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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Under George W. Bush, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was pretty pathetic by all accounts.  Their response to Katrina was really bad, but that wasn't their only failing under Bush.  And what would we expect under Bush?  After all, he would only appoint cronies or big contributors to head up important agencies.  Michael "Heckuva Job" Brown had ZERO emergency response experience when Bush appointed him to head up FEMA in 2003. 

In contrast, President Obama really shored up the agency, appointing William Fugate who had run the Florida Division of Emergency Management.  Now, FEMA is getting kudos, EVEN FROM REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS, most recently from Chris Christie, the corpulent Republican governor of New Jersey, who praised Obama's and FEMA's response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

And now we have Mitt Romney on record as saying he would dismantle FEMA and send it to the states.  Republicans hate government so much, they want to take it over and dismantle it, spreading the lucre amongst their own cronies.  Same old story. 

I have faith that the American people will do the right thing and re-elect Obama.  What I do NOT have faith in is all of the electronic voting machines that produce NO paper trail whatsoever.  Most of these companies that produce these unverifiable voting machines are owned by Republicans, and, as above, I do NOT have faith that they will do the right thing.  It's too bad one of our major political parties seems intent on destroying the United States government.

Keep up on the (what ought to be scandals about the) electronic voting machines at The Brad Blog.

Monday, October 29, 2012

13' storm surge

Reports of a 13' storm surge at Battery Park, lower Manhattan, from Hurricane Sandy.  Yee-ow.  Reminds me of the 13'-14' storm surge that hit Galveston and Galveston Bay in September of 2008.  THAT was some fucking devastation.  I hope it's not that bad up there.  

Heavy weather.

A dead seed

I normally avoid those long, moralistic emails, but this one struck me.  Even if the story is BS, and it probably is, the truth is a really powerful thing, and it's really simple to do.  Just don't lie, especially about anything important.  White lies to not hurt someone's feelings are OK, usually, but even then, the truth might just be appreciated more than you know.

Ironic, huh?  A made-up story about telling the truth?   

A successful businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.   Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you."  The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued, "I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you.  I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.  By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing.

Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however.  He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - he so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot.  But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach.  It was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room.

When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful - in all shapes and sizes.  Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified.  He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed, Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!

His name is "Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed.

"How could he be the new CEO?" the others said.

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!"

* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
* If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
* If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
* If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
* If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
* If you plant hard work, you will reap success
* If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

So, be careful what you plant now;  it will determine what you will reap later.   Think about this for a minute.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Aramco hacker

I consider myself to be somewhat well-informed, but I totally missed this story, which is rather huge. 

It's likely that Iran was behind this cyber-attack on Aramco, the Arab-American Oil Company.  Iran is perhaps the last major player that still has a repressive and dangerous government, well, except for Saudi Arabia themselves.  Iran gets pissed because the Saudis cooperate "too much" with the Americans. 

The Iranian people yearn to be free from the yolk of the mullahs, and it will happen someday.  Better sooner than later, in this case.  And, if it could happen on Obama's watch, well, I'm sure the Republicans would find a way to blame him for it.

In Cyberattack on Saudi Firm, U.S. Sees Iran Firing Back

The hackers picked the one day of the year they knew they could inflict the most damage on the world’s most valuable company, Saudi Aramco.

On Aug. 15, more than 55,000 Saudi Aramco employees stayed home from work to prepare for one of Islam’s holiest nights of the year — Lailat al Qadr, or the Night of Power — celebrating the revelation of the Koran to Muhammad.

That morning, at 11:08, a person with privileged access to the Saudi state-owned oil company’s computers, unleashed a computer virus to initiate what is regarded as among the most destructive acts of computer sabotage on a company to date. The virus erased data on three-quarters of Aramco’s corporate PCs — documents, spreadsheets, e-mails, files — replacing all of it with an image of a burning American flag.

