Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Tue, May 31 2005

By A Few, For A Few--And The Rest Perish From The Earth

The truth usually lies somewhere between extremist factions in both religion and politics. As we've seen in many instances, when you find an extremist faction that includes both political and religious elements, you can end up with trouble like you've never seen before, so to speak. I'm glad to see more people talk about the fact that extremism in any religion is disgusting and that extremism in Christianity is especially disturbing. Needlenose took a closer look at Christian Reconstructionists. When we read comments on politics and religion we have to take into consideration the background and beliefs of the writer in order to truly understand what is being said. The writings at Needlenose may represent a much more liberal stance than many Christians in America would be comfortable with. But we don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater in order to see that something is very wrong in the minds of those who think that religious compliance by force is Christian at all. Remember. This sort of behavior flies in the face of the one who once walked among religious extremists and calmed them down in a hurry by inviting the ones among them without sin of their own to cast the first stone at someone else.

Of course, it's possible that some extremist Christian Reconstructionists do consider themselves to be without sin. In that case, they will still have to answer to Someone of a Higher Authority later. But, in the meantime, they could really cause a whole lot of agony to anyone who doesn't fit into their plan for a Christian America.

posted at: 10:35 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Mon, May 30 2005

Fingerprint Identification Shouldn't Hurt

We have another bit of biometric security fun to make moving about more difficult, and even painful, in my case. If the government decides to use the fingerprint matching system for things other than incoming immigration, I dread it. If we end up using it for voting or filing taxes or domestic flight someday I'm going to see if I can get a permanent dispensation. Every time I go to the DMV or some other place where they want that live thumbprint thing I hold up the line for ages while they try and try again to get a decent reading. Finally someone ends up grabbing my thumb and smashing it onto the scanning window so hard that it cuts off my circulation and makes my thumb turn purple. And even their brute force method fails on three out of four passes.

And now I read that the very thin skin that makes electronic fingerprint reading so difficult will apparently also place me in a category of people highly sought after in terrorist recruitment. That probably means the government will want to keep an eye on me even more. It's bad enough that people are always telling me that they saw me in the airport and that I didn't speak to them. I just have that kind of face. I've always wondered how long it would be before my face was like that of some criminal who showed up on "America's Most Wanted". Now I'm going to have fingerprints like those of terrorists.

I always wondered why many country singers shunned air travel and opted instead for a bus. Now I'm thinking of asking a few of them if I can hitch a ride now and then.

posted at: 08:46 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Fri, May 27 2005

Parenthetical Friday Remarks

Does anyone know how to fix the sort of thing that happened in my previous post? What a strange little bug it is. Apparently the parenthetical marks were treated as something other than a regular character. I really need to work on the whole text side of this blog. I have never been completely satisfied with the way posts look. It's probably time for a whole new design, but that would require a lot more time than I have this weekend.

I won't be able to concentrate on blog bugs and designs anyway. I won't be able to hear myself think to write. This is Memorial Day weekend, and that means this is also the weekend of the annual Watsonville Fly-In and Air Show. We are just north of the main runway and our house has already been buzzed a few times this week as the planes come in for the fun. It will be so noisy soon that the windows will rattle and the neighborhood dogs will set up the "doggy chorus" as they pass the alarm that we're being invaded by demented humans in brightly painted war planes. The poor canines seem to be especially agitated by the fireworks. One year someone's poor dog got loose during the pyrotechnics and was running madly about the neighborhood, trying to escape by clawing its way up one high wooden fence after another. I guess dogs care nothing about our human rituals unless the proceedings happen to include plenty of tasty kibble and ear rubs.

posted at: 11:46 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Judge Gags Religion Family-Style

Thank you, Mamamontezz, for your post on the rulings of Judge Bradford in Indiana. If parents have no right to give their children religious training or to be a religious influence on them than who does have the right? The state? Religion is an integral part of family life and it would be almost impossible to separate the two. A judge who forbids a religious atmosphere or influence in a home should only do so if he or she believes that influence would put a child in physical or psychological danger. And if things are that precarious for the child, why wouldn't a judge just opt to remove the endangered child altogether from the custody of the parent(s)? Actually, that could happen anyway. This judge has paved the way to take just that sort of step down the line, by placing the parents in an impossible situation. posted at: 10:13 | category: /Politics | link to this entry 27#5-27-05a

posted at: 10:13 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Thu, May 26 2005

Backscatters: A Little T&A For The TSA?

