Message to Ron Paul Fans: Grow Up

December 31, 2011

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Commentary- Do you see that Paul supporters? Commentary. That means it is Commentary. NOT a news article. It’s like the Opinion section of the paper, not the front page. Then again, that doesn’t matter to Ron Paul supporters. If it isn’t something that praises St. Ron Paul, it’s trash. It’s stupid. It’s someone who should “kill themselves”.

Personal attacks by Ron Paul fans

Yes. In the comments in the last article I wrote, commentators told me everything from me needing to f-word myself to killing myself…and everything in between, including having my tubes tied so I didn’t have any more children. Nice. Mature.

I thought I was being a little rough when I referred to Ron Paul supporters as being “rabid”. They proved to me I was right on. Thanks for proving me right.

I believe in the 11th Commandment. “Thou shall not speak ill of fellow Republicans.” But I can still talk about Ron Paul. Because he’s not a Republican. He’s so far right, he’s wrong. He’s even been described as “left of Obama” by some of my friends who are Democrats.

The aforementioned article has almost 300 more COMMENTS than WORDS in the article. Looks like I hit a nerve. You’d think I said that Dr. Paul eats small kittens for breakfast…and I’m surprised I haven’t been accused of it.

I’m amused that the commentators took the time to check out my background. Yes, I do volunteer for a Paranormal Group. I think it is fun and interesting. I have also served as Co-Chair of the Polk County (Des Moines, Iowa) Republican Party, and like almost everyone else in Des Moines, I have worked for a large corporation (we have many in the area, Principal, Wells Fargo, Nationwide, ING). But I think that just makes my background diverse.

My husband served in the Iraq war, and after finding out about it, a Ron Paul supporter told me that I didn’t serve, only my husband did. ANYONE who is a spouse of a soldier also serves. Whomever says that the wife of a soldier doesn’t serve, has never been a soldier, or a wife of one. The same Paul supporter responded with, “if you somehow died while he was overseas, would you get a military burial?” Because only a military burial equates to serving? Some soldiers choose not to have a military burial. Moron.

As far as the articles I’ve written, they include more than just the barn and crayon stains. You can read about Why I support Santorum, Why I like him for the caucus, Iowa GOP Voter’s reaction to the national security debate…and more. If you did as much research into my articles as you did my personal background, you would have found them.

My concerns with Paul’s positions

Even though this is an opinion piece, the Ron Paul supporters seem to feel the need for me to back up my opinion with facts. Here’s why Ron Paul is dangerous, again, in MY opinion.

  1. Ron Paul’s foreign policy is an epic fail. Example? Not taking Iran seriously. Dr. Paul’s lack of seriousness toward Iran shows a fundamental misunderstanding of international security. Iran is a country that doesn’t lend itself toward the kind of MAD balance of terror that gave balance in the Cold War. Iran, instead, upon getting nukes would be in a use’em or lose’em scenario. I can go through the game theory in more detail, but suffice it to say we either intervene in the Mid-East to stop Iran getting nukes, or you flip a coin to figure out if you have a major regional war in the Mid-East, potentially involving nukes.
  2. Eliminating the Department of Energy. I don’t know if Dr. Paul knows, but the DOE runs our nuclear program (there’s a little facility out at Los Alamos he may want to familiarize himself with.) Sure, Solyndra is a scandal that is terribly embarrassing to the Democrats, but let’s not toss the baby out with the bathwater here.
  3. Democrats may disagree with Republicans on appropriate military policy, but we all should honor our veterans. The way leftists treated vets post Vietnam is disgusting, and has no place in our political life. Soldiers and their families have a tough enough time without some idiot (or like I was subjected to, a Ron Paul supporter) undermining their sacrifice.

So there you go, Ron Paul supporters. Three talking points. As you know, I’m more than willing to have an open, yet mature dialogue. If you tell me to “kill myself”, it’s not going to happen. If you “plan to have your sister come and pound me in the ground”, it’s not going to happen. Maybe I’m the next Ann Coulter. And yes, I consider that a compliment.

The Arrogance of Beauty: Whistler’s Peacock Room

December 30, 2011

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As 2012 approaches and we begin to make promises to be the better, kinder, thinner people that we didn’t become after last New Years, I thought it would be a good idea to consider an artwork steeped in snarky wit and revenge.