United States intelligence officials say the attack’s real perpetrator was Iran, although they offered no specific evidence to support that claim. But the secretary of defense, Leon E. Panetta, in a recent speech warning of the dangers of computer attacks, cited the Aramco sabotage as “a significant escalation of the cyber threat.” In the Aramco case, hackers who called themselves the “Cutting Sword of Justice” and claimed to be activists upset about Saudi policies in the Middle East took responsibility.

But their online message and the burning flag were probably red herrings, say independent computer researchers who have looked at the virus’s code.

Immediately after the attack, Aramco was forced to shut down the company’s internal corporate network, disabling employees’ e-mail and Internet access, to stop the virus from spreading.

It could have been much worse. An examination of the sabotage revealed why government officials and computer experts found the attack disturbing. Aramco’s oil production operations are segregated from the company’s internal communications network. Once executives were assured that only the internal communications network had been hit and that not a drop of oil had been spilled, they set to work replacing the hard drives of tens of thousands of its PCs and tracking down the parties responsible, according to two people close to the investigation but who were not authorized to speak publicly about it.

read the rest here.


I would like to share an experience with you all about drinking and driving.

As you well know, some of us have been known to have had rare brushes with the authorities on our way home from the odd social session over the years.

A couple of nights ago, I was out for a few drinks with some friends and had a few too many beers and some shots.

Knowing full well I may have been slightly over the limit I did something I've never done before.

I took a bus home.

Sure enough, I passed a DUI checkpoint, but as it was a bus they waved it through.  I arrived home safely without incident, which was a real surprise, as I have never driven a bus before and am not sure where I got it.

Seriously, do NOT drink and drive.   The life you save my include your own.  (Thanks, Lee!)

Friday, October 26, 2012


A close look at the facts and figures reveals that the economy and business in general actually performs better when Democrats are in office.  This of course runs contrary to the generally-accepted myth that it's the Republicans that are better for business than the Democrats.  Not true.  This is just another one of the upside-down facts that continually gets lost on the American people.

So why is it that so many of todays CEO's keep telling their employees that they had better vote for the Republican (Romney) if they value their jobs?  Could it be that, even though the business climate gets better under Democrats, that the top dogs, the CEO's, do better when Republicans are in office?  After all, it seems that all Republicans want to do is cut taxes for the wealthy.  

‘Anti-Business’ Obama Is Best President For Corporate Profits Since 1900

Since he came into office, Republicans have consistently attacked President Obama for supposedly being anti-business. As ThinkProgress noted last week, the data shows that this charge is nonsense.
In fact, as the financial website Motley Fool noted today, President Obama is far and away the best president for corporate profits since 1900:
Even if corporate profits under Obama are compared to the 2008 peak — in order to erase the effect of the financial crisis — “average annual corporate profit growth under President Obama is 6.8%,” or nearly three times as large as it was under President Reagan. Both Presidents Bush actually oversaw corporate profit declines during their terms. Meanwhile, real GDP growth per capita is far higher under Obama than it was under either Bush administration.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Choice

The New Yorker magazine has published an endorsement of Barack Obama for President.  It's sure a lot more thoughtful and comprehensive than the Houston Chronicle's recent endoresement of Mitt Romney.


The choice is clear. The Romney-Ryan ticket represents a constricted and backward-looking vision of America: the privatization of the public good. In contrast, the sort of public investment championed by Obama—and exemplified by both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act—takes to heart the old civil-rights motto “Lifting as we climb.” That effort cannot, by itself, reverse the rise of inequality that has been under way for at least three decades. But we’ve already seen the future that Romney represents, and it doesn’t work.

The reĆ«lection of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency. Not only are we in broad agreement with his policy directions; we also see in him what is absent in Mitt Romney—a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness and integrity. A two-term Obama Administration will leave an enduringly positive imprint on political life. It will bolster the ideal of good governance and a social vision that tempers individualism with a concern for community. Every Presidential election involves a contest over the idea of America. Obama’s America—one that progresses, however falteringly, toward social justice, tolerance, and equality—represents the future that this country deserves. ♦

The whole thing is quite good: Original.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Had enough of politics?  Want something to warm your heart?  Watch this.

