Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Kurt Vonnegut on 'Blues in America'

From our friends at Nightmare Hall comes this interesting piece of writing by the author Kurt Vonnegut concerning Blues for America. Enjoy.

I have given up on Lithops seeds that were planted. I think I uried them, but I will procure more from the Cactus and Succulent Society of America, of which I am a member. I do have Colorado Blue Spruce sprouts as well as at least one Dawn Redwood sprout. I did plant lavender and regular coleus in a lawn ornament as well as New Guinea Impatiens, Gladiolus, Day Lillies and Marigolds in the garden.

Friday, May 26, 2006


So Ken Lay, the former cheif fundraiser of the GOP and Jeff Skilling have been found guilty by a jury of their peers in the Enron case. Good. Maybe we do have a justice system after all. I hope this sends a message to errant CEOs that 'business as usual' will NOT be tolerated.

This is of course, scant consolation to all the 'victims' of the Enron implosion, the workers who had invested in their careers and as stockholders, or 'owners' and were betrayed y their senior management. Plus, all the retirees and near-retirees who now face the rest of their lives in poverty, near poverty, with the threat of foreclosure or the threat of having to work until they are 90 rather than enjoying their Golden Years all because they invested heavily in Enron stock.

You'd think that with the "MILLIONS" CEOs, plus perks like company paid golf club memberships, travel for themeseves and their families and rich consulting deals after they 'retire', you' think that CEO's would actually WORK and be accountable to SOMEONE at SOME point would be the case, but not according to an article by AP Business Writer Bruce Myerson. In a recent article he notes that CEOs have a disdain for, and detest shareholder meetings. Some of the countries biggest corporations, like Verizon, who have headquarters in New York, call for the annual shareholder's meeting to be in Kansas City. Why? So, people are less inclined to attend. It seems that CEOs are loathe to answer questions that justify their insane salaries, especially, since there has been a move recently by shareholders (to whom CEOs are supposed to report) to reign in some of the CEO perks. If they don't have to answer to answer to the shareholders at the annual meeting, who DO they report to? They certainly don't care what the customer on the street wants, nor to their care about their workers whose jobs and benefits are most likely to be cut in a 'cost-saving' and therefore a BONUS for the execs. It seems we have a train running out of control, maybe the Enron verdicts will put a break on the corporate culture of excess and inaccountability. I hope so.

Bush's Immigration Plan, or the Senate vs. the House: Putting 6000 National Guard on the border with no guns makes entirely no sense. We are being invaded! Bush's plan amounts to de-facto amnesty. This is NOT a racism issue, nor is it an anti-Mexican issue, its about abiding by our laws. Mexico has MUCH stricter laws on immigration than the US does. I can't go down there, walk across the border, set up shop and be treated as the equal of a Mexican citizen.

I was watching Scarborough Country last night and there was a illegal immigrant supporter who equated Pat Buchanan with a Fascist. How can ANYONE see scores of people running through the desert and claim theat they are abiding by the rules? If someone broke into YOUR home, like a home invasion, and the burgler says "I'm not a crook, I just want a roof over my head", would you feed him or shoot him?

Bush needs to crack down on employers who hire illegals, we also need a better system to track the criminal records and identies of illegal aliens. If the government can tap into our phones, they CAN check the backgrounds of the workers that work here. When I worked at the Nevada Test Site, they did a background check on me that went back 15 years and included interviews by employers, former employers, co-workers, neighbors and friends.

I also call on Vicente Fox to do more for the Mexican economy. Crack down on government corruption, and create employment opportunities for his citizens and discourage Mexican women to stop being baby factories and I encourage the Catholic and Mormon churches to do the same.
One way to cut down on child poverty is to cut back on overpopulation and take care of the millions who are already born.


On the plant front:

Working in the Garden - planted gladiolus, corn, day lillies, impatiens, and in a yard ornament - white flower begonias, red flower begonias, lavender (seed) and coleus (seed).
In the house - planted Lithops (no luck - will start again), Kona Coffee and Venus Fly Trap (no sprouts yet)
On the Porch - Colorado Blue Spruce (sprouts!) and Dawn Redwood (2 sprouts) and Tea (no sprouts yet)
On outside table - several varieties of cacti (some from seed)
In containers outside - One Cacti and Cucumber (seed)
Joined Cacti and Succulent Society of America.

Getting warm outside - good for the cacti.

Friday, May 12, 2006

If your not outraged, you haven't been paying attention.

To My Friends:

Yesterday, the Republican Congress passed its 'Tax Bill' and the President is expected to sign it. It includes extending the tax breaks on capital gains (UNEARNED income) for TWO more years, but it contains a sop for the middle class - a moratorium for ONE year on the AMT. Granted, some middle class folks may benefit, especially on the sale of their home, but let's face it, capital gains are usually taken into consideration from the sale of stocks, bonds and antiques. Capital gains are a rich man's toy tax.

