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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The media sucks

Another good one from Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog.   I'm not the lazy, crazy one!!  And neither is Steve Benen!

The consequences of misguided assumptions

by Steve Benen

I'm beginning to think an infectious disease is spreading in the nation's capital. Symptoms include memory loss (forgetting everything Republicans have done in recent years), blurred vision (an inability to see obvious GOP ploys), and an uncontrollable urge to blame "both sides" for everything, even when it doesn't make any sense.


The disease has already affected pundits like Bob Woodward, Ron Fournier, David Brooks, nearly everyone on the network Sunday shows, and today reaches the editorial board of the Washington Post. Indeed, the Post's editors seem to have come down with an especially acute case today, as evidenced this bang-your-head-against-your-desk editorial on the sequester, which cavalierly ignores the paper's own reporting, and demands that President Obama "lead" by somehow getting congressional Republicans to be more responsible.

You can almost feel James Fallows' frustration.

In short the facts before us are: an Administration that has gone some distance toward "the center"; a Republican opposition many of whose members still hold the absolutist position that taxes cannot go up at all; a hidden-from-no-one opposition strategy that embraces crises, shutdowns, and sequesters rather than wanting to avert them. [...]

That's the landscape. And what is the Post's editorial conclusion? You guessed it! The President is to blame, for not "leading" the way to a compromise.

The infectious disease -- I'll assume Fallows was inoculated and therefore immune to its effects -- is leading to some kind of bizarre madness in Washington, which is getting worse. It doesn't matter that President Obama is ready to compromise; it doesn't matter that Republicans refuse to compromise; and it doesn't matter that the deficit is already shrinking and that both sides have already approved $2.5 trillion in debt reduction.

What matters, victims of this disease keep telling the rest of us, is that President Obama is obligated to "lead." Lead where? They don't know. Lead to what? They don't know that, either. What would leadership look like, exactly? Apparently, Obama is supposed to use Jedi mind tricks that will make people in the other party -- the party that has nothing but contempt and disgust for his presidency -- do what he wants them to do.

And if the president doesn't do this, Obama is, by definition, responsible for Republicans' opposition to a bipartisan agreement.

This is more than crazy. The media establishment's incompetence is having a direct role in contributing to a broken and unconstructive process.

Greg Sargent gets this exactly right:

The argument now is basically that the president is the father who must make his problem children behave. Only this is worse than just a dodge. Lots and lots of people are going to get hurt by the sequester. Anyone who helps deflect blame from Republicans -- in the full knowledge that they are the primary obstacle to the compromise we need to prevent serious damage from being done to the country -- is unwittingly helping to enable their intransigence.

This will no doubt give headaches to those who've already contracted the infectious disease, but Greg is right -- by blaming Obama for Republicans' intransigence, the D.C. establishment is encouraging the gridlock they claim to find offensive.

As Jamison Foser recently asked, "When Party A is intransigent but Party B gets blamed for it, what is the likely effect on Party A's intransigence?" Or as Michael Grunwald added today, "If you were a GOP leader, and every time you were intransigent the Beltway blamed Obama's failure to lead, would you be less intransigent?"

Pundits obsessed with pushing false equivalencies and needlessly blaming "both sides" are convinced they're part of the solution. They're actually part of the problem.

Let's not forget this thesis from Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein -- who've helped offer a cure to this infectious disease -- published nearly a year ago, long before the current mess.

We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.
Our advice to the press: Don't seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?

The first step towards recovery from the disease has nothing to do with party or ideology; it has to do with reality and Civics 101. The media establishment is, as a consequence of this disease, forced to shout "Lead!" uncontrollably, they can at least direct it to those in a position of authority in the party that refuses to compromise, refuses to consider concessions, and refuses to consider governing outside a series of extortion strategies.

Original.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Top herbs

This is an excerpt from a new book called, "Rich Food, Poor Food" by Jayson and Mira Calton, with a lead-in from Mark Sisson of the "Primal Blueprint". 

I'm a big fan of herbs.  They can (almost) make a turd taste good (that's a guess).

Top 10 Favorite Herbs and Spices

Following is an excerpt from the Caltons’ popular new book, Rich Food, Poor Food. I’ve chosen their section on herbs and spices because I learned more details about how to choose the best herbs and spices, and what benefits they offer, from reading their material. If you notice on my Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid, herbs, spices and extracts occupy a nice little triangle at the top. You’re not consuming mass quantities of them as a big calorie source, but they make an important contribution to a healthy diet nevertheless. Besides adding flavor and protecting against microbes, herbs, spices, and extracts provide outstanding levels of antioxidants – some of the highest values found in any food.

