Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Where's Shawn Going?

Ah yes, the excitement that is my life just rolls along. I know, hard to believe that someone could have this much fun. It's true that my life is a non-stop stream of excitement.

Since I bought a new, cheap digital video camera a few weeks ago...

Without further ado, I bring you a new interactive video - 'Where's Shawn Going' - where you get to be part of the fun and tell me where I was going and give me the rest of the story.

The choice is yours. Go for the excitement and drama, or find yourself wishing you had.


And, as an update on the meet an impressive person project - I think I'm going to try and meet one of these people: George Clooney (not to talk about parks and forests though - sorry Melissa), Richard Gere (to ask him about his Tantra practice), and instead of the Dalai Lama (who would be very cool indeed) I'm going to try to meet another guy, the Venerable Lama Zopa.

A few weeks ago, I did meet Senator Russ Feingold. He was nice enough, but I was amazed by the fact that he's short. No, he's short. I was talking to a couple of ladies after he left and one was saying that she thought he could be elected President. I had to honestly disagree.

"He'll never be elected," I said.

"Oh, I don't know about that, people want change..."

"No, it has nothing to do with being a 'crazy liberal'," I said. "He's too short. He'll never be elected President."

"Well..." said the lady.

"Oh my're completely right," said the other, with a laugh. "Have there been any short presidents recently? I don't think so..."

"Sad but true. But he makes an awesome Senator."

How sad is it that as 'grownups' we still base much of our opinions about people on their appearance? I'm not unconvinced that Bush beat Kerry as much based on the fact that Kerry was goofier looking than Bush as on anything else. It was urely worth at least a few votes.

In a side note...Feingold does have a presence that's unmistakeable.

Funny how some people have a magnetic quality when you meet them. Well, he's certainly got that quality. I'm guessing that Bush has it too when you meet him. Clinton definitely had it. I wonder if it comes first or if it develops along with a career in the spotlight?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Where I would rather be...

Watching boats on the Canale di Cannaregio...

In front of the Basilica di San Marco...

Checking out cute girls in mask shops...

Picking a door in the world's first ghetto...

Marvelling at the contrast between bright, exotic fruit and the grey day...

Wondering who lives behind these windows on the Canale Grande...

In short...not here in the charming, but dull, confines of Wisconsin.

This is the danger of pulling out old travel photos. Man, did I love it in Venice. I would love to live there for a few months.

Ah well, I guess we all make our own prisons.

Doing what terrorists want

I read a good piece today. It was by Bruce Schneier.

Here is an exerpt:

"I'd like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute.

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want."

He pretty much sums it up with that. He goes on to elaborate and, frankly, what he's saying makes a lot of sense.

"Another thought experiment: Imagine for a moment that the British government arrested the 23 suspects without fanfare. Imagine that the TSA and its European counterparts didn't engage in pointless airline-security measures like banning liquids. And imagine that the press didn't write about it endlessly, and that the politicians didn't use the event to remind us all how scared we should be. If we'd reacted that way, then the terrorists would have truly failed.

It's time we calm down and fight terror with antiterror. This does not mean that we simply roll over and accept terrorism. There are things our government can and should do to fight terrorism, most of them involving intelligence and investigation -- and not focusing on specific plots.

But our job is to remain steadfast in the face of terror, to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to not panic every time two Muslims stand together checking their watches. There are approximately 1 billion Muslims in the world, a large percentage of them not Arab, and about 320 million Arabs in the Middle East, the overwhelming majority of them not terrorists. Our job is to think critically and rationally, and to ignore the cacophony of other interests trying to use terrorism to advance political careers or increase a television show's viewership.

The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn't make us any safer."

Peace out...have a good weekend.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The real terror

If the CEO of a major corporation had numbers like these, he wouldn't have a job. But this isn't a company, it's a country, and these numbers affect a lot of people.

If your favorite sports team had these sorts of losing stats, they would fire the manager and get one who could do the job. But when it comes to sports, we're talking about a game and this - despite what many in the Republican majority and some in the Democratic minority might think - is not a game.

This is life. And this is how the government is failing real people and lining the pockets of the ultra-rich Republican elites.

There are elections coming up in November. The Bush administration and the Republican party don't want you to look at these sort of numbers, they want you to cower in bed worrying about the terror boogeyman. Make no mistake, the real terror is that the Republican majority in Congress will continue to give away the American dream.

The National Debt:

* The National Debt the Year before Bush Took Office - $5.6 Trillion
* The National Debt Today - $8.3 Trillion
* The Total Debt Run Up By "Fiscally Conservative" Republicans - $2.7 Trillion

The Trade Deficit:

* The Total 2005 Trade Deficit - $720 Billion
* The 2005 Trade Deficit with China Alone - $202 Billion
* The Projected 2006 Trade Deficit - Over $800 Billion

The Wealth Gap:

* The US Rank in the Gap between the Richest and Poorest Among the
Developed Countries - 1st
* The Percent of Wealth Owned by the Richest 1% of Americans - 33.4%
* The Percent of Wealth Owned by the bottom 90% of Americans - 30.4%
* The Percent of Wealth Owned by to bottom 50% of Americans - 2.5%


* The Percentage of the American Workforce Employed in 2000 - 64.4%
* The Percentage Employed Today - 62.9%
* The Net Job Creation During the Clinton Administration (8 Years) - 22.7 Million
* The Net Job Creation Under Bush (5 ½ Years) - 2.6 Million
* The Number of Manufacturing Jobs Lost Under Bush - 2.9 Million
* The Number of Jobs Needed Each Month to Cover Growing Workforce - 150,000
* The Average Number of Jobs Created Each Month Under Bush - 41,000
* The Official Unemployment Rate (7 Million People) - 4.6%


