Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Monday, February 28, 2011

Corporate Robbers



Gotta cut money from the people so we can give it to corporations!! What a country!

Inside Job

You are so right, Charles. That is SO WRONG! The little guys get the shaft, the big guys get to skate. What do we have to do to get some justice around here?

Think Exist

Think Exist is my one-stop stop for when I need a quote about something or to find quotes by a particular person. If you register, you get more in-depth quotes and can set up all sorts of things to help you remember.

Red Flag Warning

I'd never even heard of this before, but we are now under one. Still, I'd take this weather we've been having over freezing my ass off up north. People actually LIKE all that snow?!

...RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM THIS MORNING TO 6 PM CST THIS EVENING...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN HOUSTON/ GALVESTON HAS ISSUED A RED FLAG WARNING...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM THIS MORNING TO 6 PM CST THIS EVENING. THE FIRE WEATHER WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.
THE COMBINATION OF ABUNDANT SUNSHINE...WARM TEMPERATURES...LOW HUMIDITIES...AND GUSTY NORTHWEST WINDS ALONG WITH VERY LOW FUEL MOISTURE LEVELS WILL RESULT IN AN ELEVATED FIRE DANGER TODAY.

A COLD FRONT THAT MOVED ACROSS THE AREA OVERNIGHT HAS USHERED IN A MUCH DRIER AIRMASS. HUMIDITY LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO DROP BELOW 30 PERCENT BETWEEN 10 AND 11 AM AND BOTTOM OUT IN THE 15 TO 25 PERCENT RANGE THIS AFTERNOON. NORTHWEST WINDS OF 10 TO 20 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH GUSTS AROUND 25 MPH AT TIMES. HUMIDITY VALUES WILL RECOVER ABOVE 30 PERCENT AND WINDS WILL DIMINISH AROUND SUNSET.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW...OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS...LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL CREATE EXPLOSIVE FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Poor crocs

Apparently, Cyclone Yasi was so fierce that even especially ferocious crocodiles freaked out. That was a helluva storm. And now Cyclone Carlos is hitting western Australia.


And why shouldn't the Southern Hemisphere have cyclones in their summer (February/March) like we do in our summer (August/September)?

(click the pic or here)

FOK News

Keith Olbermann resurfaces! I think that it's great that Keith is going to Current TV. I love that channel.

The First Guess

New media’s role in Egypt was a little overrated – how much tweeting and facebooking was actually done when the dictator could just shut off the internet?

But could new media’s role in Wisconsin be underrated? From which news organization do you think I’m cribbing this most impressive shot most fully capturing the impact of the latest 70,000+ protest in the snow in Madison? ABC? CNN? FOX?


Correct, none of the above.

This is from the twitter feed of Kevin Kopplin. Not to say mainstream media is completing whiffing on today’s latest outpouring of Democracy (see The Wisconsin State Journal) – just the national media.

If your minimum daily requirement for cliches isn’t fulfilled by ‘the story this photo tells you’, there’s a more metaphorical version later on, plus a literally unbelievable follow-up to the case of the Georgia Congressman who either chuckled or stared blanks when he was asked who was going to shoot the President.

You can go to the FOK News (Friends of Keith) site by clicking here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fred Gray

This past Thursday, my employer, in association with Baker Botts law firm, brought Mr. Fred Gray to Houston for a talk and book-signing. I'd never heard of the guy until they announced the visit in January. I felt rather ignorant. How much more history are we losing?

He's 78 or 79 years old and is sharp as a bee sting. Along with everything else, he's a minister. You can tell. One thing Fred said that has stuck with me is that, while we have made progress, there is a lot left to do, and ultimately, it won't happen by itself.


Veteran civil rights attorney Fred Gray's legal career began in the midst of America's modern day civil rights movement. With a quiet demeanor, strong determination and secret commitment made in college, he vowed, "to become a lawyer, return to Alabama, and destroy everything segregated I could find." Gray began his legal career as a sole practitioner, less than a year out of law school, and at age twenty-four, he represented Mrs. Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus, the action that initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Gray was also Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s first civil rights lawyer. This was the beginning of a legal career that now spans over forty-five years.

