Friday, May 02, 2003

My wife and I have been caring for three baby bunnies for the past week ever since a neighbor accidently disturbed their nest with his lawn mower. The little guys seemed too young to be on their own, but after just a week of bottle feeding and giving them handfuls of grass, clover and dandelions twice a day they look like they are ready to go back on their own. I bought a wire critter cage but one of the bunnies that we now call Houdini manages to slip out whenever he wants. We will probably let them go this weekend.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Found a new CD at the library the other day which is causing me to hum and whistle its catchy tunes all day long. I'm talking about none other than "Silly Songs With Larry," the new collection from the VeggieTales show.
I've been a big fan of Veggie Tales since my sister began purchasing the tapes several years ago for my nieces and nephew. The computer animated vegetables that populate the show and sing the songs are a combination of The Muppet Show and Sesame Street with a little Wierd Al Yankovic thrown in for good measure.
I especially like the Song of the Cebu and I Love My Lips. Great stuff. The Cheeseburger song sounds so much like a Wierd Al tune I could have sworn he wrote it, but not so. They should at least credit him as an influence on that particular song.
The good news is they are coming out with more music soon. Check it out at - Music.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

State lawmakers have approved competing budgets for the 2004-2005 biennium that would deny government assistance and medical care to hundreds of thousands of children and low-income adults.
Here are the figures from the Center for Public Policy Priorities (a radical group that thinks public policy priorities should be about helping people in need):

"The Senate Finance budget in 2005 would eliminate Medicaid or CHIP coverage completely for over 211,000 persons; cut benefits (e.g., Medicaid drug coverage; HIV drugs; community care for aged, disabled, mentally ill, and mentally retarded persons) for more than 398,000 Texans, and reduce projected enrollment growth in children’s Medicaid by over 298,000. "

Our lawmakers are willing to put up with these draconian cutbacks all because they refuse to even consider raising taxes to cover shortfalls in government revenue.

I don't resent paying taxes like many people do. I just resent the way the government chooses to spend most of it. The Pentagon budget is above $400 billion a year and continuing to rise 10 percent every year. If we funded education like we fund our military - as if that would ever happen - well it just boggles the mind to think about it, but if we did I bet that our students wouldn't be constantly falling behind other nations when it comes to basic math and science skills.

Meanwhile, here in Texas, our legislators have voted to toss out our "Robin Hood" school funding system without having anything ready to replace it with. But our Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is ready with a plan that would, he says, cut property taxes in half and make up the difference by jacking up sales taxes and expanding them to cover everything from child care to media advertising. Good news for those wealthy enough to own substantial amounts of property, but if you are renting and apartment don't expect your rent to go down anytime soon.

I have a new program on my computer - an iMac - called iTunes that allows me to load up CDs onto my hard drive to listen to at my convenience. This is great because now I don't have to leave CDs lying around my desk at work all the time just to have something to tune out the rest of the noise. But the first question was which CDs to load up, assuming I have a limited amount of space on the hard drive.
I started with my Bing Crosby records, of course, and my Bix Biederbecke music. Then I added all of my Ken Burns Jazz and Smithsonian Jazz compilations. Next came all of my Bob Dylan, Beatles, Elvis Presley and Rolling Stones CDs. By that point I had used up nearly 3 Gigs of space but I still had about 4 Gigs to spare.
So I continued adding music, picking and choosing: Bruce Springsteen GH (greatest hits) and Born in the USA; Neil Young - Decade; Buddy Holly GH; The Beach Boys GH Vols. 1 & 2; The Bee Gees GH; Simon & Garfunkel GH; David Bowie GH; Led Zepplin I; Boston; The Band GH; The Who GH; The Doors (only have first album on CD right now); Peter Frampton Live; ELO GH; and Stevie Wonder GH.

Now I'm up to 4.3 gigabytes, with 2.9 gigs left available. I wonder how much free space I really need after all?

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Someone has finally gone to the trouble of mapping out the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (VRWC).
It's all quite simple, isn't it.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Millions of low-income Americans face the loss of health insurance or sharp cuts in benefits, like coverage for prescription drugs and dental care, under proposals now moving through state legislatures around the country. -- New York Times April, 28, 2003.

Sounds like a domestic crisis brewing here with our faltering economy slowly stripping away the basics of a modest, First-World nation. And that is not even mentioning the crisis in education funding. Here in Texas the Lege is cutting millions from the budget for purchasing school textbooks. Universities are announcing layoffs to deal with 10-12 percent cutbacks in state funding. All of this because our Republican-led government does not believe in raising taxes to pay for anything - not healthcare, not education, not veterans benefits, not even to pay for our own wars.
Raising taxes, as best I can tell, is now considered to be immoral, unpatriotic and very possibly against the law. But never mind that. The federal government could bail the states out of a lot of their problems with current revenue projections - but instead the Bush administration is planning to cut taxes by $728 billion - or $500 billion - or $300 billion, whatever they can get away with.
Remember the last Bush tax cut more than a year ago that was supposed to jumpstart the economy? Oh, well, of course, it just wasn't big enough to do the job.
Columnist Paul Krugman recently pointed out that the Bush administration is touting its $500 billion tax cut proposal as a way to create jobs - 1.4 million is the figure they are throwing around! Only problem is that comes to $500,000 per job, when the average job pays just $40,000 a year. And that is assuming of course that cutting all those taxes will create those jobs rather than creating a huge budget deficit that will drive interest rates sky high and drag the economy down further.

On a related note, here is a link to a study that shows that Democratic administrations have been better for the stock market than Republicans dating back to 1928.