Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: June 2005 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Friday, June 10, 2005

See y'all in a coupla weeks...

You gone fishin’ (well how you know)
Well there’s a sign upon your door (uh-huh)
Gone fishin’ (I’m real gone man)
You ain’t workin’ anymore (could be)
There’s your hoe out in the sun
Where you left a row half done
You claim that hoein’ ain’t no fun (well I can prove it)
you ain’t got no ambition
Gone fishin’
by a shady wady pool (shangrila, really la)
I’m wishin’ I could be that kind of fool
(should I twist your arm?)
I’d say no more work for mine (welcome to the club)
On my door I’d hang a sign
Gone fishin’ instead of just a-wishin’
Papa bing (yeah louis)
I stopped by your place a time or two lately
And you aren’t home either
Well, I’m a busy man louis.
I got a lotta deals cookin’
I was probably tied up at the studio
You weren’t tied up you dog
You was just plain old...
Gone fishin’
There’s a sign upon your door
(pops, don’t blab it around, will you? )
Gone fishin’
(keep it shady, I got me a big one staked out)
Mmm, you ain’t workin’ anymore
(I don’t have to work, I got me a piece of gary)
Cows need milkin’ in the barn
(I have the twins on that detail, they each take a side)
But you just don’t give a darn
(give ’em four bits a cow and hand lotion)
You just never seem to learn (man, you taught me)
You ain’t got no ambition (you’re convincin’ me)
Gone fishin’
Got your hound dog by your side
(that’s old cindy-lou goin’ with me)
Gone fishin’
Fleas are bitin’ at his hide
(get away from me boy, you bother me)
Mmm, folks won’t find us now because
Mister satch and mister cros
We gone fishin’
instead of just a-wishin’
Oh yeah!

Louis Armstrong / Bing Crosby

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Free speech? Try the 'Net...

That's my five word acceptance speech...

Probably the best thing about the Webbys is that they don't condone lengthy acceptance speeches. In fact, they're limited to five words.

Five Words of Wisdom Each From the Web's Winning Sites

Rob Corddry, one of the more tawdry of the "Daily Show" stable of reporters was the host of the annual Webby Awards show in New York this year.

With the implosion of the internet bubble, the show has only taken place online the past few years. And before that, the west coast had outbid the mediacentric east coast for access to the show. Now that the playing field is leveled, New York has embraced the culture with open arms and open legs, hoping to cash in on the popularity of the web with the not-so-mainstream population.

The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence in Web design, creativity, usability and functionality. Established in 1996 during the web's infancy, the Webbys are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 500-member body of leading web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities.

Reflecting the tremendous growth of the Internet as a tool for business and everyday lives, the 9th Annual Webby Awards will greatly expand the mission of the Webby by honoring excellence in over 60 categories.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Al Gore. That's right, Al Gore. The Vice President who was attributed to claim that he invented the internet. Mr. Gore was introduced by Vinton Cerf, a man who could have certainly laid claim to achieving the same accomplishment. Mr. Cerf's five word speech was: "we all invented the internet".

Mr. Gore's speech? "Please don't recount this vote". It met with thunderous applause.

Mr. Gore, by virtue of his résumé, was dragged back to the dais to say a few more words.

"It is time to reinvent the Internet for all of us to make it more robust and much more accessible and use it to reinvigorate our democracy," he said, again to thunderous applause.

The Webbys were once an overblown internet awards show that reflected the expanding bubble that was the internet back in the early 00s. Since then, they've mirrored the bust and slow emergence that's resulted in the presence that the internet has in current society.

One example is Tyler Morgan of Amarillo, Texas.

[he] was getting all of a dozen hits a day on the personal Web site he built in his bedroom - - until Yahoo named it as a site of the day and he was listed as a nominee for the Webby. In May he had 1.2 million hits.
After he learned he had won the Webby, there was the problem of getting to New York.

