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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

summer cleaning

Well, it's the end of the month, so it's time to purge my files of things that I thought were worthy but had not yet found a home on my blog (or in the trashcan).  So, in keeping with the crazy, frantic-paced jumble in which we live....(if you can't read 'em, click 'em)

Always some room for nature's beauty.

Ever wondered what cannabis looked like under an electron microscope?

Have to toss in some religious bullshit.

or left, if you're ambidextrous.

Monday, June 29, 2015

open letter

Here we have an open letter from Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Mike Seidel, addressed to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Pruitt wasn't happy when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered that a replica of the 10 Commandments be removed from the state capitol grounds.

I appreciate FFRF's frequent challenges of public officials in regards to separation of church and state.  There are countless violations from sea to shining sea. Of course, Seidel is not going to get a response from Pruitt.  These mindless Bible-thumpers spout any ol' bullshit and the faithheads lap it up. Pity.

An Open Letter to Okla. Attorney General Scott Pruitt on the Ten Commandments

Dear Mr. Pruitt:
We've tangled several times before. Once regarding a Christian men's club using Oklahoma public schools to distribute their particular version of the bible, an illegal act that you publicly defended. And then regarding your demand to see documents relating to the IRS and FFRF settling a lawsuit that are publicly available on FFRF's website, Perhaps you were so upset by the news that the IRS would enforce the rules by which it is governed that you missed all the documents. If so, here they are.

I write this letter to correct yet another misunderstanding, this time regarding the Ten Commandments. After the Oklahoma Supreme Court declared the decalogue monument on capitol grounds unconstitutional, you said, "Quite simply, the Oklahoma Supreme Court got it wrong. The court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law."

That assertion is indefensible. There is not a single legal principle that is either unique or original to the Ten Commandments that significantly influenced American law.

First, let's identify which set of Ten Commandments that were allegedly part of our foundation. Is it the set in Exodus 20 or Exodus 34? Or perhaps it's the sets in Deuteronomy 5 or Deuteronomy 27? For the sake of argument, I'll assume it's the set on the Oklahoma capitol lawn.

This is a big assumption because, as anyone who's familiar with the bible will realize, the wording on the capitol monument is heavily edited. The monument's precepts appear to come from Exodus 20, but apparently the original version was too barbaric (or perhaps the monument authors simply know better than god.) Either way, the monument strays heavily from the original.

For instance, the monument leaves out some integral language from the second commandment—the prohibition on graven images. The original includes, "for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation..." Please tell me, Mr. Pruitt, is punishing innocent children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren for the crimes of their parents what you meant by "foundation of Western law?"

If not, then perhaps you were referring to the implicit blessing of that most holy institution, slavery, which is referenced in both the fourth and tenth commandments (but is again omitted from or altered on this monument)? The tenth commandment also treats women as property, lumping them in with cattle and slaves, something the monument authors did not think worth changing.

Punishing innocent children, blessing slavery, denigrating women—as Oklahoma's highest law enforcement officer you ought to be saying "good riddance" to the bad rubbish this monument represents, not promising to repeal part of Oklahoma's law.

Surely you can't mean that the first four commandments, which have nothing to do with morality and actually prohibit the free exercise of religion, are the basis of western law? Nor could you mean that prohibitions on coveting—commandments 9 and 10 on the monument—are the foundation of western law because they amount to criminalizing thought. And as you must know, freedom of thought is protected absolutely under our First Amendment.

The process of elimination tells me that you must be referring to the prohibitions on murder, theft, lying, and adultery. But these commandments are not original or unique to Judeo-Christianity. These are universal, human principles that virtually every successful society has implemented. Even the Ten Commandments were not telling the Israelites something new. Surely you aren't contending that the chosen people thought murder, theft, and lying perfectly acceptable before a burning bush told them otherwise?

If you are arguing that your particular brand of religion is responsible for the universal prohibitions of these rather obvious wrongs, then your religiously motivated arrogance has gotten the better of you.

Which of the Ten Commandments are, as you claimed, the basis of Western law? I eagerly await your response.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

lying again

It just seems like whenever Republicans open their mouths, they're lying, especially if they are talking about President Obama. It's an amazing yardstick: whatever they say, expect that the opposite is actually the truth.  How fucked-up is that?

