Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Rube Carnival at the Folly is coming together…

A lot of folks, me included,have been working on finishing the Carnival project so it can come off on the 10th and 11th of September without a hitch.

I’m almost finished with the Sling Shooters booth, where folks can fire slingshots (a la Angry birds, but in real life) at targets like a clown, a werewolf and Gumbo the Rooster.

I stopped by today to watch Sally Kimmel (and others) working on painting the Tarot Cards which will line Archetype Alley.

Saturday morning we’re finishing the last clay layer on the outdoor pizza oven… and I understand that Phil Mastrangelo from Mellow Moods will be there throwing the Pizzas… he’s also setting up to sell his famous fruit smoothies.

Al Thomas will be having a trebouché shoot… Bradley Sanders will have a bamboo water wheel game. there will be a Fashion Show, live music, plenty of fun for kids and adults running from morning into the evenings of both days. We’re only 10 days away from it as I write this.

Hope I see everyone there!

Prediction: Obama will retake Presidency

Cover of

Lichtman's Book

From Washington Whispers in

Allan Lichtman, the American University professor whose election formula has correctly called every president since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election, has a belated birthday present for Barack Obama: Rest easy, your re-election is in the bag.

“Even if I am being conservative, I don’t see how Obama can lose,” says Lichtman, the brains behind The Keys to the White House. […]

Lichtman developed his 13 Keys in 1981. They test the performance of the party that holds the presidency. If six or more of the 13 keys go against the party in power, then the opposing party wins.“The keys have figured into popular politics a bit,” Lichtman says. “They’ve never missed. They’ve been right seven elections in a row. A number that goes way beyond statistical significance in a record no other system even comes close to.”

Transient Global Amnesia

Well, now we have had a diagnosis of the situation last week when I left the WSHC studio and ended up ordering breakfast at Betty’s on German Street. Dr. Hahn, my Neurologist, defined the situation as Transient Global Amnesia (TGA). He suggested I look it up and, meanwhile, they are scheduling tests to find out what triggered the event which left me with a half an hour or so of unremembered activity.

I went ahead and started Googling TGA to find out what it was or what could cause such a memory loss. What I discovered was that there are a number of people, maybe 3% or 4% of the general population that have these incidents. Men between 50 and 70 are more likely to have the case than others (I’m 65) and diabetics (like me) are also more prone to this very short term memory loss.

What I also discovered, and what none of the 3 doctors I’ve been to since it happened, are the effects of statin drugs in causing TGA. It happens that I have been taking a statin drug for about six years and this could be the cause of my blackout. I’m investigating this some more and will be getting back to my GP when I have my question list together.

I’d like to get to the bottom of all this… I now have tests scheduled into October, so no one seems it will be sorted out quickly (and the medical industry won’t be able to soak my health insurance for as much as possible.)

Budd Hopkins, 1931 – 2011

Elliot "Budd" Hopkins

According to the NY Times, Budd Hopkins, a distinguished Abstract Expressionist artist who — after what he described as a chance sighting of something flat, silver, airborne and unfathomable — became the father of the alien-abduction movement, died on Aug. 21 at his home in Manhattan. He was 80. I only discovered this today and I’m sorry to be just getting around to it. I knew Budd at the beginnings of his UFO phase when he was an advisor to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, during my period as Director.

Budd at that time was married to the second of his three wives, art historian and critic April Kingsley, and they lived in a futuristic

Artwork by Budd Hopkins in the 1980s

concrete cottage that looked a lot like one of Budd’s paintings, in Truro. It wasn’t long before his artwork was overshadowed by his observation of a “UFO” and the publicity it gained. Being a member of the circle of New York artists that in the 1950s and ’60s included Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline, Budd had access to the press and was somewhat of a celebrity in summers on the Lower Cape.

Budd’s UFO sighting occurred on Cape Cod in 1964. After that he researched other sightings, people who claimed to have been abducted, and the government’s denial of the existence of any such phenomena. He was quick to point out that he had never been abducted.

