Monday, November 30, 2015

Spam Roundup, November 2015

There's spam, and then there's spam so oddly written it's somewhat amusing. Here's a roundup of some of the "best" comments I received this month from spambots around the world.

Fractured English? It's splintered!

 - it's very trouble-free to find out any matter on net as compared to textbooks, as I found this post at this web site. [As you say.]

 - I have been browsing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty, worth enough for me. [I feel pretty, oh so pretty...]

 - Hi there, everything is going perfectly here and of course every one is sharing facts. That's genuinely good. [Glad to hear those facts as getting shared. BTW - what facts are we talking about?]

 - It's impressive that you are getting ideas from this piece of writing as well as from our dialogue made here. [What dialogue?]

If a photo of just one of these toys generated a huge volume
of spam, imagine what posting in a image of two will do!

Lumbering Along

The Straco Express Layout, Part 23 - Lumbering Along continues to be a high-traffic post -- at least among spammers.

 - Yes! Finally something perezhiltonperezhilton. [Um.... no.]

 -  I like what you guys are ususally up too. Such clever work and exposure! [And we're up, too.]

And finally...

No one used -- or rather, misused -- the word "fastidious." Perhaps it's the end of an era. But I did receive these two comments:

 - After reading this amazing piece of writing I am also delighted to share my familiarity here with mates.
 -  Hello mates, its fantastic post about teachingand completely defined. Keep it up all the time. [Are these the same mates?]

Till next month then, remember to keep it up all the time, too. And may your clever work be exposed and trouble-free.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Far in the Heavens -- Heavenly collection of Stephen Paulus choral works

The choral works on this release were all composed or revised within the last four years of Stephen Paulus' life. Their originality, quality, and expressiveness show just how great a loss the classical music world suffered with Paulus' early death.

“Prayers and Remembrance” is the largest work on the album, written to commemorate 9/11. According to Paulus, it was written to be "spiritual without being religious." In that, he was successful. The work is elegiac and uplifting, without referencing the music of any faith tradition. Lush harmonies and deft orchestrations support the smoothly flowing melodic lines. Soprano Kathryn Mueller is a particular standout in the third movement, making the seemingly simple melody a song from the heart.

Shorter choral works make up the rest of the album, but don’t consider them mere filler. “Nunc dimittis” (rev. 2013) is an effective setting of the text -- an excellent example of Paulus at his best.  "The Incomprehensible,"  "I Have Called You by Name" "Little Elegy" and "When Music Sounds" all demonstrate why Paulus was considered one of America's premier choral composers.

The Concord of Voices & Orchestra, directed by Eric Holtan perform these works beautifully.  The chorus has a good blend, and the performances -- as to be expected from Reference -- are impeccably recorded.

Stephen Paulus: Far in the Heavens
True Concord Voices & Orchestra; Eric Holtan, conductor
Reference Recordings FR-716

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Barney & Clyde Desert Peanuts

Long-time readers of this blog know how I feel about "Peanuts." Yes, it was a great strip and Charles M. Schultz influenced an entire generation of newspaper cartoonists with his inventiveness and imagination.


Schultz died in 2000, and for the past 15 years his comic strip has been in reruns, taking up space that should be used to showcase the current generation of comic strip creators.

I wonder if the moribund nature of this zombie strip (it's dead, but it's still moving) is what creators Gene Weingarten, Dan Weingarten and David Clark had in mind with their September 29, 2015 sequence in "Barney and Clyde." (click on image to enlarge)

 For those not overly familiar with the world of Peanuts, it's a reference to Spike, Snoopy's brother who lives in Needles, Arizona. His sole companion is a cactus.

Yep, 15 years after the end of the strip, that's how I imagined Spike would end up.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Roger Sessions: Music for Violin and Piano

For me, this release works on many levels. First, it chronicles an important phase of Roger Session's career when his style moved from neo-classical to embrace -- however lightly -- serialism. It also is an enjoyable listening experience, as pianist David Holzman and violinist David Bowlin perform together and separately, bring some variety to the program. And there's a mix of well-known important work and some (relatively) light occasional pieces that provide some emotional balance.

The album opens with the 1942 Duo for violin and piano. It's a work cast in a single movement of continual contrast. While the piece is highly chromatic, Sessions never quite crosses over into atonality.