I am obviously not a fan of New Years’ resolutions.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1834. The third son of West Point graduate and civil engineer Major George Washington Whistler and his second wife, Anna Matilda McNeill, the young Whistler spent much of his childhood in Russia after his father was charged with the construction of a railroad from St. Petersburg to Moscow. In the family tradition, he enrolled at West Point in 1851, but was dismissed for poor chemistry grades. Determined to be an artist, Whistler packed up his brushes and moved to Europe in 1855, never returning to his native country.

London and a patron

After a few years in Paris where he hobnobbed with avant-garde artists like Courbet and Manet, Whistler moved to London in 1859.  Whistler’s decision to settle in London had lasting impact on his artistic output. Had he worked in America, he likely would have been affected by Puritanical tendency to imbue art with moral purpose. Had he remained in Paris, he would have been caught up in the burgeoning modernism that inspired artists like Monet, Degas, and Renoir. As it happened, London allowed Whistler to develop his own theory of art, based on the idea that art needs no literary or moral narrative, and should exist solely for its own sake. His was the philosophy of aestheticism, which believed recognized beauty as the only requirement of art.

Whistler’s reputation for unusual art and a sassy personality were already well-established when he arrived in London. He was especially well-known for cutting barbs aimed at critics who disliked his work and arrogant remarks about his own talent. “I can’t tell  you if genius is hereditary, because heaven has granted me no offspring,” and “I maintain that two and two would continue to make four, in spite of the whine of the amateur for three, or the cry of the critic for five,” are merely two examples of his infamous acerbic wit.

Wealthy British shipping magnate Frederick Richards Leyland was one of Whistler’s most important patrons. The Leylands – Frederick and his wife, Frances – were enthusiastic collectors of blue and white Chinese porcelain, and the dining room of their home functioned as a display case for their magnificent collection. Whistler had even painted a portrait of famed beauty Christina Spartali in fashionable Oriental costume as a centerpiece for the room’s theme.

Whistler, Rose and Silver: The Princess from the Land of Porcelain, 1864, oil on canvas.

Even with the addition of his painting, Whistler was displeased with the room itself. He felt that the designer’s (famed architect Thomas Jeckyll) emphasis on neutrality and natural light as a foil for the porcelain didn’t celebrate the essence of the exotic objects.  In 1876, when Jeckyll fell ill and Leyland was away on business, Whistler proposed modest changes to the décor to his patron, which Leyland approved.  Where Jeckyll envisioned a sunny Chinese pavilion, Whistler wanted to create a stunning, intimate jewel box of a room. The room became a 3D painting, a work of art that you could walk around inside.

 

Not exactly “modest”

By the time Whistler had finished, scarcely a trace was left of Jeckyll’s design. The room was ablaze with gold and copper leaf, which covered nearly every surface. Whistler set these glowing metallics off with a rich blue-green. Even spaces hidden by shelving were decorated with tapestry-like patinas to set off the texture of the porcelain.  Whistler wrote Leyland a letter about the room, describing it as, “a gorgeous surprise.” What surprised Leyland most were not the actual “modest” changes that Whistler had made to the room, but the bill, which was almost 2,000 guineas more than he had expected (about $200,000 in today’s money – NOT a small amount.)

Revenge

When Leyland angrily said that he would pay only half of the projected amount, Whistler began another addition to the room’s décor – a mural of two peacocks on the wall facing his Princess. Titled Art and Money or The Story of the Room, two gilded peacocks prepare to fight on a field of Prussian-blue leather (the very fact that Whistler painted the very expensive leather was another slight to Leyland). The peacock on the right has excessively ruffled feathers, Whistler’s homage to the ruffled shirts that Leyland favored. At the feat of this peacock are silver coins – the money that Whistler believed Leyland was selfishly keeping from him. The peacock on the left is crowned by a silver feather; similar to the shock of white hair that Whistler was famous for. Legend tells us that after Whistler completed the work in 1877, Leyland declared that he would have Whistler horsewhipped if he came to the house again. He did, however, keep the room just as Whistler designed it.

