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If you can’t reach the stars….

December 22, 2011

…may you at least catch the starlings.

Really is a pretty nice pale blue dot we’ve got here when you stop, take a deep breath, and look.

May you all have many moments like this in the upcoming year.

65 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    December 22, 2011 9:50 am

    Missed this a few days ago –

    RIP Vaclav Havel.

    I had a fly on the wall encounter with him about 20 years ago shortly after he became the president of the Czech Republic. I was on Crete and a fairly large boat moored in the little town where I was staying. Nobody knew exactly who it was coming in until Vaclav Havel walked off. No suit – he was wearing a Zappa T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. He had a pretty small security contingent for a head of state too- just two guys who stood on the other side of town and were not armed, at least not conspicuously. He found out that one Czech woman was working as a waitress in one of the tavernas and he invited her to lunch with him. Can’t remember at this point if I sat at his lunch table or just at the next one over. For the sake of a better story, let’s say I did ;) Anyway, he struck me as a real human being rather than just another empty suit. I will admit to being biased in his favor, both of us being Zappa fans.

    Much like the recently passed Hitchens, Havel had a blind spot and did support the invasion of Iraq, which runs counter to most of what he fought for in the rest of his life. Not sure if Havel remained a stalwart supporter of the debacle right to the end like Hitchens did or not. Not excusing this rather glaring error in judgment, but Havel does deserve a lot of thanks for trying to make the world a better place.

    Thanks for making sure there was a little less trouble in the world and say hello to Frank –

  2. cometman permalink*
    December 22, 2011 10:00 am

    Won’t be around much the next few days so I’ll leave you with the same holiday message as last year because I really like it –

    Have a great holiday everybody!

  3. artemis54 permalink
    December 22, 2011 1:06 pm

    Cool vid. These murmurations of starlings are not at all uncommon in the Prosser to Sunnyside area. They are really kind of a horror show for grape growers, who go to all sorts of lengths to get rid of them. Nothing works much better than hawk shaped helium balloons tethered in the wind. I promise to put together a video of those and the acrylic ribbons flying. It looks like a weird silent Mardi Gras with no people.

    Happy Festivus to the millions of Cephaloblog readers!

    I will have a very happy holiday, taking care of my friend’s animules in her absence. It is no secret here I think that I prefer the company of animals. Dogs and cats and goats and plants; at least they respond in a rational and understandable way. That is miracle enough.

  4. artemis54 permalink
    December 22, 2011 3:07 pm

    At the idiot sites I would feel obliged to explain. But not here.

  5. triv33 permalink
    December 24, 2011 11:06 am

    Happy Holidays!

    • cometman permalink*
      December 30, 2011 8:37 am

      Received The Goat Rodeo Sessions CD as a gift, a collaboration between Yo Yo Ma and some well known bluegrass musicians. Highly recommended! Here’s a sample for you guys –

  6. artemis54 permalink
    December 25, 2011 12:58 pm

    Didn’t bother to buy any groceries for Xmas, no bird, no nuthin. Turns out that was a good plan as there is a conspiracy to fatten my ass up. The aforementioned neighbor left me several gallons of different soups, cole slaw, and a variety of other things. My other neighbors left a bag of cheese, fresh bread, and wine on the step, and the kid presented me with bottles of herbed olive oil and lemony “Sicilian” balsamic vinegar – delicious btw.

    • cometman permalink*
      December 30, 2011 8:42 am

      Your spread sounds much healthier than the one I received, although I can’t say it’s more delicious. Knowing my fondness for processed meat products, my stocking was filled with sausages and breakfast meats. Is it wrong to admit that you actually like Spam?

      • artemis54 permalink
        December 30, 2011 9:59 pm

        I did get a late entry of duck salami. mmmmmmm

  7. artemis54 permalink
    December 26, 2011 12:01 pm

    Here is mt christmas tree, broomcorn from the garden and two of the three decorations:

    • artemis54 permalink
      December 26, 2011 12:02 pm


  8. artemis54 permalink
    December 27, 2011 2:17 am

    Merry Christmas from David Attenborough:

    • cometman permalink*
      December 30, 2011 8:50 am

      I’ll have to play that one for the squidlette later. She’s been getting a kick out of watching animal programs on the TV with me lately. I may have to purchase the Planet Earth and Blue Planet series just so we can get the Attenborough versions.