Determined to right the wrongs he found in his native State of Alabama, Gray has been at the forefront of changing the social fabric of America regarding desegregation, integration, constitutional law, racial discrimination in voting, housing, education, jury service, farm subsidies, medicine and ethics, and generally in improving the national judicial system.

Gray was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and is a graduate of the Nashville Christian Institute, Nashville, Tennessee; Alabama State University, Montgomery, Alabama; and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. Currently, he is senior partner at the law firm of Gray, Langford, Sapp, McGowan, Gray & Nathanson; which has law offices in Tuskegee and Montgomery, Alabama. He is currently President-Elect of the Alabama State Bar Association and will become its President in July of 2002, becoming the first African-American to hold the position.

Notable Cases

Browder v. Gayle, which integrated the buses in the City of Montgomery in 1956.

Gomillion v. Lightfoot decided in 1960, returned Africa-Americans to the city limits of the City of Tuskegee. It opened the door for redistricting and reapportioning the various legislative bodies across the nation and laid the foundation for the concept of "one man, one voice". Listen to Gray argue before the U.S. Supreme Court at http://www.oyez.net/oyez/resource/case/144/audioresources

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. State of Alabama, ex rel. John Patterson, Attorney General, was brought by the State of Alabama in which it outlawed the NAACP from doing business in the State of Alabama. This case was taken to the Supreme Court, three times through the state court system, and twice through the federal court system. The ultimate result was the NAACP was able to resume its business of protecting the rights of African Americans in the State of Alabama.

Dixon v. Alabama Board of Education, decided in 1961, reinstated students who were expelled from Alabama State College and held that the students were unconstitutionally expelled, and students attending a state-supported institution are entitled to a hearing before expulsion. The legal principle announced in this case has been extended to many other areas.

Williams v. Wallace, decided in 1965, was a class action suit brought by African Americans against Governor Wallace and the State of Alabama, and resulted in the court ordering Governor Wallace and the State of Alabama to protect marchers as they walked from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to present grievances as a result of being unable to vote. The publicity of these actions led to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Gray filed suits that integrated all state institutions of higher learning in the State of Alabama, and one hundred four of the one hundred twenty-one elementary and secondary schools systems in the state. Lee v. Macon. This case started as a simple desegregation case against the public schools in Macon County, Alabama. It has resulted in the following:

  1. A statewide order requesting that all of the public elementary and secondary schools in the state of Alabama be desegregated.
  2. The desegregation of all trade and junior colleges.
  3. The desegregation of all institutions of higher learning.
  4. The merger of the Alabama Athletic Association (Caucasian) and the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association (African-American).
  5. The integration of faculty and staff members of the public schools of the State of Alabama.

These cases continue in court, as of January 2002 (psst! time to update the website!!)

In July of 1993, he argued on behalf of Alabama State College, the higher education case, John F. Knight, Jr. v. State of Alabama, et al. in the Eleventh Circuit. The court held in that case that there are still vestiges of racial discrimination in higher education in Alabama.

Pollard v. United States of America. In 1932 the United States Government induced rural, black, males in and around Macon County, Alabama to become involved in what has become known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. The participants were not informed nor treated for syphilis by the government. The case was finally settled and the government was ordered to continue its treatment program. In addition, in 1997 Gray encouraged the President of the United States to make an official apology to the participants of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. The participants also requested a memorial in their honor. The apology was made at the White House in May of that year. Gray was the moving force in the establishment of the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center (the Center), Tuskegee, Alabama. When fully developed, not only will it serve as a memorial to the participants of the Study, but educate the public on the contributions made in the field of human and civil rights by Native Americans, African Americans, and Americans of European descent.

Fred's website. Thanks, Fred.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

FOX hits new low

Wow ... if you don't like the results of a particular survey, just flip it to make it support your attitude. I mean, we already know that FOX talking heads lie incessantly, but I can't say I've seen it quite this brazen. Sheesh ...

