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Newsletters

Winter 2005

In This Issue


We hope to see you at our next
FOKUS CELEBRATION
Sunday, March 6, 2005
4pm - 9pm
Kafka's Kastle (the home of Bruce Taylor and Roberta Gregory)

Directions and any additional info
will be found at 206-323-5483.

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Art Sharing

NOVEMBER 7, 2004 Elizabeth Pankey showed off placemats she had made, Roger Pankey's pumpkin pies were enjoyed by all. Carla McLean contributed an apple fennel salad, Larry Lewis presented "comics biography theater", Todd Christoffel of the don't ask band played some new songs while son Max was appreciative. Carl and Lida Sloan passed around two new promos and a new Magic Realism brochure. Pantarbe host/webmaster, Ben Miller, talked about updates re. Mr. Magic Realism, FOKUS and announced that a convention, DREAMCON 20 was in initial planning stages. Pippin Sardo, her usual charming self, was engaged audience. Peter Wagener read from upcoming book, FISH COME WITH RICE and Karen Stein passed around political cartoons.

DECEMBER 5, 2004 The open house with somewhere around 18 to 25 guests at different times . . .the usual folks and new people. Todd Christoffel, encouraged by many, played guitar while everyone sang Christmas carols before a roaring fire and while some decorated the tree. A very splendid time was had by all.

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Other News

Bruce Taylor's New E-mail: bbtaylor@drizzle.com

Upcoming FOKUS Meetings: 9 January, home of Bruce Taylor, Roberta Gregory. 6 February, place, Bruce Taylor and Roberta Gregory.

Bob Olson is getting a new backbone. In January orthopedic surgeon Wally Kringel will operate: first, reaming out the base of Bob's spine so that spinal fluid will flow, then, strenthening the spine with nuts and bolts.

Bruce's books Edward: Dancing on the Edge of Infinity (Scorpiusdigital.com) and Kafka's Uncle and Other Strange Tales (afterbirthbooks.com) will be available online this spring.

Bruce also had his picture and name in Lokus Magazine, which is the prominent news magazine of science fiction and fantasy. He has just finished the last chapter of Stormworld, a short novel he is writing with Brian Herbert.

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Bruce Taylor

Two Short Editorials

ONE

In an commentary in the Baltimore Chronicle, Margie Burns says, in part re. the presidential election:

"Exit polls are not just polls. They are polls of people who actually showed up to vote, taken just after the voting and weighted to take into account any preponderance of one group. Professor Freeman's paper points out that exit polls are used to check and verify the validity of elections in countries including Germany and Mexico; when exit polls contradicted the claim that Eduard Shevardnadze had won election in the former Soviet country of Georgia, he was forced to resign under pressure from the US among others.

"Immediate investigation is most urgent in four states that the swing from exit poll to published vote tally also swung from Kerry to Bush: Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, and Iowa. The many problems already reported from counties and precincts in all four states more than corroborate the suggestion raised by the exit poll tabulation. These four states also add up to 59 electoral votes, more than enough to have tilted the election outcome."

. . . and now from the SEATTLE TIMES, page A 3, in the "Close Up" section, dated 6 May 2004, we have this, under the headline, "A Touchy Issue. New voting machines' reliability challenged". The article is by Dick Polman, Kinght Ridder Newspapers. According to him, we find, in the eighth paragraph, this little gem:

"Worse yet, the most conspiracy minded critics are upset that Walden O'Dell, the CEO of Diebold, is a prominent fund-raiser for President Bush. Diebold is headquartered in Ohio, a battleground state that is switching heavily to Diebold touch screens this year. O'Dell wrote in a letter to GOP donors last year: "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president."

Hey mass media, are you listening? What a story, eh?

TWO

Editorial #2 isn't really an editorial. Apparently this appeared in December's _MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE_ The article is titled, "On Receiving Harvard Med's Global Environment Citizen Award" --by Bill Moyers. (You can also get this online by going to Bill Moyers & The Rapture Index, or going to truthout.org) In part, what he says has to do with

"--the rapture index. That's right-the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the twelve volumes of the left-behind series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious right warrior, Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology conconcted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passags from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

"Its outline in rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding to my own understanding): once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the anti-Christ will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religous opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.