By contrast, Sessions does cross that line in his Sonata for Violin written nine years later. It is indeed a twelve-tone work, but one that still borders on tonality. Bolin brings out the inherent lyricism in this sonata, smoothing out some of the spikiness of the piece, and showing just how close to line Sessions remains.

According to the composer, Sessions' Second Piano Sonata was supposed to be "not only short by easy to play." I think he missed on both counts (the work's about 13 minutes long). Nevertheless, Holzman handles the dense, complex score with apparent ease.

Two short piano pieces round out the program. The 1936 Waltz for Brenda is a delightful little piece written to commemorate the birth of a neighbor's child (who was writer Brenda Webster), and a 1947 Adagio given as a retirement gift to a colleague.

The recording quality is very good, as are the performances. In fact, I really only had one quibble. This is a disc of solo and duo music for violin and piano. So why does the cover show Sessions conducting from a podium?

Roger Sessions: Music for Violin and Piano
David Holzman, piano; David Bowlin, violin
Bridge 9453

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ives Quartet continues outstanding Quincy Porter series

Quincy Porter was a well-respected American composer and pedagogue. Although he composed several concertos and two symphonies, his reputation rests primary on his nine string quartets.

A contemporary of Aaron Copland and Howard Hanson, Porter wrote absolute music that tended to use established forms. But that didn't limit his imagination at all.

This is the second volume in the Ives Quartet's traversal of Porter's quartets. The ensemble has a very rich, warm recorded sound that seems quite appropriate to these post-romantic compositions.

Porter's fifth string quartet, written in 1935 is somber and introspective in character. It's contrasted by The sixth, written two years later. That quartet has an edge to it, with a restless energy in places (especially the first movement).

The seventh quartet was composed during World War II, and seems poised between to worlds. It has a light, open sound with some memorable motifs that seem a little old-fashioned. Yet its extended chromaticism in places obscures the tonality and some of the repeated rhythms seem to look ahead.

The post-war eighth string quartet is new music for a brave new world. It's much more aggressive than the other quartets on this album, and highly chromatic in a way that borders on the atonal (without crossing the line). Yet Porter is at heart a traditionalist, so even in this most modern of his works, melody is still paramount.

Highly recommended to anyone interested in exploring American repertoire.

Quincy Porter: String Quartets Nos. 5-8
Ives Quartet
Naxos 8.559781

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Recycling in postwar Japan

I recently purchased this brush fire jeep for one of my train layouts (see: An Accidental Addition). The style and color of the lithography suggests that it was manufactured in Japan in the mid to late 1950's. There's no brand on it, so I'm not sure which company made it.

When I was cleaning the toy, I saw what appeared to be two eyes staring up at me from the floorboard. I carefully removed the body from the chassis, and found a surprise -- and a mystery.

The chassis for this vehicle was stamped from a sheet of metal that have previously been lithographed. The pristine condition of the lithography and the lack of dimples or extraneous creases in the metal suggest to me that the toy was made not from a recycled finished product, but from a flat sheet of metal that had been decorated but not used.

Who's there?
And what was that decoration? A little research revealed that it was the design for a Burgermeister beer can. This San Francisco brewery updated its graphic regularly. This particular version is from 1953-54, which is in line with my assessment of the jeep's age.

Here's the mystery, though. Where did that sheet of Burgermeister cans come from? The brewery would have used an American cannery. Were unused sheets/factory seconds sold to a jobber for the overseas market?

It makes a certain amount of sense, as it ensures no unscrupulous domestic company could make the cans and pass off their own product as Burgermeister beer.

Container freight is economical now, but would it have been cost effective to ship used steel to Japan in the 1950's? I'm not sure. But if not, then where did this recycled sheet come from? It's unlikely Burgermeister had a brewery in Japan.

And there's one more mystery. Because there are no markings on the jeep, I don't know who made it. I'd like to -- because I'd like to see if they regularly used recycled metal for their toys, or if this was unusual.

The original can (L) and the jeep chassis superimposed over it (R)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gubaidulina - Complete Guitar Works essential listening

Sofia Gubaidulina hasn't written much for the guitar -- it all fits handily on a single CD. But what a CD! Her unique voice seems well-suited to the instrument, as this new release shows.

