Monthly Archives: March 2012

Is everyone getting ready for tomorrow?

I think I dislike April Fools Day more than any other designated day of the year. I have fallen victim to April Fool gags more times than I can remember… in fact, it’s how I knew my first marriage was ending when my, then, wife didn’t play a joke on me. That didn’t stop most of my friends from taking me in.

Yeah, I’ll put something on the blog which will be a completely humorous fiction… and I’ll respond to e-mails as usual. However, I’ll be happy when the day is over.

So where did April Fool’s Day come from. Infoplease.com gave this historic summary:

Ancient cultures, including those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year’s Day on or around April 1. It closely follows the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st.) In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year’s day to Jan. 1. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fool’s errands” or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.

So how did it get over here and into our present day incarnation? Perhaps it came over with the French.
French youngsters celebrate “poisson d’Avril” or “April Fish” by sneaking up behind friends and sticking a picture of a fish on their backs… the target is then pointed out and laughed at by others.
The Premiere Avril postcard on the left is a testament to the April Fish concept.
Anyway, I hope all of you avoid being humiliated tomorrow… and please have a concern for people you may play these pranks on. You’ll want to keep your friends on April 2nd.

Saturday WSHC show on regular schedule today…

I’m on the air from 11 AM to 1 PM today on 89.7 FM Shepherdstown.

Unfortunately they still haven’t fixed the internet connection, so if you are beyond our local limit you won’t be able to tune in. Sorry.

Rex Babin, Sacramento Bee Editorial Cartoonist, Dies at 49

Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Rex Babin, who often appeared on this blog’s Cartoon(s) of the Week segment, died  at his home after a long battle with cancer. He was 49.

Babin’s favorite cartoons were often his most poignant. After the attacks on the World Trade Towers in 2001, he drew Libertas slumped and weeping with her head in her hands.

Babin continued drawing until recently,lending his pen to both local Sacramento Politics and the National campaign for the Republican nomination.
Here is one of his cartoons from the ongoing primaries:

It’s a shame to lose so good a cartoonist at so early an age.

This is turning out to be a really bad day…

 Oh no, say it ain’t so. Where will I follow Keith to now?
From the LA Times:
A source familiar with the situation said Olbermann was fired Thursday morning, after managers grew increasingly frustrated with his absenteeism and other work habits. The network expects litigation over the ouster.
After barely a year, Current TV has sacked fiery host Keith Olbermann.In a statement Friday afternoon, former Vice President Al Gore and legal entrepreneur Joel Hyatt, who cofounded the upstart cable network, took an extraordinary swipe at their outspoken host, who endured rocky tenures with a series of previous network employers, including MSNBC and ESPN. “Countdown,” Olbermann’s show, will evidently be canceled immediately.

They’ve replaced Keith with former New York Gov. Eliot M. Spitzer, whose CNN talk show failed to catch on. I watched the first 10 minutes and  realized why I liked watching Keith… then I turned on a rerun of Monk.

Dead. Dead. Dead. Never to be revived…

… or as the guy at Brown’s said, the Subaru needs a new motor… the cost of fixing the car is more than it is worth.

So here I am officially carless and looking for a solution. Elly and I both think, with our new lifestyle and all, I should be looking for a small, relatively cheap pick-up truck. Therefore I am researching small Toyotas, Nissans and others, looking for a basic truck at a low price (therefore 2012 instead of 2013… unless I find a used truck in good condition.

Elly is not in favor of used cars, since the last two died under me (although, in retrospect, I got my money’s worth out of both of them.)

So, the next week or so might find a number of cancelled Doctors’ appts, and maybe some lifts to the radio station and back, but that’s my story.

And I’m stuck with it.

 

“A Song for Trayvon” by Jasiri X – LIVE FROM BROOKLYN, NY

I think we ought to keep Trayvon Martin’s case in  our minds until George Zimmerman is taken into custody and the truth is determined.

Yet, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t use art to keep the message afloat:

White House makes Romney’s view on foreign policy pretty weak…

From American Politics Journal and the LA Times:

Reporting from Washington— Al Qaeda is public foe No. 1 for the U.S., the White House declared on Wednesday, not Russia – as Republican candidate Mitt Romney asserted earlier this week.

Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest at Press Briefing...

