Thursday, October 29, 2009

This Morning's Walk

I was sitting on one of the house sized rocks on the edge of the creek when I noticed this sun bow. It's times like that in which I wish I was a real photographer with the skills and equipment to really capture the light. You'll have to make do with this for now.

This is the reflection of the intense morning sun at flat rock pool. I stared at this for way too long, meditating on things I will share with you later. The short version is that our efforts to protect Whites Creek and share it as a private natural area for everyone to experience are under attack by some very selfish and short sighted people. There are legal issues that keep me from saying more at the moment but I may need your help if this goes any further.

You can see larger versions of these shots by clicking on the images.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Scary Story

Lots of things keep me awake at night. Here's one that should keep every American restless until we fix it.

You know all those expensive fighter jets, missiles, smart bombs, attack drones, satellites, and other electronic equipment that the United States military relies on to fight battles and protect America? The computer chips that make them all do what we tell them are mostly made in Asian factories.

98% of the integrated circuitry inside American Military equipment is not made in America. This means that we don't have total control over what internal program can be built in to the chips. We are susceptible to the modern equivalent of the Trojan Horse, secret programming that can take over the equipment when triggered.

“Maliciously tampered integrated circuits cannot be patched,” General Clark wrote. “They are the ultimate sleeper cell.”

So our failure to Buy American has rendered our military vulnerable by allowing the possible takeover of our Military might by a foreign power.

But this is just a scary story and nothing like this has ever happened right?...Right?

A recent White House review noted that there had been several “unambiguous, deliberate subversions” of computer hardware.
“These are not hypothetical threats,”

Starting to worry yet? The obvious thing to do is contract with American owned and based facilities to build what we need at home, right? Buy American, right? Anyone against this has to be a traitor to America supporting America's enemies, right? Wanna take a guess who vehemently opposed to the very idea of "Buy American"?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The slogan "Buy American" makes good sense during a time when America is digging its way out of a recession that took 8 years to create. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has lost sight of who they used to represent, so they are spending millions to make sure that Americans ignore the slogan, "Buy American." The U.S. Chamber has hired Madison Avenue PR firms to discourage any "Buy American" trend

So has the US Chamber of Commerce been taken over by anti American sympathizers? Corporatists?

Is there any other conclusion that can be drawn by a rational person? I don't think so.

It's time to call upon our elected officials to protect us from all enemies, foreign and especially...Domestic.


PS: It should be noted that non-open source software in our electronic voting machines makes our elections as unsafe as our military equipment and far easier to tamper with. One must ask why the Tennessee Republican Party is so adamantly refusing to provide a paper ballot to prove how votes were actually cast in a recount?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pick Your Side and Let's Fight

In the United States of America we treasure free speech in an odd way...We allow people and corporations the freedom to lie. This gets us in all sorts of trouble. We started a war in the Middle East on the grounds that weapons of mass destruction were moments from being fired at us, we have museums that show humans riding dinosaurs, a sacred book says that evil was introduced into the world by a talking snake, and a massive ad campaign that claims there is no such thing as human caused global warming. All of these statements have no basis in fact, though they do have a basis in belief created by the marketing department. Why do we, not only allow people to lie to us, but protect their ability to do so even with the obvious destructive consequences smashing us in the face every single day?

(Before some of you go off on me for that talking snake quip I ask two things...One: Open your bible and read the appropriate text word for word. Two: The mainstream church that I was raised in taught that many of the passages in the Bible were parables and metaphors, not necessarily hard fact.)


We have health insurance companies paying politicians (why do we allow this?) to sanctimoniously lie about a "government takeover of medicine" which no one in Congress has proposed. There are proposals for government takeover of insurance but that's different and I personally approve. Since the early 1990's the private insurance industry has quadrupled its financial burden on the American GDP and yet the average life expectancy of Americans has actually dropped when the effects of anti smoking campaigns are factored out. We're paying four times as much and it is not doing a damned bit of good on the whole left to the private insurance sector. Maybe you believe that the "Government can't do anything right" but I'll contend that the private sector has done far worse and is headed worser. If our system did not allow corporations to pay politicians to lie with impunity we would have a completely different medical system already.

My vote for greatest injustice to America is the systematic attack on the Scientific Method's most beautiful child, Critical Thinking. Science makes no moral judgement because it can't. Darwinian Theory is accepted by every rational scientist on the planet, not because it is a beautiful and elegant work, but because it has withstood every single critical attack ever launched by reputable scientists, who know that should they succeed they would be instantly elevated to the highest annals of human achievement and history. The H1N1 virus was not created 6000 years ago by magic. It evolved from its predecessors as predicted by scientists, warning us to get ready, well before it actually showed up in human populations. H1N1 is one of those successful mutations that Darwin told us about. The Scientific Method is giving us the means to combat it. This is fact.

Another thing that the overwhelming majority of scientists have predicted is Global Warming. This has been predicted and warned about since the middle of the last century as scientists noticed that industrially produced greenhouse emissions began to make up an increasing percentage of our atmosphere. They also noticed that free Oxygen, the one element in our atmosphere that we require for our immediate survival, is being reduced. No sane scientist wanted the greenhouse effect to be real. It was with hope against hope that the phenomena were scientifically evaluated with the awful truth emerging from every direction...We are killing our planetary ecosystem's ability to support human civilization in any form that currently exists. Scientists have also told us what we need to do in order to save our planet and ourselves. We have the vaccine under development at this very moment. The vaccine to protect us from unthinkable world Armageddon is so simple that we don't seem to be able to accept its reality. We can stop creating greenhouse gases.