Repentance, from 2008, is the biggest work on the album. To my ears it seemed a study on held and repeated notes for violin and guitar. Vaguely modal harmonies and light texture takes the listener on an introspective journey through a sparse and sometimes strange sonic landscape before arriving at its conclusion.

This version for three guitars, cello and bass actually third iteration of this music. First was Ravvedimento for cello and guitar quartet, then Pentimento for bass and three guitars (both from 2007). This version includes both bass and cello, and represents perhaps a consolidation of the other two versions -- at least in the string parts.

The other major work on the album, Sotto Voce, is also from three guitars and strings -- this time viola and bass. It's also a work that uses its instrumental forces sparingly. According to Gudaidulina, the three lowest guitar strings "contains the mystery of a purely acoustic phenomenon," that can be exploited in different ways, depending on whether the string's lightly touched or plucked hard. The motif generated by those three strings is then explored by the other instruments in fascinating and sometimes unexpected ways I found deeply compelling.

Rounding out the album are two short works. Serenade (1960) is the earliest composition, and treats the guitar in a more traditional fashion. It seems to have almost a Spanish flavor to it.

The Toccata from 1969 receives its world premier recording. Gubaidulina also treats the guitar in a somewhat traditional manner in this piece, though with an almost non-stop melody that runs throughout the three -minute work.

David Tanenbaum and his colleagues perform with delicacy and precision throughout, bringing sympathetic readings to these works. All in all, an important addition to Gubaidulina's recorded catalog.

Sofia Gubaidulina: Complete Guitar Works
Repentance; Serenade; Toccata; Sotto Voce
David Tanenbaum, Thomas Viloteau, Paul Psarras, Marc Teicholz, guitar; Peter Wyrick, cello; Mark Wright, Scott Pingel, bass; Jodi Levitz, viola
Naxos 8.573379

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Blondie's Halloween Party

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, Blondie ran an unusual sequence. The Bumpsteads hosted a Halloween party, and a remarkable assortment of guests showed up (click on image to enlarge).

There have been character cameos in Blondie before -- and cameos in other comics as well. But there were some interesting features about this particular collection assembled by Blondie's creative team, Dean Young and John Marshall. First, most of the characters are from King Features Syndicate strips, the syndicate that also distributes "Blondie." (I've noted the exceptions in the character key below)

Second, all the strips are currently in production, releasing new material on a daily basis (albeit not necessarily from the founding creators).

Note panel B -- it's filled with kids. And note that all the teenage and young adult characters -- Dustin, Luanne, and Jeremy (from Zits) are all using their smartphones. Some characters appear more than once, and some King Features characters don't appear at all.

An interesting sequence, and -- for a comics nerd like me -- one that was great fun.

Character key:

Panel A
1. Prince Valiant from "Prince Valiant" by Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates
2. Snuffy Smith from "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith" by John Rose
3. An unnamed character from "Rhymes with Orange" by Hilary Price
4. Hi and Lois Flagston from "Hi and Lois" by Brian Walker, Greg Walker, and Chance Browne
5. Darryl and Wanda from "Baby Blues" by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott

Panel B
1. Dustin Kudlick from "Dustin" by Steve Kelley and Jeff Parker
2. Marvin Miller from "Marvin" by Tom Armstrong
3. Dennis and Alice Mitchell from "Dennis the Menace" by Hal Ketchem, M Hamilton and R Ferdinand
4. Trixie Flagston from "Hi and Lois"
5. Tillman Tinkerson from "Take it from the Tinkersons" b y Bill Bettwy

Panel C
1. Leroy and Loretta from "The Lockhorns" by Bunny Hoest and John Reiner
2. Luanne DeGroot from "Luanne" by Greg Evans*
3. Mooch and Earl from "Mutts" by Patrick McDonnell
4. Mother Goose and Grimmy from "Mother Goose and Grimm" by Mike Peters
5. Curtis from "Curtis" by Ray Billingsley

Panel D
1. B.C.  from "BC" by Mason Mastroianni**
2. Marvin (again)
3. Jeremy, Walt, and Connie Duncan from "Zits" by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman
4. Marmaduke from "Marmaduke" by Paul Anderson
5.Joe and Marcy Cobb from "Jump Start" by Robb Armstrong

