The Watering Hole, Monday, July 28th, 2014: Childhood (and history) Lost?

The development where Wayne and I grew up sits atop a hill overlooking the Middlebranch Reservoir to the west, and used to be part of the Tilly Foster Farm to the north. When my family moved there in the late ’50s, we were visited by cows, sheep and goats from the farm, as our road was the closest to the farm’s property. Several acres were left undeveloped between us and the farm, which made for an enjoyable childhood spent roaming the woods, climbing trees and building ‘forts.’

While we were growing up, the farm mostly had horses; at one time, I remember, they had a Secretariat foal at the farm, and were a bit uptight about security: I pulled into the entrance once to take a picture, and within moments, a cop car arrived. For a while, it was closed as the county decided how best to utilize the property. Until a short while ago, the farm was run as a living museum, with old tractors and other farm equipment on display, as well as various breeds of cows, sheep, chickens, pigs,etc. The goal of the farm was to showcase rare American farm animals.
tilly foster sheepTilly Foster Farm 2012tilly foster goats 2tilly foster donkeytilly foster calves

Now, however, for some reason the county has decided to close the farm. Although the new caretaker just took delivery of newborn chicks for the farm, it is uncertain exactly what is ahead. According to one commenter at the farm’s website, a carnival was held there over 4th of July weekend. A terse notice on the museum’s ‘Welcome’ page states:

“The Society for the Preservation of Putnam County is no longer managing the farm. All of the rare American farm animals have been sold and we will not sponsor any more events at the farm.”

Hopefully the farm will be reopened as a living museum again. For us locals, the history of our area would be done a great disservice if this beautiful landmark were to be ruined for the sake of ‘progress.’

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

Sunday Roast: San Francisco

I grew up just across the San Francisco bay, in a town called Alameda.  My dad was in the Navy, and he managed to allow us to live in one place for about seven years, by alternating being stationed on the base at Alameda and being stationed on the USS Coral Sea.  At that time, it was the longest time I’d lived anywhere in my life!

Watching this video, it made me remember how much I loved the Bay Area.  So much history, beautiful scenery, and amazing weather.  I remember watching from across the bay as half of the Transamerica Pyramid was built — the top half, obviously.  :)

I left Alameda in 1989 — having moved back there as a married woman with one child, and another on the way — moving to Salem, Oregon just a few months before the Loma Prieta earthquake.  The only reason I had the TV on that afternoon was because of the World Series game between the A’s and the Giants.  Even though I’m not a baseball fan, I had to watch this particular series!

I walked out to the living room to see how they could possibly have such a quiet lead-in to the first game.  That’s when I saw raw footage of the Cypress freeway collapsed in on itself, and just stood there in shock.  I’d driven out of the Bay Area just a few months before, on the lower deck of that freeway, and I knew what that road was like at rush hour — packed.  The Portland news guy was narrating the raw footage, and I was going absolutely batshit, because he just didn’t understand that the Cypress was a double-decked structure.  A lot of people died on that freeway the day of the earthquake, but a mere fraction of the number that would have died, if not for the historic World Series starting that afternoon.

I haven’t been back there in over 25 years, but I’d love to visit San Francisco and the East Bay again.  I’d drive around the narrow streets of my old hometown, even though the base has been closed for many years, and the military housing I lived in is gone.  I noticed that the Myth Busters are making use of the old runways and my high school pool, so that’s pretty awesome.  Then I’d drive across the bridges, down Lombard Street, catch a cable car to China Town (if they’re still running), visit Coit Tower, where the ladies of the Officer’s Wives Club — led my my mom — hung a giant yellow ribbon, to welcome home my dad’s ship after the war, and I’d walk around Fisherman’s Wharf.  From what I could see on the video, it looks like they’ve spiffed up the piers and wharf area quite a bit.  Weird.  I liked it as it was.

Well, enjoy the video.  It brought back a lot of memories for me, as you can tell.

This is our daily open thread — What places do you miss?

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 21st, 2014: Floriduh vs Kitties

I was going to write about yesterday’s ThinkProgress thread about a fundraiser for Florida Governor Rick Scott. The story combines just about everything we liberals abhor: wealthy private-prison CEO; $10,000/plate fundraiser; private-prison abuses and fraud; immigrant detention; privatization of prison system healthcare (under Rick Scott?!); and so on, with big money and greed being the leitmotif. But it just got me too angry, so here’s some photos of some of our past furry friends. If I’ve posted a lot of these before, please humor me.

Stubby Plant

Stubby Plant

Tippy with Velveteen Rabbit

Tippy with Velveteen Rabbit

Lissa Grooms Her Ears (Amelia in lower left, photo of 20-something Wayne in upper right)

Lissa Grooms Her Ears (Amelia in lower left, photo of 20-something Wayne in upper right)

Earnest squeezes behind Pip

Earnest squeezes behind Pip

Becca prepares to leap.

Becca prepares to leap.

Nog (N.O.G. = Not Orange Guy)

Nog (N.O.G. = Not Orange Guy)

Belz and Lissa play while Splatter watches.

Belz and Lissa play while Splatter watches.

