Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Monday, April 30, 2007

Flashback - September 3, 2005

Hurricane Katrina had just slammed into Louisiana. We were set to board our flight to Amsterdam at 7pm. Even with Katrina just a few hundred miles to our east, we took off from Houston with no delays. Talk about dodging a bullet.

Flashback to SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2005

It's hard to know when the day really changed from Sept 3 to Sept 4. We were cruising at 35,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, cramped but sleepy in Coach Class from Houston to Amsterdam, our first ever trip to Europe. I just have to sleep some. When we land, it will be noon on the 4th in Amsterdam. We left Houston at 7pm on the 3rd. Must. Sleep.

Geez, that soccer movie Continental Air played starring Will Farrell is really horrible. One of those "fingernails on the blackboard" movies, except for the Italian kids. Still, I'd trade places with Will in a heartbeat. To quote Kinky Friedman in his quixotic quest for Texas Guv, "how hard can it be?"

We landed at Schiphol Airport 14 km SW of Amsterdam and had no problem getting some cash Euros at an ABN in the airport (didn't realize that ABN was a Dutch firm). I'd been in touch with the Amsterdam American Hotel concierge, so I knew where to go to get a shuttle bus to the hotel. Effortless. Hey, beautiful weather. What's with this sunshine and warmth? This is supposed to be the Netherlands: always cold, dark and rainy.

Turns out the whole week we were there had weather like that. We were lucky again.

But on the other side of the coin, since it's usually so cool in these parts, not that many buildings, or cars, have air conditioning. I should have realized that the shuttle trip from Schiphol to the hotel was going to be representative of the week, too. Rather warm. On the last row of seats in the van, with no A/C, and only the front windows down, it got hot. Fast.

Checked into the Amsterdam American Hotel with no problem and settled into the room on the second floor. Cool old hotel. Big room. Large tub and shower - allllright. It was about 2:30pm so we wandered down to the outdoor cafe attached to the hotel. Under the large shade trees we had a couple of simple salads and a couple of beers. Ahhhh. This is going to be verrry nice.

Lingered under the trees for awhile and then took off across the Leidesplein in search of a CENSORED. CENSORED. CENSORED.CENSORED. CENSORED.CENSORED. CENSORED. CENSORED.

We were feeling pretty sleepy and jet-lagged so decided to order some room service at the hotel for dinner and crashed early. All-in-all, a great start to our European Vacation.

List Change - Contradictory Sayings

1. Look before you leap

He who hesitates is lost


2. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again

Don't beat your head against a brick wall


3. Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Out of sight, out of mind


4. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today

Don't cross the bridge until you come to it


5. Two heads are better than one

Paddle your own canoe


6. More haste less speed

Time waits for no man


7. You're never too old to learn

You can't teach an old dog new tricks


8. A word to the wise is sufficient

Talk is cheap


9. It's better to be safe than sorry

Nothing ventured, nothing gained


10. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts


11. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you

Nice guys finish last


12. Hitch your wagon to a star

Don't bite off more than you can chew


13. Many hands make light work

Too many cooks spoil the broth


14. Don't judge a book by its cover

Clothes make the man


15. The squeaking wheel gets the grease

Silence is golden


16. Birds of a feather flock together

Opposites attract


17. The pen is mightier than the sword

Actions speak louder than words

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The deck is installed!

It's been almost five months since we moved into our new home. Just yesterday, Saturday, April 28, 2007, our rooftop deck was finally installed on the 4th floor. A pooling problem up there after it rained and a change of materials conspired to delay the completion until now. But the delays turned out to be a blessing. People say that everything happens for a reason, but they're just guessin' at shit like everybody else is.

The builders plans called for the traditional wooden deck, but since we were trying to incorporate all sorts of "green" building materials into our new home, we'd have none of the typical, wasteful, high-maintenance wood deck. We wanted to go with a recycled-type of material, and after looking over the market, we settled on Trex.

While more expensive than wood by about half, Trex, and other composites like it, is much more durable than wood and requires much less maintenance. Low maintenance is sometimes my middle name. Depends. No splinters, no staining needed, no maintenance, no scarce resources being squandered, recycled was a no-brainer.

After an inability to procure the Trex decking, and uncertainty as to why, we began scouting the market again. Our very new, very next-door neighbor just so happened to have had a Trex deck at their most-previous dwelling, and they said it got really hot on bare feet in the summer sun.