"I put a personal plea on my Web site, and people sent in something like $1,700 and here I am," he said, wearing one of the red corsages that identified the winners. His five-word speech was to the point: "Desperate - need money for college."

Of course, there were many commerical sites in contention as well. And marketing acumen was not igored either.

Because the Webby sculpture is shaped like a large spring, it invited short-form, salacious annotations, with many speeches that drew hoots from the crowd but might draw flags from the editor of a family newspaper. One of the more demure, low-tech speeches came from a staff member at .uk, who stepped up to get her award in a gorgeous white frock.

"Do you like my dress?" she said. Yes, they did, and her speech as well.

And of course, there were the rags to riches stories, best exemplified by Craigslist, now a household word:

The Webby for Person of the Year went to Craig Newmark of , whose once-tiny community bulletin board now attracts more than eight million people in 120 cities, including Sydney, Australia, and Bangalore, India. Mr. Newmark's various sites have given fits to the classified ad business of both daily and weekly papers.

And I couldn't report on this story without paying homage to fellow bloggers. Although they are on a national scale, with gazillions more hits (and quite a few more posts) than I could even conceive - they still blog, so I must bow in homage before their mastery... , whose idiosyncratic approach to what constitutes information worth sharing - robot bands, charts on disappearing oil, or an Osama Bin Laden cigarette lighter replete with World Trade Center towers - received top blogging honors.

A complete list of the winners is at

And the hyper-rich get hyper-richer...

Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind
The Bush Economy

Remember "trickle down economics"? Well, we're still getting trickled on. Bush was elected in 2000, and re-elected in 2004, partially because he gave tax cuts to everybody. Most of us saw a $300 to $600 check in the mail, and that was enough to win him hearts and minds, thinking he was a man for all people.

In reality, he's a man for all hyper-rich people.

In last Sunday's Times, David Cay Johnston reported that from 1980 to 2002, the latest year of available data, the share of total income earned by the top 0.1 percent of earners more than doubled, while the share earned by everyone else in the top 10 percent rose far less. The share of the bottom 90 percent declined.

So not only do the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, but the really rich get really richer, leaving behind even those merely rich.

President Bush did not create the income gap. But the unheralded effect of his tax policy is its unequal impact on the modestly well to do. By 2015, those making between $80,000 and $400,000 will pay as much as 13.9 percentage points more of their income in federal taxes than those making more than $400,000, assuming the tax cuts are made permanent. Below $80,000, most taxpayers will see their share of taxes rise slightly or stay the same.

So now even those in the top twenty percent income bracket are being shafted by the tax breaks. Us poorer folks are feeling the pinch, but we always have, so it's nothing new to us. But now, people that we consider wealthy, making $200,000 a year in income, are finding it harder to save for retirement "in the manner to which they have become accustomed" and affording the cost of getting their children into "the best schools". We may have no sympathy for them, but it's scary to think that even if we strike it big in the lottery, we may be in the same boat.

There is something deeply wrong about a system that calls into question a comfortable retirement or a top-notch education for people who have broken into the top 20 percent of income earners. It starts to seem politically explosive when you consider that in a decade, those making between $100,000 and $200,000 will pay about five to nine percentage points more of their income in federal taxes than those making more than $1 million, assuming the Bush tax cuts are made permanent.

Maybe now it will get some attention, since rich folks are being shafted in the same way as us poor folks. Of course, proponents of the tax breaks will profess the benefits of pumping more dollars into the coffers of the wealthy.

But despite claims that by giving more money to rich people we invigorate the economy, we're discovering that the hyper rich, having more money than they can spend, are merely leaving it to their heirs, creating an aristocracy of lazy, obnoxious snobs. Imagine how our country will fare when Paris Hilton grows the other half of her wits and discovers lobbyists. More than Orlando will be covered in theme parks, that's for sure.

One way to understand the growing gap is to compare earnings increases over time by the vast majority of taxpayers - say, everyone in the lower 90 percent - with those at the top, say, in the uppermost 0.01 percent (now about 14,000 households, each with $5.5 million or more in income last year).

