Sunday, December 31, 2006


3000. That's a lot of people. But the Iraqi dead number in the hundreds of thousands, too unimportant to the Pentagon, or any other US government agency, to actually count. And now comes an escalation, almost as if Bush was trying to screw McCain again, who probably thought no one would take his McCain Escalation Doctrine seriously.

Of course, with every day that goes by, we are no closer to a political solution, which is what Iraq needs. And with each passing day, the insurgents get better at killing our soldiers. Our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. For what? Please, all you wing nuts who read this (and I know you're out there), I'd really like to hear your explanation of the Noble Cause we're there for.

Like I said to the idiot drummer on Like Jazz here at the Taper, Saddam was no threat. And occupying that country is going to ruin ours. Estimates of a TRILLION DOLLARS are starting to seem moderate when thinking about the long term costs of this fiasco. And these die hard Bush lovers are probably sticking to their story. Fight them there or they'll follow us home, blah, blah, blah.

I dream of confronting Bush lovers. I am downright hostile to them now. And I used to be a happy guy, during the Clinton years. I find myself seriously pissed off almost all the time now. I see a Bush bumper sticker on a car and I have to get next to them to flip them off. I don't want to be like that, but GODDAMNIT, 3000 Americans have died over there to make us LESS SAFE.

So, WTF? We kicked the Republicans out of congress, a clear signal from the American people that we want out, and Bush, his brain, and his backbone are going to send in more troops. They don't give a shit about what anyone thinks. They want stability so the can divy up the the Iraqi oil, privatize the whole thing, and get in there for the long run profits.

It's sickening. And it's certainly impeachable.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Little Do They Know

I'm sitting here during a rehersal of the new musical "13" for which I'm doing the projection. The show is about a Jewish kid from New York who moves to Indiana (where he attends Dan Quail Jr. High) and tries to fit in with the cool kids. It's cute, I guess, to 13 year olds. It has it's moments, and a few good songs. Talented kids. Still giving me a headache.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, three more US soldiers died today, taking the total to 2993. As I read the story about these men, Marines who died in battle in Anbar province, I wonder how much these 13 year olds actually think about their future in a world with more terrorists, thanks to George Bush's historic blunder. I wonder if, in 5 years, when these kids turn 18, we will still be reporting on US deaths in Iraq. I wonder how many Iraqi 13 year olds now will even be around in 5 years.

As I walk to the bathroom here in the Mark Taper Forum, I have to pass the boy's dressing rooms. They are, much like my 12 year old boy, slobs. Of course, here, they have a maid. I wonder how many Iraqi kids have maids. I wonder how many US soldiers who have died over there have ever had maids. When Saddam hangs in Iraq, he may be the last person in Iraq who ever had a maid.

But I digress. Whether you're a slob, rich, snob, or a bitch, it's a free world. Kids are free to think about whatever they want. I just wonder how many of these kids even know how many US soldiers have died in Iraq.

I wonder if they think about it at all. Here they are about to be stars. Their futures are as bright as these vari-lights that keep shining in my eyes when they baly-hoo. I doubt if Iraq, soldiers, Iraqi kids, terrorism, George Bush, or even political philosophy has even dawned on them yet.

Maybe they should live it up while they can. Who knows what kind of fucked up world the Republican party is going to leave them. This might be the best time of their lives.

Sunday, December 24, 2006 - A Parable For Our Times

My friend Jon Cupp would have liked this essay by Bill Moyers:
"Nobel Laureate economist Robert Solow’s analysis sums it up well: What it’s all about, he simply said, is "the redistribution of wealth in favor of the wealthy and of power in favor of the powerful.'"

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jonathan Cupp, my friend and union brother

My good friend, co-worker, and union brother Jonathan Cupp died yesterday. This is from KGMB:
"On the Big Island, visitors ventured into the treacherous surf at Kehena Beach just a day after a California man drowned there. A witness said 45-year-old Jonathan Cupp was swimming dangerously close to the rocks.

'The waves being very choppy kind of smashed him into the rocks, which obviously knocked him a little bit unconscious, and within moments he was swept out to sea with the current,' said Australian visitor Scott Reidy.

Reidy said several people grabbed their boogie boards and paddled into the pounding surf to help. A fire department helicopter picked up the victim. Cupp died at Hilo Hospital. Reidy said there were no lifeguards or warning signs at the black sand beach.

'I felt powerless. Part of me wanted to jump in and help him, but I knew in the back of my mind if I did something like that then I also would be the one that drowned,' he said."
Jonathan was also one of my political friends. We shared a passion for progressive politics. He was dismayed by the Bush administration. We talked politics often. He was intelligent. He was also kind and polite, something he tried to get me to work on. He said more than once that he admired my outspokeness as much as I admired his humility.

