The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 31, 2013: The Naked Greenland

Just when you thought you knew what your planet looked like, along comes a surprise – there’s another canyon on our planet that rivals our own Grand Canyon. It’s in Greenland, and it was discovered by scientists using ice-penetrating radar and decades of data.

The canyon has the characteristics of a winding river channel and is at least 460 miles (750 kilometers) long, making it longer than the Grand Canyon. In some places, it is as deep as 2,600 feet (800 meters), on scale with segments of the Grand Canyon. This immense feature is thought to predate the ice sheet that has covered Greenland for the last few million years.

The scientists used thousands of miles of airborne radar data, collected by NASA and researchers from the United Kingdom and Germany over several decades, to piece together the landscape lying beneath the Greenland ice sheet.

As beautiful as I’m sure it looks, my fear is that we’ll be able to see what the canyon looks like, with the naked eye, in our lifetimes. Well, not the people living on the Eastern coast.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss canyons are any other topic you wish. And if you’re currently enjoying a three-day holiday weekend, you can thank Unions for that.

The Watering Hole; Friday August 30 2013; Critters

Even as the US ponders getting involved in yet one more stupid war, and even as the rest of the human-occupied world waits in breathless anticipation, ‘out there’ amongst the unpretentious, the beat goes on as critters of all sorts do their level best to avoid the nonsensical. Here are a few randomly-selected “portraits” gathered over the years, photos of critters who really don’t give a damn about human stupidity, who simply ignore it and look the other way when encountered by it.

First, a Colorado Frog:

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A happy fly:

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Horses on a snowy day:

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Rocky Mountain Chipmunk:

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Siberian Husky named Balta:

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Shivering bird in an October snowstorm:

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And last but not least, one of Oahu’s finest beach dogs romping in the surf at Sunset Beach:

PD_0015There. Hoping everyone here has, for at least the last couple of moments, managed to think about something other than war and idiots!

Reminds me: yesterday I spent some time wandering around and enjoying the massive wild sunflower population that’s ‘out there’ covering the prairie this year. It’s absolutely AMAZING! Within a two mile radius of my abode, I counted 1,117,321,489 individual flowers before I wore myself out and had to quit for the day leaving at least another billion or two uncounted! And here’s the thing: the six or seven pickup trucks that I also counted each did more to interrupt nature’s soliloquy than did those billions of sunflowers! How can that be, I wonder?

Not sure what it is, but there’s definitely something about humans that tends to bother me a LOT!

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Thursday August 29 2013; “Moral Obscenity”

I’ll be brief:

US Secretary of State, John Kerry — multi-decorated veteran of the American mission in Vietnam — said (out loud) that the use of chemical weapons in Syria was “a moral obscenity” . . . such words spoken by one who actually “served” during that MORAL OBSCENITY which we today know simply as “Vietnam.” Today’s US Secretary of State — John Kerry —  once a soldier who was decorated for his “service” there, and who should, more than most alive today, understand the fundamental meaning of MORAL OBSCENITY blew it. Bigtime. Kerry noted that video and photographic evidence “strongly” indicates “that everything these images are already screaming at us is real, that chemical weapons were used in Syria.”

I have to wonder just how it was that he missed the chemical weapons the US used in Vietnam. Napalm, anyone? Agent Orange? (to name but the two most obvious of the MANY that were used. There. In the Nam).

Oh, yes: and speaking of photographic evidence that depicts a nasty weapon-induced “MORAL OBSCENITY,” here are a few ‘snapshots’ of that MORAL OBSCENITY commonly referred to as “Hiroshima” . . . a sampling of the many photos that are instantly available via Google:

Hiroshima 1945Restated In today’s pretend-cleansing lingo of the moment . . .

“It is undeniable,” that chemical weapons were used, Kerry said. “This is about the large scale, indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all.”

But what the hell. Syrians are A-Rabs, right? And alladem in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were Japs. Right? Not a white Christian . . .

But what the hell . . . war is cool, right? And there’s MONEY in it!!!

Yeah, MONEY! The path to POWER, the essence of MORALITY! Right? RIGHT!! JAVOHL!!

America: a MORAL OBSCENITY now (conveniently) defined (yet one more time), and . . . On. Full. Display. For. All. To. See.

