dapper ducks

Harlequin ducks have few rivals for a sense of style, both in plumage and activity. Inhabiting wild waters of surf and stream, they dive and squirt off the rocks with aplomb.

A combination of early morning low tide, a sunny day and wet feet got me close enough for these shots.

Picture of the Day: Castor II

The Castor transport has reached it’s destination.

The overwhelming majority of protesters remained peaceful, which in itself is surprising, given the official contempt for their cause. Since the first CASTOR rolled in 1995 all they got was more police in full riot gear, but noone listened to their just complaints. The Gorleben storage site is labeled temporary, that is a lie. As of yet there are not even serious attempts at finding a final storage place, I can’t blame the residents of the area for their wrath.

The State of Lower Saxony has another site, which is already in deep trouble.

The Watering Hole, November 29 – The Next Step

I think we have had the possibility of living in democracies. What does it mean? It means places where the privileged are not the one to make the decisions, but that the underprivileged are going to rise to a status where they are normal human beings and human citizens with their freedoms and their rights. Stéphane Hessel

I am following the actions of the world wide Occupy Movement as much as I can. Their activism is a necessary and valuable contribution to spotlight  the inequality that is rampant in most industrialized countries. An inequality which is, by all standards, a huge threat for Democracy itself.

Increasingly there are voices that want to take things one step further. How to introduce the ideas and actions of a movement into the political process in order to bring about the necessary legislation to reinstitute the rule by the people as opposed to the rule of a chosen few?

Well, if you want to go places, you have to define the place to go. The Occupy movement is a rather amorphous entity. Students are protesting fees, OWS is protesting the power of Wall Street and the lack of regulation, OccupyParadeplatz in Zurich is voicing a general discomfort with things as they are, but can’t bring themselves to go for any kind of specific political demands.

So what exactly needs to be done? Can we change the legislation through existing political channels? Who could we support? How do we avoid being sucked into the machinery of a totally corrupted political class? Do we have to run for office ourselves? What would our platform be? What’s the starting point?

Stéphane Hessel  in the interview quoted above has called for the youth to voice their outrage. They are doing it. But he calls for political action, too. How can we help ?

Tell me in the comments section.

This is our open thread, let us know your thoughts on this and don’t hesitate to comment, if you have other things on your mind.

Picture of The Day – Queue

Women queueing to vote in Egypt

Source: http://www.thestar.com.my

The writing on the wall says “We build Egypt together” They had to act twice, once to get rid of Mubarak and now again, when the military tried to introduce their concept of Democracy. I am afraid their struggle is not over yet. Democracy is hard to come by, let’s not ours go to waste.

The Watering Hole: November 26 – Herman Potočnik(Noordung)


At the end of 1928 the Austro-Hungarian rocket engineer Herman Potočnik(Pseudonym -Hermann Noordung) (Here’s more.) set out a plan for the establishment of a permanent human presence in Earth orbit. He conceived of a space station and was the first to calculate the geostationary orbit at which the station would orbit the Earth and remain in constant contact with the country of origin.

Author Arthur C. Clarke is credited with proposing the notion of using geostationary orbits for communications satellites in 1945. The orbit was coined as the Clarke (But neither Noordung nor Potočnik) Orbit. Together, a collection of artificial satellites in these orbits is called the Clarke Belt. At that time, Clarke believed that human technology was at least 50 years away. He missed by 32 years.

Syncom 2 was the first communications satellite placed in a geosynchronous orbit in 1963. However, it was in an inclined orbit which caused it to wobble north and south, still requiring the use of moving antennas.

Syncom 3 was the first true geostationary communication satellite. It was launched from Cape Canaveral on August 19, 1964 using a Delta D. The satellite in orbit near the International Date Line was used to telecast the 1964 Summer Olympics from Tokyo to the United States.

Geostationary orbits have been in common use ever since, mainly for satellite television.

This is your Open Thread. Please feel free to add to the discussion.

November 25, 2011 Music Night

I’ve probably posted video of Lissie before, and honestly, I’ll do it again. I love this girl. This video was shot in someone’s back yard in Brooklyn. Someone needs to give the video operator a knock on the head or give ’em a tripod, but I still get a kick out of it. Lissie and her band are so good at what they do they need almost nothing in the way of equipment, just raw talent.

Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 24th: Pass the Pepper, Please?

Too Much Pepper?

If you like your turkey (or your face) extra-spicy, you can probably hire Lt. Pike to come by your house with fresh pepper spray.  I, for one, will stick with just fresh-ground pepper.

On a more serious note, I’d like to say how thankful I am, on this Thanksgiving day and every day, to have such a wonderful family.  I’m speaking of my Zoo family.  Faceless and far apart, nevertheless you are always here to share laughter, sadness, joy, outrage, ideas, photographs, or just a simple electronic hug when needed.  I have learned so much from all of you, and you have had a profound effect on my life.  To my fellow Critters and our many frequent and always-welcome guests, I thank you all for being who you are, and I’m thankful to be part of such a talented, intelligent, and loving family.

Wherever you are today, I wish you all a wonderful day, with good people around you and good food in front of you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

This is our open thread.  What are YOU thankful for?


Having emigrated from a region where a handful of radio collared wolves are blamed for eating hundreds of cows at a time, and eating all the trophy bull elk, I’m seeing a pattern here in my new surrounds. Notice the pointy, laid back ears, and the sinister narrowing eyes on this characterization of a harbor seal.

Notice here that seals don’t even have external ears.