In fact, the Russians are “working well to isolate” nations with rogue nuclear programs that the U.S. is trying to contain, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

“You don’t have to be a foreign policy expert to know that the Cold War ended 20 years ago and that the greatest threat that the president has been fighting on behalf of the American people is the threat posed by Al Qaeda,” Earnest told reporters in the daily White House briefing.

The remarks came a day after Romney complained about President Obama’s posture toward Russia, while criticizing Obama for remarks he made to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev this week about his having more “flexibility” on missile defense after the November elections.

Romney called Russia “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”

Earl Scruggs Dead at 88

I grew up listening to Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs with the Foggy Mountain Boys, Scruggs’ speedy banjo picking making a sound that others couldn’t duplicate. Competing with stars like Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs played the Grand Ole Opry, the Newport (RI) Folk Festival, and were featured in a 1954 Broadway show called “Hayride.”

In in the late 60s the partnership broke up… Flatt died in 1979… and Scruggs formed the Earl Scruggs Revue, a mostly acoustic group with drums and electric bass, which further broadened its repertory to include rock and touches of modern jazz. They played Carnegie Hall, London’s Wembley music festival, and were featured in films and television shows.

Scruggs was known for creating a “pickin’” style using 3 fingers instead of 2.

Here’s Foggy Mountain Breakdown:

 

I’m sitting at home, trapped without my car…

Last night, coming home from Charles Town, my car with a load of groceries and me died at the Engle Switch Rd railroad crossing, while waiting for an awfully long train to pass.

I managed to roll it off the road to the side, then proceeded on the unimagineably complex and bewildering communication via iPhone to the Triple A. It took nine calls, during which I was switched all over the place to find someone who represented this little piece of woodland in Harpers Ferry, WV, and was repeatedly disconnected, forced to call again, give my membership number, spell my name, describe the problem, be told that I was at the wrong `office, but would be transferred….

Finally yelling at the last, really undeserving guy who I hadn’t spoken with before, I got notice that a tow truck was coming and waited for an hour until it go there. Total times with calls and waits was close to 2 hours.

Now Brown’s Auto Service picked up the Subaru this morning and with luck they can get it running today and I can find someone to give me a ride over to the west side of Shepherdstown to pick it up.

Not a great day at the beginning.

Amazing Word Game…

… forwarded to me this morning from my friend Tom Weisshaus:

This is amusing!

Did you know that, the words “race car” spelled backwards still spells “race car”?

And that “eat” is the only word that, if you take the first letter and move it to the last, spells its own past tense, “ate”?

And if you rearrange the letters in “Tea Party Republicans,” and add just a few more letters, it spells: “Shut the fuck up you free-loading, progress-blocking, benefit-grabbing, resource-sucking, violent hypocrites, and deal with the fact that you nearly wrecked the country under Bush and that our president is black, so get over it.”

Isn’t that interesting?
 

:)

Curious about who is making the most money on this ongoing primary season?

I was, too. Then ProPublica put out a comprehensive chart on the receivers of these millions (and more) HERE.

Come back when you’re done.  – B.

Billy Collins: Poems with Animations from the TED Conference.

I think we should be very thankful for the broad range of the TED Conferences, which include science and social engineering with poetry and the other arts.

Here’s former Poet Laureate of the US, Billy Collins, with poems and animations. Enjoy.

 

How to make public education worthless…

I guess new York City public school students will be the best motivators for home schooling in the future. Why? Read on…

This post was put up by Jonathan Turley, one of the legal bloggers I have the most respect for:

The New York City Department of Education has barred the use of “Dinosaur” on tests to avoid upsetting people who believe creationism.

Educations in New York decided that, with such things as Halloween and dancing, the reference to dinosaurs “could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.” Also banned is the word “evolution.” It is basically designing a test for Sarah Palin to pass.

“Birthday” is also out because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays.

Well, there’s a list of a couple of dozen more words which should not be included in the students’ education… words like “slavery”, “terrorism”, and “Religion.”

In commenting on the DOE, The New York Post came out with this:

Officials said there isn’t an absolute ban on the items, in that they do get included on some exams on a case-by-case basis.

“The intent is to avoid giving offense or disadvantage any test takers by privileging prior knowledge,” said Robert Pondiscio, a spokesman for the Core Knowledge Foundation, an education group.