Yep, I’m a big fan of herbs, spices, and extracts…and after reading Rich Food, Poor Food and having follow up discussions with the Caltons, I’ve tossed most of the stuff in my cupboard! Why? Because most of the jars found in my own home were not organic, and/or have been in there longer than a year. According to the Caltons, most conventional spices you find in the grocery store have been irradiated during their processing. This compromises their nutritional value and introduces health risks, which are detailed in the following excerpt.

Sorry, herbs and spices do not get better with age (maybe you’re confusing them with the Primal Blueprint indulgence of red wine?); in fact, they lose their potency and become bottled up free radicals when they linger too long on your shelves. For kicks, I asked several folks in the office to go home, take a look at their spice rack or cupboard, and guesstimate how long the stuff has been in there. One realized that her spinning tabletop rack was a holiday gift from seven or eight years ago! Here’s more on the subject from Rich Food, Poor Food, including a nice promo for their gold medalist (and one of my favorites) in the spice category: turmeric.

Rich Food, Poor Food – Excerpt from Herbs and Spices Section

Most grocery store spices are irradiated. Irradiation is the process of exposing food to radiation in order to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects that might be present in the food. While irradiation works to kill bacteria, it also disrupts the structure of everything it passes through. Specifically, irradiation breaks up a food’s DNA, vitamins, minerals, and proteins and creates “free radicals” (atoms, molecules, or ions that contain unpaired electrons and crash into each other, multiplying exponentially), which contribute to many degenerative diseases, including heart disease, dementia, cancer, and cataracts.

Additionally, irradiation destroys the essential micronutrients that can help you reach micronutrient sufficiency. Your spice rack has so much to offer, that is, when you buy the Rich Food option, which is always the non-irradiated organic spice – our top pick. Here’s a rundown on the benefits of some of our favorite spices:


Dill: Helps your Digestion. A teaspoon a day can reduce 80 percent of bloating in only three days. Its antibacterial oils not only kill any possible stomach bugs but also help in the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins.

Uses: Feathery texture is sharp-tasting. Great on fish, in chicken and potato salads. Used in pickling.

Tarragon: For Heart Health. One teaspoon daily lowered LDL cholesterol more than 40 percent while increasing good cholesterol nearly 30 percent. Tarragon contains a chemical called rutin, which boosts circulation and reduces plaque in the arteries.

Uses: Flavor of anise, licorice, mint, hay, and pine. Try it in Bernaise sauce.


Oregano: Bacteria Be Gone. Due to the high levels of antibacterial compounds and antioxidants, oregano is just as effective at killing E.Coli and staph bacteria as penicillin.

Uses: Tastes Robust. Best in tomato dishes, usually of Mediterranean or Mexican origin.

Bay Leaf: Natural Pain Reliever. Eliminates headaches and migraines. Bay leaf is rich in eugenol, a natural anesthetic that alleviates pain.

Uses: Tastes woody. Perfect in soups, sauces, stews, and pot roasts.

Rosemary: The Brain Booster and Fatigue Fighter. With just one sniff, the phytochemicals found in rosemary can rev up your mind by increasing production of beta waves. Carnosol, a nutrient unique to this herb, fights fatigue by flushing out energy-sapping toxins from the body.

Uses: Smell rosemary sprigs to increase alertness in only five minutes. Intense pine flavor. Great on grilled meats; adds an interesting boost to chocolate desserts.


Cayenne: Appetite Suppressant and Metabolism Booster. Capsaicin, found in cayenne, has thermogentic properties that increase your blood flow and metabolism. Individuals who only use cayenne infrequently also find it reduces hunger.

Uses: Sweet heat. Works well with meats and cheeses.

Cinnamon: Controls Glucose Levels. Cinnamon contains antioxidants called polyphenols that boost levels of three key proteins responsible for insulin signaling, glucose transport, and inflammatory response. Sprinkle one half teaspoon on your food to slow carbohydrate absorption by 29 percent.

Uses: Sweet and Savory. This spice is found in almost all world cuisine. From stews to pies this spice doesn’t discriminate.


Cardamom: Treats Indigestion. Chew one teaspoon of these seeds to soothe a sour belly. The aroma and therapeutic properties of cardamom are due to the volatile oil in its seed, which contains cineol, terpinene, limonene, sabinene, and terpineol.

