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I resolve to...

| To borrow the now infamous words of George W Bush, 2005 was "a heck of a year." The tsunami that ended 2004 seemed to set the tone for a succession of 2005 disasters natural and political. But the silver lining of the cloud that enveloped 2005 is starting to emerge: The scales have begun to fall from people's eyes and they now see George W Bush for what he is, an incompetent megalomaniac with delusions of grandure and omnipotence. The stench of corruption in government became so strong that it could no longer be ignored, and Tom DeLay is under indictment, as are Jack Abramoff and his co-scumbags; with luck they will take a lot of politicians down with them. The wheels of justice are turning, if ever so slowly, and Kenny Boy Lay will come to trial this month. There is hope that our country may regain its bearings.  more

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Year to date

| I don't know who came up with the idea "year-to-date," but whoever it is deserves our gratitude. It is a fantastic way to give yourself a fresh start and absolve yourself of your entire past. Think of the possibilities!  more

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For crying out loud

| During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Sam Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, the moment of highest drama was provided by Sam's poor wife Martha Ann who broke down in tears on the third day. I wanted to cry over the hearings, too, but for entirely different reasons.  more

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Linksys lament

| Linksys used to have a good reputation. In the past, given a choice between comparable products by Linksys and a competitor, I used to chose the Linksys. No more. I will not buy any more Linksys products.  more

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Bob Hope Chrysler Classic 2006

| Last week was the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament, and I once again volunteered to serve as a marshal.  more

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Night mystery

| A strange phenomenon occurs in my bedroom at night, one without rational explanation. And frankly, it's giving me the heebie-jeebies.  more

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SuperBowl 2006

| With bright sun in a cloudless azur sky reflecting off a pacific ocean, the usual suspects assembled in Aptos for the annual cultural rite known as the SuperBowl. You know the SuperBowl is something Special because it is one of the few remaining uses of Roman numerals.  more

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Home again

| I found a new way home from the annual SuperBowl festivities and learned that Penelope (the Prius) is not infallible.  more

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Cheney's big bang

| Vice President Dick Cheney is infamous for his hunting trips. Previously, he went hunting with Supreme Court Justice Scalia before a case was to come before the Supreme Court in which Cheney was an interested party. Now he's gone hunting again, and this time he shot and wounded one of his hunting companions.  more

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Opting out

| My mailbox runneth over with credit card offers: "You have been preapproved!" Just return the enclosed application and we will give you a gazillion dollar credit limit with 0% introductory rate! The fine print, of course, indicates that after the introductory period the rate will rise by a modest, oh, say, 20%.  more

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Cheney talks

| On Wednesday, four days after he "sprayed" his friend with birdshot, Vice finally deigned to tell his story. He chose for this revelation, an exclusive one-on-one interview with Brit Hume of Fox News conducted in the Executive Office Building.  more

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A storm over ports

| Last week Vice President Cheney shot a friend in the face; this week W is shooting himself in the foot. I say we should all get the hell out of the way!  more

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Cruise in the Caribbean

| Having just finished my breakfast in the Lido Deck restaurant, I stepped into the elevator and pressed the button to return to our stateroom on the Upper Promenade deck, expecting the doors to close with the usual quiet and reassuring whoosh. I heard instead an insistent "beep, beep, beep" while a red button flashed accusingly, "Overload!"  more

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Bush keeps campaign promise

| George W promised over and over again during his first presidential campaign that he would be a "uniter, not a divider," and he has finally made good on his word. Through his own arrogance and ineptitude he brought public opinion, Democrats, and Republicans together in near unanimous opposition to a business deal that would have turned over operation of six major US ports to a government-run company from Dubai.  more

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Snow comes to the desert

| The mountains around the Coachella Valley get caps of snow most winters, but this past weekend was a special treat. The snow line was very low, and so were the temperatures. (This morning it was 42°F when I got up.)  more

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Faith-based security

| George W Bush puts all his trust in "a higher Father," and that's OK. What's not OK is that that is no way to run a government. With all the problems that the Department of Homeland Insecurity has to worry about — like, say, "security" — W wants it to devote resources to smoothing the way for "faith-based" organizations as they go about doing their good works. I'm not making this up.  more

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1-800-O-MI-GAWD

| Réal and I agreed to temp for Ken in the "back office" at his drycleaning business while he flew to Seattle to see his new grandson.  more

