It’s Sometimes Sunny in Seattle

There’s a TV show titled It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Of course it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia. There isn’t a TV show titled It’s Always Rainy in Seattle, but most people think it rains all the time in Seattle. It is miserably wet and dark from November through February, and annoyingly rainy during March and April but, as these photos show, sometimes it’s sunny in Seattle (Click on an image to open the photo viewer.)

And for the record, the average annual rainfall in Seattle is 38.6 inches, and the average annual rainfall in Philadelphia is 41.5 inches.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones at Sonic Boom on Record Store Day 2014

St. Paul & the Broken Bones performed on KEXP at the start of Troy Nelson’s show today at 3:00 p.m. and then at Sonic Boom Records at 6:00 p.m., and then a sold-out show at The Tractor Tavern.

Here they are at Sonic Boom.

RSD St Paul and the Broken Bones

This is cracker soul.

Gotta love the fluorescent lighting. (This ain’t no disco).

I first heard of this band while listening to NPR on the way to work one morning. Like they say in the interview, I couldn’t believe the voice I heard on the radio came out of this guy’s mouth. When he talks, his voice matches his appearance, but when he sings…not at all. They played a soulful 25-minute set, and made fans of everyone in the store.

Check them out on YouTube.

What to Drink on Record Store Day

RSD 2014 beerIf you weren’t able to get into Sonic Boom when it opened for Record Store Day at 10:00 a.m. because you were at the Woodinville High School baseball field waiting to watch your kid to play a game that you were pretty sure was going to get rained out, and then were able to bet back to Ballard around noon because the games were cancelled, and got into the store around 1:00, then you needed a beer after you got home with your purchases. (Springsteen – American Beauty RSD exclusive vinyl, The Coathangers – Suck My Shirt, and A.J. Davila – Terror Amor)

I could think of no other beer more fitting than the one above. Perhaps I’ll pack some in with me if the games are rescheduled.


How to Write a Country Music Song

This morning I drove my kid from Ballard to Woodinville High School for a double header of baseball games that were set to start at 11:00 a.m. The double header was necessary because the game scheduled earlier this month was rained out. Anyway, we got to the home of the Woodinville Falcons at about 9:50 a.m.

Sun was breaking through the clouds here and there, but the forecast called for heavy rains by game time.

The school is just off the highway, up a hill and set amongst some trees that remain from what used to be a forest. Perhaps falcons once lived there. Maybe they still do. (I digress.)

Whoever was manning the P.A. system in the scoring booth was playing country music  during team warm-ups at what even I would describe as a bit too loud for the occasion. I texted Zippy, who was planning on watching the kid play some ball today, to warn him about the music and suggested that perhaps they were playing it loud to irritate the city kids from Ballard.

Zippy and Sporty drove to the school and said they had no trouble finding the baseball field. All they had to do was follow the bad sounds straight to the stands along third base.

As we sat and waited for the umpires to show up (they were in Ballard!) we talked about the lyrics to the songs we were hearing. They all seemed to have a common theme that included the following four subjects:

Truckin’ and

So if you want to make money writing commercially viable country music songs, start writing and, if you can check off the four subjects above for every song you write, you will be successful. At least in Woodinville anyway.

Oh, and both games were rained out.

Mitch McConnell has nothing to offer Kentucky. He’ll be re-elected anyway.

Kentucky is one of the poorest states in the union. It vies with West Virginia and Mississippi for bottom place in any well-being list. Its rates of poverty, obesity and general ill-health are among the worst in the country. It has high unemployment. And residents of Kentucky are among the most miserable in the nation, attributable in part to the high incidence of poor health.

In the 30 years he has served it as a United States senator, Republican Mitch McConnell, who is up for re-election this year, has provided little substantive help to the state. Oh sure McConnell steered a good chunk of earmark money to Kentucky over the years; but, as this Huffington Post profile on his career found, the money was directed scattershot fashion primarily in ways that would best cement McConnell’s own power and support in the state rather than as part of any strategy to enhance the state’s welfare. And since 2011 the earmark well has dried up, banned by McConnell’s own party in a largely symbolic show of fiscal rectitude.