In 1961, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower said it:

 . . . we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex . . .

After which came all those horrific threats to America: Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Chile, Nicaragua, Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again, Iran, Libya, Syria . . . I know I’ve missed at least a dozen of those . . . umm . . . THREATS?? . . . yeah, ‘threats’ to America’s freedoms and . . . well, you know, threats to freedom and democracy, to profit . . . etc. Fortunately we’ve managed to somehow survive . . . so far, at least.

But times have changed. I mean hey, we haven’t had a decent war in what, two or three years now? Time to find a new MORAL OBSCENITY! to attack and destroy!

My well-thought and seriously-intended best advice for both US Sec’y of State John Kerry and US President Barack Obama is short and sweet, and reads like this: as you dutifully search for one of those MORAL OBSCENITIES  to attack and destroy . . . ummm . . . avoid looking in the mirror. OK?

Open Thread.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, August 28, 2013: White Rage

Newton could have been a sociologist:

    I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
    II. The relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F isF = ma.
    III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

A couple of hours after the Supreme Court struck down certain provisions of the Voting Rights Act, certain states began to implement their long-suppressed voter restriction registration laws.

Emboldened by their re-masculation, white males are coming out of the closet in impressive numbers. Bigotry, once lampooned in the TV sitcom “All In the Family”, is now quickly becoming mainstream.

White men who “stand their ground” are now heroes, even if especially if they started the altercation. Not only are they heroes, they are the true victims, as their life is put in the spotlight just because they killed someone who “threatened” them.

Misogyny is also on the rebound, as men, long victimized by cries rape are now fighting back. Women who accuse a man of rape are once again branded as sluts, whores or just plain liars, and shamed into committing suicide. Those who get pregnant from rape must have given their consent. They can’t get an abortion, the government won’t provide pre-natal care, and if they have miscarriage, they may be convicted of manslaughter. If the baby is born, the father/rapist gets visiting rights, maybe even custody, meaning the mother will have to pay child support for the next 18 years.

Meanwhile the professional class, Doctors and Lawyers, etc., are slipping into the middle class; the middle class is becoming the working poor; and the poor are becoming destitute. The rich are becoming the aristocracy.

This is the direction we are heading, and will continue down that path until acted upon by some external force. Force is mass times acceleration. The masses, slow to start moving, are picking up energy, as surely as a tropical storm gathers in strength as it moves across the ocean. Everywhere Republicans, emboldened by majority control, enact legislation to destroy unions, to limit the vote, to further take money and power away from the people and give it their rich overlords, the storm continues to gather strength.

The ruling aristocracy will be met with an equal and opposite reaction: REVOLUTION. it is but a whisper on the wind now, but it is like a force of Nature that cannot be dispelled. It must run its course. And in its wake, balance will be restored.

HAPPY HUMP DAY, EVERYONE!

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 26th, 2013: “…Chad Everett?”

Way back when Comedy Central was just starting out as The Comedy Channel, The Higgins Boys and Gruber was one of the fledgling comedy shows (along with Short Attention Span Theater, hosted by a very young Jon Stewart, and Mystery Science Theater 3000* aka MST3K, with the inimitable Joel Hodgson.)   [*FYI, good news for MST3K fans at this link.]

One of the sketches on The Higgins Boys and Gruber that Wayne and I always remembered – well, besides the “Sex Survey” sketch – was their game-show spoof “$99,000 Pyramid.” They’re down to the last category in the Pyramid, and the clock is ticking down while one contestant is giving the other clues like “stars”, “suns”, “comets”, etc. The clock runs out while the contestant sputters without an answer. The host says to the disappointed contestant, “Now wait, before you turn around…what if I said…Chad Everett?” The contestant, who obviously had a light bulb go on inside his head, nods and responds with the correct answer, “Things in the Universe?

[…smooth segue…]

So here’s a fabulous photo of another one of those “Things in the Universe”, the “Cinderella’s Slipper Galaxy”, part of a ‘space photo of the day‘ series [scroll down past the picture on the link for hundreds more amazing photos, as well as commentary about the photo] from wired.com. Slate’s Phil Plait wrote about it back on April 2nd, and apparently one of Plait’s Twitter followers suggested the “Cinderella’ Slipper” name.

Cinderella's Slipper Galaxy--Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Hayes

Cinderella’s Slipper Galaxy–Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Hayes

I like what Phil Plait says at the end of his article:

“I find it fascinating that the Universe is so accommodating to our inquisitive nature. It leaves clues everywhere about itself, and all you need to learn about it is a bit of math and physics, technology, and above all curiosity. With those features in combination, the entire cosmos can be revealed.”

This is our daily open thread — talk away now, don’t be shy!

Sunday Roast: Mount Hood

Photo by Zooey

Finally!!  I made a trip to Portland, and the mountain is visible!  Woo hoo!

Being a geology geek, I was going to write about the type of volcano Mount Hood is, and the subduction zone of the Pacific coast, but this post is really late, so here’s one of the legends of Mount Hood, Mount St Helens, and Mount Adams, according the Multnomah people, via Wikipedia:

The Multnomah name for Mount Hood is Wy’east. In one version of the legend the two sons of the Great Spirit Sahale fell in love with the beautiful maiden Loowit who could not decide which to choose. The two braves, Wy’east and Klickitat, burned forests and villages in their battle over her. Sahale became enraged and smote the three lovers. Seeing what he had done he erected three mountain peaks to mark where each fell. He made beautiful Mount St. Helens for Loowit, proud and erect Mount Hood for Wy’east, and the somber Mount Adams for the mourning Klickitat.

Cool, huh?

This is our daily open thread — Go ahead, visit!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 24, 2013: Weird Spiders

While searching for a topic for this week’s post, I happened across a fascinating collection of weird spiders. Some of them are jaw-droppingly amazing. One has evolved to look just like a ladybug, not known for being tasty. Another could easily be mistaken for a common red ant. (Count the legs.) All of the spiders in that particular gallery are small, below five centimeters (two inches) in diameter. Many times, the writers say they wish the spider in question were bigger. Other times they’re grateful the spider isn’t one the size of your face. I recommend you check out the link. The writers have a great sense of humor and the pictures, the work of Nicky Bay, are incredible.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss spiders or any other creature with whom you may have once inadvertently spent a night.

The Watering Hole, Friday August 23, 2013; An August Day in Colorado

Had some heavy weather here late yesterday evening with enough thunder, lightning, wind, rain, and hail to cause a two-hour power outage. So, rather than the post on the consequences of human-caused climate change I was originally contemplating, I decided to settle instead on a few photos taken yesterday morning at our local lake, including one of which fully displays one of the (Wingnuttistanian proffered) obvious CAUSES of global warming.

Yesterday’s storm wasn’t an entirely unusual event this summer; things were very dry here at the foot of the Front Range until about mid-July, after which PM rain became an almost daily event. As a result, the level of the lake rose to just short of its overflow point (about 8 ft higher than a year ago at this time, its highest level in 18 months). And too, of course, there are wildflowers everywhere amidst the vibrant green that defines the landscape. The best consequence of all is that what seemed early-on in the summer to be the harbinger of an extreme wildfire season that might even dwarf 2012’s August horrors effectively disappeared a few days after the rains began and remains in seclusion . . . at least here in this part of the West.

Ok, so enough chatter; here are a few graphic renderings from Lake Beckwith, Colorado, taken yesterday, on August 22 2013.

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And last but not least (according to an elected wingnut in Washington State whose name I’ve thankfully forgotten) proudly stands one of the major contributors to increased atmospheric CO2 and all the associated problems. Sadly, it’s also become my favorite summertime means of getting around; saves lots of gas money to leave the old van parked in the garage, but of course both the body heat plus the extra CO2 I expel whilst riding (which I would NOT be doing were I driving a car instead) are causing climate change.

*sigh*

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OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday August 22 2013; Brevity

It’s been a long day. Brevity appeals. Ergo, an old shred of poetry penned a decade or so ago, but a shred which still sort of (graphically) sums up a lot of today’s ever downward-pointing darts and arrows; a shred dedicated this day to today’s ever effervescent Tea Party’s obviously excrescent evanescence.

There. I assume the NSA snoopers to be appropriately baffled to the point where it’s safe to add the following poetic tidbit, with subliminal implicit message forever dedicated to each and all who cannot comprehend the . . . ummm . . . embedded and subliminal but nevertheless implicit message. Stated another way and for Wingnuttistanians everywhere, In Hoc Signo! aka:

Divinity’s Dart

First came The Sin,
Original, it’s said;
Apple, snake, woman . . .
Knowledge.

Knowledge thus The Sin of Man
Became;
Now and forever more, Amen.
Knowledge IS The Sin,
The Dart of Divinity
Which points toward

Sin’s
Fiery
Hell!
It’s simple, yes it truly is;
A talking snake, an
Apple gnawed;
Then twitch of
Knowledge
savored:
Adam,
Naked,
Eve &
Eden.
Uh oh.
Mmm!

Conclusion:

Succoring hint of Knowledge, once obtained
Too oft bequeaths, to sin, an opened  door
Which, much to God’s divine disdain,
Makes Sin too simple to explore,
And even harder to explain!
Thus:
Whilst wise men rest
Whilst others seek,
New knowledge
Quests begin
Once more
Afresh
With:

“Psst! Hey Eve, buy you a drink??!”

Thus  route to Hell now paved in Wisdom’s  grand design,
And bulk of Mankind’s earthly works at last explained!

Open Thread — aka the evernascent (??) route to Hell!

Watering Hole: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 – The Tomato and the Hemp Plant

Authorities should learn to recognize plants before they begin tearing up peoples’ gardens.  The residents of this small community had their organic gardens destroyed because a neighbor called the police and claimed that marijuana was growing in the gardens.

In June, an anonymous source provided police with information that Eaker was growing marijuana in a garden that is surrounded by bamboo, the warrant states.

On July 30, a Texas Department of Public Safety aircraft conducted aerial surveillance of the Garden of Eden property, according to the warrant. Based on the investigating officer’s experience, and upon review of photographs taken of a garden surrounded by bamboo, the plants inside appeared to be consistent with marijuana, police state in the warrant.

What disturbs me is that people have to fear having their home gardens destroyed because of a false alarm created by a nosy neighbor.

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This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 19th, 2013: From Baseball to “Cracker”

It’s a good thing I was paying attention during the Mets game today, otherwise I’d have had to think of something else to write about.

The Mets were playing the San Diego Padres, and Keith Hernandez, announcer for the Mets and California native, was talking about the California state flag with, as Keith said, the grizzly bear as the state’s official animal. I wasn’t quite sure if it was a grizzly, so I decided to look up the official state animals and, sure enough, Keith was right…
Flag-of-California

…and here we are.

On the “State Mammals” list from statesymbolsusa.org, poor Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Rhode Island don’t even have their own state animals (mammal or otherwise); a couple of states didn’t have photos/videos of their state mammals, so I have provided them.

New Hampshire's official State Dog, the Chinook

New Hampshire’s official State Dog, the Chinook

 

Washington's official "State Endemic Mammal", the Olympic Marmot

Washington’s official “State Endemic Mammal”, the Olympic Marmot

The list is fun to delve into for us animal lovers, and for history buffs, too – after all, a state wouldn’t pick an official animal that wasn’t integral to the history and development of that state.

I noticed that several states have horses as either the official state animal, or in a separate official ‘State Horse’ category. When I was little, horses were my first love, then dogs – it took a while for me to get to cats. I have yet to pore through some of more intriguing and unusual official state dogs. But I digress.

Zooey, whatever you say about Idaho, they’ve got the best State Horse, the Appaloosa. I always found them fascinating, not only because no two are alike, but because the foals are born dark brown/black and develop their spots later.

Appaloosa mare and foal

Appaloosa mare and foal

Appaloosa colt

Appaloosa colt

What suddenly caught my eye among the state horses was the “Florida State Heritage Horse” – the “Florida Cracker Horse.”
According to the website, “Florida designated the Florida cracker horse (or Marshtackie) as the official state heritage horse in 2008 (expires July 1, 2018 unless renewed).”

A handy video explains the history of the Florida Cracker Horse: as with many early American horses, their ancestors came over with Spanish explorers, including Ponce de Leon. After roaming wild for generations after the Spanish left, the horses were utilized as part of Florida’s overall agricultural development, and were essential to their cattle ranching industry. According to the video, the Florida Cracker Horse was named after:

“Florida cowboys, nicknamed ‘Crackers’ because of the sound of their whips cracking in the air.”

Hmmm…”Florida”…”Cracker“…where have we heard a kerfuffle over the word ‘cracker‘ recently? Oh, yeah, that travesty of justice in which the murder of an unarmed 17-year-old black teen was turned into a distracting and disgusting game of ‘Who’s the Real Racist?’ (Sigh)

This is our daily open thread — Sorry for the rant. Enjoy the animals!

Sunday Roast: Oh Em Gee!!

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I’m not in the mood to deal with the bullshit going on in the world today, so I decided to find a picture of a cute cat on the interwebs.  Who knew there were so many!?

Anyhoo, I’m browsing among the cuteness on Google Images, when I came across this picture, and my only thought was, “OhmygodOhmygodOhmygodOhmygodOhmygod, that’s sooooooo cute!!!”

And then my heart grew three sizes.  That is all.

This is our daily open thread — Grumpy Cat will return.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 17, 2013: Your Coriolis Is Showing

It occurred to me that the reason we get storms in the East and droughts in the West is because we have the Atlantic Ocean “sloshing” up against our shores, bringing more hurricanes and precipitation to our side of the country, while the West doesn’t have an ocean of water sloshing upon it. Likewise, the Pacific Ocean brings typhoons to the Eastern shores of Asia, while Europe gets droughts because there isn’t as much water coming its way. Okay, so I’m not the first one to notice that.

The oceans are absorbing more carbon dioxide because of the fossil fuels we burn. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere, which reflects heat back toward the Earth. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means more carbon dioxide falling in to the oceans. Which means the oceans are warmer. Warmer oceans give more energy to the storms that are produced. (There aren’t necessarily more storms being produced, but the storms that are being produced are stronger.) And we get, every once in a while, a Hurricane Katrina or a Superstorm Sandy. Except we’re no longer getting them “every once in a while,” we’re getting them all the time. How many times have you heard we were getting “the Storm of the Century”? How many centuries have you been alive?

This got me thinking about the Coriolis Effect. Here’s an interesting short explanation of it and how it affects the weather. Enjoy.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss the Coriolis Effect, the Dunning-Kruger Effect, or any other Effect you wish.

Music Night, August 16, 2013

I was a huge Byrds fan from the beginning and virtually all of my favorite original material was written and sung by Gene Clark. He left the band after just a few years and drifted across my personal radar on rare occasions. As far as I knew at the time, he was done. The reality is that Clark continued to write and perform (but not tour) for a couple of decades and the albums (solo and with various partners) contain some amazing music. In the 1980s he worked with singer/songwriter Carla Olson, resulting in several really excellent albums. Clark died in 1991, age 46 after years of excessive drug and alcohol use.

The Watering Hole, Friday August 16, 2013; “Some Days are Diamonds”

As John Denver once sang it, “Some Days Are Diamonds, Some Days Are Stones.” Yesterday, when I should have been writing and scheduling-for-post yet one more ‘something’ incredibly profound in concept . . . well, I was busy because  “Some Days Are Diamonds” you know — definable as days wherein, after a 20 mile morning bike ride in the shadow of the Rocky Mountain Front Range, the singly most important thing left to do is to snap a random photo of Shadow (the most fab cat that’s ever been!) and Tootsie (a next-door cat-world Newbie . . . not immediately related to Shadow, but . . . well, you know)!

Anyway, here’s yesterday’s most glowing moment, digitally expressed:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImagine it: a cats-only world! A world governed only with cool intelligences, a world with no REPUBLICANS! ! — a world in which even a little three-month-old kitty named Tootsie OBVIOUSLY has more upstairs than any dozen Mitch McConnell black holes could ever have — a world in which, were it to ever accept and employ any sense of genuine and eternal JUSTICE, Shadow would be our POTUS!).

😆

Open Thread.

The Watering Hole, Thursday August 15, 2013; Wolves

“The precise origins of man’s unusual fear of the wolf are obscure. The wolf is human’s most feared animal, even though there has never been a verified account of a healthy wild wolf attacking and killing a human in North America. There have been many maulings caused by bears, and many a diver has experienced a shark attack, but never a wild wolf attack. So why are wolves so feared and hated?”
(Jill Missal
)

In just the last couple of days I’ve received communications from both Defenders of Wildlife and the Center For Biological Diversity on what is an apparent ‘pause’ in the clearly politically-motivated effort, courtesy of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, to delist — and hence enable the mass killing — of all (reintroduced) gray wolves in the lower 48, save for the small handful of (reintroduced) Mexican Gray Wolves in E. Arizona and W. New Mexico. Here are the most recent messages; they are, at least, encouraging . . . to all but the wolf-haters:

USFWS halts peer review process for national wolf delisting proposal
Public outcry over excluded experts raises serious concerns over scientific integrity

WASHINGTON (August 12, 2013) – According to news reports today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) has put on hold the scientific peer review of its proposal to strip federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across nearly all of the lower 48 states.

The following is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife:

“While we still disagree on the merits of this premature delisting proposal, at least the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service understands the magnitude of the issue. It’s a relief that the Service has listened to the voices of wildlife supporters nationwide who have called the integrity of their peer review process into question. Cherry-picking scientists is not a good way to do business. To ensure impartiality and scientific integrity, we recommend that the Service turn the peer review over to the National Academy of Sciences instead of trying to manage the process itself. Either way, we look forward to a fair peer review of the science behind this ill-advised delisting proposal, and we hope the Service turns to the best experts in the field regardless of whether they have written letters about the use of their science in the proposal.”

####

Background:
Last week, several wolf experts were excluded from consideration for a peer review panel to evaluate the scientific basis for delisting gray wolves nationwide. They were excluded for signing a letter in May that criticized the Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal, saying: “Based on a careful review of the rule, we do not believe that the rule reflects the conclusions of our work or the best available science concerning the recovery of wolves, or is in accordance with the fundamental purpose of the Endangered Species Act to conserve endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.” Among those excluded were Robert Wayne of UCLA, Roland Kays of North Carolina State University and John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University.

And this, from the Center For Biological Diversity:

After protests by the Center for Biological Diversity and others, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just suspended the independent scientific review of the wolf delisting proposal in order to deal with criticisms that top wolf scientists had been excluded.
 
It’s an important victory but we still have a long fight ahead of us.

Now more than ever we know that politics, not science, is driving this proposal to strip Endangered Species Act protections from wolves. Last week, three scientists were cut out of the review process because they’d signed a letter raising serious questions about the delisting proposal.

It seems obvious that this latest ploy was an attempt to keep dissenting opinions out of the scientific peer review mandated by the Endangered Species Act. It failed, thankfully, after Center and other wolf supporters turned up the heat.

Below is an ‘old’ rendering that I ran across (somewhere) circa 2002, one that has been resident on my hard drive since I first scanned it way back then, more than a decade ago. Sadly, I can offer no attribution, can only offer it for admiration of its implicit message. And in the process, note that no matter the sad reality of the moment, I can still only wonder just what might be the cosmic explanation of the embedded human flaw that seems to DEMAND that we KILL wolves . . . even though our only reasons for doing so are irrational fears, hatreds, and politics.

Wolves-2“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals.  Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.  We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves.  And therein we err, and greatly err.  For the animal shall not be measured by man.  In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren, they are not underlings, they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”  ~Renée Askins in Shadow Mountain – A Memoir of Wolves, a Woman, and the Wild; Anchor Books, ISBN 0-385-48226-4

Stated another way (the Wingnut version of irrational fears, hatreds, and politics”):

[The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone is] “the equivalent of detonating a nuclear bomb in the West.”  ~Paul Hoffman, appointed deputy assistant secretary of the Interior in January 2002 as overseer of the National Park Service, as quoted in 1996

Open Thread.

The Watering Hole: Hump Day, August 14, 2013: ON SPEED

We’ve all dealt with speed traps at one point or another. Here’s a tale of a rather unique way a small, unnamed town tried to generate money.

As I was driving along a country road, I passed by a rather unusual speed limit sign:

SPEED LIMIT
BAT OUT OF HELL

I thought “this is great” and opened it up. I was crusing somewhere around 110 mph when I saw the flashing red & blue lights in the rear-view mirror.

“What seems to be the problem, Officer?” I asked, handing over my license and registration.

“You were going faster than a bat out of hell.” He said, handing me the citation.

Fast forward to traffic court, and I have the officer on the stand.

“What was the speed limit on the stretch of highway were you cited me for speeding?”

