Monday, August 31, 2009

Morning Walk

This is the view from the bottom of the cliff that is Walden's Ridge, the edge of the Cumberland Plateau.

I don't have a clue what this is. It's about a foot tall growing on an exposed cobble bar. I keep going through my book and just can't pick it out.
(update: Steve, the first one figures to be monkey flower (Mimulus alatus) but very blue. The second one could be shortleaf sneezeweed. That's quite rare in TN. It is known from the Obed area. Could you send a picture showing the whole plant including the lower leaves. Also check on the hairiness of the stem... Larry. I'll get new and better shots Tuesday afternoon. Second shot of whole plant)

This looks like a short leaf sneeze weed, but I wouldn't put money on it.

I have to start taking my Nikon on these hikes. The fall wildflowers are going off and the little camera I keep in my pocket just can't get it done when I walk up on several Diana fritilary butterflies feasting on Joe-pye weed. Here's a couple that did work well enough.

This running fern. It does a great job of covering clay banks if they are moist enough. I plan to try to transplant some in a few weeks to see if it will cover one of the big cuts we had to make when we put in the fire trail.

We have been joking about this plant. It's a goldenrod that is, so far as we can tell, undescribed to science but it grows everywhere in the bottoms along Whites Creek. When a new species is described to science the discoverer also proposes a name for it. Botanist Larry Pounds identified it so we call it "Solidago Larryensis", although "Larry's Rod" has been suggested as the common name.
Larry's rod grows as a lush ground cover with the bloom stalk coming out of a rhizome instead of the leaf bunch.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quote of the Day

art by R.J. Matson, St. Louis Post Dispatch

"There are good ships, and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea.
But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be."

Ted Kennedy's oft spoken toast.

Who was Edward Kennedy and why do we care? the end, moving eulogies and teary speeches are insufficient to truly honor the memory of the man. Ted Kennedy isn't worthy of all this praise simply because he was a nice guy, or because he'd been in the Senate for nearly 50 years, or because he was able to get along with Republicans, or even because he was a Kennedy. No, Kennedy's death hits home as hard as it does because of his unparalleled work to ensure that the basic social compact of his generation -- the generation which came of age in the New Deal -- would continue to be honored, even after the depredations of Reagan and Bush. That simple compact, which is as American as baseball and hot dogs, and which resonates today despite every attempt by the reactionaries to kill it, pledges: if you work hard and play by the rules in America, you have earned a decent life for you and your family.

There are a shocking number of people in America today who don't believe in the terms of that compact. They are heirs to an ancient tradition that the New Dealers and the Kennedys sought to extinguish, but which survived and reseeded and grew roots under Reagan and flowered in its majestic hideousness under Bush. And their compact is simple, too. Its terms are: "I've got mine. You get yours -- if you can, since I've got my boot on your throat." And the emptiness of so many of the words being spoken about Ted Kennedy today is highlighted by the fact that so many of them have emitted from people who fervently embrace this latter, soulless compact, rather than the humane compact which Ted Kennedy lived every day of his public life.

This piece is the best of several I've read, and that is its core. Please read the rest when you can.

But there is another quote of the day that we must take to our hearts, not just for today, but for all days...

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, and the dream shall never die"

Ted Kennedy

Monday, August 24, 2009

From our "Mainstream Media has Failed Us Miserably" Department

This is what the Sunday talk shows should actually look and sound like. Note the mainstream media guy, Chuck Todd, winds up seething for being called out as a wimp...

This almost makes me want to buy the HBO package to see Maher. Still..We have to ask why Face the Nation isn't this honest?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Short Sermon on Healthcare Reform as a Moral Imperative

Roger Ebert, yes that one, is a cancer survivor. He delivers a beautiful essay on healthcare reform and why a moral society would ban together and push for the American Plan to provide basic medical service to every American. It ends with this quote...

...for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me."

Then they also will answer, "Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?"

Then he will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me."

This story goes badly for the folks who did not provide universal care.

Thank you Mr. Ebert

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How can anyone support a Healthcare system where CEO's make more money when More people die?