Fox Completely Reverses Poll Results To Falsely Claim Most Americans Favor Ending Collective Bargaining

http://mediamatters.org/research/201102230006

On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed, along with an on-screen graphic, that a recent USA Today/Gallup poll found that "61 percent" of Americans are in favor of taking away collective barganing rights from public unions. In fact, Fox aired the results of the poll completely backward: the Gallup poll found that 61 percent of Americans are opposed to taking away collective bargaining rights.

Fox Airs Backward Graphic To Falsely Claim "61 Percent" Of Americans "In Favor Of Taking (Bargaining Rights) Away"

http://mediamatters.org/research/201102230006

Cox fired

What do you want to bet FOX offers Cox a job? They love authoritarian rightards at FOX that hate the left.

Source: WLFI.com

The Indiana Attorney General’s office announced Wednesday afternoon its deputy attorney general is no longer employed by the agency, after reviewing political website Mother Jones' published allegations that he advocated the use of force against protesters in Wisconsin.

According to the online article , Jeff Cox tweeted “Use Live Ammunition” in response to a Mother Jones tweet reporting riot police had been called into the state capital to remove protesters.

Mother Jones later learned Jeff Cox held a post as an Indiana official.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the Attorney General office said, "Civility and courtesy toward all members of the public are very important to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. We respect individuals’ First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility."

Read more: http://www.wlfi.com/dpps/news/indiana/tweet-lands-deputy-ag-in-hot-water_3727263

Confirmed!

Harsh words: Deputy AG fired over tweets

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has dismissed a deputy, Jeff Cox, for posting inappropriate comments online critical of the labor union protesters in Wisconsin.

Cox sent out a message on his Twitter account saying that police should "use live ammunition" against the protesters.

A staffer for the political news site Mother Jones sent a message back to the person, who was then only known by his online account name. Cox messaged back that the demonstrators were "political enemies" and "thugs."

"Civility and courtesy toward all members of the public are very important to the Indiana Attorney General's office. We respect individual's First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility," the office said in a statement.

http://www.indystar.com/article/20110223/NEWS05/102230406/Harsh-words-Deputy-AG-fired-over-tweets

Scapegoats union

Whatever you do, don't increase taxes on the wealthiest! Or cut defense! Or close corporate loopholes! Or stop the stupid wars!



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

We-Gypped!

Is there hope for America? I mean, beyond Obama's hollow rhetoric? Can Republicans come to their senses?

A Precedents Day Message: Do We Take a Cue From Egypt... Or Stay Stuck in "We-Gypped?"

"They [political parties] serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community ..."-- George Washington

"A house divided cannot stand."-- Abraham Lincoln

"Those who fail to learn the lessons of history get an F and have to take the course over again."-- Swami Beyondananda

More than ever before, America needs a new precedent - government of the people, by the people and for the people where the government does OUR bidding, not the bidding of the highest bidder.

At this moment, we see the "bidderness" escalating - angry union people on one side seeking both to preserve their jobs and the valuable services they provide to their communities, and angry Tea Partiers on the other side enraged by the great banking robbery, and mobilized "to a Tea" against the wrong enemy.

The game-controllers are smugly smiling. If things go as "planned," red tribe Americans and blue tribe Americans will face off against one another, while the real bandits steal away with the loot. While Egypt has birthed a people's revolt against revolting people, we here in "We-Gypped" fruitlessly fight one another.

Fortunately, the game-changers have a different plan - to bring Americans from all sides together to answer three questions: What's so? So what? Now what? What's the story behind the story, and who's in charge of who's in charge? And ... what do we do about it?

Think this level of discourse is impossible? Think again. It's been done, and it's being done. If I sound like a broken record, it's because I've been immersed in political stuff for over 40 years, and the transpartisan movement is the first thing I have seen that can catapult us outside the political matrix. Until that time, we the people are our own worst enemy, and the body politic will continue to be immobilized by autoimmune dysfunction.

