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

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I don't know how these guys consistently come up with ideas for their toons.....first, Pat Oliphant

...and the year-end wrap-up from Mark Fiore.  Click here.

Mark Fiore is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and animator whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Examiner, and dozens of other publications. He is an active member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, and has a website featuring his work.

Shatner Rules

Just finished reading William Shatner's latest work, "Shatner Rules: Your Key to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large."  It's a quick, funny, highly enjoyable read.  Another highly recommended book.  It's been a long time since I read a book that I didn't enjoy.  I guess that, if I don't like a particular book, I quit reading and don't finish it, and so I wouldn't recommend it anyway.  Hmmmm....

I'm noticing that a lot of writers start off their books with a "Congratulations for buying this book, because....." etc etc.  Haven't any of these writers figured out that a lot of people read their books that they have checked out of their local library?  Shoot, if I bought all the books that I read, I'd be broke!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Give generously

In this holiday season, I hope that all of you have taken some time to reflect upon how fortunate you are simply by being an American (ok, most of you).  Granted, this nation has its share of problems and troubles, none of which cannot be overcome.  

We should all be mindful of how unfortunate many others in the world are.  Whether the victims of war, poverty, drought, natural disasters, greed, or whatnot, quite a number of people in the world could use some help.

This time of year is the perfect time to lend a hand.  There are so many good organizations deserving of your support.  Be sure to spread the wealth where you can.  One way to be sure that the money you give is going to those who truly need it is to refer to the Charity Navigator.  You can get to them by clicking here.  

Wishing a happy holiday season to all, and may 2012 be the best year yet.  Yeah, I know, a longshot.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December Solstice

The REAL reason for the season.

December Solstice

 December 21, 2011
Seen from most of the United States, the Sun is a pretty wan companion at this time of year. It stays quite low in the south, never climbing more than a third of the way up the sky for most of the country. And it’s in view for fewer hours than at any other time of the year — as few as eight for those in Minnesota and Maine, and even fewer in Alaska.
In fact, today is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere — the winter solstice. It marks the beginning of winter.
Yet it’s also a turning point. After the solstice, the Sun slowly begins to work its way northward. The days get a bit longer, and the Sun scoots a little higher across the sky.
We won’t actually feel the difference for a while, though. In part, that’s because there’s still a lot more darkness than daylight. And in part it’s because the Sun is still so low in the sky that its rays have to pass through a thick layer of atmosphere to reach us. Most of the Sun’s energy is going to the southern hemisphere, where the Sun stands high in the sky.
So it’ll take a few weeks more for the days to start to get warmer, working from south to north.
Incidentally, the word “solstice” means “Sun stands still.” It indicates that the Sun rises and sets at the same points on the horizon for a few days. It takes a while to notice that it’s starting to move again — headed back toward our half of the world. It’ll reach its northern standstill — the summer solstice — on June 20th.

Robert Ingersoll

Today, the day before the Winter Solstice (12/22/11), is a good day to celebrate the words and wisdom of one of my personal heroes, Robert Green Ingersoll.  In the passages below, he speaks of Christmas. 

As an atheist myself, I have been occasionally struggled with celebrating Christmas while divorcing it from "Christ."  Ingersoll reminds us that the Winter Solstice and Christmas is a perfectly natural cause for celebration, without the trappings of religion.

I urge everyone to read any of the books and writings published by Ingersoll.  If you know of someone who is unhappy and dissatisfied with modern-day religion, have them read some Ingersoll.  It will help them to shed that religious straightjacket and come into the light of day.

Chances are good your public library has a collection of Ingersoll's work.  Or, click here for an online version of the collected works.  I have found no modern-day equivalent to Robert Ingersoll's beautiful and simple command of the English language.

The good part of Christmas is not always Christian--it is generally Pagan; that is to say, human, natural.

Christianity did not come with tidings of great joy, but with a message of eternal grief. It came with the threat of everlasting torture on its lips. It meant war on earth and perdition hereafter.

It taught some good things--the beauty of love and kindness in man. But as a torch-bearer, as a bringer of joy, it has been a failure. It has given infinite consequences to the acts of finite beings, crushing the soul with a responsibility too great for mortals to bear. It has filled the future with fear and flame, and made God the keeper of an eternal penitentiary, destined to be the home of nearly all the sons of men. Not satisfied with that, it has deprived God of the pardoning power.

