Friday, December 30, 2005
Let me explain.
For years, I was no fan of Christmas. I didn't have a Hallmark Holiday to look forward to; it was more of a tense thing we all did at a certain time of year. There are some traditions I would cling to fiercely, but at the same time it just felt like something we had to do. I kind of wished we could chuck the whole thing. But, after tolerating family and obligations throughout Christmas, New Year's Eve was the reward. You get to have parties with friends- people you want to be with, not have to. That's the holiday I'd look forward to every year, the one I enjoyed. It was mine, not the obligation's.
My husband, on the other hand, did not follow my Scrooginess. He is a big kid at Christmas, still in love with the wonder and awe of the whole thing. After we became a family I stopped dreading it so much, and now with the children I enjoy the holiday as much as anyone. But there's still that part of my brain that has this attachment to New Year's Eve, and won't let it go.
Our New Year's celebration will be filled with a little bit of family but a lot of friends. These are the friends who are like family now; the ones we have chosen. This holiday has no hidden meaning, no religious significance, no national commemoration. It's about the friends, happy endings and new beginnings; what could be better than that?
Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope your endings are happy and your beginnings fresh and bright.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
The New Jersey blogosphere is growing and full of talent. We'd like to recognize that talent by awarding the highly prestigous Screaming Carrot Award to the finest Garden State political blog. ...You can nominate as many blogs as you want, including your own. You might want to point to one or two particularly good posts. Nominated blogs should deal with New Jersey politics, though not necessarily exclusively. Just because the author of a blog is from NJ does not qualify it as a "NJ blog".
Right now BlueJ is accepting nominations, and in January the voting will begin. So, if you're not registered at BlueJ, you could go do that now, because I'm sure there will be a big rush at voting time. Also, if there are blogs that are not listed in the comments of the above post that should be nominated, now's the time!
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Here it is, the Meme of Sevens:
7 Things to Do Before I Die:
See my children grow up to have long, happy and healthy lives
Drink scotch in Scotland
Get vision-correction surgery
Make an entire wedding cake and not be able to find the hideous mistake which I swear ruins it but that no one else will ever, ever notice
Pick a career and stick to it
Return everything I've borrowed or has been left at my house (Ha ha! Now I can never die!)
7 Things I Cannot Do:
Afford to go to Scotland
Play the banjo
Let some things go
Send holiday cards without seals on them
Give up my chair
Tolerate the Parkway
7 Things that attract me to people:
Sense of humor
Similar taste in something (books, music, movies, politics, etc.)
Actually listening to what others say
7 Things I Would Never Say:
"Anything you say is fine with me, dear."
"George W. Bush is just the best president, isn't he?"
"Did you watch The Apprentice last night?"
"Honey, could you turn on ESPN?"
"Give me a Bud Light."
"I slept great, thanks!"
"I think we should get another cat."
7 Books or Series I Love:
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken (seek the audio version with him reading it)
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
The Stand by Stephen King
Requiem for the Devil by Jeri Smith-Ready
7 Movies I can watch over and over:
The Blues Brothers
The Two Towers
The Matrix (but not the other two)
7 People I want to join in (no pressure, and feel free to change/add your own questions):
*Rob and/or Brenda
A lot of blogs I know who would participate already have. Anyone else who wants to--just link back, please!
P.S. I'll remain on the light blogging schedule for a few more days. I'm enjoying this thing called "Family Time" and it, unfortunately, takes me away from the computer. Thanks for stopping by today, especially since you didn't expect me to be here.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Friday, December 23, 2005
Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love, in our families and in our world. Enjoy.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Between the lack of a discount and the $1/month fee EZ Pass charges us, we now pay MORE to use the automated system than the toll-taker lanes. Don't you remember when EZ Pass was proposed, it was supposed to save us money? So much for that. Oh well. It's easier and much faster, so we'll all keep on keepin' on. As they expected us to.
(Cross-posted at BlueJersey.net)
New Jersey, Expect the Unexpected
New Jersey, Love at First Sight
New Jersey, Come See For Yourself
New Jersey, The Real Deal
New Jersey, The Best Kept Secret
Given a list like that, one has to wonder what didn't make the cut. Possible examples include:
New Jersey, You Got A Problem With That?
New Jersey, More Than Just Exit 13
New Jersey, You Pay To Leave
New Jersey, Proudly Breathing Ohio's Smog
New Jersey, Holding The Place Between New York and Philly
New Jersey, Ooooo, the Posibilities (Sorry, that's the slogan for Delaware's Christiana Mall)
New Jersey, It's Been One Day Since Our Last Political Scand- oh, wait, forget it.
New Jersey, Strange Shape, Lots of Fun!
I could go on all day...
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
"It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."
"We find that the secular purposes claimed by the board amount to a pretext for the board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom."
"overwhelming evidence" establishing that intelligent design "is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory."
"The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources."
Mind you, this judge is a Republican, a churchgoer, and a Bush appointee. He's also heard much, much more about this argument than you or I have. Wow.
Hour 2 of today's Radio Times had a discussion of this whole issue, with both sides weighing in. It's interesting to now hear the Discovery Institute backpedal on the whole thing, saying that the Dover School Board had a fundamental misunderstanding of Intelligent Design. Casey Luskin, Program Officer, Public Policy and Legal affairs of the Discovery Institute, the ID "thinktank", said this morning that "We did not like the wording of their (Dover's school board) policy, we actually opposed the wording of their policy and felt that it was not a clear policy and it was confusing to students. So, I don't necessarily support exactly what the Dover Area School District did." (Approx. 30 min. into the RealAudio broadcast.) Bet he would have loved them if they had won.
He also said, "This is not an issue that a court is supposed to rule on. Whether or not evolution is a solid theory or not, these are matters that are not for the judiciary to decide. These are matters which are to be decided by the scientific community and also for the local control of school boards to decide." Yeah, well, the scientific community has spoken, and they think it's not science. The school board that set this policy has been voted out, so I guess local control of the school board decided. And if it's not for the judiciary to decide, why does the Discovery Institute have a Program Officer for Public Policy and Legal Affairs?
