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All the cool kids are doing it

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is sure he’s taken this test before. Furthermore he is pretty sure his results haven’t changed too much. He is a little too lazy to do a site search and find the last time he posted his results. Indeed, your Maximum Leader wasn’t going to take the test at all, since if you’ve hung around this site for any length of time it is likely that you know what your Maximum Leader’s political views are (more or less). But since all the cool kids like Prof Mondo, Skippy and Kevin are doing it…

You are a

Social Liberal
(70% permissive)

and an…

Economic Conservative
(80% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Libertarian


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Carry on.

As if we needed more proof of his awesomeness

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been happily married for nearly 15 years. Do you know what would have made him more happily married for all those years? Let him tell you… He would be more happily married if he could look back on that happy day and remember how he was married by Bruce Campbell and had Sam Rami serve as an altar boy.

Yeah… It seems two lucky nerds are going to get themselves hitched by none other that Bruce Friggin Campbell. That is just awesome. A deadite/zombie/Evil Dead themed wedding. Totally cool.

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that his lovely wife would be as enthusiastic over this theme as he would. Frankly, your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that his saintly (now departed) Grandmother would have approved of any wedding other than the one he had at St. Michael’s Catholic Church.

Your Maximum Leader would have liked a Bruce Campbell wedding… Instead of the whole “You may kiss the bride” bit your Maximum Leader could have grabbed his lovely wife and said “Gimme some sugar baby.” It would have been great.

Perhaps when your Maximum Leader is old and affected with dementia he’ll remember that he had a Bruce Campbell themed wedding…

Many thanks to the good folks over at Pajiba who directed your Maximum Leader to this news.

Carry on.

Down the ballot items - VA Edition

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader suspects that unless you are living under a rock you’ve heard that this is an election year in the good ole US of A. This is a Federal election year, which means that people pay attention (sorta - since it is not a Presidential election year). Americans go to the polls, as the endless parade of chattering noggins on the TV tell us, to elect the whole House of Representatives, one third of the Senate, and whatever offices [fill in the name of your state] wants to elect.

Well… For those of you who don’t know, Virginia likes to do things a little differently. Your Maximum Leader likes it that way honestly. Sure Virginians will be going to the polls to elect their Congressmen, but we don’t fool around with electing our state government at the same time as those federal people. It sullies up the process says your Maximum Leader. Let’s keep the state and federal elections separate…

Anyhoo…

Though there are no candidates for state (and very few local) office on the ballot that doesn’t mean that we in Virginia aren’t going to get to vote on three different ballot measures. All three measures are Constitutional Amendments. While your Maximum Leader isn’t much on trying to do anything to the Federal Constitution, he’s all for changing the Commonwealth’s Constitution when you need to. State Constitutions are, after all, generally pretty detailed documents that do need revising with some regularity. (Indeed the current version of the Virginia Constitution dates back to 1976/7. It still contains the Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason back in 1776; but otherwise is a pretty modern document.)

So there are three Constitutional Amendments (revisions really) on the ballot. In this post your Maximum Leader will briefly describe each and tell you how he plans on voting on each of them. How many other blogs are providing this type of public service for you if you live in the Commonwealth of Virginia? Probably none, but your Maximum Leader is too lazy to find any that are.

Item 1: Should the Constitution be amended to allow local governments to establish their own income or financial worth limitations for purposes of granting property tax relief to those 65 or older or permanently disabled? As it stands, localities around the Commonwealth can already provide property tax exemptions for those 65 or older and permanently disabled if the the property tax creates an “extraordinary tax burden” on the individual. Now, in all honesty, your Maximum Leader is pretty sure that this is a semantic change. He cannot imagine that a local (city or county) government would give a tax exemption without considering the burden that property taxes play considering a person’s total income and/or financial situation. The key, in your Maximum Leader’s mind, is that “extraordinary” part. A person seeking a property tax exemption should have to prove that property taxes are an “extraordinary” burden considered in the context of that person’s ability to pay the tax. Your Maximum Leader is very leery of the idea that a local government could just establish a set of income/worth guidelines and promulgate them indicating that if you meet the criteria set then you would get a property tax exemption. Look, your Maximum Leader likes to pay as little in taxes as possible; but let’s be honest folks, police and fire protection are nice too. Schools are nice to have. Local parks and playgrounds are great. Your local government pays for a pile of stuff that everyone needs and uses and it pays for them with revenue from property taxes. Your Maximum Leader isn’t for letting people off the hook for paying those taxes without serious consideration. Your Maximum Leader will vote no on this one. The language is fine how it is written.

