Monthly Archives: July 2010

Cartoon(s) of the Week – A Time of Standards

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press:

The Oil Industry: our Marketing Standard!

– and –

Bruce Beattie in the Daytona Beach News-Journal:

Fox News, our Reporting Standard!

– and –

Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald Leader:

The G.O.P., our Political Standard!

– and –

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald:

Unwinnable Wars, our Military Standard!

Maury Chaykin Dead at 61

Maury Chaykin died in Toronto, where he lived,  on July 27, 2010, from complications of a heart valve infection. It was his 61st Birthday.

I told this to my wife, who had attended the State University of New York at Buffalo with him in the early 70s. “Oh, no!” she said. She had been part of a crowd at UB that Chaykin was in, dated his roommate. She told me that Chaykin had been part of a four person theatre group (along with Dougy, who she dated, the really pretty girl whose name she couldn’t remember and Duffy, the one who everyone thought was going to be the real star.)

This made me think that we are entering a time in  our lives when more and more people that we used to know in college and elsewhere will start dying off… my wife thought it was time to put together her “bucket list” (a phrase I didn’t know… but apparently what she wants to do before she “kicks the bucket”.)

Chaykin had a 35 year career with lots of movies and TV roles (Nero Stout stands out as one of his few leads).

I found this recent photograph of Chaykin in the Toronto obituary… does not look so hot, but I guess he had been somewhat sick for a while. Certainly seems to have lost a lot of weight.

Saturday Morning

I was battling an oncoming cold yesterday and, thanks to NyQuil, I slept off the sneezing and itchy eyes. This morning I feel a lot better. Getting up at 6:00 AM on Saturday is a little earlier than I’d like… so I’m watching Freddie Bartholomew play David Copperfield on Turner Classic Movies… something I haven’t seen in quite a while.

Seeing Basil Rathbone, a young Arthur Treacher (in a tiny, uncredited, evil cameo), W.C. Fields and Elsa Lanchester is delightful. Lenox Pawle’s Mr. Wick is more fun than I remembered. Easily, the weakest of the players is young Freddie himself… but he is not hard to put up with.

And the cry “Janet! Donkeys!” from Edna May Oliver rings in my ears.

Good Morning, folks.

Quote for the Day that I have to agree with:

“I’m a chronic optimist about America. But we are letting stupid politics, irrational ideas on fiscal policy and an antiquated political structure undermine our power.

We need a new conservatism in our country that is worthy of the name. We need liberals willing to speak out on the threat our daft politics poses to our influence in the world. We need moderates who do more than stick their fingers in the wind to calculate the halfway point between two political poles.

And, yes, we need to reform a Senate that has become an embarrassment to our democratic claims. “

– E J Dionne in an essay entitled “In American politics, stupidity is the name of the game.”

Sitting in the studio with John…

We’re in the middle of Winners And Losers on 89.7, WSHC FM, and with the phone system working we’re getting call-ins from some of the station regulars (Mark and Dino, specifically).

I’ll be home later this morning to update the Blog.

Photoplankton declining due to Global Warming…

Which means so is Oxygen and Seafood… here is part of an article in Nature… I recommend you go in and read it all.

Cross Posted in Under The LobsterScope and Panhandle Vegan.

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Ocean greenery under warming stress

Marine phytoplankton — the vast range of tiny algae species accounting for roughly half of Earth’s total photosynthetic biomass — have declined substantially in the world’s oceans over the past century, researchers report in Nature1 this week. The findings add to concerns that climate change is dangerously altering marine ecosystems.

Phytoplankton are the basis of the entire marine food chain, and have an important role in the global carbon cycle. Through photosynthesis, they produce around half of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere and drive the ‘biological pump’ that fixes 100 million tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide a day into organic material, which then sinks to the ocean floor when the phytoplankton die, or are grazed and digested.

Since 1950 alone, algal biomass decreased by around 40%, probably in response to ocean warming — and the decline has gathered pace in recent years.
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Shooting the Party in the Foot?

