Thursday, May 21, 2009

Obfuscated Self Destruction

I'm mad as heck and I'm not going to take it anymore! Ok. I am going to take it. At least for now. But I'm only taking it until I figure out what to actually DO about it. The "it" in question, as referred to in the title, is the State of California. Yesterday, I wondered what the opposite of "enlightened self-interest" was. I got several interesting responses, but I thought this came the closest to expressing what I am feeling about our decision making as a state...

This past Tuesday, we had a special election to vote on some ballot initiatives. These initiatives were made necessary by previous initiatives that require the public be polled whenever certain financial decisions need to be made such as reallocating money from one bucket to another. I'm not sure whether this system is designed to insulate the politicians from accountability or because of a lack of trust by the electorate. I have ranted about the system before. Why do we have elected officials if they have to get our permission to do anything meaningful? If they do something you don't like, vote them out? But they need to have the power to make tough choices, particularly in times of crisis.

Now, you may not have heard, but California has a budget shortfall of roughly $42 BILLION! That seems like a crisis to me. Now, there really isn't a good way to make up that kind of difference. You have two choices, right? Get more money (taxes and fees) or spend less money (layoffs and budget cuts). With a state as big as California, you can bet that there is not broad agreement on where to target these changes. The only thing everyone can agree on is that someone ELSE should make the sacrifice.

This is where our leaders should come in and lead. They should compromise and make tough decisions. After several MONTHS of bickering, the Democrats and Republicans crafted a compromise that would decrease, but not eliminate the gap. Their solution was a combination of $15 billion in spending cuts, $11 billion in borrowing and more than $12 billion in temporary increases to the sales, income and vehicle taxes. I didn't think it was perfect, but I certainly didn't have any better solutions. The first problem? The solution had to be broken into six ballot questions and approved by the public. The second? The politicians realized that their constituents didn't like portions of the compromise, so THEY CAMPAIGNED AGAINST IT! You heard me. They were more worried about re-election than fixing the mess.

As I am sure you can guess, the propositions did not get broad government support. With no organized campaign in their favor, the groups afflicted by the cuts could each target an individual proposition. All the propositions failed except for the one limiting legislator pay. None of them got more than 33% support. So, now we are as screwed as we were except that we are now almost a year closer to the precipice.

This special election was planned back in February. That means we have done nothing about this mess for roughly three months. If you aren't going to back your own compromise and you are hoping it will fail, shouldn't you have a backup plan ready? California is somewhere between 46th and 50th in per student education spending. That is going to have to get cut even lower. I predict that we will be laying off teachers, police officers, and fire fighters amongst other key service professions.

Anyone live in a state that is solvent?

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Unabandoning My Blog

I've decided I need to make a commitment to my writing. Starting tomorrow, I am going to try to average five nights per week of writing. I would have started tonight. In fact, I did start tonight. I wrote a lengthy rant about Joshua's flag football league. It was six or seven lengthy paragraphs and was only about 2/3 of the way done. I stopped and read it back and it stunk. It was long and rambling and not all that entertaining. I don't mind the first two if the third one is there, but 'entertaining' or at least 'interesting' is kind of important. I feel good about writing. I feel even better for exercising some quality control on myself. You're welcome. We'll try again tomorrow. Feel free to suggest topics or ask questions. I'm not saying I'll use them all, but if there is something you'd like to see in this space, now is your chance to ask for it.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Record Album Meme

Nobody has tagged me for this and I shan't tag anyone else, but I did find this one more fun than many of the memes running around out there. Hat tip to my friend Michelle over at Kill 9 Studios as hers was the first I saw. As with all of these things, there are "rules".

1 - Go to Wikipedia’s “random” page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random

The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to Quotations Page’s "random quotations":
http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3

The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your album.

3 - Go to Flickr and click “explore last seven days”
http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days

The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
It's nice to credit the photo source, but I lost the URL. So, whoever you are, thanks for the excellent picture!

4 - Use Photoshop or similar to put it together.

5 - Post your photo to your FB page with this text in the "caption" or "comment" and tag friends you’d like to join in.

Here's my album:
Band: Star Vampire
Album: Sell Body Parts for Money



I think my band is a cross between The Cure and Depeche Mode.

And just in case you are curious, here is the full quote:
"The tooth fairy teaches children that they can sell body parts for money." -David Richerby

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Succumbing to the Single Letter Meme

There are a number of internet memes running around on Facebook, and I have been tagged with several. I'm going to give in on this one and perhaps others. But for now, here is the single letter thingy. Like all of these, it has rules. I'm not tagging anyone, cuz I don't wanna. But if you feel like doing it, go ahead.

Rules: Copy to your own note, erase my answers, enter yours, and set your tags. Use the first letter of your name to answer each of the following questions. They have to be real. . .nothing made up! If the person before you had the same first initial, you must use different answers. You cannot use any word twice and you can't use your name for the boy/girl name question.

1. What is your name: Brian
2. A four Letter Word: Bold
3. A boy's Name: Benjamin Button
4. A girl's Name: Betty Boop
5. An occupation: Bartender
6. A color: Beige
7. Something you wear: Bandanas
8. A food: Banana Bread
9. Something found in the bathroom: Bathtub
10. A place: Bolivia
11. A reason for being late: Broke down
12. Something you shout: Banzai!
13. A movie title: Buckaroo Banzai
14. Something you drink: Bosco
15. A musical group: Blues Traveler
16. An animal: Bison
17. A street name: Bear Valley Parkway
18. A type of car: Bentley
19. A song title: Barracuda
20. A verb: Bloviate

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Yet Another Blog

I know. Just with the internet needs, right? And why would I start another one when I am doing such a poor job of keeping this one up? Excellent question. Don't know the answer. I'm probably just easily distracted by shiny...oooh! A fire engine! What was I saying? Oh, yes. New blog. My friend Kitten Herder wanted to start a blog to practice fiction writing, so she started Handing Over the Kayboard and asked me to be one of the administrators.

The idea is not a new one. One of us will post the opening to a story. Anyone can add to the story through the comments. The idea is to build the story in a constructive way. Don't throw away or undo anyone else's work. We may also start a commentary thread for each story as they go. That will be the place for constructive feedback. So far, only she and I have written anything. I'd love to have others join in.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Amusing Thought of the Day

I got this from my Dad, but I am not sure of the original source.

Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater.
If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby.
If you give her a house, she'll give you a home.
If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal.
If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart.
She multiplies and enlarges what is given her.
So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of sh..t.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Dang, That Was Close

Check out what happened 2 miles from my office. An FA-18 Hornet crashed into a house. This is the down side to working really close to a military base. Fortunately, there don't appear to be any casualties.

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