Archive for October, 2007

Cassie the Web Cat

October 31, 2007 Leave a comment

We have two Calico cats. Cassie, the younger one, loves to perch herself atop our computer. My wife calls her “Web Cat.” Here’s a recent pic.
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Billionaire Buffett wants to pay more taxes

October 31, 2007 1 comment

Multi-billionaire Warren Buffet, one of those who opposes the abolishment of the estate tax, recently stated that he wants to pay more taxes.

Buffet is worth an estimated $52 billion and claimed in a British newspaper story that he pays less taxes than any of his staff—including his receptionist.

This is according to an “informal survey” Buffet took of his staff and revealed on NBC. Buffet claims that the survey of 15 of his 18 staff members revealed that he paid a 17.7% payroll and income tax while his staff averaged 32.9%.

Far be it from me to second-guess a sage investor, but I find it a little hard to believe. Is Buffet being truthful, not being truthful or simply neglecting to disclose all the facts? Or is the “survey” subjective and riddled with errors and misinformation?

They say the survey was done at his office in England, and the Brits generally have a higher tax rate than what we have here in America. How else does a country finance socialized medicine?

Buffet said: “There wasn’t anyone in the office, from the receptionist up, who paid as low a tax rate and I have no tax planning; I don’t have an accountant or use tax shelters. I just follow what the US Congress tells me to do.”

No accountants and no tax shelters? Yeah, right. I find those extremely difficult to believe, especially that a multi-billionaire with countless savings, investments, and so on would do everything himself instead of having a team of hand-picked accountants do it for him.

If Buffett wishes to pay more in taxes, fine. I am amazed in his faith in our government, especially with its startling propensity to waste billions of tax dollars annually in pork barrel spending.

In the article, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce responded to Buffett’s claims, saying that the top 1% of U.S. earners (including Buffett) accounted for 39% of American tax revenue and that the highest-earning 25% accounted for 86%. The COC’s chief economist Martin Regalia had this to say: “Mr. Buffett has made an awful lot of money and if he wants to pay more taxes, I think that’s fine. But I think he should get his facts straight…There’s no question in my mind: if you were to impose [the Democrats’] tax increases, you would see the US go into a recession.”

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Saw IV: Critics are saying beware

October 30, 2007 Leave a comment

I have a morbid sense of curiosity, which might be the only thing that propels me to watch Saw IV. For the record, I have seen the first three films. First film was great. Second film wasn’t bad. I was fairly disappointed with the third film. The fourth one, though, sounds intriguing.

Saw IV, as was Saw III, was not screened for critics. Generally, this is said to be a bad sign for a movie, although Dead Silence (which I thought was a great film) wasn’t screened for critics, either. By not being screened for critics, those who reviewed the film had to buy a ticket just like everyone else.

So, what have some of the reviews been? According to the Internet Movie Database, not very good:

Kyle Smith of the New York Post: “The franchise is getting long in the tooth.” Smith added the movie could instead be called “Saw It Be-IV.”

Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News: “If an hour and a half of so-called ‘torture porn’ sounds like fun, you’ll find Saw IV situated somewhere between the first in the cycle (a solid original with plenty of energy in it) and the last (a gasping copycat willing to do anything to stay alive).”

Scott Schueller of the Chicago Tribune: “If you like your films disgusting, deplorable and demoralizing rather than smart, scary and suspenseful, go ahead and feed the coffers of Saw IV’s makers. If you don’t, please don’t give the studio a reason to make Saw V. Please.”

Considering my disappointment with the third film, I can understand the critics’ criticism—to an extent. Still, my experience has been that some of the best movies I’ve ever seen (such as The Butterfly Effect) have been ridiculed by most critics while some of the worst movies I’ve ever seen (such as the hopelessly-overrated Malcolm X, Clerks and Mallrats) have received heaps of praise. Tom Clancy once said that critics are those who can’t do something and are bitter at those who can do something. If I do see Saw IV, it’ll be because James Wan is involved in the project; I consider Wan to be the M. Night Shyamalan of horror films in that the ending often is a complete surprise. Still, I hope they stop soon since movies tend to get ridiculous after the fourth or fifth sequel (and sometimes after the second or third).

