Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy New Year from the Center of NJ

New Year's Eve is my holiday.

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

Screamin' Carrot

BlueJersey is holding the Screaming Carrot award, for the Best NJ blog of 2005. To quote:
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

Meme of Sevens

The famed author Jeri Smith-Ready set me at this task over a week ago and I just haven't gotten to it until now. (She has decided the term "meme" probably comes from vanity- Me! Me! She just may be right.) I was also tagged for the Meme of Fours by Tata at Poor Impulse Control, and this has many duplicates, therefore it will have to do. Miss Jeri tagged me before Miss Tata, so I feel obligated to try for seven.

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
Forbidden City
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
Eat okra
Tolerate the Parkway

7 Things that attract me to people:
Sense of humor
Positive outlook
Easy smile
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 Godfather
The Blues Brothers
Die Hard
The Two Towers
The Matrix (but not the other two)
Pulp Fiction

7 People I want to join in (no pressure, and feel free to change/add your own questions):
*Rob and/or Brenda
And YOU!
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

Carnival of NJ Bloggers 32

Jorge at Media in Trouble has posted this week's Carnival. Enjoy!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Holidays

Just like most folks, I will be on a light or nonexistent blogging schedule for the next three or four days. So, I will take this opportunity to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a Festive Kwanza.

Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love, in our families and in our world. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

No more EZ Pass discount

As if the NYC strike isn't bad enough news for northern NJ commuters, the Turnpike is dropping its rush hour and weekend discounts for EZ Pass as of January 1. It will generate an extra $17 million in toll revenue. This was approved a year ago but most commuters seem unaware of it- and the Turnpike Authority has spent no time publicizing it, either. (The Parkway used to have a discount but they dropped it in 2002.)

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

Governor's Call to Action!

That really is the title of this page, the page where we can vote for what will be the next slogan for Our Fair State. The choices are:

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

"Breathtaking inanity"

So said Judge John E. Jones, describing the Dover, PA policy of including a disclaimer about Intelligent Design in their science curriculum. His ruling shot down the policy; really, not just shot down, but attacked, deflated, destroyed the argument. His decision included some lovely comments, quoted from the AP article:

"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

Remiss in my blogswarming

I've been a little busy lately (there's a series of holidays coming up, don't know if you heard) so I've not been blogging as much as I'd like about the HR 550 petition and push. So, here's some catching up:

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!

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Carnival of NJ Bloggers 31

The All-Holiday edition of the Carnival of NJ Bloggers is up over at The Rix Mix, complete with a poinsettia border for Tillie and blinking lights. Have fun!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Did you hear the news today?

I heard a great report on the radio this morning. It was on WHYY's Morning Edition. Eugene Sohn (spelling??) had a report that state Republican allegations of there being more than 4,000 people who voted twice in New Jersey's elections in 2004 were based on faulty research. NJ Republican chairman Tom Wilson defended the allegations, but the report this morning stated that the allegations were found to have been based on faulty research- specifically, that they did not even look at middle names or initials. How ridiculous and irresponsible is that?

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!

Blog Maintainance

I've added a few blogs to the lists, removed a few inactive ones (anyone know where Coffeegrounds went?) and corrected a few links. If I've missed your blog and it should be added, or if I've got a link wrong and you noticed, send me an email: x2samgr2 AT Thanks!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Goodbye, Ohio

Ohio has just passed through its House of Representatives HB3, which is the scariest voting bill I've heard about yet. Their Senate is expected to pass it soon. From AlterNet:

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)

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Let the sun shine in

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission is starting a study about installing the largest solar energy farm in the United States over 30 acres, using landfill area and warehouse roofs.

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 for the Star-Ledger article)

Monday, December 12, 2005


Oh, here's the short version of the hullabaloo over the carnival.


(hat tip to Sluggo)

Carnival of NJ Bloggers 30

After much hullabaloo, there's a (regular) carnival over at Mamacita this week. Have fun!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Times slams Corzine's choice

Today at 2PM, Gov.-Elect Jon Corzine is purported to be naming Rep. Robert Menendez to fill the vacant Senate seat. In this morning's Times of Trenton (which had come out in support of Rep. Rush Holt for the seat,) the editorial "Corzine plays it safe" strongly disagrees with this choice:

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.
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.
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.

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.
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.
And the Republicans jump for joy...

(cross-posted on

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Cable Choice

Anyone else getting pummelled by these folks? Mailings, calls, you name it. They really want my attention. From the mailings:

Vote Now!
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

Now, exactly WHOM did you want for governor?

The North Bergen Reporter had an interesting report this weekend about the write-in votes recieved in the recent election in Hudson County. No surprise, Acting Gov. Codey got 160 votes across the county; but others also got write-in votes, such as Bret Schundler,Bruce Springsteen, Terrell Owens, Joe Piscopo, Ralph Nader, and HR 550.

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!

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Monday, December 05, 2005

The GAO report on electronic voting machines

Here's the GAO report on electronic voting machines. From the Results in Brief section:

"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.)
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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Friday, December 02, 2005

I get more searches

Fun ones showing up recently:

"how to get money for my car in ocean county, nj": Um, good luck with that.

"" 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

Donations for soldiers

Assemblyman Bill Baroni is collecting donations for soldiers heading overseas. Specifically, toiletries, such as:

toothpaste & toothbrushes
hand wipes
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!

Let's talk about the machines.

Since the electronic voting machines became popular, I've wondered why there's no paper trail. I mean, I get a reciept when I go to the ATM, right? How hard is it to do something like that with voting machines?

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.)