Preston, Jack and Souphlee

Preston, Jack and Souphlee

There, at least I feel better…

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 14th, 2014: It’s SCHNEIDER-MAN!

Nope, not Wayne…it’s New York State’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman.

A.G. Schneiderman is the root’n-est, toot’n-est, doggone shoot’n-est Attorney General around these parts. And while he has been focusing mainly on Wall Street transgressions, Schneiderman was forced to issue a press release last week after the McCullen decision, in which the Supremes struck down the 35-foot buffer zone around Massachusetts’ women’s health clinics.

Apparently protesters at a Planned Parenthood in Rochester, New York, were a mite confused about that ruling, believing that the Supreme Court decision struck down ALL buffer zones. According to an article by Michael Virtanen of The Republic:

“The letter followed a protest last week outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Rochester, where one demonstrator crossed a faded line on the sidewalk believing the Supreme Court decision applied everywhere, said Mary Jost. She is director of the Focus Pregnancy Help Center nearby and a longtime anti-abortion protester. Police were called, an officer talked with the woman and said she had to move back. That also prompted Rochester police to query the attorney general’s office and Jost to consult her own lawyer, who advised staying beyond the line that was subsequently painted bright orange, she said.

“We might take it to court in time,” Jost said.”

Yeah, sure, let us know how that works out for you.

A.G. Schneiderman’s press release (seen here in its entirety) said in part:

“I am committed to protecting the right of every patient in New York to full and safe access to reproductive health care services. We will not allow activists to use a narrowly targeted Supreme Court decision as an opportunity to create confusion about the critical protections here in New York. Not only do New York State’s clinic protection laws remain completely in place, I am committed to working with our partners in law enforcement to ensure they are fully enforced.”

Schneiderman, who was endorsed by Planned Parenthood for the post of Attorney General, insisted that the 15-foot buffer zone is still in effect in all 22 counties where it had been established in 2005. The Republic article also states that “He [A.G. Schneiderman] has also sent out investigators to ensure clinic access…”

Way to go, Schneiderman!

Just for fun, here’s President Obama turning down an offer that, I confess, I would not have refused.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

Sunday Roast: Supermoon? Settle, people.

My boyfriend…er, personal astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is frustrated with the “Super Moon” talk.

The Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not a perfect circle,” DeGrasse Tyson said at the time. “Sometimes it’s closer, sometimes it’s farther away. Every month, there is a moment when it is closest. Occasionally, that moment when it is closest coincidences with a full moon. People are calling that a super moon, but there’s super half moons. Every month one of those phases is the closest. I don’t hear people saying like ‘super crescent, super half moon.’”

And…

There is something called a super moon,” Tyson responded. “I don’t know who first called it a super moon. I don’t know, but if you have a 16 inch pizza, would you call that a super pizza compared with a 15 inch pizza?”

Well, I would — if it were really good pizza!!  But I digress…

“Supermoons” are not rare, but for some reason, they’re a thing right now, and I guess they’ll continue to be so, until we find out spaghetti & meatballs are a great hair conditioner, or another movie star gets embarrassing plastic surgery, or the President persists in trying to do his job.

Really people, stop upsetting my boyfriend.  Yeah that’s right, I said it.  ;)

This is our daily open thread — Get some star-gazing done this summer!

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 7th, 2014: Crazy Talk

Thanks to commenter BruinKid at Daily Kos for these two libertarian wingnuts’ words:

First, a quote from Libertarian Kevin Gutzman, who is currently a “neighbor” of ours living in Danbury, Connecticut (In the olden days when Wayne and I were growing up in Brewster, New York, Danbury was considered a ‘local’ call, and we didn’t have to dial the 203- area code.) It’s kind of scary that he is a professor of history at Western Connecticut State College, or as we have always called it, “WestConn.” (My sister attended for 3-1/2 years.)

“As Americans celebrate the Fourth today, remember this: the statists are the intellectual descendants of those who did not celebrate the Fourth in the 1790s, celebrating Washington’s birthday instead:

“In the Founders’ day, the 4th of July was a partisan holiday. It was celebrated in the 1790s and 1800s by Jeffersonian Republicans desirous of showing their devotion to Jeffersonian, rather than Hamiltonian, political philosophy. If you were a Federalist in the 1790s, you likely would celebrate Washington’s Birthday instead of the 4th of July. If you believed in the inherent power of the Executive in formulating foreign policy, in the power of Congress to charter a bank despite the absence of express constitutional authorization to do so, and in the power of the federal government to punish people who criticized the president or Congress, you would not celebrate the 4th. The 4th was the holiday of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, those great states’-rights blasts at federal lawlessness. It was the anti-Hamilton, anti-Washington, anti-nationalist holiday.”

Next, from Jeffrey A. Tucker, who, according to Wikipedia, describes himself as “a dedicated anarchist” (he may also have been involved in the racist newsletters that got Ron Paul in some trouble):

“Now that 4th of July celebrations are over, let’s take the Declaration of Independence seriously and abolish the United States. It’s a cobbled together empire based on nothing but 19th century political ambitions. The results have been a menace to the world and certainly a menace to its own people. If the U.S. devolved to hundreds or thousands of small countries, or even became the great 21st century experiment in P2P legal institutions with no overarching geographically contiguous legal structure, that would even be better. The nation state is an anachronism, and the largest surviving case in point really should set the example, in the spirit of the principles that gave it birth, and be the first to go.”