Uses: Pungent and sweet. This fragrant spice is used in rich curries and milk-based preparations, as well as in spice cakes and desserts.

Sage: Memory Minder. Both the phytonutrients and volatile oils in sage maintain levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that supports memory.

Uses: Piney with eucalyptus notes. Lovely addition to stuffing and pork dishes.


And our favorite Rich Food spice is . . . Turmeric
This mildly woody spice is a key ingredient in many Indian, Persian, and Thai dishes. This “poor man’s” saffron is rich in benefits. The active ingredient, curcumin, is so powerful that it is commonly made into expensive nutraceutical capsules. According to Ajay Goel, Ph.D., Director of Epigenetics and Cancer Prevention at Baylor Research Institute in Dallas, “Curcumin is a complete well-being tonic – it benefits every organ in the body… It shows promise of fighting nearly every disease.” Dr. Goel suggests that curcumin aids in the prevention of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and depression.

Why not just cook up a cure in your kitchen tonight?

Curcumin Controls Blood Sugar: It switches on the liver genes that keep glucose levels in check. It improves the pancreas’s ability to make insulin and helps slow down the metabolism of carbohydrates after meals.

Curcumin Fights Cancer: It inhibits the genetic switches that allow for cancerous cell growth to occur.

Curcumin Speeds Up Metabolism: USDA research shows that is enhances cellular energy to speed metabolism.

Curcumin Clears Plaque: It removes amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain that can cause Alzheimer’s.

Making Cents

Let’s face it, organic spice jars are small and pricey, and it can take along time to use up some of these specialty ingredients. Your best bet is to buy your organic spices in the bulk section of your local health food or specialty spice store, where you can buy smaller amounts of the spices you need right away. This guarantees that your spices are fresh, loaded with flavor, and saves you money when a recipe only calls for a pinch. Buy your own glass jars online or wash out old spice jars and transfer contents from store baggies into convenient glass jars. Store them in a cool, dark place to prevent oxidative damage from light and oxygen.

Original.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Goats yelling!

And now, for no reason whatsoever, other than giving you the opportunity for some cheap laughs, here are a bunch of goats yelling like humans.



Friday, February 22, 2013

One bin for all

Houston's current mayor, Annise Parker, the nation's first openly lesbian mayor, is really doing a great job.  I certainly hope they implement this idea.




Houston, we know we have a problem and with your help we can solve it! What if everything you put in a waste bin could be recycled? What if "trash" became extinct? And what if you no longer had to sort your plastic cups from your glass jar from your banana peel?


One Bin for All is a revolutionary idea for residents to discard all materials in one bin, treating "trash" as valuable assets, dramatically increasing recycling using game changing technologies.

Houston is one of the 20 national finalists chosen by Bloomberg Philanthropies to receive a generous grant to help implement One Bin for All. You can help the City of Houston's idea become a reality!

Vote now for One Bin for All in the fan favorite contest at this link.

Vote today and then tell your friends, family and colleagues to vote until the contest ends on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

With One Bin For All, residents can put everything from soda cans, paper and plastic to food scraps, rubber, wood and glass into one bin, then technology does the rest. By relying on state of the art technology and new process systems to sort trash from recycling, Houston would be able to achieve recycling rates of up to 75%.

Help bring to Houston an easy to use service that will increase Houston's recycling and waste diversion, improve air quality and lower costs to our city!

Vote today!  Click here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow is awesome.  Thanks Keith (Olberman) for introducing us to her!



P.S.  Good luck at getting the GOP to just quit making stuff up!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hangout

Technology is moving so fast.

Some of the family has Apple machines and can do a Facetime video chat.  But only one-on-one....


There's this Google Hangout ... up to 9 people at once?  And it's free? 

Check out the short video below.


So go here.

And there's iMessage, which uses Facetime when in video mode ... uh, wha ... ??

We did a Facetime video chat, then a Skype video chat, then another Facetime video chat, and Facetime had the best picture, the best sound, the best overall experience.  So far... Facetime uses Wi-Fi exclusively, as I understand it.  As I THINK I understand it!

Argh!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Zombie Rubio

Marco Rubio is considered the "savior" of the Republican Party?!  Hahahahaha!  Man, they are in a deep, dark hole, and I hope they never recover.  Try again!

Rubio and the Zombies

by Paul Krugman

The State of the Union address was not, I’m sorry to say, very interesting. True, the president offered many good ideas. But we already know that almost none of those ideas will make it past a hostile House of Representatives.


