Monthly Archives: November 2011

Zappadan is only 4 days away!



December 4 – 21
Once again we’ll be celebrating the life and talent of Frank Zappa during Zappadan with videos, articles letters, etc.
All you Frank Zappa fans out there please come on by during the 18 days of Zappadan.

Republican Laugh of the Day – from Michele Bachmann

Speaking to a Waverly, Iowa, crowd Bachmann said that if she were president, “we wouldn’t have an American embassy in Iran.”


(Psst: The United States has not had diplomatic ties with Iran since the 1980s revolution there.)

What not to get me for Christmas…

… a whacky iPhone Case.

How do people think of these things? (Thanks to the L.A.Times.)

Please help support Under The LobsterScope… and get a free gift:

Hi friends. It’s getting more and more expensive to keep Under The LobsterScope operating daily and I know that many of you return every couple of days to see what’s new.

Since a lot of you are bloggers like me (and graphic designers/desktop publishers as well), I’d like to offer one of my original picture fonts, Bill’s Modern Diner, for the last decade one of the most popular.

I sell this font, for both Mac and PC, for $29.00. I will, however, send you a complete copy with keychart and both Mac and PC versions, for any donation to  Under The LobsterScope of $5.00 or more.

Here’s a font sample:

This is a font I use for menus and food articles and I’ve had occasion to use it just about every week since I created it.

So if you sign on to see Cartoon(s) of the Week, or Quotes, or views on Theatre and the Arts or any of the Political stuff presented on UTL, your contributions make all of these possible. I need to raise $300.00 by January 1 to make my goal.

If you feel you can support this blog,Please send a donation of $5.00 or more (more is better ) via PayPal:

Thanks for considering this…

– Bill

Quote of the Day – Huntsman on Romney

“Anyone who is in the hip pocket of Wall Street because of all the donations they are picking up, like Mr. Romney, is in these days not going to be the change agent who is going to fix the too-big-to-fail banking system.”

– John Huntsman

I don’t understand why Huntsman doesn’t get the support he should have. If there is one Republican candidate who could potentially join both sides together to move the country forward it is Huntsman.

I wish I understood Norquist Conservatives. What planet do they live on?

Film director Ken Russell dead at 84

I first discovered Russell with Women In Love in 1969, his marvelous adaptation of the D.H.Lawrence novel which also brought actors Alan Bates and Oliver Reed to fame with a nude wrestling scene.

My favorite of Russell’s films was The Music Lovers  his  experimental biography of Tchaikovsky, which led to other biographies of Liszt, Mahler and French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.

In the 1980s, Russell’s directing hit the skids and he was unable to get a production with a successful review and he turned to working for British television with short biographies. He also directed plays, at least one, Mindgame, off-Broadway in 2008.

Probably the greatest of Russell’s contributions to the film medium was to show that reality was not the only answer. He influenced many younger directors (I think Terry Gilliam is a good example.)

In a comment on his career, Russell said:

“I believe in what I’m doing wholeheartedly, passionately, and what’s more, I simply go about my business. I suppose such a thing can be annoying to some people.”

Oh, the Holidays…

You know it’s the Christmas season when you notice in your spam mail that they are giving you a “holiday discount” on Viagra. I’m not sure whether it’s for me to use in my holiday celebrating, or if it’s a gift for one of my mail relatives who are having secret troubles “getting it up” (in which case, how would I know?).

It all boils down to this being purchasing season. We just passed Black Friday with a number of reports on fighting in stores (one shooting that was on the news) and crowds lining up before midnight on Thanksgiving to give thanks for early openings.

Stores, of course, make a large percent of their annual revenue this month, sales or none, and folks everywhere lower their bank totals or pay out most of their Social Security checks on things that the receivers will often never use. We hear that sales will be lower this year than last do to the Recession which “ended” last summer. People have less income and are counting on the 1% to keep up the Christmas shopping totals.

Perhaps they won’t let us down this time.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Who really controls the Republican economic policy?

Note: I’ve been doing Cartoon(s) of the Week for a number of years now and I know many of my readers look forward to it every Sunday (or when I get to it late or early.) I’m also very pleased that several of you have sent me your favorite cartoons on many weeks, or send me e-mail comments on my selections.

If you have a cartoon on any week that you want to send me, please attach it to an e-mail and get it to me on Thursday at the latest. I’ll be glad to consider it. Just click on the mailbox.

