Sunday, July 31, 2011

Whose Fault is the Deficit Crisis, and What is the Solution?

By Tom Kando

This post is heavily based on an article by D. Fahrenthold and R. Helderman (see Sacramento Bee, July 29, 2011)

Here I go again, ad nauseam about the federal budget deficit crisis. Please read this, and learn FACTS:

1. The total federal deficit is now at $14. 3 trillion.
2. The overwhelming fault for this deficit lies with George W. Bush and the Republican Party.
3. Before President Reagan, until 1981, the federal government had racked up a deficit of $1 trillion.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Writer's Quest

by Madeleine Kando

I signed up for a writers’ group last week, thinking that I would meet and learn from other ‘like-minded’ individuals who like to write. Share their stories and get to know some flesh and blood people, rather than knowing them through their ‘words’. The meeting was set at ten at the 'Au Bon Pain' in Danvers.

It was on the other side of nowhere, but I thought: ‘Hey, it’s worth it. Who knows what kind of intellectual treasure I might find.’ I asked my husband how long it would take me to drive to the other side of nowhere, with high morning traffic time included and he said: ‘Oh, count on a good half hour’. So I gave myself plenty of time. I thought: ‘this is important, I don’t want to show up late for this ‘flesh and blood’ meeting.’ Read more...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is America’s Second Civil War Coming?

By Tom Kando

More than anything else, 19th century American history is the history of the North-South face-off: The South was wedded to slavery and to States’ Rights, in Virginia’s Jeffersonian tradition. The North was increasingly repulsed by slavery, and it was more federalist, in New York’s Hamiltonian tradition.

During the first half of the 19th century, the young republic experienced crisis upon crisis. For example, the Nullification Crisis in 1832, when South Carolina claimed that States’ Rights superseded Federal law. This was already a precursor to the Civil War, thirty years later.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pastafarians Unite!

by Madeleine Kando

In Austria a man by the name of Nico Alm was granted a driver's license with a pasta strainer on his head in his license photo. He was protesting a rule for the new EU driver's licenses that only allows head coverings on religious grounds.

Nico Alm argued that he belonged to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster**, and that his religion commanded him to wear a pasta strainer on his head.

Obviously this was to make a statement. Alm is a political activist who believes in the strict separation of church and state and he opposes the ‘special privileges’ that religious people get and that atheists don’t. This was a victory in the fight for freedom FROM religion. Read more...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is America the Spain of the 21st Century?

By Tom Kando

Okay, so August 2 is approaching - Armageddon. Washington fails to raise the debt ceiling. America defaults. It’s the end of America as we know it, the beginning of America as a banana republic. Well, hopefully not.

But whatever happens, here is one thing which I find UNFATHOMABLE: The NEAR TOTAL CONSENSUS - even among most democrats - that raising taxes is a non-starter, because it destroys jobs, especially when the economy is stagnant. Read more...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Just Put it in the Trash (E-waste Massachusetts style)

by Madeleine Kando

We have been collecting old cell phones, wires, keyboards, computers and even two t.v. sets for years. Not because we are hoarders or even too lazy to toss it, but because we just don't know what to do with it. It's not like you can grind it down the garbage disposal.

So it's been sitting there, in our garage, nicely forgotten, as if it didn't exist. Out of sight out of mind, as they say. But my husband had the bright idea to buy a shed so we had no choice but to open Pandora's box. Read more...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Facts to Make you Angry

By Tom Kando

Inequality is progressing as rapidly as ever, and our reaction to this is as misguided as ever:

1. We learn now that median pay for top business executives in 2010 skyrocketed by 23% from the previous year, to $10.8 million (Sacramento Bee, July 10). The chief executive of Viacom made $85 million, one of Target’s executives made $24 million, etc.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Who Is Hated the Most, and Who is Loved the Most?

By Leah and Tom

Hi Folks:

We did a little Sociology project. Maybe we were bored that day, but we hope this doesn’t bore you: The question was: How much are different groups in the world loved, and hated? You know - race, nationality, religion, etc. So we Googled how many “Hate” and “Love” search results you get when you enter various groups, e.g. “Americans,” “Europeans,” Frenchmen,” etc.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Some Random Thoughts on Happiness

by Madeleine Kando

When someone asks me 'Are you happy?', I never know what to say. It puts me on the defensive. It's like having to answer the question: 'Are you successful?' or 'Are you a good person?'. It's easier to answer questions like 'Are you happy at work?' (The answer is 'NO'. I am too old to teach ballet to three-year olds and would much rather spend my time writing silly stories like this one. )

Actually asking someone if they are happy is a bit forward. It's like asking someone if they have good sex. If you fail at being happy, you fail as a person. It's not like failing an exam which doesn't affect your entire self-image. If you are unhappy, you get a permanent bad grade and it's bad for your reputation. Read more...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

To the Organizers of the Tour de France: Do Something! Aux Organisateurs du Tour de France: Faites quelque-chose!

By Tom Kando

On July 2, I began to watch my favorite sports event: The fabulous Tour de France, the greatest bicycle race in the world.

On the very first day, there were spectator-caused crashes, one of which caused around 100 racers to fall or collide. I have been wondering for years about the insane behavior of Tour de France road-side spectators. As the racers bike up to the dizzying heights of the Tourmalet or the Alpe D’Huez summits, or as they sprint by on picturesque French country roads, the spectators invariably move closer and closer to the middle of the road, crowding out the athletes, leaving hardly any space for them to bike through, touching them, grabbing them, running after them, sticking flags and other objects in their faces!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tolerating Intolerance

by Madeleine Kando

If you think the Tea Party is extreme, just go to YouTube and watch some videos of the British right-wing organization called E.D.L. or English Defense League. It is not for the faint of heart.

It is a far-right movement which opposes the spread of Islamism and Islamic extremism in England. It is like the Dutch Party of Freedom, except more violent and extreme. For a moment there, I thought I was watching a Nazi Party rally. Read more...