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I’m still alive… and here to bid farewell to 2011

December 31, 2011 1 comment

I did not realise it’s been almost six weeks since my last post! The holiday season has been busy and enjoyable. And of course, Solstice/Christmas-time with a six and nine-year old was very fun. We visited friends in Olean, who I always wish lived closer! And it was nice to spend time with my family and Stephanie’s over the past month. I hope your December has been pleasant and not too stressful.

So on this last day of 2011, and my wife’s birthday, I’d like to reflect briefly upon the passing year.

First; I continue to be thankful that Stephanie has her job and that we, unlike millions of Americans, still enjoy a nice home and enough food to eat and that we live in a safe neighborhood surrounded by wonderful people. I’ve heard so many horror stories about what so many of our fellow Americans have gone through in the past year that it’s difficult not to be saddened. (And that’s just America; the rest of the human race has not been enjoying much prosperity, either!) Here’s hoping this coming year will see some improvement for everyone, except for the bankers and government officials and our Corporate Overlords, of course, who are faring just fine!

I continue to be amazed at how quickly our children grow and change. And I’m very happy, as a home schooling parent, that I get to spend so much time with them (well, most of the time, that is) and experience all the subtle little joys and tribulations and triumphs that make them who they are. I’ve really got a damn wonderful life here! My big resolution (I was hoping not to use that word!) for 2012 is that I make more time for writing and for painting and other creative endeavours.

And after so many years, I’m so glad that all of our troops are finally out of Iraq! That’s probably one of the best outcomes for this fading year. I just hope the misery of the Iraqi people will diminish as time goes on; but who can say?

On a lighter note; here are a few things I recently heard about that I’d like to share. The first is a tiny computer called the Raspberry Pi that sells for $35!! And it looks pretty decent! If you have a keyboard, monitor and mouse this is a great little device for setting up a home entertainment hub. They should be for sale very soon. This would be perfect for the kids! Or any body who wants to make documents, surf the web and watch videos. HERE is the official website.

Another cool thing about the Raspberry Pi is that there is a version of Bodhi Linux that is made specifically to run on the ARM processor that the Pi uses. And speaking of Linux (as I must) this year has certainly seen a lot of changes to desktop Linux distros. Over the last few weeks I’ve installed Linux Mint 12  and Bodhi Linux on separate partitions on our main computer’s hard drive to see how they run on this machine. I especially wanted to test Mint 12 with it’s tweaked version of Gnome 3 Shell. And after installing the extensions and playing around with it a while, I’ve discovered Mint’s Gnome 3 desktop environment is not bad. Still not as ‘tweakable’ as the discontinued Gnome 2, but quite attractive and usable. I think by the next release it will be really nice! Also, in the last month of 2011 two new desktop environments/window managers have come forth: Razor-qt, which is very lightweight and looks promising for the coming year; and Clement Lefebvre of Linux Mint has come up with their own alternative to Gnome Shell called Cinnamon. This also looks very promising and functional. I’ll need to try this out in the next six months or so when Mint 13 is released.

But, after all that, I also installed the updated Bodhi Linux 1.3.0 with the Enlightenment desktop. After a few problems, which were quickly worked out, it is running beautifully on this machine and has become our default operating system. It’s just fast, uses less RAM, and I can have graphic effects that Gnome 3 does not support yet. Anyway, enough for now. I’ll save more Linux news for another time!

In entertainment news there’s a TV show I’d like to recommend. It’s Homeland on Showtime. I haven’t been watching many television shows lately, but this thing is riveting! The story, the cast: it’s amazing! And it’s got Mandy Patinkin, for God’s sake! Enough said.

Another delightful surprise for me in the past year is Harry Potter. My son started reading this series a few months ago; he’s on book five now and we’ve also been reading the first three Harry Potter books with my daughter Fiona, who’s six. She loves them! I had only seen the first two Harry Potter movies, and had not read the books, so I was wonderfully surprised that I’m really enjoying the series. Of course there’s so much more in the books. And the stories are very interesting and well-written! There’s a great deal more depth to them than I originally thought. But the films also do a great job; we’ve been watching them after Arthur reads the book they’re based on.