(NB: Your Maximum Leader has a big - BIG - hot button topic on the whole issue of property taxes. He had, a while back, some neighbors who were (then) around 40 and married. No kids. Dual (rather high) income. No pets. These two were pretty cool people all in all; but twice a year (around property tax payment time) they bitched and moaned and complained to high heaven that they should get a tax break because they didn’t produce any offspring that would need public schooling and they were sick of paying for schools. One day your Maximum Leader had had enough of that and he asked them if they’d been robbed recently. They hadn’t. Then he asked if they’d been assulted or their house broken into. They hadn’t. After a line of similar questions your Maximum Leader asked if they felt that they didn’t need the police or fire departments since they hadn’t used those services. They told your Maximum Leader that of course they needed those departments. Then your Maximum Leader asked if they’d been grocery shopping recently and did a cashier check them out? Of course. Had they bought something at the mall and did someone help them there? Sure thing. Did they have doctors they saw regularly? Yup. Your Maximum Leader reminded this couple that all those people (at various levels of skill) were products of schools, as they were too. Without schools none of the support that made their comfortable lives possible would exist. So they should just shut the hell up and pay their friggin tax and hope that one day they didn’t have to have some undereducated hospice worker change their diapers wrong because they couldn’t read the instructions. After that day your Maximum Leader never had a schools/taxes discussion with them again…)

Item 2: Should the Constitution be amended to allow the General Assembly the power to grant permenantly & totally disabled veterans (disabled in the course of duty) or their surviving spouses (who do not remarry) a property tax exemption on their primary residence? Unlike the last question, your Maximum Leader is all for this one. Veterans don’t get all that they deserve for the role they play in preserving our Republic. In your Maximum Leader’s opinion, if a person volunteered for duty in the armed forces and was permenantly and totally disabled in the line of duty; then they’ve earned a property tax exemption regardless of their age, ability to pay, or other condition. Sure that seems like a big blanket exception to the “everybody who can pay should pay” position espoused just a few short lines ago; but it is one that is entirely justified in granting. Although your Maximum Leader can’t cite statistics, he believes (and is willing to look at the stats and revise his opinion in light of what he’ll learn) that most totally disabled Vets are likely youngish enlisted personnel who are serving in the most dangerous jobs in the military. (NB: the most dangerous job in the US, as your Maximum Leader recalls, is the job of an explosives disposal technician in the Army, followed closely by the deck-hands who work on aircraft carriers checking to make sure that aircraft landing gear are properly fitted in the catapults that launch the planes off the deck.) Your Maximum Leader is all for giving a vet who lost both arms disarming a roadside bomb in Iraq or Afghanistan when he was 21 years old a break when it comes to property taxes. Your Maximum Leader will vote yes on this one.

Item 3: Should the Constitution be amended to allow the Commonwealth’s “revenue stabilization fund” (aka: rainy day fund) be 15% of annual revenue? Currently the maximum size of the “rainy day” fund is 10% of annual state revenue. Your Maximum Leader is all for raising this maximum to 15% of annual revenue. Just like your Maximum Leader is in favor of banks keeping larger reserves, he is for the Commonwealth being able to keep a larger reserve. Frankly, your Maximum Leader is happy that the Commonwealth even has a rainy day fund. Well… In all honesty we don’t really have one exactly right now because of the crappy economy overall; but we did have one for a long long time and likely will have one again pretty soon. Your Maximum Leader is voting yes on this item.

So there you have it. Of course, if you are like the majority of the readers of this blog and not a resident of the great Commonwealth of Virginia your Maximum Leader is sorry to have wasted your time on this post. If you are a resident and hadn’t thought of the ballot measures, or were unaware of them; your Maximum Leader hopes to have done you a little service in the political education department.

Carry on.

Trafalgar + 205 years

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maixmum Leader, as is his habit on this day, will sit back tonight and feast on roast beef, yorkshire pudding, Bass ale and trifle all the while celebrating the most decisive and glorious naval battle in the history of man.

Today marks the 205th anniversary of the British naval victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Lord Nelson’s final masterpiece of naval war was a crushing loss for the forces of Napoleon and likely saved Britain from invasion. The battle also ushered in nearly 100 years of unquestioned British supremacy on the oceans. (That supremacy allowed the British Navy to do fun things like stamp out the global slave trade.)