He wrote about his experiences as a UFO researcher in his memoir, “Art, Life and UFOs,” published in 2009 by Anomalist Books.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Summer Fun

Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

To start with, nobody is working…

– and –

Steve Sack in the Star Tribune:

… and some that aren’t working are pointing fingers at others who are not working…

– and –

Tom Toles in the Washington Post:

Then there are the hazards of Nature as they effect politics…

– and –

Chan Lowe of Tribune Media:

…a hurricane brings out the best in us…

– and –

Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

…and Presidential candidates are willing to ignore global warming as non-existent…

– and –

Don Wright in the Palm Beach Post:

… but we always have the stupid to fall back on.

A quote to make you think…

Rick Perry joins the Ranks of the Inverted

“Look, I am not an establishment figure, never have been, and frankly, I don’t want to be. I dislike Washington; I think it’s a seedy place.”

— Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Don’t you wonder why a Presidential candidate would be so opposed to Washington, DC? It’s like being opposed to our National History, being opposed to being in the location of the seat of power, unwilling to communicate with the rest of the government in its central place.

It’s a good reason not to vote for the guy.

No Hurricane Here…

… but according to the weather map we’re getting the fringe edge of Irene, which means we’re getting a rain and a wind at about 30 mph. It will probably continue all night and into the morning, with the rain sprinkling through the day.

The Morgan’s Grove Market made it through the morning until closing with only dark clouds and a small spitting of drizzle. Unfortunately, the threat of weather kept a lot of the vendors away. I spent my morning under Ruth Raubertas’ canopy to keep dry in case of a downpour that didn’t come.

They’ve cancelled a couple of outdoor events in Shepherdstown for tomorrow, like the Really Really Free Market in the center of town which the students throw at the end of each month, I guess they got through it today, but had to close down earlier and usual when the rain picked up.

Oh well, don’t have to water the garden today.

What if West Virginia was hit with an A-Bomb Every Day?

I am reprinting this article sent to me by Michael Moore:

August 26th, 20114:18 AM

Bombs Away In West Virginia!

As U.S. energy companies blow up Appalachian mountaintops in search of coal, the nation’s lawmakers yawn with indifference.

By Don Soeken

Written by Donald R. Soeken and Tom Nugent

“West Virginia is the template for what happens when corporations take over democracy.”  – Environmental activist Robert Kennedy, Jr.

Charleston, W. Va. – Ever wondered what would happen if an invading power suddenly attacked the gorgeous, summer-green mountains of Appalachia with massive bombs that together equaled the explosive power of the Hiroshima A-bomb, each and every week?

Amazingly enough, that stark scenario is happening right now in West Virginia, with hardly a whimper of protest from federal government regulators or the state politicians in Charleston.

During the past ten years, in fact, mountaintops all across Appalachia have been blowing up one after another, creating rock-strewn “moonscapes” which now include more square miles than those contained in the entire State of Delaware.

Fact:  As of July 1, 2011, more than 500 Appalachian mountaintops have been destroyed by these bombers . . . who are now using more than 3 million pounds of explosives each day in West Virginia alone.

An environmental catastrophe?  You bet it is.  Hour by hour and day by day, we’re witnessing the ongoing destruction of our oldest and perhaps most beautiful mountain chain.  And yet most of our politicians – along with most of our news media – seem to be totally unconcerned about the bombing campaign against America. 

Maybe that’s because the “invading powers” now blasting away at the steep ridgelines of West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky aren’t foreign countries, after all.

They’re actually giant U.S. energy companies – hugely powerful industries that long ago became accustomed to dictating energy policy in Washington D.C. and in the state capitals of Appalachia.

How bad is the wholesale destruction now being caused by the ruthless bombing-and-digging technique known as “mountaintop removal mining,” all across the once-forested and once-life-abundant region that was America’s first frontier?

To answer that question, you only have to look at the most recent data from the state and federal environmental agencies.  Those data show how hundreds of surface-mining sites located along the Appalachian range have been attacked with high explosives in recent years . . . so that mega-sized mining machines can go in later and scoop up the coal and then hustle it off to market.

