Showing posts from November, 2008

A Case Against the "Fair Tax" - Part 1

There are some people in the US who want to impose a new 23% sales tax on every thing and service you buy. They expect that this tax will replace the progressive income tax system and close the IRS doors. Some of the advocates of this fairy tale tax are among the richest in America, although not everyone who supports this new tax is rich.

No tax is fair to everyone. The term, "fair tax" is an obvious oxymoron. There is no way to structure a tax system that is "fair" to everyone, at least in each payer's mind. For me, the "fair tax" would not be fair at all. I would pay more tax as I explain below. However, I not only oppose this tax based for its negative effect on me personally, but I also oppose it on philosophical grounds.

I favor a progressive graduated and simplified income tax system. Sure the rich pay more under such a system and many probably don't like it, but does it keep them from continuing to make more money? Not a chance. I believe tha…

Gloomy Day Blues

Update: Ah, the sun is starting to shine a bit through the clouds.

I know we need the rain, but this gloomy weather, cold, and short days are working at me this weekend. I have SAD. I typically can get through the winter okay if there are sunny days, but I haven't seen the sun since early Friday morning, and it is just getting to me. After doing a bit of shopping Friday, I came home and have not left it since.

I have been sleeping later this weekend because there is no sun to wake me up. While I do get up and out of bed, I stay pretty homebound unless I have set plans. At least I've managed to get some more junk thrown out of my office and bedroom. I've fixed my iPod problem (mostly), and I am nearing an end to ripping my CDs with the goal of selling some and giving away the rest.

Monday will tear me out of this mood I hope, since I have to go to work. Anyone else suffer from SAD? If so, how do you deal with it?

Chambliss: Just Bush on a Stick

Not only does he not know how badly people are suffering, he lies about his own statements. If you have not voted yet, please vote for Jim Martin on Tuesday. I voted by absentee ballot as usual. Chambliss is a relic of the Bush administration. If we retire him, perhaps he can go on exhibit in an archaeological museum.

Upcoming on Many Things

I am currently working on two series of articles, one on my personal religious journey and the other making a case against the so-called "Fair Tax." I expect both subjects will include installments written over the next six months or more. I hope at least one topic gets your interest.

In the meantime, I'll continue with other posts, such as movie reviews, photos, and other topics. Speaking of movies, I've added some new links to movie sites, one of which offers free viewing of independent, foreign, and art house films. Check out the links in the sidebar. Stay tuned.

Pretty Map


The folder iTunes cannot be found or created

Have you had this error with iTunes? I did. I moved my music to an external hard drive, because my 5yo laptop only has a 40 GB hard drive. Once I moved the music, I got this iTunes error. I searched and found the answer, but you have to be willing to do a bit of Windows registry code editing.

I didn't think the instructions I found were easy enough for everyone, so I have rewritten them in short, easy steps. It's not hard, but be careful.

Follow these steps:
Click Start and Run.Enter "regedit" without the quotes in the dialog box and click OK.In the left pane of the Registry Editor window, find the following path:
hkey_current_user - software - microsoft - windows - current version - explorer - shell foldersDouble-click My Music in the right pane.In the Value data field, enter the full path to your My Music folder, such as M:\My Music, and then click OK.In the left pane of the Registry Editor window, find the following path:
hkey_current_user - software - microsoft - wi…

There Is a God


Happy Thanksgiving

Reflecting back on past Thanksgivings, tomorrow is a very mixed bag. The world is in so much trouble and turmoil. About one child dies every five seconds from hunger or hunger-related causes. [Source] To bring things closer to home, there is this news:
Fueled by rising unemployment and food prices, the number of Americans on food stamps is poised to exceed 30 million for the first time this month, surpassing the historic high set in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. The figures will put the spotlight on hunger when Congress begins deliberations on a new economic stimulus package, said legislators and anti-hunger advocates, predicting that any stimulus bill will include a boost in food stamp benefits. Advocates are also optimistic that President-elect Barack Obama, who made campaign promises to end childhood hunger and whose mother once briefly received food stamps, will make the issue a priority next year. [Washington Post]
Fortunately, I still have a job, an income, a roof over my head, …