Ka-ching.

Remembering that we also lived in Houston, (!) our deck was going to get a lot of sun too....one hot deck, indeed...this is the type of rational thinking missing in Washington these days.

Fortunately, the Trex had not yet been ordered, and now I noticed that only the TimberTech product claimed to stay cool to the touch. We changed to TimberTech. Today, even though we're not in the dead of summer yet, the sun is out and the deck is cool on the feet. And it looks awesome. If I were a good photographer, I'd post a good picture of it.

So, now that we finally have the deck, I'm hobbled by foot surgery. And they say that everything happens for a reason.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Visualize green

My sister suggested that I visualize a lot of the color green during my healing period after surgery. Hey...stranger things....


Green is the color of healing and traveling back in time. It will balance the emotions and brings about a feeling of calmness. Green is a good general healing color because it stimulates growth therefore it is good for helping heal broken bones - regrowth of tissue of all kinds. Green is also alchemy - the alchemy of consciousness from one realm to another through the spiraling energies of DNA - Sacred Geometry

Green as a healing frequency can be placed around family members who are ill. Though many of you are not attuned in the palms of your hands with this frequency color - it is part of you now.

If you wish to heal someone - begin by asking the person if they wish to be healed. That may sound like a silly question but it is necessary. Help them find the emotional base for the ailment if you can, before you heal anyone.

You can not promise to heal them but you can make them feel more comfortable and show them how healing is done. Perhaps you can awaken the healing abilities in others. Just remember not to force this with anyone who is not ready and that healing is not for everyone.

When you and the person are ready to begin, find a calm quiet place. Be sure the person is relaxed with what you are doing and assure them you will not hurt them in any way. If you have a favorite healing crystal--use that when you heal.

The person can sit or lay down. No need to remove their clothing. Work first with the emotional aspects of the problem. Give the person hope. Get them to relax.

Ask your guides to protect you so their energies do not enter into your frequency.

Visualize the color green coming through your palms as you hold them just above --or gently on--someone with a problem.

Scan their body for 'hot' or 'cold' spots. That is where the blockages are. Tell them what you are doing and what you see and feel.

Now visualize the green healing energies coming through you as you work. Visualize them entering the person's body at the higher levels, especially the emotional body. Watch them sift through the cells of the person who is ill and moving the Chi energies.

You can have a third person take a picture of your doing the healing to see if you get a green aura of light around you or the person.

Feel your connection to the higher frequencies as you heal. Work with the heart chakra as it is the frequency green. You may even take it to the newer frequency of green=turquoise (green -blue).

There is no time limit for this. Usually a few minutes is all that is needed. Try to repeat the healing for 3 consecutive days--10 minutes a day.

You can heal yourself as well.

You can teach others to use the color green to heal.

You can send the green frequency to the planet for healing.

Try a past life regression with someone you trust placing them in the green bubble. See where you knew them in another lifetime. Green takes you back in time.

http://www.crystalinks.com/colors.html


Neil Young "Let's Impeach the President"

Video Description

The official video for Neil Young's
"Let's Impeach The President"
(also available as a free download
on neilyoung.com).

Thanks, Monkeyfister!


Pistolera "Cazador"

Found on the Calabash music website:

Who's the illegal alien, Pilgrim? hahahaha



Calabash site: http://www.calabashmusic.com/

Friday, April 27, 2007

Post-surgery

I've been in a relative haze of painkillers over the last 48 hours, but the good news is, there's been very little pain after surgery Wednesday.

I'm lucky in that I have a job with a large company that provides a lot of time off for medical reasons.

I'm lucky in that the company provides some good healthcare.

I'm lucky in that I have a wonderful woman looking after me in my hours of need.

And I think I'm really lucky to have found a doctor this time who is not a quack and knows what he's doing.

My feet are still very tender, of course, and will remain wrapped in bandages until next week when I expect to get the sutures removed. But I've got the thick rubber shoes and crutches to help me get around when I need to. The thing I heard over and over after surgery was to elevate and ice the feet, which is exactly what I've been doing. Keep the feet above your hips and heart, and keep the ice coming. I've also kept the painkillers coming.

A recent study suggested that people recover from surgery faster if they take painkillers vs no painkillers. That's a big "Duh" from me. Thank goodness for opiates and their derivatives. Another study suggested that if you maintain a steady quantity of painkillers after surgery, you will recover faster than if you let too much time lapse between doses such that pain returns. Uh, no problem there, either.

