Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Movie Review: Monsters versus Aliens in Real 3D

Monster v AliensI took my son today to see Monsters versus Aliens in Real 3D. Having grown up in the 3D revival era (remember Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D or Jaws 3D?), I had my doubts about how good this 3D could actually be. Reminiscences of the paper glasses with one blue and one red lens made me wary of what this movie might offer.

Our first exposure to this new "Real-D 3D" was a preview for the movie Battle for Terra. I was immediately sold on this incredible new 3D technology! Wearing clear-lensed 3D glasses made large enough to fit comfortably over prescription glasses, this new technology involves none of the color distortion of the early 3D movies while providing an exceedingly realistic three dimensional experience.

For a movie that reportedly used the 3D process as an enhancement to the story and not a gimmicky addition, Monsters versus Aliens starts with an early scene of a man playing paddle ball while waiting for some form of extra-terrestrial activity to pop up on a computer monitor. I literally flinched when the paddle ball popped out of the screen, nearly hitting me in the nose.

Other realistic three dimensional effects included snow blowing around in a scene that made me feel as if I was actually in the snow storm, soaring through the rings around Saturn, and a meteor crashing to the earth, just to name a few.

The story line of the movie was pleasing, as well, with a governmental facility where monsters are kept being forced to release the monsters to fight off an invading alien force that the American military is ineffective against (must be the post-Obama military era). There are only two brief scenes in the movie that even the most guarded of viewers should be okay with. When the President of the United States (played by Stephen Colbert) receives a warning from Galaxhar, the ruler of the invading alien armada, that everyone will die within 24 hours, he says, "Raise the alert level to brown, because I need to change my pants." In another scene, when bride turned monster Ginormica is approached by the other monsters who are trying to figure out what the giant monster woman is, B.O.B., an indestructible gelatinous mass, says, "He's a boy. Look at his boobies."

My son and I both immensely enjoyed Monsters versus Aliens, both for it's humorous story line and it's incredible 3D effects. Happily, there will be more where that came from as at least eight other films are slated for release this year in this incredible 3D format. This movie is a must-see for all!

Your comments?


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Pork Flu

From Patriot Post

Hat tip to Patriot Post.

Your comments?


Saturday, April 25, 2009

FREE William Broooks Download TODAY ONLY!

Free William Brooks download from Magnatune, today only. THERE'S STILL TIME LEFT!

Magnatune Song of the Day
for Saturday, April 25, 2009

Genre: Folk
Album: Karma Dogs
Artist: William Brooks
Song: 6. Miracle

Listen to the album: hifi lofi


(only available today, Saturday)


Today's free song is from the album:

William Brooks
Karma Dogs

Total time: 51:52
Release date: 3/24/04

Location of artist: NY, USA

This artist has 5 other albums

You will be able to download a high quality version of this artwork when you purchase this album.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Book Review: Boneman's Daughters by Ted Dekker

Book Review
With Ted Dekker's latest release, Boneman's Daughters, we find the best-selling fiction author entering the mainstream. His first book released by a major publishing house that is not Thomas Nelson Boneman's Daughters promises to appeal to Dekker's current fan base as well as those who are typically attracted to the horror, suspense, and mystery genres.

Boneman's Daughters was one of Dekker's best written books outside of The Circle trilogy.

SPOLIER ALERT: Really, if you don't want to know critical details about the story, skip over all of the following RED text.

Ryan Evans, a Naval Intelligence Officer on assignment in Fallujah, Iraq, is one of the best in the business. Devoted to his country, dedicated to his duty, he has been away from home for two years, leaving his wife and sixteen year old daughter behind, as he answers his country's call to duty. When Evans and his convoy are attacked, killing most of the U.S. Army unit Evans is attached to, Evans finds himself fallen into enemy hands. But worse than just the enemy, this enemy is one who wants to teach America a lesson about "collateral" damage, and does so by torturing Evans in a most horrible way.

Boneman, a serial killer in Texas, is thought to have been rotting in a Texas prison for two years. Until it is discovered that the DNA evidence that clinched the conviction might have been planted -- likely duplicated from a sample taken from the suspect himself and planted onto one of the victims. When a judge releases the convicted man from prison, Boneman suddenly strikes again.