Sadly, due to family affairs your Maximum Leader wasn’t able to write a post worthy of the event. But lucky for you our good friend Mr P was able to do so. So go over to Mr (& Mrs) P’s place and take in his post.

Carry on.

Rebirth of a great tree.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been following stories concerning the efforts to restore the American Chestnut tree. He thought that he’d blogged about this subject more frequently than it turns out he actually has. (He first blogged about American Chestnuts in 2005 - in the context of an oak blight.)

Your Maximum Leader has contacted researchers at Virginia Tech and offered to plant a hybrid Chestnut tree in his yard. Sadly he was denied by researchers at Tech because he has too many other trees on his property that it isn’t a good location at this point. Regardless of that setback, your Maximum Leader has been following the work of so many to bring back the Chestnut.

He was heartened to read this peice in the Washington Post this morning: The mighty American chestnut tree, poised for a comeback. Here is the opening:

Its sweeping canopy inspired poets, and its strong, straight timber shaped the stories of life in rural Appalachia, until the tree itself became the stuff of fiction. It is now more than a century since the American chestnut tree - once 4 billion strong and an icon of East Coast forests - fell victim to a foreign blight. By 1950, it had virtually disappeared.

Yet people haven’t given up on the towering hardwood or slowed efforts to restore it to great swaths of woodland from Maine to Georgia and in the Ohio Valley, where it once reigned through the canopy. Despite the failure of earlier scientific efforts to bring it back, thousands of chestnut aficionados - many based in the Washington area - have new reason for optimism.

By interbreeding the American with its Chinese cousin, tree lovers have created an American chestnut with some resistance to Asian blight and have developed a virus that can be injected into affected trees to combat the fungus. It’s a project that shows every sign of promise - with about 25,000 of the new chestnuts planted under the guidance of trained scientists and chestnut devotees.

If the hybrid plantings thrive, some envision huge tracts of strip-mined Appalachia one day being restored with lovely chestnut forests.

“We know we’re interbreeding resistance. Now we have to figure out, does it have enough resistance?” said Bryan Burhans, president of the American Chestnut Foundation, which has led the revival efforts.

He said it will take 75 to 100 years to know whether the tree can be reestablished as a mainstay of Eastern forests. But he said he’s “very optimistic” about the American chestnut’s future.

Some might be intimidated by the prospect of a century-long recovery effort - more than a person’s life span, if not a tree’s. But as Robert Mangold, who directs forest protection for the Forest Service, put it, “it’s a long-term commitment.”

Your Maximum Leader is hopeful that his kids and grandchildren will be able to wander through Chestnut groves in the mountains of the eastern US.

If you would like to help in the efforts to restore the American Chestnut, you should try and contact the American Chestnut Foundation.

Carry on.

Dame Joan Sutherland, RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s early childhood was musically scored by great opera. He still recognizes specific recordings that his mother owned on record and were played with great frequency at home. He remembers Pavarotti. Sherrill Milnes, a young Placido Domingo, Maria Callas, Leontine Price and Joan Sutherland all singing in his home over the ole hi-fi stereo.

Well… Dame Joan Sutherland has died, aged 83, in Switzerland. The Washington Post obituary reads in part:

Born in Australia, she first trained with her mother; a vocal scholarship then brought her to London, where she reencountered Richard Bonynge, a compatriot who was then working a vocal coach at the Royal Opera House. Bonynge helped unlock and develop the upper register and rock-solid technical ability. He remained her constant artistic partner throughout her career, conducting most of her appearances and her legacy of recordings: “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “Norma,” “I Puritani,” “La sonnambula.”

Bonynge also helped guide her away from the Wagnerian track that might have seemed to be a natural for someone of her vocal endowments, and into the realm of the coloratura soprano. Sutherland’s first roles included the Forest Bird in Wagner’s “Siegfried” and Clothilde, a bit part, to Maria Callas’s Norma in Bellini’s opera of the same name. Her breakthrough came with a 1959 “Lucia di Lammermoor” at Covent Garden, directed by Zeffirelli; her success put her on the map. She reprised the role for her Metropolitan Opera and La Scala debuts in 1961 — it was for this that the Italian press dubbed her “La Stupenda” — and never really looked back.

Your Maximum Leader has some excerpts of Sutherland singing in Wagner’s Ring on his iPod. He’s listening to them now.

