Thursday, December 26, 2002

Ever wanted to own your own town? How about the lovely town of Bridgeville, CA? It's up for auction right now on eBay, and there's only 24 hours left to get in on the action. The price (as of 10:00 AM, PST) is $1.6 million. Considering it includes 80 acres, several houses, a post office, cemetery, bridge, and tractor, that's really quite a steal for California real estate.

Place a bid now!

Read the article about the auction.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

The Author Before Christmas
By Ken Goldstein

‘Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the hovel
Not a creature was stirring, or writing their novel
The web site statistics were checked with great care
In the hope that more book sales were already there
“Now, Books-A-Million! Now, BN! Amazon!”
And all of the sites that I’m listed upon

Then up from the parking lot, there came such a noise
I logged off the ‘net to yell at those boys
There, at the window, to have me a look
I saw fifty strangers, and each with my book!
They waited in line, without any whining
So I grabbed my pen and went down for a signing

I swear, fellow authors, it can happen to you
A Christmas miracle! And me, I’m a Jew!
The readers are there, if just for the asking
Let’s pick up our pens and start multi-tasking
Now, I toast you with wine, and eggnog, and ales
“Happy holidays, all, and to all, many sales!”

(c) 2002, K.R. Goldstein –
Bizzare... Blogger screwed that one up! (and now won't let me edit it). Let's try this link:

Yahoo News article
If he stayed, there would be trouble. So he went, and now it's double. Joe Strummer, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter of the Clash, died yesterday at age fifty. Not may details yet, but the apparent cause is of a heart attack.

"The only band that matters," the Clash had a political edge that put them on a different plane than most of the other punk bands of the late '70's or early 80's, and the politics came from Strummer.

Strummer also took the band beyond the basic three chord pounding of other punk groups by adding a Reggae beat and a world-music outlook. Check out the albums "London Calling" ('79) or "Sandanista" ('80) to see what I'm talking about.

Friday, December 20, 2002

(this message was originally posted 12/20/02, but was messed up by blogger problems on the 24th):

Have I told you how famous I am? Tonight I'll be the special guest being interviewed on the Writer to Writer chat at iUniverse.

You can get to the chat through the Gotta Write Network (who sets up and hosts the chats), or directly at iUniverse.

The chats are each Friday evening, from 9-10 PM on the East Coast a.k.a. 6-7 PM out here in the West.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Not content to simply read about terrorism? Want to make a career in fighting it? Take a look at this from today's spam:
Click here to take part in the first Homeland Security program of its kind. A unique blend of comprehensive security and safety training.

Now more than ever, we need patriots in every town and city across America, trained to recognize threats to our country. NIT will give you the training you need to build a career as a Homeland Security Specialist.

Skills you will learn:
  • Threat analysis of domestic and international terrorism
  • Surveillance techniques
  • Theft, sabotage and espionage investigation
  • Intelligence gathering
  • First responder training
Financial aid for those who qualify…Day and evening programs...Job placement assistance

Last night I saw an commercial for this same scam while watching TV. In that ad, this guy comes on the screen and introduces himself as "the Director of Homeland Security" before going into the line about needing "patriots in every town and city across America."

Now, I'm sure what he meant to say is that he's the Director of the "Homeland Security" program at this school, but what it sounded like is that he's the guy who's been appointed by President Shrub to head the new federal Department of Homeland Security. But, I'm sure he didn't mean to mislead anybody. After all, he's a Patriot!

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Why didn't anybody tell me?

According to, the FBI is circulating a memo warning corporate America to expect violent attacks from anti-war protesters the week of December 15-21 (see article here).

The article suggests that this is not so much a serious warning about a realistic threat, but a cheap attempt to discredit the anti-war movement just when it's building up steam. Forty percent of Americans are now questioning the need to go to war against Iraq, and that's got the folks in DC scared.

I agree that it must be mere propaganda, and not a realistic threat. After all, nobody told me to start making Molotov cocktails. If the FBI memo is real, then somebody's taken me off the anti-war mailing lists.

Monday, December 16, 2002

The rains are continuing... Last night a tree came down on Leslie's car. Actually, it tried to land politely between her car and that of our neighbor's, and managed to do some severe damage to each of them.