Panel E
1. Beetle Bailey and Sarge from "Beetle Bailey" by Mort Walker
2. Buckles from "Buckles" by David Gilbert
3. Dilbert from "Dilbert" by Scott Adams*
4. Arlo from "Arlo and Janis" by Jimmy Johnson*
5. Oscar, Gordo, and Ed from "Arctic Circle" by Alex Hallatt
6. Rose Gumbo from "Rose is Rose" by Don Wimmer*

Panel F
Blondie, Dagwood and Daisy from "Blondie" (duh) by Dean Young and John Marshall

1. Hagar the Horrible and Crazy Eddie from "Hagar the Horrible" by Chris Browne
2. Garfield from "Garfield" by Jim Davis*
3. Mooch and Earl from "Mutts" (again)
4. P. Martin Shoemaker and Professor Cosmo Fishhawk from "Shoe" by Gary Brookins and Susie MacNelly
5. Lio from "Lio by Mark Tatulli*
6. Billy, Jeff and Dolly Keane from "Family Circus" by Jeff Keane
7. Earl and Opal Pickles from "Pickles" by Brian Crane++
8. Darryl from "Baby Blues" (again)
9. Goat, Pig, and Rat from "Pearls before Swine" by Stehan Pastis*
10. Crankshaft from "Crankshaft" by Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers
11. Elly Patterson from "For Better or Worse" by Lynn Anderson*
12. Mother Goose and Grimmy from "Mother Goose and Grimm" (again)

*Syndicated by Universal Uclick
**Syndicated by Creators Syndicate
+Syndicated by United Media
++Washington Post Writers Group

Monday, November 09, 2015

Daibelli Project 104 - Marimba Solo

The Diabelli Project is about offering my weekly flash-composition sketches freely to all. Like Antonio Diabelli's theme these sketches aren't great music. But perhaps (as in Diabelli's case) there's a Beethoven out there who can do great things with them. 

The last two flash composition sketches have been for solo marimba (see nos. 102 and 103). When I did the second one, it wasn't intentional -- it just happened to be a piece of music written for the same instrument as the previous sketch.

This time, though, it's deliberate. For the next few weeks when I sit down to dash off something for this project, it will be something for solo marimba. What I'm curious to see is if an overall pattern begins to emerge by revisiting this same instrument over and over. Will the sketches all be part of a greater whole? And will that whole be a long, single work, or a short, multi-movement suite? Or neither. (click on image to enlarge)

This fragment, I think, might work well as part of an up-tempo final movement.But that's my opinion. As with the rest of the sketches in this series, I offer them to any and all to use as you will. Just be sure to share the results.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Lessons from York - What we didn't see: depth

Dad and I recently returned from our semi-annual trip to the Train Collectors Association (TCA) Eastern Division toy train meet in York, PA. This is the largest such show in the United States and provides an interesting snapshot of the state of the hobby.

It can also hint at the current state of collecting in general. As is our tradition, we spent a lot of time discussing what we saw a lot of (and what we didn't) -- and more importantly, the reasons behind them. 

In What We Saw I mentioned that there was a general leavening of toy trains. Both Lionel and American Flyer (the majors) were well-represented, as were the more prominent minor companies, like Marx. There were trains from both the prewar and postwar era, plus examples from the 1970s and later. But there was no depth to any of it.

What does that mean?

Last time I mentioned all the Lionel F3s that were available -- but only of certain road names. And they were almost exclusively offered individually -- not as part of the sets they were sold with. This time there were virtually no examples of Lionel's space and military toys to be found (previously a hot commodity).

You'll find all of Lionel's postwar F3s in this book
-- but we didn't find them all at the show!

American Flyer post-war trains were in abundance, but not their pre-war offerings. Some Marx trains from the 60's were available, but little else -- and not in the quantity available in previous years. It was possible to find the non plus ultras of prewar standard gauge trains -- Lionel State sets and Blue Comet sets -- but mot the mid- and low-end offerings of the same era.


When I first started making the trip to York with my dad, you could pretty much find anything in the seven exhibit halls. If it was unusual, there might be only one or two available, but the possibility at least was always there. This time it seemed like the variety wasn't there. Table after table had the same basic things -- almost as if there was a top 40 for toy trains.