Evans, having been forced to sit and watch as his captors killed innocent children in the method made famous by the renowned Boneman -- the breaking of bones throughout the body without breaking the skin, allowing the victim to suffer to death from the pain -- has been sent back to Austin, Texas, for a time of recovery and observation. When he returns and expects to be reunited with his estranged wife and daughter, he instead finds his wife in the arms of a new man -- the District Attorney who convicted the man recently released for the Boneman murders -- the very man believed to have planted the false DNA evidence. More shocking to Evans is when his daughter rejects him as well.

But when Evans' daughter disappers from her bedroom in the middle of the night, and his wife wakes up with a broken finger, it quickly becomes evident that Boneman is back in Austin, and back in business. The timing of Evans' return to Austin coinciding with the return of Boneman, his experience when held captive in the desert of Iraq, and Boneman's latest victim, makes Evan the prime suspect as the case quickly unfolds.

Dekker does an incredible job with Boneman's Daughters, weaving a tale of intrigue, suspense, and terror that will tickle that little nerve inside you that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. I don't know if I'm just a very intentive and intuitive reader, or if Dekker is a little too obvious about the antagonist he calls Boneman, but on page 230 of this 401 page book, I made a note to myself of whom I suspected to be the real Boneman, and later discovered that my suspicion was correct. I won't spoil the whole book for you by revealing the culprit here. Let's just say, it probably isn't who you might think it would be.

I did find one cause for concern with Dekker's first entry into the mainstream fiction market: the use (on four different occasions) of language that would be wholly inappropriate if this book -- like Dekker's other books -- had been published by Thomas Nelson (see a screen capture example below). Dekker, widely recognized as one of the best (if not the best) Christian fiction authors of the day, disappoints with the use of words that could easily have been replaced with less offensive, more appropriate language for the genre that he typically caters to. While some will likely say that the language to which I refer (on pages 212, 318, 341, and 378, if you must know) was not so out of line as to be considered offensive, it can not in any way be called appropriate to the niche that this author fills.

That being said, I still enjoyed Boneman's Daughters considerably, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good fiction suspense drama.

A Look Inside

Your comments?


Boneman's Daughters

Just finished Ted Dekker's "Boneman's Daughters." Review coming soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Flocking Back to Chrome

FlockThis is the last post I will be making here from Flock, "The Award Winning Social Web Browser Powered by Mozilla." I committed late last week to giving it a test drive, and my plan was to give it a week before drawing any final conclusion. Well, it has been almost a week. Finally.

Let me say a few things about Flock. First, it is a very powerful web browser, certainly. It is absolutely loaded with features. I mean, it's packed so full of social media features that -- well, for me, that's part of the problem. It's overloaded.

I was a long time supporter and promoter of Firefox when Google rolled out their Chrome browser. I tested out Chrome for a while and found it lacking in some areas, bouncing back and forth between Firefox and Chrome for the longest time before finally settling on Chrome (I don't even think I wrote about that decision here) for it's superior speed, streamlined look, and ease of use.

It is for those same reasons that I simply cannot even begin to feel comfortable with Flock. I have been using it exclusively for several days now, and I have found no need to set up the many social media features it includes. In fact, I have found that taking the time necessary to set up such features is something I just don't, well, have time for.

In addition, Flock has on two occasions over the past several days frozen on me and required a restart -- something that has never happened with Chrome, thanks to Chrome's built-in Task Manager with Crash Control, which works beautifully any time a web page freezes up. In Chrome, it's as simple as opening Chrome's Task Manager and disabling the offending web page. No browser restart required.

Another shortcoming I have discovered with Flock is that it doesn't seem to adequately leave me logged in to sites I visit frequently, as both Chrome and Firefox seem to do. That, to me, is an annoyance, and it seems that a social media browser would be designed to keep one logged into social networking sites to provide easy access to those frequently used.

Overall, I would say that if I was still using Firefox primarily, I might be tempted to keep plowing along with Flock and might even some day switch over permanently. Flock and Firefox are both based on the Mozilla platform, and I think Flock can best be described as Firefox for social networkers. However, I only use Firefox as an occasional backup, and there are times when I will go for weeks without even using it at all.

