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Mar. 9th, 2015

Politics sucks

I was just on Daily Kos, and saw the article linked here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/06/1369043/-Terri-Schiavo-episode-comes-back-to-haunt-Jeb-Bush-but-only-because-he-didn-t-send-in-troops?detail=email#

All I will add here is that if there ever was a person less deserving of the Presidency in 2016, I don't want to know of them.

Mar. 10th, 2014

Civic Duties

Got a jury summons a few weeks ago. First time ever for that. Today, I'm at the Kane County Courthouse, waiting for the judge to call for the pool to select jurors for a trial. No idea what the case might be, or if I'll be chosen to actually sit as a juror or alternate (and I won't be able to talk about it before the trial's over, so this is likely the last you'll hear about it until then. So far, I've seen a video about the process, and now I'm in the jury lounge, keeping myself occupied until called. About the only really annoying thing about it is that the self-stick JUROR badge I have to wear doesn't want to stay stuck to my suit jacket. I'll likely be wearing a different outfit later, assuming I'm chosen to sit on the jury. Any other observations will probably have to wait.

Nov. 10th, 2013

The things that come up at filks . . .

Be warned: this is Sunday afternoon sillyness at Windycon, from the dead dog filk.

We have representatives of several bands - Riverfolk, Bards at Large, Toy Boat, Court and Country (a cappella medieval & liturgical music), Cheshire Moon, Three Fifths, Contra-Indicated, and Herculean Cheese Storm. As a result, some silly mash-ups for a combined name have been floating around. The last one we came up with before the members of Cheshire Moon had to leave was:

River Court Cheshire Cheese Contra Fifths Toy Bards.

As I said, you were warned. I also cannot take full credit (or blame) since several of the members of the parties named above helped the process along prior to this posting.

Oct. 27th, 2013

Bad timing and Bad Words

I'm making this public because I have to. Someone I am friended with here on LJ has locked me out from replying to them in any other way, and I have to say it would be my fault. Since we don't appear to have any mutual friends I can appeal to this person through, I have to go this route since they don't appear to have removed me from their friends list and should be able to see this posting.

Without going into any gory details, I believe that I managed to make it appear that I was trying (far too hard ) to get this friend to do something they did not want to do. That was never the case, and if that impression was given then I apologize. I have to assume that I have royally pissed this person off, which was also not intended. I feel about 2 inches tall about this.

I do not expect the reply (if any) to be public, but I do hope I can mend things. Please understand that I was not attempting to force you to do anything that you do not wish to do, such as joining other groups. I obviously did not make that plain enough in my messages. I'm not in the habit of going around pissing off my friends, and I am truly, deeply sorry that I have done so in this instance.

I hope that I will be forgiven, but I know that is up to you. I'll be patient.

Sep. 1st, 2013

Texas Time

OK, I'm still at Worldcon (San Antonio) with friends and acquaintances, listening to Jordan Kare and thinking about upcoming events. Spokane, Washington won the Worldcon bid for 2015 (which didn't surprise me half as much as it did the bid committee for Orlando). I'd been expecting Helsinki to lose, since I've never seen two non-North American Worldcons in a row before, but Orlando was a harder bet, since they had a benefit that also appears to have been a liability (in that they chose a Disney resort as their site). Over all, I don't think it was such a hard choice. I didn't want to go to Florida over Labor Day weekend, nor, it appears, did anyone else.

On a similar note, the bids for that 2014 NASFIC were from Phoenix and Detroit. While some thought Detroit was a sure loser (usually citing the fact that the Michigan governor's lackey filed bankruptcy for Detroit this year), but they pulled out a win. I may not be able to go, since much of my vacation time will be devoted to 2 weeks in England and Ireland in August next year (LonCon and Shamrokon, respectively), but I'm keeping my options open.

Apr. 21st, 2011

Worldcon musings

Between financial and time pressures, I find that I've let more deadlines for the Reno Worldcon go by than I would have liked, and now memberships are up to $195.00 each. I'm posting this in the hope that someone who knows me would either have a membership for sale, or know someone who does. I'll wait until just before the next deadline, which is in June, I think, to hear back. Keep me in mind, folks, I'm willing to pay a reasonable price to take a membership you can't use off your hands.

Mar. 15th, 2011

Hoping to make some political hay . . .

Well, I just sent the following to Mark Kirk, who currently sits as the junior Senator from Illinois. I'd sent my 2 cents worth as part of a drive to let Congress as a whole know many of us do not want funding for Planned Parenthood cut. I'll let my response speak for itself (I've copied it below); I tried to keep it civil and stay factual, I didn't call him any names, but I also let him know that I understand the history of what's been going on for at least the last 30 years far better than he might have thought.