We were working together the day before he left for his big island condo, where he was on vacation for 3 weeks. He lamented leaving when there was work, and I told him not to worry about it, there would be plenty of work when he got back (with award season coming). We got a postcard, and then a Christmas card from him, which he sent here to the Taper. I have put them on my wall, where they will stay until the remodeling. After that, we'll find a new wall.

Monday, December 18, 2006

In production for the new musical "13"

It's massive, loud, young, energetic, and tweeny. It's 13:
"Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown has composed the songs for this new musical comedy – smart, magnetic, and upbeat -- sure to speak to and captivate current, former, and soon to be teens."
Well, judging by the way my kids love Rent, they'll probably love this too. While my 17 year old might be a little old for this, she'll probably love it as a nostalgic look back at her middle school worries about who's cool and who's not. My twelve year old boy, on the other hand, is right in the middle of the themes in this play, and I'm sure he'll enjoy it.

For more about this play, you can read Jason Robert Brown's blog.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Class Struggle - American workers have a chance to be heard

In his Wall Street Journal Opinion piece, Class Struggle, today, The Senator Elect from Virginia, Jim Webb, gives American workers a chance to be heard. Anyone saying he's a conservative should read this. Here's a taste:
"In the age of globalization and outsourcing, and with a vast underground labor pool from illegal immigration, the average American worker is seeing a different life and a troubling future. Trickle-down economics didn't happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth. At the same time, medical costs have risen 73% in the last six years alone. Half of that increase comes from wage-earners' pockets rather than from insurance, and 47 million Americans have no medical insurance at all.

Manufacturing jobs are disappearing. Many earned pension programs have collapsed in the wake of corporate 'reorganization.' And workers' ability to negotiate their futures has been eviscerated by the twin threats of modern corporate America: If they complain too loudly, their jobs might either be outsourced overseas or given to illegal immigrants."
Yeah. Read the piece. And then come comment about how conservative Jim Webb is.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Monster of the Milky Way

NOVA | Monster of the Milky Way | PBS
While we're watching this incredible show about black holes, one of the astronomers talking about galactic cannibalism says the big galaxies (which at their centers have super massive black holes) eat the little ones. And my wife Robin says, "So, black holes are like Wal Mart." Yes, I kissed her for that one.

A fun thing to watch as the American Public sent this country back into reality yesterday.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Daily Kos: Institutional Lies, Bought And Paid For

Hunter, over at dKOS, is one of my favorite bloggers. This is worth reading.
Daily Kos: Institutional Lies, Bought And Paid For
"Whether it was intentional lying, or whether or not they were simply so utterly incompetent as to believe every single one of these things to their core, hardly even matters, at this point. Either way, the conservative 'thinkers' attaching 'facts' and 'strategies' and 'predictions' to their grand, abstract ideas of American hegemony turned out to be spectacular failures in every single particular. It's not even that they turned in their political science project to the teacher and got an 'F' -- they turned in their political science project to the teacher, and it killed several hundred thousand people. A mere friggin' 'oops' or demerit mark won't cut it, for something like that."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Guide to Republicans Running for Office

Here's a really simple guide to various Republicans running for office around the country. There's a theme to these people. Follow the links and see if you can figure out what they all have in common.

-AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Friday, October 20, 2006

In California, the poor pay more

A friend of mine who claims to be a Democrat recently sent this crap out to our union list:
A Tax Lesson

Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table
At which he's fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule...
Blah, blah, blah... Here's my response:
Of course, one of the biggest reasons the middle class is getting squeezed is because middle class red-necks vote for Republicans who preach low taxes, and then they give Paris Hilton millions in tax breaks. Under Republican Rule, the rich get richer, and the middle class and poor pay more. How about we elect people who give a damn about the middle class for a change? How about we make sure people who work make more than the poverty level, get health care and a college education for his Children. Even under the liberal Republican Arnold, the middle class has gotten screwed with higher fees, tuition, and all kinds of other things we need and deserve because we make this country work. Meanwhile, in percent of income, Arnold pays less than a minimum wage earner in taxes.

Check out this telling graphic about tax rates in California.

See, on your little list here, I don't see

Tax his inheritence
Tax his portfolio
Tax his yacht
Tax his Bently
Tax his offshore corporation
Tax his oil profits
Tax his outsourcing
Tax his Chinese factory


stop his corporate welfare

Besides, if we don't tax wealth at least at the same rate as we tax work (which we currently don't), how the hell else do you propose we pay for George W. Bush's Trillions of dollars in debt? Oh, well, no worries. All you people without kids don't have to worry that your offspring will be paying the George W. Bush War tax for decades to come.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Will Bob Dylan Cross Our Picket Line?