Is Bush about to have his regular effect on politics… here’s the start of a HuffPo article which you will want to read more of:
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With the 2010 election season underway, Republicans are reportedly concerned about how the impending release of former President George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, may affect the party’s success at the polls come November.

While the widely-anticipated book from Bush isn’t set to be released until November 9 — one week after votes are cast across the country — details from the text have already begun to leak out.

George W Bush Midterm Elections

Moreover, the unpopular Republican leader and contentious policy initiatives put forth by his administration have already resurfaced to shake-up this year’s heated midterm match-ups.

Matt Latimer at the Daily Beast reports:

[Some] Republicans, particularly those most closely tied to the Bush regime, actually argue the book could help the party by reminding some voters of what they liked about Bush.
“Monumentally bad timing” was the reaction of one former Bush aide who learned of the book release date.
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CATF’s last week

The Contemporary American Theater Festival ends next Monday, August 1st. This is the last chance to get out and see the five great shows in this year’s repertory.

Go HERE for my reviews and more info.

The Economies of War …

This from our friends at Spork in the Drawer:
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This retired Brigadier General (listen to the audio) claims we are spending $20bn annually to air condition tents in Iran and Afghanistan for the troops.  That’s more than NASA’s annual budget.  In addition, at least 1,000 troops have been killed while transporting fuel to power the A/C units.

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Before the Republicans even get going…

Democrats Unveil GOP’s “Contract on America” and tie them up with the Tea Partiers…

As part of their summer strategy, Democrats put out the Republican Tea Party Contract on America, which highlights what they believe will happen if Republicans win back control of Congress in this fall’s elections.

The effort also includes a 30-second television ad

and a website that expands on each of the 10 items in the contract.

(Thanks to Taegan Goddard’s blog)

I’m starting to get busy as a retiree…

So far, I have my slot with John Case on his Friday morning Winners and Losers program on WSHC (mornings 7:30 to 9:00 at 89.7 AM) and I’m getting ready to do some volunteer web work with the American Conservation Film Festival.

I’m teaching Technical Theatre in August (wow…NEXT WEEK!) at the Full Circle kids camp.

I’m working on a radio drama proposal that I want to fund through Kickstarter. Case and I have been discussing this for a while.

And I’m looking for something to direct. There’s a play by Edward Albee called “Occupant” which is about the late sculptor Louise Nevelson that I’d like to do, but it isn’t the kind of show locals are going to be tremendously interested in. I am, though.

On the Oil Spill Front…

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BP Tees Up Asset Sales to Pay For Spill

LONDON (Reuters) – A day after BP said it would sell $30 billion in assets to pay for its Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the focus shifted to what is for sale, while lawyers prepared to tackle a mountain of claims for damages.
Just 24 hours after gaffe-prone Chief Executive Tony Hayward’s head rolled from the chopping block, candidates for the auction block hit the headlines, as BP aims to slim down to recover from the thumping losses racked up in the 100 days since the start of the environmental disaster.
Sources with direct knowledge of the matter said BP was in talks with India’s Reliance Industries and Essar to sell retail assets in Africa with an estimated price tag of $500 million.
Investment bankers said the assets BP could sell include its stake in Alaska’s huge Prudhoe Bay oil field and its interest in Pan American Energy in Argentina, as well as smaller assets in Vietnam, Pakistan and Colombia.
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Is $30 Billion enough? Certainly 4-5 months of destruction comes in at more than that.

If you are in Baltimore on September 19th…

Frank Zappa statue to be dedicated on Sunday, September 19 at the Southeast Anchor Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library located at 3601 Eastern Avenue. Community support is developing for a concert on the installation day… maybe Dweezil and Company will be there.

The sculpture is a gift to the city of Baltimore orchestrated by three guys from Lithuania: Saulius Paukstys, Saulius Pilinkus and Arturas Baublys. It is a replica of the bust of Frank Zappa installed in Vilnius (pictured here), created by artist Konstantinas Bogdanas. The gift and location were approved by the Baltimore City Public Art Commission and sanctioned by the family.