It's a little disconcerting, however, feeling so good while watching TV of so many bad things going on....why does everything have to be such a struggle?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Naomi Wolf - Fascist America, in 10 easy steps



Naomi makes a persuasive case that America under Bush is heading down the road to fascism. All should read this, even the conservative clowns out there who still think that Bush is a wonderful "Man of God" or other such farcical crap.

Wake up, America, before it's too late.


Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

Naomi Wolf
Tuesday April 24, 2007
The Guardian

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.

Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.

1 Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
2 Create a gulag
3 Develop a thug caste
4 Set up an internal surveillance system
5 Harass citizens' groups
6 Engage in arbitrary detention and release
7 Target key individuals
8 Control the press
9 Dissent equals treason
10 Suspend the rule of law

Click the link to read the article all fleshed out, then contact your elected "leaders." Let's save America before it's too late.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2064157,00.html

Friday, April 20, 2007

Protect Your Home


Surgery April 25

It's official. I'm going under the knife again for my feet. Next Wednesday I'll undergo bilateral (both feet) surgery with a new podiatrist to remove a neuroma in each foot. I had an operation on both feet last year, but my first podiatrist simply "decompressed" the nerves. That is, he snipped around them to relieve pressure on them. Unfortunately, they seem to have grown since then, and the pain is becoming more frequent and unbearable. I get 10- to 20-second long throbs of pain that are totally incapacitating. They make me want to jump off a building or something to stop the pain.

Removing a nerve will result in some numbness in the foot, but I'll gladly trade some numbness for these shots of pain. The entire procedure will take maybe 30 minutes, but the healing will take at least two weeks or more. The stitches will come out in 7-10 days, and then I'll be hobbling around for awhile after that.

Thank goodness for decent healthcare. Without it, I'd probably be dead by now.





Wednesday, April 18, 2007

List Change - Laughter is the Best

For hundreds of years, we've known that 'Laughter is the best medicine'. Laughter makes you feel good for a reason. The physiological effects on your body are amazing. For example:

* Laughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. It provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that come into action in times of trouble, or hostility or rage.

* Laughter boosts the immune system because when you're in a state of mirth, natural killer cells that destroy tumors and viruses increase. It basically brings balance to all the components of the immune system.

* Laughter can be a total body workout! Do you often feel exhausted after a bout of contagious giggling? This is because you have just had an aerobic workout.

* Blood pressure is lowered and there is an increase in vascular blood flow, and an increase in oxygenation of the blood. Oxygenation of the blood enables the body to carry on healing activities for itself.

* There also has been some belief that laughter prevents some life-threatening diseases such as heart disease. That's because anger and fear (two emotions that often lead to heart attack) are completely eliminated while you are laughing.

Hemp is the answer

Video Description

This is a segment from the film, 'The Billion Dollar Crop' created by John Birrenbach. It was used as a roll-in on the television series, 'Time 4 Hemp' hosted by Casper Leitch.

To find out more about the first television series to ever focus on the topic of marijuana, check out http://www.Time4Hemp.com where you can find over 80 free video and 100 free audio downloads.

Time 4 Hemp
cable access
�� Casper Leitch - 1991

Personal Message

Hemp is the answer. Get your heads out of your ass, America!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bill Maher rants

Yep, there I go again. Five days between posts? As if nothing is going on...ha!


These recent rants from Bill Maher's Real Time on HBO were good enough that I wanted to post them here.

This one is from the 4/13/07 show:

And finally, New Rule: Now that liberals have taken back the word, "liberal," they also have to take back the word, "elite." By now, you've heard the constant right-wing attacks on the "elite" media and the liberal "elite," who may or may not be part of the Washington "elite," a subset of the East Coast "elite," which is overly influenced by the Hollywood "elite." So, basically, unless you're a shit-kicker from Kansas, you're with the terrorists.

You know, if you played a drinking game where you did a shot every time Rush Limbaugh attacked someone for being elite, you'd almost be as wasted as Rush Limbaugh.

I - I don't get it. In other fields outside of government, "elite" is a good thing, like an "elite" fighting force; Tiger Woods is an "elite" golfer. If I need brain surgery, I'd like an "elite" doctor. But, in politics, "elite" is bad. The "elite" aren't down to earth and accessible like you and me and President Shit-for-brains.

