The Watering Hole: December 31 – What’s Really New?

Happy New Year everybody ! (about 23 hours and 29 minutes early)

Blurb from Popular Science - September, 1922

While doing some research on early 20th Century electronics, I hitched onto the above blurb. I explored a bit further and became even more convinced that every day is Groundhog Day. The articles were all sensational both then and now. Some were based on fact, and some on fantasy – according to more recent scientific findings. What is amazing is how often they were right.

To take a few examples from back then, these (plus the one above) offer a few examples of the absurd:

  • Electric Spark to Ignite Aviator’s Cigarette (Can’t do this, even in the lavatory!)
  • New Phonograph Built Like Human Ear (Hearing aid?)
  • Voting Machine Arrests “Repeater” (Don’t voter ID laws solve this?)
  • Will This “Whirling Leaf” Flying Machine Solve Greatest Problem in Aviation? (Pilot error?)
  • Typewriter Prints Whole Word at a Touch (Can it discern between “everybody” and “every body”?)

There is even a blurb on shale being the elixir for the nation’s energy problems!

Others can be harbingers of practically when adjusted to a practical design. For one:

  • Mirror at Blind Crossing Warns Motorists
    Now convex mirrors are prevalent examples of how this can be made practical.

Still all-in-all, ideas then were only limited by the science of the time. There were still some interesting thoughts on weaving together the fabric of the Universe around us. They even speculated on the existence of multiple universes. What makes human curiosity today differ from what it was then, from the Greek philosophers or the individual who first fashioned a stone ax? Leaves a bit for thought!

This is your Open Thread. Now it’s your time to think! Or opine.

Music Night, December 30, 2011-Almost a new year

I considered Them the coolest band of the British Invasion, mostly ignored in later days even though their lead singer wrote the seminal rock & roll tune of the period, along with several other superb songs. The songs of their debut album stand the test of time, as does the lead singer, who has had a tremendous and highly-respected career in the years since. I don’t know if this is a great song to end 2011, but the performance is brill. No lip syncing here.

Really, don’t skip this one.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 29th: Dizzy

Republican debates…who’s up…who’s down…Donald Trump…Herman Cain…15 minutes of fame stretched into more than 15 days of insanity…Rick Perry…Michele Bachman…Rick Santorum…Jon Huntsman…forever Ron Paul…oh, and Mitt Romney…
Pundits…polls…pontifications…predictions…profound pronouncements…
Birth certificate…next…“oops”…pause…start over…more polls…new
leader…which one now?…”Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan”…next…The gunslinger?…
the lady with the crazy eyes?…the “diplomat”?…Gran’pappy Amos?…the
god-boy?…oh, yeah, and Mitt Romney…more polls…WTF-Newt Gingrich?…
Gingrich takes lead instantly…anyone but Mitt Romney…more debates…
Newt speaks…Newt’s lead shrinks as his ego inflates…hypocrisy…
wives…”patriotism defense”…“invented people”…polls, polls, polls…
another debate…pundits prognosticate…flip-flops…photo ops…
Newt’s veneer thins…Paul avoids “personal responsibility”…what
newsletter?…I didn’t write that…I didn’t say that…another
debate…pundits…text polls…more polls…oh, yeah,
and Mitt Romney’s steady in the polls…anyone
but Romney…Buddy Roemer, where are you?
…strategists speculate…idiots bloviate…
money pours in…PACs weigh in…
watch it all spin…I’m dizzy
it’s not even

This is our daily Open Thread, what’s buzzing in your head?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, …….December 28, 2011……. …..Hump DayyaD pmuH…..

Well, another year, shot to hell. Obama’s still the President, much to the chagrin of Christian Extremists. Osama bin Laden is dead, much to the chagrin of Christian Extremists.

Obamacare is still the law of the land; the government didn’t get shut down; and Republicans have gone on record supporting tax breaks for the very, very rich at the expense of everyone else.

Occupy Wall Street sprang out of nowhere and put the issue of the disparity of wealth, opportunity and power in the forefront of the news. Whether the movement will gain any traction going into the coming primaries and fall election remains to be seen. For now, it is enough that the ruling class has called out their police forces to put down the movement with violence, while letting Teabaggers attend protests bearing sidearms and assault rifles.

The battle lines are being drawn. It’s the age-old battle between altruism and selfishness. Just think, in a little more than 11 months, God will come and call the game on account of Judgment Day.

Or not.

This is our open thread.

O pen, opine,

or pen

a pun.


The Watering Hole: December 27th – Headlines

Some headlines for today:

Hope: The tanks are being withdrawn, relief for the people of Homs.