On the other hand, the G.O.P. reply, delivered by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, was both interesting and revelatory. And I mean that in the worst way. For Mr. Rubio is a rising star, to such an extent that Time magazine put him on its cover, calling him “The Republican Savior.” What we learned Tuesday, however, was that zombie economic ideas have eaten his brain.

In case you’re wondering, a zombie idea is a proposition that has been thoroughly refuted by analysis and evidence, and should be dead — but won’t stay dead because it serves a political purpose, appeals to prejudices, or both. The classic zombie idea in U.S. political discourse is the notion that tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves, but there are many more. And, as I said, when it comes to economics it appears that Mr. Rubio’s mind is zombie-infested.

Start with the big question: How did we get into the mess we’re in?

The financial crisis of 2008 and its painful aftermath, which we’re still dealing with, were a huge slap in the face for free-market fundamentalists. Circa 2005, the usual suspects — conservative publications, analysts at right-wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute, and so on — insisted that deregulated financial markets were doing just fine, and dismissed warnings about a housing bubble as liberal whining. Then the nonexistent bubble burst, and the financial system proved dangerously fragile; only huge government bailouts prevented a total collapse.

Instead of learning from this experience, however, many on the right have chosen to rewrite history. Back then, they thought things were great, and their only complaint was that the government was getting in the way of even more mortgage lending; now they claim that government policies, somehow dictated by liberals even though the G.O.P. controlled both Congress and the White House, were promoting excessive borrowing and causing all the problems.

Every piece of this revisionist history has been refuted in detail. No, the government didn’t force banks to lend to Those People; no, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn’t cause the housing bubble (they were doing relatively little lending during the peak bubble years); no, government-sponsored lenders weren’t responsible for the surge in risky mortgages (private mortgage issuers accounted for the vast majority of the riskiest loans).

But the zombie keeps shambling on — and here’s Mr. Rubio Tuesday night: “This idea — that our problems were caused by a government that was too small — it’s just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.” Yep, it’s the full zombie.

What about responding to the crisis? Four years ago, right-wing economic analysts insisted that deficit spending would destroy jobs, because government borrowing would divert funds that would otherwise have gone into business investment, and also insisted that this borrowing would send interest rates soaring. The right thing, they claimed, was to balance the budget, even in a depressed economy.

Now, this argument was obviously fallacious from the beginning. As people like me tried to point out, the whole reason our economy was depressed was that businesses weren’t willing to invest as much as consumers were trying to save. So government borrowing would not, in fact, drive up interest rates — and trying to balance the budget would simply deepen the depression.

Sure enough, interest rates, far from soaring, are at historic lows — and countries that slashed spending have also seen sharp job losses. You rarely get this clear a test of competing economic ideas, and the right’s ideas failed.

But the zombie still shambles on. And here’s Mr. Rubio: “Every dollar our government borrows is money that isn’t being invested to create jobs. And the uncertainty created by the debt is one reason why many businesses aren’t hiring.” Zombies 2, Reality 0.

In fairness to Mr. Rubio, what he’s saying isn’t any different from what everyone else in his party is saying. But that, of course, is what’s so scary.

For here we are, more than five years into the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, and one of our two great political parties has seen its economic doctrine crash and burn twice: first in the run-up to crisis, then again in the aftermath. Yet that party has learned nothing; it apparently believes that all will be well if it just keeps repeating the old slogans, but louder.

It’s a disturbing picture, and one that bodes ill for our nation’s future.

Original.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

iDoctor

Smartphones are only as good as the apps you run on them.  And there are some freakin' amazing apps out there.  

Check out this fascinating look into the future of medicine.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Down House


This evening we stopped into a restaurant that we'd been meaning to check out for some time now, Down House, at 1801 Yale Street in "the Heights" in Houston.  


I'm sorry we waited so long!

The wife had a "Lone Star Burger" that, while a little pricey at $13, was probably the best burger that either of us have EVER had.  It was grass-fed beef with a special warm bun, heirloom tomatoes, and some homemade aioli and mustard.  It was the most tender, succulent, just awesomest burger ever.  She had NO trouble wolfing it down.  


Normally, we trade a bite of each others meal when we go out to eat, but I don't think I've ever had FIVE bites of her meal before.  It was really that good.  

My "Shrimp and Grits" was also excellent, but not as good as the burger.  Poached shrimp in a pho sauce on a bed of spicy grits and covered with fresh cilantro and bacon.  Woah!  