So, here's what I sent him:

Mr. Kirk,

Here is a copy of the email you sent me:

Dear Mr. Fulkerson:

Thank you for contacting me regarding federal support for family planning and Title X. I appreciate your thoughts on this important issue.

The Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970 established the family planning program in Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Under this program, grants to public and private nonprofit agencies provide contraceptive services to millions of low-income and uninsured women across the country, as well as screening and treatment of a wide range of diseases, including breast and cervical cancer, HIV, sexually transmitted infections, high blood pressure and anemia. For many women and children, Title X serves as an entry point into the health care system, as well as a source of primary health care services. Recognizing the importance of this program, the federal government increased its commitment to Title X by 10.9% between FY2006 and FY2010.

While I have always supported Title X for the basic health care and contraceptive services provided, no element of the federal budget should be singled out from the shared sacrifices necessary to get our economy back on track in this country. In recent years, our country witnessed massive spending increases and unprecedented budget deficits. Between FY2000 and FY2009, federal spending was approximately 20% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and federal revenues averaged 18% of GDP. In FY2009, federal revenue dropped to 15% of GDP while federal spending increased to 25% of GDP – resulting in a $1.4 trillion deficit. The federal deficit was $1.3 trillion in FY2010 and by January 2011 the national debt stood at more than $14 trillion.

The chief threat to restoring our economy is runaway federal spending and debt. In addition to the short-term limits on domestic spending, Congress must exercise restraint in all areas of the federal budget. Statutory changes in the federal budgeting process are also needed to prevent reckless spending in the future, which is why I support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution and a statutory cap on all spending – discretionary and mandatory – to the 40-year historical average of 20.6%. I also voluntarily reduced my Senate office budget by 15% to show that even Congress is not exempt from cutting back and living within its means.

To put our nation on a path of fiscal responsibility, Congress needs to change course from spending money we do not have. Again, while no one program should be singled out, we will need shared sacrifice across all areas of government. Please be assured that I will continue to keep your thoughts in mind as I work to balance the budget and reduce debt.



Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. To stay informed on important issues, I encourage you to visit my website at http://kirk.senate.gov and my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SenatorKirk.

Sincerely,

Mark Kirk
United States Senator

Please do not think that I will accept far-right talking points as a response in this matter. While it is true that there are problems with the budgetary process in Washington (as well as in Illinois), the blame cannot be placed solely on programs that have had a demonstrably positive effect on the lives of millions of Americans. To even think about cutting health care of any kind, but especially to poor women and girls who have no other way of getting that health care is callous and cruel, at best.

It is also disingenuous to claim that the problem lies solely with how much money is being spent. This fiscal nightmare can be traced back to one period very easily, the period during which Ronald Reagan occupied the White House. It was on his watch that he played tit for tat politics and got the Congress to pass a massive and needless cut in tax rates for the extremely wealthy, chopping the top rate from approximately 60% to less than 30%. I remember that time very well, for Reagan stood there, on TV, and told everyone we'd gotten a tax cut that would go into effect in January of 1986. Imagine my reaction when I got my first paycheck that was for a period totally within that month, and saw that my withholding had gone UP, proving the he had lied to all of us. The economy, which had been in a worsening slump since 1980, got even worse over the following decade. Because taxes actually went up on the vast majority of Americans, this was, in fact, the largest tax increase in history, but even that wasn't enough to make up for the massive cut actually given only to those making over $1,000,000 per year.

When President Clinton managed to get a very modest tax increase on the super-wealthy passed through Congress, and signed it into law he was demonized by the far-right, who falsely claimed it to be the biggest tax increase in history (conveniently forgetting that dubious honor belonged solely to Reagan), but the economy took off like a rocket. Despite the bemoaning of the right wing noise machine, we ended the 1990's with a budget surplus that would have continued for decades, and a true end of deficit spending in sight.

Then there was the debacle in Florida in 2000, where the five votes cast by the Supreme Court placed George W. Bush in the White House (and he was given a far-right majority in Congress, as well, since the people thought they were electing Al Gore and were still operating under the delusion that a divided government is better). The economy began to tank the day after the Supreme Court decision was announced, since the stock market knew very well what was in store. This new Congress happily and speedily took back the Clinton-era tax increase on the wealthy, and cut those taxes even further, then borrowed billions of dollars to send a pittance back to the common man to convince us that we'd gotten a cut, too.

If you're still reading at this point, it should be obvious that I advocate, at the very least, a return to the tax rates that last existed when President Clinton was in office, when the economy was strong, there was common-sense regulation of business and banks to prevent the abuses that led to this most recent financial meltdown, and there were jobs to be had for most everyone.