Stop the Ad Hominem Smears and Block Further Media Monopolies

If you get a chance, please help the efforts made by
Obama-the-candidate commented several times that voters' false views of him -- that he's a Muslim, a socialist and unpatriotic -- were fed and spread by Fox News and their cohorts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham in the far-right media. Obama understands that they are the special sauce in Karl Rove's toxic recipe to discredit progressive policies and politicians, and divide Americans with wedge issues.And Obama understands that pushing back against guys like Limbaugh - who this week blamed the president-elect for the financial crisis, calling it "Obama's recession" - requires a bold policy agenda that uses the Internet to pry media distribution monopolies away from the largest media companies. Though often underreported, Obama spoke frequently about his commitment to blocking further media consolidation, fostering more independent and diverse media, ensuring universal high-s…

Colmes - Who?

If Colmes is a liberal, you can slap your mama. No wait, Colmes was the Fox Noise Network idea of a "nice" liberal.
“Hannity & Colmes” will soon be without “Colmes.” Alan Colmes, the longtime liberal half of the Fox News Channel prime time program, will leave the show at the end of the year.... [NY Times]

"You Can't Make Me Stop"

I watched a screening of Special, starring Michael Rapaport, on Saturday that I had recorded on HDNET. I'm not very familiar with the star, other than his appearance in this season's Prison Break TV series, but he did a outstanding acting job in this quirky Indie film. Rapaport plays Les, a lonely, mild-mannered, mentally-challenged parking enforcement officer, who takes part in a medical trial for a new drug, named Special, which is supposed to help people eliminate self-doubt.

Apparently Les is the only study subject to have a psychotic break. He indeed sheds all self-doubt and starts to believe he can levitate, go through solid walls, and make people and objects disappear. He soon decides he needs a uniform, since his comic book heroes have them. What is a superhero with out a costume anyway? The result is a costume that reveals it was part of a budget movie, but it is funny too as Les to me resembles a character out of a Mad Max movie. The boots are a special touch, but I h…

Get Out the Fly Paper

Over two years ago, in an article I wrote on the future of nanotechnology, I wrote about the nanotech "fly on the wall." Well, I wasn't dreaming. Others have been thinking about too. Whether or not this technology will be used for good is still up for grabs. In the meantime, you may want to get out the flypaper, as it should still catch those flying bots, where fly spray is useless.
If only we could be a fly on the wall when our enemies are plotting to attack us. Better yet, what if that fly could record voices, transmit video and even fire tiny weapons?

That kind of James Bond-style fantasy is actually on the drawing board. U.S. military engineers are trying to design flying robots disguised as insects that could one day spy on enemies and conduct dangerous missions without risking lives.

"The way we envision it is, there would be a bunch of these sent out in a swarm," said Greg Parker, who helps lead the research project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Day…

Stevens Likely Loses in Alaska Senate Race

More good election news:
With an estimated 2,500 votes still outstanding and other election certification steps still to take place, Mark Begich, the Democratic mayor of Anchorage, had taken a lead of 3,724 votes out of more than 315,000 cast, and he declared victory. [NY Times]

Huckabee Out With New Book

Mike Huckabee has a new book hitting the bookstores tomorrow. Apparently he does not intend it to be a merry Christmas for Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson, as he takes direct aim at his former primary opponents.

Huckabee appeared to me early on this year as a mean-spirited, far-right true believer, who probably greatly admires Lee (Willie Horton) Atwater and Karl Rove. Huckabee won Georgia in the Republican Super Tuesday primary. I expect him to be a contender in 2012. Never underestimate anyone who might admire Atwater and Rove. Sure, he sounds like a rube, but you write him off at your peril. This book is round one.
On Romney, Huckabee sharply criticizes the former Massachusetts governor for shifting positions on key conservative issues shortly before he decided to run for the White House, saying his record was "anything but conservative until he changed the light bulbs in his chandelier in time to run for president."