One rather silly thing about the location is that they are in that small portion of the Heights (NW of downtown Houston) that is still technically "dry" so you have to join the free "Down House Social and Drinking Club" to buy alcohol.  That is really silly.  So, we joined the Drinking Club.  

They have a wild selection of local craft beers.  My "Honkers Ale" pint was just fantastic, and her snifter of a rye beer was really tasty too.

All in all, a frikkin' fantastic meal.  I am sorry we waited so long, and we will be back.  Their menu changes a lot depending upon what is local and fresh.  They get all their ingredients from local farmers.


They also have a nice outdoor dining patio which was a little chilly today, but come springtime, watch out.

One of the cool things about the place is the name.  It's an homage to Charles Darwin's home in England in Kent called "Down House."  Now THERE is a man I can pay my respects to.  In fact, the wife and I are planning a trip to England this fall, and Charles Darwin's home "Down House" just SE of London, just became a stop on our trip.  

These restauranteurs love science so much they hung a hand-made quilt on the wall, and stitched on it is the periodic table of elements.  Amen!  Science lovers!  

Cannot recommend it highly enough.  God DAMN Houston has some outstanding restaurants.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

2 dead 2 injured

Damn damn damn ... my niece and one of the injured firefighters, Mitch Moran, have been a "couple" for a couple of years now.  Every time that phone rings ....

Mitch suffered burns over 40% of his body and was Life-Flighted to UTMB Burn Unit in Galveston, but he's doing "alright."  He's going to have some intense pain, but he did survive.  Two others were not so "lucky."

Firefighters really do a heroic job.  While we are trying to escape from fire, they go after it.  These guys are really heroes, and there are hundreds - thousands - of them across the country.

Two Firefighters Dead, Two Injured In Bryan Fire

Updated: Sat 5:33 PM, Feb 16, 2013
A spokeswoman from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston has confirmed that a second Bryan firefighter died from his injuries.
UTMB says 54-year-old Lt. Greg Pickard died this afternoon. He was a 32-year veteran with the Bryan Fire Department.
Two others are still in the hospital after receiving severe injuries after a fire near Downtown Bryan.
Lt. Eric Wallace was among those trapped inside the building when a portion of the roof reportedly collapsed. He was killed as a result.

Two firefighters have also been injured in the fire. Firefighter Ricky Mantey Jr., 30, and Probationary Firefighter Mitch Moran, 21, are last listed in stable condition. They were taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Bryan, then by helicopter to UTMB in Galveston for treatment of burns."During the fire effort the Lieutenant and the firefighter off of that first arriving engine company made entry into the building and radioed they were low on air and needed assistance," explained Bryan Fire Chief Randy McGregor. "At that point the order was given to evacuate the building and the firefighter on the initial engine company was able to escape the building. The Lieutenant was removed by another team of firefighters where he later succumbed to his injuries."
"You just never expect something like this to happen and especially to know that fireman were injured, especially knowing what they do for us," said Andy Ruffino, KC Fraternity Member.
The cause is under investigation. No event was being held at the hall at the time.
“There are no words to express our grief at the loss of Eric and our concern for Greg, Ricky and Mitch, and their families," said Bryan Fire Chief Randy McGregor. "These four courageous individuals represent the best of the profession and are true heroes in every sense of the word."
The Bryan Fire Department had a number of engines on scene, and the College Station Fire Department is assisting. There are also volunteer fire crews from Brazos County helping.
Drivers are advised to avoid the intersection as well as the area of Leonard Road near FM 2818 as first responders continue to work at the scene.
Wallace, 36, was married with five children, according to the City of Bryan. He was a nearly 13-year veteran of the department. In June 2012, a fundraiser was held to help the Wallace family after the couple's newest child was born premature.
In 2010, Wallace was honored by the 100 Club for bravery in a 2009 fire. He was off-duty, driving home from a shift when he saw a house on fire. When he found out the homeowner was still inside, he ran into the burning building. The homeowner was too weak to get out on his own, but Wallace pulled him to safety.
Wallace's body was brought back Saturday after an autopsy was conducted in Austin.
Pickard has been with BFD for 32 years, according to the city. Mantey has served BFD for five years, and Moran for ten months.
According to KHOU 11 News reporter Malini Basu at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, a burn unit doctor says the firefighters being treated at their facility may be hospitalized for more than a month due to their injuries.
A relief account has been set up for donations the fallen and injured firefighters' families. It's at Wells Fargo under the Benefit Donation account for the Bryan Fire Department.
Wells Fargo Bank, Main Branch
3000 Briarcrest
Bryan, Tx 77802
Attn: Bryan Firefighter Fund
Wallace's funeral will be Thursday at 10:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Bryan. A funeral procession and burial will follow at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Marlin, Texas.
Visitation will be Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at Adams Funeral Home in Marlin.
Stay with News 3 for the very latest on this developing story.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Meteors hit Russia