“What they’re doing is illegal,” says environmental activist Robert Kennedy, Jr., a longtime opponent of Appalachian mountaintop mining as practiced by companies like Massey and Pittston.  “If you blew up a mountain in the Berkshires or the Catskills or California or Utah, you would go to jail.”

Like Robert Kennedy, the conservation-minded Sierra Club has been fighting this destructive mining technique in recent years, while frequently pointing out that it “has destroyed forests on some 300 square miles of land, disrupted drinking water supplies, flooded communities and destroyed wildlife habitat.” 

But the mountaintops aren’t the only areas which take a daily beating in Appalachia.

In recent years, the thunderous explosions that are the key to mountaintop removal mining (they can send up to 800 feet of rock flying skyward on a single blast) have buried more than 2,500 miles of Appalachian rivers and streams beneath a tsunami of pulverized stone and earth – much of it tainted with toxic refuse from underground coal mines.

That’s right: We’re looking at 2,500 miles of once-upon-a-time-pristine creeks and rivers that are now totally choked with mining rubble, all across Appalachia.

And there’s more:  according to a major study just published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Community Health: The Publication for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, the cancer rate among people living beside a West Virginia mountaintop removal site in recent years was twice as high as the rate among those living a safe distance away from the site.  The bottom line on that disturbing study: at least 60,000 cases of mining-linked, above-the-norm cancer can be expected among the 1.2 million West Virginians who live near these mining sites in West Virginia, within the next few decades.   

So where’s the outcry?

Why aren’t the senators and the congressional reps from places like West Virginia and Kentucky raising holy hell in the echoing hallways of the Senate and the House?

The answer isn’t hard to find.

They’ve all been bought off . . . by the big-money lobbyists and the super-rich campaign contributors who now run the U.S. Government.

And that’s a real tragedy – not only for the people who live on the land in Appalachia, but also for the people who used to work there.

Because mountaintop removal doesn’t just destroy the landscape; it also destroys mining jobs.

Some background: In the past, the energy company satraps always claimed that they were “providing jobs and helping the economy” – a vitally important fact which they insisted gave them a license to destroy the mountains and valleys that our grandchildren will inherit.

But the “jobs argument” dried up a long time ago.  As the statisticians at the U.S. Department of Labor have often pointed out, this new form of “vampire-mining” doesn’t actually provide any new jobs.

Instead, it destroys them.

Since 1980, for example, while coal production in West Virginia increased by 140 percent, more than 40,000 coal mining jobs have actually disappeared . . . with perhaps half of them lost to mountaintop removal mining.

The data are frightening enough.  But it’s even scarier to jump in your car and head for Charleston and regions south . . . where you’ll soon find yourself wandering among the new ghost towns and the ruined watersheds of a world we’re rapidly bombing back to the Stone Age.

And why are we doing that?  The answer is simple.

It’s so that the Wall Street moguls who run America’s energy industry can “maximize profits” at the expense of the rest of us.


[Donald R. Soeken is a Ph.D. social worker who often counsels whistleblowers in cases involving environmental pollution.  Journalist Tom Nugent is the author of Death at Buffalo Creek, W.W. Norton, a book about Appalachian coal mining.]

I’ve been tied up all day seeking reasons for an event yesterday…

I started yesterday at 7:30 in the morning sitting with John Case on his morning radio show on WSHC in Shepherdstown. Apparently, before 8:30 (I don’t remember the time… the last thing I remember is the 8 o’clock station ID), I stood up and walked out of the studio in the basement of Knutti Hall and headed out the door. John apparently asked where I was going and I didn’t really respond.