Now for this week’s selections.

Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle:

Who is not elected but has a firm control on Republican abilities to compromise? (note: same name as a Sesame Street character… not Big Bird, but close.)

– and –

M. Wuerker of Politico:

What happens to the health of the country when its processes are blocked? (hint: what fills intestines?)

– and –

Jeff Danziger in the L. A. Tribune:

What causes disbelief in the vast republic for which Congress stands? ( hint: It has to do with a complicity with the top 1%.)

Some distressing facts we should review from the US Census Bureau:

WASHINGTON — Continued high unemployment drove the number of Americans living in poverty to a record high in 2010 and dragged down median household income for the third straight year since the Great Recession first darkened the nation’s economy in 2007.

More than a year after the economic recovery officially began in June 2009, 46.2 million people had annual earnings below the poverty line last year, up from 43.6 million the previous year, according to new U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday. That’s the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.

Thanks to Mock, Paper, Scissors for passing this along...

So the question is, how do we get back on track and IMPROVE the well-being of the 99%. If you don’t think it’s by increasing revenues as well as cutting some unnecessary expenses ( and healthcare, education and unemployment relief are NOT unnecessary) then you are living with a blindfold on.

And if you are a White non-Hispanic like me, resting on your current advantages will also not improve the lot of all of us. Remember, we are soon to be a minority group compared to the rest.

Unbelievable! I’ve never seen anything like this…

Passed on by P.Z. Myers over at Pharyngula… an octopus walks on land:

Have you seen anything like this before?

Just a comment on belief… atheists can be thankful,too.

Someone asked me how I could be thankful on Thanksgiving with no belief in a creator on high.

It’s time to reveal a reality: Atheists can be thankful,too.

We don’t thank a holy individual.

We thank our families and our friends and the celebrated and the anonymous.

We are thankful for good things that have happened to us and thankful just to be alive and surviving in the great wide world.

We are thankful to have a means of expression (like this blog, or community theatre plays, or radio shows, or art, or the basic freedom of speech.)

We are thankful that we can share all these things with each other and hope to continue to for years to come.

See? It’s not hard to conceive of a thankful atheist. It’s much harder for us to conceive of an invisible deity pulling the strings.


Just got back from WSHC…

Hard to believe, but I substituted for John Case on this mornings Winners and Losers show on WSHC radio. Thankfully, Shepherd U. police came over to unlock the door at Knutti Hall and let me into the studio, where I spent the morning playing Thanksgiving songs (mostly about Turkeys) and talking about what I was thankful for.

At 2:00 we’ll be over at my Daughter Penny’s for Thanksgiving dinner. However, right now I’m watching the Macy’s Parade, which I try never to miss (back when I lived in NYC, I always tried to see it live and in person… a great event.)

Shepherdstown is pretty dead right now… most of the students from Shepherd are home for the weekend and most of the businesses are closed. No street parking problems, though… just nowhere to go.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Be kind to an Indian today… and apologetic.

And don’t go to any stores that start Black Friday today. They are un-American.

Here’s to everyone’s families on Thanksgiving Eve…

Tomorrow, families everywhere will be getting together to enjoy Thanksgiving, and I think it is Families we should be most thankful for.

Locally, Elly and I are going over to my daughter Penny’s to have delicious locally raised heirloom turkey with her and her three boys. Not all of our family will be there… but we all got together last Saturday (from as far away as Wisconsin and Connecticut and Virginia) for Elly’s surprise birthday party over at the Entler Hotel (one of our historic sites) in Shepherdstown. So many came in that they couldn’t all afford to get here tomorrow… but we did get to see everyone during the week.

So enjoy your family tomorrow and be good to each other.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A disturbing afternoon…

I learned, in a long phonecall with him, that my oldest and best friend, Harold, is dying from a combination of bladder and spinal cancers. Harold and I are the kind of friends who can go a decade without contacting each other, then pick up where we left off as if nothing had gone by.

Harold and I met at prep school on our first day in 1960 and have been friends ever since. He spent his life living on Cape Cod and working in Hyannis, while I traveled all over the place pursuing theatre, then non-profit, then photography then computer careers. For a few years we were both living on the Cape and, for some time, we could get together for lunch almost every day. You know the kind of friend.

Now Harold is undergoing chemo and other medications and, like me, is retired and looking back on his life. We had a great talk about our kids and grandkids, our parents both living and dead, our wives and sisters and all the things we have done for the last 51 years.