Last, according to Salon’s July 1st article by Elias Isquitch, Governor Paul LePage of Maine has apparently been “pallin’ around with terrorists.” Author Mike Tipping, who covers local politics in Maine, has a book out about Governor LePage’s several meetings with a group called “Sovereign Citizens”, who are purportedly allied with the “Constitutional Coalition”, who are on the FBI terrorist watch list. LePage’s staff have verified that the meetings did occur. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

“Among the things reportedly discussed at these meetings was whether or not to seek violent retribution against key political opponents. A Coalition member named Jack McCarthy described the meeting on a radio program hosted by a small group of sovereign citizens calling themselves the Aroostook Watchmen:

“We also discussed this there, that as far as I know, the penalty for high treason has not changed in 100 years. And, I did not say it, but the governor said it. I never – I never opened my mouth and said the word. The governor looked at us and looked at his buddy and said they are talking about hanging them.”

LePage has vehemently denied that he ever discussed executing anyone, let alone his Democratic opponents, with the group, and a spokesperson characterized the meetings as a benign effort by the governor to listen to people across the political spectrum…

The topics of these meetings evidently revolved around classic antigovernment “Patriot” movement conspiracy theories, including the belief that American dollars are phony “fiat” money and that the Federal Reserve is a hoax. One of the meetings was dominated by discussion, led by noted conspiracy theorist Michael Coffman, revolving around the notion that the United Nations is out to seize Americans’ private property rights and impose a New World Order environmentalist regime.”

From the “Constitutional Coalition” website:

“Our Constitution established specific powers of the federal government, powers that are limited and enumerated. The founders believed that the government exists to perform only those services that the people cannot provide for themselves, such as the national defense. Local and state government powers were also to be limited and enumerated with the people self governing in all other areas.

The founders held that only a moral people – a nation of godly people with common spiritual and social values – were capable of self government.”

Here, to take the bad taste out of your mouths, just watch any one of these “comedy vs anti-science videos” that “show how humor can make a difference.” (Which I found as part of “more related stories” after the Paul LePage story, right next to one described as “Comedy can’t change the world: why Russell Brand is dead wrong about politics and humor…” – heh) Or, you can celebrate the fact that Pink Floyd is coming out with a new ‘album’ in the fall. Yay!

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 30th, 2014: Jesus must be screaming

Thank you, frugalchariot, for the link that you posted on Saturday’s thread, leading me to a treasure trove of jaw-dropping info about Colorado’s latest entry in ‘Teh Crazy Game': Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Teh Crazy is strong in Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Teh Crazy is strong in Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Klingenschmitt is the surprise Republican primary winner for state representative in Colorado’s 15th District. The story in frugal’s link to Crooks and Liars includes an excerpt from RightWingWatch on Klingenschmitt that is loaded with links and will curl your hair. As karoli at C&L says in the article:

“This is why there should be a Great Wall between church and state that is impenetrable. This guy is a nut. He makes Rafael Cruz look sane. And he’s now a Republican candidate for state office in Colorado.”

According to the Denver Post, Colorado Republicans don’t want to claim Klingenschmitt as one of their own:

“Klingenschmitt’s rhetoric and beliefs have raised alarm with members of the Republican Party, who worry that his views might cause problems for conservatives.”

“Gordon does not speak on behalf of the Republican Party. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate and dishonest,” said Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.”

Klingenschmitt, a former Navy Chaplain who was court-martialed in 2006 – not for “praying in Jesus’ name” as he tells it – for disobeying a lawful order. It is against military rules to wear one’s uniform at a political event, but Klingenschmitt wore his Navy Chaplain uniform to a protest in March of 2006 – next to former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore – outside the White House. He soon launched a new career with a radio show called “The Pray in Jesus Name Project.” Again from the Denver Post:

“[Klingenschmitt's] outspoken religious beliefs have crossed into the realm of popular politics, including homosexuality and Obama.

“Father in heaven, we pray against the domestic enemies of the Constitution — against this demon of tyranny who is using the White House,” Klingenschmitt said of the president in an episode of his show…”

According to The Public Record, Klingenschmitt has been playing the martyr ever since his court-martial, “boasting to his right-wing extremist followers that he demanded his own court martial because his superior officers prohibited him from praying in the name of Jesus.”

“Further undercutting Klingenschmitt’s claim that he sacrificed his naval career in the name of Jesus is an e-mail Vice Adm. Harvey sent to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Mullen urging him to approve Klingenschmitt’s “involuntary release” from the Navy due to Klingenschmitt’s “lack of career potential.”

Klingenschmitt’s former supervisor in the Navy had lots to say about him as well. Still from The Public Record article (which you HAVE to read, it’s an eye-opener):

“As reported by AU, Norm Holcomb, a retired Navy chaplain who was Klingenschmitt’s boss, sent an e-mail in March 2007 to Kentucky state officials after he discovered the House of Representatives passed a resolution lauding the disgraced Navy chaplain for “service to God, country and the Commonwealth of Kentucky” and invited him to lead a prayer session.”