That was about 1:50 AM when we heard the crash. We didn't realize the extent of the damage until this morning when I went out, thinking I'd just drag off the bit of tree that was on her car and let her go to work. No such luck, we'd have to wait for the landlord to come out with the chainsaw before anything could happen.

So, I drove Leslie to work, then went to my office, explained what was going on, and returned home to start calling the insurance company, etc. What a mess. The power and the phones (land and cellular) kept going off and on all day, while waiting for the adjuster to call me back and tell me what to do with the car. (Still waiting for that call, by the way).

The car seems drivable, but the driver's door will not open. The entire left side of the car is rippled and poked with holes. Somehow the windows remained intact.

"It never rains in California, but girl, don't they warn ya, it pours. Man, it pours."

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Despite the torrential rains and the gale-force winds, the shoppers will not be deterred. Yesterday, we had to go out to Cupertino to do some rearranging of Leslie's classroom, and had a bit of a severe weather situation.

The storm we are having this weekend is actual weather. Really. This is is a storm worthy of states other than California. Don't believe me? Click here.

So, anyway, we're in the classroom when the power goes out. We have light through the windows, so we continue working. Then we try to take a box of books we just packed up out through the neighboring classroom - a short cut to the resource center. When the door is opened Leslie is taken out of one of her shoes and thrown against the outside wall, holding onto the door handle to keep from being lost forever. Inside, the heavy wall map comes crashing down into my wrist (still hurts) and papers are sailing through the two rooms.

Once we got Leslie back inside we did our best to straighten up and gave up the idea of bringing boxes to and from the resource center. I suggested that it might be time to leave the school, while it was only a lack of power and high winds to worry about. We didn't manage to get out of there, however, for another half-hour, when the rains had come with a vengeance.

When we left the quiet, deserted, neighborhood school (still in the dark) and pulled out onto De Anza Boulevard, however, it turned out we were not the last people stupid enough to be out of their homes on such a day. Hence, the line in the opening sentence about "the shoppers will not be deterred."

You see, Californians don't believe in weather. And if we ignore it, maybe it will ignore us. Lack of electricity and tree branches across all the roads could not keep these people from their holiday shopping rounds. It's good that they have priorities. Hope you've got all your priorities straight this holiday season.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Did I mention that I'm a footnote in history? A few weeks ago I received an email from a Canadian college student who was doing research on the 2000 U.S. presidential election, and the role that Ralph Nader played in it. She had read some of my articles (here and here), and wanted permission to quote me.

Well, of course I gave her permission to quote me - if properly cited. I also sent her some data that's not currently posted on the site regarding what would have happened if Nader had not been in the race. Based on exit polls it shows that Nader actually helped Gore by bringing out more progressive and liberal voters. Had Nader not been in the race, Gore would have still lost, but there would have been no question about it.

Anyway, she used that data, and some of the stuff from this site, and recently sent me her finished paper. It was a very good analysis of the election and the role that the Green party played in it. And there I was, in several of the footnotes and the bibliography, right along side such luminaries as Theodore Lowi and Ralph Nader himself.

I haven't heard back from her yet to find out what grade the professor gave her, or if he had her remove all of my quotes and only stick with more academically acceptable sources. Meanwhile, I got a kick out of it. It's the first time (that I know of) that my ramblings have been used as a footnoted source in a college course.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

This is probably the longest I've gone without posting, but damn things are insane.

Here's an example from last weekend:
- Friday, right after work, we went to Leslie's work holiday party. From there we went to the airport to catch a flight to L.A.
- Saturday morning was my brother's graduation from Pepperdine (more about which, later *), then to my parents house for a combined celebration for the graduation, late Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah.
- Sunday, after a quick bite for breakfast, it was back to the airport to fly back to San Jose, and then drive right up to Oakland for my work's holiday party.

And then it seems like we haven't stopped running yet since getting off the plane. Tuesday after work I spoke to a group of City Year volunteers about a career in nonprofits and applying for grad school. Yesterday after work was a holiday reception dinner of one organization we work with. This evening is the annual dinner of another group I'm involved with.