No Surprise: Vladimir Putin rejects scrutiny into last elections 

Kill the Poor: Britain’s poorest hit by Stealth Tax

Critters and such: Confusing Weather Patterns for Britain’s Wildlife

Nature Victimized and her victims: Rising Seal Levels and Erosion leave landmark crumbling.

Romney: Inevitable? Well…

Not Romney: The Molotov Party

Cute Overdose: Red Panda

This is our daily Open Thread, what’s your news?

Civilization in an Eggshell

Guest blog by Hoodathunk

Yesterday we had a brunchfast that relied pretty heavily on the magical chicken egg.   Poached eggs for the wee’uns, Crab Benedict for the more discerning palette and eggnog; so I probably shouldn’t be surprised that I awoke at 4 am thinking about the dream I had about eggs.  Odd things my subconscious plays with in dreamland.

Consider your basic egg.  Nicely packaged, a comfortable incubator (at least for the mom) bringing forth a new generation of bird that can produce more eggs, be edible in its adult form, or provide hours of entertainment and appreciation with their songs or beauty.  All in all, the egg is a wondrous thing.  But I had never looked at it as an expression of society in an eggshell.

Man learned early on that the insides of your basic egg were both edible and nutritious in its natural state.  Then, when Ug learned about fire, it was discovered eggs could be cooked.  I suspect one was accidentally dropped on a hot rock and sunny side up was born.  Since then, eggs have become something of a staple in most societies.  And, as societies become more civilized, so does their treatment of the egg.  No more of this lop off the egg and slurp it down, no that will make you sick; the cholesterol, also a bad thing.

This is where civilized society comes in.  How many have gone to fry up an egg and tossed it because the yolk got broken in the process?  Or boiled and decorated eggs at Easter and ended up tossing some when they got too old?  Eggs are pretty cheap so it isn’t a really big deal — unless you happen to be starving.  But we have, for the most part, gone beyond that point.  We take eggs for granted because there are literally millions, if not billions, of chickens out there just a clucking and a dumping.  We just go merrily along quiche-ing, custard-ing, caking, dressing up our lives with the hard work of hens because it isn’t like they mind being kept in cramped, unsanitary quarters, living on chicken feed so we can use the efforts of their labor to pamper ourselves.

This is juxtaposed to a memory from my childhood.  We would go to the grandparents’ farm on weekends and help out.  This was done so we could get a few good meals while providing my Mom’s parents with much needed assistance in running the farm.  One of my jobs was tending the chicken coop.  I had to collect the eggs, then feed the feathered beasts, and then clean the nests.  I was not allowed to carry the basket of eggs to the house because dropping an egg was something of a minor catastrophe.  The dog liked it but it meant a smaller helping of scrambled eggs for me.  Each and every one of those ovoids were important, just as the chickens themselves were.  Not exactly life or death but they could spell the difference between going to bed with a full tummy or a growling one.

What our civilized society is doing, both on the microcosm and macrocosm level, is that we aren’t taking care of the chickens.  We are gobbling up the eggs, while wasting a great many of them, thinking there will always be more.  We are distancing ourselves from the very things that have brought us to this point.  Our greed blinds us to the workings of nature because we think it will always be there, and if we have this magical paper in our pockets, everything will be fine.

Work in a chicken coop?  Ewwwww, gross!

Watering Hole: Monday, December 26, 2011 – Is the Pigeon Smarter Than the Shooter?

One of the major issues that I fight for is the ending of the live pigeon shoots that are currently allowed in Pennsylvania.  I have written extensively about this animal cruelty at Pennsylvania for Change. Most of the time, these pigeons are brought into the state illegally from New York.  The captured birds are denied food and water for a few days and crated off to some rod and gun club for the big gambling event known as live pigeon shoots.  The dehydrated and weakened birds are tossed into the air and then the “Elmer Fudds” take a shot at them.  It is cruel and brutal and I won’t go into more details.  I’ve seen these “Elmer Fudds” in action and they truly look like Neanderthals (my apologies to the Neanderthals).

It turns out that pigeons may actually be smarter than these “Elmer Fudds”.  A recent study shows that pigeons are capable of higher math.

Pigeons, it turns out, are no slouches either. It was known that they could count. But all sorts of animals, including bees, can count. Pigeons have now shown that they can learn abstract rules about numbers, an ability that until now had been demonstrated only in primates. In the 1990s scientists trained rhesus monkeys to look at groups of items on a screen and to rank them from the lowest number of items to the highest.

They learned to rank groups of one, two and three items in various sizes and shapes. When tested, they were able to do the task even when unfamiliar numbers of things were introduced. In other words, having learned that two was more than one and three more than two, they could also figure out that five was more than two, or eight more than six.