You wouldn't leave fire protection in the hands of private bureaucrats who get to decide who lives or who dies based on how much money their CEO is going to make. So, why would you do the same in health care coverage? No, it is an essential duty of the government to protect the well-being of their citizens.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

But At Least I'm Immature

One of those, you know, birthdays is coming. It's a big number. It's a sign of that big number that Bruce Springsteen is on the cover of AARP magazine. I am resigned to a number of things, including the fact that Springsteen is going to have a long career in rock and roll and I'm not. I am younger by a month, so nyah, nyah, nyah.

Americans in general live to the pitifully low age of 78, though none of the men in my lineage lived even that long. At this point in my tender young life I've lived longer than my father, grandfathers, and great grandfathers. The causes of death are mostly related to smoking, alcoholism, and gunshot wounds, and poker was involved in at least one case. The women of my ancestry lived a very long time, at least the ones who didn't smoke or play poker. I know they all drank, even if it was the secret nipping kind appropriate to country women raised in a fire and brimstone church. Gramma Ada kept an everlasting supply of moonshine and peppermint candy in the "frigidaire" for cough medicine and Grandmother Scarborough constantly baked bourbon balls for special occasions, which seemed to include such obscure holidays as Tuesday. According to current research these women were on to something.

The people who live on a Greek island of Ikaria live a long time. One third of them apparently have non pharmaceutically aided sex lives in their 90's. This has gotten my attention. I have vowed to adjust my lifestyle.

Ikarians drink herb teas, drizzle olive oil on everything and eat a lot of whole grains, fruits, and locally grown vegetables. They also stay up late, party a lot with an extended social network of friends, and take naps. So far, I'm totally in.

Cows are out. They mainly eat goat meat, some small amount of fish, and they drink goat's milk. This could be a problem. I have never milked a goat and don't think I want to. I will have to make up for that by going heavier on the sourdough bread which Ikarians smear with Greek honey. We're having trouble keeping bees going locally but we're working on it.

One other thing the Ikarians are big on is religious ritual. I'm not much on the religions I have looked into so far. I have difficulty with some of the concepts like holy communion, in which we are supposed to ritually eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus. I have that one filed under "Maybe....maybe not." The philosophical foundations of Christianity are wonderful, though... Love, forgiveness, renewal, caring for each other, and best of all, the imperative "Come...Let us reason together." What great stuff! Even if humans actually seem mostly incapable of reasoning together, it's a worthy goal. Why can't religious rituals be built on critical thinking games where we teach and practice reasoning together? Then after that we could stay up late partying and take naps the next day. I think it is time to found a new religion.

The major tenets of this new religion will involve staying up late, partying, and taking naps. On holidays we'll eat sourdough bread smeared with honey and ritually milk a goat. There will be six or seven official religious holidays each week on which we will bake bourbon balls and study cough prevention.

Works for me!



Saturday, August 08, 2009

Goons against Healthcare..."I know this script. I helped write it."

Frank Schafer apologizes for his part in creating the evangelical pro-life shock troops that are now being turned upon the very foundations of America by the Healthcare Industry. Is this how our march to fascism is going to go?

FreedomWorks represents a top-down, corporate-friendly approach that's been the norm for conservative organizations for years. How do I know this is the norm? Because I used to have strategy meetings with the late Jack Kemp and Dick Army and the rest of the Republican gang about using their business ties to help finance the pro-life movement to defeat Democrats.

Friday, August 07, 2009


The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Call 'Em

Busing in a mob to shout down other people's honest political discourse is not the tactic of a reputable political party with a plan to help restore America to its principles. Shame on the GOP!

This is what they've become...A tool of the worst actors in our corporate world, fanning the flames of racism with gross exaggerations and outright lies to maintain the exorbitant bonuses of the healthcare moguls.

Proud of yourselves, Republicans?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Fear and Loathing

Personally, I do not believe the rights provided by the Constitution of the United States of America should go to anything other than a person. I don't believe that at any point in American history we decided that corporations should be people. I do believe that every person in the United States should have the same amount of constitutional rights as everyone else. I consider it a serious flaw in the current manner of executing civil freedoms that we have allowed activist conservative judges to try and make Corporations into People with equivalent rights. A case currently before the Supreme Court of the United States would do just that.

