### Dear Independents: The Shutdown Belongs to House Republicans

As you might have picked up from my recent post "A view from your shutdown," I'm angry about what is happening in the House and the resulting shutdown of the federal government, now entering its second week. This action is so hurtful and dangerous and undemocratic, that on an hourly basis I just want to scream. I want to find the Machine and rage against it.

I'm also tempted to direct my energy at the Tea Party House members and their followers who are specifically to blame here. But what's the point, really? I have solid arguments rooted in fact and reason. But Tea Partiers don't play by those rules. They play by soundbites and ideology. They operate in an echo chamber where all they hear are Fox News-generated talking points, and all they see is a sea of white people who think just like them, from coast to coast. Whether that coast-to-coast state of affairs exists in any manner is beside the point. They see it in their narrow minds. So I can't do anything by talking to them. My efforts would be as useless as their platform is bereft of facts.

No, it's far better to talk to the independents. The problem is, here's an indication of how they see the problem:

These YouGov poll results, via Daily Dish, show that there is a narrow margin among two groups of independents. They see it as a battle between the Republicans in Congress on one side, and President Obama on the other side. But this dichotomy is purely specious, and it exits because our press and popular media do such a shitty job at doing their jobs. Sure, sometimes there are two equal sides to a debate. But other times, many times, there is only one side with facts and reason behind them. And in this case, it's not even a subtle distinction. It's not a close call. The House Republicans have shut down our government because of a law that they don't like.

Here's what happened, as simply as I can state it. We have a president who won two elections based on the promise of some sort of universal health care. Having won office not once, but twice, he enacted the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. ObamaCare. This act provides health insurance for those who previously did not have it, like the unemployed, underemployed, uncovered (like my family was back in 2008) and a good fraction of our nation who are poor. The constitutionality of this law was challenged in the Supreme Court, and that challenge was effectively blocked by a right-leaning court. Congress has made dozens of attempts to strike the law down, and all of these attempts have failed. The ACA, a.k.a. ObamaCare went into law Monday last week. It's the law of the land.

So what does that have to do with the shutdown? Well, Tea Partiers don't like the ACA. They hate it. They hate it with the intensity of a thousand Suns. They hate that the president won two elections and passed the law through congress. They hate that the Supreme Court upheld the law. And they explicitly vowed to do anything they could to block the law. They failed through the normal channels, and then they found a loophole: the Shutdown. And here we are today.

The analogy is that the Tea Party was playing a board game, and one player, Obama, made an excellent play that was well within the rules of the game. Tea Party was then greatly disadvantaged. On top of that, Tea Party really, really, really doesn't like Obama. They don't like how he looks, how he acts, what he stands for---no matter the setting, but especially in this game. So they challenged the move. Obama and the other players looked at the rule book and it was clearly spelled out: the move was legal, and as a result Obama is winning the game at that moment. Tea Party is losing.

So Tea Party gets really angry, throws a temper tantrum, pours a cup of water on the game board, flips the table upside down, sets fire to the room, and storms out while holding their breath until they get their way. Keep it classy, Tea Party!

The ACA is the law of the land. House Tea Partiers hate this law, so they shut down the government to prevent the law from acting in our nation. The end.

The President must not negotiate with little babies who can't handle not getting their way. Wait, scratch that. Calling Tea Partiers "little babies" gives them too much credit, because, at least ostensibly, Tea Partiers are adults with years of experience compared to babies. So they really have no excuse for destroying our way of life for not getting what they want. A baby doing this, I can understand. I'd be upset at the parents for giving the baby that kind of control, but I'd understand.

No, what the Tea Party is doing to our country is inexcusable. Indeed, if this were playing out somewhere in South America, with a minority contingent shutting down an otherwise functioning democratic government to get their way, we'd call them insurgents at best, terrorists at worst.

The President must not negotiate with terrorists. And the Tea Partiers should not go unpunished for what they're doing to the American people.

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

### Finding Blissful Clarity by Tuning Out

It's been a minute since I've posted here. My last post was back in April, so it has actually been something like 193,000 minutes, but I like how the kids say "it's been a minute," so I'll stick with that.
As I've said before, I use this space to work out the truths in my life. Writing is a valuable way of taking the non-linear jumble of thoughts in my head and linearizing them by putting them down on the page. In short, writing helps me figure things out. However, logical thinking is not the only way of knowing the world. Another way is to recognize, listen to, and trust one's emotions. Yes, emotions are important for figuring things out.
Back in April, when I last posted here, my emotions were largely characterized by fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and despair. I say largely, because this is what I was feeling on large scales; the world outside of my immediate influence. On smaller scales, where my wife, children and friends reside, I…

### The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…