But this is not the same asteroid that is due to make a really close fly by Earth later today.  Apparently our telescopes did not pick up on this one/these.  There you go:  at any given moment, you could be slammed by a chunk of rock from the sky!!  Say your prayers and see if that will help!


Meteor Streaks Across Russian Urals, Leaves At Least 750 Injured

MOSCOW -- A meteor streaked through the sky and exploded Friday over Russia's Ural Mountains with the power of an atomic bomb, its sonic blasts shattering countless windows and injuring more than 750 people. The spectacle deeply frightened thousands, with some elderly women declaring the world was coming to an end.

The meteor – estimated to be about 10 tons – entered the Earth's atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph) and shattered about 30-50 kilometers (18-32 miles) above the ground, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement.

It released the energy of several kilotons above the Chelyabinsk region, the academy said.

Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time, just after sunrise, leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.

"There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people's houses to check if they were OK," said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, a city of 1 million about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow.

"We saw a big burst of light, then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound," he told The Associated Press by telephone.

The explosions broke an estimated 100,000 square meters (more than 1 million square feet) of glass, city officials said.

The city administration said 758 people sought medical care after the explosions and most were injured by shards of glass. Athletes at a city sports arena were among those cut up by the flying glass.

It was not immediately clear if any people were struck by space fragments.

Another Chelyabinsk resident, Valya Kazakov, said some elderly women in his neighborhood started crying out that the world was ending.


City officials said 3,000 buildings in the city were damaged by the shock wave, including a zinc factory where part of the roof collapsed.

Small pieces of space debris – usually parts of comets or asteroids – that are on a collision course with the Earth are called meteoroids. They become meteors when they enter the Earth's atmosphere. Most meteors burn up in the atmosphere, but if they survive the frictional heating and strike the surface of the Earth they are called meteorites.

Meteors typically cause sizeable sonic booms when they enter the atmosphere because they are traveling much faster than the speed of sound. Injuries on the scale reported Friday, however, are extraordinarily rare.

The meteor hit less than a day before the asteroid 2012 DA14 is to make the closest recorded pass of an asteroid to the Earth – about 17,150 miles (28,000 kilometers). But the European Space Agency in a tweet said its experts had determined there was no connection.

Some fragments fell in a reservoir outside the town of Cherbakul, the regional governor's office said, according to the ITAR-Tass.

A six-meter-wide (20-foot-wide) crater was found in the same area, which could come from space fragments striking the ground, the news agency cited military spokesman Yaroslavl Roshchupkin as saying.

Reports conflicted on what exactly happened in the clear skies. A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told the AP there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteor.

Donald Yeomans, manager of the U.S. Near Earth Object Program in California, said he thought it was probably "an exploding fireball event."

"If the reports of ground damage can be verified, it might suggest an object whose original size was several meters in extent before entering the atmosphere, fragmenting and exploding due to the unequal pressure on the leading side vs. the trailing side (it pancaked and exploded)," Yeoman said in an email.

"It is far too early to provide estimates of the energy released or provide a reliable estimate of the original size," Yeomans added.

The site of Friday's spectacular show is about 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) west of Tunguska, which 1908 was the site of the largest recorded explosion of a space object plunging to Earth. That blast, attributed to a comet or asteroid fragment, is generally estimated to have been about 10 megatons; it leveled some 80 million trees.

The dramatic events prompted an array of reactions from prominent Russians.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at an economic forum in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, said the meteor could be a symbol for the forum, showing that "not only the economy is vulnerable, but the whole planet."

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a nationalist leader noted for vehement statements, said "It's not meteors falling. It's the test of a new weapon by the Americans," the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the incident showed the need for leading world powers to develop a system to intercept objects falling from space.

"At the moment, neither we nor the Americans have such technologies" to shoot down meteors or asteroids, he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Original, with pictures.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Toons!

Not that I have ever served in the military, but I hear, and believe, that war is hell.  I'm not sure why vets from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seem to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at a very high rate and veterans committing suicide is said to be at record highs.  What is it about those conflicts?