Do you want to convince me you really care, Mr. Kirk? There is one way you could do that. Begin today to advocate for a return to those tax rates and business and banking regulations as they existed in 1999. The economy will turn around within three months, guaranteed. The federal deficit will be gone within five years, and there will be a surplus within seven. There will be no need to tinker with Social Security then, and we will be able to afford far more realistic health care than the modest current law provides for.

I know you will not do this. Or are you brave enough to show me that you actually have some integrity, and really do want to solve these problems, instead of just repeat far-right nonsense that most people know is a pack of lies? Let's see something from you. Can you step up and take the challenge I'm making? The facts of history bear out what I'm telling you, can you be man enough to admit when you are wrong and make a genuine, honest attempt to help fix the mess, instead of making it worse?

Show me what you're made of, Mr. Kirk. I'd be very interested in seeing it.

James Fulkerson
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Feb. 2nd, 2011

And the Weather Outside is Frightful

That, of course, is putting it mildly. I was hoping the weather guys would be wrong, but the reports are coming in that Chicagoland got around 20 inches before the snow stopped earlier this morning. Kathy and I are fine, sitting at home because our offices are officially closed and the roads are very near impassable. The wind is still gusting very high, and temperatures are expected to drop into sub-zero land overnight (something about 20 below zero Fahrenheit was being bandied about by the local news). About the only thing I'm glad about is that this didn't happen on Friday the 11th, which would have scuttled our cruise plans for this year. Of course, we still have to get out the blower and clear the driveway, since we're expecting to need to get to work tomorrow morning.

Since my boss doesn't need me to be particularly productive today, I'm taking advantage to get some things done around home that I don't always have time for these days, like posting here.
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Jan. 9th, 2011

A Mixed Weekend

Kathy and I have been spending the weekend in Atlanta at GAFilk, seeing old friends and treasured acquaintances like Dave Clement, Cat Faber, Amy McNally, and Kathleen Sloan. The music has been wonderful, as usual, though the hotel is cold in odd places (Atlanta is NOT supposed to be this cold, even in January) and there is a threat of an ice storm starting this afternoon to make travel that much more interesting (I am so glad I flew down here).
On a sad note, Randy (whose last name escapes me) came in from Pennsylvania and had to report that Ann Cecil, a friend from my days in CAPAcity many years ago, has been battling cancer, and is moving into hospice care this weekend. We don't know how much longer she has, but all positive thoughts go her way from me, at least. There were also 4 other former CAPAcitans here at the con (Kathy, Naomi Pardue, Lee Billings, and Clark Wierda), and I sent word to Jim Rittenhouse and Teresa Tucker, as well. We all wish Ann well, and hope for any positive change.

Sep. 26th, 2010

Wondering where time gets to . . .

Due to circumstances of work and just plain forgetting about it, I was only able to attend one day of Madcon 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin, which was today. I'd wanted to both have a chance to see Harlan Ellison again, and catch up with Allen Steele. When I arrived, the first person I saw was Allen, who was pleasantly surprised to see me since he hadn't expected anyone from his days in Nashville to be at this con. We chatted for about half an hour before he had to go off for his first panel of the day (yep, actual programming on Sunday at a con).

I had seen an ad in the Chicago Reader in which the convention had announced that this would be Harlan's last convention appearance ever (per him). This made it even more imperative (to me, at least) to make it there. Per Allen, Harlan had announced on Friday that the reason for this is that he is dying. He has not said what specific malady is the apparent cause (other than Allen did say that Harlan told him it was not cancer), and at 76 he isn't really that old (compared to some), so I was surprised to hear that.

Harlan didn't make an appearance until about 2 pm. Allen had said Harlan has been sleeping a lot, and he actually missed the panel Allen was going to (which he was supposed to be on) about 11 am. When he did show up, other than now having snow-white hair and being a little pudgy, he appeared to be the same Harlan I had first encountered at Middle Tennessee State University well over 30 years ago; opinionated, irascible, and generally a lot of fun to listen to. If he's dying, it appears he isn't going to let it get him down.

I'm still not sure exactly how this made me feel; I know many will be rather smug about it, some may even think he's using it as a publicity ploy, but he appears to be selling off his extra copies of his books, which could be to cover medical expenses. I have to say that I will miss him when he's gone, if for no other reason than he is one of the most talented writers I've known. Yes, he can be irritating, but many of you know that I can be, too. That doesn't diminish his talent, or the fact that he uses it very well. Of course, if he'd gone into stand-up comedy, he could probably have given Don Rickles a run for his money.

That's it for now, just wanted to have my brief say somewhere.

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