Legendary musician and composer Frank Zappa was born in Baltimore in 1940 and passed away in 1993, at home in Los Angeles. He is internationally recognized as one of the most innovative composers and musicians of the 20th century with a career spanning more than 30 years.

Of interesting note: The date itself is especially significant as September 19th is the anniversary of Zappa‚s 1985 testimony on Capitol Hill in favor of free expression by Recording Artists at the Senate hearing instigated by certain congressional wives (members of the PMRC) concerning record labeling. Frank Zappa‚s widow Gail commented on the remarkable coincidence:

“Frank’s legacy rests in his uncompromising defense of the First Amendment and his uncompromising pursuit of excellence clearly demonstrated in the standards he set in all areas of Music and the arts and sciences associated with it.”

Diet Report

It’s been a while since I reported on my weight loss progress.

Well, I’m down 42 pounds and pushing to 45… hopefully by the end of the first week in August. I’m at the last hole in my belt for the buckle to grab… I’ll have to punch a couple more holes in it so my pants don’t fall off.

The picture above makes me realize how much further there is to go.

Boehner is out to kill anything Obama tries to accomplish…

…will Congress let him? Check out Brian Beutler’s story:
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GOP Tries To ‘REIN’ In Obama

What would the “moratorium” on new federal regulations being touted by Minority Leader Boehner actually look like and how would it work? Brian Beutler scopes out the details.

The title of the bill Boehner is backing should tell you a lot: the REINS Act, which stands for Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny.

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A place to visit when you have time to waste…

The Luxurient Flowing Hair Club for Scientists.

Or you can throw more of your time away on Facebook.

A Quote for the Day – Howard Dean after Appearing on Chris Wallace…

“I don’t believe all or even most of the Republican party voters are racist, but going at least as far back as Lee Atwater, the Willie Horton ads, and the attacks on John McCain in the South Carolina primaries in both 2000 and 2008, the immigration debate in 2006, there is a persistent willingness in the Republican party to use race baiting for electoral advantage. The fact is, this is racist behavior.”

– Gov. Howard Dean, in the Huffington Post

… and the Shirley Sherrod attack by Breitbart and Fox News (which Chris Wallace now claims didn’t really happen… but, hey, we were there!) is only the most recent occurance.

Obama to do The View on Thursday

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NEW YORK — ABC’s “The View” has welcomed many notable guests, but none more prominent than President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to visit for Thursday’s edition.

In making the announcement on Monday, executive producers Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie said this marks the first time a sitting U.S. president has visited a daytime talk show.

They said the majority of the hour will be devoted to Obama’s appearance, which will touch on topics including jobs, the economy, the Gulf oil spill and family life inside the White House. It is scheduled to tape on Wednesday.

“We are so pleased and honored,” Walters said.

Walters will make a special return to the studio for the occasion, joining co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd. Other than a brief segment broadcast from her home this month, Walters has been off the air since undergoing open-heart surgery in May and had not planned to be back until September.

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I’m looking forward to Whoopi’s comments… a lot of Liberals are getting less than happy with Obama, and Whoopi has gotten into it several times this year… I expect, though, that nothing argumentative will come out of this visit.

July is almost over and Under The LobsterScope is still short of its budget…

So once again I’m asking you for help. If you make a donation of $5.00 or more I’ll send you the  BILL’S DINGBATS  package (PC/Mac and OTF font in one bunch – worth $29.00). immediately.
That’s it… a donation of $5.00 or more and I will send you this font (partial sample below) which is not available ANYWHERE ELSE.

I need your help, folks. Since 2004 I have been bringing you Under The LobsterScope totally free-of-charge and have avoided advertising or “blog begging” or any of the other methods of scavenging that blog writers are prone to. Unfortunately, this has had to change…just a little… to keep this information for progressives, liberals and others coming.

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I appreciate those of you who have come on board over the last few days and hope more will join in. And for those of you $5 Plus donors who received our last three Free Fonts: Bill’s Universal Symbols, Bill’s Cast O’Characters and Bill’s Century Marks, you know what a good deal this is.