Well, that’s all I can say for now. We’re meeting some friends to see ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ in 3D this afternoon. Our kids have not seen a 3D film before, but I’m thinking this would be the one to see. Should be fun!

I’ll leave you with a few other links. See ya soon. Happy New Year!

Linux Desktop Environment Round Up

Fired Up: The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Fantasy

Why I am obsessed with old school Doctor Who

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Calvin and Hobbes: Business 101

October 14, 2011 1 comment

I stole this from my friend’s facebook post. And this was 20 years ago! Thanks, Tracy.

WARNING

October 7, 2011 9 comments

Okay folks, it’s Friday night and I should be hitting the sack soon, but I’m just so (pardon my French, gentle readers) fracking outraged by something that just happened that I have to vent and share my outrage with others!

My daughter is having her sixth birthday on Sunday. This afternoon my wife did a bit of last-minute shopping at Walmart to buy a Rapunzel doll for her, and she happened to see a purple bean-bag chair thingy that she thought Fiona would like. It was $15. She had left it in the trunk of her car when she got home and I just went out and brought it up to our bedroom. I was thinking to myself that $15 is awfully cheap for a bean-bag. We bought one a few years back for 3 or 4 times that much at a furniture store; but hey – it’s Walmart and it’s a kid-sized bean-bag, right?

Then I noticed a couple of large tags on the bag (it was made in China, of course; but assembled in the good ‘ole USA). One of the tags read: ‘Warning: this product contains a chemical that is known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm’ (!) That was it! And my wife noticed that a sticker on the bean-bag read: ’13 years old and up’.

Now let me tell you, I’m generally sick and tired of seeing the following three-letter abbreviation, but really; WTF!!!!!

What the hell kind of country do we live in where it’s okay to sell products that cause cancer and birth defects to children?!! I know we’ve all heard about the Tobacco Industry, and Chinese toys made with lead paint; and Monsanto can introduce genetically altered corn into our food supply that no-one knows what the long-term effects on our health and the environment may be without really telling us. But now Walmart is allowed to sell something my child will sit on that causes cancer?! And our government allows this??!!!

This is just unbelievably absurd! If California didn’t recognize that whatever this mystery chemical is, it can have deadly health effects, would there even have been any kind of warning tag on this product?

I’m still totally blown away by that damn tag. I still can’t believe what this world has come to! Why would anyone use a cancer-causing chemical to make anything, anyway? Because it’s cheaper? Is our health care system cheap? What’s the cost of treating cancer? The way things are going, in a few more years there won’t even be any more warning labels like this absurd thing I saw tonight. Some corporation will pay off who ever is supposed to be protecting our health even more money to ignore this shit. But I’m glad that tag was there.

The bean-bag went immediately back into my wife’s car trunk and will be going back to Walmart in the morning. But will someone else buy it for their child? Where will that chair and all the others like it eventually end up?

Gosh, I’m noticing a pervasive theme in my recent posts lately. We all have a hell of a lot to think about.

Please just remember to read the labels while we still have them. Good night.

Categories: General Ramblings, Health

How Wall Street Speculation and Tax Avoidance are Starving Public Revenues

I got this from the Public Accountability Initiative website. Go there for the rest of the story. Also look at American Dream Report Oct. 5th. And while you’re at it, check out this blog post.

Then check out Make Wall Street Pay.

Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
-Steve Jobs 

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

I copied the following from THIS Youtube video page about the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations that began two weeks ago. For your consideration-

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City:

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ health care and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

And it’s not just New York City. Also check THIS.

What Really Destroyed the Economy and How We Can Fix It

Most Americans Don’t Believe the Nation is Economically Divided

The Right of Dissent?

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Has anyone heard about the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest? Check out THIS, or THIS, or THIS.

It gives me hope that there are still young people in America who are capable of waking up and speaking out about the corporate greed that’s destroying our government, our health, our environment and our future.

And I love this: Roseanne Barr speaks to Wall Street Protesters