For an artist who once proclaimed, “People will forgive anything but beauty and talent, so I am doubly unpardonable,” Whistler was ultimately pardoned and even vindicated for his design of what came to be known as The Peacock Room. After Leyland died, the room was purchased whole by Charles Lang Freer, an American railroad tycoon, who installed it in the dining room of his Detroit mansion. Thirteen years before his death, Freer bequeathed his entire Whistler collection to the Smithsonian, where the room has remained ever since, one of the most important examples of the aesthetic movement and interior design in the world.

How Do The Iowa Caucuses Work?

December 29, 2011

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It’s not like a regular primary. You don’t go to your normal polling location. It’s not something you can do before or after work. It’s quite different.

I can speak for the Republican caucus because I’ve been the Chair for my location. As far as the Democrats go, well, I only have to go off of what I’ve been told from my dad. Yes, my parents were registered Democrats. I was raised a Democrat. I turned them.

From what I understand of the Democrat caucus (when it is contested), you go to your caucus location and break into groups of the candidate you support. There’s a percentage your candidate must reach in order to be considered “viable”. When there is a group that isn’t a “viable” group, the other groups try to coerce the “un-viable” candidates to their group. It all just sounds a little too shady to me.

As far as the Republicans go, you go to your caucus location, listen to speakers, either the actual candidates or those who’ve been chosen to speak on behalf of the candidate, pass the “buck bucket” as a fundraiser for the party and then vote. Each person gets one slip of paper (usually colored paper to prevent fraud) and you write your choice. The votes are tallied (usually as more people speak) and the winner is announced. One person, one vote. Sounds fair to me.

It can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, depending on the speakers, the size of the precinct, and the questions (usually from Dems who have switched sides).

It may sound complex but the GOP event really is straight forward. Have fun, good luck and enjoy the process and blessing that we, as Iowans, get.
 

 

Top News Stories Of 2012

December 28, 2011

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A lot of sites are highlighting the top news stories of 2011.  It’s pretty easy to do them in hindsight – how about a look forward at the top news stories of 2012.

Here are my three news stories to follow in 2012.

The presidential election

Hundreds of millions (or even billions) of dollars will be spent to obtain a job that pays a mere $400,000 per year.  Since I live in Iowa, I’ve been deluged with commercials for many months.  I can’t wait for the caucuses to be over, so that the politicians can focus on New Hampshire.  My prediction is that the economy will bounce back and Obama will ride the economic uptick to a re-election.  I’m not saying that he’ll cause the recovery, just that he’ll get the credit for it (which is fair, since presidents also get blamed for things they don’t cause.

In addition to the presidential election, there will also be elections for all of the seats in the House of Representatives and 1/3 of the seats in the Senate.  These don’t get as much attention, but they are just as important.  While the political writers on The Soap Boxers will cover the serious political news, I’ll handle the snarky stories (which coven will Christine O’Donnell join in 2012) on my new site, Donkey and Elephant Show.

The world will end

December 21 is just 359 days away.  If you happen to be in Australia on November 13 and fear that the end of the world has arrived early, don’t worry – you’re just seeing a total solar eclipse.  You’ve still got 38 days to live.

I’ve given some advice for the end of days.  Sadly, I do expect that quite a few people will saddle themselves with debt under the assumption that the world will end on December 21 and they won’t have to repay the money.  If the sun rises on December 22, we may see a spike in the number of bankruptcies.  (Sadly, I’m not kidding).

Olympics

I’m an Olympic junkie.  During the 2012 Summer games in London, I will once again learn the nuances of many sports that I pay no attention to at any other time (kayaking?).  Of particular note to me is that fact that 2004 Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson will attempt to win another gold in 2012.

Not only are the Olympics a great showcase for sports, but it’s also a great way to learn about other countries and cultures.  Certainly we’ll learn a lot about London during the Games, but also about countries like Trinidad and Tobago.  Have kids who hate geography but love sports?  Let them watch the Olympics and they’ll pick up some geography (and maybe even learn something about world politics).

While I’ll like watch just about anything, my main focus will be on track and field, especially since baseball has been dropped as an Olympic sport (sigh).

Your thoughts

What stories will you be following in 2012?
 