If you want to teach your kids about an intelligent designer for life, the universe and everything, you absolutely should do so. There are these big buildings called churches where they have religious education, and you can probably find one that matches your beliefs closely. They usually do good works too, like feeding the poor, so support that while you're there. But science is science, and religion is religion, and we should keep 'em separate.
Update 10AM 12/22: If you would like to read the whole decision, it's here. And let me say again: attacked, deflated, destroyed the argument for Intelligent Design. Breathtakingly inane, indeed.
Monday, December 19, 2005
1. Gettin' Randi Rhodes on board. Randi Rhodes has a show on Air America Radio and has been a target of emails requesting she spend some time covering HR 550 and verified voting issues. If you click on that link up there, there's a poll near the bottom right about issues listeners would like to hear, and Voter Fraud is on the list. If you can find it in your heart to poll for that, and maybe send her an rejected the changes their Senate made to their election reform bill, which means HB3 will not be acted on- until next year, that is, when the changes will be negotiated. Maybe the spirit of a New Year will let them look at this bill again and take out the most disasterous portions of it. Well, one can hope.
2. No Go in Ohio. Ohio's House of Representatives rejected changes their Senate made to their election reform bill and then went to recess, so no action on HB3 will happen this year. Maybe the freshness of a new year will make the lawmakers there review this bill and remove the most disasterous parts of it. Well, one can hope, anyway.
3. Blogswarm Listing. I had a list going of blogs which have posts about HR 550, and it's been so long since I updated it that it would take forever. Luckily, DBK over at Blanton's and Ashton's has a great list which he does keep updated so I don't have to.
So, again I say, if you haven't signed the petition, go do so right now. It's too important to just brush by. Thanks!
Technorati Tags: HR 550, Verified Voting, Rush Holt
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Friday, December 16, 2005
The thing is, I CAN'T FIND THE REPORT. The radio station doesn't post copies of their local news stories on their web site, and it wasn't mentioned on the national edition of Morning Edition, only the local Philadelphia one. I couldn't find it mentioned in the Times of Trenton newspaper, or the Star-Ledger, the Philly Inquirer, or the New York Times online versions. Sohn was reporting on a political think-tank's analysis of the research, and I missed which one. It was the 7AM news and we all needed to get moving, so I couldn't get a pen to write down details. Google's been no help, either. I emailed WHYY, but no response yet.
Did anyone else hear the report, or read about it somewhere, so we can get some details? Please leave comments if you can help me on this one. Thanks!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
HB3's most publicized provision will require positive identification before casting a vote. But it also opens voter registration activists to partisan prosecution, exempts electronic voting machines from public scrutiny, quintuples the cost of citizen-requested statewide recounts and makes it illegal to challenge a presidential vote count or, indeed, any federal election result in Ohio. When added to the recently passed HB1, which allows campaign financing to be dominated by the wealthy and by corporations, and along with a Rovian wish list of GOP attacks on the ballot box, democracy in Ohio could be all but over.
The GOP is ramming similar bills through state legislatures around the U.S., starting with Georgia and Indiana. The ID requirements in particular have provoked widespread opposition from newspapers such as the New York Times. The Times, among others, argues that the ID requirements and the costs associated with them, constitute an unconstitutional discriminatory poll tax.
Y'know, I almost inserted a (sic) after "GOP" in the article. I can't call the Republicans the "Grand Old Party" with a straight face. But I digress.
We need HR 550, folks. We need to be able to verify our votes. Our electronic voting machines SHOULD BE subject to public scrutiny. Please, first sign the petition, then write your U.S. Representative to urge their support. And, if you live in Ohio, get in touch with your state Senator now and say NO! to HB3.
(Hat tip to Suburban Guerrilla)
Technorati tags: HR 550,Votes,Elections,Verified Voting,Rush Holt
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Part of the Meadowlands study will be to find ways to finance the pilot project, which could cost $30 million. Commission officials estimate half of that cost could be paid through state rebates and grants and recouped over three to five years.
The commission also wants to explore the potential for business owners in the district -- which covers 10 Bergen County towns, including East Rutherford, Little Ferry and Lyndhurst, and four Hudson County towns, including Jersey City, Kearny and Secaucus -- to install their own solar energy systems.
Every time I drive down Cranbury Road through Jamesburg, I sigh and say to my husband ( a tollerant man, since I really do say this every time,) "I wish they'd put solar panels on top of all these warehouses. Think of what could be generated!" Ever since we went solar earlier this year and have reaped the benefits (finiancially, as well as the inner peace coming from walking the walk as well as talking the talk), I keep hoping others will step up and find the same solution. It looks like it may be coming!
New Jersey is second only to California in solar installations, mostly because of the very generous rebate program. If this plan in the Meadowlands works out, we would rival some European countries in our use of solar. Yay!!
(hat tip to jmelli at bluejersey.net for the Star-Ledger article)
Monday, December 12, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
With his reported choice of Rep. Bob Menendez, D-Union City, to fill the remaining year of his U.S. Senate term, Gov.-elect Jon Corzine has taken the politically safe course.They suggest the $4.1 war chest Menendez has amassed, the pressure from political bosses and the overwhelming suport of Hispanic groups were among the reasons for the selection.
It's a disappointing selection, however. The governor-elect could have struck a blow for statesmanship and independent thinking in public office by naming Rep. Rush Holt, D-Hopewell Township, to succeed him in the upper house of Congress. But that obviously wasn't his primary consideration.
There are bunches of blog posts pro and con about Menendez so I won't attempt a full discussion here. There is an issue here that upsets me greatly with Menendez, however:
As a U.S. senator, Jon Corzine has courageously stood with the defenders of the Bill of Rights in opposing a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that burning the American flag as a gesture of protest is symbolic speech and can't be prohibited by law. Last summer, that amendment received the two-thirds vote required for passage in the House of Representatives, with Rep. Menendez voting in favor (and Rep. Holt against). Now it stands ready for action by the Senate, where its advocates already count 65 senators - two short of two-thirds, if all 100 senators vote - on their side.And the Republicans jump for joy...