Pardon my bluntness up there, but it says it all. Forget about people surfing the web for naked pictures. Now they can just get a job doing security work at the airport. And if you thought taking your shoes off before a flight was undignified, consider the fact that now they can just look at your whole naked body outline right through your clothes.

This is creepy stuff to me, particularly for anyone who has had, for instance, a breast removal or other surgery. What about people who have deformities or growths? Why should some stranger in an airport be allowed to view what most of us would only let a doctor see? I can't speak specifically for the male issues, but as a female I wonder if this technology makes plain things such as the fact that some females are wearing menstrual flow protection. Will this technology be placed in such a way that a minimum number of people are allowed to view the screen? And what about the women whose religion forbids them to be uncovered in public? This is just a technical bypass that forces them to expose themselves against their beliefs.

Is this the sort of practice you want your tax money to pay for? No matter how you feel, do email the TSA folks to let them know your thoughts.

posted at: 10:13 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Whispers And Screams

There's something both wonderful and sad about the blog called PostSecret. It's good that people have someplace to let the world know what's always been hidden in their hearts, but it's also sad to me that so many of the secrets posted must be really painful. And it's also sad that some of these people have no one they trust.

Sometimes the very things we hide from others are the very things we most need someone to listen to us say. I just pray that God will make me the kind of person who can always listen and accept with love. What a marvelous spiritual gift that would be.

posted at: 07:25 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Wed, May 25 2005

9-Year-Olds In Gilroy: True Educational Experts

It really bothers me when our educational system is so hard-up for money that children are sent door-to-door selling candy and magazine subscriptions. It just seems that we pass the buck to children in so many ways already. This should not be their burden. But I have to say that the story of these kids, who took their own birthday and Christmas money and turned it into a project that raises money for their school, hits me right in the heart in a nice way. These little girls aren't waiting for the grown-ups to come to their rescue. They're not whining and they didn't wait for politicians or school board members or educational analysts to wake up and smell the coffee. They looked around and saw a need and decided to work on a solution with what they had at hand. They've actually accomplished more for their local school than all the grown-up professionals making billion-dollar decisions for schools. If we're worried about the state of education in California maybe we should arrange to replace some of the adult political talking heads with 9-year old students. Their no-excuses-just-get-the-job-done attitude would get my vote in a heartbeat.

posted at: 09:58 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

But No Hugs--He's Contagious

If you read fellow blogger Wil Wheaton's posts on a regular basis you know he's feeling a bit under the weather. The poor dear has mono, and I don't mean this kind of Mono. If you haven't done so already, please go over and cheer him up with a caring comment.

posted at: 09:09 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, May 24 2005

Locked In And Lost?

What do flat-earth die-hards, David Koresh and the Sistine Chapel have in common? Ionarts mentioned recently that there is another religious code theory floating around.

Not long ago there was talk that the eschatological significance placed on 666 as the number of the beast may have been misdirected, and that 616 might have been the actual number given in the earliest documents. Some folks have gone to great lengths to convince us that 666 would be a literal number in future bar code devices.

All this talk of math and codes and intricate patterns may be fun to those who like to sit around and figure things out in a logical fashion. The earth is full of patterns and sequences that show up in nature itself. But if we who want to talk about a Creator who designed all these things we ought to remember that we need to be careful about choosing from scripture what we want to see as literal and what we want to see as symbolic. Locking ourselves into something literal could turn us all into advocates of pre-destination.

