Wednesday, December 31, 2003

During the last couple of years, I have been living in my past as I write Chasing the Sun, fictionalizing my time in Japan. Today, I learned something that took me even further back in time.

One of the benefits of living in a small town is knowing a lot of people.

When I was elementary school there was a lady in the lunch room who, to me, was the symbol of lunch. Mrs. Kuhlman was one of the cooks in the lunch room. I learned today that she passed away.

She lived around the corner from us, and when I would go back to work from lunch, I would often see her watering her yard. Every time I saw her, I was reminded of those elementary school days.

I hope she is working in the cafeteria in the sky, and having a great time.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

The New Prohibition

And so it begins! The Toronto Star recently ran an article report the high cost of drinking to business. "Estimates suggest sick time related to drinking costs the British economy about $4.4 billion, the Australian economy $5 billion and the American economy a staggering $197 billion (all figures Canadian) — roughly equivalent to the previous night's bar tab."

This is the same argument they used about smoking.

The war on alcohol has begun!

Monday, December 15, 2003

I really don't want to do this

The Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce recently redid their website. Some B&B owners have complained that their hits have fallen because of the redesign. Donna, my boss, suggested I be involved in the process of fixing the problem. So I am on a Chamber committee looking into the concerns. Yee ha.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003


(10) Here's something to darken your day. From the people who brought you Ruby Ridge and Waco, the director of the ATF is stepping down to become head of the anti-piracy unit of the RIAA. Expect the tanks to roll soon!

Monday, December 08, 2003



Revenge is so sweet!

I once got into an arguement with a NORML geek once about the effects of smoking. His position was that marijuana smoking was not harmful and therfore should be legalized; but tobacco smoking was harmful and should be banned. He didn't want to suffer through second hand smoke. My position was that if smoking one dried leaf was harmful then smoking another dried leaf was harmful as well. I pointed out that cigarette smoke, according to the Surgeon General's warning said "Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide." I suggested that marijuana smoke contained carbon monoxide, since carbon monoxide is a by product of combustion. His response, "There are no studies that show that marijuana smoking is harmful!"


Here's why I'm laughing. A study has concluded that moderate pot smokers have reduced lung capacity, and have fewer cancer preventing antioxidant levels.

Now all those pot smoking anti-tobacco zealots have to quit smoking! BWAH! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

No. I am not bitter and I don't hold a grudge.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Why Excise Taxes to Stop Behavior are a Bad Idea

A news story out of Austin reveals that a public policy wonk has decided that raising the excise taxes on cigarettes in Texas to $1.41 per pack (from $.41 per pack) will "reduce smokers, cut health care costs and help finance public schools" by generating $986 million in new revenues.

Bull! It will reduce smokers. Sure there will be a short-term gain in revenues, but if the number of smokers decrease, then the revenues will too.

The Centers for Disease Control released a study that concluded a 10% increase in excise taxes results in a corresponding 10% decrease in consumption.

Meanwhile, the State of Texas has been using its share of the tobacco settlement to fund anti-smoking programs, and these programs have been fairly successful. According to the State of Texas Fiscal Size Up 2002-2003 in 1998 the State collected $623.6 million in excise taxes. In 2003, the expected revenues are $562.6 million. That is a 10% decrease in revenues. A new study by the CDC, trumpets the fact that anti-smoking programs work!

The CDC recommends stiff tax increases, and increased funding for anti-smoking programs.

So here we have a guy that says raising cigarette taxes will reduce public health care costs and fund public schools! Wow! What a great tax!

There is a group called Trust for a Smoke Free Texas who advocate this plan to raise revenue, even though they want this revenue source to dry up! On the page that has a report on this latest tax proposal they show a woman carrying a tray with a bottle of beer and an empty glass. What are they going to go after next, I wonder?

The only way this tax increase will work is if every Texas resident is required to buy a pack of cigarettes every month!

Friday, December 05, 2003

I Hate the RIAA Part 2

A Federal judge has approved a settlement in a case against several record companies for price gouging. Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music Distribution, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corp., Universal Music Group and Bertelsmann Music Group, plus a couple of retailers, settled the suit without admitting fault. The same judge had earlier approved a $143 million settlement in a related lawsuit that found these companies conspired to fix music prices! And the RIAA wants me to believe that the recording industry is an innocent victim of crime? After their members colluded to fix prices? HA!

I haven't been able to find out the amount of this settlement. But I bet I know how they intend to pay for it!

The RIAA has just unleashed their latest wave of lawsuits, including an elderly couple who don't even own or operate a computer. (Their son-in-law added internet access to their cable bill while living with them to avoid a surcharge for another bill to the same address.) The RIAA has settled with about 220 users, at about $5000 each (on average by my math), for a total of $110,000. Anything to keep that cash stream flowing, I guess.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

My Latest Great Idea

Okay. You people reading this regularly (both of you) have not been doing your jobs! I asked for donations to my PayPal Account and no one has responded. I even provided you with a list of worthy examples I am following and still nothing!

Today, inspired by the story Lynn Wagner, I am announcing that I will be collecting pennies! Not any specific pennies, mind you, but any penny I can get my grubby mitts on. I want to collect one million pennies. That's right! You read correctly. One million pennies! (I thought about collecting quarters, but I didn't think you guys would help me with that.)

Here's all you need to do: Give me your pennies! Box 'em up and ship 'em to me. Hell! Send 'em COD if you want! I don't care. I want your pennies! I will add a graphic to help you track my progress.

Thanks in advance!