Is the "enemy" a little too nebulous and ill-defined?  Have we been using new or super toxic chemicals over there that will prove to be horrid once we own up to them (think: Agent Orange)?  Are we just reporting and noticing PTSD more than in previous wars?  PTSD is a pretty recent term.  Previously I think they would have called it "shell-shocked."

(click 'em if you can't read 'em very well)


Don't shed a tear for Sarah.  She'll do fine and land on her back.  I mean, feet.  But don't worry, there's no way she'll end up being a Senator from Alaska.


This is as good a reason as any to discontinue the drone program...


...here's another good reason...


I guess the "believers" don't ever think about this...



Isn't it amazing how positions that were supported by the GOP are now opposed by it, as long as Obama is for them?  Republicans act like spoiled children.  They certainly don't deserve to be in positions of power.  Our Founding Fathers would truly be ashamed of today's GOP.  


Don't need to say any more, except "Good Luck with that!!"

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Solutions

Just so it doesn't feel like all I do is bitch, moan and groan about how bad things are, or how stupid the G.O.P. is (which is true, of course), below I list some solutions to some of the problems we face in the United States.  

So what are the odds that the G.O.P. would approve ANY of these measures?


Prison Reform

The U.S. incarcerates its citizens at a rate roughly five times higher than the global average. We have about 5 percent of the world's population, but 25 percent of its prisoners, according to The Economist. This status quo costs our local, state and federal governments a combined $68 billion a year -- all of which becomes a federal problem during recessions, when states look to Washington for fiscal relief. Over the standard 10-year budget window used in Congress, that's a $680 billion hit to the deficit.


Solving longstanding prison problems -- releasing elderly convicts unlikely to commit crimes, offering treatment or counseling as an alternative to prison for non-violent offenders, slightly shortening the sentences of well-behaved inmates, and substituting probation for more jail-time -- would do wonders for government spending.

End the Drug War

The federal government spends more than $15 billion a year investigating and prosecuting the War on Drugs. That's $150 billion in Washington budget-speak, and it doesn't include the far higher costs of incarcerating millions of people for doing drugs. This money isn't getting the government the results it wants. As drug war budgets balloon, drug use escalates.
Ending the Drug War offers the government two separate budget boons. In addition to saving all the money spending investigating, prosecuting and incarcerating drug offenders, Uncle Sam could actually regulate and tax drugs like marijuana, generating new revenue. Studies by pot legalization advocates indicate that fully legalizing weed in California would yield up to $18 billion annually for that state's government alone. For the feds, the benefits are even sweeter.

Let Medicare Negotiate with Big Pharma

The U.S. has higher health care costs than any other country. We spend over 15 percent of our total economic output each year on health care -- roughly 50 percent more than Canada, and double what the U.K. spends.
 Why? The American private health care system is inefficient, and the intellectual property rules involving medication in the U.S. can make prescription drugs much more expensive than in other countries. 

Medicare currently spends about $50 billion a year on prescription drugs. According to economist Dean Baker, Americans spend roughly 10 times more than they need to on prescription drugs as a result of our unique intellectual property standards.
These savings for the government, of course, would come from the pockets of major pharmaceutical companies, currently among the most profitable corporations the world has ever known. They also exercise tremendous clout inside the Beltway. President Barack Obama even guaranteed drug companies more restrictive -- and lucrative -- intellectual property standards in order to garner their support for the Affordable Care Act.

Cut Offshore Tax Havens

The U.S. Treasury Department estimates that it loses about $100 billion a year in revenue due to offshore tax haven abuses. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has been pushing legislation for years to rein in this absurd tax maneuvering, but corporate lobbying on Capitol Hill has prevented the bill from becoming law.

One in four American companies paid ZERO in taxes in 2011 thanks to loopholes and tax havens.  At a time of record corporate profits for a huge number of companies, companies don't need these loopholes and tax havens.

Deprivatize Government Contract Work

In recent years, the federal government has privatized an enormous portion of public projects to government contractors. Over the past decade, the federal government's staffing has held steady, while the number of federal contractors has increased by millions. This outsourcing has resulted in much higher costs for the government than would be incurred by simply doing the work in-house.

On average, contractors are paid nearly double what a comparable federal employee would receive for the same job, according to the Project On Government Oversight.