 

One Week Remains In NFL Season

December 27, 2011

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As we finish the penultimate week of NFL play, many of you, like me, have been declared World Champions of the World…at least in your Fantasy Football pools among your friends and office workers (ok so I won 2 of my three leagues and got taken behind the woodshed in the semi-finals of my other league…but who is counting)

Playoff Scenarios

The playoffs in the NFL are mostly set. 5 of the 6 teams in the NFC are already in. It is down to playoff seeding of most of the teams, and the steel cage grudge match in the NFC East known as the Cowboys versus the New York Football Giants to decide which team makes it to the next stage.

Dallas is a fickle beast. Their Quarterback, Tony Romo is hurt early in the game this week against the suddenly red hot Eagles, No Romo…No chance. We saw this movie last year in Big D.

The Giants made a hot early start, then fell on their sword for a few weeks, now climb back into it again.

I give the edge to the Giants. Main Reason. The Cowboys secondary is…..(say it with me….Horrible) I predict a high scoring game but the Giants will win in the end by 3.

The AFC is not quite as clear but. The Broncos, Titans, Jets, Bengals and Raiders are all still alive for playoff spots and a myriad of scenarios could potentially play out. I won’t even attempt to name all of the division winning and potential who makes the wild card scenarios here in the AFC, but suffice it to say, that if the Denver Tim Tebow’s lose to the Kansas City Orton’s this week, then the studio analysts better be on their game. The Broncos losing starts a large cascading effect of possible scenarios. Of course even if the Broncos win, there are still a multitude of Wild Card possibilities.

Playoff Favorites

As we look forward into the playoffs, right now it would appear that the Saints, and Packers are the class of the league offensively. Green Bay is beat up on the line of scrimmage, and that makes it hard to go deep into the playoffs. The Saints are clicking as long as they are at home and playing on turf. The Niners are still the Rodney Dangerfield’s of the NFL getting no respect. They are by no means flashy but they just win baby.

Everything has to go through Title Town, and I think the offense is good enough to make that happen and return to a Super Bowl for the second straight year. Bottom line is Lambeau, January, Cold. The dome and warm weather teams have a hard time in those elements compared to the local boys in green and gold

In the AFC is this the year of the Raven? I don’t see anyone else making a serious push except the old standby, Steelers. Brady and Company have not been able to win a playoff game in what seems like a decade. Fortunately he is in New England and not Dallas so no one constantly brings this us or throws him under the bus on this fact. The Ravens are my pick, but my gut tells me the Steelers will be there again.

Stat of the Week

Amazingly there are 5 quarterbacks who are likely to finish in the top 15 all time in terms of most yards passing in a season. Drew Brees already has set the season mark, passing Hall of Famer Dan Marino last night.

Tom Brady is likely to surpass Marino’s old mark as well, and Aaron Rodgers would have an outside chance if he plays and the Packers decide to try and score a bunch in week 17. Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford also will end the year likely in the realm of 4800+ passing yards.

Until Next time, stay classy Bend, Oregon!


 

Happy Holidays

December 26, 2011

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Seasons greetings and happy holidays to all of the Soap Boxers community! I hope that each of you has had a wonderful time celebrating whatever and however. For those of you who have exchanged gifts, I hope that you received what you desired or needed and I hope that what you gave was accepted with joy. For those who have taken this time of year to volunteer for the less fortunate, thank you. For those who volunteer regardless of the season, thank you as well.

Now I will launch into a critical commentary on the holidays in general. If you do not know the custom of a holiday, please do not wing it. Two weeks ago, the President of the United States offered a heart felt recognition of Chanukah and the Jewish community by lighting all of the candles of a menorah. This was wrong in two ways. First, it was several days prior to the beginning of the celebration. Second, one does not light all of the candles on the first day, it is a progressive event spanning eight days. This faux pas lays squarely on the shoulders of the president’s protocol office. One person cannot know all of the traditions of every religion. When he announced his intention to recognize the event, the protocol office should have made all of the preparations to avoid any embarrassment; they failed.

