Stay tuned.

Last night’s dream:

The ‘Rolla has suffered some damage to the front passenger door. I take it to a repair shop. I point out the damage, and ask them how long it will take to fix. The mechanic says an hour.

There’s a diner next door. I walk in and sit at the counter. The waitress is perhaps fifteen, twenty years older than me, and looks good for her age. I order soup and half a sandwich, and ask for a paper. The waitress says, “That’s our only copy,” and points to the other end of the counter.

There sits a very tired-looking man, whose two kids are bouncing around the diner and playing with the jukebox. He looks like he’d wish them away if he could, just so he could read in peace and quiet for just ten minutes. Problem is, aside from wish, he does absolutely nothing to shut his kids up so that I can eat and not-read in peace.

The waitress apologizes for not having an extra paper, and then quietly adds, “And I’m sorry about the noise.” The guy and his kids are there the full miserable, noisy, newspaperless hour. I pay my bill, leave a few bucks as tip and walk out.

I return to the auto repair shop. The mechanic says the car’s ready to go. I pay him and collect my keys. I go to the lot and see my car, parked with the driver’s side facing me. I hop in without bothering to check the passenger door. I buckle up.

The power-lock button on the driver-side door had been broken so long that, even though it’s been fixed, I still reach across to the passenger side to lock the doors. This action is pretty ingrained, so without looking, I lean over and reach for the button. I miss. No big deal, I reach for the button again. Nothing but air. I look up.

The passenger door is missing. Happily, it’s not missing for long—I lean over and see that it’s lying on the ground, handle broken, plastic torn, glass shattered, cloth ripped, and fiberglass dented.

I go back inside and ask the mechanic, “What the hell did you do to my door? Is this a joke? Am I on candid camera or something?”

He doesn’t seem to know what I’m talking about. I lead him outside and show him.

“Oh, that,” he says.

“Yeah, that.”

“So, you… want us to fix it?”

“What do you think?”

“It’ll be another hour.” (Keep in mind, this is a dream.)

I’m pissed off. One of two things is going to happen: either these guys are going to fix my car gratis or they’re going to pay for somebody else to fix it. Either way, I can’t use my car until the repairs are done. I had other plans for the day, but since it’d probably take an hour to have a ride show up or to get a rental, I may as well just wait.

I toss him the keys, and say, “Get to work.”

I walk back towards the diner. I sit at the same seat. Beleaguered Man and his two angels are gone. I tell the waitress the story. She gives me a free piece of cake to cheer me up. I read the paper in peace and quiet. After the hour is up, I walk back to the repair shop.

I go straight to the spot where my car was earlier. The car is still there, the door is not. It’s nowhere in sight.

The mechanic comes out of the shop, and says, “Car’s ready, sir.”

I skip right past flabbergastedness and go straight to the assumption that the mechanic is being malicious, not incompetent.

I say, “Wait here,” and head back to the diner. The waitress greets me. I tell her the situation, and beg her to have somebody cover for her so she can act as a witness for me. She agrees, tells the cook she’ll be right back, and walks out with me.

We go back to the shop. The mechanic is still there, the car is not. It’s not in the parking lot, it’s not in the shop, it’s not up on the hydraulic lift. It’s nowhere.

I yell, “Where the hell is my car?”

The mechanic says, very calmly, “Sir, do you have a problem with our service?”

I say, “I’m done dealing with you. I’ll talk to your boss.”

I storm inside and demand to see the manager. A man comes out and introduces himself as the manager and owner. I brusquely explain what has happened, and cap it with, “Give my car and my money back now or I own this place.”

He says, “Let me check in the back, sir.” As he heads into a back room, I step outside to find my witness.

I don’t see her anywhere. She didn’t come inside the shop, or I would’ve seen her. The mechanic stands where my car had been, just looking at me. I don’t bother asking him where she is.

The only logical possibility is that she went back to the diner. I run over to the diner and step inside. She’s not there.

I ask the cook, “Did she come back?” He shakes his head “no.”

I head back to the shop. I ask the mechanic where she is. He smiles and, very calmly, says, “Who?”

At this point, I woke up. I don’t know where it was going. Did they make her disappear? Was she in on it, whatever “it” was? Was it a prank? Was it incompetence? Was I somehow getting my own car mixed up with someone else’s? Did I rescue the girl (if she needed rescuing) and blow the place up? Who knows. Maybe it’ll resume another night.