Obama earns high marks around the globe

Republicans are heavily invested in the idea that President Obama lacks international respect. There’s new evidence that suggests the GOP has it backwards.
It was just a few months ago that Jeb Bush insisted that during the Obama era, “We have lost the trust and confidence of our friends. Around the same time, Scott Walker and Donald Trump reportedly had a chat about “how poorly” the United States is now “perceived throughout the world.” Mitt Romney added, “It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office.”
Actually, it’s incredibly easy to name countries that have more respect and admiration for the United States today than when President Obama took office. The Pew Research Center published a report last week on “Global Attitudes & Trends” and found that America’s overall image around the world remains quite positive – and in much of the world, impressions of the U.S. have improved since the end of the Bush/Cheney era.
More specifically, though, President Obama is an especially popular figure in many parts of the world.
Half or more in 29 of 40 countries surveyed say they have confidence in President Obama to do the right thing in world affairs. Throughout his terms in office, Obama has received particularly strong ratings in Europe and Africa, and that continues to be the case this year. Majorities in every EU and sub-Saharan African nation surveyed give him positive marks. […]
Overall, Obama’s image has improved in the last year. In 14 countries of the 36 countries where trends from 2014 are available, more people now say they have confidence in the U.S. president. The largest gain occurred in India, which Obama visited in January. Almost three-in-four Indians express confidence in Obama, up from 48% a year ago. Double digit gains are also found in Ghana (+22 points), Turkey (+21), Nigeria (+20), Uganda (+11) and Brazil (+11).
It’s probably time for Republicans to update their talking points.
In fairness, Obama’s popularity is not universal. He fares far less well in the Middle East – including a drop of support in Israel, where Netanyahu allies have soured on the U.S. leader – and the president is wildly unpopular in Russia for reasons that should be obvious.
But in general, across the board, particularly among U.S. allies in Europe and Asia-Pacific, Obama enjoys considerable public support.
Just as important is the fact that we can compare international impressions of Obama with those of his immediate predecessor. I found this Pew Research Center report from late 2008, which found much of the planet losing respect for the U.S. and rejecting George W. Bush to a striking degree.
And therein lies the irony of contemporary GOP whining – Republicans seem absolutely convinced that President Obama is seen abroad as a hapless failure, but the argument is completely backwards. Obama is quite popular across much of the planet, while it’s Bush who was reviled abroad. GOP candidates promising to restore global respect for the White House have a problem: they’re six years too late.
The sooner Republicans realize this, the better. It’s not just a matter of saying things that are true – though I tend to think that’s an appealing quality in a presidential candidate – it’s also the fact that GOP confusion is causing some Republicans trouble. Remember, it was just a couple of weeks ago that Scott Walker said British Prime Minister David Cameron told the governor directly that he’s unsatisfied with Obama’s leadership. The incident quickly blew up in Walker’s face.
If Republicans want to argue that Obama shouldn’t be popular abroad, fine. But reality is not in dispute.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

gay pride weekend

The gay pride gathering and parade were very well attended in Houston this year.  They moved the proceedings to downtown, City Hall/Hermann Square.  

We didn't go, but heard it was especially boisterous this year.  No doubt.

In their honor, here is Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian, about pride.

Friday, June 26, 2015

marriage equality!

I am so happy that the SCOTUS has ruled in favor of marriage equality.  Now all of my gay friends can choose to get married if they want to, to whomever they want to.  This is an awesome day for them and for America.  Now it's time to sweep the GOP from power in Congress.  They are doing their best to hold America back, but the American people don't want to be held back.

Here is President Obama speaking after the SCOTUS issued their ruling on marriage equality. He says it better than I can.  

Our awesome President:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

SCOTUS rules

As most of the country hoped, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has upheld the legality of subsidies paid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka "Obamacare."

This means that the citizens of Texas, of which I am one, will now be able to receive a subsidy from the federal government to help us afford healthcare under the ACA.  No doubt Texas politicians will be fuming.  If they had any sense of decency, they would go ahead and expand Medicare to help out millions of Texans who struggle to pay medical costs.  That is, IF they had a sense of decency. There is no evidence of decency.

I am on the verge of retirement.  We have been waiting to see what the SCOTUS was going to do about this subsidy case.  We didn't want to get healthcare under the ACA if the SCOTUS was going to rip away the subsidies.  I suppose that the thought of taking insurance away from over 10 million people gave them pause.

Now, we have some certainty.  I suppose that it is more likely now that we will go ahead and retire and obtain insurance under the ACA.  I could get good healthcare from my current employer if, and only if, I were to continue to work for them until November of 2017.  I don't want to do that.

One thing causing questions in my head is my cardiologist.  He has always seemed to be a regular, trustworthy guy, and he insists that Obamacare is a boondoggle.  He insists that a lot of people that are getting coverage are discovering that the coverage does not cover near the costs it is purported to cover.  I have not been able to talk with him in detail about it, but he seems quite sincere.  He is not a rabid Republican, so this bugs me somewhat.  His message, READ THE FINE PRINT VERY CAREFULLY.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

cannabis A-Z

Are you a little fuzzy on some of the terms floating around in the weed culture these days?  I know I was, until I read through this A-Z Glossary supplied by The Cannabist.

