Atlantis Alumni

Monday, January 31, 2011

Will The US Side With The Egyptian People?

Photo: Bradley enjoys the most recent 16 inch snowfall in the park across the street from our house

Yes, Mubarak was our dictator, but isn't it time to stand with the people of Egypt? Obama is playing a game of catch up...watching what is happening on the streets of Cairo and then reacting. It's time for America to stand with the people of Egypt in their demands for freedom and democratic elections.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter Fun And Games

Photo: Sculpture in Fairmount Park

We are dealing with the ice and snow that remains here. The car is a prisoner until the huge piles of snow and ice melt and we get back to having something near the usual quantity of on street parking places available again. If I were to take the car out now I would never be able to re-park it!

We had a nice evening out last night. We took the regional rail train to a nearby suburb to meet our new friends Richard and Mark for dinner at a restaurant called Mikado Thai Pepper. It is a combination of Japanese and Thai. It was fun and not too expensive. Today we'll be at home. This morning we took a one hour AM walk with the dog. Later I'll go out again and visit Whole Foods probably, and pick up an entree for tonight.

Watching events in Egypt and the Middle East is interesting. We always seem to be on the wrong side supporting these dictators in that part of the world. Just a couple of years ago we were in Cairo. We visited the Egyptian Museum. I know it was partially looted already. I hope that someone can protect the museum. Of course, I hope the violence ends soon. Mubarak has to go. Will Egypt get democracy or become an Islamic fundamentalist state?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another Flowery Speech

Photo: Fairmount Park sculptures in the snow

The New York Times:

Mr. Obama proposed to simplify both the corporate income tax and the personal income tax, but he did not call for raising other taxes. Americans may not want to hear that taxes have to go up, but until Mr. Obama and other political leaders are willing to say so, credible deficit reduction will remain out of reach.

It almost as if the definition of a politician is someone who lacks the courage to lead and tell it like it really is, someone for whom getting re-elected is more important than anything else. Maybe someday we'll get a president whose top priority is the welfare of the country.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Obama And Social Security

Photo: Winter wonderland in Fairmount Park...I take my Am walks here with Bradley the dog.

With a Democrat Party president, why are we even worried that Social Security benefits will be cut and/or the retirement age raised? We're worried because bipartisan Obama might very well make another of his famous compromises with Republicans at the expense of seniors and future retirees of all ages. This, rather than raising the cap on Social Security payroll contributions, which is the only fix that is actually needed. Hopefully, there will be no call to slash benefits or raise the retirement age in the speech tonight. It's almost like we have a Republican president with wars, business types inhabiting the West Wing, and talk of cutting Social Security.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Day Are Here Again- Glee (Rachel and Kurt)

Fun Day In New York City

New York City Ballet dancers from left: Robert Fairchild, Stirling Hiltin, Amar Ramassar

We went to the New York City Ballet on Saturday to see an all Balanchine program in honor of the great choreographer's birthday. Three of the dancers came out on stage before the performance to talk about the significance of the day. Shots of vodka were distributed at intermission so that everyone could toast Mr. B. The program was wonderful. We particularly enjoyed the Four Temperaments, a signature Balanchine work. Before lunch and the performance we visited Sotheby's on the Upper East Side to see a fantastic collection of antique toy trains and accessories. For dinner we visited our old reliable East Japanese restaurant on 55th street.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

Photo: a shop in Naples

Paul Krugman sums up the modern Republican Party ideology:

...the modern G.O.P. has been taken over by an ideology in which the suffering of the unfortunate isn’t a proper concern of government, and alleviating that suffering at taxpayer expense is immoral, never mind how little it costs.

It's not just the Republicans who feel that the government has no appropriate role in helping the poor, it's ingrained in the American psyche. This notion of everyone for themselves stems way back to the "rugged individualism" ethic of the pioneers, settlers, and the social Darwinists of the nineteenth century. It's nothing new.

