Have you started thinking about preparing your 2004 income tax return yet?
What a continual nuisance that is. It's time for an improvement. My first choice is the flat tax, but I'll take anything over what we have now so long as it reduces the workload and doesn't raise taxes.
There's a nice grid which helps compare the sales tax, the flat tax, and the current income tax over at Federalist Patriot. Maybe it will happen this time.
From us ("the wishor") to you ("hereinafter called the wishee").
Please accept without obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all...
and a financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2005, but with due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures or sects whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "AMERICA" in the western hemisphere), and having regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or dietary preference of the wishee.
By accepting this greeting you are bound by these terms that-
This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal.
This greeting is freely transferable provided that no alteration shall be made to the original greeting and that the proprietary rights of the wishor are acknowledged.
This greeting implies no promise by the wishor to actually implement any of the wishes.
This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and/or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wishor.
This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be expected within the usual application of good tidings, for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first.
The wishor warrants this greeting only for the limited replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wishor
Any references in this greeting to "the Lord", "Father Christmas", "Our Savior", or any other festive figures, whether actual or fictitious, dead or alive, shall not imply any endorsement by or from them in respect of this greeting, and all proprietary rights in any referenced third party names and images are hereby acknowledged.
[Source: Wilkinson's Humor.]
The photo was taken a little before 7:00 a.m. today. And, this may be lowest temperature we get for a few days as the cold front is moving Eastward.
In the category of "amazing weather" we learn that the South Texas city of Victoria received nearly a foot of snow last night. Source: team4news.com in Harlingen:
The last time the area saw a measurable amount of snow was 1973, when one-tenth of an inch fell. That's the same amount that fell on Christmas 1918, the National Weather Service said.
Farther south, the Rio Grande Valley also saw snow flurries and sleet on Friday, but no accumulation was expected.
Truly a white Christmas for Victoria. I'm sure that by midday there will be snow men and women all over the town. Hopefully, some pictures will make it into the blogosphere.
Those of us who think political correctness has run amuck can take into consideration one more bit of evidence from our Northern neighbor, Canada .
It seems that boss of a store in Sydney, Nova Scotia, referred to employees as "kemosabe," the word Tonto used when addressing the Lone Ranger. One of the employees thought this was a racial slur which poisoned her work environment. A human rights board ruled against her, and the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal upheld the ruling. And, now the Supreme Court of Canada has been asked to rule on the matter.
Hopefully, reason will prevail.
A recent article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram told of the plight of the Maverick Players, a local theater group which puts on their performances in the theater located in Midland Mall which used to be a movie theater.
According to the article, the group has been using the theater for three years, but now they have to move. The article quotes a Maverick Player as saying "They just leased that place to somebody who played [sic] them real money for it. And it's an outfit that shows movies and feeds you pizza and beer at the same time."
Well, that's an intriguing concept! Beer at the movies. It's like the old drive-in movie days, only indoors. Actually, that idea has been around a while. I recall walking into the The Bijou at Crossroads in San Antonio and seeing the wine bottles on the wall back behind the snack bar. (Would you like a little Cabernet Sauvignon with your Raisinets?)
Each of the seats in the theater had little wooden tables in front of them so that a patron could eat pizza and enjoy a libation while watching the movie. A great idea. The only draw back was the lack of a pause button for those trips to the john.
But, back to the story at hand. The Midland Reporter-Telegram got it wrong. A brief phone call to the mall manager reveals that it ain't gonna happen. There was a proposal on the table, but no deal was made. (Sleepless in Midland: fact checking so you don't have to!)
The Maverick Players have been renting the space on a month-to-month basis for the whole time they have been there. The possibility of a 30 day notice has and will hang over their heads as long as they elect to stay as a temporary tenant.
So, if the Maverick Players decide to stay there then their fans can continue to enjoy their performances at the mall theater. And, for anyone wanting to experience a cafe type theater, well then it's off to San Antonio.
P.S. Eric over at Fire Ant Gazette is speculating that Hollywood-10 may be adding more screens. If so, maybe they'll begin showing some of those good movies that don't get the huge marketing budgets. (More on that in the future.)
Attention Midlanders: beginning December 23, 2004, and continuing through January 2, 2005, Midland Police Department traffic officers will be concentrating on Loop 250, Midkiff, Midland Dr., Wadley, Andrews Highway, Garfield, Florida, Big Spring streets and major intersections.
They will be enforcing speed limits, seat belt laws, red lights, and anything else that gets their attention.
Buckle up and watch that speedometer. And Merry Christmas.
This morning I was listening to Only a Game on NPR, and Bill Littlefield's guest author was Muhammad Ali's daughter Hana Yasmeen Ali who, with help from the dad, has written a book about her father. The book is titled The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey.
