Saturday, December 1, 2012 : "Killing Them Softly" borders on overkill : "Killing Them Softly" borders on overkill : "Killing Them Softly" borders on overkill

Posted: 01 Dec 2012 08:24 AM PST

Brad Pitt plays a hitman who is sentimental and deadly.

Pitt is a hitman brought in to restore some much needed street credibility to a weak looking mob syndicate in Killing them Softly.
Pitt prefers to kill victims "softly" from a distance rather than watching them get "touchy feely" up close. While trying to fix things he works alongside local mob lawyer Richard Jenkins. James Gandolfini, resurrects the spirit of Tony Soprano as a boozing, hooker-loving hit man who has lost his killer touch. Ray Liotta plays a poker manager wrongfully accused of ripping off the mob. A solid cast in a dark artsy movie peppered with hard to watch violent scenes.
Slow motion bullets flying and brain matter splatters. They all try to convey the message that capitalism and organized crime are mirror images of each other, one countless cruel scene after another.
The film is solid, there are many things I liked about it. I love mob movie but the over-the-top violence and the political undertones after the election we just had was a bit too much. The flick-o-meter gives Killing them Softly a four out of five.
 Set  in 2008, there doesn't seem to be anywhere in the film you don't see George Bush or John McCain or Barack Obama talking on the television about the need to bail out Wall Street or how everyone in America can participate in the country's promise.
Ok ok, we get it, America isn't just a country, it's a business. The message is hammered into your head again and again. Perhaps they should rename the film 'over killing them softly'.
That's just my view. Tell me what you think. Go find me on FaceBook, it's called TheBrettside.

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Light Painting

Posted: 01 Dec 2012 07:00 AM PST

Our professor in our Photography class taught us how to paint using light and how to capture those light paints. We drew random images just for fun.

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Ongoing conflict rocks Cairo

Posted: 01 Dec 2012 04:39 AM PST

Up to 500,000 people gathered in Tahrir Square at any given time on Friday, November 30, to protest the draft constitution and Morsi's latest decree, seen as a power-grab by many. Estimates now say over 1 million people were there at some point during the night, although people came and went. Egyptian and study abroad students from American University and universities throughout Cairo joined the throng in marches to the square. Schools across Cairo have shut down on-and-off due to the protests. Traffic has drastically decreased as many choose to stay home or go downtown. Riot police wait in armored trucks scattered around the city. The US embassy, despite media reports, has not shut down, but services are being suspended temporarily. On Saturday, anti-Morsi protestors refused to vacate the square as pro-Morsi protestors headed to Cairo University for a protest of their own, which will end with a march to Tahrir. In Tahrir itself, a makeshift hospital has been set up among the tents, as well as many shrines to martyrs in the recent conflict. The iconic graffiti from the Arab Spring on the front wall of American university has been redone nearly every day, depicting images of those killed in the clashes. The photos below are from last Friday, November 17, at Tahrir Square, on the first day of massive protests.

I am a current student at American University in Cairo, living in Zamalek, 20 minutes from Tahrir.

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First Snow in Berlin

Posted: 01 Dec 2012 02:30 AM PST

First Snow in Berlin

December First, 2012

Markku Rainer Peltonen

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The President's Idea of 'Balanced'

Posted: 30 Nov 2012 03:35 PM PST

Today  we are learning what President Barack Obama defines as a "balanced  approach" to fixing the nation's economic woes and averting a plunge  over the fiscal cliff.

The  plan presented Thursday by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to  Republican leaders in Congress to avoid the nightmare that awaits come  January calls for $1.6 trillion in new taxes. Those new taxes are not  just a rise in the rate for those individuals making over $200,000 per  year or couples making over $250,000 per year, but also includes a rise  in the capital gains tax, the dividend tax rate by about double and the  estate tax rate. Of course there is also the new taxes that will come  into play in January from the Affordable Care Act as well.

In  addition, the Administration is now also asking to extend the payroll  tax cuts which have already taken millions from both Medicare and Social  Security over the last two years.

The plan calls for another $50 billion in stimulus spending. We all know how well the previous stimulous spending has done.

In  response to calls from Republican lawmakers to cap deductions or do  away with loopholes in the tax code, the plan does allow for and call  that those be enacted next year when reforming the tax code. This is  nothing more than a token to say the plan is bipartisan.

As  to any cuts in spending, the President is agreeing to $400 million in  cuts to Medicare to be worked out during talks next year. Nothing  definitive, but spending cuts to be discussed with the new Congress.

A  poke in the eye of the GOP is a call to make raising the debt ceiling  automatic and avoid the Administration from having to seek congressional  approval to borrow more money. The idea is to avoid another  confrontation like last year's that set up a large chunk of the fiscal  cliff - sequestration, which calls for across the board cuts in  spending.

It  would seem that what the President is calling as a "balanced approach"  is more of the same trite line of tax and spend. The President is upping  the amount of taxes by double what was proposed last year when the  President and House Speaker John Boehner attempted to reach a "grand  bargain". At that time, what was on the table was $800 billion in tax  increases. When the Administration attempted to up that amount to $1  trillion is when negotiations fell apart. Now the President thinks he  can get a better deal asking for double the tax increase.

While  cuts in Medicare spending are part of the plan, it is not set in stone.  The cuts would be part of negotiations with the new Congress. In other  words, all lip and no action.

How can the President call this balanced?

In an op-ed piece for CNN today, David Gergen wonders if the President may overplay his hand. Gergen agrees the  public has made it clear that it wants the "rich" to pay more in taxes.  But Gergen points out that the President may be trying to push the  envelop too far.

I  agree with Gergen. The plan put out by the White House appears to me to  show that the President and Democrats are trying to be too greedy.

Where are the real spending cuts?

Where is the real balance?

