The Watering Hole, Friday October 31, 2014 – Halloween Music Night

In Philadelphia, the Rocky Horror Picture Show (film) became a cult classic among the LGBT community (I know I left out some letters) and played for something like 20 years of consecutive Saturday nights at midnight at the Theater of the Living Arts (1976 to 1995). Audiences were encouraged to dress up as one of the characters.Here’s our Halloween night music starter.

The Watering Hole; Friday October 31 2014; A Diversion . . .

I was originally going to put up a pre-election post on current electoral “abnormalities” such as voter suppression, the money = speech nonsense, and . . . well, you know. Problem is, I couldn’t find the time in the last few days to pen a 5000 page book. So . . .

I checked my email instead and noticed a fresh one from my old college buddy-now-turned-wildlife-photographer Denny Green with subject line “Rattlers.” Following a quick peek at the attachments, my focus immediately shifted from “human” political snakes to the real thing.

Mojave 3054

And wouldn’t you know, the photo perusal wound up reminding me of another old friend, a retired educator-become-poet who called himself Grandpa Tucker, a gifted gentleman who spent his last few years working with middle school children and helping them gain an appreciation of poetry AND in the process, an understanding of life as well. He spent a year or two interfacing with a 7th grade class (in another state) via the internet, via email. He wrote an entire book of poetry in the process, including more than a dozen long story poems that featured the hero — a special critter named Sammy Snake. Sammy was one of the good guys, a snake with an attitude that, for some mysterious reason, meshed with the collection of attitudes commonly attributed to seventh graders. 😀

Anyway, to make a long story short, several Denny Green photos of a cool and calm Arizona Mojave Rattlesnake quickly merged with those poetic Sammy Snake ramblings by the one and only Bob Tucker. I’ll not try to cover the entire scope of Sammy here, but I thought it might be fun to mix up a few of Denny’s photos with a handful of verses from the first of Grandpa Tucker’s Sammy Snake poems.

SAMMY SNAKE

Sammy Snake had a dozen brothers,
But he just wasn’t like the others.
They were nice and crawled real straight,
While Sammy moved like the figure eight.

Mojave 3057

Sammy was a problem child
Whose wiggle waggled kinda wild.
This little guy rejoiced in seeing
A badly frightened human being

Once in a while, for stuff to do,
He’d hide in some girl’s empty shoe.
When she looked in, he’d holler, “BOO!”
Sometime he scared old ladies, too.

One time in church, he went in late,
Hid out in the collection plate.
And as they passed it down the aisle,
He flicked his tongue and hissed a smile. [. . .]

That’s how the poem begins; it continues for another 18 verses, then concludes with these final thoughts:

He changed and lived “The Golden Rule,”
And tried his best to learn in school.
Then earned a Smart Old Snake Degree,
At Wiggle University.

His article, “Be Nice, Not Mean,”
Appeared in Playboa Magazine.
Sammy had reformed, it’s clear,
Was voted “Serpent of the Year.”

So, all you other little snakes,
Be good, no matter what it takes.
No one’s perfect, but believe,
It just gets worse if you deceive.

So live a life that’s good and true,
Make other snakes believe in you,
And you’ll be doing what it takes
To fill the world with happy snakes.

(See Below) 😀

Mojave 3061

I can’t help but think it’d be a grand thing if our politicians could somehow elevate themselves to reflect the forthrightness of a Mojave Rattler with the intellectual acuity of Sammy Snake. But then, well, you know . . .

OPEN THREAD

Note: Photos © Denny Green, Tempe AZ; Sammy Snake poem excerpts from Grandpa Tucker’s Rhymes & Tales (1999), ISBM 1-929146-00-0, by the late Bob Tucker; R.I.P.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

Why do we learn history?

So we can learn from the mistakes of the past.

But which history will teach us that? The history I learned in grammer school was contradicted by the history I learned in high school, and when I got to college, it was like everything I learned was a lie.

‘Tis true. The history they teach in school is little more than a fantasy with some real names, dates and places thrown in to make it sound real. But grownups feel that young children should be protected from the harsh realities of what really happened. I mean, imagine how upset you would have been to learn that we wiped out tens of thousands of Indians by giving them small-pox infected blankets.

Yeah, I guess you’re right. I mean, I would have thought we killed Pochohantas. But what about something more recent?

Like what?

