Friday, April 29, 2011

Alien Invasion!

These aliens were spotted in the U.K.

Best wishes to the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

future opportunity my ass

The news item:

SALEM, Ore. -- A new bill passed by the Oregon House is designed to get Oregon students thinking about the future.

House Bill 2732 would require students to submit a college or Armed Forces application or attend an orientation related to an apprenticeship or training opportunity in order to get their high school diploma.

The bill passed in House with 33 votes and is headed to the Oregon Senate.

Critics of the bill might say this requirement would be an obstacle because it costs money to apply to some schools.  For example, it costs $50 to submit an application to an Oregon University System school, but deferrals may be granted in some cases.

The editorial:

I don't know about other public high schools, but School District 4J has a 2 tiered graduation system, one allows for a student to have enough credits to graduate, and another gives a student enough credits to enter college.
Also private schools are not likely subject to these kinds of rules.

How ironic to require a student to apply to college, but not necessarily have enough credits to be admitted to college.

I find it offensive that there would be a graduation requirement  option, to fill out an application for the armed forces. Any male student wanting any kind of  financial aid for college is required to sign up w selective service. As soon as your child turns 18, that selective service application arrives in the mail.
If you are a man ages 18 through 25 and living in the U.S., then you must register with Selective Service. What is the penalty for not registering?
Failure to register is a violation of the Military Selective Service Act. Conviction for such a violation may result in imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of not more than $250,000.

Make no mistake- registering for selective service is NOT the same as applying to the Armed Services.

The military solicitations will start to arrive when your child is 15 years old even if you sign the "no military solicits" card @ the high school. If all that is not bad enough, high schools allow military recruiters to roam the halls or sometimes address captive audiences in classrooms during class time.  The military services are predatory on young kids in high school. You just know this armed forces application will wind up having some unknowing kids tricked into enlisting.

If the Oregon legislature wants to " help ensure students are thinking about their future as they leave high school.", why not make sure they have college funding & jobs?

They never did answer the question Cindy Sheehan asked years ago when her son was killed in Iraq- "What is the Noble Cause?"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Huck Finn~ Censured, Banned, or Revised?

Mark Twain’s classic stories “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn” have been the subject of intense scrutiny for decades. The repeated use of “nigger” and “injun” have resulted in outright bans in many public schools and libraries. The “N” word appears over 200 times in Finn.  First published in 1884, the word was one of common usage.

In the opinion of Twain scholar, Prof. Alan Gribben of Auburn University in Alabama, stated that “For a single word to form a barrier, it seems such an unnecessary state of affairs.” 
Gribben replaces the offensive slurs with “slave.”  He commented that “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”
The politically correct version has gone to market, and all 7500 have just about sold out. 
Black CollegeUniv. of Oregon Associate Professor David Bradley disagrees:
“You use the term ‘teachable moment’ and that’s what n*&^%$ gives you.  That’s why it’s important to keep it in there,” says the author, and Mark Twain scholar.  “I call “Huckleberry Finn” a power tool when it comes to education,” says Bradley.  “There are so many things [in it] that pry things open…That teachable moment is when that word hits the table in a classroom. Everybody goes ‘wooh’ Okay, let’s talk about it.”
But retaining it deprives others of experiencing the novel in school at all, said Randall Williams, co-owner and editor of NewSouth Books, republished “Huckleberry Finn” with "slave" replacing over 200 appearances of the N-word.

“It’s not ‘Huckleberry Finn” anymore,’” counters Bradley.   “What are we teaching them [by removing the N-word]? This may be their first encounter with slavery.”  He says that to withhold the N-word is to avoid an integral reality. “‘Slave’ is a condition…nothing for anybody to be ashamed of,” says Bradley, “But n*&^%$ has to do with shame…calling somebody something.  N*&^%$ is what made slavery possible.”

* Sorry a 2nd ad appears about 1 minute into the story, but then the story resumes, uninterrupted.

What camp are you in?
Is it ever OK to mess with a literary classic?
Is the revision excusable because it would otherwise be banned?
Sometimes Banning a book actually makes it more popular because censorship has that effect.
But I find it interesting how different teachers approach the subject.  One teacher spends 3 full days talking about race, racism, & racial slurs, while another refuses to use the "N" word at all.