  9. cometman permalink*
    December 30, 2011 9:28 am

    And speaking of good food, this Tedx talk from Maine was pretty good –

    The speaker is the founder of Kitchen Gardeners International. Most of the info he gives won’t be knew to anybody here but I did like his idea for a national garden “stimulus” package. It really ought to be legal to grow food in your own yard no matter where you live and laws prohibiting it need to go. I believe I’ve mentioned before that one local girl took on the town for the right to raise chickens in her yard and won a few years back. If the government wanted to subsidize a small greenhouse for my backyard which I’d really like but can’t afford, I’d be all for it. Quite a few carpenters who could use some work right now. Maybe with a little creativity Uncle Sugar could offer some sort of garden subsidy in lieu of or in conjunction with various welfare programs. Maybe it’s just me, but growing your own food has a way of making a person feel useful.

    Also liked his idea of a new suburban grange movement. My town is starting a big community garden for the first time in the spring – they just did all the prep work for it in the fall. Also recently started a farmer’s market for the wintertime and it’s been very successful from what I can tell. You have to get there pretty early or all the good stuff is gone. Of course it only goes for about 4 hrs per week right now. The demand makes me think a grange movement would be very beneficial. Lots of people want this food but not too many know how to grow it. Some of my neighbors think I’m some kind of gardening genius – mostly the ones who don’t know whether a carrot is a root or grows on a tree. Really not that hard, especially with a little advice and some trial and error. Had I known prior to planting last year that striped German tomatoes were ripe well before they turned red, I would have had a lot more salsa…

  10. artemis54 permalink
    December 30, 2011 1:19 pm

    This is unbelievable. The FDA has quietly decided it will do absolutely nothing about the use of antibiotics in animal feed. Nearly 30 million pounds are fed to livestock, in perfect health for the most part, each year in the US. That is 80% of the country’s antibiotic consumption and is absolutely certain to lead to many human deaths in the future. It is already happening.

    This decision is in the face of objections from such radical groups as the AMA.

    The beef industry says there simply is no evidence of any problem, and apparently the FDA believes them. Doing so requires turning a blind eye to 30 years of published evidence.

    Give em an earful here

    • artemis54 permalink
      December 30, 2011 2:08 pm

      An oldie but a goodie. Of the literally thousands of papers on the subject, this one alone should scare the shit out of any thinking person: Dissemination of Escherichia coli with CTX-M Type ESBL between Humans and Yellow-Legged Gulls in the South of France

      Hence, our data together with other recent studies indicates that birds could act as important environmental bio-indicators, and reservoirs, of medically important pathogens and resistance genes, as well as a potential melting pot for the development of new resistance types.

    • cometman permalink*
      December 31, 2011 9:43 am

      Are you kidding me!?!?!?! They’ve been putting this off for 35 years now!?!?!?! For fuck sake I think most 12 year olds understand bacterial resistance.

  11. artemis54 permalink
    December 30, 2011 10:01 pm

    Can’t remember who it was that was raving about Winter’s Bone. What a performance from the young lead, and what a view into the white trash meth underbelly of the US. I know these people.

    • cometman permalink*
      December 31, 2011 9:35 am

      Hadn’t heard of that one but I looked it up and it sounds pretty good. Used to know some of those people myself but not so much these days. Something called bath salts seems to have overtaken meth as the hillbilly drug of choice out this way if the news is any guide. Never heard of it until a few months ago but the PoPo has been turning up a lot more of it.

      I did get a copy of Cave of Forgotten Dreams! Haven’t had time to watch it yet but I’ll give a rundown when I do. Just noticed that Herzog has a new film out too which might make a good double feature with your flick – Into the Abyss.

      Also watched one of Herzog’s shorts recently – How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck – a little documentary he did about the World Livestock Auction Championships. It’s basically 45 minutes straight of auctioneers rattling off cattle prices which I found strangely soothing. Here’s part of it

      • artemis54 permalink
        December 31, 2011 11:38 am

        Oh, I saw Cave oFD the other night. Well worth your time. There is a nice little Herzog twist at the end too.

  12. artemis54 permalink
    December 31, 2011 11:43 am

    There’s an ape for that

    Milwaukee County Zoo is letting orangutans play with iPads, and it turns out they love them.

    “Orangutans love looking at each other,” said Mr Zimmerman, adding that one of the apes, 31-year-old MJ, is a fan of David Attenborough programmes.

  13. artemis54 permalink
    December 31, 2011 10:04 pm

    In a spontaneous move that seemed to surprise protesters themselves, several thousand reoccupied Zuccotti Patk in time to ring in the new year:

    Whose year?