“But the irony is they’re eliminating some subjects, like junk food, holidays and popular music, that the broadest number of kids are likely to know quite a lot about.”

This is the most absurd… most unbelievable approach to education that I’ve heard about anywhere. I’d love to know what New York teachers think and what they intend to do about the situation.
Any ideas?

Obama Campaign changes the focus on “Obamacare” – It’s a POSITIVE label

According to Reuters:

President Barack Obama’s campaign has embraced the term “Obamacare,” seeking to turn the negative name Republicans assigned to his healthcare reform effort into a positive branding tool just as the Supreme Court studies the law’s constitutionality.

“Happy birthday, Obamacare,” Jim Messina, the president’s campaign manager, wrote in an email to supporters last week to note the anniversary of the reform becoming law.

“If you’re tired of the other side throwing around that word like it’s an insult, then join me in sending a message that we’re proud of it,” he wrote.

While it may be a little late in getting around to this strategy, there’s a good chance it can work To help promote it, the Obama campaign  is reaching out with promoti0nal products:

T-shirts that say “I like Obamacare” are available on the campaign’s website for $35.

Buttons with the same message go for $5.

I expect to be seeing these around soon… perhaps on me.

Planet Under Pressure Conference in London – We’re getting close to irreversible climate changes…

While politicians argue with scientists, the climate actually goes on changing.. and not to our advantage. Reuters has been commenting on this conference that runs through tomorrow:

Global warming close to becoming irreversible-scientists

The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday.

Scientific estimates differ but the world’s temperature looks set to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to rise uncontrollably.

As emissions grow, scientists say the world is close to reaching thresholds beyond which the effects on the global climate will be irreversible, such as the melting of polar ice sheets and loss of rainforests.

“This is the critical decade. If we don’t get the curves turned around this decade we will cross those lines,” said Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University‘s climate change institute, speaking at a conference in London.

It’s amazing how many of the best scientific minds see the problem, yet they are faced with huge negative concepts by the politicians who would have to vote in the bucks to make changes.

As we argue this out for the rest of the decade, we can watch the polar ice caps melt and the tropical rain forests dry up and many species that we rely on disappear.

It is up to us as individuals to push our representatives into dealing with the truth. Right?

Fracking: industry vs. Reality

From an article by Walter Brasch over at MyDD:

Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, says “no evidence directly connects injection of fracking fluid into shale with aquifer contamination.” Fracking “has never been found to contaminate a water well,” says Christine Cronkright, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Research studies and numerous incidents of water contamination prove otherwise.


Research by Dr. Ronald Bishop, a biochemist at SUNY/Oneonta, suggests that

New York State Assemblymembers Robert Castelli...

New York State Assemblymembers Robert Castelli and Steve Katz call for a moratorium on on hydraulic fracturing in the Croton Watershed in October 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

fracking to extract methane gas “is highly likely to degrade air, surface water and ground-water quality, to harm humans, and to negatively impact aquatic and forest ecosystems.” He notes that “potential exposure effects for humans will include poisoning of susceptible tissues, endocrine disruption syndromes, and elevated risk for certain cancers.” Every well, says Dr. Bishop, “will generate a sediment discharge of approximately eight tons per year into local waterways, further threatening federally endangered mollusks and other aquatic organisms.” In addition to the environmental pollution by the fracking process, Dr. Bishop believes “intensive use of diesel-fuel equipment will degrade air quality [that could affect] humans, livestock, and crops.”

So who do we listen to? Executives who depend on Fracking for making themselves rich, or scientists who continue to build up proof from actual experience and related experiments.

The complaints continue to pop up, from the movie “Gasland” to State and Federal committee testimonies:

“Some of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing—or liberated by it—are carcinogens,” Dr. Sandra Steingraber told members of the Environmental Conservation and Health committee of the New York State Assembly. Dr. Steingraber, a biologist and distinguished scholar in residence at Ithaca College, pointed out that some of the chemicals “are neurological poisons with suspected links to learning deficits in children,” while others “are asthma triggers.

What we all need to do is make our feelings heard on all levels – especially at the top… Obama is promoting Fracking in his energy plan without showing any understanding of the procedure’s danger.