Draw the line

I will be glad when the election is over.  Once Obama is re-elected....we have to show these aging white male dinosaurs that their time is UP!

Draw the Line.


"Romnesia" is a pretty apt term.  A sudden, inexplicable loss of memory about your own political positions.  Romney changes sides so quickly, he must forget what he said last month, last week, yesterday.  If you tell so many lies, how can you possibly remember them all and keep up with all of them?  I've never seen someone flip-flop so brazenly.  If it becomes obvious that the Republicans are stealing this election (after 2000 in Florida and 2004 in Ohio) I think we're going to have some trouble.

Romney fail

It will be good to get past the upcoming election, won't it?  All those ads, all those rallies, all those (Romney) lies.  Of course, when Obama wins re-election, Romney won't quit lying.  We'll just quit hearing him lie so much.

Obama wiped the floor with Romney in the 3rd debate.  It was no contest.  Obama came off as thoughtful and thorough with a good foreign policy track record (remember Osama bin Killed?).  Romney just kept spewing an often incomprehensible word salad, speaking as fast as possible.  Indeed, Romney agreed with MOST of what Obama is doing in foreign policy, which is yet another flip-flop. 

Republicans should be wary of what they are getting with Romney.  Who knows what he would actually DO as President?  He's been on so many sides of so many issues, who can tell?  If it weren't for the sky-high level of pure hatred of Obama, this election would be a cakewalk.  Republicans seem bent, no matter what, on getting Obama out of office.  Like Romney, they will say and do anything to accomplish this. 

Which reminds me of something.  Romney keeps saying that, when he was the Republican governor of Massachusetts, the Mass. legislature was 80% Democratic, but he was still able to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats.  Well, I do believe that.  One reason Romney was able to do that is that the Democratic legislature did not swear on the Bible in the very first days of Romney's governorship that they would make Romney a "one-term Governor." 

Democrats don't act petty like that.  The Republicans, on the other hand, in the very first days of Obama's Presidency, proclaimed their #1 priority was making Obama a one-term President.  That's just despicable.  Forget that Obama won the popular vote.  Forget that, at the time, the country was mired in a horrific financial crisis.  No, just do anything to make Obama look bad.  No matter what.

The Republicans just refused to cooperate.  So it becomes just a little bit harder to "reach across the aisle" when all the Republicans have sworn to do everything to get Obama out.

From the 3rd debate:

Romney fails in so many ways.

Friday, October 19, 2012

women's rights

I have a hard time understanding why ANY women would be voting for Romney.  Unless, I guess, they are already so rich that they will be able to purchase services for their own daughters regardless of what the laws might state.  I mean, put her on the private jet and send her to Canada, or Britain, etc., while the poor folk are stuck.

Seriously, if Romney gets elected and they overturn Roe v. Wade, it will not end abortion.  The wealthy will still get abortions by sending their daughters to another country, or simply pay enough to black-market doctors to get what they want.   

it's getting better

Practically every indicator says that things are "getting better" in the US economy.  Unemployment is down to less than when Obama took office; housing starts are way up; consumer confidence way up; retail sales up; report after report shows things improving.  Even gas prices are dropping (again).  

I don't think that Americans expected Obama to immediately turn the economy around, even if he has.  When he was sworn in, we lost 750,000 jobs in January of 2009.  Job losses continued until the stimulus program was passed and there has been job growth every single month since.  

No, I don't think Americans still think that the economy is in the dumper, which is where George W. Bush and the Republicans put it.  I think that just about half the country is Republican, period, and they aren't going to vote for a Democrat, especially a black Democrat.  

Unless the Republicans try to steal the election with their usual tricks, like voter suppression, inadequate voting machines in Democratic precincts and switching the votes on electronic voting machines, Obama should win re-election.  

Shoot, just look at the state of the economy when Bush left office, and look at it now.  'Nuff said.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

bad lip reading

O internet!  How I love thee!  Let me count the ways!!