Thanks to its Democratic governor’s wholehearted embrace of the Affordable Care Act, however, Kentucky stands to benefit enormously. Already about 360,000 people have signed up for health insurance under the ACA, of whom 75% were previously uninsured. All but 20,000 of the new enrollees are covered under the ACA’s expanded Medicaid, thanks to Kentucky’s low median income level and high poverty rate.

There are few states whose residents need it more. As the 24/7 Wall Street summary of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index 2014 noted:

Kentuckians had some of the most unhealthy behaviors last year. Less than 60% of those surveyed said they ate well all day, the worst among all states, while the smoking rate was the highest in the nation. Unhealthy habits in the state likely contributed to poor physical health. Respondents from Kentucky were among the most likely to complain about lack of energy and sleep, and nearly 30% said health issues prevented them from going about their normal lives. The state’s population was the nation’s most reliant on prescription drugs, with 19.3 prescriptions filled per capita in 2011, tied with West Virginia.

And since approximately 640,000 or 17.5% of residents under 65 lacked insurance prior to the ACA, the law may be a game changer for a state that has traditionally struggled. While there is as yet no clinically proven connection between health insurance and good health, research indicates that having insurance coverage at the very least relieves stress and depression by ameliorating the strain of financial insecurity. Over time it is not unreasonable to hope that the expansion of health coverage in Kentucky will have an enormously significant and positive impact on its population’s well-being.

One would think that this might change the political landscape in this very conservative state. After all a law passed by Democrats in Washington and implemented brilliantly in Kentucky by Democratic Governor Steve Beshear through a remarkably trouble-free website, is already benefitting scores of thousands and has reduced the rate of uninsured by over 40%.

Alas not so. Hatred for Obama and anything associated with him overshadows any actual benefit from the ACA. According to Yahoo News:

Far from being seen as a success story, though, in Kentucky, the health care law and Beshear’s strong embrace of it remain deeply controversial. A recent poll showed that a plurality of Kentuckians continue to favor repealing the law. Other than Beshear, many of the state’s leading Democrats, aware of the lingering tensions around the ACA, avoid speaking about it publicly, wary of being seen as too supportive of “Obamacare.”

Assuming McConnell survives a GOP primary challenge, his Democratic opponent in November will be Allison Lundergan Grimes. In a rational world, Grimes would be trumpeting the success of the ACA in Kentucky and its promise of a better future for so many. Instead:

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat challenging McConnell in a closely watched U.S. Senate race, does not include any mention of the law on her campaign website and has avoided associating herself with Beshear’s embrace of it.

The Economist wonders:

Why are Kentucky Democrats running away from a law that has for the first time brought free or affordable health insurance to hundreds of thousands of their constituents— mainly at the expense of wealthy out-of-staters? This is one of the poorest, unhealthiest, least-insured states in America, the state with the fourth-highest rate of Social Security disability status in the country, a state that is a byword for cancer-ridden smokers and black-lung-plagued coal miners. Why, among these voters especially, is Obamacare such a losing issue?

Because it was conceived and passed by Democrats and pushed by a black Democratic president, that’s why.

McConnell, of course, has nothing to offer Kentucky but his usual manipulations of the feeble-minded on issues like gun-control, and the promise to repeal a law that stands as the most positive development for the welfare of ordinary Kentuckians in a generation or more. Yet Grimes is a distinct underdog and current trends suggest that Democratic office holders will soon be rarer than unicorns in the state.

In his trenchant book, Thomas Frank asked the question: What’s the Matter With Kansas? People in Kentucky should be asking the same question of themselves.

Friday Night Videos Featuring Lydia Loveless, Dum Dum Girls, and Perfect Pussy

It’s Friday and Lydia Loveless, the firecracker country punk from Ohio, is playing at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard. Zippy, Sporty and I will be at the show. After watching this video, give me a good reason why you shouldn’t be there.

Dum Dum Girls will be performing at Neumos on Saturday night. Be there too.

What is Perfect Pussy? Is there Perfect Pussy? Who is Perfect Pussy? Answer: Meredith Graves and her band from Syracuse, New York. After reading this Pitchfork review of the album Say Yes to Love and watching this video, you’ll want some Perfect Pussy too.

Stand up to “Stand Your Ground” – Boycott Florida

Florida, Florida, the redneck riviera
Florida, Florida, there’s no more pathetic place in America
yes a man must make unpopular decisions, surely from time to time
and a man can only stand what a man can stand
it’s a wobbly volatile line
- Vic Chesnutt

Florida is not alone in allowing the concealed conveyance of loaded firearms, unfortunately. Although the United States Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of permitting restrictions, nearly all states allow concealed-carry with few if any impediments.