Then there are the twelve days of Christmas. I am really tired of people calling the twelve days leading up to Christmas by this name. The Twelve Days are the days between Christmas day and Epiphany. That would be the days traditionally recognized as the birth of Christ and the arrival of the wise men to offer their gifts (western or Roman tradition). In many Christian traditions, gifts are not given until Epiphany in remembrance of this event. The days leading up to Christmas are called Advent. This is a time of waiting, comprised of the weeks including the four Sundays before Christmas. The basic idea is to build up the excitement of the arrival of the infant, similar to the excitement most children have as the big gift giving day approaches.

On a happier note, I noticed that most of the news coverage this year was on the various celebrations. There were few stories of someone not being allowed to do something, such as a nativity or menorah on public property. To me this is inclusion. Keep adding to the displays to include as many groups and beliefs as possible, do not exclude just because it is not what you believe or like. We hear a lot about diversity, but that is of no benefit if it is not coupled with inclusion. You do not have to believe or agree with everything someone else espouses, but if you include them and accept them as people with valid points of view, you can only benefit from their acquaintance. Inclusion breeds diversity and true diversity breeds inclusion. By the tally of reports I have watched over the last few weeks, I am excited that inclusion seems to be the spirit this year. I truly hope that this spirit grows and becomes the predominant attitude in the future.

 

Mrs. Claus and the Christmas Mistress

December 24, 2011

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 This is a re-run from last year.  This is the third in a series of dark holiday tales.  You might also want to read What’s in the Chili (Halloween) and Friends for Thanksgiving.  This story has adult themes and is not suitable for young readers.

Chris leaned against the side of Santa’s workshop and exhaled a deep breath.  This was Christmas eve – a day when mall Santas around the world were finally taking a break from listening to kids rattle off the long list of items they wanted for Christmas.  Chris wasn’t actually a real mall Santa, but he was pretending to be one.

Chris noticed the women as they approached.  They were in their early 20s, and both were tall and slender.  One of them had shoulder-length blonde hair, while the other kept her dark hair short.

“Hey, Santa.  You come here often?” asked the blonde, winking and flashing a seductive smile.

“If you don’t have plans for tonight, you can come home with us for a Christmas eve dinner,” continued the brunette.  “We’ve been good girls this year!”

“I’m actually waiting for a friend to pick me up …”

“Oh, nonsense.  You’ll have much more fun with us, Santa.  We’ll be sure to get you home in time to deliver your toys.”

Chris smiled as he accepted the offer.  It never failed – hanging around a mall in a red suit on Christmas eve always got him an invitation to dinner.  Sometimes it was just turkey and mashed potatoes, but most of the time, there was dessert afterwards.  It was a bit of an odd fetish, but one that he was willing to satisfy.  He grabbed his cell phone and faked a call to the “friend” who was supposed to pick him up, cancelling the request for a ride.

When they arrived at their destination, Dawn – the blonde – took him on a tour of the house while Carmen escaped to slip into something more comfortable.

The owner of the house was a dot com millionaire who had hired the girls to look after the place while he was away on business.

“It’s a pretty good gig,” commented Dawn.  “We get to drive his Mercedes, charge take-out food to his bill, lay out by the pool … and we get paid for it.  And he’s hardly ever home, so we basically have the run of the place.”

When they arrived in the kitchen, Carmen was setting the table.  Chris was mesmerized at the image.  Carmen was wearing an impossibly short red dress, laced up the back.  Red stockings and heels further emphasized the fact that this was Christmas.  A Santa hat finished the outfit.

“Do you like it?” she asked, spinning around to give him a full view.

“Ah, yes.  It’s very, um,  nice.”

“Maybe Santa can unwrap Mrs. Claus if he’s a good boy,” Carmen said with a laugh as she ducked close and gave him a quick kiss on the lips.

Yowza.  Chris wasn’t going to have to use much of his charm with Carmen – she was obviously quite willing to slip under the sheets with him.

The food arrived just as Chris and Carmen were finishing setting the table.  Turkey and all the trimmings from one of the nicest restaurants in town.  Surely he had died and gone to heaven.

Just then, the night got even better as Dawn glided down the stairs.  She, too, was dressed in red – just a red teddy that left very little to the imagination.  Chris pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.