Watch this video and TRY NOT TO LAUGH.

completely wrong

After Myth Romney was recorded uttering his asinine "47% (of the people in America would not take any personal responsibility)" comment and it hit the media, he went and told a reporter that his comments were "completely wrong".  

Suddenly, if you did a Google search on "completely wrong" you got a page full of pictures of Myth Romney.  Indeed.  Myth Romney is completely wrong for America, unless you want a pure oligarchy of the rich and powerful running everything and grabbing every nickel they can hoard.

Some of the pics:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

what Obama should say

What Obama should say at the 2nd debate tonight, compliments of The Rude Pundit.

What Obama Should Say 2012, Part 2 (Rude Version):

If at tonight's town hall presidential debate on CNN, some undecided voter in the audience asks Barack Obama to explain why the economy hasn't improved quickly and he doesn't say, "Well, that's because you and many of your fellow voters were such pathetic pussies back in 2010. Let me explain this to you in simple terms since you are obviously brain-damaged or just plain dumb, or you just don't give flying fuck about things like recent history or how the government actually works.

"See, in 2010, you voters decided that you were a bunch of cowards and you either stayed home or actually helped put Republicans into the majority in the House. This was on top of the motherfuckers in the Senate GOP who decided once Scott Brown was elected in January 2010 to filibuster pretty much everything that would actually help the economy. You did that, America. You decided that you were scared of the things I had campaigned on just back in 2008. the very things you voted me in to do. You believed the convenient lies of the Republicans, of the Tea Party, of Fox 'news.' Own that shit. Own your mistakes.

"So you're gonna blame me now because I did everything I could short of offering free blow jobs to Republicans to get them to vote for things they once supported? To get them to vote for compromises they fucking negotiated? You're gonna blame me because the Senate Republicans blocked over 400 bills voted out of the House? You're gonna blame me because I won't just roll over and let the Republicans have Paul Ryan's motherfucking budget? You're gonna ask me what my jobs plan is when I sent a goddamn jobs plan to the Congress who told me to shove it up my ass? Jesus, what the fuck is wrong with you?

"Now you're actually considering voting for that pampered cunt over there who wants to cut taxes even more for the rich, cut Medicare, and gut programs for the poor? A liar and con artist who would have sold GM to China if it would have made Bain investors a couple of more billion dollars, fuck the workers. Someone who would look you in the eye and tell you that, sure, his idea for closing loopholes and shitcanning deductions will take care of all the tax cuts, but he can't tell you which loopholes or deductions, but they might be capped at 17, 20, or 25 thousand bucks. What the hell is that? Huh? That's not an economic plan. It's not even a good lie. It's the fuck fantasy of people who dream of pissing on the poor and calling it a shower of gold and not a golden shower.

"And that's not even getting into every lie that my opponent has told about me and my administration. Lower taxes, lower spending on government, lower number of federal employees. That's what I did. And yet that shellac-haired cocksucker dares to say government has exploded in size under me. His rich friends got government bailouts and gave themselves bonuses with it, and yet I'm the socialist because I think people should buy health insurance? Fuck, how many lies can you take?

"Yeah, now you're thinking about voting for him because he lied with authority at the last debate while I told the truth too calmly? Go fuck yourself, you simpletons.

"You wanna know why the economy is recovering as slowly as the ripped asshole of an overly enthusiastic just-out old man after an orgy? Then look in the fucking mirror, you selfish bitches. Ask yourself why you did it. Ask yourself why you are so frightened. Ask yourself what Republicans have ever done for you.

"And when you're in the voting booth, ask yourself one other question: Do you really want to vote for the guy whose company made money by doing the things that helped tank the economy? If you do, then fuck you, America. You get what you deserve" then the debate will be useless.


Classic BS

It's doubtful that there is a compassionate bone in either Romney or Ryan's body.  This fake photo op sums up things pretty well.  All for show.  No substance to it.  Typical, classic bullshit.

