Here are some of the details of Bush’s budget proposal:
The President once again requests that his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts be made permanent. Making these tax cuts permanent is estimated to cost over $2 trillion in lost revenue over the ten year period 2009 to 2018. These huge revenue losses are attributable to several factors, including reductions in individual income taxes ($1 trillion), making the estate tax repeal permanent ($522 billion), cuts to dividends and capital gains tax rates ($301 billion), and reductions in taxes for families with children ($156 billion).
The FY 2009 budget proposes to cut LIHEAP, the program that provides energy assistance to low-income families. The proposed cut of $570 million represents a 22 percent reduction from its 2008 level and disregards official forecasts that households will have to spend on average almost $1,000 on heating fuels during the 2007-08 winter, an 11 percent increase from the previous winter.
The President’s budget seeks $675 billion for overall military spending in 2009, an 11 percent increase from FY2008. With this 2009 request, total spending on the Iraq War and the War on Terror since 2001 will amount to more than $870 billion, without even taking into account anticipated further spending requests throughout FY 2009 to sustain these wars.
Despite continuing substantial unmet needs of vulnerable children and families, the President’s budget includes deep cuts in core social services targeted to protecting children from abuse and neglect, assisting children and adults with disabilities, and helping homeless seniors. The $6 million Community Services Block Grant, which provides resources to low-income children and adults in counties across the country, is again proposed for elimination. The President also cuts the Social Services Block Grant — a major source of child welfare funding by 30 percent ($500 million) for 2009 and would eliminate the block grant in 2010. The sad irony is that the Administration has proposed to eliminate these two block grants on the grounds that they cannot demonstrate results, yet has admitted that block grants’ results are difficult to measure. At the same time, however, the President is recommending that states be given new opportunities to block grant the currently open-ended federal foster care program for abused and neglected children.
And these are just a few of details provided by the Children’s Defense Fund. How people can believe that Bush and his cronies in the Republican party actually care about families, actually care about children, are actually working for the good of the country I simply don’t understand. The idea that if you tell a lie often enough that people will believe it seems to be proven by the fact that Republicans can actually claim moral high ground and not cause nation-wide laughter to erupt.
Back in October, I started this ten minute play project and today I’ve finished the tenth play.
Yay me! (Will be doing some rewrites here and there and then attempting to find directors and theaters to stage them, but at least the heavy lifting is done.)
What’s ironic is that this last play has no weird soundscape, no wacky nano-bot disappearances, no bizarre, dreamlike occurrences. This play is simple, bare bones, easy to stage and with a focus on character rather than story or atmosphere. But it was the play I needed to write and so here it is:
Also, the most excellent site SF Signal posted a link as well, for which I’m also grateful (but since I emailed them to pimp myself, I was less surprised). SF Signal is probably the science fiction site I check most often for news and tidbits as they cover a huge range of materials from books, to author interviews, movie reviews, new and rumors as well as linking to an awesome list of science fiction and fantasy authors who blog.
I just finished reading what has got to be one of the most professional “fan-fic” books ever done. Stephen Brust, author of a number of books including “To Reign in Hell: A Novel”, “Jhegaala (Vlad)”, and “Sethra Lavode (The Viscount of Adrilankha)”, has written a Firefly novel and–here’s the ultra-cool part–is giving it away! It’s called My Own Kind of Freedom and you can follow this link to get your own copy. While it’s not a perfect book, if you are a Firefly fan, I highly recommend it. Brust captures the characters quite well, and is able to offer some depths of history and emotion that the tv series and film weren’t able to go into. In particular, I really enjoyed how Wash’s love of piloting as well as his skill are highlighted through the book. I also loved how Brust brought River’s inner life to the reader, creating a sense of the complexity that she is capable of as well as the difficulty of communicating to those around her. While all the characters were written well, Wash and River shine.