Does that mean vendors are focusing only on what moves the quickest to maximize their profit? Or does it mean that more unusual items have all found homes, and won't be seen again until those collections are broken up? The spring, 2016 meet should be interesting.

One thing more

I continue to search for Industrial Rail rolling stock, and it's still hard to find -- at least the few pieces I'm interested in. But there's been a disturbing trend. When I first started buying this "off brand," the cars were selling for $10-15 (see: The Impact of Practicality from 2012). In 2014 I noted that the price range was $15-$20 (What We Didn't See). This time, Industrial Rail pieces were selling for $20-$30 each. And I still can't find the car I want -- at any price.

Have you seen this tank car?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Lessons from York - What we saw: Unusual classics

Dad and I recently returned from our semi-annual trip to the Train Collectors Association (TCA) Eastern Division toy train meet in York, PA. This is the largest such show in the United States and provides an interesting snapshot of the state of the hobby.

It can also hint at the current state of collecting in general. As is our tradition, we spent a lot of time discussing what we saw a lot of (and what we didn't) -- and more importantly, the reasons behind them. 

This time around there seemed to be a little bit of everything. You could find examples of prewar toy trains, mostly from the late 1920s to mid-1930s. There were several tables with postwar toy trains (1949-1965), a fair number of items from the 1970s and 1980s. And it all wasn't Lionel -- American Flyer was represented (mostly in postwar), and there were smatterings of Ives and Dorfan (two prewar companies), and some foreign examples from Marklin (Germany) and Hornby (UK).

But that's not to say you could find anything and everything. There were gaps, and there were excesses.

F3 for NYC

Without a doubt, the most common item at this show of several hundred vendors in seven exhibit halls was the Lionel F3 diesel in New York Central livery. It was in every hall, in virtually every aisle. Everyone seemed to be selling them for around the same price -- $500 for a pair.

A Little Bit of Background

For many, the 1950s were the golden age for Lionel trains. They produced high-quality, highly detailed models that ran well and looked good. And, for the most part, they've held up with time. In 1948 Lionel introduced their F3 diesel in both Santa Fe and New York Central paint schemes. The Santa Fe proved most popular, and a version of it was offered every year for the next eighteen years. The NYC version, on the other hand, had a shorter -- but respectable -- run of eight years.

Lionel tried other paint schemes on their F3 diesels -- including the Southern Railway's distinctive green livery. That model was only offered from 1954-56.

What's up with the F3?

Although there were versions of the Santa Fe available, at this show the NYC loco was the most common (found on 36 different tables by my count). Running a close second was the Southern F3s (21 tables). Why?

Here's my guess. The Santa Fe version was the most popular when it was on the market, and remains so with collectors. And remember -- toy collectors of all stripes tend to favor the toys of their childhood. At this point, most people that are just starting to collect toy trains are Boomers, so toys from the 1950s and 60s are in demand.

At the same time, older collectors continue to downsize as they more to smaller homes and/or retirement communities. I suspect that many of them who had several examples of the postwar Lionel F3s in their collection -- and only now had room for one -- opted to keep the Santa Fe. It's the most colorful, the most popular, and in many ways, the most iconic Lionel postwar locomotive. By comparison, the NYC gray and white is rather drab. So to the vendor table it goes.

The same, I think, might be true of the Southern F3s. Except that its paint scheme is a little more attractive. So perhaps that's why not as many showed up. But there was an exceptionally large number available this time around.

Next: What we didn't see

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Voters in action -- and inaction

Miss Liberty wants to know where you were today.
Yesterday I shared my reasons why local elections are important. Now that the results are in, let's see what happened.

The county I live in currently has a population of about 35,026, with 27,355 of them over eighteen (that is, eligible to vote). The rolls have 22,724 registered voters, which is about 83% of all those who could register.Of that figure, 20,724 are active registered voters, or about 75% of the eligible voting population.

So how many showed up to make the important decisions?

8,155; about 29% of all those eligible to vote, and about 39% of active registered voters. There were really only four races that were contested. A lot of candidates ran unopposed -- but that's a subject for a different post.

7,186 voters decided who the sheriff of the county should be. So a little over one quarter of the people who could decide did decide. And their decision will affect the makeup and effectiveness of the county's law enforcement -- which pretty much affects everyone.