BTW, Dr. Walter Brasch’s current book is Before the First Snow, a critically-acclaimed novel that looks at what happens when government and energy companies form a symbiotic relationship, using “cheaper, cleaner” fuel and the lure of jobs in a depressed economy but at the expense of significant health and environmental impact. The book is available at amazon.com and from the publisher, Greeley & Stone.

Group Sought to Divide Gays and Blacks to Weaken Democrats…

Found this in Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire this morning:

BuzzFeed obtained a confidential strategy memo from an anti-gay marriage group, the National Organization for Marriage, with a goal of “fanning the hostility” between black voters and gay voters by casting President Obama as a radical foe of marriage.

“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies.”

If you download the strategy memo (an Adobe .pdf file) you”ll see just how conspiratorial this Repiglicant group is and how they use their lies and fabrications to weaken their Democratic opponents.

Today the Supreme Court gets back to the Health Care Bill’s Constitutionality…

C-Span 3 has them scheduled to be on the air at 1:00 PM… I don’t know if that’s live or a replay, but it will cover the next stage of their discussions.Today is the second day of hearings (tomorrow is the third and last), with the justices moving from the technicalities of the first day to exploring the legal issues at the heart of whether the law is constitutional or not.

Most of the commentators I’ve heard in the last two days think the 22 Republican challengers (3 state governors, the rest Republican Attorneys General) will not get the law declared unconstitutional. If that is the case, any move to change or eliminate it goes back to Congress.

From 1992 to the near present, it was the Republicans who were pushing mor the Individual Mandate that everyone be required to have Health Insurance. It was only when Obama pushed it in his ACA bill that they came put against it. This is why it seems political more than nationally useful.

Anyway, I’ll be listening to the Court… so more later.

The Mellow Moods sign… Bradley Sanders’ Best

I’ve been watching Bradley make this in his shop for some months now. Cutting and carving the names and decorations into the wood, working the copper for the centerpiece with the tree, forming and welding the decorative arms that hold it to the front of the building… all of these things made as fine craft.

Yesterday morning, Bradley and Mr. Bill came over and hung it over the Mellow Moods entrance as we all watched. Phil Mastrangelo, owner of the Mood, kept going in and out to check the progress, worried that the height was too low (which it wasn’t) and smiling like you can’t believe.

Anyway, here are both sides of the sign which now bring new life to German Street:

 

 

This is a great addition to our historic and arts-oriented district. Bravo to Bradley and congrats to Phil.

 

 

Working on “Lefty”

Hopefully, we are getting closer to John Case finishing his first draft of the adaptation of Odets’ “Waiting for Lefty” we have committed to. My job will then be revisions and adding the music to it.

We’re updating it to get closer to the current day/ current protests of the Occupy Movement.

Sometime this summer we’ll audition,cast and perform it at The Folly on it’s great outdoor stage:

I haven’t had a chance to direct anything since 2009, so this is going to be fun for me… get me up off my butt and back into action.

Oral Argument on Health Care begins before the Supreme Court

I’ve been sitting watching C-Span 3 which is replaying the arguments today (the beginning of six hours of arguments over three days) – Today they debated whether the Healthcare Law includes a tax and, if so, does the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction to decide the case.

Reuters did a summary of the morning’s session:

LEGAL QUESTION: Whether a challenge to the new requirement that most people in the U.S. buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty must wait until the penalty is due and a refund is sought. This provision of the law is known as the “individual mandate.” A central issue is whether the court should regard this as a general “penalty” or as a “tax” that would be covered by a U.S. tax law known as the Anti-Injunction Act, premised on the notion of “pay first, litigate later.”

* WHO ARGUED: Robert Long, of Covington and Burling, appointed by the court to argue that tax policy should apply and delay the case; Donald Verrilli, who as U.S. solicitor general is the government’s chief courtroom lawyer, and Gregory Katsas of Jones Day, who joined the government’s argument.

* THE HIGHLIGHTS INSIDE: A majority of justices across the ideological spectrum suggested by their questions that federal tax law would be no barrier to reaching the core question of whether Congress had the power to require people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

* INSIDE THE COURTROOM: Justice Clarence Thomas did not ask any questions during the session, his usual style during oral arguments. He last asked a question on Feb. 22, 2006, during arguments in a death penalty case. Among the spectators who got one of the coveted seats inside courtroom with the white marble columns and red velvet drapes were: Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Attorney General Eric Holder; outspoken critic of the law Alabama Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions; and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has led the challenge by the 26 states.