What's the AMT? The Alternative Minimum Tax is a tax vehicle implemented in 1969 during the Nixon Administration TO ENSURE THAT THE RICH PAID A MINIMUM TAX if they took advantage of every available loophole. It was implemented in 1969, 37 years ago. The problem is, the threshold has NEVER been risen as an ajustment for inflation. Back then, $75,000 was considered a high income. Today that's lower middle class. So, if you live in a state that has income taxes that can be deducted from your Federal Tax AND you have other deductions like children, you are forced to pay MORE tax on your EARNED income. So the GOP gave its 'base' - millionaires and billionaires, like Donald Trump and the Hollywood 'elite' another tax break for two years and the middle class only one. The AMT provision was thrown in so it wouldn't be TOO obvious.

The GOP extended it for just two years, until 2008, because it should RIGHTFULLY be worried about losing some power by then and if the Dems don't extend the capital gains tax again, they can be accused of being tax RAISERS. But Republicans never knock themselves out about eliminating the AMT or raising its thresholds so that it approaches its original intent. Nor do they ever talk about getting rid of taxes altogether. After all, somebody must pay the bills, so it might as well be YOU.

The Bush Administration doesn't think that the wealthy should TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and pony up their fair share of the Iraq War (which they lied about to get us in, lied about the strength of the insurgency, who was going to pay for it (their oil) or the price (now up to $400B) or the cost of the deficit (a record amount) or to help pay for the fixing of a broken health care system or anything else for that matter.

The irony of yesterday's action are as follows: They gave millionaires a tax cut for TWO years on UNEARNED income, while YOU got a ONE year moratorium on paying THEIR share by taxing your EARNED income. They just SCREWED you. Again. But hey, it'll be reported in the media as those tax cutting Republicans.

But nobody is talking about taxes today because it came out on a day that the Bush Administration threatened the phone service providers, under threat of loss of government contacts to hand over MILLIONS of innocent Americans' phone records and conversations. The fact that NONE OF IT is legal has unfazed GW Bush, because in HIS mind, it is a National Security Issue and Dubya will interpret events HIS way, regardless of how the law or the Constitution may weigh in.

This is a President, after all, who claims that HE can decide the fate of enemy combatants overseas, since our system of checks and balances doesn't apply offshore. He is a President who signs bills into law and then decides LATER if he'll abide by them if it decides later that 'National Security' is involved.

I thought conservatives were supposed to PROTECT us from an ever expanding instrusive government, not be the CAUSE of it. Conservatives like to tell us that we aren't ENTITLED to a job, or to health care, but we should be RESPONSIBLE for our own health and welfare, but they aren't responsible for protecting the privacy of law abiding citizens. Merely owning a phone is not sufficient cause for suspicion of terrorism. Do you believe Bush when he says there is no mining involved? If no mining is involved, then there is NO NEED for a phone database. Period!

You got to hand to Qwest Communications. They were the only provider to question the legality of the NSA request. The NSA was asked, did you check to see if this is legal? The answer came back as no, they didn't ask, because they suspected they would never get the approval for it. Both a conservative judge and even John Ashcroft doubted if it is legal. Is this the same conservative party that was against illegal immigration precisely because illegals flaunt American Law?

And what about Verizon and Sprint and all the rest? Do those little privacy sheets that they send you along with your bill have any meaning at all?

Another GOP Irony: Dick Cheney always points to Executive Privilege as to the dealings with Ken Lay and his Energy Commission MUST remain confidential, but you and I aren't extended the same courtesy. And you know that this won't just be used for tracking terrorists - it will used to track Democrats, liberals, gays, pacifists and critics of the Bush Administration.

Folks, this Administration is Evil. As Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy and it is US". In this case, the US is the Bush Administration. My blog has been viewed by the House of Representatives and now our phones are being tapped. Perhaps not directly, but information gathered today can be used against you tomorrow. As the Miranda Ruling states that information 'can and WILL be used against you in a court of law.

Abramoff scandals. Valerie Plame. The Party of Corruption. Ethics violations. Tom DeLay. Congressmen have their own 'airforce' of corporate jets where they can be wined, dined and cornered by lobbyists. And none of them are looking out for you, me or your families.

I call upon everyone to elect enough Democrats, Greens, Libertarians to take back the House and Senate, if for no other reason to break the hold of a one party state. We need to do this soon before the GOP has a chance to tinker with the Constitution and appoint Bush For Life on grounds of National Security. As James Madison once said, 'Those who sacrifice liberty for the sake of security deserve neither' is apropos here. The US has historically been a beacon of hope and freedom for the world. Don't let it become Haiti of the North. And any Democrat supporting this crap should be voted out as well.

I have been a frequent critic of the Bush Administration, but for the first time, I am openly calling for his impeachment and removal from office. It will send a message to George and Barbara Bush as well: No more Bushes in the White House. We've already seen what Jeb would be like - look at his interference in the Schiavo Family tragedy. I don't care if he converted to Catholicism or some other nephew Hablas en Espanol. Ronald Reagan mistrusted his own Vice President. And who pardoned Cap Weinberger in the 'other' scandal - Iran Contra? George Herbert Walker Bush. Neil Bush and the Savings and Loan scandals. Enough already! Remember, the GOP impeached Clinton for a lot less and none of his transgressions involved the loss of our freedoms. Once gone, you can't get them back.