Cesare, the Somnambulist, from “Das cabinet des dr Caligari”

The next thing I remember, about 30 or 40 minutes later, I’m sitting at the lunchcounter at Betty’s, about two blocks away (one down, one over), ordering two fried eggs and ham with toast and coffee. I looked around and didn’t really know where I was, but in a minute or so I realized I was in Betty’s, a greasy spoon I don’t like to frequent, and ordering a breakfast that I ordinarily wouldn’t. A little after 9 o’clock, John appeared outside Betty’s front window, He came in and asked if I was all right… that Elliot Simon, the broadcaster that followed him on the air, said he saw me walking in a funny way into Betty’s. I told John I didn’t remember how I got there.

We walked to our cars parked outside the radio station location and John followed me as I drove home.

Unusual? A blackout followed by sleepwalking IN THE DAYTIME? I’ve had little incidents around the house, mostly late at night, and occasionally in other places… but none that lasted as long and none where I went somewhere and did something like order breakfast… something I don’t really remember.

So I started this afternoon when Elly took me to see my GP and he is setting up appointments with a number of specialists. None of us really know what is causing this to happen. This is probably going to take up a lot of my time for a little while, but I’ll try to continue operating Under The LobsterScope.

Bear with me.

Steve Jobs Leaves CEO position at Apple…

Steve Jobs announced to Apple Computer’s board of directors that he would be resigning as CEO of the company he founded.

In a letter, Jobs stated:

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come. I hereby resign as CEO of Apple.”

Jobs “strongly” recommended tapping Tim Cook as CEO of Apple, and asked to continue serving as chairman of the board and Apple employee, “if the board sees fit.” The board then appointed Cook to the position.

Apple went down 5 points on the Bog Board today when the word got out.

Did you know there may be a connection between yesterday’s earthquake and fracking?

I have an article at OpEd News that I’d like everyone to take a look at. It is not irrational, but is based on recorded facts and is worth considering in our opposition to fracking for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.

Here’s a quote:

Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

How Fracking Causes Earthquakes

“According to geologists, it isn’t the fracking itself that is linked to earthquakes, but the re-injection of waste salt water (as much as 3 million gallons per well) deep into rock beds.

Braxton County West Virginia (160 miles from Mineral) has experienced a rash of freak earthquakes (eight in 2010) since fracking operations started there several years ago. According to geologists fracking also caused an outbreak of thousands of minor earthquakes in Arkansas (as many as two dozen in a single day). It’s also linked to freak earthquakes in Texas, western New York, Oklahoma and Blackpool, England (which had never recorded an earthquake before)”

The author of the article is By Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, a 63-year-old psychiatrist and author who is an American “refugee” living in New Zealand. She blogs at


West to Chicago, and down south as well. New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Baltimore closed their airports until things could be straightened out.

And I didn’t feel it!

When it hit I was driving up the long, bumpy dirt road to the Folly which always has the feeling that the earth is moving when you bump along on it. But when I pulled into the Folly, Bradley and Carol had just come out of their house which had been shaking for a few seconds and Ben Snyder, who was working at the shops, felt it as he put together Carnival stuff.

The news says it was a 5.9 on the Richter scale (other reports say 5.8) and they are expecting smaller aftershocks over the next few weeks, perhaps at a 4.8 on the scale.

We are apparently over something called the Virginia Fault. It is about 4.5 miles down and is in the midst of the shale deposits that run up through the Appalachians, so any quake reverberates up and down the geographic mass.

The last time we had a quake of this magnitude here was in the 1890’s… and we had a much smaller one in 2010.

Life, however, goes on… and this was much more fun than covering Republicans.

Why Rick Perry requires an Education… this guy is/was a Governor?

Rick Perry on Global Warming:

Rick Perry speaking of his rejection of Evolution :

“Well, God is how we got here. God may have done it in the blink of the eye or he may have done it over this long period of time, I don’t know. But I know how it got started.”

How? Adam and Eve?

For some reason I feel really sorry for Texas. When I was working in Austin a few years ago, I thought it was a really neat State. Guess it shifted a lot after 1999.

So now what do you think of Obama’s “Leading From Behind” policy in Libya?

Remember when the Republicans had to run around in circles and find ways to downplay it when Obama took out Osama Bin Laden?