    Our year?

    Crowds danced on the barricades they had pulled down, buoyed by the appearance of the 99% bat signal on nearby buildings.

    • cometman permalink*
      January 8, 2012 8:40 am

      Been trying to find some footage of the bat signal from New Year’s Eve but haven’t run across it yet.

      Also glad to see they made an appearance at the Rose Bowl parade which was likely more exciting than the game itself. Does anybody still care about the college football bowl season?

      Went downtown recently and the local OWS group is still camping out in the park so the lawsuit against the city has evidently delayed any eviction. Updates when I find out what’s been going on.

  14. artemis54 permalink
    January 2, 2012 3:12 pm

    Don’t know if this has been much noticed elsewhere, but the northwest is aghast; there is little else on the news: Mount Rainier: evacuation complete as suspect’s body found in chest-deep snow

    Anderson leaves behind daughters aged 4 and 2, and a husband who was also a ranger at Mt Rainier.

    • cometman permalink*
      January 8, 2012 9:15 am

      I’d been meaning to post about that but haven’t been able to sit down at the interwebs for more than about 5 minutes recently. The story did get some notice although I’m not sure how much in the US media outside the NW – I first read about it at the BBC before they had found the shooter.

      Appalling for everyone involved. Isn’t the first and won’t be the last incidence of a PTSD vet coming home and not being able to cope. We are damaging a whole generation of human beings sending them off to fight for whatever the rationale du jour happens to be. The concept of blowback never seems to sink in with the ‘leadership’ of this country but it really isn’t comforting to think that there are thousands of people like this shooter walking around right now.

      But now we use drones to keep our soldiers ‘safer’ and away from direct combat. Except that private companies make these drones and you don’t have to be in the military to get your hands on one. Read this article with great interest – Whaling: campaigners use drones in the fight against Japanese whalers. Nice to see that the use of recon drones has drastically reduced the number of whales harvested. Then I wonder how long it will be before pretty much anybody can get their hands on an armed drone. Somehow i don’t feel a whole lot safer…

      • artemis54 permalink
        January 8, 2012 3:43 pm

        Mt. Rainier just reopened yesterday, Saturday.

        Mini drones are also the latest thing at Occupy, with Occ Warsaw pioneering the use of these little quadrocopters equipped with superlight cameras to monitor police movement. The NYC crowd was playing with one the other day.

  15. artemis54 permalink
    January 2, 2012 6:17 pm

    Wowza, here’s a late Christmas present for ya. Get your three hours of Chris Hedges on.

    • artemis54 permalink
      January 3, 2012 10:51 am

      Ha. Oh man, someone posted the three hour youtube of Hedges at the House of Orange without condensing it into we-love-obama-ese for them. You should see all the self proclaimed progressives bitching and moaning for someone to explain to them who Hedges is, monosyllabically I suppose so they can decide if he fits in or not. I encourage everyone to watch it maybe a little at a time to appreciate the subtlety of his analysis. It isn’t for the black and whiters at dk any more than it would be for Joe Scarborough.

      • triv33 permalink
        January 6, 2012 8:07 am

        heh! friend of mine~

      • cometman permalink*
        January 8, 2012 9:50 am

        Speaking of the Tangerine Dream –

        The political class has been piling on Ron Paul from both sides now that he’s surged in the polls somewhat. I thought Greenwald’s discussion of why his candidacy is important was spot on – Progressives and the Ron Paul fallacies . Well worth reading in full but in a nutshell Greenwald has the temerity to make one pretty simple point – that self proclaimed ‘progressives’ lambaste Ron Paul because many of his positions are ones that St. Barry was supposed to be advocating but hasn’t –

        Ron Paul’s candidacy is a mirror held up in front of the face of America’s Democratic Party and its progressive wing, and the image that is reflected is an ugly one; more to the point, it’s one they do not want to see because it so violently conflicts with their desired self-perception.

        And while Greenwald prefaced his argument with this –

        It’s literally impossible to discuss any of the candidates’ positions without having the simple-minded — who see all political issues exclusively as a Manichean struggle between the Big Bad Democrats and Good Kind Republicans or vice-versa — misapprehend “I agree with Candidate X’s position on Y” as “I support Candidate X for President” or “I disagree with Candidate X’s position on Y” as “I oppose Candidate X for President.” Even worse are the lying partisan enforcers who, like the Inquisitor Generals searching for any inkling of heresy, purposely distort any discrete praise for the Enemy as a general endorsement.