I have a subconjunctival hæmorrhage in my left eye. I would’ve simply said “broken blood vessel,” but that would’ve deprived me of the opportunity to use the Old English letter “ash” (æ). I don’t know why a blood vessel in my eye burst, but on the off chance that it was from working, I won’t do any more of that ’til next week.

It hasn’t gotten any bigger, but it is moving towards the iris. Hopefully it’ll just have a look at the iris, hop right back into whatever vessel it came from, lock up behind itself and go right back to circulating.

Actual post soon to come.


  1. Anonymous Says:

    That looks painful. By the way, I got into U of Chicago.

    March 25th, 2009 at 7:37 pm
  2. Vincent Viscariello Says:

    It was no more painful than having blood on your skin. And I congratulate you, whoever you are.

    March 25th, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Merry Christmas 2008!

Merry Christmas! It’s currently 75° and a little cloudy, which is to say it feels nothing like Christmas at all. Last year I saw snow, though I had to drive a thousand miles to do so. This year, nada. Oh well. The good news is that there’s been less “gifting” this year, so the family is making some progress on that front.

Sunday night was the annual high-school mini-reunion. It went a little more smoothly this year than usual due to more widespread use of Facebook (easier planning) and going to Golden Corral instead of Buca de Beppo (less expensive). It was good to catch up with folks I normally only see at Christmas, and a few people I haven’t seen since the ten-year reunion, if not longer.

The Planner of the Mini-Reunion told an amusing story. This winter, she and a bunch of friends had occasion to have their pictures taken with Santa. One friend, a lesbian, sat on Santa’s lap…

SANTA: What would you like for Christmas?

LESBIAN FRIEND: I’d like Prop 8 to be repealed [NOTE: Proposition 8 abolished gay marriage in California].

SANTA: Oh… Actually, I supported Prop 8.

Awkward silence ensues.

The Planner then said, “Nice. Santa hates gays.”

I replied, “The man is a Catholic saint. What did you expect?”

I probably should have just shut up.

The next night was Chicago’s ridiculous, must-win comeback victory against Green Bay. Great ending. The Bears block a short field goal attempt as time runs out, forcing overtime. At the coin flip, Green Bay calls “tails,” the ref flips the coin, which bounces off Brian Urlacher’s helmet and then lands “heads.” Bears receive the kickoff, zip down the field, kick the field goal to win the game and stay in the playoff race. Now the Bears “just” need to beat Houston and need either (A) Minnesota to lose to the Giants, or (B) both Dallas and Tampa Bay to lose. It won’t be easy, and it’ll be a disappointment if they fall short, but at least they spoiled Green Bay’s chance to spoil the Bears’ playoff hopes.

The day before the night before Christmas, I found a few leftover Christmas cards at Dad’s house. Feeling a momentary twinge of what I suppose “guilt” feels like due to not getting gifts for anybody, and deciding that a card is a little bit like a gift, I figured I’d mail them to a few buddies I hadn’t seen in a while. Besides, they were free and probably would’ve cluttered the house anyways.

The cards featured Santa and the reindeer relaxing in deck chairs on a cruise ship, being served drinks by a penguin—which is total nonsense because penguins don’t live at the North Pole in real life. The inscription read, “What a wonderful season, what a wonderful reason to send holiday greetings to you.” I wrote “Christmas” in black magic marker over the word “holiday.” It occurred to me that that might offend a particular friend who is a devout evangelical atheist. The thought of her outrage tickled me.

Last night we had Christmas Eve dinner at my aunt’s house. She made lasagna rolls like Gram used to. While everyone else had one or two servings before moving on to cookies, I went back for fourths and fifths of the lasagna. I can get cookies any old time.

There was some discussion about whether my aunt’s lasagna and crescent cookies were as good as my grandmother’s were. The consensus was that no, they weren’t, how could they be? This was Gram’s cooking we were talking about.

Most people would agree that their mothers were better cooks than they are. Therefore, your mother is a better cook than you, your spouse or your children could ever hope to be; your grandmother was a better cook than your mother; your great-grandmother was even better than that, and so on. We can draw two conclusions from this:

1. The human diet is worse now than it has ever been in history, and we are doomed to a future of burnt, cold, overcooked, undercooked, overcooked, dry, soggy, tasteless crap that has too much salt and that moms didn’t even make enough of.

2. Eve was the greatest cook ever.

Off to my Jewish mother’s home for the traditional Christmas dinner of pizza and shrimp. L’chaim.


  1. Loopy..yes me!! Says:

    Pete Rose is mad you snagged his haircut when you were little.

    December 30th, 2008 at 2:42 am

The shame of a noble city.