Well, now they will have to rethink statements they made about Obama’s Libya strategy as apparently his policy of dealing with the rebels has pushed Ghadafi out of power:

United States Senator Rick Santorum, sponsor o...

Rick (the Schmuck) Santorum

“As for Libya: It is a morass. If we were going to support the rebel forces, we should have acted swiftly in the early days of Benghazi‘s uprising by recognizing and arming the rebels and immediately enforcing a no-fly zone. Decisive action against [Qadhafi] would have been the end of him.” – Rick Santorum

“At a time of historic change and great opportunity in the Arab world, he’s hesitant and uncertain.” –Mitt Romney
“You have a spectator in chief, not a commander in chief.” – Newt Romney
… and things like that.
They’ll be running in circles today as well… since he carried out an apparently successful policy while he was on his much maligned “vacation.” I didn’t see Congress working on the legislation they should be crafting to provide jobs while THEY are on vacation.

The end seems near in Libya:

The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi.


This from McClatchy News Service:

Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi’s regime appeared near collapse Sunday with the reported capture of his son and the surrender of his personal guard to rebel forces, Libyan officials and NATO said.

With NATO bombings paving the way, rebel forces swiftly closed in on Tripoli and by late Sunday were in control of large swaths of the capital. Live television footage showed crowds of opposition fighters in Tripoli unfurling the rebel tricolor flag and smashing Gadhafi portraits. Young men stomped on a large tapestry of the leader as they flashed victory signs.

Gadhafi made a brief audio statement on Libyan TV, sounding desperate as he called on individual tribes and cities to rise up and defend Tripoli. He pleaded with Libyans to “take weapons” and prevent the destruction of “beautiful Tripoli.”

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Solving our problems won’t be easy…

Hey… sorry I missed CotW last weekend… got caught up in a number of activities and only realized on Tuesday that it hadn’t been done. But…We’re BAAAAACK!

Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle:

The Deficit Committee sure looks unpromising…

– and –

Dana Summers in the Orlando Sentinel:

Warren Buffett doesn’t seem to be convincing other rich folk to do their share…

– and –

Tom Toles in The Washington Post:

Not everyone’s goal is PREVENTING disaster…

– and –

Lee Judge in the Kansas City Star:

But there’s so much to keep Political Cartoonists busy…

From a Texas Church…

Hee hee.

From “A Feather Adrift.” Thanks, Sherry.

We’re taking our Grandsons to the Washington Monument today…

Looks like the weather is going to let up for most of the day and we’ll be able to get a nice clear view from the top of the Washington Monument. We’re taking two of our Grandsons, John and Jason, and we’ll ne leaving in about an hour.

Our tickets (yest you need TICKETS… and you have to order them well in advance) are for 2 PM and we’ll probably have lunch and do a few other things whil we’re there.

I’ll get back to the blog tonight.

– Bill

Why Rick Perry Should Never Be President…

– and –

Understand? The world has come so far… why go backward?

Is Jon Huntsman leaving the GOP race?

The bunch is getting smaller as Bachmann, Perry and Romney keep the focus.  Huntsman was one I could have been less worried by. He didn’t really sound Republican.

For instance, this quote he made on Twitter:

“To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.

I’d just call him NOT STUPID… after all, Perry  dismissed evolution as a “theory that’s out there” and Bachmann expressed skepticism of evolution at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans last June.

There are very nice people in the world…

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Grocery shopping at Martin’s in Hagerstown this afternoon, I accidentally lost my iPhone… while I was loading or unloading my shopping cart it apparently slipped out of my shirt pocket into the empty cart and I didn’t realize it.

Halfway back to Shepherdstown, I reached for my phone to check the time and it was gone. I was really upset.

I pulled the car over to the side of Interstate 81 and searched it top to bottom… went through the grocery bags… looked between the front seats. It wasn’t there.

I turned around and headed back to the Hagerstown Martin’s. I asked at the  management desk if anyone had turned in my iPhone…and lo and behold there it was.