Why Ryan would wash a clean pot

By Steve Benen
  Just at a surface level, the idea of Paul Ryan stopping by a soup kitchen is strange, if not ridiculous. The right-wing congressman, a proud admirer of Ayn Rand's philosophy, no doubt sees soup kitchens as outlets that create dependency. This is, after all, the "don't simply feed fish" guy.

Indeed, his extremist ideology drove Ryan to write the radical House Republican budget plan, which would be deliberately brutal towards the very people who rely on charity and public benefits to get by.

But given this background, it took real chutzpah for Ryan to show up at an Ohio soup kitchen, smile for the cameras, and pretend to do real work. The Washington Post's Felicia Sonmez reported that Ryan and his team "ramrodded their way" into a kitchen over the weekend so he could manufacture a photo-op.

Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who stopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University.

"We're a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations," Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. "It's strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors."

He added: "The photo-op they did wasn't even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall."
By the time Ryan showed up for his impromptu, 15-minute visit, he was too late -- according to the Post's report, the hall had already been cleaned after the food had been served and the patrons had left. But Ryan wanted to look good for the cameras, and walking around an empty soup kitchen wouldn't make much of an impact.

So Ryan put on an apron and volunteered to wash some dishes, though he ended up "washing pots and pans that did not appear to be dirty." Antal added that he was discouraged about letting Ryan "wash clean pans, and then take a picture."

Like most Romney/Ryan attempts to appear compassionate towards the less fortunate -- folks Mitt Romney himself condemned in his infamous "47 percent" video -- the photo-op was just for show.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tim Minchin

Meet Tim Minchin, a British singer-songwriter atheist, singing "If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out (Take My Wife)".

Friday, October 12, 2012

The New New Deal

I can't say it better than the synopsis below.  I haven't finished the whole book but have read enough to highly recommend it.  It's something you might have intuitively "known" but this book provides some vindication.    

I'd like to hear Obama make this kind of case in the next debate.

The New New Deal. The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era.
by Michael Grunwald

New York Times Bestseller

In a riveting account based on new documents and interviews with over 400 sources on both sides of the aisle, award-winning reporter Michael Grunwald reveals the vivid story behind President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus bill, one of the most important and least understood pieces of legislation in the history of the country. Grunwald’s meticulous reporting shows how the stimulus, though reviled on the right and the left, helped prevent a depression while jump-starting the president’s agenda for lasting change. As ambitious and far-reaching as FDR’s New Deal, the Recovery Act is a down payment on the nation’s economic and environmental future, the purest distillation of change in the Obama era.

The stimulus has launched a transition to a clean-energy economy, doubled our renewable power, and financed unprecedented investments in energy efficiency, a smarter grid, electric cars, advanced biofuels, and green manufacturing. It is computerizing America’s pen-and-paper medical system. Its Race to the Top is the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It has put in place the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, the largest research investments ever, and the most extensive infrastructure investments since Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. It includes the largest expansion of anti-poverty programs since the Great Society, lifting millions of Americans above the poverty line, reducing homelessness, and modernizing unemployment insurance. Like the first New Deal, Obama’s stimulus has created legacies that last: the world’s largest wind and solar projects, a new battery industry, a fledgling high-speed rail network, and the world’s highest-speed Internet network.
Michael Grunwald goes behind the scenes—sitting in on Cabinet meetings, recounting the secret strategy sessions where Republicans devised their resistance to Obama—to show how the stimulus was born, how it fueled a resurgence on the right, and how it is changing America. The New New Deal shatters the conventional Washington narrative, and it will redefine the way Obama’s first term is perceived.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The original Pledge

Did you know that the original "Pledge of Allegiance" was created in 1891 by a Baptist minister (and Christian Socialist), Francis Julius Bellamy?  Got that?  A Baptist minister came up with the pledge, and there was no "under God" in it.  In fact, here is the original:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of my country and the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The word "to" was added by Bellamy ("and to the republic") shortly after 1891.