I believe in limiting campaign contributions, period. I think that political campaigns are too costly and out of reach of many very good people who cannot serve in political office because they lack the massive financial backing necessary to win enough votes to their cause. The people who do get financial backing too often achieve that by becoming tools of money. Great piles of money reside with corporations in far greater amounts than with actual people...even the freakishly rich people such as billionaires. Corporations make annual profits in the tens of billions equal to the entire net worth of even our richest moguls. It is this corporate money that has made a mockery of that silly old phrase, "Government Of the people, By the people, and For the people."
If I had my way I would assign each citizen in the United States a certain amount of money that could be allotted to political campaigns. It would be rather small by current standards, say $2000.00 total. Spend it any way you like to promote your candidates. Some folks don't have $2000 to spare and some have $2 Billion. This way they would be more equal in the eyes of the Constitution, though not exactly. As it stands now, a person is limited to what they can give to a candidate and so are corporations, though the very fact that corporations and pacs can give any money to a political candidate offends me. These are not people. These are artificial creations that have no consciences. They have none of the human obligations to humanity that allow them to make moral decisions, and yet, conservatives want them to be able to donate as much money as they want to political candidates. This would allow them to game the system even more than they already do and destroy the last vestiges of humanity and morality that exist in politics. I agree there's not much left but it's all we got.

Until corporate entities grow consciences and responsibility to the greater human good...Until corporate entities can serve in our armed forces and die for their country...Until corporate entities can be jailed for crimes and executed for murder...Corporate entities must not be allowed to destroy our nation by crossing the palms of those Judases who would serve the corporate bottom line while nailing We the People to a cross standing upon the malevolent morass of fascism.

Corporate lackeys are even now disrupting town meetings, shouting down the free speech of others with venom and misplaced cries of 'socialism" in service to the corporations of industrial healthcare who feed on the people's misfortune, and at the very same moment they are crying "socialism" in the face of free speech, they are arguing the virtues of Fascism before the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

As Senate Republicans try to make the absurd case that Maria Sotomayor should not be approved to the Supreme Court because she will be an activist judge, they are applauding, at the same time, the potential actions of the worst of activism from the bench...Rewriting the Constitution to give corporations unlimited propaganda rights in the name of human free speech.

I loath those who would make this so. I am afraid of this. It will mean the end of America.



Monday, August 03, 2009

Birthers...Traitors? Or Merely Fools?

If someone intentionally tried to thwart the workings of the United States government by fake documents and misinformation, we would normally call them “espionage agents” and try them for treason if they were exposed and caught. So what about the people who have several versions of a fake Obama birth certificate that purports to prove he was born in the Republic of Kenya and therefore can’t serve as President? Isn’t that treason?

The best of these forgeries has several versions, some better Photoshop products than others, but the funny thing about all this is that they are all so bad that they can only fool fools. The real Obama birth certificate has been released, examined, vouched for by hospital officials, and verified by birth announcements published in the local Hawaiian newspapers in 1961, a really nice touch that would be impossible to fake. So the question is not whether “Birthers” are fools, but whether those who are manipulating them should be tried as traitors to the very nation they claim their brand of virulent “patriotism” to?

Most of the websites that have sprung up surrounding this idiocy spew verbiage intended to support the birther premise and nothing to the contrary is allowed. Here is one that takes a critical thinking approach to the movement and not only blows it out of the water but makes the entire birther movement, including Lou Dobbs at CNN, look like morons.

Rather than dwell on these easily manipulated suckers, I want to know why we aren’t going after the people who are trying to destroy the Presidency of the United States of America by producing fake documents, albeit stupidly and badly done documents?

The bigger problem with American journalism is only partly that a bleached toothed tool like Lou Dobbs is what passes for a legitimate journalist in today’s media. The real problem is that real journalists, who believe in their Constitutional obligation to deliver truthful investigative reporting, have been eclipsed by bleached toothed tools who are willingly manipulated by traitors.

This is why such an obvious movement for the greater good of all citizens, such as Heathcare Reform, is having such a difficult time becoming reality. If there such a thing as Truth Police and they had the power to stop the lies, we would already have a robust public option with everyone in the United States of America having basic health care insurance. Are those who are funding the anti health care reform propaganda traitors, or just insurance industry tools? Even more to the point…Is there a difference?



Howard Dean nails the Health Care Opposition

More espionage in opposition to Climate Change legislation