When the Senate acts next year, the newly appointed Sen. Menendez's "aye" will be the 66th vote in favor of this frivolous and harmful amendment. It could be the vote that will send it to the states for ratification if only one anti-amendment senator fails to show up and take part. Obviously, that consideration wasn't a deal-breaker for Gov.-elect Corzine. But it's an indicator of how much he's willing to put at risk to placate a powerful political pressure group.
(cross-posted on bluejersey.net)
Thursday, December 08, 2005
You deserve a choice in your cable service!
You deserve competition!
You deserve lower prices!
Instantly, I'm suspicious. So I checked out the site. Their purpose (from the web site):
A revolution in cable TV is in the balance. For American TV viewers to realize the benefits of their choice of cable providers, a new paradigm in cable regulation is needed. Cable monopolies must be roused from their cozy perches, hiding behind the shield and vagaries of local regulations, and forced to compete based on the quality of their products and services.
This will require a re-definition of how and why cable TV services are regulated. The hallmark of this change will be the transformation of TV viewers from dispassionate receivers of broadcasts to impassioned participants as cable services become more interactive and functional. Consumers expect and demand:
*Access to content of choice;
*Interactivity allowing them to send and receive information of their choice;
*Control over content;
*Accessibility for those with disabilities; and
*Standards that assure service quality and dispute resolution.
*The change will be welcome for America’s video consumers, who for too long have been paying too much and receiving too little. Beneficial competition will emerge from satellite, telecommunications, other over-builders and broadband internet providers. With competition, you will be in control - more choices, better content, lower prices and better service.
Ok. We're all for better content and lower prices. Personally, though, I'm less interested in having a choice of cable companies as I am in selecting service a la carte- paying for only the 6 channels I do watch and dumping the rest. But I digress...
I spent a while looking over the site until I found that what they want is support for Senate Bill 2912 sponsored by Joseph Doria (D 31.) They want other companies to be able to supply content besides the cable companies, who currently have a monopoly. Sounds understandable to me.
So, why am I suspicious as hell? Ok, because I'm a suspicious person, but besides that. This "NJ Consumers for Cable Choice" organization is clearly amazingly well funded to keep sending out this stuff. Most of the folks shown on the list of members are churches or clergy, not phone or internet companies. Churches in Jersey right now aren't know for having a ton of extra money to throw around. Church money after expenses tends to go toward ministries, which in my experience center on feeding the poor, not making sure they can pick better cable TV. What gives?
This group seems to be REALLY centered on getting you to sign up. The mailings have cards to send back, and you can't "back" button out of their web site- it just keeps going to the sign-up. Boy, they want my attention. Remember, also, it took some searching to find a number of the bill they want to support. Why?
Anyone who tells me repeatedly that I deserve better this and that and wants me to join their organization without being too up front on HOW they plan to meet these goals is usually someone I don't want to have anything to do with. (See Doug Forrester for example.) So, does anyone have more information on these people? Right now, my suspicious nature is telling me to run, run away.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
No, not a misprint; HR 550 got some write-ins:
"HR Five Fifty" - a reference to a proposed amendment to the national Help
America Vote Act -received four votes in various races from one Jersey City
voter. The bill (H.R. 550) was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives
by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.).
Clearly, this bill is being taken seriously if someone's willing to name it for governor of New Jersey, or even mayor of Jersey City!
There's been some discussion of the issues in the bill in the post right before this one, and a lot over at Blanton's and Ashton's. Oh yeah, and some 80+ other bloggers, too (scroll down.) If you haven't signed the petition for HR 550, go here and do it now!
Monday, December 05, 2005
"While electronic voting sysytems hold promise for a more accurate and efficient election process, numerous entities have raised concerns about their security and reliability, citing instances of weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate system version controll, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration, poor security management, and vauge or incomplete voting system standards, among other issues."
Among other issues? Yes, there's more.
"... some of these concerns were reported to have caused local problems in Federal elections- resulting in the loss or miscount of votes- and therefore merit attention."
Anytime votes are lost, folks, we may not get the leaders we chose. It sure as hell does merit attention.
The problems outlined in the non-partisan Governmental Accounting Office report may be addressed somewhat by new guidelines; but one of the best ways for voters to verify that their votes count for whom they've voted is still an auditable paper trail. If you haven't been over to sign Rep. Rush Holt's petition in support of verified voting then click on over and do so, then write your congressman and ask that he support the bill when it gets out of committee.
(hat tip to DBK for the link to lambert at Correntewire, who gets the BIG hat tip.)
Technorati tags: HR 550,Votes,Elections,Verified Voting,Rush Holt
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
"how to get money for my car in ocean county, nj": Um, good luck with that.
"www.politicsnj.com" and "politicsnj": Why not just go there? Why do a search on it? I guess they're looking for folks who link to it, but there have to be lots and there are tools for that sort of thing.
"antibacterial soap vs. hand sanitizer" : Antibacterial soap bad, hand sanitizer helpful, go with the soap and water. See here.
"afghan kebab house metuchen nj" : Rob blogged about that here while I was away, and I guess they have no web site of their own. I come up as the third site on Google. I'll have to get up there and try it out!
"Petty's Island" and "petty's island" : Still my most popular search terms by far even though I haven't written anything new in a while. I guess not too many other folks have either if I'm getting hits on it. Oh, here's the post (and the follow-up)if you came in from that search term. Hope it's helpful.
"nj life" : That's what it's all about, fans and friends. Enjoy the weekend.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
toothpaste & toothbrushes
razors & shaving cream
Drop-off is at Baroni's office at 2239 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road, Suite E, Hamilton Twp Mercer County.
I'm not in Baroni's district, but my children's elementary school is collecting for this program too. The donations are for soldiers who will be deployed out of Fort Dix to Iraq.
One more good way to support our troops!