[excerpt from Holcomb's email]

“We have been relatively quiet regarding our ex-chaplain’s untruthfulness and lack of honor because we are embarrassed that one of our own could display such behavior in the name of our Lord. We wanted to spare all concerned the embarrassment associated with his dishonesty. However, it now seems that it would be wrong for those of us who know the truth to remain silent. I served with him and supervised him (as best as it was possible to supervise a person who refused to submit to lawful authority) and I know about his daily dishonesty and ‘spin’ of the truth.”

Okay, so the Navy felt that Klingenschmitt lacked “career potential”, his own former supervisor states that Klingenschmitt was “untruthful” and now he’s running for public office? Coloradans, beware!

Next…

Scalia sez 'Go fuck yourselves'

Scalia, as always, sez ‘Screw you, I’m here ’til I die.’

Last week, the Supremes voted unanimously to strike down Massachusetts’ “Buffer Zone” law, which restricts anti-abortion protesters from coming within 35 feet of a women’s health clinic. According to a ThinkProgress thread from June 27th:

“The buffer zone law was struck down in a narrow ruling that suggested there are different ways to curb anti-choice harassment without restricting speech on public sidewalks…it’s still illegal to obstruct women’s access to a health clinic, thanks to a federal law that was passed in response to clinic blockades in the 1980s and early 1990s.”

Naturally, Antonin Scalia took issue with some points in Chief Roberts’ opinion, and had to get his own two cents in, according to an article from aol.com:

“In a separate opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized Roberts’ opinion as carrying forward “this court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents.”

Scalia said state and local governments around the country would continue to be able to “restrict antiabortion speech without fear of rigorous constitutional review.”

The buffer-zone case began when Boston-area grandmother Eleanor McCullen and other abortion opponents sued over the limits on their activities at Planned Parenthood health centers in Boston, Springfield and Worcester. At the latter two sites, the protesters say they have little chance of reaching patients arriving by car because they must stay 35 feet not from the clinic entrances but from the driveway to those buildings’ parking lots. Patients enter the building through the parking lots, which are private property.”

[emphasis mine]

Eleanor McCullen, Nosy Parker

Eleanor McCullen, Nosy Parker

So, just because Ms. McCullen wanted to get close enough to her intended harassment victims so that they could hear her better, she sued? Yes, she and her ilk have the 1st Amendment right to free speech, but that shouldn’t mean that a total stranger should be forced to listen to her. And if she couldn’t shout loud enough from across the street, tough darts!

What makes the Supreme’s decision so much harder to swallow is the hypocrisy: the entire Supreme Court plaza is a legislated buffer zone. As Susan Milligan says in this piece from U.S. News and World Report:

“But at what point does the free speech become a barrier to a woman seeking to exercise another right, one upheld by the courts, to have an abortion? The idea that the individuals preaching against abortion on the street are merely “counseling” women is the utmost insult…[t]he idea that a complete stranger presumes to know better – and assumes that the woman in question is some kind of mindless fool who couldn’t possibly know what she is doing – is beyond arrogant.”

Every time a Christian lies in Jesus’ name, Jesus screams.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 23rd, 2014: NY State’s Medical Marihuana Bill

Yes, in the original legislation, S4406-D, marijuana is spelt “marihuana,” so I’ll go with that.

It appears that what Governor Cuomo will agree to sign is not the same as the original bill. S4406-D includes language regarding “smokable marihuana”, such as:

“1 (B) MEDICAL MARIHUANA MAY NOT BE SMOKED IN ANY PLACE WHERE TOBACCO MAY
2 NOT BE SMOKED UNDER ARTICLE THIRTEEN-E OF THIS CHAPTER, REGARDLESS OF
3 THE FORM OF MEDICAL MARIHUANA STATED IN THE PATIENT’S CERTIFICATION;”

The legislation listed a wide variety of illnesses** for which a patient could be treated with medical marihuana. The patient could receive an amount up to (and possibly more than, if prescribed by the patient’s medical practicioner) two (2) ounces every thirty days. The final bill (which I can’t find posted yet, but I’ll update this when I do) may limit the qualifying illnesses

From the Long Beach, NY, Patch:

The bill does not allow for smokable marijuana, “which is important,” according to Cuomo. Sponsors of the bill favored smokeable varieties but Cuomo thought it would contribute to development of a gateway drug, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

Excerpt from the WSJ:

It would permit only doctors to prescribe marijuana, in forms including oil-based and vapor, to individuals with any of about a half-dozen conditions**, including cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

But it wouldn’t legalize smokable forms of the drug, making the effort much narrower in scope than many other medical-marijuana laws around the country. And it would allow the governor, upon recommendation by the state police superintendent or health commissioner, to suspend the program at any time.

The plan would make New York the 23rd state to legalize at least some forms of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and the second—in addition to Minnesota—to do so while also banning smokable forms.