All along the sidewalk... "Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth, None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."

Yeah, right, Bob. If he does cross the picket line at the LA Forum, like Madonna, Pearl Jam, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers did, hopefully he will at least acknowledge the hundreds of workers picketing on the sidewalk, like Eddie Vedder did. Maybe if he hears from enough of us: Write Bob Dylan and ask him to at least acknowledge the picketing workers.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Big Bear rentals Big Bear cabins Big Bear cabin rentals California

It's that time again! Time to start planning your ski trip. We suggest you check out the links from this Big Bear cabin rental site. You'll find all kinds of Big Bear California rentals, from condos to cabins. This site also has listings for family vacation rentals all over the world, including other southern California ski resorts. There's also a section for winter posters like ski posters, and a free skiing and winter desktop wallpaper pictures section where you can download free backgrounds of winter scenes from Southern California ski resorts.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Drug Abuse Intervention Addiction Treatment Videos

An old search engine optimization client of mine, Diane Colello, of Reelizations Media, contacted me recently to say she'd finally had her web site redesigned and needed to have it optimized again. I took a look at the tangled web of PHP her designer had created, contacted my programmer friend Jeff, and we agreed to tackle the job.

Now she has one smokin' site, full of optimized information about her many drug abuse treatment addiction education videos. If you know any alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation counselors, life skills coaches, clinical directors, therapists, social workers, or psychologists who deal with addiction treatment, please tell them about!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Water and Power

If you're in LA right now, you need to head downtown to the Mark Taper Forum and see Water and Power, the new play by Richard Montoya and Culture Clash. This is one play I would pay to see. I love dark comedies (Harold and Maude is my favorite movie), and it doesn't get much darker than this. Tragic comedies for me find more truth in the human condition and spirit than any drama ever could. For me, laughter is the window to the soul.

In Water and Power (for a great story about the making of the play, see this LA Weekly article), the window is shattered with a big brick that fell off the facade of a cheap hotel, and it exposes a big hole in the soul of Los Angeles. From LAPD to Latino Gangs, from powerful Brentwood based developers to the Mayor's office, Montoya opens the can of worms that is modern LA, and sprays the worms all over the audience. And these are sticky worms. This is my fifth day working the show, and I've found little pieces of this play popping into my brain whenever I hear something in the news that relates. Not many plays have ever done that for me.

At its heart, though, this play is about people. The humanity of the two brothers, their love for each other underneath the machismo of political power and street cred, spurt to the surface like blood from a severed artery. And the dark ugly side of power is exposed like the bunions on bare feet.

Things are funniest when they tap into what is true. Truth being such a pliable thing in today's world, it's even funnier when someone taps into it. When the two brothers in this play try to work their way out of the horrible pile of shit they're in, a work of art emerges that goes to the heart of what Alexander Pope meant when he said, in so many words, that true art is what's often thought but never so well expressed.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Faithful Central Bible Church

I would like to personally thank Erin Aubrey Kaplan for her latest article, What would Jesus negotiate?, about "the picket people," my union brothers, at the LA Forum in Inglewood. As our picket of the LA Forum (where we're locked out) continues, stories like this one in the LA Times are very valuable. We appreciate the chance to actually get our message out to the community, especially members of the Faithful Central Bible Church.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Talked to Lawrence Fishburn Backstage at the Taper

Lawrence Fishburn is onstage at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, where he's doing the play Without Walls. When he came into the building today, he said hi as he went by the coffee machine, and I said hi and said I'm a big fan but I just had one question.

He stopped on the first stair and said, "Sure, what?"

I said, "What was it like being there with Stephen Colbert ripping Bush?"

He looked bewildered. I'm sure he's a busy man and that was a few weeks ago. His assistant said, "The Correspondent's Dinner" to remind him.

That big Lawrence Fishburn smile spread over his face and he said, "Man, it was great. Those people had no idea what was going on."

Just as I thought. Washington too wrapped up in itself to realize when they were being made fun of. I said, "Well, you looked like you were enjoying it in the cutaway to you."

He said he thought it was fantastic, and said, "Those people don't have a clue."

So, there you have it from someone who was there. The beltway crowd was completely blindsided by Colbert. No clue. This fact is further proven by the fact that Tom DeLay's people thought Colbert was a real conservative who ripped Robert Greenwald a new one.