Which is fine, except that whenever there's a Bush Administration scandal, it always traces back to some incompetent political hack appointment, and you think to yourself, where are they getting these screw-ups from? Well, now we know. From Pat Robertson. I'm not kidding.

Take Monica Goodling, who, before she resigned last week, because she's smack in the middle of the U.S. Attorneys scandal, was the third-ranking official in the Justice Department of the United States. She's 33 years old. And though she never even worked as a prosecutor, she was tasked with overseeing the job performance of all 93 U.S. Attorneys.

How do you get to the top that fast? Harvard? Princeton? No, Goodling did her undergraduate work at Messiah College. You know, Messiah, home of the Fighting Christ-ies? And then went on to attend Pat Robertson's law school. Yes, Pat Robertson, the man who said that the presence of gay people at Disney World would cause earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor, has a law school.

And what kid wouldn't want to attend? It's three years, and you only have to read one book. U.S. News & World Report, which does the definitive ranking of colleges, lists Regent as a Tier Four school, which is the lowest score it gives. It's not a hard school to get into. You have to renounce Satan and draw a pirate on a matchbook.

This is for people who couldn't get into the University of Phoenix.

Now, would you care to guess how many graduates of this televangelist's diploma mill work in the Bush Administration? 150. And you wonder why things are so messed up. We're talking about a top Justice Department official who went to a college funded by a TV host. Would you send your daughter to Maury Povich U.? And if you did, would you expect her to get a job at the White House?

In 200 years, we've gone from "We, the people," to "Up With People." From "the best and the brightest" to "dumb and dumber." And where better to find people dumb enough to believe in George Bush than Pat Robertson's law school?

The problem here in America isn't that the country is being run by "elites." It's that it's being run by a bunch of hayseeds. And, by the way, the lawyer Monica Goodling just hired to keep her ass out of jail, went to a real law school.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut - RIP


Kurt Vonnegut passed away yesterday at the age of 84.
A great writer.
A real wise-ass.
Freethinker.
Humanist.

He will be missed.

Here's Kurt's appearance on The Daily Show from September 14, 2005. CLICK ME!

Friday, April 6, 2007

McCain Toon

WILL PITT - The American Tragedy of John McCain

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/040607J.shtml

The American Tragedy of John McCain
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist

Friday 06 April 2007

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
- T. S. Eliot

Arizona Sen. John McCain took a walk through a Baghdad market on April Fool's Day, and may well have burned his presidential campaign down to the ground in the process. That little stroll has visited upon his head a deluge of humiliation and shame vast and astonishing enough to beggar imagination, and that was before the bodies started hitting the ground.

Translated into mathematical terms, McCain's walk was Pythagorean in scope, squared hypocrisy added to squared idiocy equaling squared disgrace. In political terms, McCain's Baghdad walk was a full-blown, bull-moose, train-wreck disaster of truly galactic proportions: a veritable Hindenberg of campaign photo-op debacles. It was so mind-bendingly ugly and deranged and disgusting that the once-iconic "Dukakis in the Tank" blunder now seems quaint by comparison.

The genesis of this catastrophe, in case you missed it, was a verbal gaffe by McCain during a widely broadcast interview last week. After enduring several minutes of sharp interrogation regarding his staunch support of Bush, the war and the "surge," a neuron within his logic circuits apparently misfired. He claimed, with an entirely straight face, that the streets of Baghdad are today entirely safe for an American to walk down. This whopper made even the most shamelessly craven war apologists shake their heads in public, and forced McCain to undertake a desperate face-saving lunge to recover some shred of credibility.

McCain traveled to Baghdad to prove his claim correct, and the pictures appeared shortly thereafter. In the first available frames, the senator was shown walking through a Baghdad marketplace wearing a Kevlar vest, a general on his right and a troop on his left, and a second troop three steps ahead brandishing his rifle. While this kind of protection detail seemed to undermine his claims of safety, the escort and the vest could easily be understood as normal and necessary precautions taken to protect a visiting dignitary. For a time, McCain appeared to have made his point.

It didn't last. On the heels of those narrow-scope photos came reports of what McCain's entourage was actually comprised of. That "safe" Baghdad market had been flooded with more than one hundred battle-ready troops and armored Humvees. Three Blackhawk helicopters and two Apache attack helicopters roared overhead, and sharpshooters were posted on the surrounding rooftops. Simply put, McCain's "safe" street was one overly loud mouse-fart away from being paved with flaming lead during every step of that little walk.

