B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Big Reasons The Estate Tax Needs to Be Raised to 90 Percent

Of course it buys happiness
Of course it buys happiness

If I was in charge of tax policy, instead of lowering the estate tax as so many rich schmucks are constantly yammering about, I’d raise it to 90% on all estates valued at greater than $2,000,000. Why can’t these parasites make their own fortunes? and even being able to gift 10% of your multi-billion dollar estate is more than enough to live comfortably…

Here are some reasons why. 

For instance:

SC Johnson, the “family” company’s billionaire heir, Samuel Curtis Johnson III, who confessed to repeatedly sexually assaulting his teenage stepdaughter has received an outrageous prison sentence of only four months because the judge, Circuit Justice Eugene Gasiorkiewicz, feels that Johnson’s importance to the community is valued much higher than the dignity of his abused step-daughter. 

Affluenza, as it has been dubbed, has struck again. This billionaire has officially plead guilty to mere misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct instead of receiving the maximum which is felony sexual assault on a minor child. These charges originally stem from 2011. Think Progress reported Johnson’s stepdaughter “initially told police Johnson was ‘a sex addict‘ and touched her inappropriately 15 to 20 times starting when she was 12 years old. She told her mother about the abuse in order to protect her younger sister, and Johnson confessed when the mother confronted him.” Because Johnson’s victim was unwilling to testify in the case, the prosecutors had to make a plea deal with Johnson and his legal team. 

(click here to continue reading – Billionaire Gets 4 MONTHS For Sexually Assaulting 12-Year-Old Because He’s ‘Productive’.)


A Delaware man convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter only faced probation after a state Superior Court judge ruled he “will not fare well” in prison.

In her decision, Judge Jan Jurden suggested Robert H. Richards IV would benefit more from treatment. Richards, who was charged with fourth-degree rape in 2009, is an unemployed heir living off his trust fund. The light sentence has only became public as the result of a subsequent lawsuit filed by his ex-wife, which charges that he penetrated his daughter with his fingers while masturbating, and subsequently assaulted his son as well.

Richards is the great grandson of du Pont family patriarch Irenee du Pont, a chemical baron.

According to the lawsuit filed by Richards’ ex-wife, he admitted to assaulting his infant son in addition to his daughter between 2005 and 2007. Richards was initially indicted on two counts of second-degree child rape, felonies that translate to a 10-year mandatory jail sentence per count. He was released on $60,000 bail while awaiting his charges.

(click here to continue reading One Percenter Convicted Of Raping Child Dodges Jail Because He ‘Will Not Fare Well’.)


Ethan Couch, the Texas teen whose deadly drunk driving was excused by a lenient judge because of “affluenza,” is serving his time in rehab on mostly taxpayers’ money, RadarOnline reports. According to RadarOnline, it is largely the public who will be responsible for the now 17-year-old’s $438,000-per-year rehab treatment.

“Recently a judge ruled that the teen should be sent to North Texas State Hospital in Vernon. The hospital’s rehab program charges $700 a day, but since it is a partially state-funded institution, Couch’s parents would only be charged $38 per day for their son’s treatment,” Kenneth Webster, a contributor to Breitbart.com, said, according to the news site. “Thanks to taxpayers, Couch’s rehab bill has been dropped from $438,000 annually to only $13,870.”

That seems a small fee for the affluent family, who have been sued for millions of dollars by the families of those killed in the drunk-driving accident, as well as by those injured.

Last year Couch decided to take a drunken joy ride in his pickup truck after a party. He crashed into the car of Breanna Mitchell, whose car had stalled, killing her and three others who were trying to help her. Another teen boy who was in the pickup with him, Sergio Molina, was thrown from the vehicle. He landed on his head and was left paralyzed, with only the ability to smile and blink. Molina’s family settled with Couch’s family in early May.

(click here to continue reading Report: Taxpayers Footing Rehab Bill for ‘Affluenza’ Teen – The Root.)