Like Black Tuesday. The Stock Market crash. The causes of the Great Depression. Now we’re told it was organized labor and high taxes on the job creators that tanked the global economy back then.

Ok, son, it’s time you learned how history works. There’s history, what really happened, and there’s history, what the people in power want you to believe happened.

How do we know the difference?

Do something most people are unwilling to do: Research. Read. Go to original sources. The ruling class learned something 85 years ago. They learned that they needed even more power over the government. And they, slowly but surely, got it. So, this time, when they crashed the economy, they made sure they were well taken care of. They learned from history, and took steps to avoid losing their fortunes this time around. The common man, the masses content to accept the history the ruling class taught them, did not learn, and paid the price this time, too.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, October 27th, 2014: Mutants are Cool

I don’t normally click on any of those groups of six ads that seem to be unavoidable on most websites, but when I saw the following photo, I just HAD to:

Horse or Zebra?

Horse or Zebra?


The website, brainjet.com, didn’t answer the caption’s question, but I’d say it’s a zebra with a cool-looking color mutation…which, of course, was the title of the slideshow: “13 Naturally Color-Mutated Animals.” While there were some that I might call into question (for instance, the quality of the “pink elephant” photo was too poor), many were beautiful and marvelous. Go ahead and check them out, here are some of my favorites:
Brown Striped Zebra (Zebra Erythrism)

Brown Striped Zebra (Zebra Erythrism)


The first two were for Zooey. The next one is for Pachy:
Pink Dragonfly

Pink Dragonfly


This next photo was called a “Piebald Deer”, which is erroneous: “Piebald” (at least in horse terminology) describes a white coat with random irregular black patches; “Skewbald” describes a white coat with random irregular brown patches. So the deer in this pic is actually a skewbald, not a piebald:
piebald deer
This one’s for me, since my ‘toon representation in our header is the majestic tiger (thank you, Paul!):
Four Shades of Tiger

Four Shades of Tiger


And just a few more that were cool:
Half-white Peacock

Half-white Peacock


Pink Grasshopper (sounds like a drink!)

Pink Grasshopper (sounds like a drink!)

Enjoy the rest of the slide show. I did!

This is our daily open thread – feel free to discuss whatever you want.

Sunday Roast: 15 things atheists are tired of hearing

I’ve heard every single one of these obnoxious questions/observations — most of them from certain family members.

Being an admitted atheist is a fairly recent development in my life — the last 10 years, or so — mostly because religion, for many years of my life, was simply a non-thing.  I just didn’t care either way.  *shrug*

My family attended church and Sunday school when I was a child; it was just something we did.  I tried to believe in God and Jesus, but even as a young child, I just couldn’t make myself believe it.  I mean, come on, the whole concept was just so unlikely.

One Sunday, while I was enjoying the most interesting part of church — juice and cookies afterwards — I heard an older man was talking about the joy of feeling the presence of Jesus in every part of his daily life, and I remember thinking that he looked kind of dazed and sounded so child-like.  It felt really uncomfortable, since I was about 10 years old at the time.

Religion has begun to worm its way into our everyday lives, whether we want it or not, and it’s just not okay.  In fact, it’s destructive to the secular world, as well as to religion.  It’s not the American way, and openly saying that I am an atheist (feminist/Liberal/Socialist, etc) is a way of saying “NO, this has gone too far.  Get a fucking grip, people.”

This is our daily open thread — Discuss this topic or whatever.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 25, 2014: Five Republicans I Fear Might Win

Courtesy of the good people at Right Wing Watch (a project of People For the American Way dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement), here are five Republicans I fear might win on Election Day (which is just one week from this coming Tuesday.) What’s even more frightening than the mere fact that they won their party’s nomination is that they may end up being members of a Republican-controlled House and Senate. And that would be horrific for anybody in this country who isn’t a white, male billionaire which, last time I checked, was just about all of us.

