Thursday, February 26, 2009
Stimulus package: because throwing away other people's money is fun!
The United States plans to pledge more than $900 million to help rebuild Gaza after Israel's offensive against Hamas and strengthen the Palestinian Authority, a U.S. official said on Monday.
The money will be channeled through UN and other bodies and will not be distributed via the militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to make the announcement next week at a Gaza donors conference in Egypt.
Update: Because funny/smart comments shouldn't languish in the comment section -
$1 billion to Hamas? I wonder how much firepower that buys? I guess we'll find out. - Yaron
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Wilders' case has drawn comparisons to another Dutch opponent of Islamic extremism: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who served in the Dutch parliament before being removed in 2006 over inaccuracies in her asylum application from Somalia. She has lived with constant threats on her life ever since she wrote a short feminist film critical of religious subjugation of women in Islam. The film's director, Theo Van Gogh, was brutally murdered by a Muslim zealot over the film, sparking an international debate over assimilation and free speech in Europe. I called Hirsi Ali to ask her what she thought of Wilders' politics.
“I think that’s ridiculous, and I've been very hard on him for that,” Hirsi Ali said when asked about Wilders' call for a ban on the Koran and mass deportations. “He and I are not friends at all.”
Hirsi Ali nonetheless said she was glad Wilders was bringing attention to Europe's poor record of assimilation. She opposes Britain's decision to bar him.
“It's only going to win him more popularity,” she said. “He is hounded, he's demonized, he's prosecuted—what people are trying to say is he's the problem, not that Islam is the problem. I was treated pretty much the same way...along with anybody who goes against the establishment creed that the problems of assimilation have nothing to do with cultural factors and only socioeconomic factors.”
I'm still going to try to go hear him, I'll just be a bit weary of his whole message.
via Hot Air
Petitedov all about free stuff, esoteric holiday knowledge, and Jim Gaffigan.
P.S. Around 4:03 Jim also does a shtick about IHOP's name. "Never feel like hopping after going in there."
Monday, February 23, 2009
via Miss Kelly
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Here is the description of the event:
Controversial Dutch lawmaker and filmmaker Geert Wilders, banned last week from setting foot on British soil, Mr. Wilders, a current member of the Dutch Parliament, is currently facing prosecution in his homeland for his outspoken criticism of radical Islam. For anyone who is interested in discussing the defense of Western Civilization, freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas and liberty, Mr. Wilders' case should provoke serious thought and attention. Mr Wilders will present his film Fitna which he describes as "a call to shake off the creeping tyranny of Islamization". Following the viewing of the film (approximately 15 minutes) Mr Wilders will conduct an open dialogue with the audience.
The practice of Islamist Law Fare (also known as Legal Jihad) is equally as dangerous to our liberty and freedom as a hijacked airplane or a suicide bomber, according to Mr. Wilders. Islamists are increasin gly using this method of predatory lawsuits to silence free speech around the globe. Though often inconspicuous in media coverage, the results are clear and powerful examples of chilling 1st Amendment rights and bankrupting defendants. Free speech is either allowed to live, or it is stifled one ruling and one country at a time. Mr. Wilders' visit to Ahavath Torah Congregation is sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Middle East Forum's Legal Project which is currently raising funds for Mr. Wilders' legal defense. Admission is free and open to the public. Donations are welcome. Such checks may be made payable to the Middle East Forum and will be collected during the event.
I don't want to be an expert, but I want to have more than just one wine I go to all the time. Especially if that wine is mostly a dessert wine and sold at Trader Joe's and I can't find it half the time. Last year, while in my favorite Italian restaurant, I fell in love with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wine, however finding the right maker of wine has been hit or miss. If you like Cabernet, you will like this wine, the ones I come to love have a hint of cherry - without being overpowering or sweet. (The article linked suggests The Masciarelli winery). I wish I was savvy enough to write down the brands I like, however this has not occurred in the past. So now, I'm going to try to keep track of wines I like and that are in my budget.
This morning, waking up with a stuffed up nose, a deep throat cough, and a mild temperature - the laptop was a natural distraction, so I found myself on the WSJ site - watching their Food & Drink video section. Apparently having a bad cold makes it impossible for me to read anything. This video caught my eye about the "trading down" phenomena in the wine industries, but other videos from Dorothy Gaiter and John Breche - give good suggestions.
The "polka dotted" wine in the video is Monte Oton Garnacha Borsao Campo de Borja.
If you have any suggestions of your own, please let me know, especially the bottle is under $20.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Now that those of us who have been making steady, on-time payments on our mortgages for years will be paying off others’ mortgages through our taxes, can we claim a tax-deduction for our neighbors’ mortgage interest too?
— Edward G. Stafford, responding to “Dukes of Moral Hazard.”