So who is the higher species?  “Elmer Fudds” or the pigeons.  My money is on the pigeons.

This is our Open Thread.  Where are you placing your bet?  Speak Up!

Corvi-dae Bird Count

Looked around this week for a local Christmas Day Bird Count, but it appears they are not actually on Christmas day, there was one last weekend, and one next. Guess everyone is to busy eating them today. I’d be out, except that it’s very windy and rainy, I’ve gotten spoiled with the beautiful (and apparently unusual) December sunshine and don’t go out in fowl weather. It’s been a lot of fun, birding in a new environment, many new species and lots of familiar friends. Yesterday I found 3 Eurasian Wigeons (ducks) mobbing about with a large resident flock of American wigeons. No good photos yet. This Hooded Merganser is a regular down at the dock. Anyone with any bird tails?

A bufflehead in just the right light to catch the iridescense of its plumage.

Sunday Roast: The rich vs everyone else

Merry Christmakwanzakah everyone!

This speech from It’s a Wonderful Life, even though it’s 55 years old, could be given in Congress or a big bank today, and it would still be relevant.

It makes me feel good that the people in this country are finally paying attention.  We’re on the streets with the Occupy movement, and we’re moving our money out of the big banks.  We are a force to be reckoned with.

I hope you all have a lovely day with friends and family.  I’m in Portland this weekend, but I’ll check in for cup of eggnog and rum (hold the eggnog).  🙂

This is our daily open thread — please keep the candy cane off the carpet.

‘Tis the Season forGiving

They shoplift for Christmas gifts, they steal for themselves, for their family”

From the article:

During the four weeks leading up to Christmas this year, an estimated $1.8 billion in merchandise will be shoplifted from U.S. retailers, according to The Global Retail Theft Barometer, a survey of retailers worldwide.

So, people steal items to give away in honor of celebrating their God’s birth. And they’ll go to Church on Christmas morning, eat their symbolic human sacrifice, partake of drinking His blood, and go about their daily lives absolved of their sins. No wonder Christianity is so popular.

The Watering Hole: December 24 – Semi Conductors

The semiconductor region of the periodic table

The mystery of semiconductors seems a bit difficult to understand, but it can be buttressed to a simple concept. Elements with a full outer band will exchange electrons on the basis of resistance governed by the acreage offered by each bond to the external world. This is the basis for the point contact transistor by Walter Brattain and John Bardeen. Shockley took this concept forward by doping semiconductors with help from his lab people.

All of the elements in the yellow column, above, are in electron balance that is they can be pushed in either way without resistance. That electron will travel in the direction of least resistance.

The elements in the orange and green columns when bonded in a sandwich will have a spare electron in the green column and those in the orange column will lack one. They present ‘Troll Crossing” where an electron traveling from the green column will have an easy task in moving while an electron in the orange column will be repelled by the extra electrons in the green column. When this is done by diffusing elements in columns orange and green into adjacent areas of a semiconductor (Silicon, Germanium or Arsenic) surface, regions with excess electrons and those with a surfeit will pass electrons from the excess to those lacking. The unification process produced is called doping. Semiconductors can be doped from both the yellow and blue columns, but the amplification factor is less dramatic.

That’s it for tonight. I can carry on in comments or a future thread,

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

The Watering Hole: December 23 — Ron Paul, goofball

via Politico

Putting my own loving touch on Politico’s Ron Paul 2012: Six comments he needs to explain:

1.  I think we can further thank Ronald Reagan for doing a good job [on furthering the Libertarian Party]. He certainly did a good job in 1980 pointing out the fallacies of the Democratic liberal agenda and he certainly did a good job on following up to show the disaster of the conservative agenda as well.

I agree with Politico — if you’re calling yourself a Republican, don’t be taking the name of St Ronnie Raygun in vain.  It doesn’t matter that everyone knows Ronnie was a glorified meat puppet, Republicans enjoy their denial.

2.  Fox News’s Chris Wallace: You talk a lot about the Constitution. You say Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid are all unconstitutional.

Ron Paul: Technically, they are. … There’s no authority [in the Constitution]. Article I, Section 8 doesn’t say I can set up an insurance program for people. What part of the Constitution are you getting it from? The liberals are the ones who use this General Welfare Clause.

Silly liberals!!  Why are liberals using the General Welfare Clause, when Ron Paul clearly says that only things in the Constitution are to be available to the people?  Oh wait…so Ron Paul cherry-picks the Constitution like all the other wingnuts?  Say it ain’t so!

3.  I think that might be the No. 1 reason for the drug laws … to raise the funds necessary for government to do illegal things, whether it’s some terrorist government someplace or whether it’s our own CIA to fund programs that they can’t get Congress to fund. I think it’s tragic and the sooner we get rid of the drug laws, the sooner this will end.