If a device could be physically implanted in a forehead or hand, and if the implanting of that device was the taking of the number of the beast, or the "mark" of the beast, we could simply all be rounded up, knocked out cold and then surgically altered with the evil device without our permission. It seems to me that there has to be more to it than that. The taking of the number/mark involves some sort of choice of allegiance.

If a code from the likes of Da Vinci or Michelangelo or the early Christians or pagans or anyone else was meant to lay out the exact sequence of events for the end of time as we know it then how would that allow for choice on the part of individuals? I suppose the sequence could be somewhat loose, like a sort of spiritual version of chaos. But wouldn't it still be just some torturous puzzle invented by a capricious Creator who wanted to mess with our minds and then leap out and say, "Ha, ha! I told you so!"? How does that fit in with the idea of Christianity?

It's good to know that people are studying into these things. That, in itself, may be the best indication that the time is ripe for things to wind up to a big finish. But the big finish will no doubt take care of itself, with or without a number or sequence. What really matters is determining where our loyalty is each day and making choices that reflect that loyalty.

posted at: 11:16 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Mon, May 23 2005

Grace Under Pressure And Under Sarcasm Too

Sarcasm has its uses in the writing world as well as in oral communication, although the intonation and facial expressions are missing in written sarcasm. I've certainly engaged in sarcasm on occasion though I never thought of it as some higher function of the brain. The results of the recent study on sarcasm are certainly interesting, and I suppose they might give bragging rights to folks who fancy themselves more intelligent than the rest of us. If we seem to miss their barbs they can always say we just "didn't get it". But sometimes I find myself ignoring sarcasm when it seems to be executed in order to be cruel. I often know perfectly well what the person is saying. I simply choose not to join into their negativity. Sometimes I even counter with something positive or caring in order to balance out all that negative energy they are tossing out there. I wonder what part of the brain that sort of thinking comes from. And I also wonder if the person who uses their sarcasm just to be cruel "gets it" when I do that.

posted at: 08:14 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, May 20 2005

Shopping Cart Cave Renderings

I'm feeling a bit tongue in cheek here, but the bottom line still applies.

Shopping carts have a tendency to be one of those things we love to hate. We use them all the time but we never seem to get control of them. We push them around, but they use wobbly wheels to remind us that we're never really in control of the beasts. They influence otherwise decent people to bash into displays and to rear-end shoppers in checkout lines. They sit in parking lots and seem to drift with the wind and find ways to travel on their own into parked cars. We see them sitting alone, abandoned on the side of a road or piled with a homeless person's belongings. They're in almost every parking lot in America that has a grocery store or big box store. Most of us now living can not remember a time without shopping carts.

Someone figured out how to take advantage of the more sinister side of these vehicles by using them in a sneaky art installation. The fact that no one even noticed them indicates that a lot of non-Creationist people may have come to think of shopping carts as part of some amoral evolution in human development, lumped right in there with fire and wooly-mammoth-killing spears. That sort of casual, calloused association is almost creepier than the shopping carts themselves.

posted at: 12:14 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Fake Gore Is The Least Of Our Worries

The CSI season finale aired last night, and I had to watch because Quentin Tarantino, who is apparently a huge fan of the show, got the job of directing the double-length episode. I was definitely pulled in by the drama, and I enjoyed all the little signature touches that Mr. Tarantino uses to accent his work. I never realized consciously (until last night) how much he loves human faces and their impact on camera. I noted a lot of things that made me smile, which might sound odd, considering the subject matter. His attention to offbeat detail only heightens the story and keeps the play of tension and irony going like a couple of proverbial hot potatoes in motion.