When I grew up in the 60's the "N" word was still around, but I was taught it was a derogatory word, one that should not be used. Still I heard the adults sometimes using it, or telling jokes that included that word.  I am not talking about the deep south, I am talking about Chicago.

This book was written in the 1800's when the word was accepted & commonplace in that era. Does not make it right in the 21st century, but this story takes place in that era.
The problem with rewriting books to make them politically correct, is the door is then open for all books to be revised.
How far back do we go?  The bible has some offensive passages- and many would argue that it had already been censored, as some of the writings of Thomas were  scrapped, because they did not fit the dogma of the church at the time.
Writer's write what they are thinking. Mark Twain wrote it that way, and we are free to openly address it. It is a period piece.   The word "negro" was supposedly the correct, respectful word @ the time, but even now it is condescending, and divisive. The term "African American" was not used. Even since then, that once "politically correct" term, often angered black Americans.
I remember Whoopie Goldberg going off an a serious tangent about it.
"I am an American, she said, I have never been to Africa. You say this is my heritage, then why don't we go around calling people German Americans, Polish Americans, Irish Americans???"

We are people. We come in different colors. Perspectives changed over time.

Do we look back & change literature to sanitize it, or it is unacceptable to mess with the writings of another author in order to make it politically correct?

Your thoughts?

Friday, April 22, 2011

All pumped up!

After months of research, umpteen bids, working with the utility energy management people, we finally got outfitted with a Ductless Heat Pump. We've been living w a highly inefficient heat technology-- circa the 50's - ceiling heat. The only up side of ceiling heat is you can put furniture anywhere you want, as there are no ducts. The down side is the basic rule of physics-- heat rises. It was slow to actually kick in, did not circulate air, and the utility bills were huge. Our small cookie cutter ranch house was getting $300 winter heating bills- people w homes much bigger were paying less than half the amount. 

Ductless heat pumps run on Inversion technology.

I don't necessarily understand the science of it, but virtually everyone I spoke with who has a ductless heat pump was very happy with it. "I love it", "No problems" "1/2 the heating bill" "Now we have whole house A/C".  We started thinking, what's not to love, combined with you have got to be kidding, re the high heating bill for this humble home.  We discovered in the initial bidding process our old electrical circuit breaker box was @ capacity & needed to be replaced. So that was another $1000 bucks to get this old house brought up to 21 century standards.  Yes, it is kind of a Pandora's box. 

So here it is-- The compressor

The indoor unit (we had 2 installed)

The utility required more than doubling of the attic insulation
to bring it up to current code

It was 29 degrees here this late April morning & we are really happy to have the Heat Pump up & running. It moves air around & has filters to get the dust out of the air. 

I know, this is very domestic of me, & thank you for putting up with my moment of domestic heat system bliss-  but if you live in a relatively moderate climate, this could be a happy medium to energy efficiency, about half the cost of installing a ducted heat pump/A/C, and a win-win situation- to be lowering your carbon footprint & your utility bill. Woo Hoo!
We really are all pumped up!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A political, musical interlude....

Where's our change?

Better than a flash dance, really. Bursting into song is a nice touch.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Two Tales of One Rally

I am referring to the debacle on Saturday where the Queen of Quitters- one Ms. Ex half term Governor Sarah Palin, stormed the State of Wisconsin to yammer on deliver her message in support of embroiled & likely soon to be recalled Governor Scott Walker, the Union Busting tea party guy. But what I found most interesting, besides this hilarious photo of Palin in all her glory, was how different news outlets reported the event. It almost sounds like they are not reporting about the same rally.
Check this out:
Common Dreams:
That's not much in the way of good news for Walker, whose personal approval ratings have tanked, and whose Republican legislative allies now face recall elections that could cost the party control of the state Senate. But the spin doctors were ready to claim some kind of momentum.

All that was needed was a great big rally to seal the deal, or so Walker's allies and funders -- particularly the billionaire Koch Brothers, who paid for Saturday's event via their generous donations to the group Americans for Prosperity. And Palin was brought in to pull the crowd.

As it happened, she did pull a crowd -- but not for Governor Walker and his agenda.

"A solid core of tea partiers were near the stage, but they were flanked on all sides by union protesters who have dominated protests at the Capitol for months. The tea party folks had the microphone, but the crowd had the volume, literally and figuratively."

What happened? Wasn't Palin supposed to be the rock star that rallied conservatives on what she called "the frontlines in the battle for our country"?