The five names you don’t want to hear announced as winners on Election Night (or however many days it takes to count up every vote against them) are Joni Ernst, Thom Tillis, Jody Hice, Glenn Grothman, and Zach Dasher. The first two wish to become US Senators (in our government!) and the other three wish to become US Representatives (representing the interests of the very, very rich in the People’s House.) Ernst wants to replace retiring Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and Tillis wants to unseat first term North Carolina Senator Kay Hagen. Over in the House, Hice wants to replace the out-going non-believer in Science (and member of the House Science Committee) Dr. Paul Broun (who once called Evolution and the Big Bang Theory “lies straight from the pit of Hell“); Grothman wants to replace retiring Wisconsin Rep Tom Petri (who won’t endorse Grothman because, as he told a reporter, “Why would I endorse a person who has said that if in two years people said he was ‘just like Petri’ he would be insulted?”); and Dasher wants to bank on his family name (which isn’t his; he’s related to the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty fame) to replace the freshman Republican Vince McAllister.

I encourage you to read about each of these five candidates at the link above. Believe me, if you have any sense of decency as a human being, if you have any concern whatsoever about the extremist Tea Party people taking over our government so they can do the bidding of their wealthy benefactors, or if you have an IQ in the three-digit range, you will not want any of these five people to win a week from Tuesday. If they have the right view on anything, I can promise you it’s probably for the wrong reasons. And talk about extremism. Among them, in various combinations, they support: nullification of federal laws they don’t like, personhood amendments, Christian nationalism, anti-abortion laws, and the arming of school teachers. And I just picked one thing out of each of their platforms. They support many, many more extremist positions. I will be very unhappy if any one of them wins, and I will be downright depressed if any of them win and the Republicans take control of all of Congress because any of them might become the head of a Congressional committee. You should be, too.

This is our daily open thread. feel free to discuss Republican extremism or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole; Friday October 24 2014; On the Other Hand . . .

The other day I accidentally ran across this pair of tidbits that represent . . . not sure how to say this . . . that represent either (a) the pinnacles of American stupidity or (b) the bottom of the bottomless pit of American idiocy? (Word choice is open for discussion).

First off, this gem:

Author says South should form new nation without gays and Hispanics called ‘Reagan’

Conservative columnist and former aide to President Ronald Reagan called on southern states to secede and form an ultraconservative new nation named after his old boss. Douglas MacKinnon, a former speechwriter for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, appeared Tuesday on The Janet Mefford Show to promote his new book, “The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country … Now.”

He told the religious conservative host that southern states – starting with Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina – should leave the United States so they can implement a right-wing Christian system of government.

MacKinnon envisions other states joining, but he hopes to leave out Texas because “there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.”

“A growing number of our leaders seem determined to erase our borders,” he wrote in a recent syndicated column promoting his book, “do away with the rule-of-law, expand the nanny state into a theology, bankrupt or punish American companies in the name of fighting climate change, do away with the 2nd Amendment, censor or demonize the history of western civilization and replace it with multiculturalism, give every kid a trophy and turn them into wimps, continue to support the completely unfunded public-employee pensions which are destroying the financial solvency of cities, counties, and states across our nation, add billions every day to our $17 trillion in debt, destroy our health-care system to substitute socialized medicine, vilify fossil fuels, and attack all faith in God with a particular and unhinged bias against the Christian faith.”

[. . .]

He said the new country should be called Reagan, at least until voters there could decide on a permanent name.

MacKinnon did not specifically address . . . whether slavery would be legal in the new secessionist government, nor did he describe the status of black people living in Reagan.

But he made clear that LGBT people would be second-class citizens – or worse – saying that advances in their rights as citizens was a major factor in his call to break up the United States. [Etc.]

What a great idea! What could possibly go wrong?

Next up, a message massage from Louie Gohmert, one that presumably defines the fate of the part of the country that chooses not to become part of the nation called ‘Reagan.’

Gohmert: Gay Massage Will Make Our Soldiers Vulnerable To Terrorism

“I’ve had people say, ‘Hey, you know, there’s nothing wrong with gays in the military. Look at the Greeks.’ Well, you know, they did have people come along who they loved that was the same sex and would give them massages before they went into battle. But you know what, it’s a different kind of fighting, it’s a different kind of war and if you’re sitting around getting massages all day ready to go into a big, planned battle, then you’re not going to last very long. It’s guerrilla fighting.

“You are going to be ultimately vulnerable to terrorism and if that’s what you start doing in the military like the Greeks did … as people have said, ‘Louie, you have got to understand, you don’t even know your history.’ Oh yes I do. I know exactly. It’s not a good idea.”

I was going to add a snarky comment right here, but I can’t remember what it was. I guess I’ve been dumb-founded, or something.