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Et cetera

| They say that April showers bring May flowers. That being the case, May's going to bring a real flower shop of horrors because April began with a veritable deluge here in the desert. I woke this morning to the roar of wind and pelting of rain on the skylights. Flash flood warnings were posted and several roads without bridges were closed as the washes filled with rushing water.  more

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Random reflections on the road

| It was time for my annual opthalmology checkup, so I got behind the wheel of Penelope the Prius for a quick trip to San Jose. You may well ask, "Are there no opthalmologists in Palm Springs?" and that would be a reasonable question. There are, of course, but I have been going to the same opthalmologist since I was diagnosed with diabetes, and it's a good excuse for a trip. But it's not like going to Ralph's to pick up a few groceries — it's a long drive, no matter how you do it, and from time to time strange thoughts do pop into one's head.  more

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Let's form a committee!

| Boondoggle alert! When action is needed, our government — forms a committee.  more

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Damn, I missed it!

| I confess: I have neglected my duties as a citizen, for yesterday I failed to observe Education and Sharing Day. I am sorry, deeply sorry. I apologize. Profusely.  more

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Heck of a job, G Dubya

| It was a little more than a year ago that a cocky George W Bush crowed that he had "political capital" by virtue of his re-election, and he aimed to spend it. Guess what? His capital is all gone, and his friends in Congress made it harder to declare bankruptcy! Too bad, because this administration is just that — bankrupt. (Not to mention the US Treasury!)  more

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Something about Nebraska

| Nebraska has become the latest midwest state to plunge headlong into the past. There, the state legislature passed, and the governor signed, a law to divide the Omaha public schools into three racially distinct districts: one white, one black, one Hispanic. I find it quite shocking, but it doesn't seem to be terribly big news in Omaha: the home page of the Omaha World-Herald leads today with a feature on Big Red Football (PDF). Football season starts in, what, five months?  more

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Going native

| Angela has a passion for native plants, which she pronounces in that posh British way "plahnts." And when Angela feels a passion, look out — Whereas many of us give lip service to our causes, or money, Angela rolls up her sleeves and gets to work with enthusiasm, and innocent by-standers are likely to be swept along.  more

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Rummy rebellion

| Until the mid-20th century, the Defense Department was called the War Department, and the Secretary of Defense was the Secretary of War. That's a useful distinction, because it's turning out that Donald Rumsfeld might have been a good Secretary of Defense, but he's been a terrible Secretary of War.  more

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Brought to justice

| The long, often bizarre trial of Zacarais Moussaoui for his role in the 9/11 attacks is nearing its conclusion. The jury will soon decide whether to sentence him to death or to life in prison. In my view, a death sentence would be wrong.  more

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Tale of two leaks

| It was the best of leaks, it was the worst of leaks, it cast doubt on dissent, it cast light on darkness. It brought a flood of indignant words, it brought action. Quelle surprise!  more

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Opera in the Park 2006

| Phil asked, "Who wants to go to Opera in the Park?" We all said, "We do!" It's not that we're great opera fans, but the park would be a nice change of venue for a pot-luck brunch. Above all, everybody bring a bottle of champagne!  more

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Bordering on insanity

| The debate — and I use the term very, very loosely — on immigration policy and border security is new evidence that a job in Congress is hazardous to your mental health.  more

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What a gas!

| To listen to the news, the "pain at the pump" is the top story of the day. Such wailing! Such gnashing of teeth! Such rending of garments and tearing of hair! The way people are carrying on, you'd think there were an inalienable right to cheap gasoline, guaranteed by the Constitution. C'mon folks, get a grip!  more

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San Diego rodeo

| Over the weekend, a band of four went to San Diego for the rodeo: Ken, Réal, Don, and me. There, we ran into lots of people from Palm Springs, drank too much, ate too much, and had way too much fun.  more

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Raising amarylis

| Dean gave me an amarylis at Christmas time that took its own sweet time about showing signs of life, and now that it has, it doesn't look anything like pictures of normal amarylises— or amarylisi.  more

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Visiting La-La land

| One of the really great things about living in Palm Springs is being close enough to big cities to easily take advantage of all they have to offer while remaining safely insulated from them. I had proposed to the gang a weekend outing to Los Angeles to take in a photography exhibit, among other things, but in the end only Réal decided to go along. Too bad for the others!  more