Sure, much of what we're running to and from are "parties" but it's exhausting never-the-less.

* OK - The graduation:

My brother graduated with his MBA in technology management from Pepperdine's Graciadio School of Business Management. The commencement address was given by the president of Raytheon - a major defense contractor (over $17 billion in profits).

It being the business school, and it being the year of Enron, the address was of course about Ethics. Most of the group assembled failed to notice the irony of hearing a lecture on ethics from a man who makes his living creating missile guidance systems.

Or, how about the note in his introduction about how he serves on several advisory boards for the various services (Army, Navy, Air Force) - not that that would imply any conflict of interest when bidding on government contract - no!

While the $17 billion in profits was so proudly hailed in his introduction, the fact that it came from our tax dollars was not. Still, this gentleman assured us that nobody was cooking the books at Raytheon, the way they were at Enron - and that makes them ethical.

Finding more efficient means to kill people and advising to the same people (well, bureaucrats) that you sell to leave no blemish on Raytheon's ethical record. Ethics have been reduced to simply accounting practice (and getting caught cheating on the accounting).

Aren't you glad I'm back?

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

This is an interesting article that was forwarded to me by a friend online. I don't agree with 100% of what she says, or how she says it - but it does come close, and it does raise some interesting points to think about.

> In The Mainstream
> By: Pamela Troy - 12/02/02
> Near the middle of the twentieth century, a war was fought
> that was so shattering in terms of destruction, horror, and
> sheer human loss, that much of the history of that century is
> seen as either leading to or springing from that time. Those
> few years of Hitler's Third Reich offered a glimpse of what
> crimes a supposedly civilized western society is capable when
> citizens willingly relinquish the safeguards of an open society.
> And if I am to judge from much of the commentary I've been
> reading recently, what we have gleaned from this object
> lesson in tyranny is that it is the height of gaucherie to
> draw on it as an analogy unless the parties involved are
> guilty of outright genocide.
> Moderate and conservative writers react to any comparison
> with the Third Reich so violently that you can almost see
> their hands jerking up to cover their ears. And even many of
> those liberal writers who have finally gotten around to
> noticing some of the obvious parallels between the rise of
> the Nazi state and what is happening in this country today
> tend to preface their comments with an
> "I-don't-want-to-overuse-the-term-fascism" apology.
> To hear them tell it, twenty years ago the "f" word was being
> invoked in every critique of Reagan and Bush senior and
> hearings were being held with liberal senators sternly asking
> conservatives, "are you now or have you ever been a member of
> a fascist organization?"
> This is, of course, nonsense. The term "fascist" has not been
> abused to the point where it's lost its usefulness, and to
> avoid drawing comparisons with the most obvious example of
> the rise of a repressive society in the past hundred years is
> self-defeating. The Third Reich offers too rich a mine of
> information about how a formerly open and tolerant nation can
> descend into tyranny. Are we really prepared to claim that
> the only understanding gained from what happened in Germany
> 60 years ago can be summed up in the sentence, "Mass murder is bad?"
> We seem to have forgotten one of the primary lessons from
> that era, a lesson that was so powerful that in the three
> decades following the war, it was generally presented as the
> simple question, "How could it happen?" How could a
> civilized, modern society institutionalize mass murder? How
> could ordinary people watch their neighbors and friends being
> arrested, disenfranchised, driven from public life and
> stripped of their possessions, and remain silent, even
> supportive of such actions? How could they throw away their
> ability to hold their government accountable? The lesson lies
> in the answer, one that is so obvious that at one time, it
> hardly needed to be repeated.
> The answer is quite simple. "It happened." And it happened
> because repressive governments succeed by making repression
> normal and callousness an acceptable part of mainstream life
> and discourse.
> It is a sad fact that many people equate mass consensus with
> morality. Ask them as individuals and they will deny it, of
> course, but an examination of public discussion these days
> shows the power of the crowd. The term "mainstream" has
> become a soothing mantra used to dismiss concerns about the
> rise of hatred and intimidation towards those perceived as
> enemies of the current administration. Do threats predictably
> increase towards politicians and their families in the wake
> of inflammatory rhetoric by a prominent conservative pundit?
> It's all right. The pundit is "mainstream." Does a
> commentator accuse those who disagree with her of treason and
> imply threats of violence against them? It's all right. She's
> mainstream too. And if conservative spokesmen incite hate
> mail, angry crowds, threats against Democratic leaders and
> their families, well, what of it? Politics is a tough game.
> Such things should be shrugged off as ordinary because now
> they are ordinary. They are mainstream.
> Observe how smoothly, how blandly gross cutbacks in civil
> liberties are being presented as if they were barely even
> news at all, nothing that need concern the average citizen.
> The right to confer with a lawyer in private is gone,
> vanished with barely an arch of an eyebrow from the press.
> The president can declare an American citizen an enemy
> combatant and have him or her imprisoned indefinitely, with
> neither a lawyer nor a hearing, and there's hardly a ripple
> in the body politic. It's accepted as normal. Oh, there might
> be occasional rumbles from moderates. The words "troubling"
> or "disturbing" are trotted out, but nothing that's likely
> rock the boat. To use stronger terms is to risk putting
> oneself outside of the mainstream, and thereby becoming negligible.
> Bush does not need to be Hitler, nor does the United States
> need to descend into the same level of mass murder to warrant
> comparison with the rise of The Third Reich. The genocidal
> policies of Hitler's Germany are an illustration of how far a
> repressive society can go, but those policies should not and
> must not be used as the primary yardstick for judging a
> society repressive and inhumane.
> The most important lesson of the Second World War for 21st
> Century Americans cannot be found in the photographs of
> released concentration camp victims, the stacks of emaciated
> bodies, the lines of naked people waiting to enter the gas
> chambers. It can be found instead in a picture taken in 1938
> Vienna. Nobody is being shot, or beaten, there are no dead
> bodies, no blood. Jews are simply crouched on a pavement,
> forced by local Nazis to scrub the streets. The crowd that
> has gathered to watch is well dressed and civilized in
> appearance. Many of the people in it are smiling, plainly
> amused by the sight.
> But it's all right. Those smiling people in the crowd are,
> after all, well buffered by other smiling people standing
> around them. If any of them feels a twinge of doubt, all they
> have to do was look around and quickly be reassured.
> They are in the mainstream.
> Pamela Troy is a contributing writer for Liberal Slant
> 2002-2001-2000-1999-1998
> LIBERAL SLANT Web Publications.
> All rights reserved.
> Send this article to a friend.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