A Russian military court has acquitted three men accused of aiding the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in October 2006.
The court in Moscow handed down "not guilty" verdicts on ex-police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov.
A third brother, Rustam, is accused of the actual murder and remains at large.
The head of Russian journalists' union said he was "ashamed" by the verdicts. Prosecutors said they would appeal.
Ms Politkovskaya, who gained prominence by exposing human rights abuses by the Russian army in Chechnya, was shot in her apartment building in Moscow.
The brutal murder of the reporter, who worked for the small-circulation Novaya Gazeta newspaper, highlighted the risks run by journalists in Russia.
She was the 13th journalist to be killed in a contract-style killing in Russia during Vladimir Putin's period as president, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
While her death shocked the international community, correspondents say it did not register widely in Russia.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
My boyfriend is no cliche, I thought he would like this video and it would make him smile. It happens to be his birthday today - so this blog post is a birthday gift of sorts. I don't believe in greeting cards, so this post is a sign of my love. I'm sweet aren't I?
In all seriousness, Happy Birthday Peter!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
That's my state Senator, Scott Brown, doing a so-so job explaining why this program would. Suck. Even if the chip tracks only mileage - it has the capability to track so much more - plus what happens when I drive into any other state - do I still need to pay a tax on that?
Sunday, February 15, 2009
SONG (I am stuck in traffic in a taxicab )
I am stuck in traffic in a taxicab
which is typical
and not just of modern life
mud chambers up the trellis of my nerves
must lovers of Eros end up with Venus
muss es sein? es muss nicht sein, I tell you
how I hate disease, it’s like worrying
that comes true
and it simply must not be able to happen
in a world where you are possible
nothing can go wrong for us, tell me
I also love hearing poets read their work, here's some poems read by Frank O'hara himself.
Friday, February 13, 2009
They say those who convey more meanings with gestures at 14 months have larger vocabularies at four-and-a-half years and are better prepared for school.
Parents and teachers could help children learn to speak by encouraging the use of gestures, say psychologists from the University of Chicago.Their study, in Science journal, was announced at the AAAS conference.
I actually want to see Inglorious Bastards the new Quentin Tarantino film, but I'm afraid, like all Tarantino movies of the past, the violence will be cartoonish - somehow it doesn't seem congruous with the image of WWII. Somehow, it seems like he is making light of the tragedy. However, I tend to enjoy his movies (I likes Kill Bill & enjoyed "Death Proof" even though I liked "Planet Terror" more) - so this looks like a fun flick. I never thought I would write that about a WW2 movie, so that's where the reservations come in.The film is about eight Jewish American soldiers killing Nazis. It's kind of nice to see Jews kicking ass without apologizing for it. I know that NAZIS are the ultimate bad guys and there is something still very nice where you don't have see "shades of gray" when it comes to eradicating evil. So I guess I'm on the fence on this one.
Update: Seems like the New York Magazine liked the script and calls it "Awesome".
The script is 165 pages long and follows a squad of American soldiers called the Bastards — a guerrillalike force who travel behind German lines in 1944, striking terror into the hearts of Nazi soldiers. The Bastards are headed by Lieutenant Aldo Raine — the role we'd imagine Tarantino is hoping to land Brad Pitt for — described by the script as a "hillbilly from the mountains of Tennessee," who has around his neck a scar from where he survived a lynching. ("The scar will never once be mentioned," Tarantino writes.) In a parallel story, Inglorious Bastards follows a French Jewish teenager named Shosanna who survives the massacre of her family and flees to Paris, where she winds up running a movie house during the Nazi occupation.
The Bastards' and Shosanna's stories intersect when a gala premiere of a Goebbels-produced propaganda film is put on in Shosanna's theater, with Hitler and most of the German High Command scheduled to attend. Both the Bastards and Shosanna launch plots intending to end the war a little earlier than anyone expected.