        – quite a number of people still managed to (probably deliberately) misread, misunderstand, and/or distort his argument.

        This rebuttal to Greenwald’s (and others’) argument seemed to entirely miss the point. And besides missing that point, the author argues that liberalism is and has always been about intervention (as opposed to libertarian non-intervention) and it’s all just a matter of degree. Some liberals might politely suggest tweaking tax policy while others might foment war in several nations across the world sending missiles up innocent people’s assholes just to be on the safe side, but it’s all just good liberal interventionist policy aimed at doing the right thing. Been a while since I’d read that much bullshit coming from a supposed liberal. Then I got to the end and noticed that the article came from one of Klub Kumquat’s finest pom pom girls and it all made sense.

  16. artemis54 permalink
    January 4, 2012 1:40 pm

    (WA Gov Christine) Gregoire proposes legislation to legalize gay marriage

    The line is pretty clearly drawn here. Gregoire has nothing to lose, and Dem guv candidate (and personal favorite of mine) Jay Inslee has long since been out in support of marriage equality.

    It’s gonna be ugly. So let’s get it on.

    • artemis54 permalink
      January 4, 2012 3:30 pm

      Oh boy, she came swinging with a ten minute statement citing Massachusetts, Canada, and the Suquamish tribe and went on to talk about her own difficulties with the issue and how they were overcome by her friends. Much reliance in her talk on the civil rights parallel and the fact there are thousands of gaybies – no, she didn’t use that word – who deserve for their families to be respected.

      It really was quite a news conference.

      • cometman permalink*
        January 8, 2012 10:14 am

        How rabid is the WA state legislature these days? I’m sure it would pass overwhelmingly in western WA but out in the tumbleweeds…

        If it does pass, hopefully Tim Eyman or some other whackjob won’t just start an initiative to have voters overrule the legislature like happened here. People are still fighting to make it legal once and for all in Maine but we may have to wait for the older generation to die off before it ever becomes permanent here. If that’s what it takes I wish they’d hurry the hell up because as much as I support them, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to be polite to the state advocacy group calling my house day after day looking for help to fight a battle I thought had already been won. Admittedly my frustration is more with being fucking broke and not being able to contribute to much of anything financially these days.

        • artemis54 permalink
          January 8, 2012 3:38 pm

          The informed guesstimate is that it will pass the house and needs two more – Democratic – votes in the senate. Polling now on the question of an initiative to repeal it – that is how used we have become to this bullshit – shows that 55% would oppose repeal. People are finally tired of Eyman, and the last go round to repeal the “everything but marriage” law failed a few years back.

          This is well thought out, especially by sen Ed Murray. This fall should see large turnout, between the prez and everything else and that should bode well for anti-repeal forces.

        • artemis54 permalink
          January 8, 2012 3:51 pm

          Speaking of WA, I keep forgetting to bring this up. I was impressed that Gregoire appointed Jay Kehne, who works for Conservation Northwest, to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission. As seen at the link, there is considerable bitching from certain folks who view his knowledge of what he is talking about as disqualifying.

          • cometman permalink*
            January 9, 2012 9:26 pm

            Let them kill all the wolves and then they’ll bitch about the deer clearing all the vegetation of grazing lands… Sounds like an excellent appointment.

  17. artemis54 permalink
    January 5, 2012 9:41 am

    Fish mimics octopus

    Further info

  18. sisdevore permalink
    January 5, 2012 8:39 pm

    Happy New Year my favorite blog.

  19. artemis54 permalink
    January 6, 2012 11:05 am

    We need to buy Ricky Socrates Santorum a new shovel, stat. He is rapidly wearing out his current one. Just as the msm for some reason has decided to hype him into contender status, for the second time in two days he wanders off into a morass of his own devising:

    The day before, he unleashed his inner schoolmarm, condescendingly explaining to students far smarter than himself that his equation of marriage equality and polygamy was the simple exercise of reason. It is no such thing; it it mere sophistry and diversion.

    At the same time, he is carrying on with the lame defense that he didn’t say black people should be dumped off welfare, but all people, and the “blah” was just some sort of brain fart.

    Uh huh. Now tell us the one about the three bears. This led to a hilarious facebook thread last night about Blah Power, little blah dresses, etc.

    • cometman permalink*
      January 9, 2012 10:36 pm

      Poor little Ricky. I’ve noticed that when the bible thumpers attempt to resort to ‘reason’ it’s usually about when they are about to be laughed out of the room by more intelligent people.