Then, at the urging of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, in 1923, the language was changed from "my flag" to "the flag of the United States."  And one year later, "of America" was added.  They were afraid that all of the incoming immigrants would pledge to their OWN flag, so we had this:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Then, in 1954, Congress and President Eisenhower added "under God" in reaction to "Godless communism" during the Cold War.

Bellamy, although a Baptist minister, thought the pledge should be secular to include everyone.  

It is striking that people today insist that "under God" was in the original pledge and was created by our Founders.  The level of ignorance in this country is embarrassing.  

This country had a great start at keeping religion separate from government, but, alas, we have allowed it to slowly creep right back in where it does not belong.

Here's hoping Michael Newdow succeeds.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guerrilla gardening

I keep forgetting to check in with Brenda Beust Smith and her Blog in the Houston Chronicle.  Ah!  So much to remember.  Thanks for the heads-up, D.  

The Lazy Gardener

Gardening with Brenda Beust Smith

Guerrilla Gardening

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Guerrilla gardening?
When I read about this in the upcoming HUG (Houston Urban Gardeners) meeting announcements, I thought they were talking about my fight with ruellia!
But no, seems this is a world-wide movement to, as some advocates say, “fight filth with forks & flowers.”
Guerrilla gardeners take urban blighted spots — thanks to the neglect of uncaring absentee property owners — and turn each into an oasis of beauty with plantings.
If this catches your eye, drop by the free and open to the public HUG (Houston Urban Gardeners) meeting Monday, Oct. 8, 6:45 PM at the Houston Garden Center, 1500 Hermann Dr. in Hermann Park, Houston (713-284-1989).
Master Naturalist and Permaculture Designer Jan VanLiere, an artist and passionate gardener, has been looking for ways to feed more creatures in our ever changing environment. She will offer insights into growing things, both edible and beautiful, or both, in unexpected spaces that may surprise and inspire!
This is the art of Guerilla Gardening.
Another bonus at this particular meeting:
Before the program they will have supplies to make seed dirt balls. Never heard of these?
Fun children’s project. The Lady Bird Wildflower Center offers these tips (and this is the best time to plant wildflower seed).
You can make them as complicated or as simple as you wish. Basically they’re just a bunch of seeds rolled into a ball of dirt and then packed with a coating of red clay.  But, of course, you need really healthy dirt, or soil, if you prefer. The best is soil from compost.
There’s a connection here.  The Guerrilla Gardeners would throw their “seed grenades” into these blighted lots in an attempt to starts some beneficial plants.
Drop by the HUG meeting to learn firsthand, or google “seed balls” for more details.
UPDATE! The Woodlands Wildflower Festival will be Saturday, October 20 from 10 am – 2 pm at Rob Fleming Park in The Woodlands’ Village of Creekside Park. There will be 18 varieties of free wildflower seed packets given away to guests plus numerous booths to visit along with free entertainment. For more information, visit

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Stewart v O'Reilly debate

To pay $4.95 or not to pay $4.95?  That is the question.  1/2 the proceeds go to charity.

Bill O'Reilly. Jon Stewart. 2 podiums. 1 Air-Conditioned Auditorium. "O'Reilly v Stewart 2012: The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium" will be streamed live tonight at 8pm ET from Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University. O'Reilly and Stewart will take an entertaining and comedic approach to today's pressing political issues in an attempt to find the best direction for America. "The Rumble 2012" will surely be a must-see event! Order Now to be a part of the action!

P.S. I didn't pay it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Kat Edmondson

I recently discovered Kat Edmondson while watching the Sept 4 episode of Dan Rather Reports on AXS.TV.  The episode was "Music 2.0" and it focused on the Austin, TX music scene and the changing, digitizing world of music.  Dan is still turning out some great investigative reporting.

During this show, he featured musical performances from Willie Nelson and Kat Edmondson.  Kat is a singer from Houston, TX, and I just fell in love with her and her music.  

You can find some of Kat's music in the Video Bar on the right side of the blog.