Walmart Neighborhood Market
Walmart Neighborhood Market

and then there are these stains:

As it turns out, the first generation led by patriarch Sam Walton put $4.7 billion into the foundation, a figure that represents 98.8 percent of all family donations over the past 23 years. The six Scrooges of the second Walton generation ponied up only 1.2 percent. Alice Walton, one of the faces of Mitt Romney’s 2012 SuperPAC, has given zero. With over $2 billion in assets, the Walton Family Foundation distributed $325 million in 2013. Those dollars went overwhelmingly to their stomping grounds in northwest Arkansas, funding environmental improvements, pet education reforms including charters schools and vouchers and, as Forbes reports, “Alice Walton’s stunning Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.”

For starters, for decades the Waltons have relied on a tax dodge that now bears their name to keep billions of dollars from Uncle Sam. The Walton grantor-retained annuity trust, or Walton GRAT, has allowed billionaires like the Walmart heirs and casino mogul and GOP bag man Sheldon Adelson to shield $100 billion from the IRS since 2000. Named after the tactic lawyer Richard Covey, the dodge was developed for Sam Walton: GRATs work by rapidly shifting large volumes of stock into a trust fund that is legally required to return that initial investment after two years. The stocks in the trust gain enough value that when it comes time to repay the initial investment there is a substantial amount of stock left over that can be transferred on to some third party without triggering the gift tax.

(click here to continue reading The Walmart heirs should save Detroit.)

(click here to continue reading The Walmart heirs should save Detroit.)

And more…

In 2013 alone, the Foundation invested $325 million across three key areas: education reform, the environment and the family’s home region of northwest Arkansas. One of the Foundation’s major recipients has been Alice Walton’s stunning Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, funded to the tune of $1.2 billion.

However, almost none of this largesse is the result of donations from the Waltons themselves, according to a report released on Tuesday by Walmart 1 Percent, a project of union-backed Making Change at Walmart.

Says the study, which can be viewed in full here:

The central finding of this report is simple: Our analysis of 23 years’ worth of the Walton Family Foundation’s tax returns shows that Rob, Jim, Alice and Christy Walton—the second generation Walmart heirs—have contributed almost none of their personal fortune to the foundation which bears their family name.


- Rob and Alice Walton made zero individual contributions to the Foundation during the 23 years we examined;

- Jim Walton made a single personal contribution of $3 million to the Walton Family Foundation, more than 15 years ago;

- Rob, Jim, and Alice Walton and the family holding company they control (Walton Enterprises) have been responsible for only .13% of all contributions to the Walton Family Foundation ($6.4 million);

- Among the second generation Walton heirs, it is the in-law, Christy, who has been responsible for the largest share of contributions to the Foundation;

- The four Walmart heirs and Walton Enterprises combined have been responsible for only 1.2% of all contributions to the Walton Family Foundation.

The combined lifetime contributions of the second generation Walmart heirs and their family holding company to the Walton Family Foundation come to $58.49 million, or:

■■ About .04% of the Waltons’ net worth of $139.9 billion;
■■ About .34% of the estimated $17.1 Billion in Walmart dividends that Rob, Jim, Alice and Christy received during the years we analyzed;
■■ Less than one week’s worth of the Walmart dividends the Waltons will receive this year;
■■ Less than the estimated value of Rob Walton’s collection of vintage sports cars.

The report goes on to detail how the Foundation has been funded over the years, namely by tax-avoiding trusts established with assets provided by the late Sam, Helen and John Walton or their estates. The study found that 99% of the Foundation’s contributions since 2008 have been channeled through 21 Charitable Lead Annuity Trusts. These CLATs, as they’re known, are specifically designed to help ultra-wealthy families avoid estate and gift taxes.