      On a related note, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Victor Stenger’s book The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us which debunks the sophistry of the anthropic principle, something I’ve been trying to wrap my head around for a while as the whole argument seems ridiculous on its face. Stenger is evidently associated with the ‘New Atheist’ crowd long with Dawkins and Hitchens among others. About 2/3 of the way through it and it does have a lot of mathematics in it, much of which is way above my head (but not so far above that I didn’t notice several typos in the mathematical notation [any publishers who need a good proofreader, let me know]), but so far it’s the best writing I’ve seen on this subject. I’d read Leonard Susskind’s book on the same subject which I thought was supposed to be debunking the anthropic principle but found it very confusing. From what I can gather Susskind debunked the religious use of the principle often used to defend ‘intelligent’ design, but his argument seems to be that while this universe may be fine tuned for us, there are myriad others in the multiverse which are not. Stenger argues that while there could be a multiverse, that isn’t necessary to thoroughly debunk the fine-tuning argument since this universe is not fine-tuned anyway. One part that resonated with me based on previous reading –

      …the conservation principles [energy, momentum, etc. – cman] are not laws built into the universe or handed down by deity to govern the behavior of matter. They are principles governing the behavior of physicists.

      Few years ago I’d read some book on the validity of mathematics where the author challenged anybody to show them an actual, physical “3” as an example. Of course you can’t because “3” doesn’t exist in nature. Math is a system developed by human beings to describe the world around them. What’s required is that it is self-consistent and can be used to accurately predict empirical physical events, which it does. The physical ‘laws’ are necessary to keep the system self-consistent and accurately describe reality, but they could be written differently than they are. And if the system or physical model stops describing reality accurately as new methods of empirical observation are developed, the system is changed to reflect the new developments – see Ptolemy and Galileo.

      Stenger also debunks the argument that if any one of several physical parameters were adjusted only ever so slightly, life as we know it would not exist. He says that maybe if you just adjusted one parameter at a time, but if you adjust several in conjunction the problem disappears.

      Not sure why so many people get stuck on the “life as we know it” argument. Who cares? So “life we don’t currently recognize” would exist if “life as we know it” didn’t. We evolved to fit the universe, not the other way around. FerXrissakes, life we once thought impossible has been discovered on this planet in our own lifetimes in the deep ocean. I remember being taught that sunlight was necessary for all life back in the 80s and that turns out not to be true anymore.

      There are way too many people these days who just do not understand how science works and what its uses and limitations are. Why anybody would even attempt to ‘prove’ their religion correct based on scientific arguments and ‘reason’ is beyond me. Those who do try it don’t seem to have much faith or strength in their convictions. It’s like they’re grasping at straws to bolster beliefs that deep down they feel or know aren’t true but are afraid for whatever reason to admit. Which is why I think so many little Rickys turn out to be Ted Haggards at heart.

      • artemis54 permalink
        January 10, 2012 10:25 am

        Heraclitus should be engraved at the entrance to every public school: Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει – all is flux, nothing is fixed. We rush to forget it because it runs counter to the need to have everything defined as good or bad. black or white, with us or against us. The tendency to reify notions is maybe most apparent in biology’s endless disputes over species and families and orders, forgetting that all these things are nothing more than our shorthand symbols for describing a system that is ultimately dynamic anyway. It is why I love the running battle over whether ceviche is cooked or not.

        • cometman permalink*
          January 10, 2012 12:23 pm

          Maybe you or Miss D can settle the battle of ceviche v. crudité.

          Several months ago I had the pleasure of being cooked some lunch by a fairly well known cook book author who made several raw fish dishes drizzled with various vinaigrettes. Delicious. But she called them crudités and I thought fish in acidic liquids was ceviche. Is it ceviche when it’s meat and crudité for the veggies? There were veggies involved so I guess technically what she cooked could have been either. And the fish was just drizzled and not marinated. If you guys don’t know, perhaps they can settle the matter in the next Republican debate. Certainly a more interesting topic than what they usually bloviate about.

        • cometman permalink*
          January 10, 2012 1:58 pm

          And speaking of the Greek oldtimers and modern science, your comment reminded me of an excellent scifi short story you might like – “The Fixation” by Alastair Reynolds. It involves quantum entanglement and entropy exchange through the multiverse in an attempt to restore the Antikythera mechanism. Nice cautionary tale about the limitations of mathematics and fucking with things you don’t really understand.

          Unfortunately I couldn’t find a direct link to it online but you might be able to download it from one of the websites listed here. Not really sure how all that works, but if you can’t download it, you could always buy the book if you really want to read it. It’s available in this one or this one.