To compound the calamity, a report emerged two days later describing the abduction and slaughter of 21 Iraqis who worked in the marketplace McCain's mini-Normandy force had stormed the previous Sunday, an obvious act of retribution for his visit by a violent Baghdad militia. Already belied by the revealed firepower he brought along, McCain's "safe" walk in Iraq led directly to yet another horrific Baghdad bloodbath. There is bad, there is awful, and then there is this thing, this quantum singularity of ignominy that bends the very light now shining upon it.

Call it farce, call it folly, condemn it for its drenching hypocrisy and the mortal consequences suffered by 21 innocent people. One must also see this, in the end, as a true American tragedy of historic proportions.

Once upon a time, John McCain was a man who commanded and deserved great respect. Beyond the awe-inspiring courage and strength that marked his Vietnam service was the integrity he displayed, for the most part, in his political life. While his conservative views did not jibe with many, there was something about his conduct in office, his independence of thought within the rigid confines of his party, that made Americans stand up and take notice. Even the scandals involving him, most notably the embarrassing Keating Five debacle, did not permanently tarnish his image.

This was the man, recall, who came within an eyelash of derailing the George W. Bush Express during the 2000 race, thrashing the Texas governor by 16 points in the New Hampshire primary. A great many people who knew even then that Bush wasn't up for the job he sought breathed a huge sigh of relief after that, because even in disagreement, they saw in McCain a man of honor whose politics did not matter as much as the apparent content of his character.

The roots of this tragedy can be found in the events which took place in the days following the 2000 New Hampshire primary, when all eyes turned to the contest in South Carolina. Bush had all the GOP money and endorsements, but McCain had suddenly made a hash of that seemingly foregone anointment. What followed stands as one of the ugliest chapters in modern American political history.

Bush's people deployed a whisper campaign against McCain, mostly within the Christian Evangelical community of South Carolina, that labeled the senator "the fag candidate," smeared his wife Cindy as a drug addict, claimed their adopted Bangladeshi daughter was actually black and the issue of an illicit and interracial liaison, questioned whether his sanity had survived his POW experience, and even went so far as to accuse him of collaborating with the communists in Vietnam to ease his time in that prison. Bush wound up winning the primary by 11 points, and the McCain campaign never recovered.

McCain's simmering rage over what happened in South Carolina was manifestly evident; for many political moons thereafter, the senator could not be compelled even at gunpoint to speak a kind word about either Bush or the Evangelical shock-troops who had propelled that slander-fest against him and his wife. Bush, for his part, treated McCain like a puff adder at all times, avoiding even the possibility of a venomous counterstrike from his furious former opponent by keeping him at a distance.

And then, something happened. It started slowly, with McCain appearing to set aside his anger to defend Bush as the 2004 presidential contest approached. McCain became a Bush campaign staple, and worse, was the respected face and voice who came to defend the administration whenever they made another incredible mess. It was McCain, perhaps more than any other political figure, who helped Bush hold on to the centrists long enough to make it through that second election. The senator's reputation and good word, for many, were enough to convince folks to wait and see.

Over the last year or so, that reputation and good word have fallen to dust. John McCain has expended vast energies trying to staple himself to every Evangelical Christian leader with clout in the Republican Party. He has become the most unabashed supporter of the Iraq war, of each failed and foolish policy put forth in the occupation, a process that culminated in the horrorshow at that Baghdad marketplace on April Fool's Day. He now wears the blinders needed to believe there is hope in Iraq, and there are 21 new bodies in a marketplace over there to prove it.

McCain has embraced George W. Bush, literally and figuratively, as some sort of long-lost brother. In doing this, he betrayed not only the individualism that once defined him, but gave the American people a demonstration of how insipid politics without principle can truly be. The very people who so viciously attacked McCain and his family in 2000 are now, apparently, his best friends in the world. One wonders if the senator avoids facing himself in the mirror nowadays because he does not want to see the whore's face in the reflection.

Even those who disagree with his politics must admit, with hard-won hindsight, that McCain circa 2000 would have been far preferable to George W. Bush. If more Republicans in our government today were like McCain was then, we would all be in a far better place. That distinction has been erased, and John McCain has become just another GOP lickspittle who toes the bloody line and refuses to admit, despite all evidence, that his new best friends have failed us all. This is, simply put, a tragedy for him.