For the record, I am shocked and appalled that any politician hailing from Chicago could be even remotely linked to any sort of corrupt activity. Rod Blagojevich owes an apology to the entire state of Illinois. But before he does, he should publicly get on his knees and beg for forgiveness from past holders of the governorship he has now sullied—giants such as Otto Kerner, Jr., Dan Walker, and George Ryan (#16627-424).

Chicago must be humiliated to know that one of her sons had stooped so low as to seek filthy, dirty money in exchange for an appointment to the Senate, that august upper chamber of the United States Congress. What must the current Mayor Daley think of him? What must Dan Rostenkowski, whose congressional seat was once held by Blagojevich, think of him? What would Chicago’s long-dead statesmen—Mayor Daley the First, Big Bill Thompson, Alphonse Capone—think of him? He owes them… heck, he owes every voter currently residing in Chicago’s cemeteries a sincere apology and a meaningful act of penance.

But more than anyone else, Barack Obama, the President-Elect himself, deserves an apology from Governor Blagojevich. Surely Mr. Obama knew nothing of these goings-on and, being a trusting soul, had not even the faintest inkling that Blagojevich—a man he’d worked with as a state legislator, a man he’d advised during campaigns and whose support he sought in his own campaigns—would try to sell access to Obama’s old Senate seat. Thank the heavens that we got Barack out of Illinois politics before it could taint him.

Seriously, though, Blagojevich sucks and needs to rot in prison.

A little research reveals that Kerner went to prison in part because he accepted bribes in exchange for placing expressway exits near a particular racetrack in Arlington Heights, Illinois. When I’d drive up to see my aunts, I’d take one of those exits to get to their house. Thanks, Otto! You probably saved me a few hours’ worth of driving time over the last few years.


  1. Asim Abbasi Says:

    Hey, I can’t figure out if you’re being sarcastic about Barack Obama when you said “Surely Mr. Obama knew nothing of these goings-on and, being a trusting soul, had not even the faintest inkling …”

    Asim (Strong Barack Obama supporter)

    December 12th, 2008 at 3:35 pm
  2. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:

    Now we know the real reason you couldn’t get a job in Illinois. You didn’t offer enough to Rod. Gotta pay to play.

    December 18th, 2008 at 10:41 am
  3. Vincent Viscariello Says:


    I can’t figure out if you’re being sarcastic by asking. This probably means we haven’t hung out in too long.

    December 19th, 2008 at 5:39 pm

“Why would someone not want presents?”

In response to a question from the previous post’s comments:

Many moons ago, I became disenchanted with making birthday and Christmas lists. I figured that if I listed the items that I wanted others to give to me, and they listed the items that they wanted other others, including me, to give to them, then it would be most efficient for everyone to go out and get those items for themselves.

Now, being mostly human, I knew perfectly well that “efficiency” was not the point of exchanging gifts. “It’s the thought that counts,” right? But it seemed to me that there wasn’t much thought or sentiment in buying stuff from a list. So I decided to put the would-be list-readers in a position where the thought really would count. I resolved to never again make a birthday or Christmas list. If anyone were to get me a gift, they were going to have to put some real thought into it–to think real hard about me and what I wanted. It was both clever and selfish.

I was pretty proud of myself, but then I realized that to be consistent, I would have to extend my resolution. I resolved to never again read or heed anyone else’s wish lists. (There will inevitably be n exceptions to this rule, where n equals the number of my descendants, plus my wife if I expect her to actually let me have any descendants.) I thought more about the people my gifts were intended for, and I felt better about the gifts I got them. All was well.

Then I grew tired of all the thinking and the gifting. If I want an item and it’s November or December, I don’t want to have to wait until my birthday or Christmas or Hanukkah (my mom’s been Jewish for a while) to see whether I got it. And I don’t want to buy it and have to see the disappointment on a gift-giver’s face when they see that I already have the exact same item. So I just buy the items I want when I want them, and tell everybody not to get me anything. It’s working better and better with each passing holiday.

Besides, the more time and effort that gets spent on gifts means that less time and effort gets spent on what really matters on those special occasions: the appetizers, meal, desserts, and the mere act of showing up to celebrate with others. So now I have a pretty simple policy: no gifts that aren’t food or drink. If you want to give me a gift, buy yourself something you really want, whenever you want, and I’ll reciprocate.

This is certain to be a point of contention ‘twixt myself and future-Missus-V (there isn’t one yet, and if whoever-she-is reads this, things may get all paradoxical-like): I really won’t want to register for any wedding gifts. On that glorious day, all I’ll want is to have my family and friends, and my bride’s family and friends, to show up and cook for me us.