Continuing on our current path will leave to our grand children and great grandchildren a vastly different planet Earth, upon which they may not be able to survive. This is what the scientists tell us. Currently the primary greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2) makes up 390 parts per million in our air. This is too high for our planet to remain at its current average temperature and predictions are that it will go much higher under our current industrial path. In order to stabilize our planet we need to stop the increase in CO2 emissions and reduce them so that the ppm returns to a safe level of around 350 ppm. Anybody who tells you different is lying to you. The liars consist of mostly the energy cartels and their hired lackeys. Their hired lackeys consist of certain news organizations and certain politicians.

The question must be asked, "Why do these people want to wish Armageddon upon their blood descendants?" I think it is because not only are they lying to you and me...They are lying to themselves. It is because when normally rational human beings come together in the group think of a corporation they leave their souls and consciences outside the door. They sit around the Big Coal corporate table looking at each other and say, "Stopping this Global Warming thing will make us go bankrupt so let's pretend it isn't happening." No one sitting at that table whose country club membership and floor level basketball tickets are at stake will state the obvious..."But we'll destroy our planetary ecosystem!" They can't because they have abrogated their humanity and turned their soul over to a corporation which has none of either.

So look to see who tells you the truth about this. We can save ourselves and our children but we can't save the corporations who lie to us. Worse than that...It is us or them. The solutions are easy.

We will eventually run out of coal if we survive long enough to burn it all, but that is suicidal. The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of rocks. Humanity found a better way to make its tools. It is an ugly metaphor but fact that in America the people who relied on stone were over run by people who had moved on to iron. There are technologies, efficiencies, and conservation methods that could immediately cut our energy use in half. Solar energy has arrived and is actually now cheaper than coal if all of coal's externalized costs are added back in. Batteries need some work but are extremely promising. It is time to move away from coal and we can. We will have to choose this path. A a consequence this will destroy coal companies and energy companies who choose coal as their power source. It will greatly diminish the fossil based fuel and energy sector. Some very rich people will lose some money. It will save the Earth and its peoples.

Pick your side and let's fight. As for me...I choose fact and the side that reveres fact and rejects lies. I choose science and the side that studies science over ignorance. I choose Life for my children!



Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall 09

Taken this afternoon in grey light. The creek is showing the limestone blue when the sun shines but it hasn't done that much these last few days.

I may post a few more shots later. It was a good day to hike and see the world. I love the light after storms.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"All Americans Should be Proud"

May I Introduce To You, Helen Philpot

I was going to write something witty about Republicanism and how they can't stand for someone else to be well thought of. I remember a well to do kid in the 8th grade who would stomp on your new shoes just to mess them up when you wore them for the first time, while bragging about his own shiny new ones then running away. This is kind of what is happening with Republicans and the Nobel Peace Prize. The last three sitting and former presidents who have won a Nobel were Democrats. The last Republican President got a shoe thrown at him. This is all observation and not particularly witty.

So I will merely take the lazy way out and suggest you go read this 80 year old lady's acerbic foray into wit and possibly keener observation.

I am not sure when it happened but the base of the Republican party either got lazy or stupid or both… or maybe they always were. It took me only a few minutes of research on the internet to learn that America spends more on healthcare than any other wealthy nation and yet we don’t live longer or have better health outcomes. So unless we just enjoy making health insurance companies rich, all those tea party morons need to use the internet for something other than ordering their penis enhancement pills.




Thursday, October 08, 2009

Southern Fried

What does a food editor for the NY Times know about Southern Fried Chicken?

Southern fried chicken is usually seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper. Once that fabulous crust is gone, it’s hard to ignore that the big hunks of breast are often as dry and woolly as fiberglass insulation, and the moister parts have a caul of flabby skin under the crust.

In the South I grew up in for a woman to cook "dry" fried chicken was a sin slightly less egregious than infidelity, which secretly engenders a certain clandestine envy. Not so the cooker of dry fried chicken who is universally looked down upon. A Certain food editor needs an invite to supper but I don't think it's going to happen after that crack.

From our "Why is it the Comedians who we turn to for Truth?" Department...When David Letterman was threatened with extortion he went to the authorities, came clean publicly, and somebody got arrested. This writer says the extortionist should have hired a lawyer to perform his blackmail so it would be completely legal.

Yep, I said legal.

Former President George W Bush told a sold out crowd in Sevierville that his strong Christian faith guided him during his presidency. On the same page as that headline is a story that notes the Afghan war is now 8 years old. I think I know W's problem. If we check that bible he claims to read (yeah, right) all the time I think it will be missing the New Testament and a few commandments, probably the ones about not lying and killing.



Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Conservative Bible Project to Cut Liberal Passages...Bye Bye, New Testament

Jesus' life was spent improving the welfare of the poor and oppressed. He was against the death penalty. He provided free medical care for the poor. He was a pacifist. He associated with drunks and social outcasts to help them become better people. He forgave adulterers and prostitutes (but not so much the johns). He liberated women. He gave free food to thousands. He worked on the Sabbath. He railed against the money changers and usury and demanded that rich people give their money away for the common good, saying it would be impossible for them to get into Heaven in one piece otherwise.