    • cometman permalink*
      January 9, 2012 11:02 pm

      Side note to the above: I continue to be fascinated by Fred Hoyle the more I read about the guy. His discovery of the thermonuclear processes that create heavy elements within stars was one that the ID crowd latches onto in support of ‘fine-tuning’. Hoyle figured out that in order for carbon to form inside stars through fusion of lighter elements, it had to exist is some previously undiscovered excited state. His reasoning was that we are here and are made of carbon, so such a state must exist. He got a friend to fire up a particle accelerator and found it at just the right state. But he was not religious and his advocacy of the Steady State model was due at least in part because the competing Big Bang theory implied a beginning to the universe which was latched onto by the creationists as evidence of a Banger. I read another book recently which discussed the whole Big bang v Steady State debate and it mentioned that Pope Pius came out publicly in favor of the Big Bang. That prompted Big Bang proponent Georges Lemaître, a great scientist and Catholic priest, to write to the Pope telling him to stop talking about science because it wasn’t helping.

      Would have loved to be around for those debates of science v science rather than the devolution of the debate into science v religion we are currently tormented by.

  20. cometman permalink*
    January 9, 2012 11:34 pm

    Some notes I’ve been meaning to get to for a while –

    Fresh off smacking down a slap on the wrist settlement between the SEC and Citigroup, Judge Rakoff accuses the SEC of misleading a federal court which prompts Congress to maybe someday do something about these bogus settlements, but only if they really really have to judging by the tone of the article. Too bad Rakoff can’t just fire Congress.

    This didn’t get much notice but the Montana Supreme court recently fired a shot across the bow of the Supreme’s Citizen’s United decision and upheld the state ban on election spending by corporations.

    Excellent article on why the new Keystone pipeline is a terrible idea by one of the engineers who worked on the first one –Mike Klink: Keystone XL pipeline not safe.

    As an inspector, my job was to monitor the construction of the first Keystone pipeline. I oversaw construction at the pump stations that have been such a problem on that line, which has already spilled more than a dozen times. I am coming forward because my kids encouraged me to tell the truth about what was done and covered up.

    When I last raised concerns about corners being cut, I lost my job — but people along the Keystone XL pathway have a lot more to lose if this project moves forward with the same shoddy work.

    What did I see? Cheap foreign steel that cracked when workers tried to weld it, foundations for pump stations that you would never consider using in your own home, fudged safety tests, Bechtel staffers explaining away leaks during pressure tests as “not too bad,” shortcuts on the steel and rebar that are essential for safe pipeline operation and siting of facilities on completely inappropriate spots like wetlands.

    A US District court judge compels Twitter to hand over records on Wikileaks supporters. Unclear from the article how this would in any way help the Feds make a case against Assange, but it is definitely a bit chilling which is probably the entire point.

    And speaking a chilling, Obama recently signed the defense authorization bill into law which among other things would allow the indefinite military detention of US citizens, but cross his heart and hope to die he promises he won’t use it against US citizens himself. Gee, thanks a bunch Barry. Perhaps he’ll just assassinate the evildoers instead.

    And kudos to WA state which on Jan 1 became the first state with a minimum wage above $9 per hour, a figure slightly above what many ME employers are offering these days.And ME still has the bullshit less-than-minimum wage provision for waiters and tipped employees which is currently $3.75/hr. The restaurant industry screams bloody murder every time an increase is suggested here. Funny, but WA still seems to have plenty of eateries with no reduced minimum wage but that argument never seems to enter into the debate.

    • artemis54 permalink
      January 10, 2012 10:27 am

      I point out whenever possible that with the highest minimum wage in the country, WA has been doing fairly well compared to the south and other areas without unions, and as you say these bizarre exemptions to minimum wage, etc.

  21. cometman permalink*
    January 10, 2012 2:32 pm

    Some notes –

    Thank you Bill Moyers for once again coming back to PBS and bringing a little intelligence and class back to the TeeVee.

    Now that the media has forgotten about the BP Gulf disaster, they aren’t even bothering to mention a disaster of comparable size in Nigeria that occurred last month.