Mr. Cuomo had said he wanted to curb marijuana’s potential to become a “gateway” drug, a worry shared by some Republicans—including the GOP leader in the Senate, Dean Skelos—whose votes were critical to the legislation’s success.

Stop right there, Governor Cuomo. Obviously you haven’t studied the issue enough if you believe it is a “gateway drug.” Particularly when you consider what the average age and condition of most of the “certified patients” will likely be, I doubt if any of them will be looking for a higher high. I would have to think that many of them have been treated with a variety of painkillers over the course of their illness, very strong and often addictive painkillers. So why would “smokable” marihuana be more “gateway”-ish than edible marihuana?

Let’s get back to the permitted illnesses, aka “serious conditions”, now down to “about a half-dozen.” **Here’s the list from the original legislation:

12 7. “SERIOUS CONDITION” MEANS A SEVERE DEBILITATING OR LIFE-THREATENING CONDITION, INCLUDING:
CANCER, POSITIVE STATUS FOR HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS OR ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME,
AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS, ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE, MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY, TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY,
DYSTONIA, PARKINSON’S DISEASE, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, DAMAGE TO THE NERVOUS TISSUE OF THE SPINAL
CORD WITH OBJECTIVE NEUROLOGICAL INDICATION OF INTRACTABLE SPASTICITY, EPILEPSY, WASTING SYNDROME,
CROHN’S DISEASE, POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, NEUROPATHY, RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, AND HUNTINGTON’S
DISEASE, OR A CONDITION ASSOCIATED WITH OR A COMPLICATION OF SUCH A CONDITION OR ITS TREATMENT,
OR ANY OTHER CONDITION THAT IS ADDED BY THE COMMISSIONER.

So now, most of those conditions cannot legally be treated with medical marijuana? That’s a shame for all of those patients who may have had their hopes up of being covered under this bill.

I’ll post the wording of the new bill as soon as I get it. In the meantime, here’s a couple of websites that I ran across that you may find interesting.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 16th, 2014: Local Fearmongering

A few days ago, I received the below email from our local State Senator Greg Ball:

Subject: Assault On Our 2nd Amendment Rights

Friend:

After recent anti Second Amendment efforts in the Assembly, the Senate Democrats are now pushing efforts to move legislation sponsored by Senator Peralta (S68A) that would mandate microstamping in New York State. Microstamping involves the expensive and invasive use of laser technology to engrave a microscopic marking onto the tip of the firing pin and onto the breech face of a firearm, so that spent cartridges give information about the firearm.

This is an extreme attempt to turn law abiding citizens into criminals, rather than tackling the real criminals. We must unite in both the Senate and throughout the state, to kill this extreme and costly effort, as we have done in the past.

There is not a shred of credible evidence that proves the technology actually works. This is a back door gun grab by liberal legislators engaged in social engineering, and we will stand our ground to defeat this recent effort.

I will keep fighting up in Albany to stop legislation that would infringe on our Second Amendment rights, but please stay vigilant and talk with your friends in other parts of the state to contact their elected officials.

Yours truly,

Senator Ball’s giant signature follows, but I won’t include it here, honestly, it’s huge.

Anyhoo, this is the gist of my reply to Senator Ball:

“This is an extreme attempt to turn law abiding citizens into criminals” In what way, Senator Ball? If a gun that is used in a crime shows the ID, wouldn’t it assist law enforcement in their efforts to apprehend a criminal? Most of the penalties outlined in the proposed legislation apply to gun manufacturers and gun dealers. If the ‘law-abiding-citizen’ gun owner does not deface his gun, microstamped or otherwise, then he will not be a criminal under this legislation. See Section 6. (A):

“6. (A) Any person who wilfully defaces any machine-gun, large capacity ammunition feeding device or firearm, INCLUDING DEFACING A MICROSTAMPING COMPONENT OR MECHANISM OF A SEMIAUTOMATIC PISTOL, is guilty of a class D felony.”

“…rather than tackling the real criminals.” Can you define who the real criminals are? Do you or your Republican colleagues have any proposals describing how you would “tackle” these “real criminals”?

“We must unite in both the Senate and throughout the state, to kill this extreme and costly effort, as we have done in the past.” The proposed legislation requires that the process cost no more than $12. (See S.7 below)

“There is not a shred of credible evidence that proves the technology actually works.” Um, not according to the text of the legislation’s Section S.6, so you might want to look into this further:

S.6 “…firearm microstamping is a revolutionary forensic technology that produces an identifiable alpha-numeric and geometric code onto the rear of the
cartridge casing each time a semiautomatic pistol is fired; that the alpha-numeric and geometric code on an expended cartridge casing will provide
an initial lead for law enforcement by enabling law enforcement to match the cartridge casing found at a crime to the original owner of the firearm;
that information from completed crime gun tracing is an important element utilized by COMPSTAT and other crime analysis systems to target illegal
firearms trafficking; that microstamping technology continues to produce identifiable markings onto expended cartridge casings even
after thousands of rounds of testing; that this additional tool will help law enforcement investigate illegal gun trafficking, close firearm-related
criminal cases and protect the public; and that legislative action is necessary to require all new semiautomatic pistols sold after January 1, 2016 to be
microstamp-ready.”