Oh well, on the other hand there’s another world out there. In fact, I’m thinking of seceding from this one and moving on to that better place — ‘Out There.’ Like for example (trying to sound secessionist):

Colorado Front Range, Indian Summer

Colorado Front Range, Indian Summer

And finally, a massage message from some ‘out there’ residents:

Geese at Beckwith 621

There. ‘Nuff said. No need for more words.

OPEN THREAD

Watering Hole: Thursday, October 23, 2014 – Quiet Zone

Sometimes quiet can be a good thing.  Here’s a short story about a town in West Virginia that gave up their wireless gadgets.

GREEN BANK, West Virginia—The barrage of noise and distractions that are all but inescapable in most American communities is refreshingly absent in this unassuming hamlet, located in the wooded hills of Pocahontas County, four hours west of Washington, D.C. Here, no cell phones chirp or jingle, and local kids aren’t glued to the glowing screens of their mobile devices. Older residents roll down their car windows to greet each other and leave their front doors unlocked.

But Green Bank, population 143, isn’t a technological backwater. On the contrary, it is the proud home of one of the marvels of the space age: the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, or GBT for short. Towering nearly 500 feet above its wide, green valley, with a dish large enough to cradle a football field, the GBT is the world’s biggest fully steerable radio telescope—and one of the largest movable objects anywhere on land. Locals jokingly refer to it as the Great Big Thing.

The GBT and other radio telescopes enable astronomers to detect and study objects in space that give off little visible light but emit naturally occurring radio waves—objects such as pulsars, gas clouds, and distant galaxies.

… etc…

This is our Open Thread.  I do hope that you read the complete article at National Geographic as I only posted the opening three paragraphs.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, October 22, 2014, and now for something completely different…

I found this video fascinating. The wave forms reminded me of my high school physics class, when I was trying to get a grasp of the particle-wave theory of light.

Open Thread Time

Thoughts?

Reflections on the metahysical nature of the universe?

Or….

Shall we do the Time Warp again?

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 20th, 2014: Goodbye, Indian Summer

2221717194

river through The Great Swamp

river through The Great Swamp


On Friday, I wore shorts to work and went in with my hair still wet. The day was sunny and hit the low 70s. Today, I’m going into work wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a lightweight fleece jacket, as the weather is finally remembering that it’s fall.

(sigh)

Goodbye, Indian Summer – you’re welcome to visit any time…

This is our daily open thread – feel free to discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 18, 2014: Is Stupidity Worth the Price of Religious Freedom?

In an impassioned (if somewhat inaccurate) defense of “speaking the truth,” Senator Ted Cruz (Regressive, NeverNeverLand) completely mischaracterized and fabricated a rationale for a subpoena brought about in a legal dispute over the validity of petition signatures to overturn a Houston, TX, ordinance that hasn’t yet gone into effect, and which could not have been used in the manner he feared even if it did. He’s not the only one doing it. TV personality on his own network and malignant boil on the skin of religious liberty, Pat Robertson, is also making up his own reasons for the subpoenas. The subpoenas in question were intended to find out what instructions were given to signature gatherers organized by five local pastors. Mayoral Spokesperson Janice Evans said, “Neither the mayor nor City Attorney David Feldman were aware the subpoenas had been issued until Tuesday. Both agree the original documents were overly broad. The city will move to narrow the scope during an upcoming court hearing. Attorney Feldman says the focus should be only on communications related to the HERO petition process.” They sought

“all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

Yes. If all they were after were the instructions given to people gathering signatures, then this subpoena was unquestionably too broad. And so the city has refiled the subpoenas with the focus solely on the petition process instructions. And that’s as it should be.

But what about all the diaper-filling crying by the religious right about what these subpoenas were really about? These are allegedly educated men. Did they not understand the issues involved? Does Cruz really believe this issue had anything to do with pastors being “hauled off to jail for a hate crime because they are speaking for traditional marriage”? Does Robertson really believe that Mayor Parker’s “predilections” were exposed by this incident (the filing of the subpoenas), and that it’s the worst demand by a mayor in modern times? (Robertson must have slept through the Civil Rights struggles of the 50’s and 60’s.) According to the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) (emphasis mine)

…bans discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity but also, as federal laws do, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status.