Huckabee also lashes out at Romney for what he said was the …

Review: Let the Right One In

Tomas Alfredson's vampire film, Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in), is an interesting take on an old theme, except this movie has a Swedish winter backdrop (perhaps white snow for purity and cold for dead) and tells the story of Eli, a forever 12yo vampire and her actual 12yo human boy friend, Oskar.

Oskar is a thin, pale boy, who is bullied in school. Eli tells Oskar how to stop the bullying and promises to come to his help if her advice does not work. It takes Oskar awhile to understand that Eli is a vampire, but he is already smitten with her by then. The two child actors do an excellent job and the story grabs you from the start.

The film is really a charming childhood love story, except for all the blood and violence, but then it is a vampire film too.

Another Cape May Photo

How many times do you feel that way after a good dinner? Beats "No Vacancy," I guess.

Racists Coming Out of the Closet

I grew up in Jim Crow Georgia. I've seen people wear racism on their sleeves. I've also witnessed changed attitudes and racism going into the closet.

Apparently many racists are coming out of the closet since President-Elect Obama won the election. If it manifests itself as violence, then that is a worry. Arrest the bastards. If it shows up in conversation, then we each need to engage the racists in dialog. Never, never, never just listen in silence. It only affirms what they may say.

BTW, I still have my Obama sign in my front yard and my Obama sticker on my car. I think the sticker has the same glue that went on the "W" stickers four years ago, which means I must leave it on my car until I sell it.
Photo Detail: This undated file photo provided by Gary and Alina Grewal of Hardwick Township, N.J., shows a charred cross that had been burned on the lawn of their home. The Grewals placed a banner congratulating President-elect Barack Obama on his election victory in their…

Of Habits and Idiosyncrasies

We all have them. Sometimes we annoy ourselves. Sometimes others. I've seen lots of odd habits and idiosyncrasies, and have read about others. However, I've encountered someone who has an odd habit for which Google seems to come up empty.

What might cause a person to rub his hands together briskly every minute or so? The environment is not a cold one, but I thought he might have circulation problems that cause his hands to always be cold. This is a young man, so I'm questioning the circulation problems.

Any thoughts?

Final Georgia Election Results Compared to 2004

For all the excitement over this year's election, the turnout in Georgia was only 625,505 votes higher than in 2004. The Republican margin decreased slightly from 6.6% to 5.2%. I hope these trends continue. Many people don't realize the power of the ballot. I'm sure turnout for the runoff on Dec. 2 will be far less.

52.2% McCain (R) 2,048,744
47.0% Obama (D) 1,844,137
00.7% Barr (L) 28,812
00.1% Others 2610
TOTAL = 3,924,303

58.0% Bush (R) 1,914,256
41.4% Kerry (D) 1,366,155
00.6% Badnarik (L) 18,387
TOTAL = 3,298,798


Klan Ruling Could Bankrupt Group

With all of the news about the economy and the election, this is a story you may have missed. The Southern Poverty Law Center, in defending a Kentucky teenager who was severely beaten by members of the KKK, has won a huge financial victory of $2.5 million against the racist domestic terrorist gang. This is perhaps enough to bankrupt this particular Klan group (but there are many more). We can only hope. Why the government doesn't prosecute these thugs under RICO laws is beyond me. Perhaps with a new Obama administration, this will get more aggressive. This is not about free speech. The Klan is about promoting violence, crime, and terrorism.
The jury found that the Imperial Klans of America and its founder wrongfully targeted 16-year-old Jordan Gruver, an American citizen of Panamanian and Native-American descent.

