Boxing Day update

Blogging has been light the past few weeks; I’ve been busy at work and busy at home. So, a post is in order, and hopefully in updating the blog, I will help collect myself.

We’re in State College, at the Wise family homestead. Terri is currently sitting at a little light-table-type slide sorter thing, going through slides that her parents (mostly her father) took throughout the 70′s and 80′s. Her mom just called her upstairs to see the snow. Apparently it’s snowing. It’s apparently snowing more seriously back in Boston, and we’re missing it.

First thing yesterday morning, I called April in France, knowing that once the Christmas festivities started full-steam, I would not get a chance to call her at a decent hour, European time. So I talked to her for a bit, and it was nice, even though it sounded like she was talking into a tin can from a cave. Very glad to hear she actually got the package I sent. By the time I was off the phone, everyone else here at the Wise household was waiting for me to begin the traditional present-opening. Between us, Terri’s parents, and sister and brother-in-law, it took about 4 hours, but all was festive. I called my parents afterwards and sent Christmas greetings to all at the farm. In the afternoon, we went over to Terri’s aunt and uncle’s house in Lewistown, PA.

I wasn’t too tired when we got back, so I tinkered with one of my presents (an Oregon Scientific clock/weather station) and read a bit of another present (Mohawk by Richard Russo).

Today was pretty low-key. Went downtown and did some very very light shopping (some Christmas cards for next year at the Nittany Quill) and had a coffee at Irving’s Bagels (which has free wi-fi, though I did not bring the laptop). Kim and Glenn sadly had to head back to Virginia already, so we saw them off at about 6pm. And that more or less brings things up to the present.

The corrupting influence of New Yorker cartoons

From the NYTimes (which is a little like the pot calling the kettle black, here): “The seduction of America’s elites by the vices of humanism and skepticism can only be blamed on the New Yorker cartoon, an agent of corruption more insidious than LSD or the electric guitar.”

Admit it, even when you catch yourself chuckling at one, you feel a little dirty.

Taxachusetts, part 2

Wow, this is obnoxious. Despite the fact that millions of people believe that Bush has actually made tax cuts, which in reality is not the whole truth, the administration is working on a more targetted bit of tax policy: keeping the Alternative Minimum Tax. Due to some technicalities, the AMT will begin to apply to many more people than originally intended. Now, guess where those people live?

Greg Jenner, the Treasury Department’s acting assistant secretary for tax policy, said yesterday. ”It is probably a correct assumption that Massachusetts, New York, and California will bear more of a burden under the AMT

Surely this is just coincidence, right? Here’s what the man who’s been called the architect of Bush’s tax policy has to say:

Some Republicans have suggested leaving the minimum tax in place because those hardest hit tend to be in states that did not support Bush, including Massachusetts, California, and New York. ”It is a tax of people living in ‘blue’ states,” said Grover Norquist, the conservative activist who heads Americans for Tax Reform.

He said the tax was originally conceived by liberal Democrats as a way of imposing higher taxes mostly on wealthier Republicans, and he suggested that it be used as a bargaining chip by the White House when Bush tries to enact his tax agenda. The minimum tax should be repealed only when Democrats ”say they are sorry and offer to give us something in return,” Norquist said.

This is yet another thing about this administration that should give a real conservative pause. Either taxes should be cut or not. I can see how someone who believes in principle that taxes should be low might allow for exceptions. But not exceptions based on election results.

I also wonder if Grover Norquist remembers that people around here haven’t always reacted so well when they feel a tax is unjust.