“Carmen gets to be Mrs. Claus, but I’m the Christmas Mistress. I’m going to get some alone time with Santa, too.”

“Not if I can help it,” countered Carmen, in a mock stern voice.  She brandished a wooden spoon at Dawn.  Dawn giggled and jumped out of range of the weapon.

The food was excellent, but Chris had difficulty focusing on the meal.  His mind was completely focused on the seductively clothed Carmen and the even more seductively attired Dawn.  It took a great deal of effort to avoid having his eyes stare in their direction.

When they finished the pumpkin pie, Carmen suggested plans for later in the evening.

“It’s a nice night for a swim … but we should really stay out of the water for an hour after dinner.  Can you think of any way to kill the time, Dawn?”

“I can think of a way to kill the time and burn off the calories from dinner at the same time.”

“That’s a great idea, Dawn.  Let’s give our guest a better tour of the bedroom.”

The guest bedroom that the girl occupied was massive – featuring walk-in closets on two sides and a pink canopied king size bed in the middle.

“We’ve already decided,” explained Carmen.  “The mistress gets you first, then you come back to the wife.”

Chris nodded slightly and allowed the girls to continue to take control of the situation.  A moment later, he had been stripped to his boxers.

“Wait,” commanded Dawn, as Carmen reached for his waist.  “That’s my package to unwrap.”

Carmen reluctantly agreed, and Dawn slid in front of Chris and pulled his boxers to the floor.

“Now, do me,” she said, wrapping her arms around him and locking his lips in a passionate kiss.

Chris didn’t have to be told twice.  He quickly extricated her from her lingerie and followed her to the bed.

Dawn proved to be a very nimble and willing lover, and Chris was exhausted by the time they finally climaxed.  They lay side by side on the bed for a minute, recovering from the exertion.

“Oh, Santa,” gasped Dawn.  “You can ride my sleigh tonight – and any other night.”

“When you’re done with your sleazy mistress, your wife is waiting, Santa.”

In the passion of the moment, Chris had forgotten about Carmen.  She had been standing by the bed watching.  There was a broad smile on her face as she anticipated her own experience with Santa.

Chris took more time unveiling her body – in small part to give his body time to recover, but mostly to build the anticipation of the moment.  He kissed her neck as he fumbled with the laces on the back of her red dress.  When he had finally freed her from it, he held her in his arms for a moment. 

When they finally arrived at the bed, Chris was pleasantly surprised to find out that Carmen every bit as exciting as Dawn.  He wondered if the girls were gymnasts.  A minute after he finished, Chris fell asleep from exhaustion.

When he awoke, he was still holding Carmen in his arms – but noticed that Dawn had also climbed into the bed and was spooning him.  The girls were both sleeping quietly, so Chris didn’t move – it was a pretty pleasant position.

Forty five minutes later, Carmen yawned and her eyes fluttered open.  It took her a moment to figure out what was going on.  When the pieces clicked into place, she caressed his cheek and gave him a kiss.

“I thought I told her to stay away from you,” she said, pointing at Dawn.  At that moment, a blonde head popped up.

“You know I can give him something you can’t,” countered the mistress.

“Ho, ho, ho.  There’s plenty of Santa to go around.”

“Howe about a dip in the pool,” suggested Dawn.  “That should wake us up a bit.  Then we can take a nice, long shower and return to the bedroom for round 2.”

Chris wasn’t sure that he could handle a second round, but heartily agreed to Dawn’s plan.

“I’m afraid I don’t have any trunks.”

Carmen pretended to take some measurements.  “And I don’t think you’d fit into any of our suits.  I guess you’ll just have to go without a suit.”

“Hey, if he doesn’t have to wear a suit, I don’t want to wear one either,” pouted Dawn.

“That’s fine with me,” Carmen replied with a grin.  “We’ll just keep the lights off and go skinny dipping.”

As they crossed through the kitchen on the way to the outdoor pool, Dawn grabbed a bottle of champagne.

“Santa, would you be a dear and grab a few glasses from that cupboard?”

Chris opened the door and grabbed three crystal wine glasses from a shelf.  When they arrived poolside, Dawn poured three glasses of champagne and suggested that they do a toast.

“To Christmas,” she said.