Forget-me-not Social Security
Forget-me-not Social Security

If the rich keep using their wealth and power to take from the rest of us, when will it end? If entitled assholes like the ones mentioned here get their way, and Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs become insolvent because little S.C. Johnson the Third refuses to participate in our democracy, what then? Will a guillotine be required eventually?

Written by Seth Anderson

June 9th, 2014 at 10:33 am

Posted in News-esque

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The Monkey Gland Cocktail was uploaded to Flickr

Orange Juice, Gin, Grenadine, and Absinthe.

recipe as described in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.

When I make this again, I’ll reduce the amount of absinthe.

Per Wikipedia:The Monkey Gland was created in the 1920s by Harry MacElhone, owner of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France


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I took The Monkey Gland Cocktail on June 08, 2014 at 09:04PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 09, 2014 at 02:10AM

The Black Hippies was uploaded to Flickr

a vinyl re-release of the mid-70s debut album of a Nigerian funk band. From Reckless Records.


Rough Trade has this to say about it:
High quality reissue of great and unbelievably rare Afro Rock Lp. Appeals to fans of Psych, Fuzz, African, and Funk. Licensed directly from Pazy (Band Leader, Lead Singer and Guitarist). Pazy (real name Joseph Etinagbedia) started playing music in the Fire Flies in the city of Warri in Nigeria in 1973. The area was in the midst of an oil boom, and like most bands on that scene, the Fire Flies played American and European pop hits mixed with Jazz and Highlife for the largely expat audiences in local clubs. Along with an influx of foreigners, the oil boom also gave rise to an emerging Nigerian youth market, and soon Pazy formed the Black Hippies to play the uniquely African style of hard rock that was favoured by this new audience. They quickly found success and were appearing alongside other Warri-based artists such as Tony Grey. In short time, they came to the attention of EMI and their legendary producer Odion Iruoje, who recorded this album. By the time it was released in 1977, though, Disco and Funk were starting to take over and the hard fuzzy rock of The Black Hippies first album was somewhat behind the times. As a result, the album was barely released and is now virtually unfindable, unseen by all but a few of the most hardcore collectors. Pazy would go on to form a new line up of the Black Hippies that played mostly Reggae but this remains by far the best album. Featuring whiplash funk drumming, searing fuzz guitar, raw vocals and that uniquely West African organ sound, The Black Hippies first album is a definitive classic of the genre. Beautifully remastered with restored artwork, this release stands alongside our Ofege and Psychedelic Aliens releases as restored gems from a largely unknown but incredibly vital Rock scene in 70’s West Africa.

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I took The Black Hippies on June 07, 2014 at 02:46PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 07, 2014 at 08:37PM

Written by eggplant

June 9th, 2014 at 8:37 am

Moronic FDA Rules No Wooden Boards in Cheese Aging

one comment

Global Cheese
Global Cheese

What a stupid, short-sighted decision by the Food and Drug Administration! 

A sense of disbelief and distress is quickly rippling through the U.S. artisan cheese community, as the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week announced it will not permit American cheesemakers to age cheese on wooden boards.

Recently, the FDA inspected several New York state cheesemakers and cited them for using wooden surfaces to age their cheeses. The New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets’ Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services, which (like most every state in the U.S., including Wisconsin), has allowed this practice, reached out to FDA for clarification on the issue. A response was provided by Monica Metz, Branch Chief of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s (CFSAN) Dairy and Egg Branch.

In the response, Metz stated that the use of wood for cheese ripening or aging is considered an unsanitary practice by FDA, and a violation of FDA’s current Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations.

(click here to continue reading Cheese Underground: Game Changer: FDA Rules No Wooden Boards in Cheese Aging.)

As a cheese-eating descender-from-monkeys1 the FDA is making a really stupid mess out things, benefitting a few corporate cheese makers like Kraft and Cabot Creamery at the expense of good cheese made by small businesses. 