“This is a back door gun grab by liberal legislators engaged in social engineering” Now this is just pure fear-mongering strawman tactics, Senator, intended to rile up an already-riled-up base. Contrary to every NRA/Second Amendment worshippers’ rumor-mongering (which started BEFORE President Obama was even elected), that the big bad government was going to be “coming for your guns!”, the proposed S68A legislation mentions nothing about confiscation of guns whatsoever. In fact, the law itself, if passed, would not go into effect until AT LEAST January 1, 2016 OR whenever law-enforcement officials have received notification from microstamp job shops that certain production standards can be readily met; and, in fact, the law would only apply to GUNS MANUFACTURED AFTER JANUARY 1, 2016.

S.7 “This act shall take effect January 1, 2016, or at such time that the superintendent of the state police has received written notice from one or more microstamp job shops that such shop or shops are willing and prepared to produce microstamp structures on two internal surfaces of a semiautomatic pistol as defined in subdivision 26 of section 265.00 of the penal law for a price of twelve dollars or less at a production level of one thousand semiautomatic pistols per batch, whichever occurs later…”

So your guns-above-all-else-type of constituents can stock up to their heart’s content with non-microstamped weaponry.

“…and we will stand our ground to defeat this recent effort.”

This, Senator, offends me even more than your previous incendiary words.

While (S68A) would not have prevented, nor might not prevent, a tragedy such as the Sandy Hook shootings, any and every effort to do so warrants at least discussion. Yet you insist on using the volatile phrase “stand your ground”, which is now synonymous with “you can shoot anyone you want if they look at you the wrong way, or play their music too loud or, well, whatever, AND you can get away with murder! [Women need not apply.]” Your total lack of human tact or empathy is astounding. The people in Newtown/Sandy Hook are our neighbors. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that a teacher in the Pawling School District lost a child at Sandy Hook? You talk about this legislation’s (imagined) effect on law-abiding citizens, what about the effect of ignoring such a horrific slaughter of truly innocent children? Would you publicly label those particular parents of Newtown victims who are now advocating stricter gun laws “gun-grabbers”?

“I will keep fighting up in Albany to stop legislation that would infringe on our Second Amendment rights, but please stay vigilant and talk with your friends in other parts of the state to contact their elected officials. Not for much longer, Senator. [State Senator Ball has announced that he would not be running for public office once his term is up.]

Senator, IF this legislation ever passes, I hope that you will not be out there telling people these irresponsible, incendiary lies. In the meantime, why doesn’t the NY State Senate work toward gun-control legislation that could prevent another Sandy Hook, another Columbine, another Aurora, etc., etc. There have been over 70 shootings since Sandy Hook in public places such as schools, malls, plus killings like the recent one in Florida where a father killed three children and his wife before turning the gun on himself.

But the scariest shooting of all occurred last week when two of Cliven Bundy followers killed, in cold blood, two Las Vegas policemen on their lunch break at a local pizzeria; then the couple adorned each corpse with a Gadsden (“Don’t Tread on Me”) Flag. Shortly thereafter, after killing another innocent civilian, they killed themselves, too cowardly to face responsibility for their despicable act. A libertarian pundit, Adam Kokesh, “argued that because America’s political institutions — including the police — have become “homicidal … against freedom,” it was wrong to see the Millers unprovoked killing spree as acts of murder rather than self-defense. Kokesh argued next that the Millers had, if anything, saved lives by murdering two police. “Think of how many lives might have been saved by this incident,” he urged his audience. “How many people would these cops have killed had they not been killed?” “We can only hope that some of the officers in America are listening — if you care about your own safety”

Seriously, Senator Ball, please remember that words have consequences. The kind of rhetoric you use in your email could be the spark that lights some mentally unstable New Yorker’s fuse. Is that really what you want?”

Sincerely,
blahblahblah

 

Open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 9th, 2014: Thank you, Carl Sagan

Illustration by Kate Gabrielle

Illustration by Kate Gabrielle


earth_moon

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
carl sagan_cosmos25_02

And thank you, Neil deGrasse Tyson, for bringing Carl Sagan’s Cosmos back to life.

from Cosmos Season 1 Finale

from Cosmos Season 1 Finale

Sunday Roast: D-Day

My grandfather was an ambulance driver in WWII.  He was a conscientious objector, but that didn’t mean he didn’t want to serve, he just didn’t want to shoot anyone.

In 1945, he spent his birthday — June 6 — picking up the dead and wounded on Normandy Beach.  He never really talked about his time in the war, except to say that if the Germans caught an ambulance driver with a gun, they shot the driver immediately; and that he’d been a Private “several times.”

Granddad, Dad, and I, along with several sailors from my Dad’s shop, took one of those salmon fishing excursions that took us beyond the Golden Gate Bridge.  On the way back from a great day’s fishing, the guys running the boat were gutting the fish and tossing them to the hovering seagulls.  In my mind’s eye, I can still see Granddad standing on the back of that boat, standing ram-rod straight, with his hands clasped behind him, staring in the opposite direction.

He never went to any of the D-Day reunions.  He said he didn’t see the point.