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Cirque de Palm Springs

| A local impressario got behind a project to bring "cirque-style" entertainment to Palm Springs, and Cirque Dreams has been playing since January in a big tent erected downtown where a deserted mall used to be. Some of the usual suspects went to last night's performance, and it was a great show!  more

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Vote yes on 81

| I'm a very principled voter when it comes to ballot initiatives: Just say 'no'! But for this election I'm forced to abandon that principle in favor of a higher principle: Damn the demagogues!  more

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Guilty!

| Well, well, well! Kenny Boy Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were found guilty of fraud and conspiracy. It could not have happened to better people!  more

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Defenders of the Constitution

| You know something is wrong in Washington, D.C., when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) rush to the microphones in high dudgeon and agree with each other!  more

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A complaint about complaints

| The FCC today released a corrected "QUARTERLY REPORT ON INFORMAL CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS" (PDF), updating the report issued on 19th May. It just irritated me all over again.  more

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June is busting out all over

| As the song says, June is bustin' out!  more

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They are watching

| The FBI and the attorney general have requested that major internet and telephone companies keep records of all internet traffic for two years — every email you send and who you send it to, every website you visit (LA Times, 2-Jun-06). The request was accompanied by a thinly veiled threat that if the companies did not comply "voluntarily," legislation would be enacted to compel them to.  more

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Invited to Delta Burke's birthday party

| On Saturday, all the usual suspects — Réal, Ken, Bob, Phil, and I — went to see Del Shores' play Southern Baptist Sissies when the Season of Shores came to Palm Springs for the weekend.  more

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G.O.P.

| It's June in an election year. Right on schedule, Washington's Grand Old Panderers have moved their hottest hot-button social issue to the top of the legislative priority list: gay marriage.  more

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Hot visitors

| Jim and Angela came down from the Bay Area to spend the weekend and experience the desert in all its June glory. Unfortunately, they were deprived of a truly authentic experience due to a relative cold snap. They didn't seem too, too disappointed.  more

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Baghdad Bush, the sequel

| Alzheimers would make the Bush administration so much more bearable. History is repeating itself in eerie ways. Just as Nixon kept seeing light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam, Bush keeps announcing a turning point in Iraq. If there had truly been as many turning points as W has proclaimed, we'd be plain dizzy.  more

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Brunch Bunch in NYC

| It all started when I said at Sunday brunch, "I'm going to New York for a weekend in June; who wants to go along?" And that's how the usual suspects — Réal, Ken, Bob, Phil, and I — all ended up in The City this past weekend.  more

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Stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park

| The new moon being this weekend, we planned an outing to Joshua Tree National Park to look at the stars. Away from city lights, you can see many more stars than from other places, and the isolated, other-worldly environment makes it all the more special.  more

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Decider decided decidedly wrong

| What Supreme timing! Just as we are about to celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence against a tyrant named George, the Supreme Court once again ruled against another George with decidedly authoritarian tendencies in the case of Hamdan vs Rumsfeld et al. For the second time (the first was in 2004), the Supremes told W that the War on Terror didn't give him a "blank check" to do whatever he pleased, laws, treaties, and the Constitution be damned. By a vote of 5 to 3, the Justices let The Decider know he decided wrong when he began to work "the dark side," as Vice calls it:  more

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Calling to cancel

| Mr Vincent Ferrari, of the Bronx, New York, called AOL to cancel his account, thereby falling into customer service hell. We've all been there. Mr Ferrari got the last laugh, however. He recorded the call and posted it on his blog, and like a virulent virus, there was no stopping the story. Before long, Ferrari found himself being interviewed by Matt Lauer on the Today show, which featured a replay of his call.  more

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Fire this time

| The hills are alive — with fire. A lightning strike the other night set off a huge wildfire in the Morongo and Yucca valleys just north of Palm Springs. Thousands of acres have already been burned, and firemen are struggling to contain the fire and prevent it from joining up with another fire already burning to the west.  more

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Lollygagging in Laguna Beach

| It is now a tradition to assemble a band of friends for a summer trip to the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach. This year our numbers swelled beyond the usual hard-core suspects — Jim, Angela, Bob, Carolyn, and myself — to include Chuck and Kathy, who also joined us two years ago, and newcomers Cindy and Don.  more