If the latest bad-doings have your hackles up (or if your hackles are down in depressed resignation), PLEASE invest what you would spend on a movie and perhaps two hours of your time to read about a true political "hero's journey," and how ordinary citizens can access extraordinary wisdom and change the political game.

"Yes, yes, yes," I can hear you fulminating (we've become a nation of fulminators), "but THOSE PEOPLE believe toxic lies and they will NEVER CHANGE!" People get manipulated into believing lies by making them fearful ... and what we have discovered is that when people are brought together in a safe setting where they are listened to and respected, what INEVITABLY happens is that they begin to compare notes and uncover "the likeliest story" together.

The dysfunctional function of mainstream media is to make sure that left and right NEVER have a civil conversation together. It would be too dangerous to the status quo if We, the People discovered we pretty much all harbor the same suspicions about the corporate state. In order to "overgrow" that dysfunction, we must be willing to engage with others we disagree with. As Swami says, "If we want peace in the Middle East, first we must make peace in the Middle West."

Here's to a brand new Precedent ... We, the People electing ourselves.

Buy the Reuniting America e-book here and consider becoming a Reuniting America affiliate and make money from sales you generate.

Enjoy Notes From the Trail? Become a paid subscriber or Sponsor here and get three free gifts.

Gator says plant

Big Al the gator confirms what I have felt for weeks now ...

Spring has sprung! (at least for us 'round these parts...can't speak for all of you frozen northerners)

Gators say OK to plant now
Photo courtesy of Gator Country

What, you might ask, do gators have to do with gardening?

This time of year, everything!

The Puxatony 'hog may know about weather up north, but I'd rather listen to Big Al.

Big Al lives at Gator Country near Beaumont. He is:

1. a lot bigger than the Yankee hedgehog (try the largest alligator in captivity at 1,000 lbs) and

2. He has also proven more accurate -- like 100% accurate -- in his "winter's over or not?" predictions, according to owner and gator-rescuer/naturalist, Gary Saurage.

Every year on Groundhog Day, they offer Big Al his most-favorite-food: Kentucky Fried Chicken. Alligators are genetically unable to eat until all danger of winter freezes is past. Their bodies simply cannot digest food until warm weather is assured.

This year, the 'hog got it right, according to Al, who refused to eat. And, as we all know, another Arctic freeze did hit our area afterwards.

Now, however, the gators are out and eating, says Gary. So it's okay for us to plant.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

flowers

Rawfully Organic

Yet another option for fresh food in Houston. More Farmer's Markets ... more Co-ops. And our own massive garden across the street.

Rawfully Organic Co-op is a local non-profit organization which offers fruits and vegetables that are 100% organic and from mostly local growers. There is no fee to join. The co-op comes to the (Houston) Arboretum's parking lot every Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. for convenient pick-up inside the loop. Orders must be placed in advance. For more information, visit their website.

I think the local market movement is maturing. As we go forward, there will be different potential vendors: There's a Tuesday option at Rice, Wednesday at City Hall, Saturday at Eastside and Midtown, Sunday at Discovery Green downtown. I think what we're headed towards is a market environment in which all of the existing inside the Loop markets will provide constant access to local food. That's unprecedented in Houston."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wisconsin

The level of mendacity about what's going on in Wisconsin is just appalling. These Republicans - especially Gov. Walker - are not, by any stretch of the imagination, Christians. As an atheist, it is easier to recognize hypocrites and charlatans.

From Political Animal:

THE NATURE OF THE DISPUTE IN WISCONSIN....

To hear Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) tell it, he really doesn't have much of a choice. The state's facing a budget shortfall, and crushing public-sector labor unions will save the state's finances.

It's important to realize how very wrong this is. Indeed, what's been largely lost in this week's debate is that Walker inherited a pretty good fiscal situation from his Democratic predecessor -- Wisconsin was on track to end the fiscal year with an extra $120 million in state coffers.