From 1950 to 1970, for example, for every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent, those in the top 0.01 percent earned an additional $162, according to the Times analysis. From 1990 to 2002, for every extra dollar earned by those in the bottom 90 percent, each taxpayer at the top brought in an extra $18,000.

So while the rich got richer in the two decades from 1950 to 1970 by a margin of 162:1, they got richer in the last decade by 18,000:1. So much for the money trickling down. The drain appears to be clogged.

One reason the merely rich will fare much less well than the very richest is the alternative minimum tax. This tax, the successor to one enacted in 1969 to make sure the wealthiest Americans could not use legal loopholes to live tax-free, has never been adjusted for inflation. As a result, it stings Americans whose incomes have crept above $75,000.

The Times analysis shows that by 2010 the tax will affect more than four-fifths of the people making $100,000 to $500,000 and will take away from them nearly one-half to more than two-thirds of the recent tax cuts. For example, the group making $200,000 to $500,000 a year will lose 70 percent of their tax cut to the alternative minimum tax in 2010, an average of $9,177 for those affected.

But because of the way it is devised, the tax affects far fewer of the very richest: about a third of the taxpayers reporting more than $1 million in income. One big reason is that dividends and investment gains, which go mostly to the richest, are not subject to the tax.

But some of the wealthiest Americans, including Warren E. Buffett, George Soros and Ted Turner, have warned that such a concentration of wealth can turn a meritocracy into an aristocracy and ultimately stifle economic growth by putting too much of the nation's capital in the hands of inheritors rather than strivers and innovators.

Speaking of the increasing concentration of incomes, Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, warned in Congressional testimony a year ago: "For the democratic society, that is not a very desirable thing to allow it to happen."

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Rude is Gude

Everyone's favorite anarchist has a thing or two to say about the Deep Throat issue and the Downing Street memo.

He rants about the fact that, although America supported Nixon and he had a 60% approval rating even during the Vietnam war, it wasn't until he was proved to be involved in covert efforts to keep information from the American public, that he was run out of town on a rail.

Similar things are happening now. The Downing Street memo details what the U.S. knew prior to the invasion of Iraq, and that that information precluded the need for invasion.

Nixon resigned in disgrace over lying about a break-in of a competing party's campaign headquarters. Clinton was impeached for lying about having sex with an intern. George W. Bush lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, and fabricated intellegence to back up his claims. His lies have cost thousands of American lives.

If he walks free and clear from this scandal, then it's a sad day for America, because we're all about freedom, justice, and the American way. And historically, we tend to go medieval on those who get caught lying to us.

At present, there are over 86,000 signatures on a letter to Bush from Congressman John Conyers demanding investigation into this issue.

If this issue is important to you, and it should be, you can do (preferably) all of several things:

We need to stop the deceit now.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Be the People!

It's time to take a stand.

With all the hype about "Deep Throat" and the cojones it took to buck the power system and expose the Nixon administration and the considerable power it wielded in order to bring to light the illegal and immoral activities that were conducted in our name, it's only fitting that now a document has surfaced that shows how our current administration yearned, nay, slavered, to start a war with Iraq, and nothing was going to stop them.

They communicated with Britain in June 2002 regarding their desire to remove Saddam by force. They knew WMDs did not exist, and "intelligence and facts were being fixed" in order to justify the war. There was also "limited discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action".

The plan was to give Saddam an ultimatum to give up his WMDs. Since we knew he didn't have them, we were assured an opportunity to wage the war. Of course, they were assuming there would be no insurgent response, and that major action would be over quickly.

No thought was given to the quagmire that this war has become, or the thousands of American deaths as a result.

Enough is enough. From the beginning, we've expressed our belief that Iraq had nothing to with 9/11, and although they didn't have the best human rights record, there was no reason for us to invade other than dubya's desire to punish those who had embarrassed his Dad.

At the time, much todo was made about WMDs, mass graves, and human rights violations. Since then, we've been guilty of those same human rights violations, no WMDs were found, and are producing just as many mass graves.