Friday, May 19, 2006

My Union Is Locked out of the LA Forum

When the Lakers were winning all those Championships, I think they called it "Showtime." Well, the shows in the Laker's House, the Inglewood Forum (AKA the Great Western Forum), were done by IATSE Local 33. I did several shows there, including Gloria Estefan. We were the stagehands in that building from the day it was built until this past April 10, when Local 33 was locked out by SMG and the Faithful Central Bible Church, the management group and owners of the LA Forum.

Now, Madonna is crossing our picket line. We're having a massive rally down there for her show Sunday, the 21st. We're asking people going to the show to please refrain from buying concessions as a show of support. And we're hoping Madonna might have something to say, too.

To find out more you can do to help us, check out this page about the lockout of IATSE employees from the LA Forum.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Erin Aubry Kaplan: Labor vs. the Lakers' old lair - Los Angeles Times

"I HAVE A DAILY ambition of taking an hourlong walk around the Forum in Inglewood. I don't realize that goal every day, but I have managed to fulfill a few others in the process, including staving off weight gain and literally keeping an eye on signs of life (or decay) in my fair city.

Usually my walk is a reaffirmation of small-town stability and continuity that counters a sense of urban decline; from day to day, not much changes around the Forum. That lack of change, while frustrating in one sense, is also comforting. I was jolted out of that comfort a couple of weeks ago. Turning the corner at 90th Street, I came upon a knot of picketers outside the Forum."
As Kaplan's article goes on to say, the picketers were from my stagecraft union, IATSE Local 33. We're there because, contrary to the SMG position, we were locked out of a venue where we have been since it was built. I would like to personally thank Erin Aubry Kaplan for this article, which does a very good job of pointing out the ironies of this situation, namely that the Faithful Central Bible Church, the owners of the LA Forum, are in a very labor friendly neighborhood, and are bussing in scabs to replace the union workers there. Very awkward. You can see for yourself in the pictures on the downloadable fliers at our union's web page about this action.

We also have pictures of Madonna crossing our picket line, which we found very disappointing. We hope that people will help us by finding out more at our web page, and telling friends, co-workers, and other union members. Please post our fliers at your job and your church. Follow the links on our site to Fax or email a letter to the Church. We appreciate any help we can get.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tom Gilroy: Bush's Trojan Christ

It used to be that Christians were known to all by their good deeds, but after almost four decades of the GOP's cleaving the populace into warring sects to be manipulated at the polls, 'being Christian' is no longer defined by doing good deeds, it's defined by an arrogant mission to tell others how they must live---who they can marry, who they can adopt, what they can say in public, what they must teach in schools---all the way down to what kind of medicine they should have access to.
Seems like there are some really angry people out there. After having it out with a Bush voter today about the effects of FAUX news brainwashing on American voters, I read this. I'd like to be able to strap the guy down, Clockwork Orange style, with his eye lids pried open, and have Tom Gilroy read this to him for about two weeks. But that would be torture. And I'm against that.
And of course there's Tom Delay, the great born-again purveyor of moral rectitude, the man with his hand in so many tills even Texas republicans had to cut him loose. The President salutes him as a great patriot who 'served his country well' and the Rove-minions repeat ad nauseum, 'the Dems don't have their poster-boy for corruption to kick around anymore.' What does that mean, exactly? Did he do it, or not? If he's innocent, then how could he possible be a poster-boy for corruption? And if he's guilty, why is the president saluting his patriotism? And if he's a thief and a liar, what are we to think of his relentless touting of Christian values? Doesn't that mean he's a hypocrite, and that Christian values, in a political sense, are meaningless?
Read the whole thing. Then head over to my wife's site, Questions for Christians, and vent.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Illegal Immigration

I'm so sick of the over generalization that liberals are pro-illegal.

I'm pro legal immigration. The way my Slovakian great-grandparents did it. Through the name shortening process at Ellis Island.

Listen to Big Ed on Air America.

Plenty of liberal American workers like me are very upset at the effects of illegal immigration. Besides the costs, there is the downward pressure on wages, and the fact that big companies that hire these illegals do so without legal ramifications. It allows them to lower wages, bust unions, and reap bigger profits for fat-cat CEOs.

And in case you weren't paying attention, that's Bush's base.

So all you people who have voted Republican for whatever reason, maybe you thought you'd get rich someday and you want those big tax cuts if you do, or maybe you believed the FAUX news morphing of Ossama Bin Forgotten into Saddam Hussein (who 85% of troops in Iraq still think attacked us on 9-11), but you better stop voting against your interests. The Republican party has been taken over by idiots who believe anything Sean Hannity says, Christian Zionist zealots who want to bring on the Rapture, and Big Business sleaze bags like the CEO of Exxon Mobile, who's retirement package is going to pay him $150,000 per DAY.