Doctor Hmnahmna Says:
So, what kind of wines do you like? I may work on a bottle of Virginny’s finest for you.
December 2nd, 2008 at 7:51 pm

The Other Mr. V Says:
Mr. V, you seriously have the most outlandish ideas I’ve ever heard, but at least they make logical sense. Good luck on the whole “Future-Missus-V” thing.
December 3rd, 2008 at 9:31 pm

future-Missus-V Says:
To “The Other Mr. V”
Your sarcasm on wishing Mr. V good luck on find his future love, is not appreciated. I know its going to happen. I just do. One day Mr. V will meet me and I will truly be the future-Missus-V.
of course i can still dream can’t I?
December 6th, 2008 at 10:51 pm

Mr. Ugamoogahumbabanoonga Says:
Did you go to James Weldon for middle school?
December 6th, 2008 at 11:23 pm

The Other Mr. V Says:
To “future-Missus-V”
There was absolutely no sarcasm when I wished Mr. V good luck on finding a wife. She’s out there somewhere, they just have to meet. Apparently you yourself think you are to be the one, so good luck to as well.
December 8th, 2008 at 5:57 pm

future-Missus-V Says:
To “The Other Mr.V”

My apologies for doubting your good wishes, but people these days never say things that they actually mean. And many thanks for wishing me good luck on my very plausible marriage to Mr. v. We’ve already met a couple times, but he just has to KNOW that I’m the one.
January 12th, 2009 at 10:30 pm

On turning 30, again.

It occurs to me that there’s nothing special about turning 31, or 32 for that matter. In some cultures, 33 is a big deal because that’s how old Christ was when he was crucified. So this year, instead of turning 31, I’m going to turn 29 again. That way, I can heighten the drama next year when I turn “30,” and then the following year I’ll just turn 33. I’ll turn 33 again the year after that, and then turn 35. I’ll hold at 35 for the next four years, then turn 39 so I can have the big buildup to 40. None of this Jack Benny nonsense where I’m 39 for the rest of my life—that’s just silly.

–Me, “On turning 29,” November 23, 2007

In keeping with last year’s plan, I am turning 30 for the second and final time. On to 33 next year.

This birthday marks the closest I’ve yet come to my goal of receiving no birthday gifts aside from cards and food. The lone exception thus far was a movie theater gift card. Still, that’s remarkable progress.

Morning: woke up late after dreaming that I was playing soccer with a goalie clamped on to my ankle, and the ref never noticed. Got a week’s worth of paperwork out of the way.

Lunch: PB&J and two cups of tea. Tracked the Bears’ game over the internet. Bears defeated the Rams, 27-3. Saw that the MLS Cup Final was on TV, didn’t care. Made some photocopies.

Dinner: Chicago deep-dish with pepperoni and black olives. Watched the Cardinals attempt a “fair catch kick” (which I’d read about, but never seen) at the end of the first half. They shanked. Argued with parents over details of various stories from long ago.

Cake: chocolate with rich white frosting–a nearly-last-minute decision, because I couldn’t remember which type of cake was my favorite. I’m still not sure I guessed right.

Last school year, I worked on earning certification form the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Only 35% of teachers earn it on their first attempt. It’s a national certificate honored by every state, it’s good for 10 years at a time, it counts for as many as nine credits towards a master’s degree, and it means a raise (I mean a big raise, a sell-the-’Rolla-and-buy-two-Bentleys-and-a-Lear-jet raise). In March, I sent the Board a portfolio documenting and analyzing my teaching abilities, including two 15-minute DVDs packed with high-octane teaching action, starring me. In June, I took a computerized test with six essay questions on history, economics, political science, demography, etc. And then I waited.

On Thursday night, I got an e-mail warning me that my certification scores would be posted mid-morning on Friday. So naturally, I assumed that “mid-morning on Friday” meant “we’ve already posted it, and lied to you about Friday” and checked ten, twelve times before going to bed that night.

Friday morning, I checked the NBPTS website before I left for work, hoping that “mid-morning” meant 7 AM. I got to work and checked again, hoping that “mid-morning” meant 7:30. I checked right before first period started, hoping that “mid-morning” meant 8:10-ish.

The 9:55 bell rang to end first period. I got on the net, logged on to the site, and saw “Scores available for 2007-08 Candidates!” I entered the login information and hit enter.

The first word I saw was “Congratulations!”

I didn’t bother reading the rest. I did the celebration I used to do when beating my college roommate at NHL ‘95 on the Sega Genesis, ran down the hall and gave the thumbs up to the co-worker who’d been my mentor throughout the process, and then sauntered back to my classroom.