I won’t sleep well tonight, however. There are things I can’t get out of my mind.

48 years ago today, JFK was assasinated…

I wish we still had him around today…

.Photo portrait of John F. Kennedy, President o...

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. – John F. Kennedy, In a speech at the White House, 1962

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. – John F. Kennedy

Always keep the truth in mind…

So the SuperCommittee isn’t getting anywhere. So what will the government do about our financial problems.

And what about jobs?

Do Republicans care if 42 million folks work again?
Let’s see what they spend their time on in Congress (thanks to the Daily Kos):

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Primary Colors

Sorry to have missed doing last week’s cartoons… but here are this week’s:

Mike Luckovich  in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The primary has replaced our favorite situation comedies

– and –

Tom Toles in the Washington Post:

… and given us great reality shows

– and –

Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

…plus a lot of ads…

– and –

Jeff Danziger in the L.A. Times:

… things we’ll all forget.

– and –

Ben Sargent in the Austin American Statesman:

Now we’ll wait for the reviews.

This morning I have a two-hour show at WSHC (89.7 FM)

Our new schedule starts today now that Shepherd football season is over, and my Talk To Me show runs from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM … delightfully scheduled over lunch (another reason why the audience will be minimal.) It’s also available during the same time period (EDT) at

I’ve invited our local R&R expert, Ralph Petrie, to be my guest… I hope he shows up. Ralph, as you probably know, hosts The Extended Porch on Friday afternoons, plus he subs on a lot of shows when folks are away and is John Case and my biggest caller during our shows. I don’t know what we would do without Ralph’s input (he keeps us on our toes to do station IDs).

Anyway… I hope you will tune in … and call in at 304.876.5369.

– Bill

A quote for the evening…

Bernie Sanders in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN:

“If you look at the ideology of these right wing Republicans, more tax breaks for rich, cut Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, deregulate Wall Street after Wall Street caused this horrendous recession we’re in, more unfettered free trade so we can lose more jobs to China. Do you know how many people believe in that ideology? Maybe, 15, 20 percent max.

“The real issue is why Democrats aren’t winning by 30 or 40 percent.”

Yep. That’s the real issue. Looks like the media (as represented by Blitzer and buddies) are spending a lot of time pushing the Republican agenda.

Watching an old friend get older…


Our 15-year-old labby, Nestle, is starting to show signs of “dog senility“… in reality, he is having major personality changes and acting like a very old and tired dog.

Where he used to, only recently, run downstairs in the morning to eat his breakfast, he now comes down slowly and ambles over to his bowl. He is very slow on his walks and certainly can’t keep up with Byron, our younger dog, where he used to have no problem.

And he now sleeps most of the day… and doesn’t come up to bed in our room at night without a lot of encouragement where he used to lead the way.

He now has signs of hip displasia and the stairs are getting harder for him (a tough thing in a 3 floor townhouse.)

There are days when he throws up what he eats, so we have limited him to no plate licking, which was his joy, and only 2 small biscuits as snacks.

It’s hard to watch these changes and we are worried that we won’t have our best friend dog much longer.

For all you GASLAND fans and activists…

New Video from Josh Fox and Bill McKibben:

JOSH FOX and BILL McKIBBEN’s Special Appeal to VP Biden: Save the Delaware!



1) Send a FAX to the key targets listed below by clicking HERE.

2) Open a new email, copy the letter below, and paste the letter into the email.  Next, copy the emails listed below for Joe Biden and the others below (except President Obama) and insert those addresses into the address bar in the email.  Sign it and send it.

3) One last step:  Open a window to contact President Obama (link below) and paste the email into the window and send it.


Phone: 202-456-1414 (ask to leave a message for both VP Biden AND Pres. Obama)

Fax:202 456 3455


TO: Vice President Joe Biden


President Barack Obama (

Jo Ellen Darcy, Army Corps of Engineers for President Obama (

Governor Jack Markell (

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden (

Nancy Sutlley, Council on Environmental Quality (

Dear Vice President Biden-


We respect your integrity, your strength, your leadership and most of all your environmental record.

I am writing to urge you to unequivocally reject the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) proposal to allow gas drilling within the Delaware River Basin.  The DRBC received 69,800 public comments on their proposed draft regulations which were overwhelmingly against fracking.  They have ignored them and in the process ignored the democratic process.  Commissioners who vote to allow fracking are on the wrong side of history and will be held accountable.