There are plenty of fiscal conservative Democrats who will not raise taxes on the middle class, who will fight not just to keep unions, but to empower them, and who will ENFORCE the laws we already have to stop corporations from hiring illegals. Unless you do that, you will never stop them from coming. Who can blame them. The ruling class and the Catholic church (c'mon, telling one of the poorest, overpopulated countries not to use birth control, what does that do for immigration numbers?) do nothing for them in Mexico. US agribusiness has ruined the small rural farmer in Mexico, as they have here. We need a comprehensive plan that includes refusal to extend trade agreements like NAFTA unless Mexico does something to stop the waves of people coming here, especially the criminals and gangs.

From a what-can-I-do perspective, purchase fair trade products from Mexico, like the shade-grown organic coffee that we buy at Trader Joe's. This kind of voting with your dollars creates sustainable jobs in Mexico, resulting in less illegal immigration.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A reply to a post about illegal immigration

When it comes to the cost of illegal immigraton, as estimated by Professor Huddle of Rice, you left out this nugget (from here): "According to Dr. George Borjas of Harvard University native born workers lose $152 billion annually because of job displacement and wage depression caused by immigration." To me that's the real issue. Republicans, and many others, like to say that these people do jobs Americans won't do. That's a lie. Americans would do those jobs if they paid more. John McCain recently had the balls to question the work ethic of a bunch of union construction workers. He said they wouldn't pick lettuce for $50 an hour. He was booed. Plenty of Americans would do the dirtiest, hardest jobs on earth if they paid well and had health benefits.

Plus, when there are more people willing to work cheap, eventually they find their way into trades that traditionally paid well. Pressure on wages is down. Average income of workers in this country has dropped under Bush, creating a "wageless recovery" that is the direct result of people willing to work for less than the job has traditionally paid. Just look at what's happened to the construction and meat packing industries. I don't think I need to tell people who profits from that. I'll give you a hint. Bush has lowered their taxes, while the rest of us make less, and pay more for fuel, food, health care, homes, and much, much more.

But then comes the last paragraph.
Just watch the "demonstrations" and listen to Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosas, they want a Mexican Government in much of the United States. He and many now in California government were "La Raza demonstrators" in the 60's. Their radical agendas then are unchanged now. They want "old white fogeys" out of the "Aztlan" territories and they want to be part of Mexico. They deny this vehemently, but you only need look at the signs and banners in recent demonstrations all over this country but most particularly in Los Angeles and Phoeniz.
I've listened to Mayor Villaraigosa, who is no Aztlanist, not by any stretch of the imagination. Just because he spoke at a rally where some extremists were protesting doesn't mean that's how he feels. The last thing they want is a corrupt Mexican government controlling them. They love this country, that's why they're here. They are pro-union. That's why you're seeing such a rise in membership with SEIU and other service unions.

One of the problems is that large agri-business (which gives 95% of it's political donations to Republicans) has ruined rural agriculture in Mexico (and in the US and many other countries for that matter), so many rural Mexicans have no way to survive. Since their government does nothing for them, they come here.

As for the crime, well, that's because Mexico sends their problem people to us. They literally empty their prisons and encourage the prisoners to come here. Corrupt officials profit from the drug and people smuggling these criminals perform, and the cycle perpetuates. We have a vested interest in getting the Mexican government to clean up its act, and stop these crooks before they come here. Instead, we reward the Mexican government with all kinds of aid, and by signing trade agreements that have no worker protection, environmental protection, or conditions for control of the border from the Mexican side. As long as we keep electing big business Republicans in this country, we will never see any change that limits the waves of cheap labor coming across the border, or the criminals who hide out in those waves.

Let's not forget what we're up against here. The rich people in this country didn't get that way by agreeing to pay raises for their workers. The immigrants are not our enemies. It is in our interest to make their home country a better place, if it means canceling NAFTA, or imposing sanctions until they do so. We should have partnership programs to help small rural farmers live in Mexico, where they can grow crops organically for fair trade certified crop programs. There are many creative answers to this problem. But the people who profit from the cheap labor don't want to change anything.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Public Argument with a Local Buffoon

One of the things that really pisses me off is when religious people tell me I can't be truly ethical without believing in God. Evangelical Christians take it even further and claim that if you don't believe in their particular vengeful God, you're doomed to be evil. In my local paper, I answered one such moron, and he responded with a long, rambling, disjointed letter that you will get the gist of by reading my response:
In Wayne Moore's response to my letter to him via the Signal, he says that I still don't get it. I don't think he ever has.