“To hunky Santas,” added Carmen.

“To the sexy Mrs. Claus and the breathtaking Christmas Mistress.”

They clinked glasses and drank down the bubbly before jumping into the pool.

Chris made sure to lead the girls to the deep end of the pool.  When the drug began to take effect, Carmen and Dawn had no chance to get back to safety.  When Carmen suddenly slid to the bottom of the pool, a trickle of realization entered Dawn’s already clouded mind.  She made an effort to reach the edge of the pool, but was still far from the edge when she, too, slid beneath the surface.

After waiting to make sure they were dead, Chris took a few minutes to wipe his prints from any surface he may have touched.  He grabbed the keys to the Mercedes, popped the trunk, and began loading it with valuables.  He had experienced some good years in the past, but this haul was going to be beyond his wildest dreams.  A merry Christmas indeed.

Plans for 2012

December 23, 2011

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2011 has been a very good year.  Hyrax Publications (the parent company of The Soap Boxers) turned a profit, as did the Soap Boxers division.  Not a large profit (the hourly rate would be absurdly low), but definitely black ink instead of red.  The number of visitors also hit an all-time high.  What lies ahead for 2012?

  • The 2012 election will get a lot of coverage in The Political Observers column of The Soap Boxers.  I’ll definitely have something special in place for Election Night coverage, although details have not been ironed out.  There will be more than 40 scheduled political articles between now and election day, but you can be sure we’ll sneak in a dozen or so extra articles – and I’m sure the number of comments will increase.
  • We’ll also provide ample coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, as well the the US Olympic trials.  I’m also very interested in the insights of Olympic fans outside the US, as well as expanding our US-based team.  If you’re interested in becoming part of the Olympic coverage team, send me an email at kosmo@ObservingCasually.com.  We’ll also have an Olympic Fantasy league, where you pick a team and get points for medals your athletes win.
  • If the world ends on December 21, 2012, we’ll be sure to provide coverage.  I’ll likely write and “end of the world” article and schedule it to run on the 22nd.  If the world doesn’t end, I’ll just delete the article.  If the world DOES end, the article will run (assuming that Dreamhost‘s servers survive to apocalypse).  “Winning!”
  • I’ll continue to do some freelance writing on personal finance topics at The Digerati Life, and you may see my name pop up on other sites from time to time.
  • I anticipate launching at least one Kindle novella in 2012.  Hopefully this number will be closer to six.  I have plans for a series of novellas that follow the exploits of a certain character.  I’d love to get two of these launched by mid-year.  As always, you’ll be able to find all my works on my Amazon author page.  (Hey, guess what?  My books will be FREE tomorrow and Sunday.  Merry Christmas!)
  • I’ll also be working with some of the site’s other authors to aid them in launching their own Kindle books.  Tentative plans include a poetry book, a fiction book, and a lighthearted travel book.  The books will be published under the Hyrax Publications imprint.
  • Will we add any new writers in 2012?  Probably.  I have no plans to add any writers at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll want to tinker with things a bit at some point in the year.  I always do.  The most likely additions would be writers from other countries, as I would love to add news and analysis that doesn’t have a distintcly American angle.

What are you – the readers – looking for in 2012?  As a non-niche site, we can definitely tailor the content of the site to reflect what you want.

If the money from your Christmas bonus is burning a hole in your pocket and you want to contribute to the financial success of The Soap Boxers, you can always  PayPal a few bucks to us (email address for contributions is payments@hyraxpublications.com).  Or you can simply continue to read for free.
 

 

Who Will Win In Iowa?

December 22, 2011

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It’s just three more days until Christmas. Where has the time gone? It seems just yesterday was Thanksgiving and my family packed up and moved to our new job in Tennessee.

On the political side of things. not a lot has changed in the horserace the last month. Newt is still enjoying his time as the anti-Romney frontrunner status anti good old Mitt still goes from every side of every view and stays at the Same levels he has for months.

However we are just moments away from the actual results part of the race starting to come through with the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Are you ready? I know I am. If I could have one wish granted I wish we could just fast forward to the nomination to be over and the real debate over the stark differences between what whoever the Republican nominee will be and what they will wish to do as President and what the current would like to attempt to do if reelected. The same old “my conservative credentials are better than yours” pissing contest is just getting tiresome, even for a political junkie like me.

