The Watering Hole, Monday, February 1st, 2016: Clouds and Cute Stuff

Let’s start this week with no mention of anyone in the (R) Kandidate Klown Kar, or crazy-assed snackless ‘militias’, or wacky Talibangelists (or Talibanjoists.) I’m going with Mother Nature today.

The Weather Channel has a recent piece about this ‘Hand of God’ cloud that appeared over Madeira, Portugal. To me, it looks more like the ‘Fist of god’, and I wonder at whom it’s being shaken. Is there some satanic evildoer on Madeira who is (using Alan Rickman’s Professor Snape voice) “…UP to something”?

(Photo Credit: Rogerio Pacheco, via TheWeatherChannel)

(Photo Credit: Rogerio Pacheco, via TheWeatherChannel)

Next, Lenticular Clouds ~
lenticular-clouds-andes
I know that we’ve covered lenticular clouds before, but take a look at some spectacular shots from (apparently) dedicated Russian photographer Vladimir Voychuk.

Now for some cuteness: Also from The Weather Channel, penguin chicks cuddling together against the cold.
EmperorPenguinChick

While we’re on the subject of penguins, here’s more wonderful shots of them, this time under the sea. The photos were taken by French photographer/diver Andre Voyer.
Emperor-Penguins-diving

And finally, cuteness that will make you squee.

"Hey, margay kitten, what big eyes for you...TA HAVE!"

“Hey, margay kitten, what big eyes for you…TA HAVE!”

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead, start talking about something.

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 25th, 2016: All-“Christian” Edition

Today’s offerings are from two sites whose only thing in common seems to be that they both have the word “Christian” in their names.

First, let’s look at a few things from the Christian Post website (the more ‘persecuted-RW-Christian’ site.)

The Christian Post has sent the 2016 Presidential candidates a list of 12 questions which they feel are most important for the candidates to answer. So far, only two Republican candidates, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, have responded.

Here’s Ben Carson’s responses, a few of which I’d like to comment upon:

2. What is marriage, and what should be the government’s interest and role in marriage?
Like many Christians, I believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman in the witness of God. The government’s interest and role in marriage should be to protect and sanctify this institution[emphasis mine] because it is the cornerstone of our society. Raising families with two parents is key to a child’s development, and marriage is a strong institution that solidifies this crucial social structure. Marriage combines the efforts of two people to provide for and raise children, and gives children two parental figures to love and care for them.

Okay – First, define “sanctify”. According to Wikipedia:

“Sanctification is the act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy.[1] “Sanctity” is an ancient concept widespread among religions. It is a gift given through the power of God to a person or thing which is then considered sacred or set apart in an official capacity within the religion, in general anything from a temple, to vessels, to days of the week, to a human believer who willingly accepts this gift can be sanctified. To sanctify is to literally “set apart for particular use in a special purpose or work and to make holy or sacred.”

So Carson believes that the U.S. Government has role in every citizen’s marriage, and that role is to make it “holy or sacred”? Does that make the U.S. Government a god?   Doesn’t that conflict with the Establishment Clause?  If Ben Carson believes that marriage is such a strong institution, why not rail against divorce? Christians get divorced at the same – or higher – rate as any other group, not to mention that divorce is said to be a big sin in the eyes of Jesus. If Jesus thought divorce was so wrong, but didn’t mention homosexuality, why can’t the “key” two-parents-must-raise-a-child be in a same-sex marriage?

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Energy is the life-blood that keeps our economy growing. It fuels the tractors that plow America’s fields. It powers the trucks, trains and planes that deliver American products. And it drives the American people in their everyday lives. If we want to return America to its former prosperity, we need to ensure that America’s energy grid is not only reliable, but affordable. That means looking into all potential energy sources to find the most efficient, most effective and more reliable energy grid possible.

We can’t afford to mandate unrealistic fuel standards or price-inflating renewable mandates. But as these energy sources compete head to head, technological advancements and innovations will help drop costs and raise efficiencies even further.

[and the money quote]

When it comes to the environment, we should be good stewards of God’s resources, but the best way to do that is through market-based mechanisms and private efforts, not via government edicts that destroy businesses and intrude into citizens’ lives.

Yeah, because I’m sure that “God” was thinking of “market-based mechanisms and private efforts” when he told mankind to be good stewards of Earth. And wasn’t Carson just talking about how “government” should have an “interest” and “a role” in a couple’s marriage, i.e., “intrud[ing] into citizens’ lives”, and very personally, I might add? But the “government” shouldn’t be involved in determining how the entire country uses its natural resources, because that would “intrud[e] into citizens’ lives”?  Carson has very mixed, and incorrect, notions of what government’s priorities should be.

12. What caused the Great Recession, and what should be done to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

A number of factors contributed to the global financial crisis, but what became clear was that when bankers engaged in highly leveraged financial bets, ordinary taxpayers ended up footing the bill for the big banks’ bailouts.

I believe that certain types of regulations are reasonable for regulating financial markets. For instance, Glass-Steagall was a reasonable piece of legislation after the 1929 stock market crash, and perhaps should be re-imposed in a modified form.

This does not mean that the regulations imposed after the financial crisis were appropriate. In fact, Dodd-Frank is a monstrosity that does not address the root cause of the crisis, imposes heavy burdens on community banks, severely limits the freedom of financial institution to engage in ordinary business and saps economic growth with restrictive government controls.

I believe that when such government regulations choke economic growth, it is the poor and the middle class that are hurt the most.