When Palin got to the frontlines, she was greeted not with a warm embrace but with a throngs of Wisconsinites holding signs that read: "Grizzlies Are Not a Native Species," "The Mad Hatter Called... He Wants His Tea Party Back," "I Can See Stupid From My Condo" and "Wisconsin Loves Tina Fey!" -- a reference to the comic who famously parodied Palin on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."

That would mean that the Tea Partisans were outnumbered more than 5-1 by the mass of anti-Walker protesters that surrounded the Palin event, ringing cowbells and shouting "Shame! Shame! Shame!" so loudly that many of the Tea Partisans who gathered in the Palin pit complained they could not hear the Alaskan deliver a listless speech that focused mainly on national issues. In her rare references to Wisconsin, Palin offered Orwellian rewrites of reality, such as a claim that: "(Walker's) not trying to hurt union members. Hey, folks he's trying to save your jobs and your pensions."

Though it was organized in only a matter of hours, the protest against Palin and Walker easily overwhelmed the gathering of those who came to support the former Alaska governor and the recall-threatened Wisconsin governor. Police estimated that roughly 6,500 people were on the Capitol Square Saturday, and the vast majority of them were the firefighters, police officers, teachers, public employees, farmers, small business owners and their allies who had come to wave signs that read: "Scott -- Pull a Palin -- Quit!"

(Read the whole article by clicking here)

So to recap, a 5 to 1 throng of protesters dominated the Palin speech, opposed the the Union busting/workers rights package Walker is serving up (well unless or until the injunction is lifted).
A ruckus was raised & the majority remain mad as hell & not going to take it.

Here is how the Washington Times reported the story:

Sarah Palin gave a rip-roaring speech in Wisconsin on Saturday that excoriated President Obama’s deficit spending and took swipes at Republicans inside the Beltway for going along to get along.

The former Alaska governor’s pep talk reminds why she would be a formidable candidate. Not only did she hammer away at the substance of today’s economic and moral crises, she was exciting. “We’re flat broke but he thinks more solar shingles and really fast trains will magically save us,” she said of Mr. Obama. “So now he’s shouting ‘all aboard’ his bullet train to bankruptcy.” Turning on establishment elephants, she thundered, “We didn’t elect you just to rearrange the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic; we didn’t elect you just to stand back and watch Obamaredistribute those deck chairs.” 

Sounding like a candidate, Mrs. Palin told the Madison, Wis., crowd, “The 2012 elections begin here.” She should be underestimated by the rest of the primary field at their own peril because lots of Americans support her message and the passion with which it’s delivered. Working to appeal to a new, strong conservative brand of feminism that is becoming an important political force – what Mrs. Palin calls Mama Grizzlies – she said, “What we need is for you to stand up, GOP, and fight … GOP leaders need to learn how to fight like a girl.”
Given the right circumstances, almost anyone can get elected, and Mrs. Palin’s charisma, authentic “woman of the people” quality and common-sense, family-oriented conservatism could get her a lot of the way there. Continued economic malaise will make it hard for Mr. Obama to hoodwink voters to give him another term, which should benefit any GOP nominee. 
It’s frightening to contemplate the damage another four years of Obamaincompetence, amateurism and tax-and-spend policies would do to America. If there’s a lesson in Mr. Trump’s surge and Mrs. Palin’s sustained popularity, it’s that the Grand Old Party needs to be more bold to tap into the deep frustrations of the public. People are mad. 
Palin's presidential potential. 
Someone's been hitting the kool-aid pretty hard. The BS gets pretty thick in the WT article. 
Mrs. Palin’s charisma, (winking & blinking)
 authentic “woman of the people” quality (Concepts I strongly disagree with... in fact I will go as far as saying I have heard many references to the Half term quitter-- but never the words "authentic",  "quality" & "woman of the people" &  " common-sense, family-oriented conservatism"-- if she is so damned family oriented, why is she not home caring for her three minor children? There went the notion of common sense as well-- what is this reporter smoking???
I will give it to the WT reporter, who said "Given the right circumstances, almost anyone can get elected", be it stolen, court appointed, or rigged by funky Diebold voting machines, almost anyone can get elected president... George Bush did just that for eight long & horrific years. 
But the agreement stops there-- "damage another four years of Obamaincompetence, amateurism and tax-and-spend policies would do to America?"
The author has a very short term memory or must be blinded by his awe for Palin. 
Everyone wants to blame Obama for the current budget woes. yea sure blame him. Bush 2 left the office with a  $13 trillion dollar debt he racked up, and lack of regulations so bad, the bank & finance  industry were headed for an epic failure of worldwide proportions.  Using the terms incompetence & amateurism don't even begin to describe the Bush 2 years, but seem to fit Palin nicely. 
So tell me what you think. 