I'm aware that many people often avoid his work because of his seeming preoccupation with graphic gory scenes. I even hear some speak of his work as adolescent. But that underlying sense of graphic "ick" may also be the very thing that makes his work most useful. I'm the last one to enjoy splashy blood and guts on screen, even when I know the blood and guts are fake. But I also know that sanitzing violence can be a way of lying to people. Some writers and directors take a more sophisticated approach and only hint at the awful things that come from murder and torture. I confess that to be my preferred method because I have a very vivid imagination myself. It tends to fill in the blanks with plenty of detail. But I also know that violence is an ugly thing and that it makes people scream, bleed and suffer. There's actually something a little cold and creepy about a viewing public that quickly protests the showing of graphic results of true-life violence on the news. Violence in real life is shown with tastefully digitized sections of a frame and well-timed cutaways that spare us the spilling of blood and the writhing of someone in physical or emotional pain. Yet we fill our broadcast news with one horrible story after another: kidnappings, murders, wars, incest, rapes, stabbings and more. We don't balance the bad news with some good news, but we whitewash that steady flow of bad news until it becomes as much of a numbing drug as any other mind-altering substance. It's a lie. And we tell it to ourselves every day.

And the veiling of violent scenes in real life hasn't slowed down violent acts in our society. Maybe we should be glad that Quentin Tarantino makes us squirm in our seats at the sight of all that fake gore. At least we know he's not lying to us about what happens when hate and conflict become violent. If it hurts to watch then maybe we should think about that before we rush to hurt real people in the real world.

posted at: 10:17 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Thu, May 19 2005

Scooping The Dirt Sand On Ty Warner

Now, this is the kind of company exposť story I like to read.

posted at: 09:06 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, May 18 2005

A 30th And A First

This week we are celebrating our 30th wedding annivery, so we're spreading out the fun by doing a few new things. Today we visted an IKEA store for the first time. Even after several hours of browsing I don't think I'd be very good at Cal Henderson's IKEA Game. I do remember that some juice-sized glasses we looked at bore the name "Groggy". We considered them, but finally bought some red ones instead. I can't recall what they were called. But their color is going to wake up anybody who drinks juice from them.

When your feet get tired and you get hungry the store has a cafeteria selling Swedish meatballs, potatoes, lingonberries and other goodies. It's definitely an interesting store, but I have a feeling it's a madhouse on weekends. We did have a good time exploring the place. If you know someone who's compulsively nosey, send them there. There are things in drawers and in cabinets, things just around corners and things hidden in all sorts of nooks and crannies. A lot of the products are not of a quality to last for a lifetime of use, but I've seen items in upscale places that fell apart or looked awful after brief use and cost a whole lot more money. If you have to furnish a dorm room or a kid's room in a hurry you could get some great ideas at IKEA.

posted at: 18:29 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, May 17 2005

It's A Bay Area Blog For Dan Gillmor

Dan Gillmor has a new blog home. I feel as though I should send him a virtual blog warming plant or something. In lieu of that I'll just invite you to click on over and check out his place at Bayosphere.

posted at: 16:21 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Game Industry Too Greedy To Share Profits?

If the game makers don't think actors' voices contribute any more than 1/2400th of the total labor, they should just quit using professional actors and get the game creators, custodians and mail room people to do the voice work. If they want a voice pro, they should be willing to pay the professional prices and quit whining about it. The game industry made roughly $10 billion last year. Part of that was due to the work of voice actors. Balking at paying actors a fair price in keeping with sales is a really unprofessional way to say thanks to the actors. posted at: 11:23 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry 17#5-17-05b

posted at: 11:23 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Cue The Cucumber

Star Wars gets yet another boost in the way of parody and helps spread the organic food message at the same time.

posted at: 07:07 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Mon, May 16 2005

More Finger Talk

Into the ongoing mix of news concerning food and fingers comes a new chapter, this one legitimate. Piggly Wiggly grocery stores have announced that you can now Pay By Touch.