“You can’t go faster than a bat out of hell on that stretch of the road.” The locals in the audience chuckled.

“Ok. How fast does a bat out of hell go?” Apparently no one had asked him that before – out of towners like myself ususally just pay the ticket. But those of you who know me, know that’s not my style.

“Ummmm…I dunno. Pretty damn fast.”

“And how fast was I going?”

“Pretty damn fast.”

“Your honor, I move to dismiss. The officer’s testimony indicates that I was going no faster than a bat out of hell.”

The judge looked at the officer, then at me, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I guess you’re right. Case dismissed.”

Well, a couple of months later, I was going down that same country road, past that same “Bat out of Hell” speed limit sign, and pulled over by that same trooper, who handed me the same citation. “I got you this time.” he said as he handed me the ticket. “I did my research. You’re not going to make a fool out of me on the stand again.”

Fast forward to court, and I asked the trooper how fast is a bat out of hell. He was ready.

“I looked it up on the internet and bats can fly up to 60 miles per hour.You were going a hell of a lot faster than 60.”

“Well, were those bats on the internet flying out of hell?”

“What?”

“Were they flying out of hell, or just flying around?”

“The article didn’t say.”

“Have you ever used your radar gun on a bat out of hell?”

“No.”

“Have you ever seen a bat fly out of hell?”

“No.”

“So you have no idea of how fast a bat out of hell flies, don’t you?”

The officer squirmed once again, “no.”

Case dismissed.

Fast-forward to last month. They changed the speed limit sign. This time it read:

SPEED LIMIT
PRETTY DAMN FAST

So I opened it up again, and again met with my favorite trooper.

“What seems to be the problem, now, Officer?”

“You were going too damn fast.” he tore the ticket off and tossed it at me, along with my license and registration. “see you in court!”

So, once again I am in court. I can’t tell if the judge is bemused with me, or somewhat chagrined that I’m depriving the town of income. Anyway the officer testifies,

“The speed limit on that stretch of highway is pretty damn fast, and the defendant was going too damn fast.”

“Ok,” I said, “did you use your radar gun?”

“Yes.”

“And how fast was I going, according to your radar gun?”

“A hundred and ten.”

“Now, you pulled me over a few months ago, for going faster than a bat out of hell. Do you remember that?”

“Hell yes.”

“And you used your radar gun that time, too?”

“Yes.”

“And how fast was I going then?”

“The same, a hundred ten.”

“And, if you recall, when you testified in that matter, you said I was going pretty damn fast, correct?

“Yes.” he started to squirm, seeing the handwriting on the wall.

“Your honor, you just heard the officer testify that in both instances I was going a hundred and ten miles an hour. He acknowledged his earlier testimony that a hundred and ten miles an hour is pretty damn fast. The inescapable conclusion is that I was going pretty damn fast this time, too, but not too damn fast. I move to dismiss.”

Chalk another one in the win column.

Yesterday, I came to that same spot. This time the speed limit sign read

SPEED LIMIT
CONGRESS

Traffic was gridlocked.

OPEN THREAD TIME
ENJOY HUMP DAY
BUT BE CAREFUL ON THE ROAD
& DON’T GO FASTER THAN A BAT OUT OF HELL

*Note: The Zoo does not endorse Geico. But this video is just too funny to pass up for a Hump Day post.

Watering Hole: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 – The Big Ass Mountain

I don’t have much to say today except this, imagine a National Park under the control of a Libertarian/Tea Party/John Birch Society controlled government.

Here’s some photos from the “Big Ass Mountain” in Washington.

“Big Ass Mountain” as seen from Paradise.

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Fields of wild flowers located at the Big Ass Mountain.

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Big Ass Mountain glacial flow that is decreasing every year.

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Streams flowing from the Big Ass Mountain.

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And a  Big Ass Mountain Hoary Marmot (chewing on a piece of chipboard).  This fell off my SIL’s coffee cup and as he reached down to pick it up, this little critter quickly grabbed it and began to eat it.  There was no arguing with the marmot.

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My guess is that our national parks would be sold to the highest bidder(s) and the oil and gas industry would start their “drill, baby, drill” work.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!

EXTRA:  Libertarians would love this idea.

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 12th, 2013: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Twenty-five years ago this month, I went to the Women’s Health Pavilion in Dobbs Ferry, NY, to have my tubes tied.