...and this one, "Be the Change"

Where were you?

After witnessing Romney's flip-flops in the first debate, Obama should have plenty of ammo for some sharp-edged ads and for the next two debates.  Hope survives.

Fired-up Obama speaks at post-debate rally

by Steve Benen
One of the main criticisms I've seen of President Obama's debate performance -- which, again, has nothing to do with substance and everything to do with style -- was how timid he seemed. There was no fire, no engagement, no aggressiveness. The president was calm, the argument goes, to the point of detachment.
A half-day later, Obama spoke to supporters in Denver and showed the fiery side that clearly wasn't on display on stage last night.
Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
For those who can't watch clips online, of particular interest were these comments:
"Now, last night, we had our first debate. And when I got on stage, I met a very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn't have been Mitt Romney -- because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. But the fellow on stage last night said he didn't know anything about that.
"The real Mitt Romney said we don't need any more teachers in our classrooms. But the fellow on stage last night said he loves teachers -- can't get enough of 'em.
"The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were called "pioneers" of outsourcing jobs to other countries. But the guy on stage last night, he said he's never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. He said if that's true, he must need a new accountant. Now we know for sure it wasn't the real Mitt Romney -- because he seems to be doing just fine with the accountant he has.
"You see, the man on stage last night – he doesn't want to be held accountable for what the real Mitt Romney's been saying for the last year. And that's because he knows full well that we don't want what he's been selling for the last year. Governor Romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be President, you owe the American people the truth.
"So here's the truth: Governor Romney cannot pay for his $5 trillion tax plan without blowing up the deficit or sticking it to the middle class. And we can't afford to go down that road again. We can't afford another round of budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy. We can't afford to gut our investments in education or clean energy or research and technology. We can't afford to rollback regulations on Wall Street banks or big oil companies or insurance companies. We cannot afford to double down on the same top-down economic policies that got us into this mess. That's not a plan to create jobs. That's not a plan to grow the economy. That's not a change -- that is a relapse.
"Denver, we've been there, we've tried it, and we are not going back. We are going forward."
He also openly mocked Romney's call to cut off PBS: "Thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird."
If you're thinking, "Where was this guy last night?" I think it's fair to say a lot of Obama supporters are asking that same question. But I also believe the president sees the debate as a mistake -- one that he intends to correct.

Style v Substance

I don't think that Obama expected Mitt Romney to tell as many lies as he did in the debate.  Considering Romney's track record from all of the Republican debates up to this point, he really should have expected it, but it was very hard to even recognize the Mitt Romney who showed up in Denver.  One wonders who will show up next time.

The triumph of style over substance

by Steve Benen

One of the main drawbacks to televised political theatrics is that we tend to evaluate the events in an unconstructive way. We see players on a stage, after extensive rehearsals, playing to a packed house, and we judge them as if they are actors -- who seemed "crisp" and looked "confident."

In other words, we invariably value political theater on its theatrical qualities, watching to see who knew their lines and delivered them more effectively.

By this measure, when it comes to determining who "won" last night's debate in Denver, I'd argue the conventional wisdom is right: it wasn't close. Based on style and performance, Mitt Romney did all of the things a "winning" debater is supposed to do.

Did he know his lines? Obviously, yes. Did he deliver them well? Flawlessly. I argued last week that Romney's "strength as a debater is wildly underappreciated" and "if Democrats expect Romney to falter in the debates, they're making a big mistake." Last night illustrated what I was talking about.

President Obama, meanwhile, was listless and timid. He stumbled on his words. At times he seemed distracted and unfocused. There were key opportunities for the president to go on the offensive, but for whatever reason, he chose not to engage. For pundits checking boxes -- who gave the appearance of being "in control"? -- Romney excelled.

But all of this overlooks an element I like to think it sometimes important: substance. The men on the stage last night aren't actors; they're candidates for the nation's highest office. Delivering lines well is a nice quality, but as the dust settles, it's worth pausing to reflect on whether those lines were true and reflect reality in any meaningful way.

