A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, April 29, 2013


With any luck, this will post automatically right around the time I am looking at this:

I'm in Ireland for vacation, still trying to recover my sanity a little bit.  I sometimes feel like my life lurches from chaos to insanity to disaster.  Whenever I think of chaos, I think of a poem by William Butler Yeats.  I think it's appropriate to share it here, because (a) Yeats was Irish, and (b) it's National Poetry month.  Enjoy!


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

- William Butler Yeats

If anyone can explain to me sufficiently what the last stanza of the poem is talking about, I would appreciate it.  I vacillate on whether I understand this poem or not, I just feel like the first stanza is an accurate description of chaos.  In the meantime, look forward to posts I have planned on gun control, sequester, and other issues of the day.  Also, brace yourselves - the Ireland Pictures are coming soon to a blog near you!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tax to the Max

Today in the United States, it's tax day (or at least, it is for those individuals who choose to file on time).  It's a time when tax accountants like myself do this:

Yes, I am happy to be done with busy season, which actually hasn't been too terrible this year.  But still, happy to be done.

On a more serious note, however, I am really grateful that taxes provide the following things, among many others:
- Clean Drinkable Water
- Public Education
- Food inspections
- Roads, Public Transit systems
- Protection of my minority religion and free speech rights
- Public defense

Could government do a better job at all of these things?  Of course!  But the point is that there is always something we could do better!  I'm grateful to live in America on this tax day.  And true to form, I approve of the income tax system (as do most Democrats in a recent poll).  Of course it could be a lot better and simpler than it is, but then I would be out of a job.  So go ahead, complain about paying taxes - it's your right as Americans.

Meanwhile, I'll just be over here, dancing a jig and grateful that busy season is over (for a while, at least).

'Tax season just flew by!!' ...said no CPA, ever...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Iron, Lady

You may have heard by now that Margaret Thatcher, the "Iron Lady" of Britain, passed away today at age 87.  She was the first (and so far the only) female prime minister of the U.K.  While I listened to the news on my way into work this morning, it was a teensy bit jarring to hear her described as a "statesman."  She was a stateswoman, thank you very much.  It reminded me of just how embedded it is in our culture to assume that the man is the leader.  Many pronouns - "chairman," "congressman," "spokesman" to name a few - assume that the leader is a male.  Syntax (and punctuation, see below!) matter.  We often take this gender exclusive language without thinking about it, but it never seemed to occur to "Maggie" that she wasn't fit for leadership.  She just assumed that she knew what to do, and went about getting it done.

Baroness Thatcher and I disagree on many things.  However, I greatly admire her toughness and resolve in the face of obstacles - she had the courage of her convictions.  I like what Roger Ebert said about seeing her in a room full of powerful men: “Invisible psychic threads of respect and yearning extended toward her from the men,” he wrote. “When she spoke, they fell silent….It was the most remarkable display of personal authority I have ever seen.”

In a world that too often told women to "iron, lady" (i.e. stay home) she was instead an Iron Lady who wanted to lead.  She wasn't afraid that it wasn't ladylike, or that she might offend people by standing up for herself.  She simply saw the problem and thought she had the solution.

Margaret Thatcher Addresses Congress, 1985

You can read the full text of her speech here.  RIP, Maggie.  Thank you for being a strong, determined woman who had the courage to lead - you inspire stateswomen on both sides of the political spectrum to enter the arena and let our voices be heard.