Friday, June 30, 2006
So I'm thinking about this worthy idea... what would be a good selection for those who serve? I wouldn't want to make people too homesick or depressed (or send them stuff that's "topical", since they've learned more about the topics than any musician), but I'm also reluctant to send stuff that's too mindlessly party-hearty to folks who can't really cut loose. So I guess I'm looking for the middle ground between American Idiot and Saturday Night Fever.
I'm leaning toward Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye. What would you send to provide a little moral support?
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Assessing threat # 1 -- Cockroaches:
Predicted outcome: a lot of crushed decoys.
Assessing threat # 2 -- Hooligans:
Predicted outcome: a revolution in the way we riot at soccer games. And Short Circuit 3 finally gets made; think Air Bud, but with a soccer-playing robot.
Assessing threat # 3 -- Human needs
The Sunday Times article you reach upon clicking "Read whole story" is thought-provoking, but The Huffington Post knows a dynamite pull-quote when they see one...)
Predicted outcome (regarding the Huffington Post's angle on the story):
Professions in decline -- sex workers.
Professions on the rise -- maintaining sex machines.
Winners -- attractive celebrities who sell their likeness rights, whoever's holding James Brown's copyrights.
Losers -- product testers.
To be determined -- screenwriters who are no longer able to use robots as villains... although the writers will finally have girlfriends.
Anyway, the remains of the band have reunited after 27 years (!), including lead singer David Johansen (although he'll always be Buster Poindexter to many of us). They've got a new album coming out in July called One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This.
The first single is a contribution to the ongoing intelligent design debate, the aptly named "Dance Like a Monkey." Regardless of your views, it is statistically likely that hearing it will in fact cause you to dance like a monkey... and play it again in the name of further research.
Of course, if you're still debating the urgency of this issue, you may want to check out today's L.A. Times article, which suggests one of the main worries outlined in the movie may be getting worse even more quickly than expected. http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/la-sci-greenland25jun25,1,1483560.story
Or if you're thinking strictly in material terms -- Let the free market handle it! It takes care of everything else! -- you may be interested in the analysis produced by the tree-hugging radicals at Lloyd's of London. http://www.lloyds.com/News_Centre/360_risk_project/360_risk_project.htm
I believe in hearing out the devil's advocate, so I tried to find arguments against the ideas outlined in the film and these stories; about the closest thing I could find is this piece outlining the case made by Michael Crichton in his latest who's-watching-the-scientists novel, State of Fear. (While I haven't read the novel, I've read several other Crichtons; based on this, I may have to go back to his earlier works with even bigger grains of salt.) http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=74
If you're aware of a real case to be made against global warming, I invite you to share the info with all of us here. (And no, animated Al Gore shouting "Manbearpig!" doesn't count.)
Thursday, June 22, 2006
In a suburban county where one out of six residents is Hispanic, the library board has axed money budgeted to buy more "adult Spanish fiction" _ books like the latest John Grisham thriller in Spanish or Marcela Serrano novel in its original language.
Spending the $3,000 that had been earmarked for those Spanish reading materials next year would have only led to readers of other foreign languages to request the same treatment, the board's chairman argued. However, one board member says the move came after some residents objected to using taxpayers' dollars for patrons who might be illegal immigrants.
The library board in the metro Atlanta county is also considering making English the default language in the self check-out screens, eliminating a prompt that now asks to choose between English and Spanish. Like the budget cut, the initiative for such a move seems to have come from some patrons.
Earlier this year, a couple of months after the library started buying novels in Spanish, the board received an e-mail from a woman identifying herself as a Gwinnett County resident who said she didn't want any more purchases "of pleasure reading materials in any language other than English."
The local Mercer County Library branch not only has a large Spanish section for fiction and non-fiction, youth and adult, it has an English as a Second Language and a Spanish language class. The county library system has a large international language collection, including Chinese and Indian periodicals. Not only is this wonderful for persons who come here speaking another lauguage, it's great for those trying to learn a foreign language! There are a bundle of DVDs in other languages, too, and I've seen a large quantity of materials to check out for persons who want to learn English.
If a few folks complained about there being monies spent on foreign-language materials, I haven't heard of it. I sure doubt the County would let it happen.