The script's divided into five chapters:
Chapter One: Once Upon a Time … Nazi Occupied France
Chapter Two: Inglorious Basterds
Chapter Three: German Night in Paris
Chapter Four: Operation Kino
Chapter Five: Revenge of the Giant Face
The first chapter, set in 1941, introduces Shosanna and the film's antagonist, a Nazi officer named Landa who's known as the "Jew Hunter." The second chapter introduces the Bastards and their tactics: They kill Nazis on sight, take their scalps, and — when they let one go — carve a swastika into his forehead. The third chapter, set in 1944, reintroduces Shosanna in Paris ("This whole Chapter will be filmed in French New Wave Black and White"). The fourth sets up the Bastards' attack on the theater. And it all comes together in Chapter Five, which plays fast and loose with history, to say the least.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
For the first time in a while I felt blessed to be alive and not in just some "I have to thankful I'm not dying way." It felt good to be alive, period. Saying all that, I still feel like a weirdo. I haven't looked like a proper girl in ages, if it was just the hair I think I could deal - I actually always wanted to shave my head once in my life - but it's so much more than that. With the chemo I had a regiment, one week on, one week off. It's how I orientated myself, this week I will feel like I want to die and this week I will anticipate that feeling: there was order and a system, it was horrible but it gave me a way to exist and know "where I was". Now post-chemo, when everyone is cheering that the cancer is gone and I look "good" things seem to be incredibly disorienting. I should be happy that this thing is almost over and done with, but I'm not. I'm still tired, I'm incredibly vain - the extra pounds bother me a lot, the hair is growing slowly, the eyelashes are still paltry, - I look ugly. The stress of being away from my boyfriend, of starting a job search in the overly expensive NYC, of leaving my mother, is slightly getting to me. Everything is in my hands, I know that, but it seems like Herculean task at the moment, putting my life back in order.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Under the welfare reform regime established in 1996, states were basically required to engage 50% of their caseload--mainly single mothers--in some kind of "work activity" (workfare, job search, training, etc.). But there was a problem with this half-the-caseload requirement: What about would-be recipients who got off the rolls entirely when the states found jobs for them--or who were diverted into jobs before they ever signed up for welfare? Shouldn't states be able to count these "successes" toward the 50% requirement? You wouldn't want to give states an incentive to somehow keep these people on welfare in order to count them. Thus was born the "caseload reduction credit," which let states count the net decline in their caseloads against the 50% work requirement.
Fair enough. But because caseloads declined dramatically after 1996--they've gone down by two-thirds--the "caseload reduction credit" effectively absolved many states of the requirement to get half of their caseloads working. When Congress reauthorized welfare reform it updated the baseline to 2005. States could still take the credit for any reductions after that date. Many did so, as caseloads continued to fall.
Now, though, Congressional Democrats want to encourage states to expand their caseloads, offering billions of federal dollars in the "stimulus" package as an incentive to do so. But wait, if states expand their welfare caseloads as the Dems want, they'd lose the "caseload reduction credit," since their caseloads would not, in fact, have been reduced. They might then have to start enforcing the "work activity" requirements on those caseloads. Can't have that! That might discourage states from expanding welfare, for one thing, since enforcing work requirements costs money, and states have no money. And Congressional Money Liberals** never liked work requirements much in the first place. The last thing they want to do is increase them. (Their whole theory is that the many single-mom recipients are "hard-to-employ" types with "multiple problems" who basically need to be supported on the dole.) What's a good Money Liberal to do?
Answer: Rewrite the law, in the stimulus package, to let states expand their caseloads but pretend, for "caseload reduction credit" purposes, that the caseloads have declined. Specifically, the revision would allow states take the credit they would have gotten based on their caseloads in 2007 or 2008 even if their caseloads soar (as the Dems would like) in 2009 and 2010.
In other words, they can expand their caseloads but still use the now-fictitious "reduction credit" to avoid the law's work requirements.
Lots of new people on welfare. Lower work obligations. The best of both worlds for welfare-unreforming Dems.
So basically it's another way for Democrats to buy their voters! I mean it's going to stimulate the economy so much by giving people an incentive to stay home and pop out babies - and not contribute to a work force at all. Maybe I should just become pregnant and quit my job! I mean the government will pay for it right?!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
On a separate note...the article chronicles how 500k doesn't get you far in NYC if you are used to earning in the millions. I for one think Obama's proposal of capping executive salaries is ridiculous, unnecessary, and harmful. However, I really don't need to the nyt to make me sorry for them and their delirious lifestyle.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Friday, February 06, 2009
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
I love when he says "I don't turn on the radio, 'cause they play shit like... you know." The video is also kind of funny.
Monday, February 02, 2009
BTW, in full disclosure mode, when I first saw this I got really upset. Peter pointed it out to me that I was basically screaming at the tv, I think my boyfriend thinks I have "anger issues" which I don't. Now looking at the commercial I realize it's silly to get worked up over the stupidity of commercials. They are commercials - they are supposed to be stupid and memorable.
Which brings to the cards themselves, the playing deck of cards we had in Russia was very beautiful. They were mini works of art, I liked looking at the beautiful "damas" aka queens, elaborately dressed and with gorgeous faces, even the back of the cards had a beautiful design. It's not the same kind of cards you get at your local CVS for $2. Unfortunately, the card deck from my childhood has been depleted of half the cards, mysteriously some cards have gotten lost - I've looked into purchasing similar cards but the price has put me off (more than twenty dollars strikes me as a tad overpriced). So it was nice to see a collection of Ukrainian cards that reminded my of my family's deck. This one was my favorite:
This one was pretty neat too, although not as glamorous:
I also found this photo amusing for Monday morning, (from the same website):