The ordinance applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting. Religious institutions would be exempt. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

So even if the law were in effect and the sermons sought by the original subpoenas were legally obtained, they still could not be used to prosecute the pastors under the HERO because they’re exempt. It’s hard to believe Cruz and Robertson don’t understand this. But sadly, it’s easy to believe their target audience doesn’t. They’re counting on their target audience not bothering to take the time to learn the facts about the subpoenas, and so they’re describing them in ways that have nothing to do with reality. (But then, when have Marion “Ted” Cruz or Rafael “Pat” Robertson ever been known to have anything to do with reality? No, seriously. When?) And what are they saying? Some of the stupidest stuff being said today as part of the anti-LGBT movement. They’re claiming that suppression of this nonsensical hate mongering (if that were, in fact, the intent of the subpoenas) is a violation of their religious freedom! And therein lies the problem.

No one will dispute there are limits to the rights expressed in the Bill of Rights, including the freedoms of speech and religion. There are certain things you are not allowed to say (whether you mean them or not), and there are certain religious practices in which you cannot always engage any time you wish. Because of the danger to lives that panic can cause, you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater, nor can you do it in a church for the same reason. Which leads to the logical conclusion that there are things you can’t say even in a church. Which leads to the question of the dividing line between speech and religion. When does religious freedom cross into the areas of speech where you are not free to roam? And even if it doesn’t cross the line of constitutional protection, how much stupidity are we expected to withstand in the name of religious freedom? And what about the people too stupid to understand the issue? What if the religious message being given is not an accurate reflection of the official religious doctrine? Is it still protected? What religious conservatives think is “pro-traditional marriage” language is often “anti-homosexuality” language, so is it still protected? More distinctly, is it protected speech or protected religious practice? If your religious beliefs lead you to believe stupid and wildly inaccurate things about your fellow human beings, which in turn cause you to say stupid, harmful things to another person, are you still freely exercising your religion? What if the foundation of one your religious beliefs is provably wrong? Are you still free to claim it’s true and that you are justified in your hatred? Are we so caught up in the idea of religious freedom that we’ll allow stupidity to become the prevailing wisdom?

This is our daily open thread. Talk about whatever you wish. Within reason, of course.

The Watering Hole; Friday October 17 2014; Wisdom Over Fear! Yes!

With all the talk these days about Ebola, about ISIL, about economic collapse, sky-high jobless rates, socialized health care, minimum wage hikes for the lazy, gay marriage, abortion clinics, each and all of those horrible things that demand so much FEAR from We The People — well, you know, SOMETHING needs to be done! But what?

I’ve noticed how sometimes it’s just so satisfying, so relaxing, to flash back in time to one of those days of yore — days when we had a real Amurkan as president, a man who was never fearful of going after all those evils that we KNOW are out to destroy our way of life and make us slaves to things like “Marksist/Facist” ideologies or “terrism” (to name but three of all those uncountable horrors).

SO — here’s my well-thought solution: a flashback to a far happier time, back to when we had no reason to fear so many things because our president was one of those We The People dudes with whom we’d like to have a cold beer. So go ahead — sit back, relax, release your fears, and listen to true words of WISDOM! YES!

“Because the — all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There’s a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It’s kind of muddled. Look, there’s a series of things that cause the — like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate — the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those — if that growth is affected, it will help on the red. OK, better? I’ll keep working on it. 

“‘Benefit cuts’ is an interesting word. Benefits are scheduled to grow at a certain rate, and one of the, one of the suggestions, for example — was they grow at a, they grow, but not at a rate as fast as projected. You can call it anything you want. I would call it an ‘adjustment to reality.'” ~George W. Bush; February, 2005

There. Bet you feel better already. The virtues of clarity are so obvious because, as President Bush pointed out to the people of Townsend, Tennessee on February 21, 2001, if “You teach a child to read, he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.” And then all will be well and Amurka will remain free and strong forever. Or something like that.

So that’s it then. Fears banished. Bliss personified. There is no charge.

OPEN THREAD

 

Watering Hole: Thursday, October 16, 2014 – Managing Fear

There are a lot things to be afraid of lately, at least that is what the media keeps telling us.

Here’s some ways to conquer fear.

  • Keep an eye out for iceberg beliefs,
  • Sit still,
  • Reach out

Explanation for these can be found here as I will not be providing more details.  I feel confident that you will be finding all kinds of information to share.

