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.

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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!