Moore claims that atheists have no logical basis for understanding right and wrong. What a crock. He suggests that my understanding of right and wrong "seeped in" from a society that already had a Christian ethos. His certainty that I got that framework from his God is a scary thing. How does he know I didn't get my ethical framework from Jews or Buddhists? To assume that I got it from his "God" is the kind of presumptive evangelical certitude that President Bush used to get us into Iraq. How's that working out, Wayne?

The assumption that an intelligent human being can't logically deduce that ethical behavior is better for society is preposterous. I don't need the fear of hell or the promise of heaven to do what's right. I do it because I have deduced that society benefits from ethical behavior. And, unlike Moore and his right wing friends, who don't seem to mind survival of the fittest when it comes to economic policy, I believe society, and government, should help people. That might very well be a Christian ethic (one which Republicans conveniently ignore when it doesn't suit their purposes), but it is not exclusively Christian. Many other religions and philosophies had come to the same logical conclusion well before Christ.

People who believe in evolution are not doomed, as Moore suggests, to finding that Hitler was cool or that slavery was OK. Moore fails to give a source for his "recent survey of college freshmen," but the fact that he suggests that their uneducated views lead to the conclusion that, without God, morals are determined by a vote couldn't be more wrong. If this "survey" is real, I'd sure like to see what those freshmen think after four years of college, in which, I presume, they are still required to take a philosophy class. In fact, I think Moore should take one, because he really doesn't understand philosophy at all. If there is no God, right and wrong are not determined by a vote. Atheism does not require moral relativism. I can believe there are moral absolutes that should be followed, regardless of who invented them, because they are good for all people. Ideas like the Golden Rule or the Harm Principal (I don't care what you do as long as it doesn't harm me) have been around a lot longer than Wayne Moore's vision of God.

As for evolution, it's ironic that I am writing this letter on the day that scientists announced the discovery of the missing link. For years, people like Moore have been using the missing link as an argument against evolution, and now, they have lost that point. However, people like Moore conveniently dismiss the fossil record as having been put there by God to test our faith. How can a logical person who respects science argue with that? It's impossible. They believe that dinosaurs didn't exist, that things are the same as they were initially created, and all those fossils are creations of God, not life forms that evolved, then became extinct. This literal translation of Genesis is a dangerous mindset in a world beset by problems that only science can solve.

I can point out to Moore that he should have paid closer attention during biology class. Changes in genetic information, called mutations, happen naturally. When an organism mutates into something that's helpful to the species, those with the mutation thrive, and those without it don't. That is natural selection. Over billions of years, this produces the process known as evolution, which Moore states is not "observable." This is because he throws out the fossil record as evidence. But what about viruses? President Bush, a noted creation scientist, recently said that viruses like the bird flu "evolve." What the President was reading was a statement of fact from government scientists that virus mutations have caused observable evolution in different species of viruses. The mutation and evolution of viruses has been observed for quite some time now. The genetic structure of any organism, even a small one like a virus, offers trillions of possible combinations. There doesn't have to be "added information," only a recombination of existing information.

I'm sure Moore will have more nonsensical rebuttal to this fact, all based on something other that scientific reason. It's no coincidence that the vast majority of scientists, even religious ones, believe in evolution. The only people running scared in this country are evangelicals whose hateful treatment of those who don't believe like them is being exposed everywhere. But, hey, don't worry, Wayne. If you and your buddies keep hoping for the Rapture, you'll cause a bloody end to the world you seem determined to destroy, and none of this will matter.

No one will ever convince Wayne Moore, or those like him and President Bush, that life didn't start all at once 5000 years ago. So why do I try? Because I hope that other people reading these letters will realize that just because some of us don't believe in God, it doesn't mean we're bad people. And others, including the Catholic Church, believe that evolution and religion are not mutually exclusive. The big bang had to happen somehow. Maybe that was God. I have no proof of it, and I don't do leaps of faith. I'll wait for the theories to be tested, and for new theories to evolve. Maybe, as our studies of quantum mechanics and the intricate workings of the universe get better, science will actually discover a kind of underlying "spirituality" to the universe. I doubt very much that it will look like the vengeful, closed-minded, hateful God that Wayne Moore wants me to be afraid of, or that George Bush uses to justify his cruelty, crusades, and war mongering. I look forward to a day when science is free from religion, when the EPA and the FDA make decisions based on science and not the religious views of political appointees, and when schools aren't forced to teach, or even mention, religion in science class. In short, I look forward to the day when Wayne Moore and his ilk spew their backwards views to smaller and smaller groups of believers while the rest of the world gets on with its evolution.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Didn't Work the Oscars this Year

Oscar Stagehands - Head Carpenter Tom Yokas at the Academy Awards
I thought it was a good one. We love Jon Stewart. I love it when Hollywood gets political. Hollywood should stand up and point out that being "out of touch" is a very good thing. Giving an Oscar to a black woman when people in red states wouldn't give her a seat on a bus is a good thing. Making movies about gay men so afraid to show it because they'll be killed, that's a good thing too. To my ears, the people saying gays shouldn't marry sound just like people who wanted to stone Sidney Potier for making a movie about mixed race dating. George Clooney is right. If George Bush is in touch, I'll stay out.