She spoke very fast. It had the rhythm of a Muhammad Ali pounding away on a punching bag. But she told a touching story.
It seem that she and her dad were driving along, and they picked up a hitchhiker. He got in the back seat, and Muhammad turned to talk with him. (We have to assume this occurred at a time when Mr. Ali still had some of his verbal skills.) The hitchhiker saw who it was and just couldn't believe he had gotten a ride with the former heavy weight champion. The hitchhiker gave them some bibles, and Ali wanted to pay the man for them. He handed the hitchhiker some money, but the hitchhiker wouldn't take it. That went on for a while, and finally Ali just tossed the money at the guy and said he had to take it.
The hitchhiker refused again, and Muhammad pleaded with the guy that he had to take the money otherwise "I might not get into heaven." The hitchhiker said "if I take it, then I might not get into heaven!"
So, according to the story, the hitchhiker didn't take the money. It was a cute story, and it was touching to hear the daughter tell it even though her rapid fire delivery was a little distracting.
Speaking of boxers, there's a docu/movie out about George Foreman which shows his softer side, and it's well worth watching. (Sorry, I don't remember the title.) When I saw it almost made me want to order a George Foreman grill - the new ones drain the fat!
It's really touching to see those old battering rams turn into such sweet guys in their old age. Who knows, maybe there's even hope for Mike Tyson!
Gary Webb, formerly of the San Jose Mercury News, became famous a few years ago for his investigative reporting in 1997 of the supposed introduction by the CIA of cocaine into the African American inner city areas of Los Angeles.
I had on my list of things to blog about a query beseeching some of those former CIA employees - they seem to be everywhere now - to come forward and tell the story about that. My blog entry would have been tongue in cheek, because Gary Webb's story was false. And, it had already been debunked. The only problem was that his story raised havoc in the African American community in L.A. And, once a juicy conspiracy is alleged, it just hangs around like the smell of a sewer leak even after it's fixed. To prove my point, check out this glowing eulogy from David Corn of Nation magazine.
I suspect that there are many other people who still blame the CIA for the cocaine problem in L.A.
Anyway, the whole story sounded like one of those Hollywood movies from the 70s that portrayed the CIA as some sort of know-all, see-all, agency out to kill patriotic and handsome Robert Redford types. Many of us couldn't believe that a government bureaucracy could be that efficient.
So, with an ending suitable for at least a "B" grade movie, Gary Webb was found dead today in what they are saying was a self inflicted gunshot wound. (Conspiracy theorists, adjust your aluminum foil hats, and call you offices.)
He obviously had some emotional problems. And, it would seem that he had some problems distinguishing truth from fiction as well.
Via Free Republic.
Tony Blankley in the Washington Times on Hillary Clinton:
In the last few weeks the ever cold-blooded Miss Hillary has started to stake out a position to the right of the Republican Party. Just listen to her Pat Buchananesque defiance: "[I do] not think that we have protected our borders or our ports ... we can do more and we can do better? I am, you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants... Clearly we have to make some tough decisions as a country, and one of them ought to be coming up with a much better entry-and-exit system so that if we are going to let people in for... work...lets have system that keeps track of them... People have to stop employing illegal immigrants."
These are hardly idle pensees coming from The Iron Maiden of Chappaqua. Rather, it is a part, and a big part, of her calculated strategy to shed her liberal image and seize the White House from the Republicans in 2008 by attacking them on the most vulnerable part of their right flank: open borders, illegal immigration and lax anti-terrorist security.
I never thought I would write the following words, but: God bless Hillary Clinton. Though her motives are cynical, their effects may well be vital both to our national security and to our sovereign responsibility to control our borders.
That sounds very appealing to those of us who feel that we need a tough president to handle the war on terror and who felt that was the singular issue in the 2004 election. But, with the Clintons, one can never be sure whether they really mean it or whether they're merely posturing for votes. In any event, if Hillary runs in 2008 it will surely be an exiting race.
Hmmmm, that brings to mind a joke Don H. sent in:
Finally, a bumper sticker for BOTH political parties! The hottest selling bumper sticker comes from New York State: "RUN HILLARY RUN" Democrats put it on the rear bumper. Republicans put it on the front bumper.
All in good fun. All in good fun. It's just a joke.
Tired of your glasses falling down on your nose? Don't like contact lenses?
Well, the solution is simple, for the brave hearted, that is. Simply have them bolted to your nose. Or, as the kids call it, "piercing."
Click Bmezine.com to see photos and to read a Q&A about them which provides such enlightening details as the 5 -10 minutes it takes to put them on or take them off.
