You may notice the appearance of this blog looking a trifle odd. Blogger seems to have trashed the template. Please stand by whle I reconstruct. You have my gratitude.
Update: Once again, just as I had the template just about fixed, Blogger ate it. Grrr! I'm applying a temporary template while I reconstruct. Just for laughs, I thought I'd use one of the promotional Blogger templates for the upcoming Spider-Man sequel.
Update the Second: Okay, I've scrapped the Spider-Man template -- the nested tables were unneccesarily complex -- but I think I've reconstructed my old template. Here goes...
Update the Third: w00t! Ph34r my L33t HTML skillz! Actually, my work is not complete -- I need to restore the comment system code -- but I hope to have that done before long.
The Senate dealt a surprising election-year rebuke on Wednesday to the White House goal of new tax cuts as it narrowly backed a new rule to require at least 60 votes to approve any tax cuts in the next five years.
Four Republican senators — Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine — joined Democrats in the 51-to-48 vote.
Mr. Bush has called on Congress to make permanent his tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire at the end of the decade. Republicans in Congress had already sidestepped action on his request this year, in an election campaign in which voters are concerned about the $478 billion budget deficit.
But under the amendment approved on Wednesday night, any tax cuts — or spending increases — in the next five years will require 60 votes for approval in the Senate, unless supporters are able to find spending cuts or other tax increases to make up for the money that would be lost, said Senator Russell D. Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who sponsored the amendment.
In other words, Bush's irresponsible fiscal policies have responsible Republicans so worried that they've effectively shut the door on any further tax cuts, even if he wins a second term. (The move also likely makes any Bush campaign promise of tax cuts spurious.) The rule also means that popular tax cuts that favor the middle class -- like reducing the so-called "marriage penalty" and extending the child tax credit, which are the first ones due to sunset -- can pass easily with Democratic support, while the giveaways for the wealthy, like eliminating the estate tax, is likely doomed.
Props to the Democrats and fiscally responsible Republicans for taking this step to put a halt to Bush's insane brand of credit-card conservatism.
Back in my home town of Louisville, my friends and I enjoyed going to the raucous, rockin' shows put on by The New Duncan Imperials. Apropos of nothing, here's the NDI's Web site. It doesn't look like it's been updated in a while, but you can still check out the band's bios and listen to a few music samples.
Writing in The Nation, William Greider decries Alan Greenspan's enablign of the Republican bait-and-switch act on Social Security that Paul Krugman so ably -- er, shrilly -- pointed out last week.
He is proposing a con job on ordinary working Americans--a bait-and-switch game on a grand scale--in which the payroll taxes they paid into Social Security over many years will now be diverted to other purposes, including the generous tax reductions G.W. Bush has enacted for the very wealthy and the corporations. It doesn't sound so noble when you put it that way. Greenspan knows these facts but also knows his big lie will probably endure as conventional wisdom.
...The problem is, the government borrowed this money and has spent it on other projects. But the trust fund, despite what right-wingers like to claim, is not an accounting gimmick. The government is legally obligated to pay back the money (as surely as it is obliged to repay Treasury bonds). The borrowed trillions, in fiduciary terms, belong to the "beneficial owners"--every worker who has paid higher payroll taxes for the past twenty years.
...Greenspan is proposing another "fix": Double-cross the workers who paid the extra trillions; don't disturb the new monster tax cuts delivered to the rich. Any con artist would appreciate the bait-and-switch as a nifty piece of work.
In the process of delivering another refrain in the Republicans' hackneyed "job growth is just around the corner" chorus, Greenspan today admitted that even benefit cuts won't completely solve the problem caused by Bush's raiding the Social Security trust fund -- taxes will have to be raised too. Thanks a lot, Al.
USA said it would air the uncut clip on March 15 between 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., ahead of the film?s March 19 opening. Both USA and the film?s distributor, Universal Pictures, are units of Vivendi Universal Entertainment.
The R-rated movie, which tells the story of a group of plague survivors defending themselves from a zombie onslaught, features graphic violence and gore. The network will air the clip toward the tail end of its broadcast of ?Final Destination,? a 2000 film about teens who try to cheat death.