Where is there a real effort to find compromise?

From the Cornfield, if the President really thinks this is balanced, then I believe he is living in a land of fantasy.

As  I have said before, I am not against the "rich" paying more, but there  must also be concrete cuts in spending in every corner of the federal  government, including defense. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security  reform must be part of the equation.

The plan proposed by Geithner for the President is anything, but balanced.

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Man Gives Deer A Ride

Posted: 30 Nov 2012 12:53 PM PST

Every year David Moraska takes his deer to the processor in an odd sort of way. This ride was about 2 miles long from Iron Mountain to Kingsford, Michigan.


See his 2 mile journey here:


Join me on Facebook:

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Vehicle crashes into Restaurant

Posted: 30 Nov 2012 11:54 AM PST

Codiac RCMP , Moncton Fire and Ambulance NB responded to this single vehicle accident around 2:30 P.M. this afternoon. Male driver in his 50's was rushed to hospital and was very combative with Firefighters and Paramedics, possibly a medical condition. Vehicle crashed into the front doors of Jean's Restaurant at 369 St. George St. Spoke to a Woman that was inside the restaurant when the vehicle hit and she there was a huge bang and glass flew everywhere. Codiac RCMP were dealing with traffic on St. George, while the first responders tried secure the man on the stretcher.

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Symphony conducter has problems at a concert in Iceland

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 01:44 PM PST

Tonight the Icelandic Symphony had a Star Wars concert - playing the music from the Star Wars movies.
The Conducter mr. Lucas Richman Conducted the SYmphony quite well, and he has conducted many big Simphonys around the world .
But tonight he had a little problem in the end of the Imperial March.
Some Stormtroopers and mr Darth Vader entered the concert hall,and took him with force of the stage .
The concert was at the new concert hall in Reykjavik,Iceland, and its name is - Harp .

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Be Responsible With the Money You Do Have

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 01:30 AM PST

Like a number of Americans, when times get tough extras go out the window in my house. This means packing a lunch and snacks and making coffee at home instead of splurging on Starbucks coffee. This is something Congress could and SHOULD learn from.

Not too long ago I read a financial report on the spending habits of a certain government entity and I was shocked and enraged by what I learned. Government officials were routinely purchasing $8 cups of coffee, $16 dollar muffins, and "working" lunches were catered to the tune of upwards of $40 per person. In this economy it is somewhat shocking to me that people are willing to spend that amount of money when it clearly isn't necessary. And then to learn government officials are not spending their own money (ie:our tax dollars allotted for their personal use), but instead are using our tax dollars that have been allocated for the running and maintaining our country. That is truly despicable behavior and a gross mismanagement of money.

Further, I find it ironic that our government justifies paying itself six figure salaries - especially in times of recession and poor economy - with flimsy excuses such as it will keep them from taking bribes (ha!) and/or that if they were to work in the private sector they would make sooo much more money, when the average American citizen makes $30-35 thousand dollars a year.

1.) I'm fairly certain most Americans are aware that politicians take bribes on a daily basis...sure the politicians and their cronies call them "campaign donations," but we all know what they really are.

2.) There are A LOT of people who work for the government that would have a huge jump in salary if they worked in the private sector. Yet, Congress has no interest in giving them six figure salaries to insure that the salaries of these individuals are competitive or to prevent them from taking bribes. I'm talking about our first responders, military, FBI, etc. - and I imagine some of the aforementioned have easier access to sensitive information than many of our politicians.

3.) How on earth do people who earn upwards of three times the annual salary of the average American think they can properly represent the majority of their constituents? While the average constituent is worrying about the overcrowding of their children's' schools, the lack of extra curricular, the loss of the arts programs, etc., politicians have enrolled their children in schools who's annual tuition per child costs more than the average American makes in a year.
While politicians are vehemently arguing for the need to decrease the DoDs budget we have service members who are losing their homes, Marines who have to make do with the Army's cast off, worn out equipment, and this is just the tip of the ice burg. (Ironically, there were reports of Congress members demanding F-16s fly over D.C. every fifteen minutes on 9/11. They sure do ask a lot while giving very little.)

In general, Congress is out of touch with the average American and this is reflected in their spending habits.

So, here is my idea of how Congress can start repairing the fiscal nightmare they have marched us into.
1.) Stop paying themselves so much. Our country has incurred massive debt that our great grandchildren will still be paying off. Debt that Congress, as the fiscal managers of our country, were active participants in creating. If the average American, the people who voted Congress into office, the constituents whom Congress allegedly represents can live on under $40,000 a year, then surely Congress can take a substantial pay cut until they have fixed the mess they created.

2.)Congress should learn from the people they are supposed to represent and manage the money they do have more effectively. This means either packing a lunch and making your own coffee (ahem, having their maid/cook pack their lunch and make them coffee) or using their salary to pay for their ridiculously expensive and extravagant coffees and lunches. Or hey, have a potluck for those "working" lunches.

If Congress truly wants to fix our fiscal problems they should begin with our biggest fiscal problem - themselves.

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Christmas Shake 2012: Holiday Cheer!

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 05:10 PM PST

We first did the "Christmas Shake" back in 2009. It's the Holiday Season 2012, and we're back! This time we want to get the whole world Christmas Shaking.

"Christmas Shake" began as a 'silly song' and a simple quest back in December 2009. For the video, Forest Thomer and I came up with the idea of visiting downtown Cincinnati, Ohio and asking passersby to shake a gift wrapped box and help us spread some Christmas cheer and holiday joy!

It worked!! The response was great! A few families had fun Christmas Shakin'. We had fun capturing them on video, and out of that day of holiday fun, the Christmas Shake Dance was born! Of course most our shakers were already somewhat familiar with the "Christmas Shake" concept. Lots of people shake their holiday gifts before they open them.

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