Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Sermon from the Ministry of Truth

A caring message to the Conservatives sheep ...with sympathy: "Why don't you stop doing Satan's the Big Bad Wolf's work for him."

(I wish I had written this!)

We are sorry that you don't want your kids learning certain things. We are sorry that you are afraid and confused. We are sorry that you are angry and scared. We will try to make it better but it only works if you stop fighting us like it was good versus evil, because, dear Conservatives, liberals are on YOUR side, not the Pharisee establishment who couldn't pass through a needles eye.

We are sorry that you live in a separate reality, dear Conservatives, and we are doing what we can to make things better. Fortunately for all of us, there are some adults in the room now, people who don't fear monger with death panels and terror strikes, conspiracy theories and misinformation. The world WILL make progress, and we can't afford to do it without you. We can't have you fighting us tooth and nail anymore either. We can't afford to wait for you to figure it out, dear Conservatives, so we may have to go on without you, because our future is too important to screw up, and right now, you're not helping.

And that's just some of the punch lines. I invite you to read the rest.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Noble Bird

I got up a couple of hours before dawn to get this dinosaur going in the smoker. Four more hours and we'll be feasting.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Walk Over Williams Mountain

I'm afraid I don't get the ORV experience. Why would you want to ride a noisy machine right by tons of really cool things when you could walk and listen and experience them on every level? I was unhappy at seeing the ORV tracks that led down to this spring head. There are extremely rare plants that live in these micro ecosystems and one trip on a 4 wheeler could destroy all of them in one pass. This is the spring head on Williams Mountain above Whites Creek. My botanist friend has asked me to be on the lookout for a rare orchid that grows in spots like this.

This is the Williams Cemetery. I have no idea how that circle was drilled onto the rock headstone. In every one of these old remote cemeteries I always see the headstones that are spaced only a few feet apart. They lost a lot of children in early times. And by early times I mean less than 100 years ago. My maternal grandmother gave birth to 5 babies but only raised 3 children in deep rural Georgia. In parts of Tennessee, like Williams Mountain, it wasn't any better. There are four headstones in this photo and seven more of the small ones just out of the frame to the right.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


In his first ten months President Obama has miserably failed to live up to the accomplishments of his predecessor. He has allowed not a single foreign based terrorist attack on US soil nor has he cleared any brush on a fake ranch. In fact, Obama has only taken one week of actual vacation since he took office and he still conducted official duties during that time so does it really count? He has had several date nights with his wife, however, so maybe that should count for something, and he did build a swing set for his daughters on the lawn at the White House...But other than that, what has he actually done, besides personally meet with more leaders of foreign countries in his first six months than any other President in history?

Sure there's that restart of the nuclear proliferation talks, cutting the bogus star wars missile defense thing that would work just fine if our enemies would only put GPS transmitters on their nuclear ballistic missiles aimed at the USA. And well, he has upgraded the body armor for our troops from the lousy stuff they've had to use for 7 years, increased their pay, changed policy to pay the expenses of the families of our fallen warriors, ordered the government to start complying with the Freedom of Information Act, put restrictions on future lobbying by his staff after they leave, restricted lobbyist access to the White House, opened White House visitation records to the public, re-engaged in talks to protect the Arctic, engaged in climate change initiatives, re-committed to treaties to protect the Antarctic, worked to end the practice of providing tax incentives to companies who offshore American jobs, lowered drug costs for seniors, ended the policy of no bid contracts, ended the practice of having White House aides re-write scientific reports to support polluters, paid for redecorating the White House living quarters out of his own pocket, and ended the Bush war on medical marijuana. Sure there's that, but really...What has he actually done?

Has he announced that he plans to pull out of Iraq? Well yeah, and he fired the generals in charge of Afghanistan and ordered the new ones to go away and come up with a new plan that might actually work or a plan to withdraw if not. And then he may have actually prevented the collapse of America's financial system, but other than that, what?

Come on, I'm waiting...

This man is an obvious slacker who deserves his low approval rating by the American people of over three times that of Congress. I mean has the national economy showed positive growth yet? Well sure but only about 3.5% so far, what kind of turn around is that after an entire year of negative growth?

I mean when is Barack Obama actually going to do something?



Lots of this was taken from here and there's plenty more than what I've mentioned.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Enemies Domestic and natural resources companies have lobbied Washington to the tune of $300 million in the first nine months of this year, above the pace of last year’s $387 million. Oil and gas companies and electric utilities accounted for more than two-thirds of the spending. Their lobbying to keep fossil fuels burning without any care for the planet swamped the lobbying by alternative energy concerns, which so far this year amount to $23 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Chamber of Commerce, America’s single-biggest lobbyist, spent $35 million in the third quarter alone and $65 million for the year, fighting meaningful climate change and health care legislation.

Enemies Domestic

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Teach Difficult Ideas

This is a magical confluence of musical talent, intellect, and digital technology from Melodysheep.

It is a WOW moment for me...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It was 40 Years Ago Today...

Big stars for 25 years now, is it time for these two monsters of the screens big and small to come out??
They share a room, and a bedroom, if not a bed. They bicker like husband and wife. They frequently break out in song. One has a curious obsession with his rubber ducky.