The verdict included $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages against "Imperial Wizard" Ron Edwards. The law center said before the…

Plastics, Part 2

Here is a follow-up article to my previous post. This was originally published on in January 2007.
How Plastics And Nanotechnology Are Changing The Microchip Industry And The World We Live InIn an article I wrote for the July 2006 edition of The Edge, I used plastics as a metaphor to describe the dawning age of nanotechnology and how applied uses of the new science will sneak into our daily lives with little or no fanfare, as did plastic products. But little did I know when I wrote those words that plastics were still on the march too, particularly in the microchip industry. However, let me add that nanotechnology is behind this important development. So, there! Many major companies and some upstarts are investing heavily to produce plastic polymer microchips, including Philips, Hitachi, Samsung, Lucent, and Plastic Logic. Plastic Logic? This seven year-old British company has developed the world’s first working plastic microchip prototype. More on the company l…


I am republishing some of my earlier writings. This is the first one, which was published online in The Edge in July 2006. Yes, it is a bit out of date.

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you - just one word.

Ben: Yes sir.

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

Ben: Yes I am.

Mr. McGuire: Plastics!

Ben: Exactly how do you mean?

Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

Ben: Yes I will.

Mr. McGuire: Shhh! Enough said. That's a deal.

Anyone who has seen The Graduate will remember that famous one-liner, “Plastics!” And those of us old enough to have seen the film’s initial theatrical release have indeed witnessed a slow but inexorable creep of plastics into virtually every aspect of our lives. Plastics have revolutionized the world, but there really was never an “ah-ha moment” that caught the public’s attention. Yet that didn’t stop plastics and many newly found applications. …

Drug Decriminalization

Although I haven't used illegal substances for years, I strongly favor drug decriminalization, especially for marijuana. Here is some news on ballot initiatives from this month's election:
Voters in Massachusetts voted to remove the threat of arrest or jail for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana and replacing it with a $100 fine, which could be paid through the mail rather than getting lawyers and courts involved.
Michigan approved an initiative that will allow registered patients with certain debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana. Unregistered patients and primary caregivers will be allowed to provide medical reasons for using marijuana as a defense to any prosecution involving marijuana.
Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Hawaii County, Hawaii, both approved measures that would make adult marijuana possession laws the lowest priority for local law enforcement. [Atlanta Progressive News]

Review: Changeling

My friend Michele and I went to see Changeling on Sunday. Here is my review.

Clint Eastwood’s Changeling is perhaps the best movie I have seen in all
of 2008. The movie, based on a true story in Los Angeles beginning in 1928, stars Angelina Jolie who plays Christine Collins, a mother whose 9-year old son goes missing. The police return the wrong boy, who states repeatedly that he is the missing boy, but any mother knows her own son. The movie depicts the struggle between a mother trying to prove her son is still missing and the police who cover up the facts.

The backdrop of the movie involves police corruption, probably widespread throughout the US in that era. John Malkovich portrays the Rev. Gustav Briegleb, who is leading a radio campaign against said corruption in LA. He learns of Christine’s story and becomes her advocate.

Angelina Jolie gives what is arguably her best performance in a motion picture, and will certainly be a nominee for Best Actress this year. Malkovich plays a good …

For South, a Waning Hold on Politics

Of the Southern states that voted for McCain, Georgia had the narrowest margin of only 5%. I think there is a strong chance to bring Georgia into the Democratic column for the next national election.
"Less than a third of Southern whites voted for Mr. Obama, compared with 43 percent of whites nationally. By leaving the mainstream so decisively, the Deep South and Appalachia will no longer be able to dictate that winning Democrats have Southern accents or adhere to conservative policies on issues like welfare and tax policy, experts say.

That could spell the end of the so-called Southern strategy, the doctrine that took shape under President Richard M. Nixon in which national elections were won by co-opting Southern whites on racial issues. And the Southernization of American politics — which reached its apogee in the 1990s when many Congressional leaders and President Bill Clinton were from the South — appears to have ended.

“I think that’s absolutely over,” said Thomas Schaller, a …

Crestor: A Life Saver?

My MD put me on 20 mg Crestor over a year ago. My cholesterol at the time was about 220 with a bad ratio of bad and good cholesterol. Within nine months, my cholesterol was down to 100 with a much improved ratio. He now has me split the pills and take only 10 mg a day. I'm a believer.
People with low cholesterol and no big risk for heart disease dramatically lowered their chances of dying or having a heart attack if they took the cholesterol pill Crestor, a large study found.