So why launch a union-busting crusade? Ezra Klein explained the situation nicely:


...The governor signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues. The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit. As Brian Beutler writes, "public workers are being asked to pick up the tab for this agenda."

But even that's not the full story here. Public employees aren't being asked to make a one-time payment into the state's coffers. Rather, Walker is proposing to sharply curtail their right to bargain collectively. A cyclical downturn that isn't their fault, plus an unexpected reversal in Wisconsin's budget picture that wasn't their doing, is being used to permanently end their ability to sit across the table from their employer and negotiate what their health insurance should look like.

That's how you keep a crisis from going to waste: You take a complicated problem that requires the apparent need for bold action and use it to achieve a longtime ideological objective. In this case, permanently weakening public-employee unions, a group much-loathed by Republicans in general and by the Republican legislators who have to battle them in elections in particular.


Much of the debate has been about some of the larger issues, and they're well worth exploring. But the specifics of this dispute make all the difference -- a far-right governor inherited sound state finances, made them worse on purpose, and now public employees to fix his problem. While he's at it, Walker hopes to engage in superfluous union-busting, not to improve the budget, but just because he feels like it.

In the meantime, state unions are ready to negotiate, and are even prepared to accept less pay, but the governor refuses to even talk to them.

Whether one is sympathetic to labor or not is almost beside the point. Walker's antics are demonstrably irresponsible and impossible to defend.

This local editorial out of Madison drives the point home nicely:

There is no question that these are tough times, and they may require tough choices. But Gov. Scott Walker is not making tough choices. He is making political choices, and they are designed not to balance budgets but to improve his political position and that of his party. [...]

The facts are not debatable. Because of the painful choices made by the previous Legislature, Wisconsin is in better shape fiscally than most states.

Wisconsin has lower unemployment than most states. Wisconsin has better prospects for maintaining great schools, great public services and a great quality of life than most states, even in turbulent economic times.

Unfortunately, Walker has a political agenda that relies on the fantasy that Wisconsin is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Walker is not interested in balanced budgets, efficient government or meaningful job creation. Walker is interested in gaming the system to benefit his political allies and campaign contributors.


To fall for this cynical charade is to ignore reality.

And my question is, why can't (or won't) Obama make this case and make it stick?

Permalink.

Pistachio Day

Sometimes you feel like a nut ...

Good Things Come in Small Packages
The little pistachio packs a healthy, tasty punch.

Although it may not be widely known, February 26 is National Pistachio Day. Take some time to learn a little about this nut and you may be surprised by what you find.

Pistachios – the famous green nuts – have a surprisingly impressive reputation for being a smart, healthy addition to the daily diet. Studies have shown that the pistachio is actually one of the healthiest nuts out there, offering a great source of vitamin B6, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium – all good for the body. Pistachios also have significant antioxidant qualities; compared to more than 100 other foods, pistachios are one of the most antioxidant-rich choices.

If their nutritional value doesn’t impress you, perhaps the fact that pistachios are also a great food to help you lose weight will. Pistachios contain fiber. Just one serving – about 49 nuts – provides the same amount of fiber found in a serving of oatmeal. Fiber, plus the protein and healthy fat in pistachios, can keep you feeling full longer and help you eat less throughout the day.

Still not sold? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that, “The consumption of 1–4 servings of nuts (such as pistachios) per week was associated with about a 40 percent reduction in risk of coronary heart disease.”

Pistachios are full of phytosterols, which help to support cardiovascular health and battle bad cholesterols as they are absorbed into the body’s digestive system. Pistachios are also a good source of healthy, unsaturated fat, which the body needs. Because they do have such a high concentration of fat, however, eating pistachios in moderation is important. For the best results, medical sources strongly suggest cutting back on those foods that are high in saturated fats while incorporating recommended servings of pistachios into your diet.

Pistachios can be worked into your diet in a variety of ways. Although a simple handful is always quick, easy and delicious, try something different like pistachio-crusted halibut or pistachio pesto. You can find many different pistachio recipes, from appetizers to desserts, as well as other information about pistachios at www.thegreennut.org.