They do have a good set of teeth. I woke this one up from a nap, it heard the camera shutter, and after gazing rather disinterestedly it went back to  snoozing.

So. We have an evil seal pasted to the back of a Toyota FJ Cruiser, which is to blame for the drivers inability to catch any salmon. And we have an actual harbor seal that eats enough to get by, consumes no fossil fuels, and sleeps a lot. It’s all a matter of perception. I’m guessing the FJ Cruiser will have a Romney bumper sticker before to long.

“Oh, wait, he’s a Mormon, and it’s their fault we defaulted on the condo in Arizona… never mind…”

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pity the poor rich man,
The well-paid pundits say,
The masses so despise him,
It takes his joy away.

For he worked hard, and labored long,
And wealth is his reward;
His birthright gift of silver spoon,
Inheriting his hoard.

The rich all have their troubles,
Requiring plots and schemes,
To mass e’en greater fortunes,
Beyond their wildest dreams.

Yes, pity the poor wealthy,
And let them eat their cake,
For you are blessed, to be their guest,
Oh, sorry, my mistake.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD AND FREE POETRY CONTEST. SUBMIT YOUR ENTRIES BELOW. (All entries remain the property of the poet. First Prize is publication on this website. The number of First Prizes is limited to the total submissions received. Only First Prizes will be awarded. All forms of Poetry are eligible. There is no limit to the number of First Prizes per ISP address. Prose entries will be posted and read, but will not be considered a submission for the purposes of this contest.)

The Watering Hole: Tuesday November, 22 – We Decide

Ht: Shayne via twitter @Zoocritter

My first reaction: I’d not buy from him until…well, hell freezes over.

We can influence what happens, we are not powerless. We still have our purchasing power. Not that there is very much left of it, we can still decide what we buy and who we buy from. Do we really want to give our money to corporations who lay off workers while still making huge, even record profits? I don’t. We can read the economy pages of our local newspapers and find out who’s hiring, who’s firing and whenever given the choice, we can support hiring businesses. We can reconsider our needs. Shutting down the TV set brings us a huge step nearer to that. Just let’s tune out the constant brainwash and reassess our needs. We can make Black Friday a huge failure for the retail corporations! By just staying at home. They’ll say that’ll cost more jobs! But remember, they are firing for profit anyway and they have done so for a very long time.

This is our open thread- Open Up!

Watering Hole: Monday, November 21, 2011 – Shop ‘Till You Drop

The big, box, retail stores are now moving their “black Friday” sales to Thanksgiving Day.  This bargain hunting has become another “holiday” of sorts.  Personally, I want no part of this shopping insanity.

Before leaving the house, ask these questions.

  • Do we really need more of the Chinese junk that is offered in the big, box stores?
  • Will our children suffer irreparable, emotional damage if they don’t get exactly what they want for Christmas?
  • Do we really know what other people would like to receive?  If we did, there wouldn’t be huge exchange lines the day after Christmas.
  • Are we spending our money that will leave our local communities just for a “bargain”?

Just like everyone else, I enjoy receiving gifts.  It may be the thought that counts, but I don’t need more “things” around my house.  When it comes to purchasing clothes, I prefer to buy my own clothes.  Some of the best gifts that I have received where gifts that were made by the giver.  Homemade food and homemade drinks are especially enjoyable.  Other favorites are gift certificates to either a bed and breakfast or to a local restaurant.   We always appreciate items made by local artisans.  These gifts support small, local businesses and keeps the money in the community.

This Christmas, try something different.  Show that you care about your own community by supporting local businesses.  Pass up the ‘super savings’ offered by the big, box, retail stores.   Shop local or make gifts.  The time spent shopping could be spent making something special for the people you love.  The receiver will always remember the care that you took in creating the gift.  This makes the gift special and not just another big, box, retail purchase.

This is our Open Thread.  What to you think?  Speak Up!

Sunday Roast: Moss

Photo by Zooey

According to the Wiki:

Mosses are small, soft plants that are typically 1–10 cm (0.4–4 in) tall, though some species are much larger. They commonly grow close together in clumps or mats in damp or shady locations. They do not have flowers or seeds, and their simple leavescover the thin wiry stems. At certain times mosses produce spore capsules which may appear as beak-like capsules borne aloft on thin stalks.

There are approximately 12,000 species of moss classified in the Bryophyta.[2] Thedivision Bryophyta formerly included not only mosses, but also liverworts and hornworts. These other two groups of bryophytes now are often placed in their own divisions.

Yeah okay, it’s a lame post.  Sue me!  Heh.

This is our daily open thread — talk about moss!

The Watering Hole: Dateline November 19, 1863

Abraham Lincoln Leaving after Delivering his Address at Gettysburg - The tall guy

The committee for the Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg politely invited President Lincoln to speak thusly:

It is the desire that, after the Oration, you, as Chief Executive of the nation, formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks.

They expected nothing more than a few stumbling words to be offered by the buffoon from Illinois. Instead, Lincoln delivered an address that is woven into our nation’s fabric. He opened with:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

And ended with this phrase:

… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

These two excerpts from his 272 word address were bookends that paraphrased the foundation, the purpose and the future hopes of a nation that at that time was in the throes of a struggle for its very existence. They also bracket the lexicon that is America. Scarcely any American child who has studied our nation’s history is allowed to forget the meaning of the entire speech, but those two phrases are burned into every child’s memory.

From the core of that address comes this:

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, …

Those are the only words that are remembered by present day Republicans.

This is our Open Thread. What would Lincoln think if he were brought into this time? Would he think that the men who died at Gettysburg, died in vain?