In addition, however, Florida is one of more than twenty states with a specific stand-your-ground law that imposes no duty on an individual to retreat before resorting to deadly force even in situations away from the home.

The result of this lethal combination has been a number of well publicized use of deadly force cases (the shooting death of Trayvon Martin on the street, the movie theatre shooting death of Chad Oulson and the fatal shooting of Jordan Davis while he sat in a vehicle in a convenience store parking lot) and a 200% spike in so-called justifiable homicides in Florida according to a comprehensive report released by Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Even as the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis lobby to repeal or at least weaken Florida’s stand-your-ground law, GOP legislators in the state seek to limit media scrutiny of SYG shootings following an unfavorable report on the law’s application and outcomes by the Tampa Bay Times.

The combined effect of an armed and carrying citizenry and an expansive stand-your-ground law is that Florida has become an increasingly unsafe place. Not only do we have to worry about criminals with guns – every state in the union has to worry about them thanks to our overall lax national gun laws – but in Florida we also have to worry about the trigger-happy, law-abiding gun carrier who no longer is legally constrained to act responsibly; instead, he now has a legal get-out-of-jail-free card to shoot anyone who pisses him off while claiming that he felt threatened.

It was lunacy for the people of Florida to elect NRA-lapdog loonies to govern them and pass such laws. So maybe it’s time for the rest of us to bring them to their senses. And the best way to accomplish that is via the pocket-book, by mounting a tourist boycott of Florida.

Not convinced? Well, picture this: You’re a British (or New York) wife and mother holidaying in Florida to see Disneyworld. Your husband or teenage son, who’s gone back to the rented car for his sunglasses, gets into an argument with some jerk in the parking lot. Maybe he’s complaining about the way your car is parked too close to his. The argument escalates. Your son or husband is big enough that they’re not easily intimidated. The jerk gets angry, pulls out his pistol and shoots your son or husband dead. There is no witness close enough to see or hear exactly what happened.

Under Florida law the shooter will claim he shot in self-defense because he felt threatened, and that he was not required to retreat before using deadly force. There are no witnesses to contradict his version of events, the putative threat to his life for example; and the fact that your husband or son was unarmed will carry little if any weight, nor the fact that the shooter instigated the confrontation, assuming he admitted as much. The burden of proof that it was not a justified killing has already shifted to prosecutors and away from the perpetrator of the shooting. The jerk in this scenario will walk, almost certainly without being prosecuted.

There are, of course, a million possible scenarios for someone to claim a justifiable homicide, but it will nearly always be with a firearm and rarely when the victim is also armed. And not only does Florida’s SYG law almost always favor the shooter, it has the effect, whether intended or not, of encouraging the gun carrier to kill rather than wound; after all, we don’t want police to hear an alternative version of events, do we?

It’s true that being black almost certainly increases your risk of being shot by both the criminal and law abiding gun carrier alike. But let’s not kid ourselves that the rest of us aren’t at risk. Just ask Chad Oulson.

Florida is no longer a fit place to visit. We should send a clear message to Floridians and their deeply misguided politicians by giving it a miss from our vacation plans.

Emerald City Comic Con Panties

Nerdy panties found their way into my sphere of consciousness today. I’ll lay out the details here in a much more boring way than what’s really going on inside my head. It will mostly involve pictures.

First, the “featured image” of this post was gratuitously stolen from

So, there’s Etsy with its plethora of nerdy women:

Nerds With Vaginas

I was caught up in the ECCC traffic this afternoon (on the bus), and noticed how all these really hot girls in super nerdy outfits were being followed by throngs of less sexy nerds. It occurred to me that these women have really carved out their niche.

And I’m probably late to the party. It seems there’s a whole niche industry built up around selling nerd panties.

Women’s super hero jammies, panties, and lingerie is a thing!

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 9.20.46 PM

They can turn your favorite, most masculine superheroes into sexy panties for your dream girl…

I wonder how frustrated these guys are by this.