We embrace our diversity here in the Center of NJ. I love where I live.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
And here we all are, living in the Center of NJ.
The Great American Melting Pot. I love where I live.
Also driving their angst is the re-appearance of the "T" word. It's been dusted off, by people who should know better, to be used against anyone who dares vote for a tax increase, even if it means correcting years of bad fiscal policy and rescuing state government from draconian cuts in services. The truth of the matter is that New Jersey got to this crisis in a bipartisan way. Governors from both parties have tapped pension funds as a way to balance budgets or have increased the state's bond debt rather than pay as they go for programs deemed too important to cut. And legislators, for their part, have been more than accommodating to the powerful public workers' unions, pumping up retirement benefits without contributing enough to the pension fund to pay for the largess later on.
In a discussion about whether or not to pare down state workers' benefits, it's often brought up that private sector workers don't get anything near the benefits of private sector employees. State workers sometimes comment that the ideal would be to raise private sector benefits, not lower state workers'.
They're right. However, in an ideal situation, I would've had a pony when I was growing up. Of course I didn't, because I lived in a family on a budget. New Jersey is a family on a budget- or has to begin living like one. We can no longer afford extrordinary benefit packages like the state workers have been recieving for years.
Corzine did say something very accurate at the Trenton union rally; he said that the budget negotiations were not the place to re-negotiate union contracts. We may not even be able to rework them, for established workers anyway. No matter what, we do need to revisit this issue in the future. We simply can't afford all these ponies.
So, I've written my legislators to tell them my opinon on the budget. I've yet to hear back from any of them as to what they plan to do or vote for in these budget negotiations (which bothers me, since they usually respond rather quickly, but I digress.) Everyone in Trenton is doing what they feel like they have to do- some arguing to look good for reelection, some arguing based on polls, some fighting for the most responsible budget proposed in years.
Maybe Corzine will hold tough and the government will shut down. Maybe the Dems in the legislature will stand up for what needs to be done and we'll get a new budget short on one-time gimmicks and long on responsible cuts and revenue increasers. Maybe free ponies will come from the sky.
More likely, the budget proposal will get hacked to bits by politicians who focus more on polls and re-election than the long term financial health of Our Fair State.
I've said it before and I'll say it again- write your legislators and tell them how you feel, what's important to you in this process and ask them to tell you what they will do about it. They've only got ten more days of budget fighting.
(Cross-posted at bluejersey.net)
Anything to avoid answering questions.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
I can't say for sure what I'll be contributing, but I can say regular readers can expect the following:
1) Not much politics. It's not that I have no opinions to offer, but I rarely follow issues as closely as Sharon does, and would not have the eye for the telling detail that she often brings to bear. The proprietor's been giving you fine dining, so I'm don't want to degrade her kitchen by offering substandard fare. (Of course, in the likely event that Bush, Rove, Coulter, etc. do/say something asinine, I will likely chime in. Easy targets, I can hit.)
2) Nothing NJ-specific. I'm posting from Indianapolis. Besides, you've seen The Sopranos.
3) Nothing about Sharon's home life. If you need a fix, watch Animal Planet. Or get yourself a wonderful husband and ridiculously adorable children.
One thing I can offer -- a call-back to a topic I helped introduce to this site. The aptly named Band Madness (http://bandmadness.net) is about to wrap up the tournament that began months ago, with 512 artists whittled down to a remaining 8 "greatest of all time". Many of you will be surprised to learn that voters on this site have managed to push Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode and The Cure into this rarefied territory. (Fine artists in their own right, perhaps... but... wow.) Of course, if you've ever seen the Internet, you will not be surprised at what happened along the way. As the site's author tells it:
In the past week, our once enjoyable little site has mutated into an orgy of dick-comparing, homophobic slander, people arguing a band’s importance by saying the band’s name with exclamation points or by a list of their songs, and just generally uninteresting, mean-spirited idiocy.
So organized niche voters? Check. Mean-spirited idiocy? Check. It seems like if we substitute "9/11" for "the band's name" in the above quote, we might start to develop a metaphor for something.
(This is why I didn't claim "NO politics.")