Tax Day- How much did you pay for the War in Afghanistan?

Brave New World put together this calculator:

Rethink Afghanistan IOU

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A positive spin re GE

The following is a fantastic prank. We've all heard the news that GE corporation pay no taxes & gets a hefty refund from the IRS. Uncut pulled off this hopeful press release:

Fairfield, CT, 13th April, 2011 - GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt has informed the Obama administration that the company will be gifting its entire 2010 tax refund, worth $3.2 Billion, to the US Treasury on April 18, Tax Day, and will furthermore adopt a host of new policies that secure its position as a leader in corporate social responsibility.

"We want the public to know that we've heard them, and that we know many Americans are going through tough times," said GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. "GE will therefore give our 2010 tax refund back to the public and allow the public to decide how to spend it."

Immelt acknowledged no wrongdoing. "All seven of our foreign tax havens are entirely legal," Immelt noted. "But Americans have made it clear that they deplore laws that enable tax avoidance. While we owe it to our shareholders to use every legal loophole to maximize returns - we also owe something to the American people. We didn't write the laws that let us legally avoid paying taxes. Congress did. But we benefit from those laws, and now we'd like to share those benefits. We are proud to be giving something back to America, and we are proud to set an example for all industry to follow."

Over the coming weeks, GE will conduct a nationwide survey to determine how the company's $3.2 billion returned refund is to be allocated. The survey will be conducted both online and offline, and will permit the public to weigh in on which of the recently-enacted budget cuts they would like to see reversed.

In tandem with the gift, the company is also announcing a host of new policies to restore public faith in the GE brand, including a commitment to keep American jobs in America, and to create one U.S. job for each new job created abroad. The ambitious plan will overhaul accounting systems to allow public transparency and phase out the use of tax havens in five years. "Given my recent appointment as President Obama's Chairman of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, it is no longer appropriate for GE to engage in practices that, whether by fact or perception, are at odds with the greater good of the nation," Immelt said.

Immelt outlined several concrete steps he would take to push for modernized tax policies that reflect the realities of the global economy. "I will personally ask President Obama to work with Congress to require country-by-country reporting by multi-national corporations of the sales made, profits earned and taxes paid in every jurisdiction where an entity operates. Instead of moving money via 'transfer pricing,' corporations ought to pay taxes in the jurisdictions where profits are actually made. If Congress is able to establish standard industry-wide solutions, GE will close our tax haven operations abroad, including our subsidiaries in Bermuda, Singapore and Luxembourg."

Further details on GE's new policy will be released in the coming weeks.


Samuel Winnacker
GE Corporate, Assistant Director
Communications & Public Affairs 
+1 615 375 6658 


USA Today, AP fall for US Uncut ploy; GE stock loses billions
Washington, DC – US Uncut, a burgeoning grassroots movement pressuring corporate tax cheats to pay their fair share, posted today a fake GE press releaseannouncing that they would return their illegitimate (but legal) $3.2 billion tax refund, and that they would lobby to close the sort of corporate tax loopholes that had allowed them to skip taxes in the first place. Several major media outlets, including USA Today, ran the story as true. (Here is a link to the original USA Today story; here is the first article debunking the release.)
US Uncut quickly reacted with another release pretending to praise GE for this entirely unpredictable, unlikely, and in fact impossible act.
“At a time when working families are being asked to accept massive cuts nationwide, this action showed another way the world could work,” said US Uncut spokesperson Carl Gibson. “For a brief moment people believed that the biggest corporate tax dodger had a change of heart and actually did the right thing. But the only way anything like this is really going to happen is if we change the laws that allow corporate tax avoidance in the first place.”
In the period the hoax was believed, GE’s stock plunged by .6% (far more than the value of the supposed return), then quickly recovered as soon as it became apparent the press had been duped. “Obviously, GE can’t possibly be expected to do the right thing voluntarily; their stock would keep plunging,” noted Gibson. “That’s why we must change the law.”
“GE’s tax avoidance is unpatriotic, it’s undemocratic, it’s unfair,” said Andrew Boyd, a US Uncut spokesperson. “It might be legal, but that’s only because GE has used its money and lobbying influence to buy the loopholes they’re now taking advantage of.”
US Uncut developed the project with help from the Yes Lab (
US Uncut, a grassroots movement organized through social media, connects corporate tax cheating to cuts in valuable public services.
Yes Men: Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Our targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.
* Hat tip to the COTO Report. 