One press release at that site even brags "Shoppers can pay with their finger". Somehow that sentiment sounds a little too gruesome for me right now.

posted at: 09:21 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Fri, May 13 2005

Jeremy Ruston's TiddlyWiki

Professor von Clueless pointed the way to something called TiddlyWiki. Part of me really likes this little beastie, but another part of me is visually confused when I try to use it. It takes a bit of getting used to. I also noticed that if I click on a permalink I no longer have use of the Back Button in IE. If I want to back up to see the page in its original form I have to delete the latter part of the URL in the Address line and refresh the page. I haven't yet checked this using Firefox but I will soon.

This is an intriguing way of handling content and worth a second look. I'm already conceiving of it being used as a tool for fiction writers who need a compact and concise way to keep track of characters, scene details and other story elements without resorting to bloated and expensive story plotting software. posted at: 08:45 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry 13#5-13-05a

posted at: 08:45 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, May 12 2005

Staying On

Can you ride the bull?

posted at: 15:03 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Western Style From English Cut

Once it's all put together I do hope Thomas Mahon will post a photo of this great suit on the wearer.

A hat from /Playing | link to this entry

Wed, May 11 2005

Evacuations With Pictures

I'm just hearing about the evacuations of the buildings in Washington, D.C. I turned on the TV for a minute and noted that the decision to evacuate may have come from the presence of a small plane that entered restricted airspace. I also noted that there was plenty of video. Video. As in--pictures.

If my comment confuses you, please see my previous post.

Did anyone else notice that it's the 11th of the month? That part is a little creepy.

posted at: 09:30 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wrong! Take Pictures!

Is this true? Why on earth would people in this situation be told not to take pictures? If something falls out of the sky onto my house anytime in the foreseeable future, trust me. If I'm alive to tell about it I will be taking plenty of pictures. I hope my neighbors would do the same.

posted at: 08:38 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, May 10 2005

Arianna Huffington Gathers A Gaggle Of Celebrity Bloggers

At least one writer is saying I-Told-You-So regarding Arianna Huffington's blog, The Huffington Post.

I must confess that the whole idea of her blog is lost on me, though I'm sure it will be read by many more people than will ever stop by Write Lightning. I suppose she hopes to make a difference in things by creating a pool of celebrity opinion. The truth is that many folks who live in the public eye are cut off from the everyday life of millions of Americans. If they do encounter someone who isn't "famous" they often have to duck out a back door to avoid being accosted.

The average non-celebrity American taxpayer probably sees a celebrity as a political tool who might influence someone higher up the political food chain and help get done what the average non-celebrity American taxpayer wants done in the first place. If the politicians themselves don't read celebrity blogs it's going to be tough to get anything accomplished through a blog like Arianna's. Most politicians would rather make the news than read it, and I suspect most of them would rather write a blog than read one. When Arianna gathers her choice of celebrity folks and has them expound on the issues, all she's really doing is adding one more layer of insulation between non-celebrity American taxpayers and celebrity American taxpayers. I'm not sure how that helps us all, but I hope she has fun with her project.

posted at: 12:45 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, May 09 2005

This Pillow Is Not For Breakfast

This past weekend I encountered an ad for something called a "breakfast pillow" and I had never heard of such a thing. It seems there's now a whole new vocabulary for bedroom decor. I kept thinking a breakfast pillow must be something big and cozy one would sink into to have breakfast in bed. It turns out that it's actually a very small pillow and seems to have nothing whatsoever to do with eating breakfast. I stand corrected.

I see from the vocabulary list that "chenille" and "pillow case" are still in use, but we've added a lot of extra species of pillows. No longer content to call them "throw pillows", the textile and design people have added terms such as "envelope pillow" and "European square" to the mix. That last one sounds more like an insult left over from the beatnik crowd.

posted at: 10:00 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, May 06 2005