As you already guessed, I'm not a programmer or a mechanical engineer. I really have no idea how hard it is. But here's something interesting- Diebold, one of the largest manufacturers of electronic voting equipment, also makes ATMs. ATMs can handle a paycheck deposit, a fund transfer, a withdrawl- and give me a reciept for all of it. Why aren't machines, made by a company that already has this technology, then equipped with a printed verified voting trail? Plus, as you read in the article I linked to there (what, you didn't read it? I'll wait. ... Ok, thanks.) that the company wanted to keep its code private. I guess it makes some sense in a business-protection vein, but not when you have serious malfunctions and election results are in jeapardy. It would also make it awfully easy to hide any hacking that's been done, since the process can't be verified.
If only... if only we could verify that our vote was cast for whom we planned to cast it... if only there was a verified voting paper trail...
Head over to Rush Holt's Voter Confidence HR550 petition and sign it. Then, write your legislator and tell them you support it. Thanks.
(hat tip to DBK at Blanton's and Ashton's for the Diebold link.)
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
In our view, the governor-elect could find no better qualified individual for the Senate seat than Rush Holt. His integrity and reputation are unquestioned. Smart and hard-working, he takes a studious approach to public policy, examining pros and cons of issues with the intensity he brought to the problems of nuclear fusion during his days as assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Like Sen. Corzine, he had the courage to vote against the congressional resolution to authorize President Bush to invade Iraq because he didn't believe the evidence supporting invasion was compelling enough; that decision looks more prescient with each passing day. He favors an "immediate, incremental withdrawal" of U.S. forces from Iraq coupled with a phased turnover of security responsibilities to the Iraqi government and a clear declaration by the administration that the U.S. has no intention of building permanent U.S. military bases in that country - steps that he believes would help the new Iraqi regime gain legitimacy in the eyes of the public. He has attracted national attention as the leading congressional spokesman for mandating that electronic voting devices be equipped to provide a verifiable paper trail. He's a dedicated environmentalist and a strong advocate of the improvements in science and mathematics education that will be essential if the United States is to compete in the global economy.
Rep. Holt is the primary sponsor of HR 550, the mentioned bill to require verified voting with a paper trail. If you haven't signed the petition yet, go now, then write your representatives so they know how important it is to you.
Rep. Holt is not actively campaigning for the seat, as are Rep. Bob Menendez, Rep. Frank Pallone, and Rep. Rob Andrews. I doubt that Gov-elect Corzine is much impressed with active campaigning, anyway; I'm sure he's done his own research into the records and political implications of all possible choices on his list. I feel Rep. Holt would be an excellent choice for the seat and have hope for his chances; apparently, I'm not alone in that. Holt was the winner of the New Jersey for Democracy online poll, more or less (Codey had the numbers and Holt was second, but since Codey removed himself from list...) , and the winner of the BlueJersey.net online poll.
Besides the Congressman's myriad qualifications, important political positions and integrity, aren't you just dying to have one of those cool bumper stickers that would say, "My Senator IS a Rocket Scientist"?
(cross-posted at BlueJersey.net)
Here's my post.
Blanton's and Ashton's
Did I Say That Out Loud?
The One True Tami
Brilliant at Breakfast
Big Brass Blog (Big Brass Alliance's weblog)
Pam's House Blend
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
A Mockingbird's Medley
The Opinion Mill
The Blogging of the President
Comments from Left Field
Poor Impulse Control
Democracy for New Mexico
Media in Trouble
In Search of Utopia
Seeing the Forest
Word of Blog
The Yellow Doggerel Democrat
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Laughing at the Pieces
The Online Magazine Formerly Known As Rob's Blog
New Jersey for Democracy
Avedon Carol Presents: The Sideshow
Brother Kenya's Paradigm
It's Intuitively Obvious
Middle Earth Journal
Come and Take It
Election Fraud Blog
Evil Mommy (no, not me)
More to be added as they come along- Wow!
Write your Congressman! Now! After you sign the petition, of course.
House Resolution 550 that is, called the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act.
As I'm sure you know, many current electronic voting machines leave no paper trail and no means of recounting the votes, resulting in situations like we see here. At the same time, these voting machines have been reputed to be easily hacked and there is no accountability- whatever the machine says, goes. H.R. 550 would address those problems in a way that would make the security issues with these voting machines less relevant because you could have actual recounts- there would be a paper trail! There also would be random, unannounced audits on machines in 2% of the precints in each state.
Right now, this important bill is sitting in committee. Here is a list of House Administration Committee Members (their names are linked to their web contact page, so you can click the name and write an email, but you can only write to the Representative you live in his or her district...you will need your nine-digit zip code, which you can find out here):
Representative Robert A. 'Bob' Brady (Democrat - Pennsylvania, 1st District)
Representative John T. Doolittle (Republican - California, 4th District)
Representative Vernon J. Ehlers (Republican - Michigan, 3rd District)
Representative Zoe Lofgren (Democrat - California, 16th District)
Representative John L. Mica (Republican - Florida, 7th District)
Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald (Democrat - California, 37th District) Ranking Member
Representative Candice S. Miller (Republican - Michigan, 10th District)
Representative Robert William 'Bob' Ney (Republican - Ohio, 18th District) Chair
Representative Thomas M. Reynolds (Republican - New York, 26th District)
Address to write a letter to the committee: 1309 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515-6157. Phone or FAX the Committee: Phone: 202-225-8281 Fax: 202-225-9957
Unfortunately, my Congressman isn't on that list. However, Congressman Rush Holt has estabilshed an online petition here. As always, though, it's important to get your voice heard by the people who've been chosen as your representative- so after I've signed the petition, I'm writing my Congressman this very day, and I urge you to do the same.
Note that at the bottom of the petition page there is a list of co-sponsors of this bill. It has bi-partisan support. This is not a blue vs. red issue, don't make this an us vs. them. This is about accountability, and access, for everyone. This is the right thing to do and we should support it.
(hat tip to DBK at Blanton's and Ashton's for much info in this post.)
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Monday, November 28, 2005
Saturday, November 26, 2005
But during a recent meeting of a state budgeting panel, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union, worried the smoking ban might affect how much money the state earns from that cigarette tax.
He said the ban, if approved, could cut into cigarette sales, especially in indoor public places such as hotels, bars and restaurants.
Yeah, it will. I thought that was part of the point.