And yet it may have done some good by borrowing from the Pagan world the old festival called Christmas.

Long before Christ was born the Sun-God triumphed over the powers of Darkness. About the time that we call Christmas the days begin perceptibly to lengthen. Our barbarian ancestors were worshippers of the sun, and they celebrated his victory over the hosts of night. Such a festival was natural and beautiful. The most natural of all religions is the worship of the sun. Christianity adopted this festival. It borrowed from the Pagans the best it has.

I believe in Christmas and in every day that has been set apart for joy. We in America have too much work and not enough play. We are too much like the English.

I think it was Heinrich Heine who said that he thought a blaspheming Frenchman was a more pleasant object to God than a praying Englishman. We take our joys too sadly. I am in favor of all the good days--the more the better.

Christmas is a good day to forgive and forget--a good day to throw away prejudices and hatreds--a good day to fill your heart and your house, and the hearts and houses of others, with sunshine.”

— "The Great Agnostic" Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899), "A Christmas Sermon," Evening Telegram, Dec. 19, 1891

Happy Birthday, FZ

On this date in 1940, Mothers of Invention musician Frank Zappa was born in Baltimore, and moved at age ten with his family to California. His father was a Sicilian-born meteorologist. Zappa became a rock icon as bandleader, guitarist, composer, satirist and political commentator. His children were memorably named Valley Girl Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva. The London Symphony Orchestra performed "Zappa Volume One" and "Zappa Volume Two." Zappa won a Grammy for "Jazz from Hell," an instrumental album. He released more than 50 albums before his untimely death at 52 from prostate cancer. D. 1993.

“Anybody who wants religion is welcome to it, as far as I'm concerned--I support your right to enjoy it. However, I would appreciate it if you exhibited more respect for the rights of those people who do not wish to share your dogma, rapture, or necrodestination.”

— Frank Zappa, cited by Warren Allen Smith in Who's Who in Hell
from FFRF.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Speeding Ticket?

Thanks, sis.

Two Texas Highway Patrol officers were conducting speeding enforcement on Highway 77, just south of Kingsville, Texas.   One of the officers was using a hand held radar device to check speeding vehicles approaching the town of Kingsville. The officers were suddenly surprised when the radar gun began reading 300 miles per hour and climbing. The officer attempted to reset the radar gun, but it would not reset, then it suddenly turned off.                                                      

Just then a deafening roar over the mesquite tree tops on Highway 77 revealed that the radar had, in fact, locked on to a USMC F/A-18 Hornet which was engaged in a low-flying exercise near it's Naval Air home base location in Kingsville.

Back at the Texas Highway Patrol Headquarters in Corpus Christi the Patrol Captain fired off a complaint to the US Naval Base Commander in Kingsville for shutting down his equipment.The reply came back in true USMC style:

"Thank you for your letter.

You may be interested to know that the tactical computer in the Hornet had detected the presence of, and subsequently locked on to, your hostile radar equipment and automatically sent a jamming signal back to it, which is why it shut down.

Furthermore, an Air-to-Ground missile aboard the fully armed aircraft had also automatically locked on to your equipment's location.

Fortunately, the Marine Pilot flying the Hornet recognized the situation for what it was, quickly responded to the missile system alert status and was able to override the automated defense system before the missile was launched to destroy the hostile radar position on the side of Highway 77, south of Kingsville. 

The pilot suggests you cover your mouths when swearing at them, since the video systems on these jets are very high tech. 

Sergeant Johnson, the officer holding the radar gun, should get his dentist to check his left rear molar. It appears the filling is loose. Also, the snap is broken on his holster."

Politifact, R.I.P.

from Paul Krugman's blog:

Politifact, R.I.P.

This is really awful. Politifact, which is supposed to police false claims in politics, has announced its Lie of the Year — and it’s a statement that happens to be true, the claim that Republicans have voted to end Medicare.

Steve Benen in the link above explains it, but let me just repeat the basics. Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system to buy private insurance — and not just that, a voucher system in which the value of the vouchers would systematically lag the cost of health care, so that there was no guarantee that seniors would even be able to afford private insurance.

The new scheme would still be called “Medicare”, but it would bear little resemblance to the current system, which guarantees essential care to all seniors.

How is this not an end to Medicare? And given all the actual, indisputable lies out there, how on earth could saying that it is be the “Lie of the year”?