In case of emergency break glass
In case of emergency break glass

And to make it even worse, the FDA is seemingly about to ban the import of most cheese from the EU, including Gruyère, and others

Wisconsin cheesemaker Chris Roelli says the FDA’s “clarified” stance on using wooden boards is a “potentially devastating development” for American cheesemakers. He and his family have spent the past eight years re-building Roelli Cheese into a next-generation American artisanal cheese factory. Just last year, he built what most would consider to be a state-of-the-art aging facility into the hillside behind his cheese plant. And Roelli, like hundreds of American artisanal cheesemaekrs, has developed his cheese recipes specifically to be aged on wooden boards.

“The very pillar that we built our niche business on is the ability to age our cheese on wood planks, an art that has been practiced in Europe for thousands of years,” Roelli says. Not allowing American cheesemakers to use this practice puts them “at a global disadvantage because the flavor produced by aging on wood can not be duplicated. This is a major game changer for the dairy industry in Wisconsin, and many other states.”

As if this weren’t all bad enough, the FDA has also “clarified” – I’m really beginning to dislike that word – that in accordance with FSMA, a cheesemaker importing cheese to the United States is subject to the same rules and inspection procedures as American cheesemakers. 

Therefore, Cornell University’s Ralyea says, “It stands to reason that if an importer is using wood boards, the FDA would keep these cheeses from reaching our borders until the cheese maker is in compliance. The European Union authorizes and allows the use of wood boards. Further, the great majority of cheeses imported to this country are in fact aged on wooden boards and some are required to be aged on wood by their standard of identity (Comte, Beaufort and Reblochon, to name a few). Therefore, it will be interesting to see how these specific cheeses will be dealt with when it comes to importation into the United States.”

(click here to continue reading Cheese Underground: Game Changer: FDA Rules No Wooden Boards in Cheese Aging.)

Stilton with candied lemon peel
Stilton with candied lemon peel

  1. a/k/a cheese eating surrender monkey – I’m not yet comfortable with my mom’s discovery that our ancestors included French and French Canadian folk; I’ve self-identified as Irish for so long, adding French to the mix might take a while []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 8th, 2014 at 8:41 am

Lift Your Skinny Boat Like An Antenna To Heaven was uploaded to Flickr

I was biking so didn’t have my Nikon, but for some reason, there was a boat on a crane over the Van Buren bridge

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I took Lift Your Skinny Boat Like An Antenna To Heaven on June 05, 2014 at 08:30PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 06, 2014 at 03:24AM

Written by eggplant

June 6th, 2014 at 9:42 am

Magic Filled The Air was uploaded to Flickr

Glenview Forest Preserve

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I took Magic Filled The Air on June 04, 2014 at 12:43PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 04, 2014 at 05:44PM

Written by eggplant

June 4th, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Blue Star Memorial Highway was uploaded to Flickr

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I took Blue Star Memorial Highway on June 04, 2014 at 01:15PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 04, 2014 at 06:16PM

Dusk At Mary Bartelme Park was uploaded to Flickr

West Loop

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I took Dusk At Mary Bartelme Park on May 31, 2014 at 09:39PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 01, 2014 at 05:25PM

Written by eggplant

June 1st, 2014 at 10:35 am

‘Whiskey Crisis’ Looms Over America’s Drinking Culture

Buffalo Trace Bourbon - cocktail with muddled  mint, orange bitters, Bonal Gentiane Quina
Buffalo Trace Bourbon – cocktail with muddled mint, orange bitters, Bonal Gentiane Quina

Just like the craft beer explosion before it, this is boom times for spirits. So many interesting variants available that were not around 20 years ago. But whiskey takes a while to go from still to bottle, and thus the supply of quality whiskey is dwindling. Better stock up, boyos…

The surge of interest in whiskey has been a boon for distillers, but it has also led to a shortage of many brands and varietals that has been dubbed a “whiskey crisis” by the media.