Hydraulic Fracturing – or Fracking – is a highly dangerous method of drilling for natural gas that risks the safety of our air, water, and food, and threatens the health of our families, communities, and environment and will undoubtedly put into jeopardy these critical considerations in the Delaware River Basin.  In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy Science Advisory Board’s own Subcommittee on Shale Gas Production recently recommended “[p]reservation of unique and/or sensitive areas as off limits to drilling. . .”

I urge you to say no to fracking in the Delaware River Basin. The charter of the DRBC calls for it to protect water quality in the basin, and clearly calls for nothing else to be considered above this mandate.  There has been more than sufficient evidence, through widely documented incidents of contamination, to overwhelmingly convince any individual willing to look at the facts that a practice as potentially catastrophic as hydraulic fracturing should not be considered in a such sensitive area, the drinking water supply for 15.6 million people.

Do not think that a yes vote on these regulations will go unnoticed or unchallenged in the media or in the public sphere.  The New York Times, Pro-Publica, and HBO’s GASLAND 2, to name a few media sources will report on fracking in the watershed and organizations with a very wide reach such as, Democracy for America, NRDC, Environmental Working Group, Catskill MountainKeeper, Delaware RiverKeeper and literally hundreds of others will be extremely vocal about any drilling allowed in the Delaware River Basin.  If the regulations pass and the river basin is industrialized beyond recognition and contaminated, it will be forever the legacy of those who voted yes.

This watershed provides drinking water for more than 15 million people, delivering 1,803 million gallons of water every day to public water supplies.  That’s about 5% of the nation’s population – including New York City and Philadelphia – who are depending on this relatively small watershed for safe drinking water every day.  From massive water withdrawals to leaks and spills of toxics-laden frack fluid to the generation of millions of gallons of wastewater – sometimes laced with radioactive substances – the  for gas drilling to pollute our water is grave.  Specifically, and documented in the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s Hazen and Sawyer Report, slick water horizontal hydraulic fracturing uses around 350,000-400,000 pounds of chemicals per well, many of these extremely toxic and cancer causing. To allow such obviously carcinogenic and dangerous activity near the sole or primary drinking water source for millions of Americans is nothing short of an invitation to disaster.

Moreover, the Delaware River Basin is vital to our ecology and quality of life.  Its national park recreation areas are so treasured that 5.4 million visitors come each year to hike, camp, boat, or swim.  Drinking water for millions, habitat for wildlife, and recreation for millions:  one is hard-pressed to find meaning in the DOE subcommittee’s phrase “unique and or sensitive areas” if you do not apply it to the Delaware River Basin.  With this clear and defining policy statement, how could one actually move forward to drill and inject so much chemically laden water into such a sensitive and vital American Treasure?

Moreover, oil and gas industry claims that drilling will aid economic recovery are patently false.  In fact, drilling will damage the Basin’s existing economic value.  The value of its water supply alone has recently been calculated by a University of Delaware study at $3,767,000 in annual economic value.  Looking at the many aspects of economic value that the River provides, this study concludes that “[t]he Delaware Basin contributes close to $22 billion in annual market/non-market value to the regional economy…”  Much of that value derives from forests, water supply and high water quality.  These are the very assets at risk if natural gas development moves ahead in the Marcellus and Utica Shales, located in the Upper and Middle Delaware River Watershed.  More so, many families in Pennsylvania, are already finding that after contamination, the value of their homes has dropped precipitously to what it once was.  This is not the economic benefit that, during such a time of economic hardship, should be even be considered.

Surely you have noticed that the only contingents interested in pushing forward with fracking are ones that stand to benefit financially, who consistently dismiss the economic hardships and environmental degradation caused by the collateral damage incurred from this risky practice.  This sort of omission and faulty economic analysis leaves the greater public liable for the true costs of contamination in numerous, and painful ways.  Giving a yes vote to something that could potentially harm the general public in such a way would be nothing short of granting license to harm millions of Americans for the economic prosperity of a few.

There is an out, just as New York has urged no drilling in its watersheds which serve huge populations (the watersheds for New York City and Syracuse) the Obama Administration and the state of Delaware can vote to disallow fracking in the Delaware river basin which also serves a huge number of people with drinking water.