Granted, the funding’s probably going to get cut. But that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming about swimming in a marble silo filled with gold coins.

During my planning period, I read the rest. “You are a National Board Certified Teacher! …blah blah blah… Your total weighted scaled score, exercise scores and weighted exercise scores are shown in your score profile.” I clicked on the score profile and saw that I scored well above the cutoff. But the more I looked at it, the angrier I got. I should have scored higher. I should have done better. I wondered whether I could re-submit the portfolio and re-take the test to get closer to a perfect score.

I have since come to my senses. I have my national certificate. I’ll shut up and be grateful.


  1. The Muslim Thunder Says:

    Happy Birthday and congrats Mr. V, that certification is well deserved. I meant to visit Paxon and catch up/discuss election results with you, because four years ago you had Mr. President-Elect pegged as a candidate in this election, and I applaud, and say to whoever doesn’t care “My AP Government teacher predicted the future”. Anyway, I hope to stop by Paxon soon and see you. ‘Grats and belated birthday wishes again.

    November 28th, 2008 at 10:34 pm
  2. JBubba57 Says:


    “On turning 29. Friday, November 23rd, 2007″

    You wrote:

    “This Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful:
    …that I am me. I can’t imagine the horror of being anyone else. It chills me.”

    Printed saying on a t-shirt: “It’s not easy being me. But someone’s gotta do it!”

    December 1st, 2008 at 1:50 pm
  3. unknown Says:

    why would someone not want presents?

    December 1st, 2008 at 6:29 pm
  4. hunkofhubba Says:

    wanna have kids Mr. V?

    December 1st, 2008 at 6:52 pm
  5. Vincent Viscariello Says:

    Not with you, dude. That’s sick.

    December 1st, 2008 at 10:07 pm
  6. Vincent Viscariello Says:


    The answer’s in the next post.

    December 1st, 2008 at 10:11 pm
  7. hunkofhubba Says:

    Mr. V the marginal revenue of kids increases as the supply increases as well

    December 2nd, 2008 at 5:52 pm
  8. tone-I Says:

    hey Mr. V! Isn’t it supposed to be the marginal BENEFIT of kids will increase cause marginal revenue implies that your making your kids work?

    December 13th, 2008 at 5:09 pm

On Quantum of Solace, part two.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and do not wish to have any clue or hint revealed unto you, don’t read this post. Also, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time editing this one, so… yeah.

First, Quantum of Solace (hereafter QOS) is not the typical 007 flick. There’s no “Bond, James Bond.” No “Shaken, not stirred.” No Q. No Moneypenny. The film doesn’t open with the white dots and the gunbarrel motion. The women’s names aren’t double-entendres, and he doesn’t sleep with all of them. His final disposition of the major villains is not what you’d expect. It’s not as escapist as other films in the series. Some folks’ll be disappointed.

Second, QOS is a true sequel; it picks up right where the last one left off–and the filmmakers assume you’ve seen the last one, Casino Royale. They don’t rehash everything about White, Vesper, Le Chiffre, or “the organization”; they refer and allude and move on.

I enjoyed it. Despite having more action than Casino Royale did, QOS is actually one of the more subtle and thoughtful 007 flicks (if such a thing exists). You don’t see every kill on screen. You don’t hear every conversation. You don’t get every question answered. You only get a hint of what that bad guys are up to, and they barely even mention the name of the organization, “Quantum.” Perhaps best of all, they don’t bother to explain the title—they trust the viewer to figure it out.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. They obviously named the bad guys “Quantum” to match the title—which was totally unnecessary, and distracts the viewer from the real meaning of the title. The producers should have come up with a different name, such as… oh, I don’t know, SPECTRE? Since that’s clearly what Quantum is supposed to be? The Broccoli family needs to shell out some bucks so they can use SPECTRE again. Then the next movie can open with the villains having a meeting where the first order of business is re-branding. Number One can execute one of his underlings for purchasing thousands of new business cards with the wrong watermark.

The featured baddie was one Mr. Greene, smarmy and diabolical without being psychotic or cartoonish, but it was clear that even he was only one small part of Quantum. We only got a glimpse of the rest of the organization; Bond flushes them out at a viewing of Tosca (a scene that was probably the most artistic piece in any Bond movie), and then they disappear.