* The Rise in Wages for Blue Collar and Service Workers (1) since 2001 - None - Nada!!
* The Rise in the Cost of Living Since 2001 (When Bush Took Office) - 8.1%
* The Number of Years since 2001 That Middle-Class Families Have
Seen Their Incomes Fall - All 5 Years
* The Share of National Income Going to Corporate Profits - 7.0% in 2001
12.2 % Today
* The Share of the National Income for Blue Collar and Service Workers - 58.6% in 2001
56.2% Today
* The US Rank Among Developed Nations For Income "Disparity"
Between the Richest Elites and Everyone Else - #3
* The Ratio of Average CEO Pay to Average Workers Pay:
o 1982 42 to 1
o 2003 300 to 1
o 2006 ($11.8 Million to $27,460) 431 to 1

Note (1) they are 80% of the total workforce


The 2001 Tax Cut:
o Average cut for people making under $50,000 a year (71%) - $425
o Average cut for people making $1 Million a year (0.1%) - $59,216
o Average cut for people making more than $10 Million a year (.00004%) - $521,905

The 2003 Tax Cut For Capital gains and Dividends:
o Average cut for people making under $50,000 a year (71%) - $10
o Average cut for people making $1 Million a year (0.1%) - $25,450
o Average cut for people making more than $10 Million a year (.00004%) - $497,463

The 2006 Extension of Tax Cuts For Capital gains and Dividends:
o Average cut for people making under $50,000 a year (71%) - $3
o Average cut for people making $1 Million a year (0.1%) - $59,972


* Number of Americans Now Living in Poverty (12.7 %) - 37 Million
* Increase Under Bush - 5.4 Million
* Number of Americans Without Health Care - 47 Million
* Number of Americans Who Have Had to Turn to Food Banks and Food
Stamps For Meals in 2005 - 25 Million
* Rank of US Poverty Among Developed Nations - We're # 1
* The Number of US Billionaires - 269 - We're # 1

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's about oil, oil, oil...and more oil...

As if the majority of Americans hadn't figured out the real reason we went into Iraq, have stayed in Iraq, and will continue to stay in Iraq no matter how fruitless and futile the effort...

"Leaving before we complete our mission would create a terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East, a country with huge oil reserves that the terrorist network would be willing to use to extract economic pain from those of us who believe in freedom," George Bush said Wednesday.

Well done George. You took a country with no real ties to global terrorism - one that was vehemently opposed to the greatest terrorist threat to America, Al-queda - and made it both a haven and training ground for terrorists.

Way to snatch a new millenium Viet Nam out of the jaws of overwhelming victory. You've effectively transformed our men and women in uniform from perceived liberators to perceived oppressors. Well done.

Oh and hey, how's that search for Osama Bin Laden going? Remember him? He's that tall, skinny terrorist leader with bad kidneys. You know, the one who masterminded the worst attack on America in history.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ever need a a challenge?

I think I need a challenge. Ever get that way? Life is just too easy, the ruts too deep? You know, like when you can just let go of the wheel and the car will steer itself?

I'm looking for a touch of difficulty. Not the kind that keeps me awake at night, but the kind that makes me excited to get up in the morning.

That's where you guys come in.

I want to pick a person that I need to somehow meet - celebrity, politician, musician, scientist, whatever. Who should that person be? Got any ideas?

I'm pretty confident that almost anyone in the world is accessible somehow. The challenge is in finding out how and then not blowing it. Who should I try and contact? And, more importantly, what should I ask them that hasn't been asked before?

Throw out some ideas and I'll pick one, or maybe just pick my own...I don't know. I've never tried this before.

Then I'll let you know the ups and downs and keep you posted on how it's going. Put on your thinkin' caps and let me know what you come up with.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Farm Fresh

Every Saturday morning, there's a farmers market in West Bend. I used to live right downtown where I could just walk right out my door and be there. Now, it's not quite so convenient. Combine that with not getting up and moving in the morning and it equals a long time since I've been down to the market.

I got up today. Got a cup of coffee and wandered around a bit. Bought some veggies, bread and the hottest pepper cheese ever.

And as if that's not enough, St. Mary's is having their annual fair. St. Mary's is less than a block away. There'll be polka music playing all day long. It's sort of a if-you-can't-beat-em sort of deal, so I'll probably wander over there later.

There was lots of this...

And some of this...

And a group of old-folk musicians. That's old folks, not elderly folk music types. This guy was 92 years old and I kid you not he could still kick his legs up...higher than I could. That's awesome for him - a bit sad for me. Outkicked by a 92 year old...jeez, that just aint right. He's the one in the blue, by the way. The kid in the red couldn't kick as high as either of us. At least I wasn't the worst kicker.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Reader's Digest

Not much of a Friday, all the fun happened on Thursday it seems. That was fine, since I didn't feel much like living the party life anyway.

Went out Saturday. Planned on staying home, but Jimmy called and dragged me out. Sarah was having her birthday party at Games. There was live music and fun was had.

The band was mostly a cover a band, but they were pretty good once they got going. The lead singer, Nicole, was PDC - pretty darn cute. She should have been singing for a punk band though. She had a great punk voice. The backup singer had the more pop/rock voice.

Raj made me a stellar burger at Brazen Head. Caught him just before closing, but he was a trooper.

Now, it's back to the grind of working. Bummer that.

Sarah's B-day.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Excitement from the Heartland

Yeah, this is the drama that is my life. Made a prayer wheel, spun said prayer wheel, noted there would need to be a lot more spinning of said wheel to save humanity from itself, made video of spinning prayer wheel. Yup, my life is filled with excitement.

See the excitement.