Cat Language

If I told you what was going on in my life, you wouldn’t believe it.  Pushing the “reset” button isn’t easy, but it’s time to do it.  A detailed explanation will come later.  In the meantime, please enjoy this piece from 5 years ago.

Is there anything cuter than when your cat “talks” to you?  Cat people all love that cheery “Brrrup!” first thing in the morning (ideally after dawn) or the hearty “Ma-row!” when they first get home.  Or when the food dish is empty, depending on your li’l one’s personality.  What does it mean, exactly?  If you are a veterinarian or other expert on cats you’re probably pretty sure it means … nothing.  That’s right, cat people, just about any felinologist will tell you that your furry box dweller is simply meowing and chirping for no real reason at all.

I don’t believe it, either.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that the domestic feline has some limited vocabulary that means something, even if we aren’t smart enough to understand it.  I doubt they are planning to kill us or report back instructions to an invading army back on the cat planet, so perhaps I am a bit naïve after all.  But here’s what I’ve found.

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Not Even Trying

The US House just passed what it calls AHCA – the Obamacare repeal legislation they have been waiting 8 years to pass.

There are many ways to criticize this bill, ranging from the AMA’s criticism that it dismantles what safety net we have to a full-on dismissal by key Senate Republicans.

But there is a deeper criticism that has to be made – the real problem with this bill is that the House isn’t actually even trying to govern. They’ve completely given up.
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Strong Dollar

As this year develops, the economy is stronger than it has been in a long time. Yet the process of spreading out the wealth and creating strong growth has yet to come together. While there is little doubt that our image of the economy is changing, some important things have not. The most important aspect of our economy, that it works for everyone with some degree of equity, is not changing much. That will keep our politics in turmoil for some time to come.

The reason for this is simple: the US Dollar is incredibly strong and is likely to remain so for years. This means that manufacturing, the life blood of the heartland, will not return soon. The anger over this, blaming China and Mexico and everything except the automation and accumulation of wealth which really drives it, will certainly continue.

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A North American Story

In just a few days we celebrate a holiday somewhat more popular in the US than in Mexico. That’s just as well because it’s a classic North American kind of holiday in many ways.  We are a family, which is why our relationship is so intense and personal at times.

It started as invasion by France to collect a debt, but the larger and better equipped French invasion force was defeated by a ragged group of Mexicans, some armed with little more than machetes and pitchforks.  The Battle of Puebla on 5 May 1862 was 150 years ago this Saturday.  It was not decisive, needing a few years before the colorful armies and politicians could sort it all out.  But the victory at Puebla is a story deep at the heart of Mexican character – a determination and toughness that the great continent of North America shares as a very odd, sometimes dysfunctional family.

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American Privilege

Any essay on “privilege” has to start with a solid disclosure. As a middle-aged pale male, I have no business lecturing anyone on privilege. I’m at the top of the heap, and I know it. That is my point in this piece, after all. I have the privilege of contemplating privilege.

It still seems to me to be primarily the benefit of the doubt. If I walk into a store, I’m a customer – not a potential thief casing the joint. If the cops pull me over I get a certain level of respect that not everyone does, and I do use this to my advantage at times. If things get really bad and guns are pulled out, the benefit of the doubt makes me the good guy in the split second decision that separates life from death.

I have no illusions about any of this. That is, actually, my point through all of this.

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Underground Economy

This is a repeat from 2013.  What’s amazing is that the Underground Economy, that part which is off the books, has not been studied properly for a solid five years.  It may still be 12% of GDP, but we don’t really know. 

It’s good to have a lot of money, assuming that not everyone has a lot.  Inequality is apparently bad when it gets too big, but it also makes the whole economy possible in small doses.  But how much money is really out there, and where is it going?  It turns out that this is more complicated – and hidden – than most thought.

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The Conch Republic

April 23 was the 35th birthday of the Conch Republic. It was an important day because once it turns middle aged it can start lying about its age. Lying is an important part of the story because a well told lie is the heart of any legend.

You may not have heard of the Conch Republic, the Independent Florida Keys. To some people, that’s just as well. But the story needs to be told because it is a tale of lust, greed, power, and … well, actually, it’s just a lot of fun. You can get a lot further with a good gag than you can by being a jerk. And so it begins.

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