Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Better safe than sorry

Question: Did the Authorities in New York overreact to Hurricane Irene?


All that remains of this woman's historic cottage home, is the stairs. 

No! If anything we really needed to learn our lessons from Hurricane Katrina. If there is the possibility of danger and potential loss of life, it is better to evacuate & err on the side of caution. 
Of course it was an inconvenience, but this storm, even as a Category 1, packed a powerful punch and did a huge amount of damage. 42 lives were lost. Billions of dollars of damage.  I commend NYC authorities for doing the responsible thing & preparing for the worst. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bachmann likes it dirty

Oh get your mind out of the gutter! Presidential asspiring (typo intended) Michelle Bachmann likes the planet dirty. She'd like to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, and recently said she's open to oil drilling in the Everglades of Florida:

Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has reignited an intense debate over energy exploration by calling for oil drilling off the shores of Florida and in the Everglades.

The Republican tea-party favorite, who blames "radical environmentalists" for blocking access to energy supplies, said the nation needs to tap all of its resources when — and wherever — it can be done responsibly.

"Whether that is in the Everglades or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region or whether that's in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is," she told The Associated Press on Sunday while campaigning in Sarasota. "Of course, it needs to be done responsibly. If we can't responsibly access energy in the Everglades, then we shouldn't do it."

The Everglades is the source of fresh, clean drinking water 
for more than 7 million Floridians.

In classic form though, Bachmann quickly threw in a hail mary (save your ass) addendum to that thought:

Bachmann said experts would need to certify that the drilling could be done safely. "No one wants to hurt or contaminate the Earth," she said.
Yea well, apparently someone wants to hurt & contaminate the earth, but abolishing the EPA. 

As far as her hatred of the EPA, Bachmann said its regulations "kill jobs" and that the agency doesn't really seem to care about that in these days of 9% unemployment.
Bachmann stresses that this doesn't mean she doesn't care about the environment.
"If we create a new department that is focused on conservation and get rid of the EPA, that would send a strong signal about what our priorities are. We believe in conservation, but I also believe at the same time that the EPA has overstepped its bounds."
Think Progress states:
"Conservatives hate the EPA because it slaps their corporate donors with rules and fines -- those fines, of course, result from those corporations endangering the American public with pollution emissions and discharging toxic chemicals into drinking water and air.

Cuyahoga River, Ohio, on fire

Thankfully, the majority of Americans understand that the EPA provides a service no corporation can (or will), and that due largely to its "job-killing" regulations, our cities and waterways are immensely cleaner than they were before it was founded 40 years ago.
It's kind of hard to paint as the boogeyman the organization that successfully kept rivers free enough from pollution so they stopped catching on fire."

Re the Cuyahoga River fires:
"The fire was a bad thing, sure, but some good came out of it in the end," said Jane Goodman, a South Euclid councilwoman and spokeswoman for the river planning group. "Many people see this fire as being a catalyst for the federal Clean Water Act and other environmental laws."And those laws went a long way toward bringing the river back."

Bachmann would like to take us back to the dark & dirty ages.
What good is a job, if the toxins & pollution kill you?

Hurricane Name Game

I was wondering how they name hurricanes....


Have you ever wondered about the system used for naming hurricanes? Where did those names come from, anyway? Will we have to suffer through another "Hurricane Andrew"? The system is not that complicated.
Hurricanes used to be designated by a system of latitude-longitude, which was a great way for meteorologists to track them. However, once the public began receiving storm warnings and trying to keep track of a particular storm path, this got very confusing. A system of names to refer to them was much easier to track and remember.
In 1953, the National Weather Service picked up on the habit of Naval meteorologists of naming the storms after women. Ships were always referred to as female, and were often given women's names. The storms' temperament certainly seemed female enough, shifting directions at a whim on a moment's notice. In 1979, male names were inserted to alternate with the female names,to the delight of women's-libbers everywhere.
There are actually six lists of names in use for storms in the Atlantic. These lists rotate, one each year; the list of this year's names will not be reused until 2017. The names get recycled each time the list comes up, with one exception: storms so devastating that reusing the name is inappropriate. In this case, the name is taken off the list and another name is used to replace it; there will not be another Hurricane Andrew, because Andrew has been replace by Alex on the list.
A storm must start as a Tropical Depression and move on to become a Tropical Storm before it is given a name. Once a storm is named, preparations for the possible hurricane should be well under way. Without further ado, here is the list of hurricane names for 2011:
One question I've heard a lot recently is "What happens if we run out of hurricane names?" If we're unlucky enough to deplete the year's supply of names we won't, contrary to popular opinion, simply start using names from next year's list. In that case, the National Hurricane Center will turn to the Greek alphabet and we'll have Hurricanes Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, etc. 
So there you have it. How they name Hurricanes, courtesy of About. com

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Slug & a Slug Queen

Ahh yes, Eugene Oregon has an annual parade & celebration.