Reporting From The Outside In

Gustavo Arellano says that out-of-town newspapers who send journalists to cover Orange County (California) stories just don't get it right a lot of the time. That's probably very true. I've never lived in Orange County full-time, but I have had a few extended stays there. It's easy to miss the nuances of the place. It's seen by many outsiders as a weird mix of Los Angeles ex-patriots and Disneyland employees. You have to meet a lot of people and watch a lot of everyday life there to get a feel for the true underpinnings of Orange County. It does have a mix of cultures, but the intrigue for me is in seeing how the various cultures and communities feed off one another's strenghths and weaknesses. They seem to know the score when it comes to ethnic and economic inequities. But they play along anyway, because the mechanism meets some of the basic needs for everyone there. This doesn't mean they don't have terrible problems. They just seem to be willing to live there anyway. They buckle down and do what they need to do to get by and then nestle down in their respective quarters at night in the midst of all the political ironies and contradictions that cloak it all. I have a feeling that they exchange a sort of secret look when outside journalists come to snoop. Oh, they'll let them kick the tires and peek under the hood a little. But only the insiders know how that baby really runs.

posted at: 08:56 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, May 05 2005

Eroticism In Classical Music? How Could There Not Be?

I felt a lot of agreement with this take on classical music, which I found via Arts & Letters Daily. It always amazes me when people talk about the evils of rhythms in pop music while they praise the patterns in classical music compositions as though that art form is incapable of evoking certain emotions. Music of any kind stretches our experience and mingles with the mind and body. Whether we hear music in a the car, in church or in a lounge we're affected by it. It enters our bodies through our ears and gets processed by human minds that are undeniably intertwined with human bodies. Music can make us angry, happy and a whole lot more. To deny the sexual side of music seems to me to deny part of the nature of the Creator himself. I'm not saying we need to see every piece of music as background for debauchery. But eroticism is not necessarily associated with debauchery. Eroticism is just a portion of humanity. We'd be better off to just allow that presence in the musical equation. Attempting to label one kind of music as sensual/bad and another kind as inspirational/good is kind of futile, and insisting on a strict framework for those associations for other people smacks of leaning toward being a control freak. We each process all art by launching a set of emotions based on our own unique experiences in life.

I guess the real problem comes in when music is used in a public space, since some folks might find this music or that music not to their taste. That's another problem altogether, and much more difficult to solve. Which may be why people want to label music in other ways. It's a quick way to avoid the responsibility of understanding the full range of emotions involved in one's listening choices.

One of composer Scott Joplin's ragtime songs was later worked into a theme for the film "The Sting". About 25 years ago I heard a gentle young man play his own version of this song on a steel drum in a church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Since then I've associated the song with the spiritual ambience of the church and with that young man's gentle smile and stories of his travels. There have been times when it lifted me out of a dark spot and the same is true for many other songs that someone else might find not to their liking. There are some songs other people think of as uplifting that only make me a nervous wreck. It's not so much of a stretch to read that some folks are touting the erotic side of classical music. And it won't be much of a surprise when others jump up and deny that side. Maybe that's good, as long as we allow one another the privilege of a personal experience with music, whatever that experience might be.

posted at: 11:56 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Wed, May 04 2005

Fan Fiction and Parody

If it's true that women tend to write more fan fiction and men tend to write more parody it would make sense (from the legal standpoint) that George Lucas has perhaps made more allowances for those who parody Star Wars material. Courts have usually upheld the right to produce parodies using trademarked characters.

From a writer standpoint, it strikes me as odd that females would write serious fiction about Star Wars anyway. The whole Star Wars universe has always seemed to me a parody in the first place. It's excellent work and a lovely creation, but for me it has seemed more like a chronicle of early digital work of films than a piece on which to expand into more complicated worlds of life. Maybe I just missed something. If I was going to write anything with a Star Wars theme I'd be thinking of it as doing a parody on a parody.

As far as the gender issue is concerned, if men want to show their affection for fictional characters by making them silly and women prefer to show similar affection by keeping characters more serious, I suppose the emotional challenge to someone like Mr. Lucas would be in trying to decide whether he felt better about serious imitation or someone making fun of his characters. I know which one would bother me more. But I'm a woman. And I don't own the whole Star Wars universe. Mr. Lucas does.