Finally, folks are standing up and saying, "This is bull!". How can we continue to proclaim ourselves as the epitomy of freedom and democracy, when our own people are comitting these same atrocities while saying it's in the name of "freedom"? The only people buying this line of debris are the blind followers being led by the carrots of the administration's spin machine.

If you can think for yourself, examine the issue without the advice of radicals within your realm of spiritual and/or political leaders, evaluate the situation, and decide for yourself whether this is the path our country should be taking. Teachings that you have built your life on, such as "Thou shalt not kill", "Thou shalt not bear false witness", "Judge not, lest ye be judged", mercy and goodness, etc. Are these the values being exercised by our president that proclaims Christian values?

And then let them know what you've decided. This is the most important part. Your opinion means nothing until you've expressed it. Their political future depends on their constituents' opinions. Let them know that you're mad as hell, and you're not going to take it anymore!

Let them know. Here is a website where you can let your elected leaders know how you feel. Do it now. The next time they vote, they'll know how their constituents stand on the issues. And if they vote contrary to their constituents' values, you'll know that they care more about special interests than the people in their district, and the voters will decide it's time for a change.

That's how this system works It's time special interests take a back seat to the will of the people. Please take part in the process, and stop believing everything your leaders tell you.

Be vocal. Be visual. Be the People.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Tag, I'm it!

I’ve been tagged. According to Chris Schroen, you’re somebody when you’ve been tagged, although I’m not sure that's true. Six months ago, I didn’t know what a meme was, and I’m violently opposed to chain email. But when I got tagged by the illustrious Northstar, I tracked this rich meme-y goodness back as far as Liberal Avenger, and decided I’m in pretty good company (basically everyone linked in this paragraph). So I figure, why not? It’ll give you a chance to plumb the depths of my soul, or at the very least, wade in the shallows of my psyche.

According to the rules, I have to alter/drop/add at least one question, and then pass this on to three others. Easy enough.

Three of your favorite bands/musical artists:

  1. Pink Floyd
  2. Talking Heads
  3. Rainmakers
Three of your favorite songs:

  1. Funeral for a Friend, Elton John
  2. Fruitcakes, Jimmy Buffett
  3. This is the Life, Weird Al Yankovic
Three of your favorite hobbies/interests:

  1. Camping
  2. Jammin'
  3. Anything in, on or around water
Three things that scare you:

  1. Consuming our natural resources beyond the point of irreversible damage.
  2. The conservative spin machine achieving the elimination of all choice and personal freedom.
  3. Heights - but I'm working on that.
Three of your favorite fiction writers:

  1. Carl Hiaasen
  2. Dan Brown
  3. Clive Cussler
(new) Three of your favorite nonfiction writers:

  1. Isaac Asimov
  2. Stephen Hawking
  3. Alvin Toffler
(new) Three of your favorite books/series:

  1. The Lord of the Rings/the Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein
  2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  3. Illusions, Richard Bach
Three places you would live if this were a perfect world:

  1. An island in the Caribbean
  2. Boulder, Colorado
  3. Houston, Texas
(slightly altered) Three unlikely celebrity fixations:

  1. Alexandra Steele, the Weather Channel
  2. Wonkette
  3. Ann Coulter, with her mouth duct taped, involving cream pies. With nuts and cherries.
Three favorite animals:

  1. Sea dwelling mammals
  2. Birds of prey
  3. Primates (except humans)
Three conspiracy theories you think are true:

  1. JFK assassination
  2. Area 51
  3. CIA mind control experiments
Three names you go by:

  1. Wyld Card
  2. Copernicus
  3. Hawkeye
Three places you want to go on vacation:

  1. St. Barts
  2. Alaska
  3. Europe
I’m relatively new to blogging and don’t know many other bloggers personally, so I’ll pass this on to people I respect. If they play along, I’ll be interested in their answers. So I hereby pass the baton to: