Watering Hole: Monday, January 30, 2012 – Micro Plastics

Many of our clothes and other household items that need washing such as dish cloths and towels, contain plastic fibers woven in with natural fibers.  These micro plastic fibers break free in the washing machine and enter our water systems.  This is the main source of micro plastic pollution.

There are also nano plastics.  These can be found in cosmetics and toothpaste.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!

More below…

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Sunday Roast — How Beauty Feels

How do we know something is beautiful?  Is it by sight alone, or is it a feeling?  Once we decide what beauty is for us, how much power does it hold?

I once knew a woman who was physically quite unattractive, everything about her outside was just off somehow.  But being around her for even a short period of time was enough for me to realize she was one of the most beautiful people on the planet.

Actually, this was one of the greatest life lessons for me.

This is our daily open thread — What do you think?

The Watering Hole: January 28 – Sun Tzu and Jan Brewer

Sun Tzu is a Chinese strategist who wrote “The Art of War”. He lived from 544 to 496 BC.

Now what do Sun Tzu and Jan Brewer have in common? He is one of those credited for the proverb – “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Arabs also claim credit for the proverb, but trail Sun Tzu in time.

Here, Jan Brewer has shown herself to be the enemy of Barack Obama at the airport in Mesa, Arizona. In turn, Jan Brewer has also shown herself to be the enemy of Hispanic people and Jan Brewer has already established herself as a spokesperson for the Conservative movement.

Combining the logic, Hispanic people should consider Barack Obama as their friend and will logically find an enemy in the Conservative movement.

Since Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States, Conservatives will have a tough row to hoe in current and future political campaigns.

This is our Open Thread. Should Democrats consider Jan as a supporter in the 2012 campaign? Your comments please.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, January 26th: From Little to Big–Mouse’s Story

When Mouse first showed up at our back door, she was a pudgy miniature of her dad, Smokey. (Forgive the quality of the photo, I didn’t want to open the door and scare her.)

Smokey and Mouse

Mouse and her brother, Butterball (aka “Balls”), were inseparable, especially since they were constantly left to their own devices by their mentally-challenged mom, Mamacita.

Mouse and Butterball

Mamacita, in her brief "lucid" period, chooses a toy from the basket

Although both Mama and Balls were social enough with me, Mouse would never let me near her. She had her brother for company, plenty of food, and that was enough for her. Then Balls disappeared, and, sadly, Wayne and I found him dead, near the intersection of our road and the main road. We could only surmise that Balls had followed one of the older males in his ’rounds’, because otherwise he rarely strayed far from our yard. We were devastated, but at least we knew what had happened to him. Mouse, of course, was also devastated, and would sit at the end of the deck, day after day, watching down the yard for Balls to come back. It was heartbreaking to see.

Mouse keeps watch (here accompanied by the local groundhog)

Mouse still would not let me touch her, and, eventually, became pregnant.

Mouse, pregnant, still keeping her distance

She was such a little thing still, and when she went into labor, she had a terrible time. She was in a doghouse that we had set up outside the back door, and I stayed with her for hours while she strained to give birth. Exhausted, she finally allowed me to touch her for the first time, as I wrapped her up, put her in a box, and Wayne and I proceeded to rush her to the emergency vet. In the car, I sat in the back seat lightly petting her, and she purred up at me as if she finally understood that we were trying to help her. At the vet’s, a brief examination revealed the problem: a single kitten was stuck, too big for Mouse to push out, and already dead. Wayne held Mouse still while the vet proceeded to extricate the poor kitten, and was rewarded for his assistance by Mouse biting him deeply on his hand (he forgave her.)

Naturally we kept her in the house to recuperate, and, after that, Mouse became “mommy’s little girl”, insisting on being on or next to me as much as possible. She turned into a loving little sweetie whose favorite thing was to “wash mommy”, licking my hands until she felt that they were good and clean (and red and sore!)

Mouse dozes behind my 'spot' on the couch

While she stayed smaller than most cats throughout the rest of her life, she did fill out quite a bit, eventually turning into a classic Kliban cat.

Mouse lolls on the bed, tongue out and ready to give mommy a 'bath'

A few weeks before my mum’s final birthday, in October of 2004, Mouse was diagnosed with an illness for which nothing could be done, and I stayed with my little girl as she was put to sleep. I miss her deeply still, and will never forget her constant companionship and affection.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, January 25, 2012: BREAKING GNUS — RNC TO CANCEL REST OF PRIMARIES!

In a stunning move, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus informed the Florida Secretary of State that his party was cancelling the Florida Primary, as well as the rest of the primaries set for later this spring. He held a press conference at 5:a.m. Eastern time to announce his decision.

“I’m glad you all could make it on such short notice” Priebus began, addressing the lone reporter who happened by on his way to a nearby Dunkin Donuts. Priebus continued:

We have three candidates, each of whom has won a primary. But their attacks on each other have been so dead-bang accurate that none of them are electable in a general election. I am therefore suspending the rest of the primary season to prevent the further destruction of the Republican Party.

Right now, the polls show that the only Republican Candidate who does not have a 50% plus disapproval rating from independent voters is Stephen Colbert. While I understand he has dropped out of the race for the President of the United States of South Carolina, it is my hope that I can convince him by the time we have our Convention to toss his hat into the ring for President of the United States of America. He alone can save the Republican Party.

The reporter immediately called Stephen Colbert for his comment on this startling revelation. “F— you, Stewart!” Colbert said, “Do you know what time it is? I am not coordinating with you on my Super PAC!”

Later, Colbert gave a prepared statement, “I am deeply honored by Reince Priebus’ call to serve this great country of ours. But before accepting, I would like to know if I get to choose my running mate, because Jane Fonda is hot. Next, I would like to know if I was elected, could I re-design the Oval Office to have some corners? Because I can think of a few Congressmen I would love to see stand in the corner.”

This be the Daily Open Thread. HAPPY HUMP DAY.

Live-blogging the State of the Union address

(photo source: whitehouse.gov)

Hello, everyone!  This evening is something more pleasant, or at least easier to take than the endless GOP clown fests — the annual address to Congress by the President regarding the state of the union.

Fun fact: You know that whole process wherein the guy says “Mr Speaker, the President of the United States,” and then the President makes his way to the podium, shaking hands along the way?  Apparently there’s a formal protocol to that process.  Very interesting!

It’s been a busy year for the President, if not for Congress, since he’s actually interested in doing his job.  It should be an interesting speech, since it will double as his first campaign speech of the 2012 election season.

If you’re wondering what President Obama has accomplished during his presidency, here’s a handy dandy list (it might be a bit dated).

If you’d like to tune in to the speech online, you can watch it on whitehouse.gov.  They’ll be providing chart, stats, and data that helped the President make policy decisions over the last year.  That could be distracting, but we’ll see.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will be giving the GOP response this evening.  That’s always good for a laugh.  John Boehner has already declared the speech “pathetic,” and that’s a topic with which the Speaker is quite familiar.  I don’t know about you, but I anticipate misbehavior by the GOP members of Congress.

Join us in the comments section to do your own live-blogging, or simply enjoy the efforts of the other commenters, either way — HAVE FUN!!

The Watering Hole: January 24 – Damage Control

Newt has them in a frenzy it seems. The GOP establishment is bringing out their heavyweights to try and do damage control. After Chris Christie calling Newt Gingrich an embarrassment on “Meet the Press”, now Tim Pawlenty has come out with a similar message:

“This is somebody who has had so many incredibly unfortunate and questionable activities while he was speaker, post-speaker, that he’s not somebody that I think can carry the banner for the Republican Party and the conservative movement forward as a nominee or as a future president,”

To the rescue of Gingrich comes, of all people,  She Who Shall Not be Named. Calling Chris Christie a “rookie” and accused him of “lack of self-discipline”.


Gingrich tends to autodestruct, Romney could try the “No Drama” approach that your President does so irritatingly well, so why does the uproar come so early in the game?

There’s an unCivil War within the GOP raging. And for once it is not along the lines of evangelical purism against liberalism, it is along the lines of fiscal purism. The rebels couldn’t care less whether Gingrich had married three wives and a goat, or Romney entered marriage as a virgin, they care about The Deficit, The Debt and Big Government.

You do not have to follow the link to the article, if you (understandably) don’t want to give them any views on their website, but it was an article in redstate.com that made this clear to me:

There is general philosophical agreement among both Republicans and conservatives about all of this. Where the fault line lies is in exactly how far we are willing to go to do something about it. Many people who got into politics as good conservatives, and still think themselves good conservatives constrained by the limits of practical possibility, are at a loss when it comes to meaningful ways to tame Leviathan. For reasons, some good (the need to use political power to protect national security, preserve control of the courts and restrain regulatory overreach), some less so, they have thrown in the towel on the central issue of the day. That is who we speak of as the “Establishment.” Others – not always with a sense of proportion or possibility, but driven by the urgency of the cause – seek dramatic confrontations to prevent the menace of excessive spending from passing the tipping point where we can no longer save room for the private sector. They are the Outsiders, the ones challenging the system and its fundamental assumptions. The analogy of a Tea Party is an apt one: the Founding Fathers had much in common with the Tories of their day, but disagreed on a fundamental question, not of principle, but of practical politics: whether revolution was needed to protect their traditional rights as Englishmen from being eradicated by the growing encroachments of the British Crown. As it was then, the gulf between the two is the defining issue of today’s Republican Party and conservative movement. (whole article if you want to here)

The cause for fiscal purity is made with precision in that article and Gingrich obviously knows how to tap into that feeling. He could even spin being kicked out as a Speaker into a story about having been a “Maverick” all along (rings familiar eh?). Romney may still come out on top of it, but at what price remains to be seen. Santorum won’t be in the picture very long for the very reasons I have stated, the race is not about religious purity anymore. Paul, yeah well, he can prepare for his run in 2016.

My projected scenarios, being a European Elitist I am by nature an insufferable know-it-all, would be:

Romney wins. He is at best a lukewarm candidate and will not fire up the GOP base at all, but the “Anybody but Obama” crowd will have to be reckoned with. The prospects of President Romney won’t give Democrats a good reason to go vote, even grudgingly, for Obama. Voter turnout will be low on both sides and this could lead to a closer race than comfortable for Obama. But Obama wins.

Gingrich wins the nomination. Obama wins.

Gingrich wins more primaries, but autodestructs and leaves Romney fatally hurt at the roadside, so a brokered convention will pick a third candidate. Unlikely, Gingrich’s candidacy will be propped up for some months and left to lose. If only, because any Republican insider worth his/her salt, especially the younger ones, will wait out another stretch (hey, it is only four more years) and run then. Obama wins.

How will the Republican internal struggle end? Depends on who has more money on their hands. The Koch Brothers and their associates or the establishment’s funders.

This is our Open Thread. Let’s discuss, or let’s vent, or let’s turn this into a caption contest, or, or, or. It’s your thread folks, use it.

Watering Hole: Monday, January 23, 2012 – Algae

When a friend of mine, Dave, was serving in the Pennsylvania State House, he explored the possibility of using algae to create fuel.  Since the state has many power companies fueled by coal, he submitted proposals to set up the algae fuel generation next to the power plants.  Whenever we would get together with a group of friends and if Dave mentioned algae, someone would shout, “take a drink”   🙂  Dave was proud of the work that he did in promoting algae for fuel so he often spoke about it.

This is an interesting talk about algae as a fuel source.

This is our Open Thread.  What’s your opinion?  Speak Up or Drink Up or do both!

Sunday Roast: Amend 2012

Robert Reich, in his capacity as Chair of the National Governing Board of Common Cause, explains the effect Citizens United has had on our democracy.  In order to remedy this awful ruling by the Roberts Court, which drowns the political process in more unchecked money than we even know at this point, we need to pass an amendment to the Constitution.  You can find lots of information at Amend2012.

An amendment to get the money out of politics is a grand idea, but how much damage will be done between now and then — assuming we can get anything out of our broken Congress, and then get 38 states in a divided nation to agree.  Seems like a pretty steep mountain, although well worth doing.

This is our daily open thread — You know what to do.

The Watering Hole: January 21 – Foot in Mouth Syndrome

Newt Gingrich should consider Mitt Romney a priceless member of his campaign staff. From one of Newt’s sites:

If you want to see more, look here.

Mitt should be a lifetime recipient of the Foot in Mouth Award. If Mitt could only keep his mouth shut, he could easily become the GOP nominee for POTUS in the 2012 Election.

As it stands, should Mitt win the primary, Barack Obama has more than enough material for the Fall!

Mitt, the gift that keeps on giving.

This is your Open Thread. Who do you think will win in SC today? Why? If I were employed, I would start an office pool.

RIP Etta James, January 20, 2012

Born January 25, 1938. Died January 20, 2012. And lived a hell of a life in between. Jerry Wexler called her the greatest of all modern blues singers. There’s an excellent eulogy from the Sun Times here.

It was difficult finding any live performances on YouTube but here is one. I’ve also included an audio/video of one of her best songs.

The Watering Hole, January 19, 2012: So Happy It’s Thursday!

Let’s see,

Rick Perry dropping out: Called by God to run for President, his campaign was one big “Oops” moment after another.

Romney doesn’t make a lot from speaking engagements. To him, $350,000 isn’t a lot. After all, it barely puts him into the upper 1%. Then again, it must be trivial compared to his unearned income – remember, he’s unemployed.

Palin is willing to consider Mittens for her running mate. Thank you, Sarah, for reminding us that there is still hope you will run for Prednisent.

Colbert is polling well in his home state of South Carolina. Spoiler alert: If Herb Cain picks up enough votes, might he actually have delegates from South Carolina going into the RNC Convention?

This is, for want of anything better, our Open Thread. I don’t know about you, but I’m So Happy It’s Thursday!

The Watering Hole: Tuesday January 17 – Fort Sumter

The siege on Fort Sumter was the starting point for the civil war in 1861. I keep reading allegations to this in lots of tweets and blog posts that refer to yesterday’s debate. It must have been quite a spectacular show, for those among us, who are not queasy and, of course, for us Europeans who won’t be living under a Republican President, if one was elected this year.

The crowd must have been especially mean-spirited leading one of the Economist’s live bloggers to comment

I think this crowd will be disappointed when informed that there will not in fact be a public hanging later in the evening.
by W.W.4:18 AM

and another says:

As crowds go, only the Tea Party audience in the Nevada debate came close to this level of red-meatism. Agree/disagree?
by A.K. 4:26 AM

You can read all live-blog comments, many very amusing, on The Economist here.

The Guardian mentions the hem..hem.. let’s call it rather unusually rowdy atmosphere as well, but only in passing

The debate was conducted against a noisy background, with 3,000 partisan Republicans in the hall, booing and heckling, saving applause for their favourites, mainly Gingrich and former senator Rick Santorum. Romney, viewed as too moderate in right-leaning South Carolina, appeared to have failed to fill the hall with his supporters.

While Der Spiegel thinks it’s worth a full story:

Und so wird es immer schlimmer. Perry fabuliert, die Türkei werde von islamischen Terroristen regiert (Jubel). Er verwechselt die Taliban mit al-Qaida (Jubel) und den Irak mit Afghanistan (Jubel). Er verwehrt sich dagegen, die mutmaßliche Taliban-Leichenschändung durch US-Marineinfanteristen zu kritisieren (Jubel) – die Männer hätten doch nur “einen Fehler gemacht” (Jubel). Ach ja: Und er will die Immobilienkrise lösen, indem er verschuldete Hauseigentümer sich selbst überlässt (Jubel).

And thus it gets worse and worse. Perry opines Turkey was governed by islamic Terrorists (Cheers). He mixes up Taliban and Al Qaida (Cheers) and Iraq and Afghanistan (Cheers). He refuses to criticise the (alleged) desecration of Taliban corpses by US Marines (Cheers) the men had just “made a mistake” (Cheers). Oh yes: And he wants to solve the real estate crisis by  leaving indebted home owners to fend for themselves (Cheers).

So, back to Fort Sumter. All kinds of civil war are going on in the US. The “War on the Middle Class” (that will turn into a War on the Poor for want of a Middle Class soon)  and the “War on Civil Liberties” being the ones fought most prominently. There may even be a break-up of the Union in the not so distant future, politically the “War on the Federal Government” will be fought this summer when the Presidential campaigns will be in full swing. And won’t the 1% just love it to sick the states against each other to get all remaining regulations off the table and make the states compete for their attentions. Don’t believe it ? The USSR only took a couple of years to fully break apart, something that was unthinkable only 30 years ago, remember ? The US is in not much better shape these days. And people like the ones in yesterday’s audience are the perfect footsoldiers for such a development.

I almost regret that I won’t be watching Thursday’s debate either. On second thoughts, no I don’t.

As a matter of form: Newt Gingrich was dubbed yesterday’s winner and Mitt Romney the loser in most news sites I read.

This is our Daily Open Thread.