Brust makes no effort to subvert of twist any of the elements from the series or the movie, and allows the story and the characters to fit well into the already established universe. He even brings the Chinese phrases and curses across the media divide . . . and while I think it was absolutely necessary to do so . . . it just doesn’t work very well. The reason the switch into Mandarin worked in the series and movie is that the actors knew what they were saying (even if they might not have said it very well), and the viewer could, from body language and facial expressions and context, arrive at a fairly good sense of what was being said, even if they couldn’t get the specifics. Without hearing the words, without seeing them said by a person, the Chinese phrases in the book are unintelligible to the reader.However, if he hadn’t included them, something would have felt slightly “off” about the characters. All in all, Brust did a good enough job of keeping some of the flavor of the language without beating the reader over the head with the attempt. Fans of Whedon will definitely miss the way Whedon’s invented idioms can sometimes rise to the level of poetry, as Brust doesn’t quite get to that level.
While My Own Kind of Freedom isn’t quite the fix that a new movie or series might be (a boy can hope can’t he?), Brust offers a compelling story and some nice insight into the Firefly universe.
For some reason I find the trend of referring to Obama’s supports as “cultish” highly offensive and disturbing:
A Tuesday night broadcast on ABC News’ Nightline offered an example ofbehavior it implied might be ‘cult-like.’ Show host Terry Moran started out thereport calling Obama’s base “a massive and fervent following.” CorrespondentDavid Wright then referred to the supporters as a “congregation,” and proceededto compare Obama events to Bruce Springsteen concerts, and Obama’s starpower tothat exerted by The Beatles or Hannah Montana. And after showing clips fromObama’s various campaign appearances, he interviewed LA Times columnist JoelStein on how the senator’s followers are like a cult.
And the fact that David Plotz has the temerity to call Obama’s speech making “fascistic,” is, to be honest, nauseating.
From the mouths of puppets:
This was created by a group called monochrom which is an:
art-technology-philosophy group having its seat in Vienna and Zeta Draconis. monochrom is an unpeculiar mixture of proto-aesthetic fringe work, pop attitude, subcultural science, context hacking and political activism. Our mission is conducted everywhere, but first and foremost in culture-archeological digs into the seats (and pockets) of ideology and entertainment. monochrom has existed in this (and almost every other) form since 1993.
There looks to be lots of cool stuff at their site and, really, shouldn’t there be more art-technology-philosophy groups? Anyone want to start one with me?
I came across this great hint on MacOSXHints.com that I thought I’d share with any of you fellow Leopard users:
When using the volume control function keys on an Apple laptop, there’s a limited amount of control over the volume — each key press moves the volume by one entire unit in the onscreen bezel. However, by pressing Shift and Option along with the volume key you want to use, you can break up each large step in the volume control bezel into four parts, instead of having to use the menu bar item or System Preferences for fine-grained control.
This is especially useful when using headphones on your laptop and the regular volume is either too loud or too quiet.
You want a real stimulus package? One that would spark a huge amount of investment, home-ownership, and spending? Sending individuals $600 is not going to stimulate the economy and the idiots in Congress know this, they are simply and cynically pretending that they are doing something for the people.
So, you want to really do something?
Forgive all outstanding federal student loan debt.
That’s right, I said it and Sallie Mae can kiss my ass:
Forgive all outstanding federal student loan debt and you would create a boom in the spending and investment abilities of millions of 20 and 30-somethings, allowing them to buy homes and to buy cars and to invest where there is absolutely no ability to do so right now because school loans hang over their head like the sword of fucking Damocles.
Cause you know what I’m going to do with my $600? I’m going to use it to pay off debt. You know what I would do if I didn’t have to pay $450/month in student loans? Buy a car. Do the math. Hell, forgiving half of those loans would make a huge impact and would, I dare-say, actually stimulate the economy rather than doing nothing, which is what our beloved politicians are in the process of doing. And yet, we allow them to feed us with smoke and mirrors time and time and time again. Doesn’t matter if it’s the Democrats or the Republicans, when it comes to doing nothing but looking like they are doing something, our Congress is chock-a-block full of talented illusionists.