So who will win the first two contests? My money if I were to wager would be on a Ron Paul win in Iowa with Newt in second and Mitt in third. Then in new Hampshire I see Romney taking the win with Newt in second and Huntsman making a surprise finish in third before going back into the one prevent support zone when the race goes back to states that the Republican voting base is not as sane.

Until next time I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy new year. Next time we will have some actual results to dissect and discuss!

What Technological Advances Will The Future Hold?

December 21, 2011

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Many are in awe of the technology we have today. Indeed, if you took someone from just a century and exposed them to the technologies of today (something forbidden by the Prime Directive), the person’s head would likely explode (a major reason why the Prime Directive forbids it). Cell phones, the internet, live sports on TV, microwaves ovens, cruise control, solar powered devices – previous generations would no doubt be very impressed by the technology.

However, I’m convinced that the future if we took a trip into the future, we like similarly be amazed by technological advances. I won’t try to look forward 100 years, but just 20. What will the world look like in 2031?  Here are a few of my thoughts.

Flying cars?

Flying cars have been on the drawing board for a long time.  There are a lot of advantages to flying cars.  There wouldn’t be wear and tear on roads, it would be easier to avoid collisions with other cars (since can move in three dimensions), and trips would be shorter as you could fly as the crow flies.

On the downside, planes (and by extensions, flying cars) are more difficult to operate (having a plane engine stall out is far worse than having your car engine stall at an intersection) and tend to be considerably more expensive.  Will be get there some day?  Probably – but not by 2031.

Automobile auto-pilot

Cars already have cruise control, crash avoidance systems, stability control, GPS, and some have the ability to parallel park themselves.  The next logical step is to take a page out of airplane handbook and add full auto-pilot technology to cars.  Pull up the GPS navigator, tell it where you want to go, kick your feet up, and let the car do all the work.

Electrified roadways

Researchers at MIT have developed Witricity – a technology that allows wireless transmission of electricity.

While it would be great to be able to cut the cord to consumer electronic devices, I think the real promise of this technology is related to automobiles.  Imagine driving down the road at 70 mph and have the battery in your electric car be recharged by Witricity stations in the roadway (powered by wind energy?)

iGlasses

There’s a basic rule when it comes to video screens.  As you get further from a screen, the screen needs to be larger in order for you to read it.

Conversely, the closer you are to the screen, the smaller it can be.

I wear prescription eyeglasses.  It would be great to watch whatever I wanted to via my glasses.  Books, movies, live sports, the internet, even the outside of my house could be flashed onto the lenses of my glasses.  This could make traditional videos screen redundant.

Expanded use of biometrics

I hate carrying around keys, credit cards, money, and other physical devices that do nothing but give us access to things.  I’d love to see expanded use of biometric – fingerprints, eye scans, or even implantable chips.  It would be nice if I could get into my home, office, or car just by being me – without needed to carry anything on my person.  Likewise, it would be great to buy things without having to pull out my wallet.

On a tangent … I’m a huge fan of NCIS, but they had a massive blooper in one episode.  A couple of people with high clearance were killed and their electronic chips were stolen so that some bad guys could gain access.  If this happened in the real world, you’d simply cancel the chip’s access immediately.  There are two basic components to a security system: authentication and authorization.  An id/password combination or biometric may authenticate who you are, but there needs to be authorization on the back end to actually grant you access.  Without both the proper authentication and authorization, you don’t get access.

Self-cleaning environment

You don’t have to be in the pew every Sunday to know that something’s wrong when we live in a country where we can send astronauts to an international space station but can’t get a toilet clean without getting down on our hands and knees.

Cleaning the house, washing dishes, and doing the laundry take a lot of time for the average family.  Surely there’s some technology that could allows things to be cleaned automatically, with not human interaction.

Transmogrifier

Seriously, if Calvin could invest one, why hasn’t the scientific community be able to duplicate his efforts.  Shameful.

While you’re at it, how about working on the food synthesizer from Star Trek.  It would be great to have a Monical’s pizza whenever I wanted one!
 

 

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