It is our American tragedy, as well, because McCain became this sad fraud out of absolute necessity. One cannot hope to gain the GOP nomination for president without winning over that party's hard-right absolutist Evangelical Christian base, and the opinions almost universally espoused by that base are a lot of the reason this nation is in such dire straits. Our tragedy is found in their power over any national Republican candidate, and over the administration currently running the republic into the ground.

John McCain's reputation is destroyed. He has become one of T.S. Eliot's hollow men, bereft by his own actions of the formidable image that once defined him, and is now just another cheaply-bought candidate peddling himself for pennies on the dollar to the very wretches who once savaged his character and family. He is gone, just completely gone.

Another poet, Yeats, once described a world where the best lack all conviction, and the worst are filled with passionate intensity. McCain has become the essence of that listless best and striving worst, and the transformation is a lesson for us all about just how much selfdom must be sacrificed upon the altar of GOP politics to win an election. McCain has proven himself unfit to be president, and perhaps worse, he has shown us all how cheaply integrity dies when power is close at hand.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Poem: A Woman Should Have ...


by Maya Angelou

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

one old love she can imagine going back to...and one who reminds her how far she has come...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....

enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own even if she never wants to or needs to...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....

something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....
a youth she's content to leave behind....

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .....

a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to retelling it in her old age....

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ......

a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .....

one friend who always makes her laugh...
and one who lets her cry...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .....

a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .....

eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....

a feeling of control over her destiny...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

how to fall in love without losing herself..

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

HOW TO QUIT A JOB,
BREAK UP WITH A LOVER,
AND CONFRONT A FRIEND WITHOUT RUINING THE FRIENDSHIP

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

when to try harder... and WHEN TO WALK AWAY...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

that she can't change the length of her calves, The width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

that her childhood may not have been perfect...but its over...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

what she would and wouldn't do for love or more...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

how to live alone... even if she doesn't like it...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

whom she can trust, whom she can't, and why she shouldn't
take it personally...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

where to go...
be it to her best friend's kitchen table...
or a charming inn in the woods...
when her soul needs soothing...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

what she can and can't accomplish in a day...a month...and a year...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Capital gains taxes are too low


The rightwingnuts, with the aid of the financial services industry, have been very successful at convincing Americans that the taxes on investment, such as capital gains, are too high and should be reduced. This editorial in the New York Times (below, in red) reminded me that they are, in fact, too low. Why should all this investment profit be taxed at lower levels than personal income? That's really what it is: personal income. Why should ANY investment income be taxed at a lower rate than income, for that matter? There is no legitimate rationale to do that, other than greed.

I invest to make money. I'm still going to invest, whether my gains are taxed at a capital gains tax rate of 20% or taxed at my personal income tax rate of 28%. I prefer to invest via my IRA, so that all taxes are deferred until I begin drawing funds out of it in retirement, when those funds will be taxed at a presumably lower than now income tax rate.

I invest to make money, not because my gains are taxed at a lower rate than my salary from my job. People would continue to invest.

All the lower tax rate on capital gains does is benefit the wealthy, who invest huge sums for huge returns.
They're already the ones who least need the break in the first place.

If all investment income were taxed at the investors income tax rate, would investments dry up? Not likely. The capital gains tax rate should not be reduced, certainly not eliminated. Or, yeah, go ahead and eliminate it, and classify all investment income as normal income. Reducing capital gains will only further benefit the wealthy, who have already gained enormously in recent years. The rate should be increased to the same rate as the personal income tax. And of course, the multiple loopholes that exist in the tax code that allow the uber-rich to oftentimes get away with paying no taxes at all should be closed.

Or maybe not...

Taxing Private Equity The New York Times | Editorial

Monday 02 April 2007

In the world of private equity, "2 and 20" is a formula for making money. The mavens of the industry - venture capitalists and buyout specialists - generally collect a management fee of 2 percent of the assets they manage and a performance fee equal to 20 percent of any profits. With hundreds of billions of dollars flowing through the 2-and-20 structure, the megabucks pile up quickly.

High fees, however, are only one reason that private equity lives by "2 and 20." Another is low taxes.