The answer is, of course, obvious: the people at Politifact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other. So they’ve bent over backwards to appear “balanced” — and in the process made themselves useless and irrelevant.

Way to go, guys.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, BP!

On this date (December 18) in 1963, Brad Pitt was born in Shawnee, Okla. Two credits shy of a college degree from the University of Missouri, Pitt dropped out and headed to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Working as a limousine driver for several months, Pitt enrolled in an acting class and then accompanied a classmate to an audition as her scene partner. The agent signed Pitt instead and he began work in television, including appearing on episodes of "Dallas," "Another World" and "Growing Pains." 

In spite of appearing only a few minutes on screen, Pitt's big break came from his role as a hitchhiker in the classic female buddy story, "Thelma and Louise" (1991). With some failed films over the next few years, Pitt established himself as more than a sex symbol, showing off his acting prowess in "A River Runs Through It" (1992), "Kalifornia" (1993), "Interview with the Vampire" (1994), "Legends of the Fall" (1994) and "Seven" (1997). He received critical acclaim and some award nominations and wins for his work in "Twelve Monkeys" (1995), "Babel" (2006) and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2008). 

Year after year, Brad Pitt's celebrity continues to rise, due to his high-profile public romances (including to partner Angelina Jolie), sex symbol status and award-winning acting abilities. "When I got untethered from the comfort of religion, it wasn't a loss of faith for me. It was a discovery of self. I had thought that I'm capable enough to handle any situation. There's peace in understanding that I have only one life, here and now, and I'm responsible," he said to Parade Magazine in 2007. Pitt told "I'm probably 20 percent atheist and 80 percent agnostic" (July 23, 2009).
“I don't have a chance [on being elected Mayor of New Orleans]. I'm running on the gay marriage, no religion, legalization and taxation of marijuana platform.”

— Brad Pitt, in an interview with Ann Curry on "The Today Show," Aug. 13, 2009

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New cabinets!

We recently hired Valso, the manic Brazilian that built the fence around the Midtown Community Garden, to build some new cabinets for our dining room.

Long ago we ran out of storage space in the kitchen. Now, it will take awhile, but I'm sure we'll fill it up aga
in. We always seem to expand to fit the space we have.

The structure spans the entire eastern wall of our dining room, a full 11' wide. (If you click each pic, they should open to a larger view.)

One of the only things I insisted on including was at least four large drawers into which I plan on putting all of the stuff that we recycle. It's too much hassle to walk everything downstairs to the garage when we have another piece of plastic or newspaper, and piling stuff up in the corner just wasn't very, uh, esthetic. These large drawers can also be used for a myriad of other things.

Valso noticed that we tend to drink a fair amount of wine, so he suggested we add a wine rack to the structure. It wasn't in the original plan, but, hey, good idea. And the three racks also pull outward, so you can see the label. A nice touch.

He also added a space to hang wine glasses from. We basically gave him the master design and let him loose on it.

A close-up of the granite counter-top. It's very similar to the granite in the kitchen.

Eight new waist-high drawers will take some time to fill. Six glass doors for the upper portion...

Valso added some special little design flourishes, no charge.

We used pine, a pretty soft wood, and so it is best to use a "wood conditioner" before staining.

We love it. Merry Christmas to both of us! From both of us! And to all of you too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gene Lyons

Hmmm...."smart conservatives"...are we sure this is not an oxymoron, Gene?

Why Smart Conservatives Suddenly Hate Newt
by Gene Lyons

Newt Gingrich is the Jimmy Swaggart of American politics, a confidence man so transparent as to test the faith even of True Believers. Paradoxically, that’s precisely why the disgraced former speaker looks a good bet to secure the GOP presidential nomination.

Not seeing through Gingrich’s bare-faced mendacity requires an effort of the will so profound it can only be accomplished with the aid of strong countervailing emotions — essentially the envy, resentment and fear that right-wing media have fomented among the faithful ever since the election of President Clinton and the 1994 “Contract With America.”

Metaphorically speaking, Gingrich’s candidacy is the love child of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, with Fox News throwing the baby shower.

This only makes the horror of intellectually inclined conservatives at the prospect of Newt’s ascendancy more remarkable. Where have they been all this time? Back in 1994, Gingrich and Frank Luntz circulated a list of hurtful words conservatives should always call liberals. "Traitors” was at the top, also some that sound particularly ironic today: “waste,” “corruption,” “self-serving,” “greed,” “cynicism,” “cheat,” “steal” and “patronage.”