Speaking of the artistry, I liked most of the graphic effects by MK12. The moving font in the title sequence was cool. The title sequence itself was a nice return to good old-fashioned naked women squirming around as bullets fly all over the place and silhouettes fall from the sky. I liked the stylized title cards for each new location. I loved the different colored subtitles when the cabbie was speaking Spanish and Mathis was speaking Italian—yes, it’s a crack in the fourth wall, but I laughed when I saw it.

I don’t remember any of the silly lines we’ve come to expect in Bond movies thanks to the Moore and Brosnan films. In fact, Bond is robbed of a cheap joke at Agent Fields’ expense, because her ridiculous first name (Strawberry) isn’t revealed until the closing credits. I liked “Don’t bleed to death.” Bond’s take on Fields’ cover story and his line about finding the stationery reminded me of Fleming’s novels, where the humor was wry and dry.

The music was fine. I barely noticed the score, which means it didn’t hurt the movie. I think the highlight is a cool little piece at the end of the closing credits called “Crawl, End Crawl” by Four Tet. It’s a remix of parts of the score, and makes for good walkin’-outta-the-theatre music. But the title song? Well, I can appreciate that they tried to carry over some motifs from “You Know My Name,” but it sounds like Jack White and Alicia Keys are singing karaoke. They should’ve just left out the vocals and gone instrumental. Actually, I’ve heard the theme song from the QOSvideo game; it sounds better than White and Keys, and it fits the theme of the movie a bit better.

One major complaint: I hated a couple of the action sequences because I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on. Sure, I knew that there was a car chase, or that Bond was chasing Mitchell, or that there was a fight—but Forster needs to hold the camera further back so that I can actually make spatial sense of the action. Yeah, I know, the lightning-fast cuts are exciting and reflect the speed and confusion of the fight, but it made the movie less enjoyable to me.

And another thing: I can accept that the filmmakers tinkered with the gunbarrel sequence at the beginning of Casino Royale. However, going two consecutive movies without the gunbarrel sequence is tempting fate. Those two white dots and that gunbarrel are supposed to trumpet the arrival of roughly two hours of Bondian awesomeness. What MK12 did to it at the end of this movie seemed more fitting for a video game or an advertisement. For the next one, just put it back where it belongs at the beginning of the film and no one will get hurt.

There’s plenty more to be said, but it’s late, so I’ll close on an underwhelming note of approval: I half-expected to walk out of this movie feeling suicidal, like I did after seeing Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day. That didn’t happen, so Quantum of Solace was good enough that I didn’t question the purpose of my own existence. It wasn’t as good as Casino Royale, but this fan of the Fleming novels (i.e., I) thought it was still pretty durn good. It’ll hold me over for the next two years.


  1. 4B Says:

    Happy birthday Mr.V!!!
    Don’t forget to study that Econ!!

    November 23rd, 2008 at 4:09 pm
  2. Mr. Ugamoogahumbabanoonga Says:

    By “shaken not stirred”, are you referring to the rap by Kevin Gnappor from ‘mean girls’?

    December 3rd, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Advice as promised.

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

In no particular order:

1. You want to raise the capital gains tax. Don’t. Do not. Not even a teensy tiny little bit. Ignore the hootin’ and hollerin’ about selling out to “Wall Street” or “Big Business” or “The Man” that would undoubtedly ensue from some of your backers. Higher capital taxes encourage capital flight, i.e., investment dollars would fly overseas.

2. You want to give 95% of “working families” a tax cut, and raise taxes on the other 5%. Don’t. I mean, do, and don’t. Do give the 95% the tax cut, but leave the other 5% alone—especially since you’re planning to go after their capital gains, too.

3. I don’t know what your energy plan was, because by the time you got to it in the debates I flipped over to the cartoon channel. Anyways, permit more domestic oil drilling and fire up more nuclear reactors. This is especially important considering that Russia, Iran, and Qatar may form a natural gas cartel. The increase in energy supply (and the mere expectation of such) will put downward pressure on energy prices. That’s not to say energy prices won’t rise regardless, but at least you’ll be doing as much as you can to lower them.

4. Keep your promise of a “net spending cut.” There was some talk in your campaign of reducing federal tax revenues to around 18 percent of GDP. That’s fine, as long as the federal tax spending is around 18 percent of GDP also. This’ll have the effect of lowering the average effective federal tax rate. I don’t know that there’s an official statistic for that, but the short version is “the lower, the better, and the easier to pay off national debt.”

5. This one isn’t advice so much as it is a warning. Even if you try to make the tax code more “progressive” (i.e., the richer pay higher tax rates), some imbecile will nonetheless scream at you for being a shill for the rich. Why? Raising the marginalrates on the rich may increase the percentage of total tax revenues paid by the poor. Why? Because when the rich hear that the government intends to raise their income taxes and their capital gains taxes and their Social Security/Medicare taxes, they’ll become less productive, and there’s less income and wealth to tax. Atlas may very well shrug.