TweetdeckSince I began using Tweetdeck for Twitter at about the same time I began my test drive with Flock, I find that Tweetdeck so fully meets my Twittering needs that there is no use (for me) for the social web features of Flock.

ChromeFor me, Chrome and Tweetdeck fit the bill, with no added lag to my system, none of the clutter that is so nicely featured in Flock, and none of the browser crashing that requires frequent restarts.

Im sure Flock is exactly what some people are looking for. For me, I prefer the simplicity and reliability of the Chrome browser.

My other posts on Flock are available here and here.

Your comments?


My Winning Contest Entry on I Am Husband

I Am HusbandI just learned that I have been selected as the winner of a great couples book by I Am

Of course, I'll be posting a review of the book after I've read it, and hopefully it's something I can get my wife involved in with me.

The contest asked for husbands to submit a comment in 250 words or less why they love their wife. Here's my winning entry:
I love my wife because at a time in my life when I had given up on finding that special someone, God delivered me right to her doorstep. Or her to mine, actually. I remember vividly the first time we met -- where it was, how it came to be, what she was wearing, and even how my heart skipped a beat when she walked into the room. Fairy tale sounding stuff, maybe, but that's what made it so special ten short years ago. I love her because she sees through all of my shortcomings and loves me anyway. I love her because together we created a wonderful son and daughter, without whom my life would not be complete. I love her because she is untiring in her drive to raise our children to love the Lord. She home educates our son and will soon do the same for our daughter, and even though she sometimes feels she never gets a moment to herself, she is the very model of what a mother should be. Tomorrow (as I write this) is her 31st birthday, and I love her because every holiday and birthday is still a very special occasion for her, and she makes it fun to plan special surprises for her (even though she is very hard to surprise). I love her because it was really quite difficult to say just why I love her in 250 words or less. 245 will have to do.
Make sure you check out I Am Husband. It's a great site full of great content.

Your comments?


Monday, April 20, 2009

#Flock Thoughts

FlockI'm really trying to give Flock an honest test drive. I have been using it [almost] exclusively for two days now. I say almost, because I still have Google Chrome set as my default browser, so whenever I click a link in Tweetdeck, etc., the page is opened in Chrome. However, I have been using Flock for my email, my general browsing, my feed reading, and my blogging (including this post).

I'm told that I'll like it so much I'll start recommending it to people. I don't know yet how likely that is. Here are my latest thoughts.
  • Flock is called a "social" browser, because it was designed for social media. While I have a presence on practically every social media site out there, I'm not a big social media guy. I don't find myself yet actually using any of the social media features built into Flock (I've checked them out, but just haven't found them useful for my type of web activity).
  • I am not one of the fortunate people who can access the Internet from work. In order to connect at work and check my email or Twitter, I have to plug into a land line and dial up using NetZero (which I keep just for that purpose). Google Chrome is a quick browser that makes what I do over dial up at least bearable. Flock, so far, has seemed just a bit slower.
  • Before switching to Google Chrome (and still as an occasional backup), I was a Firefox user -- in fact, a Firefox promoter. Flock is (it seems to me) basically a rebuild of Firefox, enhanced for social media. I switched from Firefox to Chrome because Chrome was faster and Firefox would crash unexpectedly. While Flock hasn't crashed yet, it has been as slow as Firefox, and I can't imagine why it wouldn't crash eventually, being built on the same platform.
I will continue to use Flock through the rest of this week, though I feel like I'm having Chrome withdrawal symptoms. I really haven't had a chance to put it through all of the paces, which I hope to do in the next couple of days. I'll update regularly on my experience, and let you know what the final outcome is toward the end of the week.

Your comments?


Sunday, April 19, 2009

SOAP: How Great Is Our God!

SOAPSOAP {Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer}:

5:6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

18-19 Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.

6:3-5 That's what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we're going in our new grace-sovereign country.

12-14 That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don't give it the time of day. Don't even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you've been raised from the dead!—into God's way of doing things. Sin can't tell you how to live. After all, you're not living under that old tyranny any longer. You're living in the freedom of God.