To the Washington Post’s resident Tory George Will, Gingrich “embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive.” To his colleague Charles Krauthammer, it’s Newt’s faculty lounge-lizard side — his half-baked intellectual pretentiousness — that’s most disturbing.

Not himself a particularly modest fellow, Krauthammer writes that “Gingrich has a self-regard so immense that it rivals Obama’s — but, unlike Obama’s, is untamed by self-discipline.” He finds Newt’s “[t]hinking of himself as a grand world-historical figure, attuned to the latest intellectual trend” downright comical.

Will too lampoons Gingrich’s “intellectual hubris” and “enthusiasm for intellectual fads.” He levels the ultimate insult, correctly asserting that Newt “would have made a marvelous Marxist, [believing] everything is related to everything else and only he understands how.”

To his credit, Will focuses upon what’s perhaps Gingrich’s single most despicable moment, a 1994 election eve attempt to blame a South Carolina mother’s drowning of her children on Democrats. Never mind that Susan Smith allegedly turned out to have been abused by her Republican stepfather. Politics had nothing to do with the tragedy.

What Will calls Gingrich’s “grotesque opportunism — tarted up as sociology” has been his entire stock in trade for years. He made similarly absurd observations about the 1999 Columbine High School tragedy. To him, two teenagers who massacred 13 of their classmates with automatic weapons became somehow the fault of liberal Democrats.

And so it goes. In 2010, Gingrich wrote a book arguing that the Obama administration “represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.” Earlier this year, he told a Texas church gathering that he feared his grandchildren would grow up “in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

Because the president of the United States, of course, is secretly a radical Muslim whose “Kenyan, anti-colonial” views lead him to seek revenge on behalf of the African father he hardly knew. Newt said that too.

Two thoughts: First, it’s a straight line from this kind of intellectual promiscuity to the other kind Newt’s also famous for — serving divorce papers on Wife 1 while she was hospitalized for cancer in favor of Wife 2, whom he subsequently abandoned for the bejeweled Callista, his mistress of the Clinton years, who, as Wife 3, hovers over him relentless as a bird of prey. A 68-year-old Catholic convert, Gingrich once blamed his misbehavior on too much hard work motivated by patriotism. They practically dare you to laugh, those two.

Second, the Chicago Tribune’s estimable Steve Chapman captured the essence of Gingrich’s appeal to the GOP’s propagandized base: “Demonizing adversaries is what he does best. Some on the right don’t want a conservative so much as they want a hater. Gingrich is their dream come true. Romney shows no flair for irresponsible hysteria and crude smears — and many count that as a serious flaw.”

All three columnists agree that Newt would prove a fatally flawed candidate in the general election. “Even if Gingrich can win over most Republicans,” Chapman writes, “he is bound to repel everyone else.”

Indeed, faced with him as the nominee, many conservatives would privately hold their noses and vote for Obama. “Bigfoot dressed as a circus clown would have a better chance of beating President Obama than Newt Gingrich, a similarly farcical character,” one anonymous Republican told Washington Post blogger Jonathan Bernstein.

Certainly welcome, this principled scorn comes a bit late. Few on the right have been willing to confront the reality that conservatism in the classical sense scarcely exists anymore in the United States. It’s long been replaced by the Yahoo dogmatism of a huckster like Gingrich, and it looks increasingly as if we’re all going to have to live with the consequences.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of "The Hunting of the President" (St. Martin's Press, 2000). You can e-mail Lyons at Gene Lyons


Monday, December 12, 2011

Steve van Zandt

No, this isn't a post about Bruce Springsteen's band and Steve van Zandt, Bruce's guitar player. This is an actual post by Steve van Zandt, who takes a much stronger interest in politics than I knew, which I guess is not all that surprising, considering Bruce's interest in politics.

Here, Steve makes eminent sense. He comes up with the same answer that countless others have realized. The real problem becomes HOW to make it happen. It is achievable, certainly.

Let's put this another way. If even rock-and-rollers can see the problem, we need to do something.

There is Only One Issue in America

I was obsessed with politics in the '80s. I've recovered and I'm feeling much better now thank you.

By the time I realized, as interesting as it was, I'd better stop this stuff and try to earn a living, I had discovered many of our social problems and quality of life issues could be traced to the same political source: our corrupt-by-definition electoral system. The solution to the problem was as easy to discover as the cause: The elimination of all private finance in the electoral process.