For additional facts and fun information on pistachios, visit www.pistachiohealth.com

Monday, February 14, 2011

Are you addicted?

...to Gardening?

Source unknown...

You Know You’re Addicted to Gardening When…
Your neighbors recognize you in your pajamas, rubber clogs and a cup of coffee.
You grab other people’s banana peels, coffee grinds, apple cores, etc. for your compost pile.
You have to wash your hair to get your fingernails clean.
When you randomly pull weeds wherever you go.
All your neighbors come and ask you questions.

When you creep around the garden on damp evenings with a torch and collect the snails and take them to safe place very far away from the garden.
You know the temperature of your compost every day.

You buy a bigger truck so that you can haul more mulch.
You enjoy crushing Japanese beetles because you like the sound that it makes.
Your boss makes “taking care of the office plants” an official part of your job description.
Everything you touch turns to “fertilizer”.
You weed in the rain.
You find yourself "deadheading" at Home Depot and Lowe's.
Your non-gardening spouse becomes conversant in botanical names.

You find yourself feeling leaves, flowers and trunks of trees wherever you go, even at funerals.
Every time you trim a bush, you HAVE to use the cuttings to start new plants.
You dumpster-dive for discarded bulbs after commercial landscapers remove them to plant annuals.


You Know You’re Addicted to Gardening When…
You put gardening pictures on your screen saver.
You plan vacation trips around the locations of botanical gardens, arboreta, historic gardens, etc.

You plant & transplant at night with flashlights & a porch light.
You sneak home a 7-foot Japanese Maple and wonder if your spouse will notice.

You notice good dirt when driving around town.
When considering your budget, plants are more important than groceries.

You always carry a shovel, bottled water and a plastic bag in your trunk as emergency tools.
You scan CraigsList under Farm/Garden to find new friends.
You count earthworms and red worms among your inner circle of friends.
You appreciate your Master Gardener badge more than your jewelry.

You talk “dirt” at baseball practice.
You know what guerilla gardening is and how to make seed bombs.
You spend more time chopping your kitchen greens for the compost pile than for cooking.

You bring home rocks from vacations to put them in your garden.
You like the smell of horse manure better than Estee Lauder.

You rejoice in rain…even after 10 straight days of it.
You have pride in how bad your hands look.
Your “easy” chair is a lawn chair perched in the shade with a good view of the garden.
You have a decorative compost container on your kitchen counter.


You Know You’re Addicted to Gardening When…

You can give away plants easily, but compost is another thing.
Soil test results actually mean something.
You understand what IPM means and are happy about it.
You’d rather go to a nursery to shop than a clothes store.
You know that Sevin is not a number.
You take every single person who enters your house on a “garden tour”.
You look at your child’s sandbox and see a raised bed.
You ask for tools for Christmas, Mother/Father’s day, your Birthday and any other occasion you can think of.
You go to the back door of the natural foods store and haul away big boxes of veggie scraps to make compost piles.
You can’t bear to thin seedlings and throw them away.

You scold total strangers who don’t take care of their potted plants.
You know how many bags of fertilizer/potting soil,/mulch your car will hold.
You drive around the neighborhood hoping to score extra bags of leaves for your compost pile.
Customers at the garden centers ask YOU for advice and not the nice ladies with clean hands and wearing aprons with the company name on them.
Your preferred reading matter is seed catalogs.

And last but not least:
You know that the four seasons are:
Planning the Garden
Preparing the Garden
Gardening~and~
Preparing and Planning for the next Garden

Whew! I'm not addicted, but I love gardening.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When I was a kid

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning.... Uphill... Barefoot... BOTH ways...yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of fifty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don't know how good you've got it!

1) When I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, using the card catalog!!

2) There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter - with a pen. Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!

3) Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!

4) There were no MP3's or Napsters or iTunes! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself!

5) Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. Cause, hey, that's how we rolled, Baby! Dig?

6) We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that's it!

7) There weren't any freakin' cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn't make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your "friends." OH MY GOSH !!! Think of the horror... not being in touch with someone 24/7!!! And then there's TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are.

8) And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was. It could be your school, your parents, your principal, your boss, your drug dealer, the collection agent... you just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

9) We didn't have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600. With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids.' Your screen guy was a little square. You actually had to use your imagination!!! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen.. Forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died. Just like LIFE!

10) You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing. You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel. NO REMOTES!!! Oh, what's the world coming to?!?!

11) There was no Cartoon Network either. You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

12) And we didn't have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove!

13) And our parents told us to stay outside and play... all day long. Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort. And if you came back inside... you were doing chores, buddy!

14) And car seats - oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on. If you were lucky, you got the "safety arm" across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling "shot gun" in the first place!

See! That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled rotten! You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1970 or any time before!

Grow up already!
The Over 40 Crowd

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Egypt unrest

It's good to see popular revolts around the world. Tunisia most recently and now Egypt. How about Libya? Iran? Israel? Too many countries exist under repressive regimes. We can only hope that the Muslim Brotherhood does not fill much of the vacuum in Egypt, which could be real trouble for Israel and other neighbors.

Sometimes I get the feeling that this kind of unrest is what the Tea Party and Republicans want to see in the United States. As if Obama is anywhere near as repressive as some of these dictators. Give me a break. Obama is a moderate freakin' Republican, people! Maybe that's why they hate him. He's not hard-core Republican enough!

There are too many sources of info on Egypt to list any links here. I haven't been able to keep up with all of them. I'm sure you, dear reader, are keeping close tabs, right?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yasi! Flee!

We almost had one of these with Ike. Ike got up to Cat 4 and was devastating. And Yasi is a Cat 5. The mind reels at the widespread destruction that these sea breezes can inflict.

Queensland evacuations urged ahead of Cyclone Yasi


Sandbags and a news board outside a shop in Townsville, Queensland, on 1 Feb 2011
Cyclone Yasi poses an "extremely serious threat", forecasters say

Australian officials have urged residents in parts of Queensland to evacuate with their loved ones before Cyclone Yasi strikes, late on Wednesday night local time (after 1200 GMT).

State Premier Anna Bligh said people should just "grab each other" and find safety before the storm hits the coast.

Officials say the category five storm is expected to be the largest to ever hit the continent.

Last month, Queensland was hit by widespread deadly flooding.

Yasi is currently 555km (344 miles) east of Cairns and 560km northeast of Townsville. It has winds of up to 295 km/h (183 mph) at its centre.

Ms Bligh warned that Queenslanders faced a "frightening time".

'Threat to life'

Thousands of people have already fled their homes close to the coast and the army has flown hospital patients in the northern city of Cairns to further south to Brisbane.

Ms Bligh told all those remaining in low-lying areas, which are at threat from severe flooding, to leave swiftly before roads and airports close.

"Do not bother to pack bags. Just grab each other and get to a place of safety. Remember that people are irreplaceable," she said.

Those living further inland were meanwhile told to "bunker down" in their homes and prepare for powerful winds.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has warned that Cyclone Yasi posed an "extremely serious threat to life and property within the warning area, especially between Cairns and Townsville.

"This impact is likely to be be more life threatening that any experienced during recent generations," it warned.

More than 400,000 people live in the cyclone's expected path. The area, which includes the Great Barrier Reef, is also popular with tourists.

Cairns airport closed on Wednesday. Rail lines, mines and coal ports have also shut down.

"We're in the process of packing up boxes... the dogs and the pet snake and getting out of here," Melissa Lovejoy, from Cairns, told Australia's ABC news.

Satellite image shows Cyclone Yasi passing the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu on 31 Jan 2011
Cyclone Yasi is expected to hit the Australian coast early on Thursday

She said the family are moving to a friend's house that was further inland.