This is our daily open thread.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 2nd, 2014: “Travel Is So Broadening”

Let’s start off the week with a quick trip around the United States. Courtesy of The Weather Channel, here’s a state-by-state photo gallery of some of our country’s natural wonders. In alphabetical order, they range from:

Noccalula Falls in Alabama…
alabama noccalula falls
…to the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois…
cahokia-flood-illinois_72986_600x450
…to Acadia National Park in Maine…
Otter-Cliff-Acadia National-Park-Maine
…to Niagara Falls in New York…
AA019259
…to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota…
ND_THRO_2
…to Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming.
Old Faithful Geyser at Sunset, Yellowstone Natio

Whew! I think I need a vacation after that “quick trip”!

Open thread–what’s on your mind today?

Memorial Day, May 26th, 2014

World War I Memorial, Washington, DC

na-WWI-Memorial

World War II Memorials, Washington, DC
ww2memorialDC
ww2 marines-memorialpacific atlantic ww2

Korean War Memorials, Washington, DC
washington-dc-korean-war-veterans-memorialKorean-WarKorean War Memorial in the Snow 04

Vietnam War Memorials, Washington, DC
vietnam-memorial-three-soldiersvietnam-war-nurses-memorialvietnam-veterans-memorial-washington-dc-ilker-goksen

Tomb of the Unknown
an american soldier

Iraq War Memorial, Washington, DC

?

Afghanistan War Memorial, Washington, DC

?

Open thread–have at it!

Sunday Roast: Robert Greenwald’s “Koch Brothers Exposed”

I know it’s an hour long, but please watch this video.  It’s only ONE HOUR of your life.

It’s important for all of us to know how the despicable Koch brothers have woven their tentacles throughout this country, like a deadly cancer.

They have a very specific ideology, and they don’t give a shit if you subscribe to it or not.  Given their way, we will all feel the toxic Koch boot on our necks, sooner or later, and we can’t fight them if we don’t know what they’re about.

This is our daily open thread — Are we ready to give the Koch brothers the boot?

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 19th, 2014: Deniers vs Debunkers

In a recent thread on ThinkProgress, State Representative Mark McCollough of Oklahoma, one of eleven members of the Oklahoma House Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee, used the typical climate-change denialist’s talking points to support his vote against new standards for Oklahoma’s science education. From TP [bold emphasis mine]:

On Monday, the Oklahoma House Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee voted 10-1 to reject the Oklahoma Academic Skills for Science, a set of academic standards that had been developed by a committee of teachers, community members, as well as business and industry representatives over the last year and a half.

“One of the things brought up in the House Committee meeting was concern over teaching climate and weather subjects in early grades.

Oklahoma Rep. Mark McCullough expressed his concern over the sections in the standards that deal with climate science, sections he said make references to “human impacts on the climate” in third, fourth, and fifth grades. He also said he thought references to human activity related to the environment focused on negative aspects of human involvement, such as the over-spraying of pesticides, and said “positive” examples of humans intervening in the environment to produce a change, such as flood control, weren’t as common, a focus that could end up leading to an “agenda-driven curriculum” that teaches students that “people are the problem.”

“There’s been a lot of criticisms, in some sectors, as to maybe some of the hyperbole — what some consider hyperbole relative to climate change. I know it’s a very very difficult, very controversial subject,” he said, going on to ask, “do you believe that those sections specifically relating to weather and climate particularly at the earlier ages…could potentially be utilized to implicate into some pretty young impressionable minds, a fairly-one sided view as to that controversial subject, a subject that’s very much in dispute among even the academics?”

The Oklahoma Science Teachers Association (along with just about anyone with half a brain) disagree. The OSTA’s blog reports that, “[A]ccording to teachers who were present at the hearing”, one of the two “dominant concerns expressed by members” was:

“Weather and Climate being placed in early grade levels – It appeared to observers that committee members believe standards that reference climate at all might be utilized to direct students to being forced to subscribe to climate change theory. ([Blog Archivist]: Isn’t it ironic that a state so dependent on weather and climate might be lead by elected officials who are afraid that science teachers might broach the topic in 3rd or 4th grade?)”

Okay, climate-change deniers, enough is enough. Let’s start the debunking.

May 16th’s Bill Moyers show featured Canadian scientist and environmental activist David Suzuki discussing the topic of “The War on Climate Change Scientists.” It’s a fascinating – and frightening – interview, which can be seen (here. (The transcript of the interview is available via the link just below the video.) The Moyers & Company website then provided Eight Pseudoscientific Climate Claims Debunked by Real Scientists,” by Joshua Holland. Here’s just a couple of excerpts:

Under “No, the Earth Hasn’t Stopped Warming Since 1998 (or 1996 or 1997)”:

“But the idea that the climate stopped warming at some point goes back even further. In the 1990s, two climatologists, Roy Spencer and Richard Lindzen, published a series of papers hypothesizing that global warming had stopped. Spencer and Lindzen are among the few climate contrarians with real scientific credentials, and have been widely cited by climate skeptics; Spencer has testified at a number of Republican congressional hearings on climate science.