22-23 But now that you've found you don't have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. Romans 5-6 (excerpts) [MSG]

Christ's gift of Salvation, when we least deserve it.

Adam condemned us to death. Literally. By partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (or, in the vernacular, eating the apple), Adam condemned us to death for eternity. But some two thousand years ago, One Man came along to reverse Adam's act. One Man came along to save us from the evil that had plagued us since the very first man. To save us from the evil that continues to plague us even now. To save us from sin.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, stepped up in our defense when we didn't even deserve to be defended. When we were guilty of sin, He came forward when we deserved nothing short of eternal condemnation and paid the price for our evil ways, so that we don't have to. To us, He gave the ultimate gift by paying the ultimate price. And all that we have to do is accept that glorious gift.

But so much more than just accepting this glorious, undeserved gift, we should then live the kind of life that God would have us live. We should never again give sin the time of day. We should resist the temptation to return to those sinful ways that Our Lord saved us from. But we are human, aren't we, and incapable of never sinning. That's right, as much as we might hope to live right, we just aren't capable of completely eliminating sin from our lives. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We aren't capable of deserving the wonderful grace of God.

But our God is merciful, and willing to forgive us, just for the asking. Oh, what a wonderful God we serve!

Direct video link.

Father, I know that I'm not worthy of Your wonderful grace. And that I have let You down more times than I could possibly count. But I also know that You are merciful, and gracious, and that Your love is never ending. Thank You, Father, for the wonderful gift of salvation!


Test Driving #Flock

FlockI have been challenged on Twitter to give Flock a whirl. I am a reformed Firefox user, which means that I have switched from Firefox to Google Chrome for my primary web browsing, and use Firefox as a backup from time to time.

Flock is based on the Mozilla platform, as is Firefox, so one might think that switching wouldn't be so hard, but I have a couple of comments/observations on this my first day of playing around with Flock.
  • Flock is so feature-packed that it appears to have a high learning curve (meaning, you can't just jump in and get it right off the bat).
  • Many of the features I used to enjoy in Firefox are available in Flock, which is a plus.
  • Flock, so far, does not appear to be as fast as Google Chrome, but does seem to function faster on my system than Firefox.
That's about it for now, other than to say that I'm writing this post in Google Chrome, because I'm just not yet thrilled by Flock. I did, however, commit to giving it a week before I either give up on it or switch to it. My first impression: I'm not likely to be switching. But I'll try to keep an open mind toward it.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Your comments?


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Book Review: Odd Hours by Dean Koontz

Book Review
Dean Koontz first introduced us to this likeable character in Odd Thomas. Odd Hours is the fourth in this series, and follows Forever Odd and the third installment, Brother Odd.

Odd Hours is in ways unlike the first three books of the series. If you've joined Odd throughout his journey, you might notice in Odd Hours that Odd spends much less time dealing with the spirits of the dearly departed and, practically, the entire book trying to rescue the world from the certainty of nuclear destruction.

Odd Hours is at times compelling and at others merely entertaining, though it dishes up just enough to make the reader want to keep reading. Especially if you've followed Odd along his journey since the beginning.

In Odd Hours, America's favorite seer of the dead is faced with an entirely new challenge, as he finds himself literally seeing the future when coming into contact with those who are planning a mass attack on four American cities. Odd finds himself committed to rescue a woman he doesn't know -- has never even met -- who seems to know so much about him. His oath to die for her results in Odd taking matters into his own hands as he attempts to hi-jack four nuclear weapons destined to wreak havoc on four major cities and cause untold thousands of deaths.

I enjoyed Odd Hours, better than some of the series, but not quite as much as Forever Odd. One thing that stood out to me -- and as an author myself maybe I notice this more than the average reader -- was what I considered to be a pretty major inconsistency in the tale. In chapter 32 on page 224 of the hardback edition of the book, Odd is receiving a weapon from Birdie Hopkins, a woman who appears out of the fog to rescue him. {emphasis mine}
The weapon was a pistol. I examined it.

"No safeties," she said. "Double action. Ten rounds in the magazine. You know how to use such a thing?"