The world of opera has lost one of its finest practionners. Lucky for us her recordings remain as a testament of her talents.

Carry on.

Ditto

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader (again) finds himself in agreement with his friend Skippy. All he can say about this post is “ditto.”

Carry on.

Facebook will always strike you down

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader hasn’t been paying very close attention to the race for Congress in his district (VA 1). That may seem a little out of character, but it isn’t really. The First District of Virginia is a safe district. Rob Wittman, your Maximum Leader’s Congressman, is in little danger of being outsted by his Democratic challenger, Krystal Ball. (Yeah, the name is sorta sounds like she should be endorsed by gypsies everywhere.)

Other than seeing a few ads on the interwebs (from the Ball campaign in which she accuses Wittman of being wooden), he hasn’t heard much about the race. It really isn’t making news. At one point, someone in the Wittman campaign made a crack about Ball being cute. That caused a stir. Apparently, Ball was once voted one of the sexiest staffers on Capitol Hill. In spite of that, we can’t comment on her physical appearance. That’s sexist you know. (NB: In your Maximum Leader’s opinion, Krystal Ball is sort of cute. The photo she has of herself on billboards and stuff around is very unflattering.)

Well Krystal Ball got a little more sexy… Apparently Gawker has photos (originally posted to Facebook) of Krystal Ball sucking a dildo off a man’s nose. That man was (apparently at the time) her husband. (NB: Nice Christmas party by the way… Your Maximum Leader never gets invited to the sexy Christmas parties.)

Now, if your Maximum Leader were a little more like his friend Skippy, this would be a game changer. Really, how often do photos of your prospective Congressman/woman turn up showing them performing oral sex on a dildo? Not often is your Maximum Leader’s answer. Not often enough would surely be Skippy’s answer. Your Maximum Leader hasn’t ever considered skill at fellatio a criteria for voting for (or against) anyone for Congress. Hasn’t crossed his mind, until now that is.

Your Maximum Leader is confident that these photos will not change his vote, but the race did get a bunch more interesting. Interesting if you like to know how well your candidate gives blow jobs. Just saying…

Thanks to FLG for pointing this out to your Maximum Leader.

Carry on.

One… More… Game…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader predicted back in April that his beloved Washington Nationals Baseball Club could win at least 70 games and perhaps as many as 80 games. Well… The bloom wore off that rose in mid June. The Nats started off well, but then lost their way not quite half-way through the season.

The Nationals have finished the season 69-93.

Sure that is an improvement over last season. But your Maximum Leader is a little disappointed. Through the beginning of August he’d hoped that the Nats could win 70-75 games. Frankly, if the Nationals had played the Florida Marlins like they play the rest of the NL East then they would have crested 70 wins. Playing a little better on the road against any opponent (and here your Maximum Leader is looking directly at the pathetic Baltimore Orioles) then they would have perhaps crested 75 wins.

Of course, the Nationals have shown that they are on a track that is moving them (at a glaciers pace) upward. Your Maximum Leader hopes that the Nats will do the smart thing and sign Adam Dunn now that the season is over. Dunn, while something of a defensive liability, is a big bat in a lineup that needs offense. Dunn’s presence in the lineup makes Zimmerman, Willingham, and all the others better hitters. Nats management needs to show that they are willing to pony up a little money to give us some wins now. The Nats played pretty good at home over the season. Without Dunn and the offense he brings, the Nats might start to get boring at home. When the home town fans start to go it is hard to win them back (and you have to resort to inviting Philly fans down to fill seats). Please sign Dunn now.

So, your Maximum Leader is finding himself without a team to root for in the post season. He’ll likely pull for Texas in the AL just to pull for some team out there. In the end he’s an NL man and will root for any NL team over the AL team in the World Series, but for the moment it will be Texas…

In other sporting news… Hockey season starts this week… The Washington Capitals must play hard and make the playoffs (and avoid an embarassing first round exit). Not like there is any pressure there to win…

Carry on.

100 Below: Road Warrior Edition

The Buick in front of John Harding was going 15 mph under the limit in the left lane.

John saw a break and passed on the right. As he pulled back into the left lane he noticed the hole in the grill of the Buick. Old lady driving probably ran into a trailer hitch.

In the Buick, Babette Rodger’s blood boiled. She didn’t have the decomposing head of the last driver to piss her off stuck behind the grill for nothing. She yelled out, “It’s on muthafuckah!” and put in her mouthpiece.

Oh yes. It was on.

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