    Another that not too many have seen fit to mention, but St. Barry is not running unopposed today’s NH primary. He is being challenged by Darcy Richardson who mentions at his campaign website that Barry forgot to file for his slate of delegates. Not exactly sure what that means as far as who gets the delegates up for grabs. Richardson’s backhanded apologia for the Obama campaign’s screw up –

    “I’m sure this was merely an oversight by President Obama’s re-election team,” says Richardson. “Like a bloated bureaucracy, in a billion-dollar campaign like President Obama’s — one that’s literally drenched in Wall Street money — it’s easy to imagine that the left hand doesn’t always know what the right hand is doing.”

    Chinese researchers have discovered small bits of ingested plant RNA bonding with the organs of human beings – The Very Real Danger of Genetically Modified Foods. And here’s the researchers’ paper from Nature.

    Another newly discovered adaptation – Newly discovered carnivorous plant devours underground worms.

    And news from the world of art theft as a Picasso and a Mondrian go missing from Greece’s national gallery. Perhaps the κλέφτες were just trying to help with the austerity by keeping curation costs down.

  22. artemis54 permalink
    January 11, 2012 12:07 pm

    So far, two Republican state senators have come out in support of Gregoire’s marriage equality bill.

    • cometman permalink*
      January 11, 2012 4:29 pm

      Don’t know where Maple Valley is but kudos to her.

      From what I remember Mercer Island votes republican since they’re all loaded but I imagine they’re more liberal with the social issues being fairly cosmopolitan and all. A lot like Bellevue. The senator probably realizes pandering to the troglodyte circuit isn’t going to get him too far in that district.

  23. artemis54 permalink
    January 11, 2012 3:25 pm

    This is what the GOP committing suicide looks like.

    Newt’s biopic on Romney is out, and it is a dandy: When Mitt Romney Came to Town could easily be mistaken for a primer from Chris Hedges or OWS.

    • cometman permalink*
      January 11, 2012 4:53 pm

      I suppose when you add this –

      Paid for by Winning Our Future.
      Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

      – it might fool at least a few of the rubes who can’t be bothered to click on the link and find out it’s coming from the little reptile who never saw a rich guy he wouldn’t get on his knees for.

      The inanity of this campaign is mind boggling. Was just watching Democracy Now and they showed Romney giving a post-primary speech trying to differentiate himself from St. Barry by resorting to the usual “he’s a socialist, I’m a real Mericun” rhetoric. Had to leave the room before I had an aneurism. Back in 2000 we had two clowns who had at least some significant differences falling over each other to agree. SNL parodied that nicely IIRC. Now we’ve got Tweedle B(arack) and Tweedle Bum trying to convince everybody they’re polar opposites. Meanwhile the people who really pull the strings in this country are laughing all the way to the bank knowing either of these douchebags will keep the gravy train rolling.

      On a related note, I thought this summed up Barry’s latest appointment quite well –

  24. cometman permalink*
    January 11, 2012 5:01 pm

    Uncle Sugar/Israel have whacked another Iranian nuclear scientist – Iran nuclear scientist ‘killed’ by car bomb .

    Found it odd that Al Jazeera put the quotes around the word killed. Maybe it’s a subtle way to indicate they aren’t too pleased with Iran after they recently jammed their broadcasts.

  25. artemis54 permalink
    January 12, 2012 12:00 pm

    Okay this has gone beyond absurdity now. The Harper government has served notice that thousands of same-sex couples who flocked to Canada from abroad since 2004 to get married are not legally wed if the marriages would not have been legal (at the time or since?) where they lived (together? separately? what if one lived in a jurisdiction with marriage equality and the other didn’t?) at the time. (Eight fucking years ago!!!!!)

    • cometman permalink*
      January 14, 2012 11:25 am

      On a related note, here’s some more stupid for you, although it seems that slightly saner heads have prevailed – Watson withdraws Senate version of bill affecting transgender use of restrooms, dressing rooms.

      The state senator had originally sponsored the bill as a favor to state congressman Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga –

      Floyd said earlier Thursday he introduced the bill after reading a news article about a Texas woman who said she was fired from Macy’s after stopping a male teen dressed as a woman from using a dressing room.

      “It could happen here,” Floyd said. “I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry.

      “Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk,” he said. “We cannot continue to let these people dominate how society acts and reacts. Now if somebody thinks he’s a woman and he’s a man and wants to try on women’s clothes, let them him take them into the men’s bathroom or dressing room.”

      One has to wonder what Floyd would do if his wishes were obeyed and he saw somebody in a chiffon dress sidle up next to him at the urinal.

      And aren’t these republicans supposed to be the ones who want government intrusion out of people’s lives? I do understand that this can be a legitimate beef (and I can also see how in many places it would be no problem at all) but to me it falls in the area of athletes taking steroids – it’s really doesn’t rise to the level of needing government intervention. The businesses in question ought to be able to handle it themselves with no legislation and waste of taxpayer dollars necessary.