"Yes ma'am. I'm no Bonnie's Clyde, but I won't shoot my foot, either."
When I read this, I expected to find there would be some significance to the fact that the gun had no safeties. Maybe Odd would end up firing the weapon by accident at a time that it would put him in grave peril.

Later, in chapter 42, on pages 290 and 291 in the hardback edition, Odd draws the weapon, and I was sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen because of the missing safety. {emphasis mine again}
In case the redheaded gunmen had come visiting Hutch, had not been convinced by his performance, and had settled down to wait for me, I examined the compact pistol. The ten-round magazine held nine. I switched off the safety.
It continues on the next page.
When I peered cautiously through the open parlor door, I saw Hutch in the armchair where I had left him. The chenille throw lay across his lap and draped his knees; but he had put the book aside. He snored softly.

I engaged the safety on the little pistol, and pocketed the weapon.
Again, I figured maybe I would find something later in the story to indicate that Odd had not actually engaged and disengaged a safety, but that he had done something else by mistake. Unfortunately, there was no more mention of the mysterious safety. I think what bugs me most about it is that the act of engaging and disengaging the safety adds nothing to the story. Both underlined sections above could have been omitted from the book without detracting from the story and, in fact, might have eliminated this confusion.

Dean Koontz's Odd Hours is published by Bantam Books, and I find it inexcusable that such a large publishing house doesn't have someone who can catch such inconsistencies before the book goes to publication. Nothing major, just a pet peeve of mine. It didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book, and I'm sure it won't take away from yours, either.

Your comments?


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In Defense of Amazon #AmazonFail

AmazonThe Wall Street Journal reports: Inc. said an internal cataloging glitch inadvertently removed more than 57,000 books from its sales rankings and main search page. [Twitter]

I am an author, though not one whose work would be affected by a "blunder" such as this, even if I was a best-seller. I am also a father, and as a father, I prefer to be able to sit with my children and look at books on Amazon without having to worry about titles that I consider objectionable popping up and my kids asking, "What's that, Daddy?"

What would I consider objectionable? Probably several topics that would cause many to say I'm in favor of censorship. For example, I would prefer that my children not be unexpectedly presented with books about any sexual persuasion, or covering any sexual topic at all. I would prefer my children not be presented with material displaying any form of nude "art," to include even the famed statue of Michael, for example.

Does that make me in favor of censorship? I don't think so. I'm not saying that Amazon shouldn't offer material with such topics to its customers, just that maybe it is material that shouldn't pop up in general searches. Just as I favor a triple-X domain that would protect my children from accidentally stumbling onto objectionable content, I favor systems that would make what I consider objectionable content just a little less likely to pop up when I and my family are looking for books online.

None of these things make the content impossible for those who want it to find it. It is still there, and they can find it if they use the right search techniques. I do not consider it censorship to make something available only to those who want it while at the same time protecting those who don't want it from having to be exposed to it.

I ask you, does it make more sense for someone who is looking for content of an adult nature to have to search for it by adding "Adult" to their search term, for example, or for someone who doesn't want to be exposed to it to have to spend money on filtering devices, etc., or avoid the Internet altogether? We can enable everyone, or just those who suffer from moral bankruptcy. Sorry, that might be harsh, but that's how I feel. If you don't like it, next time you search Google for content, try entering "-Average Joe American" into your search and see if it helps you avoid my content. Or you could just avoid the Internet altogether, which is apparently what I'm expected to do if I want to protect my kids from things that we find objectionable.

Whatever the cause of the recent Amazon "blunder," even if it was completely intentional on Amazon's part, I say "Good on ya" Amazon. It is possible to serve everyone without offending everyone, if those who are so in favor of the further decline of society would just learn not to be offended when the content they want is appropriately categorized to prevent young innocents from being exposed to something that, in my opinion, we have every right to expect them to be protected from.

Your comments?


