The Watering Hole: Monday, December 17, 2012 – Can We PLEASE Talk About Guns In Our Society Now?

On the morning of December 14, 2012, it was Newtown, Connecticut.
Before that it was Clackamas Town Center, Oregon.
Before that it was Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Before that it was Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Aurora, Colorado.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Before that it was Oakland, California.
Before that it was Seal Beach, California.
Before that it was Carson City, Nevada.
Before that it was Tucson, Arizona.
Before that it was Manchester, Connecticut.
Before that it was Fort Hood, Texas.
Before that it was Binghamton, New York.
Before that it was Carthage, North Carolina.
Before that it was Northern Illinois University, Illinois.
Before that it was Kirkwood, Missouri.
Before that it was Omaha, Nebraska.
Before that it was Virginia Tech, Virginia.
Before that it was Salt Lake City, Utah.
Before that it was Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Red Lake, Minnesota.
Before that it was Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Meridian, Minnesota.
Before that it was Fort Worth, Texas.
Before that it was Atlanta, Georgia.
And before that, on the morning of April 20, 1999, it was Littleton, Colorado.

These are all places where someone, or several someones, took a gun, or several guns, and began shooting people at some location, or several locations. Does this list strike you as being rather long? These are just ones since Columbine. There were others in between and before that. Many people died in those mass shootings. Too many. And too many were children. Far, far too many. And yet, we can’t seem to have that talk about all these mass shootings and the prevalence of guns in our society.

How many people have to die in mass shootings before we are allowed to talk Continue reading

Watering Hole: Monday, December 26, 2011 – Is the Pigeon Smarter Than the Shooter?

One of the major issues that I fight for is the ending of the live pigeon shoots that are currently allowed in Pennsylvania.  I have written extensively about this animal cruelty at Pennsylvania for Change. Most of the time, these pigeons are brought into the state illegally from New York.  The captured birds are denied food and water for a few days and crated off to some rod and gun club for the big gambling event known as live pigeon shoots.  The dehydrated and weakened birds are tossed into the air and then the “Elmer Fudds” take a shot at them.  It is cruel and brutal and I won’t go into more details.  I’ve seen these “Elmer Fudds” in action and they truly look like Neanderthals (my apologies to the Neanderthals).

It turns out that pigeons may actually be smarter than these “Elmer Fudds”.  A recent study shows that pigeons are capable of higher math.

Pigeons, it turns out, are no slouches either. It was known that they could count. But all sorts of animals, including bees, can count. Pigeons have now shown that they can learn abstract rules about numbers, an ability that until now had been demonstrated only in primates. In the 1990s scientists trained rhesus monkeys to look at groups of items on a screen and to rank them from the lowest number of items to the highest.

They learned to rank groups of one, two and three items in various sizes and shapes. When tested, they were able to do the task even when unfamiliar numbers of things were introduced. In other words, having learned that two was more than one and three more than two, they could also figure out that five was more than two, or eight more than six.

So who is the higher species?  “Elmer Fudds” or the pigeons.  My money is on the pigeons.

This is our Open Thread.  Where are you placing your bet?  Speak Up!

Heavy Flooding Forecast for Harrisburg PA. As in “Three Mile Island” Harrisburg?

Flooding in 1972 from Hurricane "Agnes" (source: United States Coastguard)

Rampaging rivers, rock slides, torrents of rain and mass evacuations. The generation that grew up on tales of eastern Pennsylvania’s Agnes catastrophe of 1972 is getting its own story now, with rain-weary cities and towns along the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers hunkered down in anticipation of record-threatening crests.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee led to what one AccuWeather meteorologist called a “fire hose” of tropical downpours falling on land and water already overcharged by August’s record soaking. (read more)

This scares me quite a bit. I wonder what the Three Mile Island safety measures are for flooding. They are not worried, however. It is not as if the rains will stop any time soon. La Nina conditions are forecast, which will make extreme weather conditions more likely and there is TS Maria out there, which is about to come up on a very similar track as Irene did.

Stay safe and monitor what is going on closely, all you who are close to the area.

2 PA Teens Found Not Guilty For The Fatal Beating Of Mexican Immigrant

A former Pennsylvania high school football player was acquitted of murder Friday in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant last summer.

However, a Schuylkill County jury found Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak guilty of simple assault stemming from the death of Luis Ramirez, who died of blunt force injuries to the head after a fight with the defendants and their friends.

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Joe the non-Plumber Doesn’t know…

Well, well, well… Joe the dumber non-plumber doesn’t know a lot about everything and I doubt that he knows even a little about anything and yet, he continues to shoot off his big mouth. Thank you to MorrillMajority for taking the trip to Harrisburg and interviewing the conservatives’ puppet, Joe Wertzelbacher. I knew that I could count on you :) .

Senator Specter and the EFCA

As a resident of Pennsylvania, I felt it was my duty to contact my Senator, Arlen Specter and request that he support the Employee Free Choice Act. It shocked me, when I received an email response from him the very next day. During the Bush years, Senator Specter would never respond to my emails. All I would get from him was a generic response stating that he just didn’t have time to address all his email. In other words, he would just blow me off. Now, he seemed eager to get back in touch with me. Ha!

Below is the email that I received which is cross posted at Pennsylvania for Change:

Dear Pennsylvania Constituent,
After giving exhaustive consideration to the Employee Free Choice legislation, I have decided to oppose the bill for reasons specified in my Senate floor statement which is contained below or you may read here and watch here.

I remain open to working to correct the imbalance which exists with so many jobs being exported and substantial labor losses in areas like pensions and health care.

In my floor statement, I have also laid out some suggested revisions to the National Labor Relations Act which could provide the basis for correcting the current imbalance.


Arlen Specter

Here is his complete floor statement which was included in the email…

Senator Specter’s full floor statement, including the appendix, follows:

I have sought recognition to state my position on a bill known as the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card check. My vote on this bill is very difficult for many reasons. First, on the merits, it is a close call and has been the most heavily lobbied issue I can recall. Second, it is a very emotional issue with Labor looking to this legislation to reverse the steep decline in union membership and business expressing great concern about added costs which would drive more companies out of business or overseas. Perhaps, most of all, it is very hard to disappoint many friends who have supported me over the years, on either side, who are urging me to vote their way.

In voting for cloture – that, is to cut off debate – in June 2007, I emphasized in my floor statement and in a law review article that I was not supporting the bill on the merits, but only to take up the issue of labor law reform. Hearings had shown that the NLRB was dysfunctional and badly politicized. When Republicans controlled the Board, the decisions were for business. With Democrats in control, the decisions were for labor. Some cases took as long as eleven years to decide. The remedies were ineffective.

Regrettably, there has been widespread intimidation on both sides. Testimony shows union officials visit workers’ homes with strong-arm tactics and refuse to leave until cards are signed. Similarly, employees have complained about being captives in employers’ meetings with threats of being fired and other strong-arm tactics. Continue reading

Pork and Sauerkraut – Happy New Year

It is the Pennsylvania Dutch (German) tradition to serve pork and sauerkraut as the first meal of the New Year to bring good luck for the year.  This dish is usually accompanied by some yummy mashed potatoes and sometimes a little apple sauce to sweet the meal.  This is definitely one of my all time favorite foods combinations and I make sure that I have this meal every January 1st.

There are many different ways to make this dish and I will provide my recipe for my favorite rendition.

Pork and Sauerkraut (crock pot version)

1 pork loin or pork country spare ribs (portion size according to your needs)

1 bag of sauerkraut (I prefer the bagged sauerkraut because it tastes fresher)

dash of cinnamon

dash of ginger

several whole cloves or dash of ground cloves

Place all items in the crock pot and cook until the pork is very tender.  You will need to use your own judgment as to how much of each spice to use.  I never measure and I use my sense of smell to tell me if the combination is right.  These spices sweeten the sauerkraut.  You’ll know when the sauerkraut is ready and spiced properly because it will darken in appearance and become very tender.

The Mashed Potatoes

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