Partners in private equity ventures treat their performance fees as capital gains - in other words, like profits on the sale of a stock - and thus pay tax on the fees at a rate of 15 percent, about the lowest in the tax code. According to federal partnership tax rules, that's legal. But the rules were developed before private equity became the force it is today, and mainly with small business and real estate partnerships in mind.

Some lawmakers - notably Senator Max Baucus, the Democratic chairman of the Finance Committee, and Senator Charles Grassley, the committee's top Republican - have begun to question whether those rules should apply to private equity.

Adding grist to lawmakers' skepticism is a recent paper by Victor Fleischer, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Law School. Mr. Fleischer makes several arguments against treating performance pay as capital gain, starting with the increasingly huge sums that private equity firms raise from tax-exempt investors, like pension funds and endowments.

In general, when corporate executives get performance-based pay, like stock options, they don't have to pay tax right away. That's a big tax benefit, but it leaves the government no worse off because the corporation also delays taking a deduction for the payment. There is no such offset when private equity partners are paid by tax-exempt investors. The nation in effect waits longer for its tax revenue and gets less, as private equity partners get more.

The deeper question in all this is whether capital gains - which are currently taxed at less than half the top rate of ordinary income - should continue to be so lavishly advantaged. The answer there is no. Today's preferential rate for capital gains is excessive, with no mechanism in the tax code to ensure that it is not overused. Excessively favoring one form of income over another encourages wasteful gamesmanship, creates inequity and crowds out other ways to foster risk-taking. Tackling the too-easy tax terms for private equity is a good way for Congress to begin addressing that bigger issue.

List Change - Top Scientists

Top 10 Scientists of All Time (in no particular order)

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) Developed three laws describing the orbit of planets around the Sun.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) Mathematician / astronomer / physicist - first to use telescope to gather evidence proving the earth revolves around the sun; falling bodies, magnets, floating objects, the tides, compasses, arc of a cannonball, and rolling objects; invented the mechanical pendulum clock, improved the telescope, and developed the first thermometer.

Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) - revolutionary advances in mathematics, optics, physics, and astronomy; analyzed motion of bodies under the action of centripetal forces; invented calculus.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) - book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Published in 1859, Darwin concluded: 1. Evolutionary change was gradual and required thousands to millions of years. 2. Primary mechanism for evolution was process called natural selection. 3. Millions of species alive today arose from single original life form through branching process called "specialization."

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) - In 1931 Einstein described Maxwell's work as "the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton." Maxwell calculated the speed of propagation of an electromagnetic field as approximately that of the speed of light. He proposed the phenomenon of light is an electromagnetic phenomenon.

Emil Fisher (1852-1919) No one made greater contributions to chemistry than Fisher; developed new dyes and identified the active ingredients in tea/coffee/cocoa; synthesized glucose, fructose and mannose starting with glycerol; synthesized proteins; identified the peptide bond holding them together in chains

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) - solved three of the outstanding problems of physics: photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, and special theory of relativity; general theory of relativity showed that gravity and acceleration are the same.

Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) - measured the distance to the Andromeda nebula and showed it was about a hundred thousand times as far away as the nearest stars; classifed galaxies according to their content, distance, shape, and brightness patterns.

Paul Dirac (1902-1984) - pioneers of quantum mechanics; developed the first theory of the electron that took into account special relativity; work on anti-particles and wave mechanics

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) French chemist/biologist 1. Separated mirror image molecules and studied effect of polarized light. 2. Demonstrated handedness of molecules from plant mold using one isomer of racemic acid. 3. Yeast is an organism and does not require oxygen for fermentation. 4. Pasteurization (mild heating) after fermentation kills microorganisms and prevents souring. 5. Identified parasite responsible for killing silkworms and saved French silk industry. 6. Proposed germ theory of disease urging doctors to use clean instruments, wash hands, and disinfect bandages in The Germ Theory and its Application to Medicine and Surgery. 7. Developed treatment to prevent anthrax. Named technique "vaccination"' and applied it to chicken cholera and rabies.

Russ Feingold speaks on Iraq


Borrowed from Crooks and Liars...

Russ Feingold is one of the few members of Congress that votes his conscience and speaks his mind every time regardless of the political consequences. As a result, he's been ahead of the curve on every important issue of the past six years — Iraq and illegal spying especially. On Tuesday, April 3, he appeared on Countdown with Keith Olberman on MSNBC to talk about President Bush's inevitable veto and his proposed legislation co-sponsored with Senator Reid.

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