SOAP: Strong In The Faith

SOAPSOAP {Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer}:

12-13 The day God gave the Amorites up to Israel, Joshua spoke to God, with all Israel listening: "Stop, Sun, over Gibeon; Halt, Moon, over Aijalon Valley." And Sun stopped, Moon stood stock still Until he defeated his enemies. 13-14 (You can find this written in the Book of Jashar.) The sun stopped in its tracks in mid sky; just sat there all day. There's never been a day like that before or since—God took orders from a human voice! Truly, God fought for Israel. JOSHUA 10:12-14

Faith can indeed move mountains -- and so much more.

Joshua of Nun had faith -- so much faith that he was chosen to replace Moses to lead Israel into the promised land. To think of the fact that God would not allow Moses into the city, but Joshua was chosen, is staggering. Such a great man of faith.

Jesus spoke of the power of faith the size of a mustard seed, and how even such a little amount of true faith can move mountains. Joshua had that faith. Joshua commanded the sun and moon to stop, and they obeyed. They obeyed! Which means that God obeyed Joshua, since the sun and moon certainly can't act of their own accord. God took the direction from Joshua to stop the sun and moon until Israel defeated her enemies! Can you imagine? Joshua had such faith in God that he could tell the sun and moon to stop and knew that God would comply. That is faith!

It is said that Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt [Twitter] wanted so badly to be a best-selling author himself that he wrote on a piece of paper "I am a best-selling author," and put his faith in God to do the rest.

How is your faith?

Father, do I have the kind of faith that Joshua had? Do I have the faith of Michael Hyatt? Do I have the faith that would move a mountain, or stop the sun and moon, or help me to become a best-seller? I want to have that kind of faith, Lord. I believe. I want to be strong in the faith.

Your comments?


Letter from Indianapolis Mayor Ballard on CIB Bail Out

It seems that the news is all about Bail Outs lately (unless it's about Pirates), and that is now hitting closer to home here in Indianapolis. I'm not completely up to date on the CIB Bail Out (and maybe I should be before I post on it), but this email from Mayor Ballard's office seems to make sense to me.

To view this email as a web page, go here.


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I hope this finds you well.  As you are likely aware of the financial problems facing the city's Capital Improvement Board, I wanted to reach out and update you on my position regarding the various proposals being discussed.

The Capital Improvement Board is a vital part of our city.  Its role in funding facilities, special events, and projects throughout Indianapolis is critical to the economic vitality of not only downtown, but also to our neighborhoods, the region, and the state. 

Facilities including the Indiana Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse, and Victory Field bring millions of people to Indianapolis.  Millions of visitors generate significant business; hotel, restaurant, and retail, which in turn, provides thousands of Hoosier jobs and produces revenues that fuel the regional and state economies.  The Indianapolis hospitality industry draws an estimated 22 million people annually, drives $3.5 billion in the Central Indiana economy, and employs over 66,000 Hoosiers.

Finding a solution to the problems facing the CIB is absolutely imperative as it directly impacts the employees and their families who depend on these 66,000 jobs.  Additionally, it impacts the long-term financial health of the city and the resources available to strengthen our neighborhoods.

Finding a solution is important to the regional economy because many employers locate and remain in Central Indiana because of our vibrant Downtown.  And it is important to the state economy as Marion County contributes $975 million to the state; this represents 18% of the state's total sales tax revenues.

Over the last several months we've worked closely with state and city leaders to develop solutions to fund this vital entity.  There are several components to the proposals making their way through the State House and it appears, with great regret, that local tax dollars will be needed as part of the solution. 

I am committed to enacting a solution that protects the 66,000 Hoosiers employed in the hospitality industry and minimizes the burden on all Marion County taxpayers.  The solution must also involve the users of the facilities and those who most directly benefit from them.

It is for these reasons that I am opposed to the proposal for a broad-based food and beverage tax, and I am opposed to any increase in property or income taxes.  While I certainly prefer not to have to consider tax increases of any type, I believe we should look first to users and visitors in the form of rental cars, hotels, and tickets.  And we must consider an optional expense, like alcohol alone, that draws more from visitors and facility users.

Additionally, I have asked the state for an expansion of the Professional Sports Development Area to include the JW Marriott and allow for the redirection of that tax revenue from the state to the county.  I join Senator Luke Kenley and several legislative leaders in asking the Indianapolis Colts and the Indiana Pacers to each contribute $5 million.  And, in tightening our belts, we have already proposed cutting $8 million from the CIB operating budget. 