Uhhh, right.  Because we don’t live in a ridiculously moralistic society that thinks it ought to be allowed to decide that the people are not allowed to use drugs that aren’t prescribed by a doctor.  Cuz lawd knows no one ever gets addicted to prescription drugs, right Elvis?  How about you, Michael Jackson…?   Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 22nd: How ‘Bout If We DON’T Bomb Iran

From John McCain’s “Bomb, bomb Iran” (literal) song-and-dance in the 2008 Presidential campaign, through all but one of the current survivors of the Republican Presidential candidates’ gauntlet of debates, Republicans seem to feel that the ultimate answer to any question about Iran is “regime change.” Of course! Look at how well that…er, uh…worked…for us…sigh.

This near-solidarity amongst Republicans begs a couple of questions:

1. Are they crazy?
2. Do they remember anything about Iraq?
3. Are they just trying to demonstrate their ‘testicular fortitude”? Or, in Michele Bachmann’s case, ‘Thatchers’?
4. Are they more afraid of what Iran might do if it acquires a nuke, or of what Israel might do if Iran acquires a nuke?
5. Are they trying to tie up the Jewish vote well in advance?
6. Are they crazy?

As always, Ron Paul is the exception to the “regime change” rule, ergo the war-happy wing of the Republicans cannot back him. The rest of the candidates vary somewhat in their eagerness to resort to what should be the last resort, but they are united in their opposition to Ron Paul’s more isolationist views.

For a more tempered point of view, I found that one or two articles from Foreign Policy magazine served to talk me down for now, at least…but I’m sure that it’s only a temporary surcease from the bombardment of all-too-familiar, “deja-vu-all-over-again” arguments for “regime change” (and all that that implies) in Iran.

I’m as tired of the candidates’ posturing about Iran as I am of the candidates and the endless ‘debates.’

So, on a lighter note, here’s an odd story from one of our local online news headlines. I found the first sentence in the last paragraph hilarious.

This is our daily Open Thread. Join us and discuss..

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, December 21, 2011: Happy Solstice!

The Business Man and His Three Employees

a modern parable


Briseadh na Faire

The Teacher sat in the tall grass near a quiet river, facing his small group of young students. “Tell us about Heaven” one of them said. “Yes. Yes. Tell us about Heaven” the group chimed in eager unison.

The Teacher looked at his young charges and began.

“Heaven is like, well, it’s a lot like here” he began. “Take a business man. He’s successful. He runs the show. Everyone must do exactly what he wants, or they’ll be fired, tossed out on the street.”

“So, one day, there’s this business man, and he’s going away on a long trip.”

“To China?” a boy interrupted. “My daddy goes to Chinaa lot. He says it’s for business. Mommy says he has a Chinese mistress.”

“What’s a mistress” another boy asked.

“It’s like a second mommy” a girl asserted, “one your real mommy doesn’t like very much.”

“Ok” the Teacher brought his charges back to paying attention again “to China. And he calls in three of his top employees. To the first one, he gives a stack of ten thousand-dollar bills. ‘I want you to take care of this. It’s ten thousand dollars, and I’ll want a strict accounting when I get back.’ To the second he gave five thousand dollars, and to the third, a thousand dollars, each with the same warning.”

“Then the business man went off on his trip. A year later, he returned.” Continue reading

The Watering Hole: December 20th – Commodities

Picture found at Sculture by Peter Lenk "Slavenmarkt" (Slaves Market)

Sculpture by Peter Lenk

This is what I always wanted to be. Livestock, a commodity. When I started to work for Digital Equipment Corporation in 1986 I was hired for the Personnel Department. This changed it’s name into “Human Resources” after a while and that didn’t improve how we treated our employees. Obviously things have gone farther. This is from today’s “The Guardian” Business Blog:

The UK’s human capital – the economic value of the knowledge and skills of the working age population – fell by £130bn in 2010, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The knowledge and skills of workers in the UK were worth an estimated £17.12 trillion in 2010. This was more than two-and-a-half times the estimated value of the UK’s tangible assets – such as buildings, vehicles, plant and machinery – at the beginning of that year.

The value of the UK’s human capital stock increased steadily between 2001 and 2007, averaging annual increases of £425bn. The slowing of earnings growth and increases in unemployment during the economic downturn meant that growth in the stock of human capital slowed to an average of £120bn a year between 2007 and 2009, before falling in 2010.

Human Capital Stock…Livestock…Maybe I am a bit too sensitive. What do you think?

This is our daily Open Thread. Join us and discuss..