What we've seen in the past 100 or so years were attempts to have government address the abuses, inequalities and horrors thrust upon children, the poor, and the sick that were the black side of the industrial revolution, and the ascendancy of the American ultra wealthy aristocracy on the backs of working people. Laws passed as a result of the the Progressive movement and the rise of trade unionism, the institution of the income tax, and FDR's New Deal, particularly Social Security, mark an expanded role of government. It is this expansion in the role of government that the American wealthy aristocracy and their Republican Party champions hate and which they seek to destroy. Ronald Reagan is their great patron saint. Cut taxes, cut services to the most needy, and let the chips fall where they may. This is modern day Social Darwinism.

Yet where are the voices of those who know better, who know their history, those who favor social justice? It seems as though most politicians are climbing on the same bandwagon. Rumor has it that Obama will propose cutting Social Security in his 2011 State of the Union address, his way of continuing to "work with Republicans" as he did when he agreed to their demands to extend the Bush era tax cuts to the ultra wealthy.

We're eating our own. It's end of empire time. Let them eat cake.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Fifteen Wishes That Probably Will Not Come True

1. A return to real progressive taxation (pre-Reagan rates)
2. The end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
3. Universal (single payer) healthcare
4. Real, deep, and permanent cuts in the defense budget
5. Full equality for GLBT Americans
6. An end offshore drilling
7. A real energy conservation Marshall Plan
8. Closure of US bases around the world (why are we there?)
9. True neutrality in the Arab-Israeli dispute
10. Animal rights respected and codified into law
11. A vegan and vegatarian America
12. Outlaw natural gas fracking
13. Restoration of all constitutional rights pre-Patriot Act
14. War crimes trails for Bush,Jr and company for torture
15. Universal national service (end the all-volunteer army)

Too Many Teeth!

Our little Burmese kitten, Loki, is seven moths old. He is getting his permanent "fangs."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CSX Derailment In Fairmount Park!

Our house is located about 100 ft. from the CSX line (old B&O) that runs under the Philadelphia Museum of Art and along the Schuyklill River through the city. Last night there was a derailment on this line about a mile from our house where the tracks go through Failmount Park. There does not appear to have been a spill. The tank car(s) were reported to be empty. To me it looks like these cars were near the end of the train. The tracks curve broadly at this point. This is the second derailment in roughly the same spot that I can remember. The previous derailment was worse I think becuase there was a spill if I remember correctly.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fun Birthday!

Friends Cindy & Patrick, Louise, and Richard treated me to a fun dinner at Doma restuarant Sunday evening for my birthday. Dan gave me lots of nice presents. If you have to turn 62 then this is they way to do it! Celebrate!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Will We Move To Single-Payer Health Care?

Photo: Naples, Italy

Conservative columnist David Brooks of the New York Times writing on the looming crunch that is coming because the Obama health care fiasco will soon prove to be a financial disaster:

When the crisis comes, Democrats will face an interesting choice — to patch the Obama system or try to replace it with something bigger. The administration may want a patch, but by a ratio of nearly 2 to 1, according to a CNN poll, Democratic voters would prefer a more ambitious law. Liberals could logically say that the mistake was trying to create a hybrid system, rather than moving straight to a single-payer one.

Maybe that was Obama's plan all along: install an unworkable hybrid system then, when it doesn't work, do the right thing and go the single-payer route.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Holidays...Whew!

The holidays were fun but busy for us. We had dinner out on Christmas Eve before going to our friend Paul's Victorian home for a party and his tree lighting. Paul collects vintage Christmas tree ornaments that he displayed on a large fresh tree lit with real candles. On New Year's Eve our friends Grant and Kathyrn invited us to join them for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant in Collingswood, NJ (PHOTO). We had never been to downtown Collingswood. The town was decorated nicely for the holidays. It boasts a number of nice restaurants that we'll have to try in the future. Now it's time to settle back into the regular routine.