The advice now gets shorter, because I’m getting tired.

6. Maintain every free trade agreement we have, and sign as many more as possible.

7. Announce that pennies now count as nickels, and then slowly take them out of circulation, replacing them with real nickels. Put Lincoln on new dollar coins the size of the old Ike dollars. Also, start printing $500 bills again. I am not a crackpot.

8. Tell Bernanke to stop watching the Dow Jones and to do his damn job, which is to keep the dollar stable.

9. Abolish the concept of “off-budget” revenues and expenditures. Every dollar spent should appear in the budget, regardless of source and regardless of destination.

10. Push for my proposal to key congressional salaries to the size of the budget surplus (assuming you’ve implemented #9).

You’re welcome.


Vincent D. Viscariello


  1. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:

    Of your ideas, at least 8 are good. Since you’re going to ask:

    2. The tax cut for 95 percent of working families is a misnomer – about half of those affect workers do not pay any federal income tax. The only way to give people that don’t pay federal tax a “cut” is tax credits, i.e. government payments. While your basic idea is sound, there’s room for truth in advertising.

    4. If revenues are 18 percent of GDP, expenditures should be about 16 percent of GDP. Retire debt with the rest.

    Chances of any of these suggestions getting through a Democratic supermajority: -0.1%. Yes, it’s negative. You figure it out.

    November 13th, 2008 at 7:45 pm
  2. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:

    Dom, can you change “affect” to “affected” in my post? Thanks.

    November 13th, 2008 at 7:46 pm
  3. Vincent Viscariello Says:

    No, you illiterate boob.

    Re #2. The rebuttal to that is that the “tax cut” offsets the FICA taxes paid even by the income earners who pay no income taxes. That leads me to ask, “Then why not merge the FICA taxes with the income taxes in the paperwork so that the taxpayer can see the entire bite at once?” I’d like to see the zero-income-tax-payers’ reaction to the realization that 15.3% of their income was taken before they had a chance to do anything with it.

    I will grant that that rebuttal was likely an after-the-fact rebuttal. A clever one, though.

    Re #4. Your point is taken. The larger point I was driving at is that if the feds spend 25% of GDP, then in a sense that is the average effective tax rate, and that should be lowered.

    November 13th, 2008 at 11:15 pm
  4. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:

    Would an “illiterate boob” ask you to correct a mistake? Just asking.

    I’m still waiting for #11, Return the United States to the gold standard.

    November 14th, 2008 at 4:09 pm
  5. Vincent Viscariello Says:

    No, but he would mistakenly capitalize “return.”

    November 18th, 2008 at 10:03 pm
  6. hunkofhubba Says:

    most boobs don’t know how to talk.

    December 2nd, 2008 at 6:05 pm
  7. hunkofhubba Says:

    why would a boob be a “he”?

    December 2nd, 2008 at 7:41 pm

On election ’08.

Well, my endorsement apparently had no effect whatsoever on the results of the race, which is just as well. I don’t think Americans would have reacted favorably to being led by a coin.

President-Elect Barack Obama ended up with at least 40 more electoral votes than I thought he’d get. However, there’s still time for the rest of my prediction to come horrifyingly, nightmarishly true. Say what you will about Obama, he’s got at least two good things going for him: he’s not Hillary, and he’s not John Edwards. Good Lord, I despise that man. Edwards, I mean, not BHO.

Congratulations to Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress. As a service to our next President (again, assuming the Hillary Doomsday Scenario doesn’t come to pass), I will soon offer some advice for not screwing up the economy in the short run and ensuring its long run growth. But for now I’m drop-dead exhausted.

More good news: in 2012, I will be eligible for the Presidency and therefore will be able to vote with a totally clear conscience.


  1. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:

    You could have voted with a clear conscience this year:

    November 6th, 2008 at 8:03 am
  2. Stewart Says:

    I should be able to vote in 2012 so you may get my vote too.
    I will need to hear more about your economic and eniviroment
    policies. Also I dont believe you can see a foreign country
    from your front door so you may need to shore up your foregin
    affairs policy

    November 6th, 2008 at 12:42 pm
  3. Vincent Viscariello Says:

    Doctor Hmnahmna–

    For who? For YOU? Pah. You’re a raging alcoholic. There, I said it.

    November 7th, 2008 at 12:03 am
  4. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:

    I’ll drink to that.