This is our Open Thread.  You know what to do.  Speak Up!  Have a field day.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, October 15, 2014: Supreme Court Rules Bipartisanship Unconstitutional

In a case that was given scant attention by court watchers, the Supreme Court issued a ruling today finding that bipartisanship violates the United States Constitution. The opinion, authored by Justice Thomas, noted that the two houses of Congress are, in fact, mentioned in the United States Constitution, but that political parties are not. Thus, while the legislative branch, and the respective houses therein, are free to set their own rules, a strict interpretation of the Constitution does not allow for the existence of political parties, and, by extension, bipartisanship.

This judicial bombshell, coming as it is on the eve of the 2014 mid term elections, left Constitutional law scholars dumbfounded. Ballots will have to be rewritten, eliminating the distinction of political parties. “Who will know who to vote for, once we eliminate the (D) and ( R)?” one staffer lamented. John Boehner, Mitch McConnel and Tom DeLay were seen together in a bar. Tears were streaming down Boehners cheeks as he cried, “All that work on redistricting — gone.”

Only Mike Huckabee appeared pleased with today’s ruling. “With the elimination of political distinctions, people will have to rely on the only distinction that truly matters…God. Now is the time for men, and to a lesser degree, women, of faith, to step forward and run for political office from God’s platform. Now, I am mindful of the First Amendment, and it says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” So the founding fathers clearly intended that Christians should freely exercise their religion when elected to Congress, and when my Christrian bretheren are made Senators and Representatives, then we shall finally see God’s Kingdom here on earth.”

Michelle Bachman, outraged that the Supreme Court just declared political parties unconstitutinal, vowed to appeal the ruling to the highest court in the land. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, agreed with Mike Huckabee and hinted that he might become her running mate in 2016.

Fox News broke away from its live coverage of Justice Thomas reading his opinion to a rerun of Doctor Strangelove.

Ohhhpen Thread

The Watering Hole: Tuesday October 14, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics

The Global ‘Americanization’ of Diet

I remember many years ago watching television about subjects and events that occurred in foreign countries. When they scanned the places features, particularly cities, the ubiquitous Cocoa Cola stood out in stark contrast to the shop signs in native languages. Coke was, and has been, the leader in exporting poor nutritional content to the outreaching arms of the huddled masses.

U.S. food aid programs soon followed suit with foodstuffs that were processed for long shelf life. Then the food industry got in to the act. Here and abroad, highly processed food has become the norm in country after country. A study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found obesity rates and obesity related diseases increased dramatically since 1980.

” The study found that the proportion of overweight and obese people increased in every country in the world between 1980 and 2013, and that nutrition-related diseases, including diabetes and pancreatic cancer, are also increasing.”

The disturbing news? Not one country bucked the trend. Nutrient deficient food is now the norm across the globe.

Open thread – discuss.

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 13th, 2014: More Money than God

At billmoyers.com, I spotted an article by Sam Pizzigati, regarding the recent publication of the Forbes 2014 Billionaires list. An excerpt:

“…the richest of these 400 hold far more than that average. Take Larry Ellison, the third-ranking deep pocket on this year’s Forbes list. Ellison just stepped down as the CEO of the Oracle business software colossus. His net worth: $50 billion.

What does Ellison do with all those billions? He collects homes and estates, for starters, with 15 or so scattered all around the world. Ellison likes yachts, too. He currently has two extremely big ones, each over half as long as a football field.

Ellison also likes to play basketball, even on his yachts. If a ball bounces over the railing, no problem. Ellison has a powerboat following his yacht, the Wall Street Journal noted this past spring, “to retrieve balls that go overboard.”

Hiring that ball-retriever qualifies Ellison as a “job creator,” right? Maybe not. Ellison has regularly destroyed jobs on his way to grand fortune. He has become, over the years, a master of the merge-and-purge two-step: First you snatch your rival’s customers, then you fire its workers. In 2005, for instance, Ellison shelled out $10.6 billion to buy out PeopleSoft, an 11,000-employee competitor. He then proceeded to put the ax to 5,000 jobs.

Here’s the Forbes 2014 list. Note that the Koch Brothers are tied for 6th place – aww, they didn’t make #1? They must be spending too much money on Republican/Teabagger political candidates. And, of course, several members of the Walton family took 8th through 11th place. I have not perused much of the list, but I see that one of the other sugar daddies of the right, Sheldon Adelson is at #15, while evil left-winger George Soros is at #24. (In between is Wayne’s former ‘boss’ at Xerox, Carl Icahn, at #22.)