We have the Slug

The House Rep. DeFazio who rolls the wheelbarrow behind the slug with a sign saying it is a slimy job, but someone has to clean it up (referring to Washington D.C./Congress)

And of course, a Slug Queen:

This year's Slug Queen went "green" & rode in a non motorized vehicle.

It was a beautiful sunny day & a nice break from all the serious stuff going on. 

The only cutting edge parade entry was a statement against Corporate personhood
with a Corporate Pig!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Settle down Irene

Hurricane Irene sure has been in the news. Huge in size she hit land in N. Carolina packing 85 mph winds.  Hope people took heed & got out of harms way.

NASA photo of the big ass storm.

I work in the travel industry, so there has been a whole lot of chaos going on there. The latest development is NYC shutting down all airports & public transportation. Thousands of flights are canceled and once that happens in major airports, there is a domino effect.

My own family member was scheduled to head to Baltimore this weekend, but has decided to postpone a day, and see the progression of the storm, rather than travel in parallel with the monster storm.

The good news is it did weaken into 85 mph winds rather than hit at it's peak 115 mph winds.
But still, 85 mph can do some real damage & the size of the storm means it will be bringing lots of sustained wind & water along with it.

The news is flooded with all the serious issues of the storm, so I am going to  post some hurricane humor.
Of course I hope for the best & that people make good/safe choices.  But laughter is good medicine.... so here you go.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MLK jr. Memorial

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money 
on military defense than on programs of social uplift is 
approaching spiritual death."

"We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. 
The oceans of history are made 
turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate."

"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and dealt death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.
This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote:

Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality [applause], and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing "clergy and laymen concerned" committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. [sustained applause] So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." [applause] Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin [applause], we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood."

A new memorial has been placed on the National Mall in Washington D.C. this week, the formal dedication is scheduled for Aug 28th. While I support a memorial in his honor, I don't think he would have liked the fanfare. For the first black president to lay wreaths on Kings grave, & dedicate this memorial, while absolutely ignoring King's core values, and utmost value in non-violence seems shallow, and hypocritical.

I believe Dr. King would rather President Obama embrace non-violence, and take to heart the works and words of Dr. King, rather than place a statue in his memorial. Kings words are just as stunningly true today, as they were back in 1967, 44 years ago.  His words both ring true and haunt me:

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money 

on military defense than on programs of social uplift is 

approaching spiritual death."

 Nobody is fooling anyone by having President Obama make this very public dedication, a link to MLK, when at his own Nobel Peace prize acceptance speech Obama himself said:

"Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land.  Some will kill.  Some will be killed.  And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict – filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other. 
I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago – “Violence never brings permanent peace.  It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak –nothing passive – nothing na├»ve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.
their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason. "

Maybe that's his problem- limited reasoning, because the truth of the matter is we are involved in more wars now, than under the worst president ever, George Bush. Of all the broken promises Obama made, it is the perpetuation of wars, and year after year, spending more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift that bothers me the most. 
Because literally 60% of the entire budget goes to wars & military spending, and the budget talks are full of discussions about cutting Medicare & Social Security-- going after the programs people not only want & need, but who have contributed into all their working lives. 
How sick and wrong that this is happening under the "leadership" of a man who ran on the promise of hope and change. Forget the monument & the fanfare-- study and keep alive the Dreams of Dr. King jr. 

Washington D.C. falling apart

I really had been thinking the government was really spun out of control, the so-called representatives have completely lost touch with what they were elected to do- represent the people, and has turned into completely opposing factions so divided, they can;t get anything done. Furthermore, the right wing extremists had sold out to the corporate model. Most recently, the heavily loaded right wing Supreme court declaring corporations are people, and for them to give money to campaigns without disclosure, or setting up ghost foundations to protect the names of the donors. Giving large sums of money to political campaigns was deemed "free speech". The Republicans have defined patriotism as tax cuts for the wealthy, at all costs.

Washington D. C. is cracking up- literally:

The Washington Monument remained closed Wednesday as engineers studied ways to repair cracks at the top of the capital's iconic structure -- one day after a rare 5.9 magnitude East Coast earthquake.
Washington's National Cathedral also was closed after sustaining what its staff described as "substantial damage," including numerous cracks in the building's limestone blocks and broken pinnacles on its towers.
The IB Times Reports:
"However, a closer look at the world's tallest obelisk brought National Park Service officials to discover some cracks near the top of the 555-foot monument.
The 5.9-magnitude quake centering in Virginia struck the U.S. East Coast from North Carolina to Toronto early Tuesday afternoon, and cracked one of the stones in the monument's pyramidium, or the pyramid shape at the very top.
The damage was detected during an inspection by helicopter, according to spokesman Bill Line.
While the obelisk remains indefinitely closed, structural engineers plan to do a secondary inspection on the cracked monument Wednesday and decide how to best repair this highest profile structure to suffer damage."
D.C really is cracking up!