Indeed, it seems to me Romney thrived in large part because he abandoned the pretense of honesty. And as it turns out, winning a debate is surprisingly easy when a candidate decides he can say anything and expect to get away with it.

Romney told viewers his proposed $5 trillion tax cut isn't really his proposed $5 trillion tax cut. He suggested he could eliminate a $1 trillion deficit by going after Big Bird. He said his non-existent health care plan protects those with pre-existing conditions when in reality the exact opposite is true. He cited trumped up "studies" from far-right ideologues as if they're legitimate, assuming the public won't know the difference. He said a deficit that's shrunk has actually "doubled."

And when Romney wasn't repeating falsehoods, he was furiously shaking an Etch A Sketch, rolling out yet another version of himself.

This new model -- version 8.0? 9.0? -- likes regulations of the financial industry, wants to work with Democrats, thinks his Massachusetts health care law was a great idea, and has no use for the goals of his running mate's budget plan that Romney enthusiastically endorsed. Does this in any way reflect the candidate who's been running for president the last year and a half? No, but the Republican assumes most voters won't realize and most news organizations covering the campaign won't tell them.

He might very well be right.

But as Romney and his supporters take a victory lap this morning, it's fair to note their success was a triumph for style over substance.



I was amazed, but not surprised, at how many lies Romney told during last nights debate in Denver.  Can you say "fact-checker"?

Monday, October 1, 2012

October Stargazing

Every evening is another opportunity to be filled with awe.

SkyTips: October 2012

Stargazing Summary

With the nights getting longer and cooler, October is one of the best months for some skywatching. The evening sky offers such treats as Andromeda and her famous galaxy, M31, as well as several other constellations associated with her mythological story, and the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters in Taurus. Jupiter is dominating the evening sky, with Mars beginning to bow out. Venus rules the early mornings, passing almost over the top of the heart of the lion early in the month.

More stargazing information »

Orionid Meteor Shower

The next meteor shower is the Orionids on the night of October 20. The shower should be at its best the nights of Saturday, October 20, and Sunday, October 21. The Moon sets by around midnight, so it won't pollute the sky with light during the peak meteor-watching hours.

Meteor shower viewing tips »

Radio Program Highlights

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October 1-7 - Anniversaries: A couple of golden anniversaries are coming up this week. One commemorates the start of a major observatory, while the other marks the arrival of a piece of Mars. Join us for this plus Venus and the heart of the lion.

October 8-14 - Moon meanderings: The Moon passes by the brilliant planet Venus and the heart of the lion in this week's morning skies, and we'll have details. And we'll talk about one of the oddest critters in the sky — the sea-goat.

October 15-21 - Doomed planets: The outer layers of some "dead" stars are polluted by a rain of rocky debris — the pulverized remains of Earth-like planets. We'll have details. We'll also talk about a "dwarf" planet in our own solar system.

October 22-28 - Black holes: Astronomers have discovered what could be the biggest black hole yet found — a behemoth many times the size of our entire solar system. Join us for that, plus what could be the smallest black hole and much more on these dark monsters.

October 29-31 - A "ghoulish" star: A star that both amazed and frightened long-ago skywatchers highlights the sky on this Halloween week, and we'll tell you what gave it such a fearsome reputation. Join us for this and much more about the night sky.

October program schedule »

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Coming Up in StarDate Magazine

In November/December, StarDate will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first spacecraft encounter with another planet: the 1962 Mariner 2 flyby of Venus. And freelance writer Nick D'Alto brings us the story of the earliest known globe, made by Renaissance astronomers and used by Christopher Columbus to prepare for his legendary voyage.

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 News from the Observatory

Astronomers measure largest-ever magnetic field around massive starA group of astronomers led by Gregg Wade of the Royal Military College of Canada has used the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory and the Canada-France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) on Hawaii's Mauna Kea to measure the most magnetic massive star yet. Their work is published in the September 11 issue of the research journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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