What amazes me, is where is the outrage like last weeks march in favor of illegal immigrants? Enough of the Orwellian doublespeak. Enough of the veiled and sneaky attacks on the middle class, like the AMT. Where is the outrage now> Where is the Morality now? Let's get him out of office. Now.

This is a scandal ridden, lying, corrupt Administration that needs to be curbed. No wonder his approval rating is almost as low as Nixon's and the most famous scandal and look what happened to him. Will George Bush do the honorable thing and step down as well?

And you thought that Chris Daughtry being booted off of American Idol was bad - just think, the Bush Administration can tell you who you voted for.

Monday, May 08, 2006

An American Haunting

Caught the matinee for American Haunting. Two hooves up! I was alone in the theater and had to keep looking behind me. It was 'The Exorcist' meets 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'. Even after I entered the lighted area, I was still spooked.

Anyone who knows anthing about American ghost stories has probably heard about Tennessee's Bell Witch Haunting which the story is based and 'The Blair Witch Project', arguably the worst movie of all time was a crass rip off.

This movie should get Movie of the Year, but it won't because horror movies never do.

I saw 'Silent Hill' a few weeks ago and I wasn't that impressed. Like 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose', I was horribly surprised.

I'm gonna get this one on DVD when it comes out. One of my top 5 horror movies of all time.


Comic Books and other things

Bruce and I went down to Connecticut Saturday because his cousin owns a comic book store in New London and Saturday was 'free comic book' day. The place was packed, and there were actors dressed in Star Wars characters walking around. There was also a few comic book artists in attendance. I picked up a few free Archie comic books and a few others. (They gave out bags for your loot).

Downstairs, they had bins and bins of comic books that they were selling for .10 apiece. Tons of comics I never heard of as well as partial series. I did pick up a few Green Lanterns for my reading pleasure and some others, but I could'nt find any Dark Shadows. It was quite crowded which spoiled it a little for me as I could have easily spent the day there.

One of the artists in attendance was Shawnti Therrien who is the author of 'I'M IMMORTAL' a new comic book about Vampires which were banned as comic book themes from the 50's till around 1970. She signed my copies for me and she puts out two or three issues a year. So, if she becomes popular, I have my autographed copies!

So we decided to hit Mohegan Sun casino just up the road, with the intentions of 'coming back later'. I had nver been to Mohegan Sun before and I like it better than Foxwoods. They have many more video poker machines. No Deluxe, but they do have Double Double.

I was down about $100 and was ready to call it a day, but I hit 4 Aces and the Kicker for $500. We had lunch at a BBQ place first and I said if I hit, I'd get a tee shirt. I got 'The Best Butt in Town' a nice Pig Behind shirt. Another was "I Ate Like A Pig at Bubba's'. Next time.

We went to the buffet, and I figured after that, I'd see if my luck was still with me. Bruce played Roulette. After that, I found a machine, I had 3 Aces and before Bruce walked away, I said wait to see what I get - I got the fourth Ace for $200.

Oh, and by the way - The immortal Chubby Checker was giving a free concert in the casino when we were there. Caught "The Twist" and "Let's Twist Again". He's gotta be older than Mick Jagger, but you'd never know it. Sounded great.

We never made it back to the comic book store.

Here are today's links: Sarge's Comic Books.
Immotal Gothic Angel (index).


While reading about Seeds and Planting, I found out that Tea (Camilla Senesis) needs to be 'scarified', that is, the seed needs to be cracked for mosisture to get in in order to start germination. So I dug up the ones I planted and cracked them. (The seeds are like Pecans). I tried growing them in Vegas and all this time I thought the reason why they didn't sprout was due to the heat. Live and learn from your mistakes. So far, there have been no sprouts from any planting (still a little early for most).


The numbers for April

CO, FL, LA, NV (Minden), NY, NC, PA, RI, TX, and WI, with multiples from New York and Texas.

CA - Fremont, Sacramento and Sunnyvale

Canada: Alberta

Foreign: France, Sweden and Taiwan.

Welcome all. Enjoy.

On Greed

A friend forwarded the following link, that I have been spending the pass few days digesting piecemeal. It is all about one of Seven Deadly Sins, the one that has taken over this country and its elite. Probably the most comprehensive paper you'll ever see on the topic.

Yes Virginia, there is a class war going on, we are just not allowed to talk about it.

One section talks about the Multinational Corporation - how they operate above the state, how government is the 'natural' enemy of the corporation and how they control what we hear, see and discuss. One good line: although the Corporation is essentially against you, but 'we compete to work in one'. The paper goes into detail about competition, including the punitive variety.

Its lengthy, but it is a must read. In fact, I'm putting it on the sidebar. Here it is: Greed.