Michele Ganeless, executive vice president and general manager of USA Network, said that it was the first time, to her knowledge, any network had ever done this kind of promotion.
?This is the first time it was ever brought to us,? she said. She also said the network would run warnings about the content of the clip.
?It certainly is gory, and we are showing it after 10 o?clock, but it?s not unlike other thrillers you see on television every day,? she said.
Sign me up! I'm none too excited about the prospect of a remake of one of my favorite movies -- horror or otherwise -- of all time, but a sneak preview of the opening will give me a good idea of whether it sux0rz or not.
Regular readers (all four of you) know that I'm a big fan of Italian horror films, including the thrillers known as giallo. (For further reading and reviews of giallos, I heartily recommend Teleport City.) Anyway, here's a swell site that randomly generates titles and plot lines for giallo films. Here's a sample:
A Torn Photo in a Woman's Hands
Directed by Nanni Nonni
An American photographer is found dead in an old, abandoned warehouse. His sister seems to know a little too much about the the killing. She discovers too late that the perpetrator has been close to her all the time.
One of the advantages of donating platelets -- other than the opportunity to catch a short movie or anime program in the morning -- is that the blood center provides a free cholesterol reading. I just made an appointment and then called in for the results from a donation I made on Feb. 24. I usually hover right around the acceptable level of 200 -- sometimes a point or two above, but mostly less. February's reading, though, was a somewhat surprising but definitely pleasing 177. Very good news, that. I'll be interested to see the results from tomorrow's donation in about a week.
I haven't yet resumed political blogging, although the brazen, unrepentant and ongoing mendacity of the Bush Administration has me baffled, outraged and ready to wax wroth. In the meantime, though, check out Daily Kos ably countering the lame GOP spin that Kerry is a "waffler" with a look at Bush's own flip-flops.
Bush is against campaign finance reform; then he's for it.
Bush is against a Homeland Security Department; then he's for it. [Ed: And then he stonewalls it...]
Bush is against a 9/11 commission; then he's for it. [Ed: See above.]
Bush is against an Iraq WMD investigation; then he's for it. [Ed: Looks like a trifecta...]
Bush is against nation building; then he's for it.
Bush is against deficits; then he's for them.
Bush is for free trade; then he's for tariffs on steel; then he's against them again.
While some (take Custer's Revenge -- please!) are genuinely offensive, it's amazing how many games I have enjoyed and percieved little problem with. I've long enjoyed first-person shooters like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, and enjoyed playing Mortal Kombat on breaks at the publishing company where I once worked. Grand Theft Auto 3 is as irreverent as they come, but it's also tremendous fun. I even found the comical macho of Duke Nukem 3D amusing. (Mind you, I'm not recommending any of these games for younger players -- I even disappointed my 13-year-old cousin a Thanksgiving or two ago by recommending to his parents that he not be allowed to play GTA3.
I've also played Night Trap and, while the game itself leaves much to be desired, it's hardly offensive -- it's basically a looooong bad movie in which the player gets to pick camera angles that depict nothing happening. (Oh, boy!). The version I bought some time ago even included a retrospective documentary on the controversy the game caused. It's probably worth more as a historical document than a game, but I've seen many movies that were much worse.
Gamespot's look at the history of videogame controversy is detailed and interesting.
Actor, writer, and monologuist Spalding Gray was found dead today in New York's East River. The 62-year-old performer had disappeared from his Manhattan apartment some two months earlier.
I caught a performance of Gray's "The Terror of Pleasure" many years ago in Louisville, and of course I've long admired the film Swimming to Cambodia that he collaborated on with director Jonathan Demme. Gray was a man of considerable talent, but happiness nonetheless seemed to elude him. He had reportedly stuggled with depression in the wake of severe injuries suffered in a 2001 automobile crash. I'm deeply saddened to learn of his troubled life and lonely death, and I hope he is now at peace. Planet Swank extends its condolences to Gray's family, friends, and fans.