To answer that burning question our cracked research team here at Whites Creek Journal has delved into tthis scandal and can now lay to rest a persistent entertainment industry rumor: Bert and Ernie, regardless of what Jerry Falwell's ardent followers might think, are NOT gay!
The proof is evident when one watches them perform in rehearsal. They cannot have sexual preferences of that sort because they cannot have sexual preferences whatsoever. The truth of the matter is that Bert and Ernie are puppets. They have no naughty bits. They simply do not exist from the waist down.
...the sexuality of other cartoon characters has come into question over the years. Anti-gay groups have accused SpongeBob SquarePants and Tinky Winky of the "Teletubbies" of harboring a homosexual agenda...
The fact that these characters are complete fiction seems to be lost on certain folks who still harbor the delusion that one may be recruited into a particular sexual lifestyle by reading the wrong comic books or watching TV a little too early on Saturday morning. Yes it's true that Batman spends more time with Robin than with Batgirl or Catwoman, even, but what does that prove?
Pee Wee Herman has a girlfriend as does Oscar the Grouch, though Oscar does live in a trash can with his pet worm, but hey...What does THAT prove? I'm pretty sure Oscar's girl friend was a sham. Happens all the time in Hollywood. Why do some people have lives so small that they even care? They should focus on the really big issues like instant replay in football and that floating pile of plastic the size of the USA in the Pacific Ocean. The personal persuasion of a fictional creation has about as much relevance to the state of the world as the real meaning of what those dark bits in Moose Tracks ice cream are supposed to represent. These questions are not for a child's world and Henson knew that. Instead he gave us characters with differences and empathy and taught us to love them. Stepping back and reviewing the body of work one has to accept that Jim Henson's creations are as great a force for the acceptance of our differences as any on this planet. It is a monumental force for good.

At any rate, today marks the 40th anniversary of the Muppets and I wish Jim Henson could be here to enjoy it. The creativity brought forth by the puppeteers has been marvelous and uplifting at times and raucously funny at others. If you have never taken a child to a Muppets stage show your life is the poorer for it. It's not too late. What a gift to the world.
Thank you , Jim Henson. Thank you, puppeteers.
Good night Ernie. Good night Bert. Must be fun to get through life and never have to wear pants.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Evidence on the Water

After finding our phone lines had been intentionally cut on Friday, we felt an epic hike would restore our understanding of why we work so hard to protect Whites Creek in the face of people whose "fun" destroys things they refuse to understand. Today was another day where one is called to go outside. We needed some restoration and renewal.

The visual symphony of the gorge is well documented photographically on this site, but there's always something new to discover or see in new light. We've been working on the trail up to this table rock and my photography can't begin to tell you what it's like to walk around behind the pedestal as you think about the massive sandstone rock supported over your head by the seemingly fragile stack of sedimentary rocks your hand is touching. Some of them are obviously loose.

The cliff above this level is the edge of the gorge. I believe it has the best view of any overlook for miles around, high enough to view Laurel Branch cut on the Rhea County side but still below the level of the traces of humanity on the far side plateau. You'll have to come out and see for yourself because the photos don't do justice, mine anyway.

Under the edge of the cliff is a huge overhang with the remnants of a stone shack. We've heard various stories about it. Whther it is the draft dodger's hide out from wars in the last century or a moonshiner's shack, it is in a magnificent south facing location worthy of the Anasazi on a smaller scale. The cliff side is home to a plant that John Muir paid notice to on his walk through Tennessee in 1867. This is the "round leaf catch fly" honoring us with a late season blossom. It is in the same family as "Fire pink" which blooms in the spring, and is carnivorous, catching midges and such in the sticky hairs on its leaves. This allows it to gather nourishment from the air, as it were, and survive on this otherwise inhospitable ledge.

Nature takes its course in the world, whether we like it or not. Descending from the rim of the gorge some 500 vertical feet above, I saw this downy white clutch of feathers floating in a leaf lined pool of water. Unreachable, even with the stick I was carrying to beat back the blackberry canes from my path, I wondered what bird they could possibly belong to?

Looking around the path I saw the answer, unusual as it was. One of the large hawks, probably a young redtail, had entered the food chain on an unfortunately lower rung than what it usually occupied.

A shrill "scree" call echoed through the gorge from above the trees as I studied the feathers and the fresh blood that told me this was a very recent death and possibly the mate of the bird circling and calling repeatedly above me. What predator could make this kill and devour the 3 to 4 pounds of hawk as well as the hawks kill that had held it vulnerable on the ground? I'm guessing coyote, and maybe more than one.

It's tough out there.



Thursday, November 05, 2009

Walk on November 5

These are views that few of my friends will go with me to see. It takes a 400 foot vertical hike to get to these spots but it's well worth it. The first is Rhea County seen from a rock outcrop in the back yard. Whites Creek can be seen at the lower left, some 600 feet below. The Sequatchie Nuclear plant at Soddy Daisy is on the far horizon but only shows as a small bump in this shot, thank goodness.

I see land advertised as "lake view" so I guess mine qualifies. That part of the lake is the main channel nine or so miles away. On a clearer day the Smokies sit on the horizon about 80 miles away.