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The Big News of the Morning… the Wikileaks

Morning Joe is talking about, seemingly, nothing else this morning and Glenn Greenwald sums it up in Salon. Here’s a clip from Greenwald…
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The WikiLeaks Afghanistan leak
The most consequential news item of the week will obviously be — or at least should be — the massive new leak by WikiLeaks of 90,000 pages of classified material chronicling the truth about the war in Afghanistan from 2004 through 2009.  Those documents provide what The New York Times calls “an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal.”  The Guardian describes the documents as “a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fueling the insurgency.”
In addition to those two newspapers, WikiLeaks also weeks ago provided these materials to Der Spiegel, on the condition that all three wait until today to write about them.

Glenn Greenwald
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This has been a lovely weekend in and around Shepherdstown, WV

Starting with the Winners and Losers Show on Friday morning with John Case on WSHC FM, then working around our little gardens and the 2 Friday Night events, the Free Movie, “UP”, out behind the Shepherdstown Library… then after we got home around 10:45 we could sit on the back porch and watch the Fireworks put on by the Fire Department.

Saturday we went to the movies in Martinsburg and saw “Inception”… absolutely incredible film by the once again amazing Christopher Nolan (“Memento”, “The Prestige”.)

Today we did the Farmer’s Market, had a light lunch at Mellow Moods, then I came home and made three quarts of dill pickles (this recipe says we can try them in 2 weeks… but I think a couple of months would be better.)

And, finally, we had a little afternoon thunderstorm to water our two small gardens… something we really needed.

Quote for the Day – and it’s about time!

“It’s responsible to let the tax cuts expire that just go to 2 percent to 3 percent of Americans, the highest earning Americans.”

– Tim Geithner

‘Nuff said. One of the few things Geithner has said that I agree with wholeheartedly.

Kids Theater Camp at Full Circle Theater…

Laura Bakin reminded me by E-Mail this morning that I’m teaching tech theater (mostly lighting, I guess) to the kids at the Full Circle summer camp starting next week. Guess I’ll have to start getting my act together.

I’m also going to be doing some volunteer work for the American Conservation Film Festival which actually comes off in the fall… however, I’ve offered to update their web page ( I’m meeting their director for iced tea this coming week.

Looks like the retired life is going to get more interesting.

Here’s a clip from Juan Cole…

Go on in and read the whole thing before you have to deal with a Republican-instigated War on Iran.

And if you are against the idea, sign the petition.

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Repubs Plot Israel-Iran Apocalypse and the Collapse of the US Economy

The National Iranian American Council has a petition you can sign calling on minority leader John Boehner to repudiate this measure.
The move is reminiscent of the 1998 letter the Project for a New American Century signatories sent to President Clinton, putting pressure on him to initiate war on Iraq. They did maneuver him into pulling out UN weapons inspectors and bombing Iraq.
Iraq’s opaqueness as a result of the Clinton actions allowed the Bill Kristol crowd and the rest of the Israel, war industry and oil lobbies to propagandize America into the fruitless and ruinous Iraq War.
Think about how weird it is. Nearly half of Republicans in the House are from the South, which has relatively few Jewish Americans. So this resolution is likely emanating from the Christian Zionists like John Hagee (who once said that God sent Hitler to punish the Jews for being outside Israel).
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The House can still block War Funding.

Current article at War is a (used to be called After Downing Street):
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War Funding Going to House

The Senate has passed an almost $60 billion bill funding President Barack Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan after stripping out more than $20 billion in domestic spending approved by the House.
In a take-it-or-leave-it gesture, the Senate is returning the bill it passed in May to the House.
The spending bill is now limited chiefly to Afghanistan funding, foreign aid, medical care for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange, and replenishing almost empty disaster aid accounts.
The move repels a long-shot bid by House Democrats earlier this month to resurrect their faltering jobs agenda with $10 billion in grants to school districts to avoid teacher layoffs, money for a summer jobs program and improved security along the U.S.-Mexico border.
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