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Brunch Bunch at brunch

| Ken brought his camera to brunch on Sunday to take a few snaps of the Brunch Bunch in their natural habitat.  more

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Sizzle and sweat

| Ever since moving to the desert I have steadfastly insisted that the heat "isn't that bad," especially if you don't think about it. My neighbor, Wanda, thinks about it constantly, and she is, as a result, just miserable from May to September.  more

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Blown!

| It's so hard keeping secrets.  more

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Be careful what you wish for

| Hearing yet another news report of yet another clash in one of the ongoing, unending conflicts between sworn enemies, I've often said, "You know, they should just let them fight it out." Who could have guessed that in the current Israeli-Hezbollah battle that wish would turn out to be official US foreign policy?  more

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LA Rodeo

| Saturday Réal and I drove to Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank for the Los Angeles gay rodeo. For some reason Penelope decided we needed to see downtown Glendale on the way; she'd better have a darned good reason for such a roundabout route. We learned that downtown Glendale looks just like downtown Pasadena and downtown Burbank and downtown YouNameIt. But it was a worthwhile meander — we also learned that street signs and lamp posts in Glendale are painted red and orange, which is certainly unique.  more

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Moonshine

| Last night was one of those simply perfect times that a person wants to savor forever.  more

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Black Jack, MO

| Whatever is wrong with Kansas seems to be spreading to Missouri. There, the citizens of Black Jack have enacted a law that prohibits more than three people living together in the same house unless they are related by blood, marriage, or adoption. As a consequence, Olivia Shelltrack and Fondray Loving face fines of up to $500 per day. Shelltrack and Fondray, who have lived together for more than a dozen years, have two children of their own and a daughter from Shelltrack's previous relationship.  more

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Pre-9/11 mindset

| You could be forgiven for thinking that American history began on September 11, 2001.  more

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Hero on the bench

| Quite often, a hero turns out to be a quite ordinary person who simply does the right thing when others have lost their bearings. And so it is with the case of Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She issued a ruling today that George W Bush's NSA warrantless wiretapping program ("terrorist surveillance program" in Bush-speak) is unconstitutional, and she issued an injunction ordering the program to stop.  more

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Williamson reunion

| The Minnesota relatives decided to hold a family reunion for all those begotten by my parents and their progeny.  more

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9/11: Had enough?

| The long, national orgy of symbolic wallowing in grief is over. Now the pre-election cultivation of terror can continue without even a pretense of subtlety.  more

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Resurrecting Donald

| Niece Carol writes: "Uncle Paul--Ever since I read your chronicle about beholding the begotten, it has been bothering me that you do not have a picture of your brother Donald. While I was not able to locate the exact one I was looking for, I did manage to come up with some others that might be of interest to you."  more

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Are we safe yet?

| Despite the passage of five years and the expenditure of billions of dollars, airport security remains a farce.  more

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Gazing at the stars

| Some of the usual suspects went to Joshua Tree National Park Friday night to gaze at the stars. We didn't last long.  more

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October!

| How can it already be October? I haven't done my spring cleaning yet!  more

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Foley folly

| Instant message exchange between Congressman Foley (Maf54) and a former page:  more

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Star dedication

| The newest star on Palm Springs Walk of Stars was unveiled yesterday in front of the Palm Canyon Theatre, dedicated to Del Shores, playwright and director of stage, screen, and TV.  more

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Why I live in Palm Springs

| A headline in the NY Times caught my eye:  more

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Bowling tournament

| Réal's winter bowling team entered the Desert Invitational Classic tournament over the weekend, and I dropped in to offer moral support and take a few snapshots.  more

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Well, doh!

| A research firm surveyed 325 people and concluded that one-third of them write down their passwords on paper or put them in text files on their computer. I don't know how much the study cost, but I could have given them the same conclusion for half the price. Furthermore, I think they've got it wrong. My guess is that it's more likely three-fourths or more that write their passwords down.  more

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New York City

| With a free ticket on JetBlue set to expire at the end of October, I made a quick trip to New York city to see some shows and do a little sightseeing. As is often the case at this time of the year, the weather ranged from sunny and balmy to rainy and wretched.  more