Some samples:

The cannabis lexicon: Terms to know, from A-Z

Budder —  Another term for the opaque form of hash oil. The difference between wax and budder is subtle, but generally, budder is a softer, pliable product (like softened butter at room temperature) while wax trends more towards the crumbly side.
• “Get a dab and join me on the budder bus.”

Crystals —  The common layman’s term for the cannabis plant’s trichomes. These tiny structures contain the vast majority of the plant’s cannabinoids, and are what is removed to create concentrates such as hash, hash oil, and kief.
• “That bud is covered in crystals… er, I mean trichomes.”

Dab —  The act of “dabbing” concentrates onto a hot surface, producing a vapor. Can also used as a noun, meaning a small amount of concentrate (a dab’s worth).
• “I just took my first dab……….. woah.”

Green out —  Similar to blacking out from overconsumption of alcohol, green outs occur when you smoke so much cannabis that you lose a sense of time and place, often falling asleep or becoming incredibly quiet and paranoid. If someone greens out, they may want to go to the hospital, even though they’re just really high and a medical professional can’t do much for them. Green outs tend to occur more with incredibly potent edibles or dabs, but can still occur by smoking a boss amount of marijuana.
• “After that brownie, I had a major green out. Did you put a whole stick of butter in there?”

Kush —  There are two distinct varieties of Kush that exist in the cannabis arena, and their relationship is a somewhat disputed issue. The first type is the traditional Hindu Kush, which refers to the hearty, wide-leaved, stout varieties which originated in the Afghani/Pakistani mountain region, known as the Hindu Kush mountains. The second type is the OG Kush, which is an American hybrid known for its distinctive lemon Pledge/fuel aroma and may or may not contain the genetics of the traditional Kush somewhere in its makeup; overall though, OG varieties certainly have a distinct sativa influence, which can be seen in their lanky, wide internode growth structure.
• “I like OG better than Bubba Kush, but I like Bubba better than Master Kush, and Master Kush better than Hindu Kush.”

Trim —  After harvest, the cannabis plant is generally trimmed of its leaf matter, leaving behind only the buds. Trimming refers to the actual act of removing the leaves, while trim refers to the leftover leaves, which can be used for cooking of extraction. Though trim has less cannabinoid content than buds by weight, it still has quite a lot of good stuff in it. If you are just throwing away or composting your trim instead of using it to make hash, edibles, or tincture, you are missing out on a huge amount of value.
• “I have like ten pounds of trim that I need to turn into water hash.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

liberals are back!

Well, whattayaknow, the term "liberal" is not nearly the epithet it has been over the last decade or two. Politicians are no longer afraid to call themselves liberal, and lo and behold, the Wall Street Journal confirms it. 

Ever since Rupert Murdoch bought the WSJ, it's credibility has taken a hit.  But I doubt they would lie about a large increase in the number of voters who identify as liberal, now would they?

It's good to see the moderates with bigger numbers than conservative. Moderates tend to be more ... rational ... than conservatives, and so liberals have an automatic advantage when it comes to swaying voters (he said with a straight face).  

These days, liberals are a whole lot more moderate than conservatives.  I believe most honest conservatives are fleeing the conservative moniker and going with independent or moderate.  They see the crazy conservative clown car careening across the culture, out of control.

WSJ: Liberals Making Big Comeback

A new analysis of Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll data finds a marked  increase in the share of registered voters identifying themselves as liberals, and an even bigger drop in the share saying they are conservatives.
In three national polls conducted so far in 2015, the analysis found that 26% of registered voters identified themselves as liberals — up from 23% in 2014. At the same time, the share of voters identifying as conservatives dropped to 33% from 37% in 2014.
From 2010 through 2014, there was little overall variation in the share of people identifying themselves as conservative, moderate and liberal, with conservatives either a plurality or tied with moderates. But that stability seems to be ending this year. For the first time since 2010, conservatives are no longer are a plurality: 38% identify as moderates, compared with the 33% who identify as conservative and 26% as liberal.

Monday, June 22, 2015

solar power updates

Some various news items regarding the surge in solar power:

Magdalena Mis at Reuters reports that solar cells are cheaper and more efficient than ever thanks to a new process using the mineral perovskite.

David Shaffer writes in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune that three new Xcel power projects will increase Minnesota's solar production by a power of 10.

solar panels in Slayton, MN.

Stephen Edelstein writes in Green Car Reports that utilities are fighting back against solar by lobbying for restrictive state laws to punish or otherwise penalize those who convert to solar.

A quick view of current solar global capacity by country, on Wikipedia.

According to IHS, global PV capacity will reach 500GW by 2019

According to the EIA (the US Energy Information Administration), the US currently consumes about 1000GW of electricity each year.

Key for the graphic below (which you have to click to read)

IEA=International Energy Agency
PVPS=PhotoVoltaic Power Systems programme