The results, reported Sunday at an American Heart Association conference, were hailed as a watershed event in heart disease prevention. Doctors said the study might lead millions of more people, as many as 7 million more in the U.S. alone, to consider taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, sold as Crestor, Lipitor, Zocor or in generic form. [CBS]

Obama to Quickly Move with Executive Orders

Bush is taking all kinds of actions in his last days, most or all of which Obama will overturn when he takes the oath of office. Obama is decisive and on top of this. This is one of the reasons I voted for him.
US President-elect Barack Obama will seek to reverse Bush administration policies when he enters office on 20 January, his transition chief said.

John Podesta said executive orders by President George W Bush on issues such as stem cell research and oil drilling were at odds with Mr Obama's views.
Mr Podesta said the incoming administration was also scrutinising many of the executive orders signed by President Bush "on stem cell research, on a number of areas".

"You see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things I think are not in the interest of the country."

He said the executive orders could be repealed or amended quickly by the new administration because no Congressional action was required. [BBC]

Protests Against Georgian President

I wanted to post this article because of the photo. Obama is a symbol of hope to democratic forces around the globe. I am so proud of this country.
Tbilisi, Georgia: Thousands of anti-government demonstrators poured into the streets of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, on Friday, hoping to weaken the government of President Mikheil Saakashvili as it strove to maintain power despite the effects of a catastrophic war with Russia and growing economic malaise at home.

The large, though generally subdued, demonstration occurred one year after black-helmeted riot police officers violently quashed opposition protests in Tbilisi, pelting unarmed civilians with clubs and rubber bullets, and using tear gas and water cannons to chase protesters from the streets."
During the protest Friday, opposition politicians condemned Saakashvili's handling of the war and blamed the president for losing two separatist Georgian enclaves, South Ossetia, over which the war was fought, and Abkhazia. Russia…

Obama Predicted to Expand Use of New Technologies

In today busy world, how often do we really have the chance or time to get involved in events around us? Just attending a city council meeting can be a real bitch to plan, and if it is a special called meeting, forget it.

Obama is predicted to keep pushing the technology envelope to keep us involved. Hopefully, this technology will "trickle down" to the state and local level too. Just don't use it while you are driving. We have too many distractions there already.
Mr. Obama has said he'd like to appoint a chief technology officer, perhaps at the cabinet level, and he's made it clear he will embrace new technologies in office -- technologies such as Skype, a video tool Sieberg used to get this quote from John Tedesco, a Virginia Tech political communications professor: "(Mr.) Obama recognized that young voters are using social networking sites and social networking software, and he brought his campaign to the young voters online."

Ultimately, according to t…

A Possible Breakthrough in Reviving Extinct Species

My first choice is the dodo bird, although they did specifiy mammals here. Look through your freezers, please, for any freezer-burned meat you may have forgotten.
"Researchers at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, used cells from mice that had been frozen for 16 years at -20 Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).

They extracted the nucleus and injected it into eggs whose DNA had been removed. Several steps later, the scientists were able to clone the mice.

'This is the first time a mammal has been cloned from a sample stored at conditions reasonably close to what might be expected in permafrost,' Teruhiko Wakayama, who led the study, said in a statement.

'(It) gives some hope for those who might seek to clone extinct species from frozen carcasses.'" [CNN]

White Space

White Space. What a deal! I had to really educate myself on this one.
White space in telecommunications refers to unused frequencies in the radio waves portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
On November 4th, 2008, the FCC voted 5-0 to approve new uses for white spaces, thereby silencing opposition from broadcasters, Broadway theater producers and sports franchises who hoped to derail or delay the decision. They have argued that their own transmissions — whether from television signals or from wireless microphones used in live music performances — could face interference from new devices that use the white spaces. However, the FCC rejected their arguments saying enough testing has been done and through new regulations, possible interference will be minimized. It is hoped that, within a year, this new access will lead to more reliable Wi-Fi and other technologies. [Wikipedia]I've actually been helping the campaign that led to this vote, but the truth is I was not 100% sure what …

What Exactly Is Africa? Continent, Country, City, County, Province, Weekend Retreat, Colony, Fiefdom?