Over the past year, bourbon sales increased 5 percent overall, but premium brands experienced a 20 percent rise in growth, according to the Frankfort, Kentucky.-based Buffalo Trace Distillery. And over the past six years, sales of premium whiskeys costing more than $15 per bottle at wholesale have grown by 97 percent, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. That has led to a series of distilleries reporting that they have been unable to produce enough whiskey to fulfill consumers’ growing desire for the brown liquor.

The increase in demand has driven prices of many premium whiskeys upward, and some have gone through the roof.

Fred Minnick, a Louisville whiskey expert and author of the book “Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey,” says that the whiskey industry is unique because it takes several years to distill good whiskey, and that makes it difficult for companies to keep up with demand spikes.

“The whiskey shortage is very real. The demand is so strong that they can’t meet it. Why is that? The reason is because this whiskey that they’re bottling and putting on the shelves today was conceived at a time when demand wasn’t that high. It was coming off the still in about 2005,” Minnick said. “It’s very difficult for distillers to forecast — in the case of Maker’s Mark, six years out, or Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old, back in 2002 — what the demand will be when it comes out of the barrel. “
A number of other distilleries have made decisions over the past couple of years to raise prices, reduce proofs — water down their product, that is — or remove age labels from bottles in an attempt to make up for the growing appetite for bourbon and other whiskeys.

The whiskey shortage was back in the news again this month, when Buffalo Trace announced that the company has had trouble keeping up with a “recent surge in demand” for its bourbon.

“We’re making more bourbon every day. In fact, we’re distilling more than we have in [the] last 40 years,” Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace’s master distiller, said. “Still, it’s hard to keep up. Although we have more bourbon than last year when we first announced the rolling blackouts, we’re still short and there is no way to predict when supply will catch up with demand.”

(click here to continue reading ‘Whiskey Crisis’ Looms Over America’s Drinking Culture.)

This article used a photo of mine for illustrative purposes, by the way, though for some reason they didn’t choose a photo of Buffalo Trace.

Rowan's Creek Bourbon - Manhattan
Rowan’s Creek Bourbon – Manhattan

Vieux Carré with Armagnac and Few Rye
Vieux Carré with Armagnac and Few Rye

Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey
Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey

So called
So called “Perfect” Manhattan with Bulleit 95 Rye

Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey
Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey

Lion's Pride Organic Rye Whiskey
Lion’s Pride Organic Rye Whiskey

Afternoon reading
Afternoon reading

Templeton Rye
Templeton Rye

Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon
Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon

Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey
Michter’s Original Sour Mash Whiskey

The Scofflaw Cocktail
The Scofflaw Cocktail

Written by Seth Anderson

May 31st, 2014 at 4:24 pm

The Jack Rose Cocktail was uploaded to Flickr

Grenadine, Applejack, and Lime. I could only make one as I ran out of Applejack. Next time I might use a bit more Grenadine.

A popular cocktail in the 1920s and 1930s, per Wikipedia

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I took The Jack Rose Cocktail on May 30, 2014 at 08:38PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 31, 2014 at 01:44AM

Written by eggplant

May 31st, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Peeking Out was uploaded to Flickr

street art, West Loop.

Actual artist / title unknown.

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I took Peeking Out on May 03, 2014 at 02:18PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 28, 2014 at 01:10PM

Written by eggplant

May 29th, 2014 at 11:27 am

Photo Republished at All that Big Data Is Not Going to Manage Itself: Part One | The Signal: Digital Preservation

Data Dump 

My photo was used to illustrate this post

Since 2003 we’ve seen the National Science Foundation release its requirements for Data Management Plans (DMPs) and the White House address records management, open government data and “big data.”  There are now data management and sharing requirements from NASA, the Department of Energy… In this two-part series on government data management we’ll take a look back at some of the guidance that is driving data management practices across the federal government. In the second part we’ll look at the tools and services that have developed to meet the needs of this expanding data management infrastructure. It’s 2014 and we’re still struggling to ensure that the outputs of government-funded research are secure and made accessible as building blocks for new knowledge, but it’s not for lack of trying: federal government agencies such as NIH and the NSF recognized the need to preserve and keep data accessible through the requirements tied to their grant funding.