I was working doing most of my research in the area of our foreign policy since WWll, whatever fell under the umbrella of international liberation politics, but I examined and analyzed a fair amount of local issues as well.

I wanted to know how things work? Where's the power? Who's pulling the strings?

The economy of the world came down to the unholy trinity of guns, drugs and gasoline -- military industry, drugs (legal and illegal), and energy -- and now I would add agribusiness as the fourth controlling commodity, and always with the enabling bankers never too far out of sight making their profits far too often from wars and slave labor.

While that readily explained the suffering of the Third World, it didn't immediately answer why in America it was possible for so many people to be unhappy with our government's decisions, both foreign and domestic, when we're supposedly living in a democracy.

A quick analysis of our electoral process revealed the obvious answer. The simple fact is we do not live in a democracy. Certainly not the kind our Founding Fathers intended. We live in a corporate dictatorship represented by, and beholden to, no single human being you can reason with or hold responsible for anything.

The corporation has but one obligation, which is to increase profits for it's shareholders by any legal means necessary by the next fiscal quarter.

They have no moral, patriotic, social, environmental, generational or even sustainable responsibility. They have only a short-term economic mandate and their only responsibility to society is to stay within the law to accomplish it.

This doesn't mean corporations shouldn't exist or even that their directors are evil by their very DNA. It has been a legally acceptable basic flaw in the form of our capitalist system that allows corporations to operate without a moral compass or obligation to society -- but that's a discussion for another day.

The law is rarely a problem because the corporations' legal obligations are pretty much designed first and foremost for their maximum profit by the legislation created by the legislators belonging to our two national political parties, both of which are wholly bought, sold and controlled by Wall Street. The banks and the corporations. In other words the game is rigged. Feel like a sucker? We all do because we all are.

The manipulation, aided by a very willing media also owned by the corporations, has made things easier beginning with what has become the amazing Orwellian staple of every newscast, selling the public on the lie that the Dow has somehow become America's scoreboard!

We're all hypnotized, rooting for them like they're our home team at a football game, cheering for THEIR scoreboard mindlessly forgetting WE'RE THE AWAY TEAM!!

You think your congressman is working all day to get you a job? He may want to. He or she is probably not a bad person. They probably want to do the right thing. But they can't. Long-time Capitol Hill staff and campaign strategists tell me the average legislator spends one-third of their time (or more) every day raising money or on activities related to raising money.

Yes, they are "elected" which creates the mass delusion of democracy to keep the masses from rioting, but congressional races are costing millions of dollars and some Senate seats are going for tens of millions each, and they're predicting well over one billion dollars for the next presidency.

That's some democracy we've created there, isn't it?

Of the people?

By the people?

For the people?

What people?

Democracy in America is a sick joke and the masses aren't laughing anymore.

Yes, we can demonstrate. We can march. We can write and sign petitions to our Representatives. We can occupy.

And we should because it's healthy to vent, and we don't feel so all alone. But the truth is, other than the value of venting, we're wasting our time. It is naïve to expect political results from any of these activities.

Our representative can give us lip service. A lot of sympathy. Empathy even. But we don't pay their media bills, gabeesh?

We need to eliminate all private finance from the electoral process.

And let's not be distracted by "reforms." Let's spare ourselves the unnecessary discussions about transparent disclosure, or the conflict of interest of foreign countries buying favorable treatment, or protection after protection being gutted by dangerously diluted regulations, or trying to impose this limit or that limit, etc., etc., etc.

Campaign finance doesn't need reform. It needs elimination.

To accomplish this we must overturn Buckley v. Valeo, one of the two or three worst decisions in the history of the Supreme Court.

The ruling makes the extraordinary decision that money is protected by the First Amendment.
Presumably Chief Justice Gordon Gekko presiding!

These smartest guys in the room actually decided that spending money is the equivalent of free speech. You might wonder why no one in that smart room stood up and said wait a minute, if money is speech, isn't lack of money lack of speech?

You know, as in the rich get to talk, and the poor don't? How are the non-moneyed classes represented by this decision?

I guess nobody stood up then, but it's time to stand up now.

In fact, I am now introducing a new pledge to be signed by our legislators. Of both parties. Indies too. Everybody's welcome.


(We'll need someone more educated than me to draw it up, or we can copy Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge, but it would go something like this.)