The future of the Republican Party?

The NY Times on Obama's Win

I encourage you to read the entire editorial. Here is an excerpt. I am just too overcome with happiness about this election to write about it yet.
This is one of those moments in history when it is worth pausing to reflect on the basic facts:

An American with the name Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a white woman and a black man he barely knew, raised by his grandparents far outside the stream of American power and wealth, has been elected the 44th president of the United States.

Showing extraordinary focus and quiet certainty, Mr. Obama swept away one political presumption after another to defeat first Hillary Clinton, who wanted to be president so badly that she lost her bearings, and then John McCain, who forsook his principles for a campaign built on anger and fear.

His triumph was decisive and sweeping, because he saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens. He offered a government that does not try to solve every problem but will do …

President Obama

What a great victory! President-Elect Obama put together a multi-state strategy in a repudiation of eight years of failed Republican rule. This is a great day for all Americans, the world, and for all people of color. America is indeed a land of opportunity.

Just When You Thought Online Banking Was Safe

I've heard a few folks say we should give online voting a try since online banking is so safe now. NOT!!
The details of about 500,000 online bank accounts and credit and debit cards have been stolen by a virus described as 'one of the most advanced pieces of crimeware ever created'.

The Sinowal trojan has been tracked by RSA, which helps to secure networks in Fortune 500 companies. RSA said the trojan virus has infected computers all over the planet.

'The effect has been really global with over 2000 domains compromised,' said Sean Brady of RSA's security division.

He told the BBC: 'This is a serious incident on a very noticeable scale and we have seen an increase in the number of trojans and their variants, particularly in the States and Canada.'

The RSA's Fraud Action Research Lab said it first detected the Windows Sinowal trojan in Feb 2006." [BBC]

Dick Cheney Endorses McCain

Damn, and I've already voted for Obama. What was I thinking.

Dick Cheney Endorses McCain

The Obama campaign gleefully sends over an announcement of a major endorsement.... for John McCain... by Dick Cheney.

"In three days we'll choose a new steward for the presidency and begin a new chapter in our history," the Vice President said Saturday morning. "It's the biggest decision that we make together as Americans. A lot turns on the outcome. I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Senator John McCain."

This isn't, perhaps, the story that McCain headquarters wants in the news, though the press is undoubtedly going to play it up. Cheney is, after all, the Vice President.

If there was one GOP official less liked than George Bush it is Cheney. His popularity remains only among the rabidly conservative base who - a year ago - chanted "four more years" when he spoke at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Washington …

Those Crazy Canadians

Quick Review: Body of Lies

I try to avoid Halloween anymore. Part of it is being an old geezer and part of it is that Ron died three years ago on Halloween. So after work Friday, I went to see Ridley Scott's new movie, Body of Lies with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. Ridley Scott rarely directs anything really great, but he does know how to entertain. Body of Lies is an action-packed movie set in the Middle East, about terrorism...can you believe it!? The plot is a bit thin and the acting is average. I was rarely left guessing or being impressed. But for a couple of hours, I didn't have to remember that day three years ago.

An Old Geezer Story: What is Ailing You Today?

Given all the events going on around us, this may seem trivial. However, you have to remember that I am over 60, so some of what comes out of my mouth has to do with health and ailments. That being said, here is a posting about fingernails, or really just a thumbnail.

When I was young, I injured my right thumbnail while weightlifting. I don't remember if it eventually fell off, but I know I've had a "bump" and a vertical ridge in the middle of it for years. In my mid-50s, my fingernails started to grow thinner and the thumbnail in question started to split at the end. I had to keep the nail clipped very closely or I would have splitting problems.

My doctor recommended certain vitamin combinations that he said would help, but I already take a large number of vitamins and other supplements. I have for years. I had already been taking those vitamins/supplements, but I did increase the ones he suggested. Before you ask, I don't remember for sure the ones he recommended…

Chill the F### Out

Thanks to Keith for this one.