Here's some interesting numbers:
Under New Jersey law, the first $150 million raised by the cigarette tax goes
into a health-care subsidy fund used to help pay for medical care for those
lacking health insurance.
The next $390 million goes into health programs,
the next $50 million to the Economic Development Authority to pay debt on school
projects and the next $45 million to anti-smoking initiatives.
So, we're using the tax on sales of a deadly product to fund health care, school construction and anti-smoking programs. That's nice.
Here's what I'd like to see. If they enact an indoor working-place smoking ban, how many people are estimated to quit smoking? What's the savings to Our Fair State for not having these folks in the health-care system? Cross that with the numbers of the loss of their cigarette-tax revenue. I can't find the numbers or I'd do the math for us.
Let's face it though, I don't care about the tax savings/costs. The ban is simply the right thing to do. Smoking is deadly, there is no doubt about it, and anything we do to discourage this behavior is great. Anything we do to lower exposure to second-hand smoke for nonsmokers is great. Someone's right to smoke doesn't trump my right to good health, not when there's an easily available venue to smoke called "outside" (and "your own home.")
Enact the ban. S1926 and A3424, if you should want to write your legislators to voice your support (or even if you want to voice your disagreement. Write your legislators to let them know how you feel.)
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Domestic partnerships which are registered with the state are eligible, as are partnerships certified from other states.
One more step in the right direction! Now, if only Ocean would do the right thing...
(cross-posted on bluejersey.net)
That's the good news.
The bad news is it's not enough. Donations are off as much as 40% this year, and statewide food banks need help. Please don't forget.
Happy Thanksgiving, fans and friends.
Monday, November 21, 2005
I mentioned her illness a while back but haven't been posting too many updates on it- this little thing, an election, took most of my blogging energy. Anyway, she's doing remarkably well. She adjusted to life on three legs quite quickly. Now that all wound issues are cleared up and she's used to it, she's the happiest dog. She's really quick to push for affection which was never really her way before. We now know that she must have been in a lot of pain, and for a while, before this all happened; she's pain-free and joyous these days.
I left her with the caring oncology techs at Red Bank Vetrinary Hospital. I walked out as they were taking her into the back and she kept pulling to go with me. I had to stop and talk to other people there- she's a strikingly beautiful dog, a rescued retired racer, and with only three legs people ask about her all the time. I get in the parking lot a few minutes later and try not to cry. She's going to be fine today, I keep saying to myself. The chemo isn't so bad and she's had no major side effects. Her prognostic factors are all good, and she should remain a happy dog for hopefully at least another year or more. It's just that I can't think about losing her. So I won't (I'll just write about it instead. Yeah, that'll work.)
I've gotta hold it together, especially when the kids go with me this evening to pick her up. It does no one any good to see Mommy crying over a dog who doesn't even seem sick. She's going to be fine today, her joyous self. We must enjoy this as long as possible.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Our last batch was a lager, which needs to do a secondary fermentation in cold temperatures. We decided to do that in the garage, which shouldn't freeze but will remain cold- right? Well, it's been darned warm, up to 75 degrees last week!, can't wait to see how that goes. Now it will be a steam style pilsner.
We're finishing off a few batches from our stock in the basement. It's always great to get another batch in bottle on the shelves.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
This year, it's even more important. We're experiencing "donation fatigue" after two hurricanes, a tsunami and an earthquake all in one year. Our local food banks are feeling the pinch, which means our neighbors are in need.
Now, we all know times are tough. Gas and oil prices shot way up this year, and pay raises were a lot harder to come by. But somehow, my "tough times" rarely include making a decision of whether to feed my kids or pay the electric bill, which means it ain't so tough for me after all. If I can afford high-speed internet to sit here and talk to you nice people, I can certainly afford to buy extra cans of food and some more books for the church and school holiday drives. There are kids whose parents do have to make that decision, and they need a bit of help.
It's also good for my kids to help us do this. I ask them to carry the bags in, put them in the donation boxes, help pick out food in the store. I want them to grow up knowing that helping others is a natural part of life. So, the food banks get cans of soup and I get a nice little parenting moment out of it. We're both winners there.
New Jersey is the best state in the Union. By far. We are one of the richest, most educated groups of people ever assembled. We should also be one of the most generous.
So, I've got a couple of bags of stuff in the car to take to church tomorrow. I'm realizing that I need to buy a couple more. Or, more accurately, that someone else needs me to.
"It's the difference between thinking of oneself as an accumulator of objects and material wealth, and imagining oneself as part of the fabric of problems and solutions." - Tata from Poor Impulse Control.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Under IRV, ballots get re-allocated to alternative choices in such a way that, at the end of the vote count, all votes go to the top two candidates. A voter can rank a minor party candidate No. 1, and a major party candidate No. 2, knowing that his or her ballot will never "spoil" for the major-party candidate.
Our electoral system could be opened up to accommodate "more voices and more choices," as Ralph Nader said, and everyone could benefit, even the major parties, if reforms like instant runoff voting were adopted.
Since the 2000 presidential election that was spoiled by the Florida votes that went to Ralph Nader (Oh- and by a stopped recount, and a flawed electoral college system which is not relevant anymore, and other things, but let's maintain focus here) there has been discussion of runoff voting. Bill AJR99 in the Assembly was proposed by Bill Baroni to create a commission to investigate IRV, but it stuck in committee in 3/04. The time has long since come to at least explore IRV for Our Fair State, and I plan to write to my Assemblyfolk to urge them to study then enact this reform.
I just wish my Assemblymen were still Panter and Morgan, instead of Panter and Beck. They probably would be, too, if we had IRV.
(cross-posted at bluejersey.net)
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Also, in Mercer County, Republican County Clerk Cathy DiCostanzo will be looking for a recount, since she lost her seat by 237 votes out of 94,000.
And I thought election season was over!
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Don't expect that this is over; There will almost certainly be a recount and a court battle. Keep your fingers crossed for Michael Panter.
(cross-posted at bluejersey.net)
Monday, November 14, 2005
In the 12th district Assembly race, Republicans say that Declan O'Scanlon leads
Michael Panter by 69 votes and Democrats say that O'Scanlon's lead is 12
votes. From the GOP campaign: "We want to keep you up to date with
the election results. As you know our race was extremely close!
