Archive for April, 2007

Tax Women Less?

April 29, 2007

Caitlin sent me this blog post about why we should tax women at a lower rate than men. Read it, and tell me what you think in the comments. Would you go this far? Is it discriminatory to create monetary policies that explicitly react to the differences in economic contributions between men and women? Is that acceptable because we’re not equal yet, or is it a step backwards to codify inequality in the tax code? When do we draw the line and stop taxing men and women differently?


You know what they say about DC cabbies…

April 25, 2007

Well forget what you’ve heard and listen to this. Somewhere around 15th and Euclid tonight my cab driver pulled over to pick up two other male passengers. After much insisting on my part that they were not “cute” and that we could certainly do better, and finally the men’s rejection of my cabbie’s offer to ferry them to their destination, we pressed on.

He then honked at a woman crossing the street who held an “impeach him” sign. He told me he agreed with the sign (and obviously was not honking at the woman in her revealing tank top and slinky sarong), so I reminded him that if we impeached Bush we’d be stuck with Cheney.

“Impeach them both!” Ok, I said, then impeach them both.

“I try not to kill anyone on Wednesdays,” he told me. “If I can go a day every week without killing, so can he. No killing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Philistine. It doesn’t have to be Wednesday. Friday, or Sunday is fine, too.” My cabbie spoke very good English.

“Do you take Wednesdays off from killing, too?”

Umm, excuse me? Is this some kind of sarcastic/ironic game we’re playing sir? Instead, I said, “Oh no, I never kill anyone on Wednesdays.”

As we neared my house, he treaded into territory previously unknown to me: “How many people have you killed?”

Please let this be some kind of sarcastic/ironic game we’re playing, sir. Instead, I went with the old standby: “No, I try not to kill people ever, actually.”

“Oh, well, how did you feel in school when you got a zero?” I was being admonished by my cabdriver for never having touched another person in a violent and lifethreatening manner. “Or in basketball, when you don’t score any baskets?”

This was the point at which I admitted it felt awful to get a zero or never score points. It was also the point at which I pointed him to a house three doors away from my own, asked how much, handed him my twenty, and ran away as fast as I could.

As I hopped up my stairs, I heard him say, “You really should try it sometime. Not on a Wednesday, but sometime…”

Pandas! Polar Bears! Cuteness Oh My!

April 24, 2007

Today was “Panda Day” in DC. Because the Chinese let us keep Tai Shan for another two years. According to Wonkette, it’s because China has more cute baby ones and Tai Shan is just last year’s washed up cute animal. The Washington Post felt the need to remind everyone why we fell in love with Tai Shan in the first place, even though he’s now about two-thirds the size of his parents and no longer qualifies as the new hip cute thing in the world.

It’s probably all a carefully timed publicity ploy (apparently the panda relations/PR person employed by the Smithsonian makes almost as much as disgraced secretary Larry Small–but don’t quote me on that because my source was a frivolous trivia night conversation) to take away from the enormous popularity of Knut and redirect attention to the forgotten, overgrown panda who was all the rage in DC last year.

Poor Tai Shan. He just can’t compete. But as Derek wisely pointed out, pandamania vs. polar-ice-bear-mania in DC can be measured by number of Wonkette posts devoted to said cute animal.  And by that measure, Tai Shan still beats the cutepants off Knut, by about a hundred to two.

Pandamonium. Pandamania. Call it what you will, apparently we’ll never get over it here in DC, no matter how many renditions of beedogs, Knut blog, or Alberto Gonzalez charming the pants off Congress* we see. Maybe this is why they won’t give us the vote.

*Note to reader: this never actually happened.

Shocking Finds from GAO

April 24, 2007

A new GAO study reported that federal employees are abusing their metro benefits by collecting more than they need then selling extras on the black market. Or using them for personal transportation that’s not to and from work. Or giving them to spouses. Or having parking permits and collecting metro cards. This is a program that’s costing taxpayers $250 million per year.

The most ironic story of a federal employee? A delinquent IRS worker:

A worker at the Internal Revenue Service received monthly transit subsidies since 2004 and at the same time had a free parking space at his office. He told investigators that he sold Metrocheks valued at $930 on eBay.