Monday, June 19, 2006
Welcome Chris A. to the CoNJ Summer Staff.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
HIT: Republican U.S.Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr's achievement in actually attending his own fund-raising event Tuesday whiel the guest speaker, First Lady Laura Bush, was present. In fact, Kean was early by a couple of hours. In March, the candidate somehow was unable to get to a Newark fund-raiser in time to greet and be photographed with Vice President Dick Cheney, a figure far less popular with New Jersey voters than Mrs. Bush.
That's the way, Junior! Lower expectations and keep your name in the press by not managing to fail at the most basic duties. (Hey, it worked for W in 2000...)
Thursday, June 15, 2006
North Hunterdon Regional High School has been under fire lately for the handling of some kids at the prom who were apparently drinking:
Administrators were following school district policy when they pulled the students out of last Friday's dance and required them to go to a hospital for blood tests, Hughes said. School board policy does not provide for use of an on-site Breathalyzer or oral swab tests, he said.
Kids? Drinking at a prom? Unheard of! No wonder parents are upset! That would NEVER happen, right? Well, MY kid wouldn't do it, anyway...
So the parents of some of the kids raised a stink, and demanded an apology because their kids of course were completely innocent. Ya-huh. They want a public apology, preferably at the upcoming graduation:
Yay! Principal Michael Hughes!
They may be waiting a while.
"I'll take the heat," Principal Michael Hughes said yesterday. "If it means everyone made it home safely? I'll take the heat."
As well they should not. Look, kids do stupid things. Some of these kids were checked out negative for alcohol, some were positive and were suspended. So, hopefully the ones who were clean learned a lesson- stay away from jerks who are doing things they aren't supposed to do or you may get caught up in their mess. But the parents who are demanding an apology and reimbursement for all prom expenses? Dream on. You aren't owed anything. Be glad your kid didn't get a ride home from one who was drinking, and sleep well knowing that tonight.
"I think (the incident) was way blown out of proportion," (Asst. Superintendent Frank) Helies said yesterday, adding the emotional comments directed at the school board Tuesday night were "normal parent complaining."
And while the board is still investigating the incident, the district "probably just won't have a response," Helies said.
Ahh, but here's where the professional muckrakers step in. NJ101.whine has decided to aggrivate the situation to get attention, the way they do with everything else:
So, what these kids will be shown here is a gimme-gimme attitude; when things don't exactly go your way, you should react by demanding things, disrespecting people and pushing for attention. Remember, kids learn from everything they see, not just what you teach them.
Feeding the controversy, 101.5 FM radio personalities "The Jersey Guys" are staging a second prom -- all-expenses paid -- for the North Hunterdon senior class, co-host Craig Carton said.
Students proven to have consumed alcohol on the night of the original prom will not be allowed, he said.
"We obviously take underage drinking very seriously ... but we're not going to pass judgment on any of the kids there," Carton said, adding the dance will be "100 percent alcohol free," with security officers searching the students and sniffing their breath as they enter the event. "Prom 2" will take place Friday, June 23 at the Nash Dance Center in Randolph Township in Morris County.
Listeners of the afternoon show have volunteered to provide a variety of services, including a disc jockey, photographer and free beauty salon appointments, Carton said. Donations are expected to cover 90 percent of the costs, he said, but he declined to provide an estimated total bill.
Carton and co-host Ray Rossi -- who have made headlines in recent years for on-air attacks against former Gov. Richard Codey and Edison Mayor Jun Choi -- are also encouraging North Hunterdon students to protest their classmates' treatment by standing in unison at graduation and turning their backs when Hughes speaks.
But I never discontinued BlogPatrol.
I just checked BlogPatrol out- they updated their interface, quick response time, full information, and they have the same stats as SiteMeter- it looks like they haven't gone down in days. Once I finally bail on them, they turn it all around.
So I'll leave 'em both out there. Do you have any preference?
The non-headline "rest of the numbers" are always the most interesting, to me anyway.