I, The Undersigned, pledge to overturn Buckley v. Valeo and eliminate all private finance from the electoral process, thusly restoring America to it's democratic principles. I may take corporate, PAC, SuperPAC, or Chinese money to get elected or reelected (martyrdom accomplishes nothing), but upon my election I will make campaign finance elimination one of my immediate top priorities.

Now somebody should be starting a new Third Party whose platform is dedicated to this one idea. Twenty-five years ago that's what I'd be doing right now.

But the need for a Third Party aside, this idea applies for everyone. Just as much for the Tea Party on the right as the 99 Percenters on the left (the corporate oligarchy actually has no Party affiliation, it just looks Republican).

Both groups should adopt this issue. The Occupiers need not agree on anything else, because frankly nothing else matters, and a bit more focus on the root of our problems for the Tea Party certainly wouldn't hurt them either.

Let's see who's serious about representing the "people."

And you know what?

We might be pleasantly surprised at how many congressmen and senators sign this thing who would rather be doing something more dignified with their lives than spending half their time begging for money.

Friday, December 9, 2011

More Toons

Greg Palast

BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast came through town recently for another benefit for KPFT while promoting his new book, "Vulture's Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores." From Greg's talk Thursday evening, several people running free belong in jail, and I believe it. Justice in this nation has become warped.

he Occupy movement could be seen as an outgrowth of the kind of muck that Greg has been raking over the past 8 years and 3 books. The 1% fucking the 99% fits Greg's narrative to a "T." Somehow, we have to remove the corporate shills that currently infest Congress, but that's only one piece. The US is already far down the rathole.

You can download or read online Chapter 1 of Greg's new book by clicking here. It certainly leaves you wanting more. The Vulture's Picnic site is here.

OK, just one thing we learned Thursday evening from Greg: two years prior to the Deepwater Horizon "accident" (Greg calls it a "homicide"), BP experienced a catastrophic failure on a rig in the Caspian Sea, and the equipment that failed in the Deepwater Horizon was the same kind of equipment that failed in the Caspian Sea. BP said they'd never seen anything like what happened to Deepwater Horizon. Lying sacks of shit.

And I had one other revelation Thursday evening. It wasn't anything that Greg said exactly, but I suppose listening to him helped to trigger it...

We all know that powerful interests have been funding climate change skeptics, prominent among them Exxon and some "think tanks." Let's just say "Exxon" for brevity.
So, Exxon has been paying people to actively dispute the findings of climate scientists, sowing dissension in the country and in the Congress, paralyzing those who could be and should be taking action, actions like limiting greenhouse gasses or aggressively switching to alternative energy sources.

It is in Exxon's interest to paralyze Congress. It's not that Exxon doubts that climate change is real and happening, they just don't want anything done about it. Exxon employs many engineers and sc
ientists who know the science is accurate. They know that increased greenhouse gasses will continue to warm the atmosphere and melt the ice caps, revealing brand-new sources of oil, but without that pesky ice pack, it's easier to drill for oil.

So they are willing to let the ice caps melt (and sea levels rise, whatever) so that they can more easily access the oil in the polar regions. If that's not short-sighted and damn near suicidal, tell me what is.

hat may not be any kind of revelation to you, but somehow it all became clearer to me last night. Greedy, cynical bastards. And so far they're getting away with it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

John Lennon

We were going to DEPORT John Lennon. What a fucked-up country we have been, can be, but don't have to be...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Giant solar farms

So, how many giant solar farms do we have in this "land of the free, home of the brave" nation?

Harnessing desert sun to power Europe

It is a beguiling idea - harvest sunshine, and a little wind, from the empty deserts of North Africa and the Middle East, and use it to produce clean power for the region and for Europe.

Desertec, a group based in Germany with heavyweight commercial backers including Siemens and Deutsche Bank, says the scheme would also bring the regions around the Mediterranean closer together, while providing jobs and stability for the countries in the south.

It has chosen Morocco, which is embarking on its own ambitious solar programme, for its first "reference" project - a plant meant to show that its grand vision is feasible.

Desertec expects to see the first electricity flowing through undersea cables from Morocco to Spain as early as 2014.

But its stated goal - using desert power to supply up to 100% of local needs and up to 15% of European demand by 2050 - has attracted critics who question whether such a vision is possible, or even necessary.

'Nothing unrealistic'

No-one doubts the physical potential of the desert to generate renewable power.