1,540 voters chose a county supervisor. I don't have the numbers for each of the five districts, but assuming even voter distribution, 25%-28% of those that could decide did decide. And their decision affects what taxes and tax rates the county sets, and what county services get funded.

7,219 voters chose a state senator. About a quarter of the voters who could decide did decide on the person to represent the area at the state level, vote on state laws and taxes, help or hinder state funds flowing into the county, and decide which state services get funded and at what level.

The biggest turnout was for the Soil and Water Conversation District director. That the 8,155 total. What does the SWC do? It provides water management assistance for farmers (we're still fairly rural), oversees natural resource management and local conservation. It reviews site plans for erosion and sediment control and storm water management.

Virtually all the potable water in our county comes from the river, or from aquifers. Build a development without taking drainage into account, and you can destroy a neighborhood's water supply. Be careless about industrial waste, and you make river water unsafe for those downstream. And whether developments have proper drainage or if a plant's waste is safe depends in part on the decisions of the SWC.

It's no wonder the directorship got the most voter participation. All the grandstanding in Washington doesn't have the same direct impact as a kitchen tap that discharges brown sludge -- or worse -- nothing at all. And yet two thirds of the potential voters passed on making that decision.

It's funny. If you had a group of four people and one said, "I'm going to make all the decisions," the other three would protest. Same if there were a group of 16 and four people said theirs were the only opinions that counted. That's basically what happened today -- on a slightly larger scale. And there wasn't a murmur.

So to all the voters who decided to sit this one out, I can only say this: Hope you're happy with my decisions -- because you, like me, are going to have to live with them for a while.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Voting local -- enlightened self-interest

Friends of mine who are far more active politically than I am usually get discouraged this time of year. As they canvas the area, trying to get out the vote, they hear the same thing over and over: "I only vote in the presidential elections -- local elections aren't that important."

I wonder what they would say if asked to vote on their property tax rate. Since that's a local and not a national matter, would they pass on participating? I think not.

Here's an organizational chart published by the boards of supervisors for the county I live in. (click on image to enlarge)

Think about the issues you care most about, and look at how much the action of local officials can have an effect.


We have an elected school board. They decide how the public schools will be run. They ultimately have the power improve the quality of education in the county, or run it into the ground. The Board of Supervisors sets the budget, so they determine how much funding the county libraries receive. And they also appoint the library board. So if you have strong opinions about the role of a public library and what books and materials should -- or shouldn't -- be available to the public, the supervisors appoint the people who will decide that.

Public Safety:

We elect the county sheriff, who in turn hires (or fires) the officers and staff of the department. Only in movies and TV shows can a law enforcement agency devote 100% of its staff to every case. So decisions have to be made. What crimes does the sheriff consider most important, and best use of his resources? Is vagrancy more important than domestic violence? Traffic control more important than breaking and entering? The voters get to decide what direction the department takes when they vote.

Economic Growth and Development:

The Board so Supervisors appoints people to the Planning Commission, the Economic Development Authority, and the Zoning Board. Do you want every acre of land covered with homes, or would you prefer strip mall? Want opportunities for folks (maybe even you) to get a decent job in your own county? These are the people who decide what property gets developed, what goes on it, and what kind of businesses move into your county.

Public Funding:

The Board of Supervisors sets the budget for the county. So all the local public services -- parks and recreations, sewer and water, trash collection and disposal, animal shelter, social services, public education, fire, rescue, and police departments -- get what funds the Board allocates to them.

So if you think the animal shelter is important, better make sure the supervisor you elect agrees. Otherwise, that's one less voice for funding the shelter during the budget talks.


And one thing more: how do you feel about taxes? A good portion of that county budget is funded by locally raised taxes. Like your real estate and personal property tax. Like the rates for water and sewer. Like the dumping fees at the land fill. Like the fees for business licenses. And so on.

So if you live someplace where emergency services are never needed, sidewalks and roads never require maintenance, there's no personal property or real estate taxes, utilities are free and children are born with a college-level education, then there's no need for you to vote in a local election.

I live in a different world, so I'll be voting tomorrow. It's my civic duty as a citizen. And because the decisions of these local officials have such a big impact on my daily life, it's also enlightened self-interest.