Currently New York Attorney General has filed suit against the commission for failing in its obligation to complete a cumulative impact study of hydrofracking on the river basin, which is required of the commission by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  This means that the DRBC would be violating the law in allowing gas drilling regulations. We urge you to reject all drilling in the river basin flat out, but, at very least, the DRBC is required to do a multi-year cumulative impact study, which would truly assess the impact on the river basin, by federal law.

I strongly urge you to reject the proposed regulations to drill and call on you to protect the Delaware River Basin from fracked gas drilling. Please stand with this National Wild and Scenic River, its communities and habitats, and the more than 15 million people who rely on the Delaware for their water.  To do otherwise could be catastrophic, and would surely cement your historic decision to reflect alignment with the polluting fossil fuel industry for generations to come.  We voted you into office to serve and protect all of the people, not just the few who wish to profit at all costs.

Please make sure the DRBC votes no on the proposed regulations and insist on a ban in this fragile, scenic, historic, and critical watershed that serves millions of Americans.

Thank you,




As you know, this blog came out against fracking months ago. We support Josh Fox and Bill McKibben.

This blog is starting its 8th year… and it began with a Presidential campaign…

And here we are now watching a crowd of, frankly, insane Republicans fighting to come up with a candidate other than Mitt Romney. No matter who gains footing… first Bachmann, then Perry, then Cain and now Gingrich… Mitt stays at about 25% of the voters. Nothing seems to drive his numbers

Then again, he has plenty of money and is making fewer mistakes than his competitors, despite his apparent flip flops from his term as Massachusetts Governor.

Obama seems to be focusing on Romney and Perry. I don’t think he worries about Gingrich and he certainly didn’t worry about Bachmann and Cain. What would really be scary for Obama would be Huntsman, the one Republican who seems to cover a broader base of citizenry and who has the talent to serve in office, coming up from the bottom to win the primaries. Given his money and support ratio so far, it doesn’t look like Republicans see the advantage of Huntsman.

So this blog is stomping into the campaigns a little earlier than usual, but that’s the way the world is this year.


Waiting for Comcast to call…

Image representing Comcast as depicted in Crun...

Rick, my Comcast salesman, is supposed to make one more attempt at getting someone from Comcast over here to re-install or re-configure their internet setup…the last chance they are going to have before I get this non-working setup pulled out and return to my old one (which I hardwired myself to last night… hence this post.)

Of course that means I can’t get out to do grocery shopping or other
things which usually make my Mondays. I hope this gets over pretty soon.

Why you might want to avoid McDonald’s McRib Sandwich

The Humane Society has filed a complaint alleging that Smithfield Foods, McDonald’s pork supplier, crams its pigs in tiny gestation crates.

It has been stated that the McRib appears at McDonald’s when the price of pork goes down enough for the fast food monster.

The Humane Society has published the offenses by Smithfield, the pig raisers:

• Breeding sows were crammed inside “gestation crates” so small the animals could barely move for virtually their entire lives. Frustrated by this extreme confinement, sows engaged in “stereotypic” behaviors, which indicate poor welfare, like bar biting and head swaying. Some sows had bitten their bars so incessantly that blood from their mouths coated the fronts of their crates.

• Sows suffered from open pressure sores and other ulcers and wounds that developed from their unmitigated confinement and their inability to change
positions in the crate.

Abscesses sometimes formed from simple scratches due to ever-present bacteria.

• The investigator never saw a veterinarian at the operation.

• A barn manager told the investigator to ignore a sow with a basketball-sized abscess on her neck, and then cut the abscess open with an unsterilized razor.

• Employees jabbed a lame sow’s neck and back with gate rods to force her to move.

• Three times, the investigator informed employees that a pig was thrown into a dumpster alive. The animal had been shot in the forehead with a captive bolt gun, which is designed to render an animal unconscious, and was thrown in the dumpster still alive and breathing.

• Employees mishandled piglets and tossed them into carts. Some piglets born prematurely in gestation crates fell through the slats and died in manure pits.

What this all means is that if you eat McRib sandwiches, you are financing Smithfield to carry out their disgusting practices.

Another day with no Internet connection at home…

… so I’m back at WSHC updating UTL and again making my apologies to regular readers and responders.

This morning on my Talk To Me program I have Ann Watson, Head Librarian of the Scarborough Library at Shepherd University and we are going to have a great discussion on Libraries, Books, and the change in reading activities given recorded books and the internet (and iPad/iPhone technologies.)

If you want to tune in, it’s 89.7 FM in the Shepherdstown area. To hear it on line go to