    November 8th, 2008 at 8:34 pm

Endorsement and prediction.

Now that a good chunk of the electorate has already voted and there’s only a day left before it’s all (hopefully and mercifully) over, it’s time to announce my endorsement.

I was going be clever and nominate my dad for President and myself for Veep. We’d delay the inaugural celebration until the Ides of March, hold the party on the steps of the Senate and invite everyone to bring his own silverware. Alas, they just don’t teach the classics like they used to, and I’m too young to succeed him as President anyways.

Therefore I have decided to endorse, for the office of President of the United States…

The 1943 steel penny.

It’s more than 35 years old. It’s been in the country the requisite 14 years. This one was minted in San Francisco, which makes it a natural born citizen.

I don’t mean we should flip a coin to determine the President. And I don’t mean that there’s no real difference between Obama and McCain, or that there’s “less than a dime’s worth of difference between the two.” Not at all; in my book, one of the two candidates is certainly better than the other.

No, I mean that this coin itself should be President. It’s more consistent than John McCain and it’s got more executive experience than Barack Obama. It was actually minted in the US, making its loyalty unquestionable, unlike the two Manchurian candidates we have running now. It’s a war hero, in a sense–there were copper shortages due to wartime production, so they had to make do with steel.

I figure that with a 50-50 chance of making the decision I’d make if I were President, the coin is far less likely to disappoint me than either Obama or McCain.

My AP Government class issued its final prediction before the election: Obama 299 electoral votes, McCain 239 electoral votes. The changes from 2004 (Bush 286, Kerry 251, Edwards 1): Obama picks up Ohio, Indiana, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, and New Mexico, and the loose Edwards voter gets his act together this time. McCain picks up Minnesota. I have no idea why the kids think McCain is going to win Minnesota, but that’s what they predicted.

My prediction:

November 4th: Obama wins a little more than 300 electoral votes.

November 7th: Hillary Clinton discovers Barack Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate, which was accidentally misplaced underneath a massive pile of FBI files in her Chappaqua mansion. She totally innocently reveals it to the public, and Barack Obama is disqualified from the Presidency.

November 11th: Hillary Clinton reminds America that she was born in America, and gee whiz, if only the Democratic electors had a decent Presidential candidate now that Obama was out.

December 15th: The electors meet in their respective state capitals. Democratic electors cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton.

January 20th, 2009: Hillary cackles her way through the Oath of Office.


  1. Alana Canupp Says:

    Really, Mr. V.??? The steel penny???

    November 4th, 2008 at 3:57 pm
  2. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:

    Mr. V, as an APUSH teacher, you should be ashamed of yourself. Your, uh I mean Hillary’s evil ploy is easily foiled . . .

    Though I would assume that Hillary and her minions would argue that there is not a President-elect until the Electoral College meets.

    If that Kenyan birth certificate shows up, then we will be welcoming President Biden. The next time you talk to the Mole, ask his opinion of Joe the Senator.

    November 4th, 2008 at 5:06 pm
  3. Vincent Viscariello Says:

    Dr. Hmnahmna–

    Hillary and her minions would be correct. Remember, the electors can vote for whomever they want, as long as that person is eligible. The President-elect isn’t really the President-elect until the electors make him/her so. Which happens on December 15th.

    If the Kenyan birth certificate (which would be a great name for a band, incidentally) shows up AFTER the electors meet, THEN Biden becomes President-elect. Hence my timeline.

    Look, do I challenge you on imagineering or warp field fluctuations or whatever it is you do?

    November 4th, 2008 at 8:08 pm
  4. The Rogue Economist Says:

    Imagine if the electors actually voted in such a way that the losing party is elected. Would the U.S. fall into complete chaos? Who would really gain the presidency? Could the U.S. continue in its ways or would the voting system have to be completely revamped? And in the midst of this mayhem, there’s always the chance of a hostile takeover by the Steel Penny, seizing the moment of confusion. All hail the Steel Penny!

    November 5th, 2008 at 1:37 am
  5. Seth Caulder Says:

    I see you are still trying to be discreet in your party affiliation Mr. V. How about you just give that up and tell all your students who you voted for. I know you think it is a fun little game but it is not. Stop torturing your students mind’s.

    i do believe the steel penny would be a great president… or maybe a wheat penny?

    November 5th, 2008 at 4:45 am
  6. Vincent Viscariello Says:

    The steel pennies were wheat pennies. Lincoln pennies had the wheat ears on the back up until 1959.

    November 6th, 2008 at 12:25 am