Watching the show tonight, I remembered all the Oscars I worked, from Tom Hanks telling jokes to the orchestra when I was doing pit microphones, to my first Oscar, when I was doing the light for the balcony statue they use going to and back from commercial. I have to admit, with the car on fire and the big screen during Itzhak Perlman, the show was, from a stagehand point of view, a good one as well. Hats off to my IATSE Local 33 brothers who are the Oscar stagehands.

Monday, February 27, 2006


But you won't, will you? Just more drivel from another angry liberal who
wants to take your guns and make your church pay taxes.

Here's a couple of excerpts:
The Vice President was hunting on a 50-thousand acre ranch owned by a lobbyist friend who is the heiress to a family fortune of land, cattle, banking and oil (ah, yes, the quickest and surest way to the American dream remains to choose your parents well.)

The circumstances of the hunt and the identity of the hunters provoked a lament from The Economist. The most influential pro-business magazine in the world is concerned that hunting in America is becoming a matter of class: the rich are doing more, the working stiffs, less. The annual loss of 1.5 million acres of wildlife habitat and 1 million acres of farm and ranchland to development and sprawl has come "at the expense of 'The Deer Hunter' crowd in the small towns of the north-east, the rednecks of the south and the cowboys of the west." Their places, says The Economist, are being taken by the affluent who pay plenty for such conveniences as being driven to where the covey cooperatively awaits. The magazine (hardly a Marxist rag, remember) describes Mr. Cheney's own expedition as "a lot closer to 'Gosford Park' than 'The Deer Hunter' - a group of fat old toffs waiting for wildlife to be flushed towards them at huge expense."
Here's another:
As great wealth has accumulated at the top, the rest of society has not been benefiting proportionally. In 1960 the gap between the top 20% and the bottom 20% was thirtyfold. Now it is seventy-five fold. Thirty years ago the average annual compensation of the top 100 chief executives in the country was 30 times the pay of the average worker. Today it is 1000 times the pay of the average worker. A recent article in The Financial Times reports on a study by the American economist Robert J. Gordon, who finds "little long-term change in workers' share of U.S. income over the past half century." Middle-ranking Americans are being squeezed, he says, because the top ten percent of earners have captured almost half the total income gains in the past four decades and the top one percent have gained the most of all - "more in fact, than all the bottom 50 percent."
Here's a good one:
But let's be realistic here. When the notorious Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he answered, "Because there is where the money is." If I seem to be singling out the Republicans, it's for one reason: that's where the power is. They own the government lock, stock, and barrel. Once they gained control of the House of Representatives in 1994, their self-proclaimed revolution has gone into overdrive with their taking of the White House in 2000 and the Senate in 2002. Their revolution soon became a cash cow and Washington a one party state ruled by money.

Look back at the bulk of legislation passed by Congress in the past decade: an energy bill which gave oil companies huge tax breaks at the same time that Exxon Mobil just posted $36 in profits in 2005 and our gasoline and home heating bills are at an all-time high; a bankruptcy "reform" bill written by credit card companies to make it harder for poor debtors to escape the burdens of divorce or medical catastrophe; the deregulation of the banking, securities and insurance sectors which led to rampant corporate malfeasance and greed and the destruction of the retirement plans of millions of small investors; the deregulation of the telecommunications sector which led to cable industry price gouging and an undermining of news coverage; protection for rampant overpricing of pharmaceutical drugs; and the blocking of even the mildest attempt to prevent American corporations from dodging an estimated $50 billion in annual taxes by opening a PO Box in an off-shore tax haven like Bermuda or the Cayman islands.
And, finally:
Let's start with the "K Street Project." K Street is the Wall Street of lobbying, the address of many of Washington's biggest lobbying firms. The K Street Project was the brainchild of Tom DeLay and Grover Norquist, the right wing strategist who famously said that his goal is to shrink government so that it can be "drowned in a bathtub." This, of course, would render it impotent to defend ordinary people against the large economic forces - the so-called free market - that Norquist and his pals believe should be running America.