That’s just unecessary. But another anecdote indicates that maybe the federal government may be just as much at fault for neglecting the program as its employees are for abusing it:

A worker at the Commerce Department left her job in 2001 but received benefits until 2006, when she changed addresses and the agency caught the mistake. By that time, she had sold Metrocheks worth $4,000, according to the GAO.

They didn’t know she didn’t work for them for FIVE YEARS? Come on, government, get with it and hire some auditors. Or just let your employees post on Craigslist warnings like the following:

Reply to:
Date: 2007-04-24, 4:37PM EDT

Dude, if you’re selling metro cards on Craigs List and eBay, stop it!!!! GAO came out with a report and busted a bunch of you guys. Find another way to make money or we’ll all lose our benefits. There’s already legislation introduced. See the report below.

Loving CraigsList

April 24, 2007

We all have the realization at some point in our lives that we are in a constant on-again-off-again torrid love affair with Craigslist. Sometimes, you just need to sit down and have a little quality time with Craig and his list–whether you’re looking for housing, jobs, sex in the library, or a new dresser. Today I intended to find some quality volunteer work to fill a vague hole of meaning in my life, but instead I found this post:

I’m a grad student at American University (Washington DC) making a film about lawn care in America.

I would like to get some shots of homeowners mowing, applying fertilizer, pesticides, mulch, ya know, just general lawn care. I don’t want to seem too intrusive but would like some close-up shots of spraying, seeding, etc.

Would you be willing to let me film you? If you prefer, you would remain strictly anonymous in the film so there is no need to worry about privacy matters. I probably would be with you for thirty minutes and wouldn’t interrupt your work too much.

If you’re willing, I would like to ask you some questions as well on camera and can give you the questions in advance so you know what to expect. If you don’t want to be asked any questions, no problem.

That’s about as far as the story goes. I don’t have a lawn, so he can’t film me tending to it, but I felt an affinity for this AU grad student and fellow obsessor over all things lawn-related (warning: shameless self-promotion).  Perhaps I will contact him about being an on-camera expert. Then again, that part of my life is languishing in the period when I actually used my brain on a daily basis.


April 14, 2007

Occassionally I get bored. Then I start brainstorming. One time this brainstorming led to a brainchild, a business notion that grew to a concept and with a little more funding it may even turn into an idea. And with some ingenuity and creativity and collaboration, PretensIce was born.

As soon as my career in changing the world by answering phones combusts in a cloud of particulated boredom, I will open a literary-themed ice cream store. I’ve listened to my fans, and several of you have clamored for a list of the flavors. So here they are. Please add your own in the comments section-it really is a great game and conversation starter.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Sundae
A Rum Raisin in the Sun
M. Peanut Butterfly

The Russians
Banana Karenina
Crime and Punishmint chip
War and Peach
The Brothers Caramelzov

Butter PeKant

Leaves of Graspberry Sorbet
Cake Batter My Heart

Gravity’s Rainbow Sherbet
The Vanilla Bean Trees
On the Rocky Road
The Grape Gatsby
Invisible Mango Sorbet
A Farewell to Almonds
Heart of Dark Chocolate
Fear and Loquats in Las Vegas (sorbet)
Butter Pecandide (the sequel to Butter PeKant)

New Feature

April 1, 2007

Check out the feed that’s new to my site. I’ll use it to post the best of the thought-provoking, amusing, or just plain useless articles I read all day long to the blog.

To start, I’ve linked to some articles mentioned earlier, but also a great piece from the New York Times’s Education section about pressure on high school girls. Worth reading if you ever were an overachieving high school girl (the article calls us ‘amazing’ for the record) or ever knew an overachieving high school girl.

Also, two of these girls let the Times publish their college essays. I’ve linked to the one I found more compelling. The other girl dropped vocabulary words like a social climber in DC drops power-laden names at a cocktail party. Anyway, I shouldn’t comment too much, since I know how hard it is to write one of these things and actually come off as genuine, but it’s still some kind of insight into the mind of the college admissions game. Just to remind us who’ve already left the place that the game is still competitive as ever.