Immigration

The government spends $122 per person, per day detaining immigrants who are considered safe and unlikely to commit crimes. The government has plenty of other options available to monitor such people, at a cost of as little as $15 per person.
For the first 205 years of America's existence, there was no federal system for detaining immigrants. The process began in 1981.

Financial Speculation Tax

Wall Street loves to gamble. In good times, financial speculation is the source of tremendous profits in America's banking system, but when the bets go bad, the government picks up the tab, as evidenced by the epic bank bailouts of 2008 and 2009.

Unfortunately, this speculation is difficult to define and even more difficult to police. One solution? By taxing every financial trade at the ultra-low rate of 0.25 percent, the U.S. government can impose a modest incentive against gambling for the sheer sake of gambling. If there's an immediate cost to placing a bet, a lot of traders will choose not to bet.  A trading tax would also reduce rampant high-speed trading which skews the markets and level the playing field a bit for the small investor.

This tax could raise about $150 billion a year for the federal government.

Carbon Tax

Taxing greenhouse gases would generate $80 billion a year right now, and up to $310 billion a year by 2050, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution






U.S. Rail System?

Why can't this country get started on some serious high-speed rail projects?  I've lost track of the countries that already have some high-speed rail - most of Europe, Japan, China, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, even Uzbekistan, fer Chrissakes!  

But here in the U.S.?  Nope.  Why is that?  Three little letters:  G.O.P.  Too simple?  Not really.  I am really getting sick and tired of the Republicans standing in the way of any kind of progress in this country.

Here's a map of what might be in the U.S.



America's economy could be growing more quickly if we just focused on the right things—like high speed rail, for example. It takes cars off the road, creates thousands of jobs, makes travel easier, etc. One artist decided to draw up his vision of one potential future. We hope people consider it.

This currently is just a designer's dream. It can become a reality though, if you sign the official White House petition. It needs 100,000 signatures in order to get an official response.
This map is inspired by ideas from various agencies and advocacy groups including Amtrak, Wikimedia Commons, Florida High Speed Rail, Southern High Speed Rail, Southeast High Speed Rail, Ohio Department of Transportation, California High Speed Rail Authority, Midwest High Speed Rail Association, US DOT Federal Railroad Administration, and Texas High Speed Rail.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

military rape


Here's another dark chapter of our epic saga:  rape.

Not rape in the historical sense, where the victors of war would, after killing enough of the men, keep the conquered female adults (and children) and rape them as a reward.  Lots of that in history, and in the Bible, you know.  

Not rape in the abstract or metaphorical sense, like what the big banks did to the rest of us in the 2008 financial crisis, but the brutal sexual violation of a female while in the U.S. military by another member of that same military.  


Click here for story.
You might have once heard about the high incidence of female soldiers being raped but stuffed it away in a cramped corner of your mind, duly noting the absurdity.  

If you do any research on this sorry topic, you will see it said and repeated that a women is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed in a battle.  

That sounds horrible, but they don't differentiate the numbers between those on active duty and those who are stateside in non-combat.  To me, even one rape is too many, but some estimates suggest that ONE OF EVERY THREE WOMEN will be raped while in the military.  33%?!  Is that possible?!


So ... what's that I keep hearing about our military being the greatest military in the world?  And every last one of them is a hero?

In 2010, there were 3,100 reported rapes in the U.S. military.   That's reported.  The Pentagon estimated that there were about 19,000 rapes in 2010; yet only 3,100 were reported.  The great disparity is because many women are simply not believed when they claim they were raped, or they are told to "just get over it."  


Can you imagine?


You join the military to serve your country, you get raped by your commanding officer, for instance, and no one will believe you!!  What a country!!

We obviously have a long, long way to go before women achieve true equality in this society.  While women may have it far better in Western nations than women in some Muslim countries, that is cold comfort when you have just been raped by your superior, or beat up by your husband or boyfriend.  But that's a different post.  


Viva the sexual revolution!  Look at all the attempts by the GOP to curtail women's right to control their own bodies.  The Neanderthals want to drag women by their hair back to the good old days, and it's going to take a continual struggle to beat them back.  

We know that Islam is the primary reason women in the Muslim world are so subjugated.  We're supposed to be better than that here in the West, but the way American women get treated in the U.S. military is a toxic shame that must be rooted out.


We also hear that now U.S. women will be allowed into combat roles.  Hey, maybe now they will have a greater chance of being killed in combat than being raped by a fellow soldier.  Until women can serve their country without fear of being raped, we are a long way off from true equality.

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Amen!

Amen!