Jennifer (Beck) won by enough votes to ensure her victory and we are excited to
announce that she will be working on all our behalf in Trenton. We are
still awaiting final results for Declan. As it stands now Declan is ahead
by between 69 to 107 votes (out of over 60,000 votes cast!). We are still
waiting for the provisional ballots to be counted and for final tally
certification, all of which should happen by Tuesday."
Hopefully tomorrow the provisional ballots will be finished and we'll know who both of the Assemblyfolk from the 12th are.
Now, there's talk that State Senator Ellen Karcher from the 12th may just be on the list for potential Senate nomination by Governor Corzine. Could be a total shake-up for the 12th.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
I used to be registered as an independent in Pennsylvania, although I would tend to vote for the more liberal candidate. Then, after the 2000 election (or whatever it was), as the Republican party got more and more conservative, I felt the only way to fight their hard-line fire was by having a strong party to oppose them, so I registered as a Democrat – first in PA, and then once I moved here. And I’m happy to say that the Democrats are finally showing a little of the backbone I’ve always dreamed of them having. I thought Reid’s closed session maneuver was magnificent, and like how the terms of the debate in Washington is changing.
Now, that’s all national stuff. On a local level, I have to confess – I’d vote for anyone, Democrat, Republican, or Satanist Party of America, who would let me make a left turn on Route 1. One of the biggest shocks of living in NJ is that, after a year and a half in Edison, I still feel like I don’t know how to get anywhere. I know a few different ways home from the train station, but my brain just doesn’t connect these routes with my home. I don’t have a visual map of any kind – it’s almost like some form of teleportation – just make a left, a right, a left, keep going, a right, and ping! I’m home.
There’s a ton of traffic out there, and I know that it’s not just a problem in New Jersey. There are more and more cars on the roads everywhere in the Northeast, on roads that in many cases weren’t built for that sort of capacity. Solutions to this problem fall into three different categories:
Civil Engineering: Widen the roads, adjust traffic patterns, that sort of thing. These are the most common solutions. This, of course, means giving more space to our roads – space that is almost certainly being used for something else. New public transportation might also fit into this category, or the next, depending on what’s being proposed.
Technological: Change what it is we drive on the roads. Smaller vehicles need less space. The Segway is an example of this – although since the President and then Gob on Arrested Development have made it a laughingstock, it certainly won’t take off like its inventors intended.
Sociological: This is, in a certain way, the most drastic sort of solution – but it leaves no physical footprint at all. If we were to shift into a 24 hour lifestyle – with almost every job having a second and third shift, with almost every workspace shared by one or two other people – there’d be no more rush hour. Or rather, there’s be three rush hours, each cut down by a third, and traffic would unjam as the roads operate at the proper capacity.
That last idea may be a crackpot solution – it’s certainly a Rube-Goldbergesque way of solving a specific problem, turning every aspect of our lives upside down to stay out of traffic jams (and maybe make a left turn on Route 1). But I can’t help think that we’re almost at a tipping point, and our current car and road system won’t be viable much longer without some changes. Maybe those changes are coming – with higher gas prices, people might drive less, or combine trips when they do. Traffic certainly isn’t Public Enemy Number One – but I hope someone comes up with some options while we still have some room to maneuver.
(Cross-posted at Laughing at the Pieces)
Saturday, November 12, 2005
The first place I’d like to highlight in NJ – and frankly, at the rate I’m going, it may be the only one I get to) is downtown Metuchen. Metcuchen has one of my favorite main streets in the world. A couple of highlights:
Afghan Kebab House #7: This is fantastic Middle Eastern food, served in a cozy atmosphere. There’s a dish that comes with this pistachio rice that’s to die for. I recommend opting for the lamb over the chicken; the do a really nice job with it.
Main Street has a couple of nice ice cream shops, as well as Café Paris, a neat little French bistro. My wife and I honeymooned in Paris, and it’s great to have a local source for crepes. We haven’t really been able to master them at home yet.
There’s a liquor store on the corner that I’ve only stopped in once, but I had a great experience when I did. I bought a saki set for a housewarming gift for some friends. When we were picking it up, the proprietor (an Indian man) asked if I liked saki. I said I hadn’t had it in years, but this set was a gift – and what really drew my eye to that corner of the store was the soju. He told me how much he loves a cold shot of soju after coming home from work on a hot day. He keeps it in his freezer. I’ve still got to go back and buy a bottle from him, because man, that’s good stuff.
But my point is: one Saturday afternoon, an Indian guy and a Caucasian mutt stood around for a minute, talking about Japanese and Korean liquor. That’s America, right there, boys and girls. Cheers.
Probably my favorite place on Metuchen’s Main Street is a bookstore called the Raconteur. Their motto is “Get Lit,” and I think that’s a great example of their attitude. More than simply a bookstore, they’re becoming more and more of a cultural hub in the town. They show old movies in the back of the store (or, in the summer, in the parking lot), and serve complimentary snacks and drinks. They sponsored the first annual Metuchen Film Festival (which I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get a chance to go). They have readings and meetings (a new Sherlockian Society is starting up Nov. 29th) in the store, and on top of that, they’ve got a great selection of new and used books. Give it a look.
(Cross-posted at Laughing at the Pieces)
Congratulations on hopping to the finish line, Skip.
(cross-posted at Laughing at the Pieces)
Friday, November 11, 2005
Keepin' my fingers crossed...
WASHINGTON - Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting intelligent design and warned them Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.
"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."
But remember folks: The (recently voted out) Dover school board argued that intelligent design is NOT creationism! ID does not name God as the creator, and is not a religous teaching! So God really shouldn't be angry at Dover, right?
Thursday, November 10, 2005
The Democrats need someone with a name even more magical to New Jersey voters than Kean, who would draw thousands of normally disaffected and alienated voters out to the polls. An outsider who would shake up a corrupt and contented New Jersey Democratic Party and shake up folks on Capital Hill, as well.