"I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank; They are sincere, serious, and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of bibical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Isreal and the Jewish settlements and back up thier suport with money and volunteers. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelation where four angels 'which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man.' A war with Islam in the middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed - an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The last time I Googled it, the rapture index stood at 144 - just one point below the critical threshold when the whole thing will blow, the son of God will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire.

"So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist (environmental journal) to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist, Glenn Scherer - "The Road to Environmental Apocalypse." Read it and you will see how milllions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed - even hastened - as a sign of the coming apocalypse."

Remember--Moyers is not joking.

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Bob Olsonís Editorial

Bush's Social Security

In 1935 the United States Congress initiated Social Security to assure that all Americans would have financial security in their old age. Presently our government invests, manages and distributes workers savings through Social Security providing equitable secure retirement pensions for every worker. Today most elderly Americans are dependent upon Social Security checks for basic living expenses.

I have serious reservations about President George W. Bush's plan to reform Social Security funding to meet future needs. Namely:

  • Bush's concept of citizen "ownership" (in stock investments) is based upon trust in a questionable stock market without government emphasis on corporate integrity.
  • The cost of his reform plan. How would Bush pay for it? Now Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system with new deposits from workers funding retirees. Bush's personal savings accounts would siphon away some of these deposits causing a massive near-term shortfall estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to reach $1 trillion to $2 trillion over 20 years.
  • In recent years millions of British tax payers opted into a comparable system during a poor investment climate. Those in the system fared much worse than others who remained with the old state-run system. Private accounts put in poor investments managed by unscrupulous financial advisors created a raft of lawsuits. [1]
  • Ownership accounts under Bush would probably be administered by selected private managers instead of the government. What controls will determine the integrityof these managers?
  • Different from Social Security benefits, lifetime annuity payments do not adjust to inflation. Thus people living to an old age might find the value of their checks diminished by higher prices.
  • A basic conundrum. The value of workers accounts would vary depending upon whether the stock market and interest rates would be up or down when they retired. If people retiring in a bear market could put off converting their accounts into annuities until the market imporoved their wealth would benefit them. Workers dependent upon these earnings would suffer.[2].

Footnotes:

  • [1] "Taking the Plunge" by Daniel Kadlec, Time Magazine, November 22, 2004.
  • [2] "Bush faces knotty issues in Social Security vision" by David E. Rosenbaum, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, December 12, 2004.

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Newsletter Update

We still seek to have members subscribe to our mailed newsletter. A $15 (US dollar) yearly contribution will put you on our mailing list.

Subscriptions to the mailing list are 15.00 US Dollars per year. As FOKUS does not have a bank account, please make checks or moneyorders out to either Bruce Taylor or Bob Olson. Send your check with a letter providing your mailing address to either of them.

  • Bruce Taylor
    2001 E Yesler Way, #23
    Seattle, WA 98122, USA


    or

  • Bob Olson
    252 168th Ave SE
    Bellevue, WA 98008, USA
  • and we'll send you the newsletter via US Post.

    Alternatively, at no charge, you can choose to access the newsletter here. Meeting details and timely announcements and other news will be posted here first. The remaining content of past issues will be available a month after the printed issue has been out -- editorials, creative works, and articles. (If you would like a current, complete newsletter, please subscribe to our printed version!). Work on the back issues online is underway -- please check back. To our loyal web visitors, thank you for your patience.

    Submissions are welcome! We want to know what is happening to you. And we want to publish your submissions to the FOKUS newsletter. There are three ways to do this:

  • Call Bob Olson, the FOKUS newsletter editor, at 425-747-3879 to share information over the phone
  • Submit illustrations, poetry, short stories, articles or announcements through the mail to
    Bob Olson, 252 168th Ave SE, Bellevue, WA 98008, USA.
    (Note Bob does not have e-mail. Material that is two single-spaced pages or less can be mailed to him. Longer material should be on a floppy disc for his editorial convenience.)
  • Submit via e-mail to fokus@pantarbe.com SUBJECT: NEWSLETTER SUBMISSION (which will go to Bruce Taylor, who does have e-mail.)
    Any online submissions specifically for this page should be e-mailed to editor@pantarbe.com SUBJECT: FOKUS SUBMISSION.
  • Please address concerns to Bruce Taylor (bbtaylor@drizzle.com).

    Thank you,
    Benjamin Miller
    FOKUS Member and Pantarbe.com Host
    editor@pantarbe.com

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    Last updated:  February 24, 2005