Monday, August 22, 2011

sumpthin' special

Happy Anniversary Mr Ramblings

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What would Cindy Sheehan do?

I had the opportunity to meet Cindy Sheehan yesterday. A local branch of the Veterans for Peace is about to embark on a tour, and Sheehan is "on the bus". There was a small gathering of people, getting together before the sendoff of the tour. 

What was interesting to me is that Sheehan is a kind of an "everyman", accessible citizen. I view her as an icon & visionary, someone who is driven by conscience, and compelled to be a voice of reason in a "war mad mentality" country. I felt like I wanted to press her for some kind of  futurecast-- Where do we go from here? What has happened to the peace movement? How do we clean up this mess our country is in?
I have been feeling very much so disenfranchised. The "system" as it exists is broken. Broken in a way that feels unfixable, more shattered than chipped. 
The Peace movement seems to have fizzled. Even a few local groups (Peaceworks) have closed up shop, not enough support to keep it afloat, and other surviving groups are seriously struggling. It's hard to get all fired up when we see that these wars have been going on for  a decade now. 
I've protested, written letters, pressed my (alleged) congressional representative, send comments to the White House, supported others who chose to be arrested doing Civil (dis) Obedience. To me, it feels now like none of it mattered. 
10,000 people can gather in D.C. marching in the streets for Peace & Justice & it falls on deaf ears. 
Sadly, I feel like I can't even keep track of all the wars this country is involved in. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan (yes, people, dropping bombs w drones is an act of aggression), Yeomen, & Syria. 
I am left feeling like we are witnessing the GOP & Tea Party are riding roughshod over basic rights, and the transition to corporatocracy is in full swing. They have us right where they want us. The economy is depressed enough to have people reciting the mantra "you are lucky to have a job", and the implied second part of that theme is that you have no rights or voice in this climate. Employers take full advantage, because it is very true, that if you won't do as they say, and go along with their program, there are literally hundreds of people in line, hungry for work, who will acquiesce in order to join the ranks of the working poor. Corporations can even break the laws or skirt the edge, re hours and workers tights, but in the end we know they hold the cards. Most employment is "at will", so they don't even need a reason to fire you. "Change in business needs" will suffice. They've got us- they know it & we know it. 
So we seem locked into this trajectory- the working poor run faster & faster on the hamster wheel, while the government scoops the lions share of money into wars. Then, somehow they keep a straight face telling us the solution to this financial mess is to have the people work till they are dead. To cut & slash entitlement programs- that WE have paid into all our working lives. The GOP promises to abolish minimum wage, and get rid of those pesky environmental laws, preventing job creators from magically making things all better. 
We've been in that petrie dish experiment for 10 years of tax cuts for the wealthy & clearly, that is not working. 

What happened to the antiwar movement? Cindy Sheehan hits 'hypocrisy' of Left, Democratic allies.

After my column, "For the left, war without Bush is not war at all," appeared Tuesday, I got a note from Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist who was the subject of so much press coverage when she led a protest against the Iraq war outside then-President George W. Bush's ranch in Texas.  This is what the note said:

I read your column about the "anti-war" movement and I can't believe I am saying this, but I mostly agree with you.
The "anti-war" "left" was used by the Democratic Party. I like to call it the "anti-Republican War" movement.
While I agree with you about the hypocrisy of such sites as the DailyKos, I have known for a long time that the Democrats are equally responsible with the Republicans. That's why I left the party in May 2007 and that's why I ran for Congress against Nancy Pelosi in 2008.
I have my own radio show, "Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox," and I was out on a four-month book tour promoting the fact that it's not about Democrats or Republicans, but it's about the system.
Even if I am surrounded by a thousand, or no one, I am still working for peace.
Cindy Sheehan
After receiving the email, I asked Sheehan to give me a call, so I could verify that the note in fact came from her.  She did, and we discussed her plans to protest next week in Martha's Vineyard, where President Obama will be vacationing.  "I think people are starting to wake up to the fact that even if they supported Obama, he doesn't represent much change," Sheehan said.  "There are people still out here who oppose the war and Obama's policies, but it seems like the big organizations with the big lists aren't here."
I asked Sheehan about the fact that the press seems to have lost interest in her and her cause.  "It's strange to me that you mention it," she said.  "I haven't stopped working.  I've been protesting every time I can, and it's not covered.  But the one time I did get a lot of coverage was when I protested in front of George Bush's house in Dallas in June.  I don't know what to make of it.  Is the press having a honeymoon with Obama?  I know the Left is."
After the protests in Massachusetts -- Sheehan told me she has no idea how many people might show up -- Sheehan will be in Washington October 5, for a protest at the White House to mark the eight anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan.  Not only is the president escalating the war there, she said, but he's not withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq as quickly as he originally promised. "That's why I was opposed to him," she said.

So where do we go from here?