Jon Corzine needs to appoint Bruce Springsteen to the United States Senate.
I don’t think the Dem’s list of candidates is as bleak as Bunch makes it sound, but I can’t say I’d be sorry to see the Boss enter the political arena as more than a commentator. (I would prefer if Senator wasn't an entry-level position, but whaddyagonna do?) I’d just be wary about a backlash if he gets in via an appointment – it might seem like he’s afraid to run on his own merits.
I also worry about hearing “Born to Run” until my eyes bleed.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Let’s see…wealth? Nope. Taste? Get real.
But I’ve got a connection to Sharon that goes back almost 20 years (ulp!), and she has apparently lowered her standards just enough to let me limbo in under the bar anyway.
I’m Rob Staeger, a longtime friend of Sharon’s, and one of the people who was encouraging her to start this blog—and like anything she does, Sharon went at it with both guns blazing. But you know that.
Sharon and I have a lot of things in common, but there’s one crucial difference (for purposes of this blog, anyway). She’s lived in New Jersey all her life. I only moved here from Pennsylvania a few years ago, and the longest I’ve stayed in one spot since then is…(shuffling though my files to find the mortgage paperwork)…a year and five months. I’m here for the long haul, but the long haul has pretty much just begun.
Sharon knows so much more than I do about local and state politics. That comes with putting down roots in an area, and mine are just an inch deep. I’m afraid that any malfeasants will be able to malfease their malfeasances with impunity while Sharon’s away, although they certainly shouldn’t expect to get away with anything in the long run. She’s not going to Mars or anything.
What I hope to do is offer some snapshots of things I like about living here, and maybe some things that need improvement. And I’ll try not to drop the f-bomb as much as I do at Laughing at the Pieces, since I know Sharon uses it more judiciously than she did in college.
To make a long, plotless story short, I’m pleased as Punch* that Sharon invited me to guest-blog. I’ll try to make it worth your while.
*And who knew that such an innocent phrase could have such dark origins? Fun!
Have fun, y'all.
I live in the 12th and have great respect for Panter and Morgan. I'm disappointed that we have to lose Dr. Morgan, but half of the team is better than none.
This brings the Democrats a total gain of two seats in the Assembly. It still looks like the 2nd district could be disputed, though.
(Hat tip to jmelli at bluejersey.net)
Unfortunately, on the same day, the Kansas State Board of Education voted 6-4 to adopt new science standards which are critical of evolution and include "redefinition of science itself so that it is not explicitly limited to natural explanations."
So, if you live in Kansas, the supernatural can now be considered "science!" Call Mulder and Scully!
Acording to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat:
"the vote (is) "the latest in a series of troubling decisions" by the state board.
"If we're going to continue to bring high-tech jobs to Kansas and move our state forward, we need to strengthen science standards, not weaken them," Governor Sebelius said in a statement. "Stronger public schools ought to be the mission of the Board of Education, and it's time they got down to the real business of strengthening Kansas schools."
One step up, one step back.
(tip o' the hat to Rob)
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Atlantic County results available here.
Bergen County results available here.
Burlington County results available here.
Cape May County results available here.
Cumberland County results available here.
Essex County results available here.
Gloucester County results available here.
Hudson County results available here.
Hunterdon County results available here.
Mercer County results available here.
Morris County results available here.
Ocean County results available here.
Union County results available here.
Several counties are advising that they will update by the minute, so check back frequently.
(cross-posted at bluejersey.net)
No, I'm not making that up. I don't think I could have made that up.
I'm in good company, too. The Opinion Mill, Sloppydawg, Xpatriated Texan, Bluejersey.net (where I also am fortunate enough to blog,) and big guys like Daily Kos, Huffington Post, Big Brass Blog- we were all dissed. I nearly choked on my Freedom Fries.
An interesting point about this: the post has been changed. It was also wrong in that some of the blogs in question had posted on the riots, especially Daily Kos. Yesterday Bluejersey.net was listed but today it seems to be gone, and the Kos posts which someone listed in the comments are now integrated. Every time I've checked it, the comments have been changed and mostly deleted. Can't have dissenters now, can we?
There are two main reasons why I haven't blogged about riots in France:
1. Anyone read the name of the blog? It's the Center of NJ Life, not Central France Life. There's a big thing going on today in Our Fair State and I've been a little focused on that. Vive New Jersey! Vive Jon Corzine!
2. I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said. What did he want me to say? Is he angry because I haven't adopted a stance contrary to his own? As Steve Hart at The Opinion Mill said:
As for me, I'm an old school type who likes to read up on something, think about it and make sure I know what I'm talking about before I post something. And since I write a blog and not a newspaper of record, I find that if I don't have anything of value to add, I'll post about something else. This is obviously an alien way of behaving for somebody like Snitch, but I'm always amazed at the ability of winger bloggers to start instantly foaming at the mouth en masse on a selected topic.
In conclusion, I hope the riots in France end soon. Thanks for listening.
Monday, November 07, 2005
The end is in sight. None too soon.
Recently I was asked at a gathering why I got into blogging. I gave the cocktail-party answer: I would talk to my blogger friends and we'd discuss national politics but when I mentioned state or local issues often no one knew beyond the vauge news line item. I started as a way to get friends involved in the local process, started writing more opinions, and off it went. It's a good story and sounds good when said out loud.
There's more to it than that. I got into blogging for this race. The Governor of NJ is a powerful person in a heavily populated state. Only one other governor's race is going on this year so I expected a lot of national attention by the parties and the pundits. I hoped for a lively discussion of the issues, especially in a state loaded with problems- if you live here you know them well. Property taxes, school funding and construction, overdevelopment, corruption, home rule- I could go on and on.
And I have gone on and on. So have a lot of others. We've written and talked about the issues, trying to get people to hear about the solutions we feel are worthwhile and criticizing the ones we dislike.
Now, in the beginning, the race was- let's say- slow. I believe I used the word "snoozer" at least once. Many took this opportunity to discuss the issues. After a while for things began to heat up, as they invariably went negative and the issues went out the window. Sleazy tactics make for good headlines, and we got some big ones in the last month or so. Do these really change minds? I'm sure somewhere there are studies saying how much they do and that's why it happens, but I think it turns more people off to being involved in the political process.
