloomy and spectral byways of Greek lore, sooner or later you will run across the tale of Erysichthon, a tale which goes back to a time when Time itself was but a swaddled suckling.

Come back with me.

Erysichthon was a bad, bad, man, brutal and arrogant. He cared for no man (or woman or child). Neither, in fact, did he care for the gods. Utterly impious, he had a penchant for gratuitous evil.

Lonely Street and Other Observations

For an Obamanista, my street--my neighborhood for that matter--is enemy territory. McCain signs all over the place. Some front lawns fairly bristle with Republican attitude: “McCain/Palin,” “Darren White for Congress,” “Steve Pearce for Senate,” “Another Family for McCain!” It’s their right, of course, but my “Obama/Biden” sign stands there like the last legionnaire, daunted but not, I hope, doomed. No one has ripped it up or defaced it. I’ll give my neighbors that.


What started me on this color business (see “Colors”) was the generally bad reputation that yellow struggles under. Never mind that yellow can be associated with gold and sunshine and buttercups and ribbons ‘round the old oak tree. Never mind that it has become a very popular color for sporty cars lately—my late, lamented Metro convertible was a brilliant yellow. On balance, yellow has suffered a bad rep, or rap, through the centuries.


so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

(Wm. Carlos Williams)

The Great Irony Kerfuffle

Well, Shea is late again. I hated to interrupt the coinage sequels, and Macinstruct has been in the summer doldrums, Matt and I indulging ourselves in travel and just kicking back, relishing the welcome rain and dodging the heat. But now, like the Terminator, we’re baaack!

Pennies and Quarters and Dollars, Oh My!

Long live the penny! And live long it probably will, despite Jim Kolbe’s efforts (see “A Nickel for Your Thoughts” and “A Penny Saved or a Penny Spurned?”). The U.S. Mint says that there are no plans to discontinue it. As to what it costs to make a penny—I first said 1.4 cents and then 1.7 cents—the actual cost seems only slightly less volatile than the commodities market (which may be no surprise). At this writing, however, it does cost more than a penny to make a penny. The folks at the mint say they are always working to bring that cost down. More power to them.

A Penny Saved or a Penny Spurned?

Last week I outlined Question 1 on the AP exam: should we get rid of the penny?*

A Nickel for Your Thoughts

Empty your pocket or purse. How much change do you have? I have only 41 cents at the moment: three dimes, a nickel, and six pennies. (I had a bunch of quarters, but I washed the Little Red Beast on the way in this morning.)

I do have a point, which I’ll get to in a moment.

Dark and Stormy Night

These things always start innocently enough. I was browsing in a new reference book and came across the entry for the prolific Victorian writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The only thing noted besides his name and dates was the fact that Bulwer-Lytton is notorious for having written the worst opening line in English letters: “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Chagrin and Politics

One could argue that chagrin and politics go together like salt and pepper. More on that later, perhaps. But this chagrin—mine—arises from the fact that a week after I wrote the “Rainy Day” wonk, there came another wonderful rainy day: Sandias socked in, sky a dripping dome, and so forth. This after I had sworn to you that Albuquerque was only slightly more moist than the Atacama Desert in Chile. What can I say? Well, I’m happy to eat my words or crow or whatever else is on the menu.

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