Tom DeLay, meanwhile, was a small businessman from Sugar Land, Texas, who ran a pest extermination business before he entered politics. He hated the government regulators who dared to tell him that some of the pesticides he used were dangerous - as, in fact, they were. He got himself elected to the Texas legislature at a time the Republicans were becoming the majority in the once-solid Democratic south, and his reputation for joining in the wild parties around the state capital in Austin earned him the nickname "Hot Tub Tom." But early in his political career, and with exquisite timing and the help of some videos from the right wing political evangelist, James Dobson, Tom DeLay found Jesus and became a full-fledged born again Christian. He would later humbly acknowledge that God had chosen him to restore America to its biblical worldview. "God," said Tom DeLay, "has been walking me through an incredible journey. God is using me, all the time, everywhere. God is training me. God is working with me..."

Yes, indeed: God does work in mysterious ways.
I hope all you Bush lovers, and even those of you who voted for him but are now saying you didn't, will read this great speech, Restoring the Public Trust, by Bill Moyers. Because of your voting for, and defense of, these thugs, you have seriously screwed up this country and this world for a long time to come. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

BBC - Religion & Ethics - Revelation: The End of the World?

I've been having a little fun with a Christo-fascist Rapture lover in my union news group. You can read my reply to his American Taliban philosophy on my Bush Treason Blog today. What I'd like to share here, hopefully with some more level-headed people who believe in Critical Thought and Science, is a very interesting documentary that just happened to be on the Discovery Times channel when I got this thug's mail this morning. Spoiler alert:
BBC - Religion & Ethics - Revelation: The End of the World?: "So it seems that the Book of Revelation is not prophesising the end of the world but is a polemic against the Roman Empire. John frames his attack in a way that parallels other religious writings of the time and which would have made sense to early Christians. John was for first century Christians telling them to galvanise themselves against compromising with Rome, and that their faithfulness would be rewarded."
These aren't some anti-Christian, secular humanist propagandists. These are actual biblican scholars, and many Christians who believe in the teachings of Jesus, critically evaluating evidence that Revelation was not written by John the Disciple of Jesus. It's very interesting stuff, even for a Bright like me. After all, history is history, no matter how crazy the people who made it were.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Southern California Catering Friends

A few weeks ago, my wife's cousin's husband, Eric Glass, a Hudson Valley caterer in Woodstock New York, got a call from a southern California caterer who wanted to know who did his web site. She had found his site and liked it. So, he sent her to me. Her site was a mess, one of those done cheap by someone with no clue using an online WYSIWIG editor. Ugh. So I told Emma, sure, I could help her, and I redid the whole thing, from bottom up, and her Los Angeles catering company, Culinary Delight Catering, has a really nice web site that should get her much higher search engine rankings.

Now that I've been doing business with Emma for a few weeks, I can tell she's a really cool lady. If you read the story of her business adventures as a home party consultant and southern California wedding consultant, and how that started from humble beginings as a sandwich shop, you'll get the idea. Her elegant touches as a Los Angeles wedding caterer are impressive. Her talents in corporate event planning are celebrated. Her her weekly meal plans are like having a personal chef, but without having someone messing up your kitchen.

Gee, I can't wait to get some food from her!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Dana Spiotta's New Book is Out to Rave Reviews

Dana Spiotta
My wife's sister, Dana Spiotta, has a new book out: Eat the Document. She's getting rave reviews, including this one from Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times. This is Dana's second novel. Her first, Lightning Field, also receieved great reviews.

Dana lives with her husband and daughter in Cherry Valley New York, where they run a gourmet restaurant, The Rose and Kettle.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Another in a Long Line of Great George W Bush Quotes

I'd love to hear some dumbass explain why they voted for this genius. Are you all chicken hawks now? Hell, I've even seen my neighbors scratching the Bush stickers off their cars!
Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Okay, better? I'll keep working on it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Al Gore's Challenge to America

"We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield." -- George Orwell

"Whenever power is unchecked and unaccountable it almost inevitably leads to mistakes and abuses. In the absence of rigorous accountability, incompetence flourishes. Dishonesty is encouraged and rewarded." -- Al Gore

Monday, January 02, 2006

Big Bear Cabin Rental

My friend Vince has this great Big Bear Cabin for rent. It's within walking distance of the Big Bear ski slopes. It has room for two couples, with a full kitchen and a great stone fireplace. It's very reasonable for a Big Bear rental cabin any time of year.

The web site I made for Vince's cabin also has links to other Big Bear rentals, plus free desktop wallpaper of winter pictures from Big Bear California, taken by my wife Robin from the top of the ski slopes. We also offer other goodies, like links to other vacation rentals worldwide, including other Southern California Ski Resort rentals and skiing and snowboarding posters.