There’s this take on a common trope:

Robin panties

And finally the women who get off on just being loved by nerds…

I love my nerd panties

 ECCC is annoying

But at least it’s not as annoying as EVERY OTHER DAY where there aren’t sexy underwear wearing, powerful women walking around the streets of Seattle, blocking traffic, having followings, reminding me that today isn’t simply another day.

Thus, the inevitable.

So a marriage proposal happened last night at #ECCCLiveArt...... on Twitpic

She can’t even see why you’re hugging her so hard, dude. I think she thinks you just really love being her friend. Just like I love it that your butt crack was cropped out of this image.

Let him think he's doing a good job and then just fake an orgasm (NSFW)If you want that marriage to last, you’ll need a crash course on cunnilingus for nerds. And sometimes you just need a push in the right direction. Boy or girl, you may never have learned to appreciate the pussy (NSFW). Some influential people have written a guide for the less fortunate among us.

Conservatives want to raise the Minimum Wage – Just Like Liberals!

We’re accustomed to hearing progressives and Democrats argue for raising the minimum wage. So it’s refreshing to hear a similar case being made from the other side of the ideological divide.

Ron Unz is a conservative activist and former publisher of The American Conservative magazine who until recently was leading a fight for an initiative to raise the minimum wage in California to $12.00 an hour. Unfortunately, lack of funds has derailed the effort as he explained in this interview with The Nation but what is striking from both this conversation and one he had on NPR earlier this year is that his key arguments for increasing the minimum wage resonate as much with liberals as they should do with conservatives.

For example, Unz makes the point in this New York Times Op-Ed piece that a low minimum wage amounts to a government subsidy for private businesses because the taxpayers pick up the tab for poorly paid workers to receive income support, food aid and other governmental support:

Ordinary taxpayers would be the other great beneficiaries, saving many tens of billions of dollars each year in payments for Food Stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, housing subsidies, and other social welfare programs. Businesses should pay their own employees rather than quietly shifting the burden to government programs and the American taxpayer. Conservatives and free-market supporters should endorse this simple idea.

He also is unsympathetic to the usual Republican braying that raising the minimum wage will force businesses, especially small ones, to lay off workers. He notes that the recent CBO report on the likely effects of raising the minimum wage clearly shows that the benefit for many millions of low wage Americans, who will gain a significantly higher income, far outweighs the possible loss of some jobs. Second, as a believer in the free market he expresses the view that if a business is unable to survive without paying a ridiculously low hourly wage, then maybe it doesn’t deserve to.

That these and other Unz arguments for raising the minimum wage sound much like our own is no accident. The logic of it transcends ideological and philosophical differences. So why do most congressional Republicans still oppose it?

Well, one strong reason is that Obama is for it and that’s enough for many to be against it on principle. But the GOP’s opposition is guided primarily by their reflexive support for small business owners most of whom object vociferously to increasing the minimum wage. And ideological consistency takes a hike since ordinary taxpayers provide what amounts to a $250 billion subsidy to the GOP’s business pals so that our working poor can have a somewhat decent living.

The strength of conservative objections has rendered a federal increase unlikely any time soon. The fight, however, has already shifted to the states. Here in Washington, for example, both the state and the city of Seattle are separately considering minimum wage increases.

Requiring American businesses to provide a decent minimum wage to their workers is not a Democratic or Republican issue, or a liberal or conservative one. It’s simply the right thing to do. Ask Ron Unz.

Fred Phelps is Dead! Is he in Heaven or Hell?

Phelps the Hater

Fred Phelps died today!

Before participating in the poll below, read this excerpt from the CNN report:

Fred Phelps — the founding pastor of a Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals — has died, the church said Thursday.

The 84-year-old died of natural causes at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, according to church spokesman Steve Drain.

According to Westboro, the church has picketed more than 53,000 events, ranging from Lady Gaga concerts to funerals for slain U.S. soldiers. Typically, a dozen or so church members — including small children — will brandish signs that say “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”

Phelps was often called “the most hated man in America,” a label he seemed to relish.

“If I had nobody mad at me,” he told the Wichita Eagle in 2006, “what right would I have to claim that I was preaching the Gospel?”

Under Phelps’ leadership, Westboro members have preached that every calamity, from natural disasters to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, is God’s punishment for the country’s acceptance of homosexuality. Phelps had advocated for gays and lesbians to be put to death.

Poll Question:

Immediately following Pastor Phelp's demise,

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