Hilarious Hijinx!
If you report it, maybe it will happen???

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Royal Wedding.....

Everybody in the house of love! Ha! Fun.

Friday, April 15, 2011

All things Postal

Two updates re the Postal Service:

They really DO give a shit!

A postal worker "delivered a load" while on his route. He tried to be discreet behind some trees & trash cans, but a neighbor spotted him & took photos. The postal worker is suspended without pay.
But seriously, these days.... how many people really give a shit on the job??

Not too swift on the details....

A new USPS stamp featuring Lady Liberty is actually a fake Lady Liberty!

MSNBC reports:

A stamp that was supposed to show the Statue of Liberty actually features a replica outside a Las Vegas casino, The New York Times reported Friday.
The United States Postal Service admitted the mistake but said it planned to stick with its Lady Liberty "Forever" stamp.

This is the real statue:

This the Las Vegas replica debacle:

This is the head of Lady Lib, Paris World's Fair 1878:

Can you believe the post office made a stamp w the fake statue?

Clip art of broken chain
Did You Know?
Freedom is not standing still. A symbolic feature that people cannot see is the broken chain wrapped around the Statue's feet. Protruding from the bottom of her robe, the broken chains symbolize her free forward movement, enlightening the world with her torch free from oppression and servitude.

I swear, I thought I heard the sound of shackles rattling 
in the halls of congress the last few weeks. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Top 10 Corporate Tax Freeloaders

Senator Bernie Sanders compiled a list of some of some of the 10 worst corporate income tax avoiders.

1)      Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009.  Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings.  (Source: Exxon Mobil's 2009 shareholder report filed with the SEC here.)
2)      Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion. (Source: here, ProPublica here and Treasuryhere.)
3)      Over the past five years, while General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States, it received a $4.1 billion refund from the IRS. (Source: Citizens for Tax Justice here and The New York Times here.  Note: despite rumors to the contrary, the Times has stood by its story.)
4)      Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.  (Source: See 2009 Chevron annual report here.  Note 15 on page FS-46 of this report shows a U.S. federal income tax liability of $128 million, but that it was able to defer $147 million for a U.S. federal income tax liability of $-19 million)
5)      Boeing, which received a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airborne tankers, got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year. .  (Source: Paul Buchheit, professor, DePaul University, here and Citizens for Tax Justice here.)
6)      Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, it received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction. (Source: the company's 2009 annual report, pg. 112, here.)
7)      Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department.  (Source: Bloomberg News here, ProPublica here, Treasury Department here.)
8)      Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury. (Source: Paul Buchheit, professor, DePaul University, here, ProPublica here, Treasury Department here.)
9)      ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2006 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction.  (Sources: Profits can be found here.  The deduction can be found on the company's 2010 SEC 10-K report to shareholders on 2009 finances, pg. 127,here)
10)  Over the past five years, Carnival Cruise Lines made more than $11 billion in profits, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent.  (Source: The New York Times here)
Sanders has called for closing corporate tax loopholes and eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies. He also introduced legislation to impose a 5.4 percent surtax on millionaires that would yield up to $50 billion a year. The senator has said that spending cuts must be paired with new revenue so the federal budget is not balanced solely on the backs of working families.
"We have a deficit problem. It has to be addressed," Sanders said, "but it cannot be addressed on the backs of the sick, the elderly, the poor, young people, the most vulnerable in this country.  The wealthiest people and the largest corporations in this country have got to contribute. We've got to talk about shared sacrifice."

The headlines focus on how Medicare MUST be cut in order to balance the budget, while these hand over fist corporate profit makers are happy to not only skip contributing to the tax base, but finding ways to take from it. 
War profiteer Boeing, Big oil- Exxon Mobile, Chevron & Conoco Phillips, & Banksters- Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, & Citigroup crowd the list. Figures.