  26. artemis54 permalink
    January 12, 2012 7:10 pm

  27. artemis54 permalink
    January 13, 2012 12:22 pm

    Conservation Biology celebrates its 25th anniversary with 21 free, open access articles in the December issues.

  28. artemis54 permalink
    January 13, 2012 1:28 pm

    Sacrilege, blasphemy, abomination, perversion contrary to nature

  29. cometman permalink*
    January 14, 2012 11:43 am

    Is this another clunker that sneaked by ScienceDaily? And Science? –Offsetting Global Warming: Molecule in Earth’s Atmosphere Could ‘Cool the Planet’

    Researchers have detected new molecules that occur naturally in the atmosphere which they believe have the potential to counteract global warming. The results were originally published in Science and not some fly by night journal which lends some credence to the claims.

    But I have to wonder, if these compounds are already in the atmosphere, why is it still getting warmer?!?!?!?!

    The article does say –

    “A significant ingredient required for the production of these Criegee biradicals comes from chemicals released quite naturally by plants, so natural ecosystems could be playing a significant role in off-setting warming.”

    If re-forestation is proposed as a solution then I’m all for it. But if it’s manufacturing these molecules and releasing them into the atmosphere, that sounds like a very bad idea. Am I missing something here?

    • artemis54 permalink
      January 14, 2012 2:41 pm

      I feel much the same. Haven’t really digested this, but it seems like early days to break out the champagne.

  30. cometman permalink*
    January 14, 2012 12:13 pm

    Nice article on deep sea hydrothermal vents via The Artful Amoeba – When You Think “Hydrothermal Vents”, You Shouldn’t Think “Tube Worms”.

    A recently released study describes Antarctic vents where no tubeworms were found, but they did find quite a few previously unknown species like this octopus –

    The PLosOne paper on it is here.

  31. cometman permalink*
    January 14, 2012 12:24 pm

    Notes –

    Big protests in Nigeria over rising fuel prices.

    The WI recall committee has enough signatures to force a recall vote on Walker.

    And keep on Occupying. You never know what it might lead to. The local group has inspired one city council member to take on the Citizens United decision

    The City Council will debate a resolution Wednesday that calls on Maine’s congressional delegation to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing “Corporate Personhood.”

    The resolution, submitted by Councilor David Marshall and co-sponsored by councilors John Anton and Kevin Donoghue and Mayor Michael Brennan, is expected to draw a crowd of people who are eager to testify in support, including members of the League of Young Voters and the Occupy Maine movement.


    Marshall said the Occupy Wall Street movement and its local version, Occupy Maine, inspired him to submit the resolution.

  32. artemis54 permalink
    January 14, 2012 2:50 pm

    Here is where WA’s marriage equality bill stands – and where it very well may stall out: It was sponsored by 23 senators, including the two Rs. It needs 25 to pass. Questioning by AP reveals there are nine senators yet to make up their minds, four Rs and 5 Ds. I think it is safe to say the Rs are hopeless, but it is hard for me to see how the senator from Bothell, an area I know well, can oppose. That leaves just one more.

  33. artemis54 permalink
    January 15, 2012 5:21 am

    Listen to your elders.

    This is a great talk by Sylvia Earle but there is considerable folderol at the begining, introductions, blah blah, and it takes a little while for her to really take off. At about one hour twenty minutes she tells the story of how Bush came to designate what is now Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, encompassing a little over 158,000 times the total area that Obama has preserved, his one effort being yet another idiotic war memorial.

    • artemis54 permalink
      January 15, 2012 5:22 am


      • cometman permalink*
        January 19, 2012 12:10 pm

        Wow. That’s probably the first time I’ve ever heard anybody (who wasn’t a knuckle dragger) describe W doing anything right.

        Protected areas are a great start to fixing the problem but as she alluded to, enforcing the no-fishing areas would seem to be a problem, especially as more area comes under protection. Loathe to say this, but maybe those drones used against whaling would be a help to at least identify any poachers. But then the problem becomes getting the relevant governments to penalize the offenders. Fines aren’t going to cut it and criminal prosecution needs to be used.

        On top of all that though, at some point some of the fishing industry will need to be shut down completely and people in Nebraska for example are going to have to do without halibut on their local restaurant menus if the oceans are ever going to recover. Don’t know where the political will to do that is going to come from.

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