But here we are at the end. We've made up our minds and are ready to vote (and some mailed their ballots already.) Some people are annoyed at the political process and won't vote in protest, and we'll have a low turnout, as always. That makes me sad- people in other countries all over the world are fighting and dying to have a say in their government, and we stay home on voting day because we're annoyed, and besides, there's something good on TV.
I won't. I'll probably vote first thing in the morning, breathe a heavy sigh of relief, then go about my normal day. I'm ready for this to be all done. I've talked and written until my jaw and fingers are sore.
Last night my husband joked with me that I'll need something new to focus on as of Wednesday. He's right. I'll be focusing on the Trenton players and what's going on in the Assembly. We'll have a new governor to watch and, I'm hoping, a new senator to follow. I'm not going anywhere, but I'll have to change that blurb up there on the right that says this blog is about the gubernatorial race.
Because the race will finally be over. The end is in sight.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Saturday, November 05, 2005
I've also had several searches in the recent past on Jeffery Pawlowski. The problem here is, his name is Jeffrey, not Jeffery. I misspelled his name in a post in September; if you search on the misspelling I'm right near the top. Sorry, dyslexic Libertarians, I'm no help to you either. Try his web site.
On a side note, I propose we all start a new habit. If you comment on a post that's more than a week old, please mention which post it is in the comment. I got a comment this morning on a post that was rather old, and it takes a while to hunt it down.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Jon Corzine's ex-wife isn't supporting him.
I'm shocked! Really shocked! Everyone I ever knew who got divorced has remained supportive of one another! Right? Right??
Sarcasm aside, I think Joanne Corzine has every right to say what she wants. I can't imagine (and never anticipate having to find out) what it feels like to end a 33 year marriage. She may have seen all sorts of changes in her former spouse and have bitterness toward him. She's perfectly entitled to her feelings and shouldn't be expected to be silent just because her ex-husband is running for governor.
Is it news? Hardly.
Should it be touted by the Forrester camp? Hell, no.
Is that the last-ditch effort of a losing campaign? Sure looks like it.
Does it matter in the least? Nope.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I count myself among the lucky who have Panter and Morgan as representatives in the Assembly. They are primary sponsors (along with John Rooney) of the Assembly bill to repeal the Fast Track development law, which let developers rush through developments before all issues are studied. They support consolidation of small school districts, a move that has potential for actual property tax relief for some residents of Our Fair State. They have a true interest in reform of campaign financing.
Right now one of their opponents, Jennifer Beck, is fighting off a rather odd accusation of lobbying against Holocaust reparations. as well as accusations that she lobbied against drunk driving laws. Re-reading these accusations, I doubt they will stick and are simply examples of that attention to this district that I mentioned. Mud is being thrown back at Panter and Morgan, with nothing substantial there either. I can’t tell you how much mail advertising I get in a week from both sets of candidates trying to contradict each other.
The thing is, Beck and running mate Declan O’Scanlon may have had a chance if they weren’t running against Panter and Morgan. The Times calls Beck and O’Scanlon “attractive and knowledgeable challengers,” and they have the endorsement of the Asbury Park Press. Panter and Morgan are simply examples of what we want in our Assembly, and if we could get more like them, we’d see some changes in Our Fair State.
Undoubtedly, the Times is backing the right set of candidates.
(cross-posted at bluejersey.net)
Paying to the crowd?
As Doug Forrester accepted the endorsement of a black minister on a Newark street corner yesterday, more than 100 local residents were on hand to hold up campaign signs and cheer him on.
According to more than half a dozen of them, they had been promised $20 apiece for their enthusiasm.
"I don't know a whole lot about who is running, but they are offering $20 and I came out to work for whoever needs help," said Sheree Baker, 50, of Newark.
Shakirah Jones, 22, also said she was promised $20 "to scream out his name, I guess."
And scream they did as Pastor Thomas Reddick praised Forrester in front of his storefront Renaissance Church of Newark. But after Forrester left on his campaign bus, many in the crowd grew angry as word spread that in order to collect they would also have to show up outside last night's radio debate at the WBGO. "We got duped!" yelled one man who declined to give his name.
One woman who asked her name not be used said, "they told us we were going to come down here for an hour and we would get paid, period. I have a family to get home to." She said she was one of dozens of people who were driven on two buses from Forrester's local campaign office in Vailsburg to the event. She said she was stranded without a ride home. Her account was echoed by three others.
Sherry Sylvester, Forrester's campaign spokeswoman, said that "about 40" local residents in Newark were paid $20 yesterday for hanging up signs, knocking on doors and putting literature in mailboxes. She said they attended the rally voluntarily.
That was last Thursday. Nothing has surfaced, of course. It's a last ditch effort to slam a decent, leading candidate. The blog in question is being called on it.
Rumormongering is the lowest form of negative campaigning. With negative ads, both print and broadcast, some reference is put into it. It can be substantial or really, really vauge and spun like crazy, but there has to be some event or statement for referral or it's libel and legal action is possible. Rumors, however, can be started by just about anyone about just about anything. Substance is unnecessary, and if no element is demonstrable, the rumor morphs into a cover-up!
A whisper campaign is deplorable in such an important race. If there is something big to show, out with it. If you think there's something to show, research it and get back to us. But to start a negative rumor this late in the campaign is a desperate attempt to change a losing outcome, and I believe the voters in Our Fair State are smarter than this.
(cross-posted at Bluejersey.net)
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
The girl had on cropped short jeans, very tight, low-rise hip huggers. She wore a short shirt so her belly would show, and one of these currently popular little sweater things which only covers the top half of the back. She was completely in the current style; it looked like she'd bought clothes two sizes two small and then shrunk them in the dryer.
The young man was also dressed entirely in the latest fashions. He had on an extremely oversized hoodie sweatshirt that hung to his knees, and baggy XXL cargo pants which hung off him and pooled at the ankles. A family of four could have made clothes out of the fabric in his outfit and still had leftovers.
There is no justice in fashion.