50% of responders said they haven't heard enough about Menendez to have an opinion about him, where 56% haven't heard enough about Kean Jr. Of those who did have a definite opinion on how to vote in the election, 40% said they might change their minds before the election. Also, even though Junior is trailing Menendez, his "honest and trustworthy" poll numbers are at 42%, whereas Menendez is riding at 38%. This far away, the election is a lot closer then the Dems would want it to be, or than those headline numbers display.
Some of the numbers were well in Menendez's favor, however. 49% of us agree with Sen. Menendez when he says Junior is a "George Bush Republican who would support the Bush administration policies."- and that hurts him, with 50% of responders who agreed saying it makes them less likely to vote for Junior. However, when Junior calls Menendez "a political party boss who is unethical," only 23% of us agree.
Oh, and 68% of us disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq. The only thing surprising about this number is that it isn't higher.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Don't go stock up just yet, however:
Got our Summer Wheat beer out of primary fermenter last night- it's still bubblin' after almost 3 weeks on the yeast, which is too damn long. Hope to brew more this weekend and bottle this stuff soon- we need it for summer, after all.
He noted an ingredient in tomatoes, lycopene, has previously been linked to prostate cancer prevention. "It's every man's dream to hear that beer and pizza can prevent cancer," he said. "However, the 17 beers and four large pizzas needed to get enough xanthohumol and lycopene to help prevent prostate cancer is unfortunately not advised."
Atkins noted that drinking 17 beers a day can lead to alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver, and overdoing it on pizza can lead to obesity and other health problems.
"Food, no matter how helpful it may be, is not a full preventive for prostate cancer," he said.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Panter to Coulter: "None of them has a book for sale. YOU have a book for sale." After Coulter went off the deep end, baselessly insisting several times that Panter wanted to burn her book, Panter stated "Your hyperbole is exciting, but no one is calling to burn your book." When they tried to throw partisanship at him, he reminded them that Republican Rep. Chris Smith had brought the 9/11 widows to Washington.
They called him a no-name politician from Jersey, and Hannity even pulled the insulting trick of calling him "Mr. Politician" instead of using his real name. Well, some of us here in Jersey sure know his name, and after watching him stick up for these women while in the lion's den of wickedly slanted "journalism," I'm glad that I do.
Colmes did what he does best- kept his mouth shut 95% of the time, then made an inappropriate comment at the end about burning Coulter's book to keep warm next winter. Lovely.
UPDATE 2PM TUE. JUNE 13TH: Here's the video. Yes, you have to go to Fox News to get it- maybe you should wait until you're about to take a shower anyway.
Here's the PoliticsNJ poll as to who won the debate. As of right now, Panter's got it. Not that we're biased here in Jersey...
It's a rare thing that I'll watch Fox News- this is worth it. Unfortunately, Fox isn't know for giving dissenters a lot of screen time, but I expect Gusciora is aware of that.
They sent only two preprinted postcards; I guess they see no point in my lobbying my assemblywoman, Jennifer Beck, a Republican.
I've written extensively on this subject, especially when Corzine introduced the budget. I support it. There are cuts in it, regardless of what stupid, sensationalist radio announcers and extreme-partisan bloggers will tell you, and the tax increases are reasonable at this time- plus there is a significant reduction in gimmicky one-shot revenue tricks. We got a thumbs-up on it from the Wall Street types- folks who know about finance, fans and friends, way more than you or I- who are also the folks who set our bond rating, which determines how much we pay in interest on our massive state debt. No, I'm not happy about paying an extra percent on sales tax, but increasing our debt or even deeper cuts to services will make this a worse state to live in, and that's unacceptable to me. No one is happy about every provision in this budget, but overall it makes sense, and I support it as the most fiscally responsible thing to do at this time.
This union mailing made me realize I'd never asked my legislators what they think, nor have I written them to tell them what I think. D'oh!
I'm not sending the postcards. I sent an email, which should get responses from them rather quickly. I'll let you know what they say.
Oh, if you haven't written your legislators about the budget, go do it now. Tell them what you think, and be specific- if there's a provision you specifically appreciate or dislike, tell them.
Make Your Voice Heard.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Friday, June 09, 2006
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Let that sink in a moment. This heartless horror of a human being has the damned nerve to pass judgment like that.
