Wizards of Winter

Live performance by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

And then there is this….


The End of the Toymaker – UPDATE

The large toy manufacturers, particularly the toys made in China, have been contaminating toys with lead paint for the past several years.  As a result, the mom and pop toymakers and retailers may be forced out of business due to a change in the law that will require them to test for lead paint.

Without changes to strict new safety rules, they say, mom-and-pop toy makers and retailers could be forced to conduct testing and labeling they can’t afford, even if they use materials as benign as unfinished wood, organic cotton and beeswax.

“It’s ironic that the companies who never violated the public trust, who have already operated with integrity, are the ones being threatened,” said Julia Chen, owner of The Playstore in Palo Alto, which specializes in wooden and organic playthings.

Lead paint spurred the recall of 45 million toys last year, mostly made in China for larger manufacturers. Parents flocked to stores like The Playstore in the recall’s aftermath searching for safer alternatives.

Lawmakers also responded. In August, President Bush imposed the world’s strictest lead ban in products for children 12 or younger by signing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Small toy makers strongly back the restrictions in the bill, which they say reflect voluntary standards they have long observed to keep harmful substances out of toys. But they never thought their products would also be considered a threat.

Under the law, all children’s products must be tested for lead and other harmful substances. Toy makers are required to pay a third-party lab for the testing and to put tracking labels on all toys to show when and where they were made.

Those requirements make sense for a multinational toy manufacturer churning out thousands of plastic toys on an overseas assembly line, said Dan Marshall, co-owner of Peapods Natural Toys and Baby Care in St. Paul, Minn.

But a business that makes, for example, a few hundred handcrafted wooden baby rattles each year cannot afford to pay up to $4,000 per product for testing, a price some toy makers have been quoted, he said.

Marshall and nearly 100 other toy stores and makers have formed the Handmade Toy Alliance to ask Congress and the federal agency that enforces the law to exempt small toy companies or those that make toys entirely within the U.S. from testing and labeling rules.

Failing that, they want the Consumer Product Safety Commission to preemptively declare unfinished wood, wool and cotton and food-grade wood finishes such as beeswax, mineral oil and walnut oil to be lead-free.

Read the rest here.

If these small toymakers go out of business, what are we to do?  Can we and should we trust the toys made in China?  I’m not pleased with buying goods from China.  There have been way too many dangerous products coming from China all in the name of the self-regulating, free capital market.

Stores like WalMart send their buyers to China to place orders with manufacturers and will only purchase items from the cheapest bidder.  The American shopper is the loser.  If the item is cheap, then there is the risk of poor quality.

This is how toys are made in China.

Personally, I like to know that the toys that I purchase for my grandchildren are safe and free from lead paint.  Maple Landmark in Vermont makes safe toys.  The small, local toy store also sells safe toys and the owner can tell me about the companies that make the toys that she sells.  If the small toymaker and the small toy store disappear, who will be there to protect us from the dangerous materials that the “it’s all about big profit” corporations use on our children’s toys?  Besides, when you buy toys made in the USA, you are providing a job for an American which will help rebuild our economy.  Enough with this sending our dollars overseas.  We need jobs here.

Links to some resources:

Peapod Natural Toys and Baby CareHandmade Toy Alliance, Craftsbury Kids.

Music - Parody

Sarah Kissing Joe the Plumber

Archie provided this parody sung to the tune of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”.

We saw Sarah kissing Joe the Plumber
Underneath the bleachers, late last night.

She took off her glasses

As his hands squeezed her firm masses

They were smitten by each others looks and intellectual vastness

Then we saw Sarah stroking Joe the Plumber
On top of his hairless head so smooth
Oh what a laugh it would have been,
Had Todd showed up in his snow machine

With Sarah kissing Joe last night.

Music - Parody

God Rest ye Bankers…

Today, while I was shopping, I overheard a conversation between two young shoppers, a man and a woman. After they greeted each other, the man said, “I just got laid off last week. That s**ked”. The woman responded, “I’m sorry to hear that. I understand that there will be another wave of layoffs announced on Monday.” That was terrible news to hear.

Congress had no problem handing out $700 billion to Wall Street so that banks could free up credit. Then before heading home to spend the holidays with their families, the Republicans turned their backs on workers and refused to grant a loan to the American automobile industry. As a result, many other industries will face layoffs because they do business with the “Big 3 Auto Makers”. This is known as “trickle down disaster”. If the banks that received the bailout opened up the credit market like they were suppose to do, American car makers may not have needed to go begging to Congress. Instead, the banks are hoarding this money which is causing our economy to come to a screeching halt. It is bad everywhere except for the fat cat Congressmen that aren’t a bit worried about the economy because they will be getting a raise when they return in January. As for the rest of us, well, we can eat cake and take drugs that numb our senses.

Here’s a parody that may help put a smile on our faces authored by that man of many talents, Breezy.

God Rest ye Merry Gentleman

God rest ye bankers one and all
Let nothing you dismay.
For George Bush your sav-i-or
Is giving cash away
With no strings attached to it
Wall Street will shout Hooray!

Oh… tidings of billions of bucks
you’re outa luck
Oh… tidings of billions of bucks.

Now ’tis the time to celebrate
For we’ll still get our bonus.
Bad loans we needn’t contemplate
Now that the gov’ment owns us.
Without creating one new job
We’ve had it all our way.

Oh… tidings of billions of bucks
it’s not enough
Oh… tidings of billions of bucks.

Do to job insecurity and the credit crunch, Santa may not be bringing many gifts this year so Santa thought we might all appreciate hearing him play the guitar.

Music - Parody

Bad King George

Time for another Christmas song parody. This one is sung to the tune of Good King Wenceslas and was authored by K. Ferandan.

Bad King George looks down his nose
On the Constitution,
Turn his back on children’s health,
Stem cells, and pollution.
Likes to start preemptive wars;
He invents the reason.
Anyone who questions him
Is accused of tre-ea-son.

He thinks he’s a holy man,
Also patriotic.
From the outside looking in,
It’s more like he’s psychotic.
Thinks the voice he hears is God’s,
Granting absolution.
Careful George, or you’ll wind up
In an institu-uu-tion.