'Preparing mentally'

Earlier, Ms Blight warned that the state was "facing a storm of catastrophic proportions in a highly populated area".

"We're looking at 24 hours of quite terrifying winds, torrential rain, likely loss of electricity and mobile phones. People really need to be preparing mentally if nothing else."

Senior BoM forecaster Gordon Banks said the storm had the potential to get even stronger after making landfall.

"As a strong category five we could see wind gusts in excess of 320 kilometres an hour, which is just horrific," ABC News quoted him as saying.

"If you're bunkering down in the regions, it's going to be quite frightening and it's going to go on and on for quite some time."


Analysis

After the worst floods in the state's history, Queenslanders are being told to brace for the most catastrophic storm ever to hit their shores. State Premier Anna Bligh said she did not think Australia had ever seen a storm of this intensity in an area as thickly populated.

She predicted it would be a very frightening time, with 24 hours of terrifying winds, torrential rains, and the likely loss of electricity and mobile phones. Storm surges are expected to cause widespread flooding and wind gusts are likely to rip off roofs and cause significant structural damage.

Meteorologists have upgraded Cyclone Yasi to a category five storm, the most severe level. With winds of almost 300km/h (185mph), they are warning it poses an extremely serious threat to life and property, especially around the cities of Cairns and Townsville. People in low-lying areas especially are being urged to evacuate.

Original.

February stargazing

February Summary
As the nights grow shorter during February, the stars of winter reign for much of the night. Beautiful Orion is in the south at nightfall, with dazzling Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, twinkling fiercely to its lower left. By late in the month, though, the stars of spring slide into better view. Leo clears the horizon by mid-evening, with Virgo trailing behind him. Venus reigns as the "morning star," while Jupiter dominates in the evening, although it slides lower in the sky each day.

More stargazing information: http://stardate.org/nightsky

Radio Program Highlights
Hear StarDate every day on more than 360 radio stations nationwide or subscribe to our podcast: http://stardate.org/feeds/podcast.xml

February 1-6: Stellar Messengers. The stars send out countless messengers -- particles of light that carry information about the stars themselves. We'll have details. And we'll also talk about messages from deep inside the Moon.

February 7-13: Planets Galore. The population of known planets beyond our own solar system is getting a lot more interesting. It includes a world with water in its atmosphere, plus a system of at least five planets. Join us for these and many more exoplanets.

February 14-20: Machines. The night sky is filled with machines. The stars are all factories that forge chemical elements deep in their cores, for example, while a few constellations honor the machines forged by people. Join us for details this week.

February 21-27: A Changing Dipper. The Big Dipper is probably the best-known star pattern in the sky. But it won't always look like a dipper. We'll explain why. And we'll also tell you why the end of the dipper is really the leader.

February 28-March 6: Underground Astronomy. Most astronomy is conducted on high: from mountains, balloons, and spaceships. But some astronomy is conducted down low: from deep under water, under ice, and under ground. Join us this week for details on the depths of astronomy.

February Program Schedule: http://stardate.org/radio/calendars


Coming up in StarDate Magazine
Coming up in our next issue, take a peek into the life of the French astronomer who predicted Neptune's existence before anyone spied the planet: Urbain Leverrier. We'll celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth in March. And learn about one of the least expensive, easiest to use telescopes: the Dobsonian.


News from the Observatory
Astronomers 'Weigh' Heaviest Known Black Hole in our Cosmic Neighborhood
Astronomers led by Karl Gebhardt of The University of Texas at Austin have measured the most massive known black hole in our cosmic neighborhood by combining data from a giant telescope in Hawai'i and a smaller telescope in Texas. The result is an ironclad mass of 6.6 billion Suns for the black hole in the giant elliptical galaxy M87. This enormous mass is the largest ever measured for a black hole using a direct technique. Given its massive size, M87 is the best candidate for future studies to actually "see" a black hole for the first time, rather than relying on indirect evidence of their existence as astronomers have for decades.

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National Weather Outlook

Amen!

Amen!