Someone very nicely turned it in and I was extremely lucky to get it back. As my wife pointed out, back in New York or even in Hartford, I never would have seen it again.

Special guests on the Winners and Losers show tomorrow morning…

Mr. Bill

Mr. Bill O’Meara and Ben Snyder, two of my friends from the Timber Frame Folly who are working hard on the Rube Carnival we’re pulling off for kids and adults like us who never forgot how to be kids, will be my guests tomorrow at WSHC (89.7 FM) starting at 8:00 AM. On line we’re at


We’ll be talking about the Carnival, the Folly in general, music, chickens and just about anything else we can think of. You can also call in and talk with these fellas at 304-876-5369.

We’re getting closer to the Carnival, Sept. 10 and 11, and there’s a lot to get ready, which we’ll talk about tomorrow. Plus I’ll be there at 7:30 AM with my warmup for the morning as I substitute for John Case..

The Timber Frame Folly

I’m starting to get form letters back from my representatives in the Senate and Congress…

… all glad to see my concern and all saying they’ll keep me in mind as legislation comes up.

However, not one of them, whether Democrat or Republican, got elected without financial support from the coal companies that are destroying West Virginia with mountain top removal to get coal. If you think that means they are going to regulate the coal companies who are destroying our state… ruining homes, water supplies and the tourist industry… then you have got to be kidding yourself.

Here’s a piece by Michael Jonathon:

So… of you’re anywhere in the states that have Appalachian coal mining, keep this in mind next Fall when the politicians are campaigning in your neck of the woods.

Hey… Maybe the Republicans realize they have a couple of goofballs leading the nomination league…

It could be that Republicans are beginning to realize what a pair of bozos (ie: Bachmann and Perry) took the lead out of the Iowa Straw Poll and they are starting to get REALLY worried.

While it looks like Bachmann is at the head of the list for the Iowa Primary, Romney seems to have New Hampshire tied up and Perry is claiming the lead in South  Carolina. So, as the race currently stands, there’s no candidate who can chart a likely path to the nomination that involves winning a majority of the leadoff primary states and sealing an early victory, and that’s causing some Republicans to re-evaluate the field.

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Board of Governo...

The "treasonous" Ben Bernanke

Karl Rove has come out to say that Perry went too far accusing Fed. Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke a traitor. “I think we are likely to see several other candidates think seriously about getting in. And frankly, they have time to do so,” said Rove.

The last issue  of  The Weekly Standard reported  that Paul Ryan is indeed “strongly considering a run” and is currently on vacation with his family discussing a prospective bid.  So we may have the creator of the worst budget on earth as a candidate in contention with the Religious Righters who are ahead.

And then there’s always the rumored Chris Christie and Jeb Bush Party Salvation Stories.

The Democrats are watching all this with concern… but also with a great deal of amusement. Let’s see what comes next.

Which Candidate Sucks More? Bachmann or Perry?

It looks like the Republican Party has now given up decades of cross-country representation (remember when there were Moderate…even Liberal…Republicans?) and have taken on an identity from the far right, the religious right and the Tea Party.

They are not people of compromise. They are not people who respect (or even recognize) other religions or atheism as American beliefs. They are people who wish to destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They want to privatize public schools and destroy teachers’ unions. They won’t create enough income to pay our worldwide debts… in fact many were willing to go into default.

And now they seem to have focused on three candidates: Romney, who changes his opinion and point of view daily depending on the audience… who rejects things he accomplished as Massachusetts Governor… and who, frankly, is living a lie; Bachmann who has taken on representation of the Tea Party… whose knowledge of American History is constantly displayed as, at the least, flawed… who also lies or miscommunicates her own history, both personally and in politics; and Perry, who throws out accusations like “treason” and “socialist” like they were confetti…who uses his religion to mold his constituency… and who also lies or creates illusions about his record and reputation.

So I come down to the question: Who sucks more? Bachmann or Perry? Let me know.