I also remember that critics fell all over Knocked Up, which I got to watch a few excerpts of about a month ago. The film was a vile, unrealistic waste of celluloid. There was even a deleted scene where a man graphically complains about a lack of male sexual situations in movies like Brokeback Mountain.

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Upcoming My Two Shekels column

October 30, 2007 Leave a comment

I was thinking about what I should write about next. While watching Friday Night Lights, I thought of an issue in Christianity that doesn’t seem to get addressed very often–but should. We’ll see. Hopefully by November I’ll have that one written…

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Evan Almighty theology

October 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Not a bad film…even had some thought-provoking theology. I have never seen the original, but this one has an interesting quote of God’s (played by Morgan Freeman):

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

It really gives you a lot to think about. God doesn’t give us virtues on a silver platter but rather gives us chances to build them up, like spiritual muscles.

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The Reagan Diaries

October 28, 2007 Leave a comment

An interesting read so far. I think it was President Ronald Reagan‘s journal and his other writings that made even historical revisionists realize that he was actually a very brilliant man. However, Reagan, just like the rest of us, wasn’t perfect. He writes in 1981 that he thinks Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor would be a great lady who would support pro-life causes. Wrong.

Reagan also noted, and you could certainly read the frustration, that reporters would gleefully report of his leisure time but never bothered to learn that any unfinished work at the end of the day went with him to his private study in the White House. He also seemed to have a friendly relationship with Democrat and fellow Irish-American house speaker Thomas “Tip”O’Neill. Reading this book has inspired me to keep a daily journal and lament the year in which I didn’t keep one. I hope to use my journal to keep myself up on the memories and thoughts I haven’t recorded over the years.

An interesting fact: President Reagan and I share the same birthday. He was born February 6, 1911 and I was born February 6, 1973. He was (depending on when in he day he was born; I was born at 10:11 A.M. CST) exactly 62 years older than me.

Check out this Website, which is the home of Reagan’s son, talk show host Michael Reagan. Mike is one of the smartest cookies in the business. He, along with Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Michael Medved and, of course, the godfather Rush Limbaugh, are among my favorites in the talk radio business.

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Info on 24 trailer: a villain that will shock you

October 27, 2007 Leave a comment

I love the Fox action-drama 24. my family and I discovered it a few years ago and we’ve been hooked ever since. During a break between seasons, we used Netflix to get caught up on the past episodes we haven’t seen.

A few moments ago, I just saw the trailer for this upcoming season. Kurtwood Smith, who played the acerbically-sarcastic Red Forman on That 70s Show is on as a senator who questions Jack Bauer regarding torture methods. Janeane Garofalo is also on it. All during the off-season they kept talking about how someone would return to the show as a criminal. Who? Someone Jack knew. I thought for sure it would be Behrooz, the kid whose mother and father died on Day 4; the last time we saw him, he was taken away by Habib Marwan’s men. Or perhaps it would be Behrooz’s mother, played by the brilliant Iranian-born actress Shohreh Aghdashloo; her murder takes place off-camera, giving rise to the possibility that she’s somehow not dead. Or perhaps it’s the Chinese government official Cheng Zhi (played brilliantly by the Hong Kong-born actor Tzi Ma), who was apprehended by CTU and had held Jack in China for 20 months.

Surprise, surprise.

(Stop reading if you haven’t seen the trailer and don’t want any hints)

(I mean it)

(Final warning)

Ok, here it goes…

…this season’s villain mastermind is Tony Almeida.

Surprised? So am I. Not sure if this will work, since I liked Tony and felt bad for him when his wife Michelle died. Besides, I thought Tony was dead.

Apparently not.

So, Jack goes from answering to senators in Washington regarding his interrogation techniques while once again trying to save America from an impending disaster.

Let’s hope this season doesn’t require a boat chase during which Jack is forced to hurdle his boat over a shark. We’ll find out in January…

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