One of the “highlights” listed towards the bottom of one of the Forbes articles is this factoid that gave me pause:

“The oldest billionaire is David Rockefeller Sr. (# 190), age 99, with a net worth of $3 billion.”

Gardens at Rockefeller Estate - Hudson River in the background.  (photo by Jeff Goodell)

Gardens at Rockefeller Estate – Hudson River in the background. (photo by Jeff Goodell)

Now, we grew up in an area where the Rockefeller estate is about half-an-hour away, near the legendary “Sleepy Hollow” area. I have cousins on my father’s side who lived near the estate, and when we used to visit them when I was young, the drive took us along, and through, parts of the estate (one could tell by the tall fencing that seemed to hold the estate’s huge old trees back from the road, often on both sides.) So we always considered the Rockefeller family as sort of ‘neighbors.’ Despite his obvious personal flaws, i.e., not making Happy Rockefeller happy, at least Nelson D. Rockefeller was a fairly moderate Republican in the days when there really were moderate Republicans, several of whom could be respected regardless of one’s political affiliation. Of course, these days, Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller would be considered RINOs.

Another excerpt from Pizzigati’s article:

“This year, for the first time ever, Forbes has assigned a “self-made score” to every one of America’s richest 400. More than two-thirds of this year’s 400, Forbes claims, rate as “self-made,” Ellison among them.
[emphasis mine]Forbes doesn’t bother asking how those rich went about self-making their fortunes. We should. Our top 400, after all, haven’t just made monstrously large fortunes. They’ve made a monstrously large mess. To unmake it, we need to unmake them.”.

Amen to THAT, folks.

Oh, yeah, one more thing about the Forbes list: if you’re worth a mere billion dollars, you’re still not rich enough to make the list, as the minimum to qualify this year was $1.55 billion.

This is our daily open thread – feel free to discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 11, 2014: This Week in Crazy – FEMA, Ebola, Democracy, and the Anti-Christ

Once again, courtesy of the good people at Right Wing Watch, it appears the bad people of Conservative America are really getting themselves in a tizzy over baseless fears that haunt their every waking moment. Like the long-discredited rumor about disposable FEMA coffins, or the bizarre and logically inexplicable belief that President Obama wants to intentionally infect Americans with Ebola, or criticism of the crazy idea that slashing taxes, especially on highly profitable corporations and very, very wealthy people, will bring economic prosperity if given enough time, or that western civilization will fall because of acceptance of “teh gay” as equals, or IS/ISIL/ISIS hiring Mexican drug cartels to sneak them over the border, or even the delusional idea that there’s proof in the Bible that Obama is the Anti-Christ, or something like the Anti-Christ, which I guess would be like being a particle that was like anti-matter, without actually being anti-matter. They’re scared. Let’s see at what.

In case you haven’t heard, the WorldNutDaily crowd believes that the anti-America Obama is planning on killing off five million Americans, as a prelude to imposing Martial Law all across America. As is usually the case with the Alex Jones Conspiracy-type crowd, the proof starts with a misidentified photo showing something it’s not really showing, which is happening for a purpose that isn’t really happening, all as a prelude to something else about to happen whose only connection to the first thing is that it isn’t actually happening either. In this case, the government is buying a billion dollars worth of disposable coffins because they plan to deliberately infect Americans with Ebola so they can declare martial law (and also, possibly, so we’ll look more like Africa, or because we’re racist) and then take away our guns. Again with the guns. One major problem with this particular example of mentally deranged thinking is that the part about the coffins isn’t close to true.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has a problem. Okay, not just one, but who doesn’t have more than one problem? Well, we’re not state governors trying to run a state under the delusional yet persistent conservative belief that tax cuts pay for themselves. It is simply not true. It wasn’t true when Reagan did it more than thirty years ago, and it isn’t true today. But that didn’t stop Sam from having a Brownback Mountain session with the Koch Brothers and implementing their government-destroying plan. (Remember that David Koch was the Libertarian Vice President candidate in 1980, and the budget Kansas adopted was more inline with what he wants, except that it leaves an actual, semi-functioning government in place.) And now Sam is upset because the media is reporting how badly the economy in Kansas is doing, and he thinks it’s unfair because you have to give it time to work. Except we don’t. We can see where things are going because we have things like math and science and facts and figures, and we can project that in five years, at current projections, Kansas is going to be about a billion dollars short on its budget, which by state constitution has to be balanced. The flaw is in thinking that rich people spend all the money they save by paying less in taxes, and that they do it in ways the average consumer would. But they’re not the average consumer. They make thousands of times as much income, but they don’t spend thousands of times as much on milk, eggs, and bread, or buy thousands of times as many cars or houses. Spending money is what keeps an economy moving. When spending stops, especially government spending, there’s less money to go around, and a downward spiral effect begins. Less middle class spending means a slower economy, which leads to layoffs, which leads to even less revenue for the government, which means even fewer people getting help during times of crisis, which leads to Kansas today. But exposing the truth of that is all a liberal conspiracy to discredit what Sam Brownback and the Koch Brothers think is a sound economic plan.