click here to keep reading :
All that Big Data Is Not Going to Manage Itself: Part One | The Signal: Digital Preservation

automatically created via Delicious and IFTTT

Written by eggplant

May 29th, 2014 at 10:52 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with , , ,

Return of men’s short shorts possible

one comment

Seth and Josh 1986
Seth and Josh 1986

Personally, I’m ok with shorter shorts for myself. My stomach may have grown larger than in the photo above, but I walk and bike enough that my legs are still in good enough shape that I wouldn’t be ashamed if my shorts came up higher than my knee…

It wasn’t that long ago that the American male was totally cool with his legs. From Larry Bird to “Magnum P.I.”, men of the ’70s and ’80s showed more thigh than a bucket of KFC, wearing shorts whose inseams were about the length of a pinkie.

Seems weird these days, right? Maybe even a little horrifying? Well then, I suggest you move to the fainting couch before continuing to the next paragraph:

Short shorts for men are coming back.

So says the Wall Street Journal, which surveyed men’s apparel companies and found that shorts, at least among the fashionable, are headed north, having gone from a saggy 15-inch inseam to a high and tight 5 inches in just a few years.

(click here to continue reading Return of men’s short shorts reveals body hang-ups – chicagotribune.com.)

Cops in Shorts
Cops in Shorts

…since the Tribune, in its wisdom, didn’t link to the WSJ article:

For most of the past two decades, men’s shorts have barely merited the name, dropping so far down the calf that Linnaeus would have stuck them in the pants family. Call them what you want—knickerbockers, breeches, clam diggers—the one thing they haven’t been is particularly short.

Finally that’s changed. And given how change in the menswear world is measured—think millimeters per decade rather than centimeters per season for women’s wear—shorts are shortening quickly. In the past few years, the low-water-mark length of a 15-inch-or-so inseam receded to knee-length (11 inches), then a knee-baring 9 inches, then to a quadriceps-exposing 7 inches and on to the newly fashionable thigh-flaunting 5 inches. If men’s shorts were a glacier in Greenland, scientists would be freaking out.

(click here to continue reading A New Length for Men’s Shorts – WSJ.com.)

We’re not talking about Speedo-style here, just mid thigh.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 29th, 2014 at 9:22 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with

Sounds Like Truth To Me was uploaded to Flickr

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I took Sounds Like Truth To Me on May 25, 2014 at 09:21PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 27, 2014 at 03:51AM

Written by eggplant

May 28th, 2014 at 7:19 am

City of Chicago Green Alley was uploaded to Flickr

If Mayor Emanuel loses the upcoming election, will the City have to replace all these concrete slabs?

Snark aside, this program seems like a positive step


Chicago’s Green Alley program is one of many environmentally friendly initiatives put forth by CDOT.

Green alleys incorporate a variety of characteristics:

Permeable pavements (asphalt, concrete or pavers) that allow stormwater to filter through the pavement and drain into the ground, instead of collecting on hard surfaces or draining into the sewer system. The pavement can be used on the full width of an alley, or simply in a center trench.
Open bottom catch basins–installed in alleys to capture water and funnel it into the ground
High-albedo pavement, a lighter-colored surface that reflects sunlight instead of absorbing it, helping reduce the urban heat island effect
Recycled materials, such as concrete aggregate, slag and recycled tire rubber

Other green alley techniques include using proper grading and pitch to facilitate drainage, and using dark sky-compliant light fixtures to reduce light pollution and provide uniform illumination.

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I took City of Chicago Green Alley on May 03, 2014 at 01:53PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 26, 2014 at 04:35PM

Written by eggplant

May 28th, 2014 at 7:19 am