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David Sedaris, live for one night only

| Last night I attended An Evening with David Sedaris at the McCallum Theatre. If you listen regularly to NPR's This American Life you would surely recognize his voice. How to characterize it? Deadpan, almost monotone; slightly nasal; slightly raspy as smokers' voices tend to be.  more

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Desperation

| After months of resolutely proclaiming that the Bush administration would stay the course in Iraq, in comparison to those namby-pamby Democrats who would cut and run, the White House has suddenly cut and run on its own slogan. They have decreed that the phrase "stay the course" will no longer be uttered by George W or anybody else. It is, to use a term made famous by Richard Nixon, inoperative.  more

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The hills are aflame

| While we were waiting Thursday morning for the bus to take us to the Getty Villa, we noticed a column of smoke rising behind the mountains. It could mean only one thing — wild fire.  more

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I voted

| I cast my ballot this morning. I wasn't happy doing it. Frankly, the best thing that could happen to American politics would be for every single incumbent to be voted out of office, regardless of party. I think the situation has deteriorated to the extent that about the only way to fix the system would be to start over from scratch. That won't happen, of course, but I can sleep well knowing I did my part.  more

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Palm Springs Pride 2006

| Palm Springs held its Gay Pride celebration this past weekend, with the festival on Saturday and Sunday and the parade on Sunday.  more

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Election 2006

| The great slime fest of the 2006 election will soon be over, and then the blame fest can begin. The losers will start pointing fingers and assigning blame. If the Republicans lose — big, bigger, biggest? — they already have a head start since they've been formed up into a circular firing squad for some time now. If the Democrats lose — they could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, you know! — there will be great wailing and despair.  more

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Heckuva job, Rummy!

| Last week, George W Bush was steadfastly avowing his support for Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld. "Both those men [Rumsfeld and Cheney] are doing fantastic jobs and I strongly support them," Bush said, adding that he expected them to be with him to the end of his term. What a difference a week makes! Today, W announced that Rummy was "resigning." To "pursue other opportunities" no doubt.  more

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People to W: Enough already!

| The people have spoken, and the word is "no."  more

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Taxi to the airport

| The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association came to town again for their convention, and when they do, they take their planes all the way to the convention center. It's not every town that lets over a hundred planes taxi through the streets. And it is quite a sight to see.  more

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Flying out of bankruptcy

| What's wrong with this picture? US Airways, freshly out of bankruptcy itself not long ago and now merged with failing America West, suddenly has $8 billion to offer for Delta, another airline in bankruptcy. And $4 billion of that is in cash!  more

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Thanksgiving 2006

| Of all the holidays, I like Thanksgiving the best.  more

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Defining away problems

| Main Entry: civil war Function: noun : a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country  more

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Interesting junk

| Lately there has been a spate of junk email that piqued my interest. When it appears in the junk mailbox (thank you, Outlook!), it displays a more-or-less plausible name and the subject is always "hi it's ":  more

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Where's Paul?

| I'm off on a long weekend, getting in the holiday spirit.  more

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Holly Folly in P-town

| It was much too cold in Palm Springs last Friday, so Réal and I went some place warmer — Provincetown. Yes, that Provincetown, way out there on the tip of Cape Cod, exposed to the harsh elements of a New England winter. But the travel gods shined down upon us. When we left Palm Springs Friday morning, it was 38°F. When we landed in Nashville, it was 65°F, and when we got to Providence, where we began our drive to the Cape, it was 69°F.  more

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Now what?

| The White House would like us to believe that The Decider has suddenly become The Deliberator. After having rushed headlong into war in Iraq, W insists he won't be rushed into deciding what to do next. His promised speech about a new "way forward" has been delayed from December until some time in January, TBD. A round of conspicuous consultation has so far yielded nothing public except photo ops. What to do, what to do?  more

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Tea for two

| Christmas is supposed to be a season of hope, whether you think about it in the Christian sense — away in a manger, the little Lord Jesus, and all that — or in the context of the pagan rituals that predated Christ. Unfortunately, the misery and strife that beset so many in so many places make it easy to forget that. A picture in this morning's Los Angeles Times, however, offered a powerful antidote, leaving me nearly dumbstruck.  more

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Christmas 2006 Chez Paul

| Deck the halls and fire up the stove — it was my turn to host Christmas dinner. This year I really got into the Christmas spirit, for a change. After a hiatus of many years, I even put up a Christmas tree!  more

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