According to a study by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), a state agency that provided data used by Desertec, less than 1% of suitable land in the North Africa and the Middle East would be needed to cover the current electricity consumption of the region, as well as Europe.

Many countries with intense sunshine also have large tracts of uninhabited land.

But creating a power network presents a series of formidable problems, from nomads stealing solar components to the technological and political challenges of transporting and delivering electricity over such a vast area.

Paul Van Son, the Desertec Industrial Initiative's chief executive, stresses that his group has no detailed blueprint, but aims instead to create the broad conditions for a solar network to be developed.

"There is nothing which is unrealistic," he says.

"It's already happening today, there are installations in the deserts, solar installations, wind parks - it all works.

"There are electrical grids from Tunisia, Algeria for instance and Morocco to Spain and Europe. It's possible to transport electricity over long, long distances."

Desertec points to a pair of cables already installed between Morocco and Spain - though for now these are carrying power from north to south.

It says it will work closely with Medgrid, a French scheme to enable the construction of a Mediterranean transmission system.

What Desertec vision requires

  • Solar farms across Middle East and North Africa

  • Undersea High Voltage Direct Current cables

  • Estimated $400bn of financing over 40 years

  • Political stability and security in southern states

  • Integrated and liberalised energy markets

Read the rest here.

Silly Christians

Thanks to Dave, thanks to the Friendly Atheist, and thanks to all of those quick-witted, fast-acting atheists out there. Happy Holidays! Hahahaaa!

Thanks to Christians, Atheists Displays Will Flourish in Loudoun County

For the past couple of years, there has been a battle in Loudoun County, Virginia over which displays, if any, should be allowed in front of the county courthouse.

Last year, the courthouse Grounds and Facilities Committee wanted to ban all displays, while the county Supervisor and other community members wanted to continue to allow all displays — including atheist ones. (Both options would’ve been legal.)

Even the state’s notoriously conservative Attorney General Ken Cuccinelliweighed in on the matter because he wanted to see nativity scenes in front of the courthouse:

it is my opinion that a local governmental entity is never categorically compelled to prohibit holiday displays, including those incorporating recognizably religious symbols, because governments enjoy considerable discretion in accommodating the religious expression of their citizens and employees and in their own recognition of traditional seasonal holidays. It is further my opinion that displays depicting the birth of Jesus Christ are permissible provided the government ensures appropriate content and context.

Of course, the only legal way to allow nativity scenes at the courthouse is to allow non-Christian displays as well.

After all the discussion, the county decided to continue allowing all displays. The rules were as follows: 10 displays would be allowed on the courthouse grounds and applications would be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Cuccinelli and his allies wanted to open the door for nativity scenes… but it turns out they kept the floodgates open for atheists.

Of the ten displays this year, only three of them are Christian: two nativity scenes and a “letter from Jesus.”

The rest? Well, just check out this list:

A sign showing a picture of the Easter Bunny, Santa and Jesus Christ with text that states, “Myths for Young and Old,” a quote from Thomas Edison and information about the Loudoun Atheists, submitted by Leesburg resident Emmert Elsea.

A banner with the text “Celebrating our Constitution” and language about keeping church and state separate, submitted by Leesburg resident Rick Wingrove. The banner comes from American Atheists and NOVA Atheists.

A banner promoting “reason in the holiday season,” submitted by Lansdowne resident Larry Mendoza.

A holiday display that will either be a Tree of Knowledge or a holiday message sign, from Sterling resident Lydia Rice.

A sign about the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, submitted by Leesburg resident Ken Levesque.

Another sign from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, this one with a holiday message, submitted by Matthew Courtney of Reston.

Oh. And there’s some art work featuring Santa on a cross to show “society’s materialistic obsessions and addictions and how it is killing the peace, love, joy and kindness that is supposed to be prevalent during the holiday season.”

How amazingly blasphemous and wonderful is that?!

If that’s not awesome enough, it turns out that one of the display spaces may be out of commission… meaning the county would have to cut the number of displays down to nine. That means axing the last application that was approved… which would be one of the nativity scenes :)

This is actually the second year atheists have taken advantage of this let-all-displays-flourish policy — last year, they had six displays as well.

Thanks to Ken Cuccinelli and all the Christians who supported the idea of allowing all displays on the courthouse grounds! It backfired on you, completely, but the holiday season just got better for the rest of us.