The Watering Hole: March 31, Wherever you look

These days I don’t know where to turn to look for good news. I look here and here and there, nothing good. But’s one:

A national survey has recorded an encouraging rise in small bird populations in the UK.

In January, over 600,000 people took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

The results, published this week, show a promising increase in garden bird populations since last year. (read all)

This is our daily open thread. Just fly in and make yourself at home.

The Watering Hole: March 29 – Forfeiting the Future

Picture found at


The BBC:

China is on course to overtake the US in scientific output possibly as soon as 2013 – far earlier than expected.

That is the conclusion of a major new study by the Royal Society, the UK’s national science academy.

The country that invented the compass, gunpowder, paper and printing is set for a globally important comeback.

What a shame. I remember perfectly when “American scientists say…” as an introduction to any discussion about science  invariably lent credibility to what you were saying. We looked up to America as the country of progress and scientific prowess. Then came creationism and reason went down the drain, along with education as an asset.

This is our daily open thread. What do you think of this and other stuff that’s going on?

Sunday Roast: The American Dream, a race to the bottom

New York Times, Bob Herbert

In his last column for the NYT, Bob Herbert hits the nail on the head regarding the American Dream — it ain’t for the ‘small people’ anymore.  We all know it, we all feel it, but Bob Herbert puts it down in words that sear into the soul.

Welcome to America in the second decade of the 21st century. An army of long-term unemployed workers is spread across the land, the human fallout from the Great Recession and long years of misguided economic policies. Optimism is in short supply. The few jobs now being created too often pay a pittance, not nearly enough to pry open the doors to a middle-class standard of living.

AP Photo

This is the America I’m leaving to my men:  A lifetime of $9-$10 per hour jobs (if they’re lucky), during which they will never realize any possible dream of a home, family, vacations, or retirement.

Nearly 14 million Americans are jobless and the outlook for many of them is grim. Since there is just one job available for every five individuals looking for work, four of the five are out of luck. Instead of a land of opportunity, the U.S. is increasingly becoming a place of limited expectations.

The youth of this country had no way of knowing that the high school summer job, or the job they held in college for extra cash, was quite likely the best they were going to have.

If we listen to the politicians in this country, we will find out that this country is “broke.”  There just isn’t any more money for job creation, schools, or public sector wages.  Sorry folks, the piggy bank is empty…or is it…?

There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But like greedy children, the folks at the top are seizing virtually all the marbles. Income and wealth inequality in the U.S. have reached stages that would make the third world blush. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

Did you read that last sentence?  Read it again…“the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007…”

Yes, you read that right.  The top 10% — the people who don’t even need a raise — received ALL of the income growth between 2000 and 2007.  All of it.

I am just…speechless.

To my men, their generation, and beyond, I give you an apology…

I am so very sorry about the condition in which you receive this country.  Even though there is no excuse for it, I must admit that I didn’t see it coming.  I really had no idea that by the time I was reaching my own age of majority, the American Dream was dead, and the looting of the corpse had commenced.  The elites had killed it stone dead, and we had no idea until recently, and now I’m truly afraid we will not be able to turn the tide before we hand over the reins to you.  I know in my heart that if we are able to mend this, even partially, we will do so.  That’s my promise to you.

I’m sorry it couldn’t be more…

Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.

New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.

We will do our best.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss amongst yourselves.

British Invasion Music Night, March 25 2011

I know at least some of our regulars are old enough to remember the British Invasion of the mid-60s. During the first few years, I was still living in New York where the Mod look caught on very well. When we moved to California in 1965, I came home from school on the first day and announced I wasn’t going back without an entirely new wardrobe. It wasn’t long until most of the music I listened to was coming out of my new home state, but a lot of excellent pop music came over from the UK in those years.

As always, more after the jump and you are encouraged to post music from any genre and any era. And as usual, more and more music is unavailable for posting “on certain websites.” Otherwise, we’d definitely have the Kinks on the short list.

Continue reading

The Watering Hole: March 25 — Big day in history!

Francesco Guardi

According to the Wiki, so many interesting things happened on this day in history!

421 – Venice, Italy is born at twelve o’clock noon, according to legend.

1306 – Robert the Bruce becomes King of Scotland.  (I bet he was wearing a kilt…)

1655 – Saturn‘s largest moon, Titan, is discovered by Christiaan Huygens.

1811 – Percy Bysshe Shelley is expelled from the University of Oxford for publishing the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism.

1911 – In New York City, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire kills 146 garment workers.

From the amazing beauty of Venice, to the discovery of a planet millions of miles away, to the terrible tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, March 25 was a very busy day in history.

Some interesting people were born on this day as well…

1867 – Arturo Toscanini, Italian conductor.

1908 – Sir David Lean, English film director.

1911 – Jack Ruby, killer of Lee Harvey Oswald.

1914 – Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize winner and American agriculturalist.

1934 – Gloria Steinem, American feminist and publisher.

1942 – Aretha Franklin, American singer.

1947 – Elton John, English singer and songwriter.

1982 – Danica Patrick, American race car driver (now House knows when to send that birthday card).

And many more!

This is our daily open thread — What’s going on in your world today?

The Watering Hole: March 24 – A Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization (heart cath) is the insertion of a catheter into a chamber or vessel of the heart. This is done for both investigational and interventional purposes. Subsets of this technique are mainly coronary catheterization, involving the catheterization of the coronary arteries, and catheterization of cardiac chambers and valves.

The common precursor is a poor result from a stress test. At this point in time, what is called a PET test is taking hold. I recently went through such a test and received a poor result. The good side is that the net result will be either a false positive,a clearance of the blockage or a stent will have to be inserted into one or more of the veins of my heart.

I already have a stent in place and that is still holding up.

In any case, this is my last open post until at least March 31st. It may be at late as April 7th if a bypass is required.

You can do your own research on this process by searching on cardiac catheterization. You may be better off for it as the quintuple bypass is passing into memories of the dim past and an informed person will always be a better person.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, March 23, 2011: Hump Day



Since its inception, Daylight Savings time has run deficits. “We’ve been spending more daylight than we’ve taken in.” Said one Agriculture Department employee who asked to remain anonymous. “Sure, summer days are longer, but at what cost?” Daylight Savings time has been running on borrowed time for years. And now, experts say, its time is up.

While leap year, falling in the “fall back” portion of Daylight Savings has added an extra hour to the savings accout, it only occurred once every four years. “It just wasn’t enough” according to atomic clock scientist Able Tiempoman.

Economist Stew Potter noted “In addition to the built in deficit spending in Daylight Savings created by Congress when it drafted the law, Jet Setters have transfered huge chunks of Daylight Savings to off-shore vacations in daylight-rich countries. Spring breaks in Cancun, where rich college kids spend their daylight savings accounts like there was no tomorrow exacerbated the problem.”

According to the experts, the system in unsustainable past the summer solstice. After that, the entire northern hemisphere of the planet will see increasing amounts of darkness, and there will be no way to stop it.

This is our Open Thread. Go for it.

The Watering Hole: March 22, Happy Birthday Captain Kirk

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Oh how I used to wish I could have joined them on their adventures. As things were I was reduced to make handsets out of parts of old lamps and make believe. These days I think we could all need a Scotty to beam us away to a place where sanity and reason prevail.

This is our open thread. Where will it take us?