This makes an interesting literary discussion, especially when you remember that fiction is always more about the times in which it was written than about the times of which it speaks. Does fan fiction represent the real "dark side" of all this? Or does parody?

posted at: 17:02 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

I'm In The Mood For This Right Now

I ran across a web site with some unique emoticons and thought it might be fun to display one now and then. Just to introduce the whole thing, here's my current mood, courtesy of Unkymoods.

posted at: 12:15 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Tue, May 03 2005

FBI Marketing

I really liked the focus of this rant from The Big Picture blog. What really makes it annoying is that we pay for it twice--once by purchasing the product and once by being taxpayers that foot the bill for the FBI in the first place. I'd much rather see the FBI spend our tax money on finding all those unknown suspects. Notice how most of those listed seem to be suspected bank robbers. Not one is listed as a music thief. I'm glad we can afford the FBI, but let's use their services and talents with a bent toward catching the big fish, shall we? Maybe they should skip the copy warning and put this guy's picture on CDs--or maybe this guy's face. Can you imagine a music artist knowing his or her CD helped capture someone from the Most Wanted lists? Now, that's marketing everybody could fall in love with.

posted at: 11:46 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Mon, May 02 2005

Benefits From Reform?

I'm hearing a lot of this kind of talk right now among Baby Boomers. What I don't understand about all this is how it became a thing we must fix in a big hurry after decades of nothing much changing at all. If you go to the government's site on Social Security and take a look at the FAQ you can see just how crazy things are, with the first few questions being answered with "no plans to reduce benefits for current retirees" to the sudden warning to those age 35 (and younger) that their scheduled benefits "could be cut by 26 percent" (followed by a warning that the cuts could be even deeper). Is all this just an example of people procrastinating until the last minute to change things? Has everyone been in denial for the last 70 years? When workers first began paying into the system the taxes were something like 2 percent. If you check your most recent payroll check I do believe you'll find that's gone up significantly. And that didn't happen overnight.

About fifteen years ago my husband told me he would gladly give up every penny he had ever paid into Social Security up to that point if he could have all his payroll money from that day forward, to invest for retirement as he saw fit. That wasn't allowed, of course. Now we're being told that young workers should definitely be investing their own money, but that isn't really the case either. The government would still limit the ways in which the young workers can invest.

If we're going to put almost everyone on the doles, we need to just do it and suck the taxes out of everyone to pay for it and stop whining. If we're going to make young workers do it all on their own we should let them do it without the government personnel and politicians "helping", since they have apparently failed miserably at handling all this. Let the young workers invest their money as they see fit. Let's not make them put their money in this certain "choice" of five programs or that certain kind of account. A schizoid version of privatization isn't privatization at all.

There is also political talk of cutting Social Security benefits for those who earn a larger income. And, oh yes. While we're at it, we might as well have those who earn more money have more taken out of their current pay checks to help those who don't make as much money. Why would be penalize people for doing well financially? With this kind of thinking we might as well have everyone paid minimum wage and just put them on some retirement dole right now. What good is making a lot of money if all it gets you are cuts in benefits and increasingly higher taxes to pay for those who may not have planned as well for retirement?

It might be too late for we Boomers to save ourselves, but we can certainly stand on the side of people just entering the work force. Young people, don't let them sell you down the river. Stand up and fight for your money right now, before you fall through the cracks the way we have.

posted at: 07:52 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Sun, May 01 2005

Paul Rademacher Introduces Google Maps To Craigslist

Stephen Shankland gets a tip of the Stetson for news of a real estate search tool that combines features of Google Maps and Craigslist material. Look for both rentals and properties for sale. You can also choose price ranges. You won't find anything much in our little neck of the woods or in other small markets, but if you want to see what's out there for Chicago or Los Angeles you're in luck.

posted at: 07:10 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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