Wayne and I were planning to get married in October that year, and had decided that, since neither of us felt that we had the temperament to raise children, having my tubes tied was the best route to go. I had been on the Pill off and on for about 10 years, and didn’t want to be exposed to its possibly harmful side effects anymore.

Even back then, as a fully-grown 32-year old adult, at a facility which catered to both happily pregnant women and unhappily pregnant women and teens seeking abortions, the doctors assumed, despite my protestations, that I might change my mind. They insisted that I have the type of tubal ligation which could be undone, even though they admitted that this procedure was more painful than the no-going-back type (they were definitely right about the pain!) That was the first time in my adult life that a decision about my body and reproductive choice was forced upon me by others.

That seems like ages ago now; but it also seems like ages ago (instead of a mere 17 months) that I began writing about the Republican War on Women (see here, here, and here), and in the meantime the suppression of women’s rights by Republicans just keeps getting worse.

This year, the main spotlight has been on Texas, where it took two “Special Sessions” of their legislature to pass a strict anti-abortion bill that couldn’t get passed in their regular legislative session. The only good thing that resulted from this extended knock-down drag-out fight was that it made a political star of State Sen. Wendy Davis, whose tenacious example and amazing filibuster brought thousands of Texans and millions of American women together in support of both Wendy and women’s rights.

Since then, however, more states have jumped on the he-man-woman-haters-club bandwagon. North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory, after promising during his campaign that he would not sign any new abortion regulations, went ahead and did so. Then, adding insult to injury, he offered women protesting outside of his mansion a plate of cookies.

After that, Iowa is now contemplating a bill banning what’s called “telemedicine abortion”, where the doctor can prescribe the abortion pill to a woman online rather than in the doctor’s office.

And most recently, despite the legislation’s failure to pass in Georgia’s legislative session, Governor Nathan Deal(R) “vowed to use his executive power to enact it anyway.”

Lastly, getting back to Texas:

On the final day of the second session, state Sen. Eddie Lucio (D) — the only Senate Democrat who supported the recently approved omnibus anti-abortion bill — filed a measure to require women to complete a mandatory adoption certification course before they may seek an abortion. Lucio has suggested he will attempt to keep pushing that measure during the third session.

It’s hard to find a current answer to ‘how many states now have strict anti-abortion laws?”, but according to answerbag.com (from 2010):

Thirty-eight states have laws that prohibit abortions after a specific point in the pregnancy, except in cases where the late-term abortion might save the woman’s life or protect her health. Sixteen states have laws in effect that do not allow for late-term abortions.

And, according to religioustolerance.org:

At least 16 states still have pre-1973 anti-abortion laws on the books even though they are clearly unconstitutional and nullified under Roe v. Wade.”

Will the attack on women’s reproductive rights ever end? When will Republican women wake up and realize just how much Republican men despise them, want to keep women second-class citizens, and will do anything to control their reproductive health and rights? And when will male Democrats grow a collective pair and denounce Republican men as the ignorant, greedy, hate-filled, misogynistic bullies that they are?

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

Sunday Roast, August 11, 2013: They’re Both Wrong

Just this past Thursday (remember that day; a mere three days ago) Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) had an unpleasant conversation with a constituent who insisted that Barack Obama was constitutionally ineligible to be the President of the United States. She claimed to have proof in the form of some papers supposedly gathered by Arizona Bigot-Extraordinaire Joe Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse (which I sincerely hope didn’t use a penny of taxpayer money pursuing this non-crime), but the Congressman was not interested in looking at them. He said to her (and it sure sounds like this to my hard-of-hearing ears), “I don’t even give a shit.” She tried to claim it was “a matter of law.” For his part, the Congressman’s argument was that “We had four years to take care of that,” and that because Obama was re-elected, it was a “dead issue” and “we lost that argument.”

They’re both wrong.

No matter how many times they bring it up, Continue reading

Idaho fire

Fire-fighting helicopter!

Closer look at the ridge.

More of the ridge.

Super close-up of the top of the ridge.

Photos by Zooey

These photos were taken in Nez Perce County, on the Clearwater River.  Thank goodness the river is right there, so maybe they can tamp it down before it goes nuts.

I hope that the thunderstorms due this afternoon don’t materialize.