But the economy in Kansas won’t matter much if Mat Staver, another contributor to WorldNutDaily whose anti-gay attitude is well-known to conservatives of his ilk, is right. (And he’s not.) He thinks the entirety of western civilization will fall because gay people are being allowed to marry one another. Is it even necessary to mention that facts and history do not bear any of his view on marriage out? There have been countries in Europe that have had same-sex marriage far longer than we, and their societies are still intact, or at least not in danger of collapse due to same-sex marriage. There were people on this continent (North America, for the benefit of my international readers) who were marrying each other long before anyone introduced the concept of an Abrahamic God to them. The concept and institution of marriage does not belong solely to the religious world. There are very important legal ramifications to being married, and more and more people are recognizing the fact that their gay and lesbian friends, people they’ve known to be together for years, are not allowed the simple rights married couples enjoy, such as being the one who can visit you in the hospital and make medical decisions on your behalf. And you know it’s just bigotry against male homosexuals because the people who scream loudest about this are the ones saying, “It’s Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve.” They never say something like, “It’s Adam & Eve, not Ida & Eve.” Never. Maybe some of you have, but when I hear some homophobic bigot use the “Adam & Eve” example, it’s always that’s not two males, never that it’s not two females.

But don’t worry about being forced to get divorced and enter in to a same-sex marriage just yet (thus spreading harmful and serious disease), IS/ISIS/ISIL/Senator John McCain is about to cross our southern border. We know this because two Members of Congress (and what huge throbbing members they are) have said so. Rep Jason Chaffetz thinks so. So does Rep Duncan Hunter. The only flaw in this statement is that it is completely flawed. It isn’t in the least bit true. But why let reality get in the way of a great fear mongering talking point? Why do they do this? Because people who are afraid make poor choices. And Republicans want people to be afraid so that when they go into the voting booth on November 4th, they’ll be so afraid they’ll make the poor choice to vote for Republicans.

But even that may not matter, because the Anti-Christ is here. And he’s none other than President Barack Obama. And if he’s not the actual Anti-Christ, he is anti Christ, and so he’s something like the Anti-Christ. There’s proof in the Bible.

This is our daily open thread (late as it is). Feel free to talk about what scares you, or anything else.

The Watering Hole; October 10 2014; Open Thread

Since I’m still not able to put up much of a post, thought maybe I’d let a few others do the talking. Interesting to note that no matter how much the human society presumes/pretends to advance, the more things remain the same — or even regress.

“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.” ~George Washington

“The country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and monied corporations, and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy, the few will be ruling and riding over the plundered plowman and the beggar.” ~Thomas Jefferson

“Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the ‘wall of separation between church and state,’ therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.” ~Thomas Jefferson

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” ~James Madison, Federalist 47

“What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate it needs them not.” ~James Madison, 1785

What happened? When did we lose it? Did we ever have it? Where did we go wrong?Out of which hole crawled today’s Republican Party? What can we do to stuff it back into the abyss from which it escaped?

OPEN THREAD

 

 

Watering Hole: Thursday, October 9, 2014 – Sisters

The three Sisters volcanoes tower over the cities of Sisters and Bend, Oregon.  This photo was taken from the lava fields that were deposited between 1300 and 3000 years ago from the volcano named Belknap.  Only two mountains can be seen from this area.  The volcano with the most glaciers, is the Middle Sister.  The other, is the North Sister.  The South Sister which is considered to be an “active” volcano cannot be seen from these lava fields.

IMG_1147 IMG_1134

That’s all I have.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!