My boss, Jan Masaoka, has been named The NonProfit Times' "NPT Executive of the Year" (NonProfit Times is a national publication on nonprofit management).

Here's a link to the article on their web site - it's got a bit of good information about CompassPoint and Jan: NPT Executive of the Year

Monday, December 02, 2002

Here's an interesting development: We almost bought a house this weekend. Sure, you know we've been sort of looking a bit here and there, and that lately there'd been a few interesting possibilities.

But most of those were not realistic possibilities. They were major fixer-upers, which is a polite way to say "tear downs." The houses we'd looked at previously tended to have listings that read, "Contractor's dream," or, "The land alone is worth double." This one had none of that. It could use a little work, according to the inspection report, but it's quite livable as is. Even more amazing is that we could afford it.

I don't know what that says about either our rising personal economic status, or the general community's falling economic status, but we went so far as to get pre-qualified for the purchase - without any problems or warnings.

In the end, we've decided to pass on this one for now. We were going to buy it only because it's the first decent property that we could afford, not because we like the damn thing. Being idealistic dreamers, we want to like the house we buy as well as have it be practical.

The hope is that there'll be more listed after the new year, or in early spring. A lot of folks hold back their listings (we're told) during the holiday season, so this is not too unrealistic. That also keeps us from trying to make a decision on a house during this time of year that is stressful enough without spending hundreds of thousands of borrowed dollars.

Meanwhile, it's just bizarre that I'm walking around with a piece of paper that says I'm "pre-qualified" to have some idiot lend me that kind of money. But I'll get over it.

Back to work this morning, and I've got my annual review at 10:00 AM. It's probably best that I didn't put an offer on the house until I know whether I'm getting a raise, or being put on probation.

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