This morning I heard a short news report on the radio that Scott Peterson's mom had asked the jury not to reach a verdict to execute Scott. The reason was that it would wipe out a family, there being no Scott Peterson descendants to carry on the line.
Wait just a minute. That's a joke, right? Didn't Scott kill his unborn child? Where have we heard that defense before, the Menendez trial? "Be nice to us. Boo hoo. We're orphans."
Boy oh boy. Just wait til Leno and Letterman get there hands on that one!
Update 12/13/04: The jury delivered a recommendation for the death penalty. Opponents of the death penalty are wringing their hands. But in reality, a death sentence in the state of California is equivalent to a sentence of life without parole in Texas.
Today the Midland Police Department continued with a four day sniper training course which started Tuesday. On previous days they practiced exercises which involved things a police officer might encounter on an everyday basis. Parked cars, for example (see photo). And, this morning the public was invited to watch a session during which snipers shot at a moving target 100 yards away.
The target was attached to a cable that was pulled by an electric motor which was controlled from a safe location. The device functioned smoothly, but the wind was awful. The hand held wind meters measured from 14 to 18 mph winds, but the wind felt much stronger than that as those gusts blasted through. Surely, that had to affect the accuracy of a 100 yard shot - they could adjust for a steady wind, but those gusts? Very hard to do.
The equipment was impressive. One of the rifles you see in the photo was a Sig Blaser which is an extremely accurate rifle with a truly unique bolt mechanism. The bolt slides straight back without having to be lifted. Here's a link for a review of that particular rifle at SniperCentral, and here's the Sig website with a description of the mechanics involved. It's a very expensive rifle, however, one of the officers explained that all of the rifles there today were tricked out for accuracy, and that costs money.
Some, but not all of the officers didn't want to appear in pictures. So, the only person you will be able to identify in these photos is officer Dusty Land, Midland Police Department firearms instructor, outlined against the beautiful west Texas sky (top right).
Well, it was an experience. And I, for one, certainly want to stay out of those sights!
All of this talk about baseball players bulking up with steroids and ripping into the record books... Sigh. I miss the good old days of Ruth and Mantle when our baseball idols were just falling-down-drunks.
But, scroll down to the bottom of any of those blogs and you'll see something interesting and familiar. Alerted to this issue by Boing Boing, a visitor to any of the Spaces blogs will see the following:
All contents of the MSN Web Sites [previously defined in the agreement as "any Web site or Web page operated by Microsoft"] are Copyright © 2004 Microsoft Corporation and/or its suppliers, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington 98052-6399 U.S.A. All rights reserved. Bracketed remarks added.
Golly, Mr. Gates, don't you have enough stuff already without claiming the rights to whatever writings or photos these unwitting bloggers put up?
But wait, there's more. See paragraph 4.
You will not use the MSN Web Sites in any way that is unlawful, or harms Microsoft, its affiliates, resellers, distributors, service providers and/or suppliers (each, a "Microsoft Party" and collectively, the "Microsoft Parties") or any customer of a Microsoft Party, as determined in Microsoft's sole discretion. Microsoft may tell you about certain specific harmful uses in a code of conduct or other notices available through a MSN Web Site, but has no obligation to do so.
Since this post that you are now reading is not friendly to Microsoft, and enough people read it, then Microsoft could construe the text as harmful to Microsoft. And, if this blog used Spaces, then Microsoft could delete it or modify it. See paragraph 6.
For materials you post or otherwise provide to Microsoft related to the MSN Web Sites (a "Submission"), you grant Microsoft permission to (1) use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, translate and reformat your Submission, each in connection with the MSN Web Sites, and (2) sublicense these rights, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law. Microsoft will not pay you for your Submission. Microsoft may remove your Submission at any time. For each Submission, you represent that you have all rights necessary for you to make the grants in this section. To the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, Microsoft may monitor your e-mail, or other electronic communications and may disclose such information in the event it has a good faith reason to believe it is necessary for purposes of ensuring your compliance with this Agreement, and protecting the rights, property, and interests of the Microsoft Parties or any customer of a Microsoft Party.
Heck, they could do all of that under the agreement even if it wasn't harmful to Microsoft. And, in the event they liked it and thought it was worth something, they could sell it without giving the author a thin dime.
I suspect that many users will simply click an acceptance of the terms without reading the agreement. After all, it's long, and if you want the service, it's not optional. Besides, there are always more pressing things to do, like attending protests of the Patriot Act.
Then there's always a venue clause. Suppose a user wanted to litigate this agreement. It's off to King County, Washington you go. Take your check book. And send a postcard when you get a ruling.
For me, I'm still a huge fan of Typepad. It costs a nominal fee, but it's a small price to pay for what they provide. Speaking of Typepad, here's a Typepad site containing comments from some Spaces users: The Social Customer Manifesto.