* THE LOWDOWN OUTSIDE: Hundreds of supporters and protesters dueled on the sidewalk chanting and marching with signs declaring their feelings about the law.

* THE DAY’S QUOTE “FOR”: Kathie McClure, an Atlanta attorney, said the law has allowed her children, who suffer from epilepsy and diabetes and are now in their 20s, to get health insurance that they otherwise would not have had. McClure was first in line for a public seat ahead of Tuesday’s second day of arguments and has been camped out since Friday. “This is personal for me. This is about my children’s’ future. But it’s really also about all the other millions of people in America who are in their same situation. In America we spend a boatload of money, trillions of dollars, and still we have a very poor outcome for our people,” McClure said.

* THE DAY’S QUOTE “AGAINST”: Sally Oljar, from Seattle, said it defies the U.S. Constitution ,o force Americans to buy anything. “I’d like to think that the Supreme Court supports the Constitution. … If they don’t, then there are a lot of us who are ready to go to jail. The day hasn’t come when the government can force me to buy a damn thing,” she said.

* UP NEXT: Tuesday is the main event of the three days when the justices will hear arguments on whether Congress, in requiring that most people in the U.S. buy insurance by 2014, exceeded its power to regulate interstate commerce.

The Supreme Court has posted the audio and transcript of the arguments on its website, here, and C-Span 3 will probably replay the session this afternoon and this evening (check listings.)

It’s over a month… why isn’t Zimmerman in custody?

According to the L.A.Times:

George Zimmerman, whose fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager has sparked nationwide protests over alleged racial profiling, had thought the entire incident would “blow over,” a friend said Sunday. Instead, Zimmerman is hiding amid death threats and demands for his arrest.

As to how anyone could think that the death of a 17-year-old armed with candy and iced tea could just disappear doesn’t realize his own failing.

Although he has some friends coming out to claim that Zimmerman is not racist, there is the problem of the 911 tape, the list of previous calls to the police from Zimmerman claiming other black people in the neighborhood (where apparently there are black residents) and the fact that Zimmerman was told to withdraw, but followed Trayvon Martin anyway.

In any other similar situation, a Zimmerman-type offender would be arrested if only to prevent his leaving Florida. Why not here?

Good Morning, America. Time to get back to our roots…

… and to me that starts with dropping In God We Trust and returning to “e pluribus unum” (Out of Many, One) as our official motto (I’ve been thinking about this all night – even in one very bad dream – since posting the last night’s quote from Mark Karlin.)

It was adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782, although not as an official motto but what came to be considered, de facto, the basic statement of the USA. It is on the official Seal of the United States.

“In God We Trust,” in this era of the Religious Right separating itself from any compromise position with the center or the left, is meaningless.  What do we trust in God for? That He would allow one side to corrupt the country in His name? If we don’t get back to unifying the many, we will no longer have control of the basics of daily life.

OK… I’m an atheist, as I’ve pointed out many times on this blog. The religious connection with politics, in general, leaves me both appalled and extremely worried. Even if I had a belief that was in line with the other 80% of Americans, I would be upset about single sects pushing their beliefs on everyone else. This is not American…not the American Way.

Show me a candidate that can finish a speech without acknowledging a blessing from  their own God, and I will show you someone who is more reliant
on what he or she CAN DO by him- or herself, with the united population…the one out of many. That, to me, is worth voting for.

Quote to End the Week – We are doing a Bang (Bang) Up Job

This sums up where we seem to be heading:

The Florida “Stand Your Ground”/License to murder law is just lynching with a bullet – along with a get out of jail free card.

At a gun range courting the NRA vote in Louisiana, Rick Santorum took a couple of shots as a supporter shouted “pretend it [the target] is Obama.”

“Shoot to Kill” may soon be replacing “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States.

-Mark Karlin, Editor for BUZZFLASH

…and I remember when it was e pluribus unum.

Support Under The LobsterScope with $5.00 or more…

…and get “Bill’s Century Marks,” a great image font, based on authentic turn-of-the-century (and later) ornaments and images from a number of historic sources, e-mailed to you immediately.

Just Go HERE.

Thanks, Bill.

 

 

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