Carson (or whoever wrote his ‘responses’ for him) must have just skimmed the “U.S. Economic History, Late 20th – Early 21st Century” Cliff Notes(TM), latching on to just enough topical buzzwords and meaningless phrases to put together a few sentences. Too many points there to elaborate on, I’ll let you all pick them apart if you wish.

And here’s Carly Fiorina’s responses. I’m just going to comment on one of them.

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Fiorina: As president, I will ensure that the United States is the global energy powerhouse of the 21st century.

That means reinstating the Keystone XL Pipeline that President Obama rejected. It also means rolling back the regulations from this administration that limit our ability to find resources by imposing regulations on hydraulic fracturing and our ability to be energy independent by regulating drilling on federal lands. As president, I will make America an energy leader through technology and innovation.

No, no, no! Fiorina is just so wrong, it’s hard to believe that she could possibly be serious. Keystone XL, fracking, and drilling, and on OUR federal lands, no less? How does one become an “energy leader through technology and innovation” while relying solely on finite, filthy fossil fuels? Aaarrgghhh!

Let’s turn to the Christian Science Monitor for a few things that are more reality-based and inspiring.

First, I’m sure that you’re all aware by now that Earth may have a new neighbor, as astronomers announced the possibility of a hidden ninth planet.

The evidence for the existence of this “Planet Nine” is indirect at the moment; computer models suggest a big, undiscovered world has shaped the strange orbits of multiple objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune.

Next, we can once again thank the Hubble telescope and NASA for showing us the amazing beauty of space, in this article about the Trumpler 14 star cluster. Just don’t let Donald Trump know about Trumpler 14, he’ll probably think that (a) the star cluster is named for him, and (b) therefore he owns it.
Trumpler 14Source: Hubblesite.org

And finally, for our Zookeeper, here’s an article discussing why the zebra has stripes. While it appears that the idea that the striping is for camouflage may be incorrect, there is still no consensus on a proven biological reason.
brown striped zebra

This is our daily Open Thread–discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 11th, 2016: Odds and Ends

Let’s start with some recent local news:

Woo-hoo!  New York State’s medical marijuana program is now open for business.  One of the new dispensaries is in White Plains, NY, about 40 minutes south of us.  I think I’ll email the story link to my doctor, who used to say that, if NYS ever legalizes pot, she’ll start her own business.  I realize that this isn’t the same as legalization, but it’s a good step in the right direction.

It was recently revealed that Donald Trump had wanted to ruin summer fun for thousands of local children.  It seems that, a few years back, The Donald had been interested in turning Playland Park in Rye, NY, into a residential development.  Now, a little explanation is in order:  when we were kids, the end of many a school year was celebrated with a class trip to Rye Playland–it was fairly close, fairly affordable, and in addition to the rides, it had a decent-sized beach on the Long Island Sound.  I feel safe in saying that at least 90% of kids who grew up within a 50-mile radius of Playland has been there more than once.  Not to mention that the park has been around since 1928.

Rye Playland DragonCoaster5I was horrified to read about Trump’s offer in our local Patch online news – losing Playland, a part of our childhood, would be sad enough, but losing it to Trump would have been so much worse.  Good thing Trump’s meeting with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to discuss the possible development came to nothing:

“I could just imagine the gates of Playland with a big ‘T’ on it, you know?” a chuckling Astorino  told The Journal News. “Trumpland.”

Exactly right, Mr. Astorino, and that would be SO wrong!

Next, a few pieces from The Weather Channel:

A traffic camera in Montreal caught a snowy owl in flight.  The gif below is comprised of four photos the camera took, which can be seen here in TWC’s article.

snowy-owlAlso from TWC for your viewing pleasure, here’s a series of photos entitled “Liquid Mountains”, by photographer Dave Sanford.  These are amazing shots of storm-tossed waves on Lake Erie–and take note of Sanford’s apt titles (shown above the upper left corner of the photos) for each of the shots.

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy, discuss, whatever!

 

 

 

The watering Hole, Tuesday January 5th, 2016 – Environmental News and Food Politics

The first stream restoration I was ever involved with took place on a dairy farm. A small three foot wide tributary carved through a dairy pasture, warmed and silted by the lack of vegetation along its course of 1700 feet of the property. We had no idea what to expect but the speed of the results were mid-boggling, and all we did was erect fencing and crossings to keep the cows out of the stream. Trout re-population was our goal, but they came last after many more restorations due to temperature issues upstream, but ducks, otters, water snakes and tons of aquatic insects appeared withing a couple of months. Seventeen years later, scientists are here to tell us that river restoration does not take generations, that the positive effects are speedier than first thought, and that they are inter-specific.. Hell, they could have just asked my Trout Unlimited chapter.

The tandem effects of restoration.

Cattle impacted stream segment.

One year later

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 7th, 2015: Smile For The Camera!

With last week bringing us a tragic escalation in the madness for which America is the new poster-boy, this Monday calls for another diversion. So today’s fare will be: Animals – first in photobombs, then just cuteness. All photobombs courtesy of either dogtime.com, or from two separate photobomb categories from Huffington Post.

'Hey, look what I found!'

‘Hey, look what I found!’

'What - you've never seen a Boston Terrier driving?'

‘What – you’ve never seen a Boston Terrier driving?’

'Big Orange, Little Orange'

‘Big Orange, Little Orange’

'Cat Thinker with Derp Brother'

‘Cat Thinker with Derp Brother’

Now just cuteness:
baby leopardstar paws?????????????????????????????????????????????

There, that should help a bit.

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead, talk about stuff.