Spencer also dismisses the theory of evolution, and has written: “I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.”

“But according to John Abraham, a professor of thermal and fluid sciences at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering, “It turns out that they made three serious errors in their data…It took years, and it took a lot of time from other scientists to find these errors in their calculations. In fact, they switched a positive sign for a negative sign in one of their equations.”

Under “Yes, There Is a Scientific Consensus”:

“There have been three studies, using different methodologies, that have shown that almost all working climate scientists — 97 percent — accept the consensus view.

“But what if those three percent who reportedly reject the consensus are like Galileo, who challenged the 16th century view that the sun revolved around the Earth? John Abraham and five of his colleagues published a study earlier this year which found that studies authored by climate contrarians “were often found to be unsubstantiated by the data,” resulting in “criticisms, corrections, and in some cases, resignation of editors.” They add: “the same fate has not befallen the prominent consensus studies.”

Under “Yes, It’s Been Warm Before”:

“Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech, says…“Just because something happened before for one reason, doesn’t mean that when it happens again it’s for the same reason.”

““Our planet is running a fever,” says Hayhoe, “and I can think of six or seven reasons why it could be running hot. As a scientist, you don’t just jump to conclusions. You do the tests. You say, ‘OK, could it be a natural cycle this time? Could it be the sun? Could it be volcanoes? Could it be orbital cycles and ice ages?’ We run those tests and we see if it could be any of those things that caused the climate to change naturally in the past. And in this case, we’ve run those tests and the answer to all those questions is, ‘no.’ In fact, if our temperature were controlled by natural causes right now, we’d be getting cooler, not warmer.”

Let me finish with one of the most influential people in environmentalism’s history, the ‘mother’ of environmentalism, Rachel Carson. The Moyers & Company site has an article honoring “The Bravery of Rachel Carson”, which reminded me of Carson’s influence on my mindset. In high school (early ’70s), we were treated – if that is the right word – to a viewing of the documentary “Silent Spring”, an account of Rachel Carson’s research and writing of the book.

“The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible. In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world — the very nature of its life. — Rachel Carson

I remember the tears in my eyes watching the documentary, tears of sympathy for the land, the animals, the environment being spoiled by pesticides. And here I am, 40+ years later, seeing a similar disaster-in-the-making, with Monsanto running/ruining crops, with GMOs with who-knows-what effects yet on humans, and with climate-change deniers trying to blind people to the fact that our planet is already suffering the consequences of man-made global climate change. And I still weep.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind today?

Sunday Roast: American Spring Betrayal

Where was y’all!?  Where was ya!!??  They stole all my granddaddy’s guns!!

Betrayed by tens of millions of teabaggers who failed to show up for the great American Spring, it must be devastating.  You bastards!

This is our daily open thread — See you bastards at Bundyfest!

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 12th, 2014: BREAKING into WIND power

Last week at the grocery store, I noticed a couple of men standing behind a table near the pharmacy section. They had some large tri-fold posters standing on the table, but, since my first view only encompassed the back of the posters, I didn’t know what they were pushing. I avoided them for a bit, but I had to pick up a prescription so I covertly checked them out from the safety (and better viewing angle) of the pharmacy counter. Once I realized that the posters showed wind turbines, my interest was piqued and, after I finished getting my prescription, I went directly over and said, “Hi, whatcha doing?”

The two men were from Green Mountain Energy, and the tall, bearded man named Gregory explained that they were offering NYSEG (New York State Electric & Gas) customers a choice to opt for electricity generated solely by wind power. New York State has a number of wind farms providing electricity for hundreds of thousands of customers, enough to offer an approximate $.02/killowatt-hour savings over traditional, multi-source electricity ($.089 versus $.11+.) However, even if it was the same price, just the idea that we would not get our electricity from oil, natural gas, coal, and other polluting sources made me feel that it would be worthwhile to switch. While New York State does produce hydroelectricity, the vast majority of our electricity comes from oil and natural gas. Ewww. Well, not anymore for us at least!

From Green Mountain Energy’s website:

In 2013, our customers had the largest annual impact ever, avoiding more than 6.1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2)! Over the past 15+ years, our customers collectively have avoided 30.6 billion pounds of CO2 by choosing cleaner electricity and carbon offset products. To put that into perspective, that’s like:

Taking 2.9 million cars off the road for a year
17.6 million households turning off their lights for a year
Planting 3.6 million trees

At first, of course, I hemmed and hawed about it, thinking that Wayne would be furious with me if I just blindly signed up and we got stuck in something we really didn’t want. Gregory assuaged that fear a bit by telling me that even if I signed up then and there, the contract would not be etched in stone. I was given a booklet about the company for us to review, along with Gregory’s phone number. We arranged to have him talk to Wayne, and, after a phone call the following day, a little research, and a visit back to the store to meet with Gregory, Wayne agreed to it. So we’re finally breaking into renewable energy sources.

Wayne and I have often said that, when we can eventually afford to have our roof fixed, we’ll go solar (our back yard is big enough and open enough to fit a small solar array, too.) But until then, I feel a little bit better about lessening our carbon footprint.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind today?