From Senator Frank Lautenberg:
"Ms. Coulter's shameless attack on the victims of the worst act of terrorism in American history can only engender disgust," Lautenberg said in a statement.
"Her bookselling antics and accompanying vulgarity deserve our deepest contempt.
"Her foul remarks trivialize the deaths of every single person who died that terrible day, including .. .those brave police officers and firefighters who ran into those burning buildings."
What a sleezeball she is. This is probably the lowest she's sunk, so far anyway.
(cross-posted at Blanton's and Ashton's.)
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
So far, four Independent candidates have filed to run for the United States Senate: Socialist Party candidate Gregory Pason, who is making his third Senate bid; Edward Forchion, aka the Weedman, is running under the "Legalize Marijuana" slogan, except in Burlington County, where his slogan is "Judicial Christianization Victim"; J.M. Carter, who ran in 2000, using the "In God We Trust" slogan; and Angela Lariscy, the Socialist Workers Party candidate.
Glad to know Weedman hasn't given up. He is nothing if not persistent. I'd love to hear the platform for "Judicial Christianization Victim," but it probably consists of:
1. Legalize Marijuana
2. Legalize Marijuana
3. Legalize - wait, do you have any chips? Or maybe Oreos?
Only eighteen people have voted in my district so far today. If that holds true throughout the state, we're in for record low turnout- and that's saying something, my friends.
You can even declare your party affiliation right at the polling place, if you never got around to doing that before. Polls are open until 8 PM.
"When judges insist on imposing their arbitrary will on the people, the only alternative left to the people is an amendment to the Constitution, the only law a court cannot overturn."
ARBITRARY WILL?? ARBITRARY??? Could we possibly give our federal judges a little credit, that maybe they are interpreting the written laws? That's kinda their job. They're sure as hell better at it than Bush is, who doesn't seem to have much respect for laws, anyway. Many of those judges were even appointed by Republicans.
It's just classic Republican smoke and mirrors- deflect attention away from the issues at which they're failing, like the monsterous and ballooning national debt, the disasterous war, Haditha, illegal wiretapping, a complete lack of coherent energy policy, the Medicare prescription plan fiasco, human rights abuses in Guantanamo, etc. etc. etc. From Harry Ried: "This is another one of the President's efforts to frighten, to distort, distract and confuse America. It is this administration's way of avoiding the real problems American Citizens are confronted with each and every day."
I don't know why I gasped out loud like that. I shouldn't be shocked by anything this administration says at this point, even by labeling judges who disagree with him as "activists" and "arbitrary." I guess I was more angry about the attempt to shift focus again toward something where Bush can pander to the religious right, and about one more effort, as Sen. Russ Feingold called it, to write discrimination into our constitution.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Friday, June 02, 2006
Here in the Center of NJ, it's playing in Montgomery, Princeton Garden Theatre, and at Clearview's Red Bank Theatre. I was hoping to go see it tonight, but for lack of a babysitter I cannot. We will see it soon.
Global warming is real.
It is caused by human activity.
Mankind and its governments must begin immediate action to halt and reverse it.
If we do nothing, in about 10 years the planet may reach a "tipping point" and begin a slide toward destruction of our civilization and most of the other species on this planet.
After that point is reached, it would be too late for any action.
In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.
Oh, and go solar. But you knew I'd say that, didn't you?
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Governor Corzine flew to Ohio to have his annual physical earlier this week. You'd think there should be someone closer who would've accepted his insurance.
The primary elections are next Tuesday, as you probably well know. If you haven't declared a party, you may declare at the polls. New Jersey has a high number of undeclared voters, which is more a function of the fact that you can't declare easily when you register than that we're an undecided bunch. Since next year our presidential primary matters, you may want to get named to a party.
I attended the local Memorial Day celebration, which was a great success, with both Assemblyman Michael Panter and Senator Ellen Karcher attending. Also in the crowd were canvasers for Carol Gay, handing out flyers to get involved in her campaign for the 4th district Congressional seat. I guess we're considered mostly Dems here in the Center of NJ; the Republican Assemblyperson, Jennifer Beck, didn't attend, nor did I see anyone campaigning for Chris Smith. (Not that Chris Smith ever bothers to campaign much, not does that hurt him come election time.)