This proposal is true to my pledge that the burden for solving this problem should fall mainly on those who use and profit from these facilities.  That's why we've worked diligently to craft a solution that doesn't involve broad-based taxes on food, income, or property.  Additionally, I ask that the General Assembly and City-County Council consider sun-setting any proposed taxes, as there are several variables that may change the situation in the years to come.

Please know that I'm committed to continue working with state and city legislative leaders to enact a solution that will bolster our important economic engine that provides 66,000 jobs to Hoosiers and generates millions of dollars in revenues that are critical to the county, regional and state economies.

As always, I welcome your input and appreciate your consideration of this proposal.


Gregory A. Ballard
City of Indianapolis

Paid for and authorized by the Ballard for Mayor Committee, Jim Merritt Chairman

This email was sent by: Indiana Republican Party
47 S. Meridian St., Ste 200 Indianapolis, IN 46204 USA

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Captain Hook, Captain Feathersword, and Captain Phillips

Captain FeatherswordMy son loves pirates. Absolutely loves them. He loves The Wiggles, and was Captain Hook for Halloween. He plays with PlayMobil men all the time, and his favorite are the pirates. When he first heard the news of Captain Phillips being held hostage by Somali pirates, he said to his mommy, "Pirates aren't real."

Of course, the pirates he loves aren't real -- the variety of pirate that has a hook for a hand, a feather for a sword, and a patch over one eye -- no, those pirates aren't real. Those are the pirates as they have been romanticized by Hollywood. The pirates he plays with on the living room floor -- the plastic variety with removable beard and ear-ring -- those pirates aren't real, either. But I'm afraid that, as Captain Phillips can certainly tell us now, pirates are indeed very real. Too real, in fact, for us to sit idly by and allow them to deal their brand of terror across the seven seas.
Captain Hook
My son, who seems to remember everything forever, will hopefully learn a valuable lesson from his first "real" pirate experience. He will hopefully learn that the way Hollywood and Toys'R'Us portray things is in now way realistic, and that it is all designed to lure us in to give them more money for more entertainment. He will hopefully learn that much of what he thinks isn't real in this world really is real, and sadly so. He will hopefully learn that some day, but not today. Not today, because I'm not ready for my son's innocence to be lost just yet. I'm not ready for his world view to be tainted by scum sailing the seas taking advantage of others.

PirateNot that the sea-faring variety of scum is any worse than those that prey on their victims on land. The news today is cluttered with acts of violence, terror, and torture. Just last week a man was shot dead by police less than a football field's distance from where I park my car every day at work. He was shot dead by one of the good guys, an IMPD undercover narcotics officer who was investigating suspected drug dealers when the deal went bad. One man died that day, and two were arrested. And it could just as easily have happened in my own front yard as across the street. It could also easily have been the good guy pronounced dead at the hospital while the drug dealing immigrants escaped.

I was speaking with my father-in-law about these Somali pirates on Easter Sunday, and expressed the opinion that swift action had to be taken quickly to send a message to this sea-faring scum. These floating vermin had to be literally blown out of the water at any cost, in order to send the message that the United States -- once admired as the mightiest nation on Earth -- has no tolerance for such behavior. I argued that failure to respond swiftly and decisively would send an entirely different message -- one that any thug with a boat, a gun, and a couple of buddies could wreak havoc on the high seas, and no one could do anything about it.

Did America act swiftly enough? I read a post at OpinionHead that it wasn't Mr. Obama at all who gave the order to take out the pirates, but rather a Navy Admiral who ordered the SEAL team into the area and gave the order to take the shots. I have no way to verify or validate that story, and present it hear only as a possibility. It seems that Mr. Obama was wont to speak of the pirates when asked about it before the matter was settled. Maybe his teleprompter hadn't yet been briefed on the situation.

Either way, I thank God that Captain Phillips has been freed, and that at least three pirates will no longer be an influence on the high seas (and that there's at least one less drug pusher on the streets of Indianapolis). And I pray that my son will still enjoy his pirate toys and pirate movies -- for a few more years, at least.

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