Friday, April 29, 2005


Dateline Cincinatti: April 30, 2005

With all the excitement about the Ivorybill Woodpecker sightings, I know the world may not be ready for this, coming so soon on the heels of that announcement but here it is:

I'm in Washington, D.C. On the way here I was routed through Cincinatti, Ohio. Anybody who has ever been in the Delta Connections Terminal knows that "Terminal" is a well chosen and apt describer for the experience. Feedlot cows have it better. I caught the shuttle out of there and decided to kill time at the Starbucks in B Concourse. Sitting there with a tall Americano...That is a coffee drink, people! Mind out of the gutter. I realize the shots of George Bush holding hands with a short Saudi has everybody wondering but hey, leave me out of it, OK?...So I'm drinking coffee and reading Scientific American in B Concourse in Cincinatti. They seem to think air terminals must have forty to fifty foot ceilings and this one does. No reason I can think of except to make you think you are outside or not cooped up, and they put in some little ficus benjamina trees and pump some water over some sort of fake waterfall and load it up with chemicals to keep it from turning green but it still reeks like somebody needs to shock the hot tub, and this is supposed to make you feel better about paying seven dollars for a $2.95 salad with wilted lettuce and a tube of salad dressing.

So I'm sitting there inside the Cincinatti B Concourse sipping my coffee and something walks over my foot. I can feel it but I can't see it and I'm thinking I'm inside a building and a rat just ran over my foot and I look down. This is where I have a "sighting" to report. There beside my right shoe is a House sparrow, nicely colored in various earth tones, eating crumbs and ignoring all the people. Several folks looked at the bird and looked at me and looked at the bird. The bird looked at nothing except the next piece of bread or muffin or whatever it was lying on the floor. As it finished the crumb it was beaking (they don't have teeth..."beaking" either is or should be a word, I say), it hopped a foot or so and picked up another one. My head was maybe three and a half feet above it. The sparrow didn't care. It was making a living inside B concourse and doing all right, for an invasive species.

I wondered if the bird goes in and out of the building but I think it probably just lives inside, all the time.

I felt happy about the sparrow and watched until it hopped out of sight under the heating and airconditioning unit next to the glass wall that keeps the world out of the airport. I wonder how long that bird has lived inside? Is it the only one? Oddly, I wish it well and hope it finds a girl friend inside the airport. That's probably a bad idea but what the heck.

I would probably shoot this sparrow if it were taking over the bluebird house I nailed up back in Tennessee, but as a denizen of B Concourse in Cincinatti...may it have a long life and prosper!



Thursday, April 28, 2005

I'm fixing a hole

We now have this exclusive report from our traveling correspondent just waking up in a cabin in the woods in Long Creek, South Carolina:


There you have it...Uh, wait, there's more. Our correspondent claims some one has entered his cabin while he was gone and...well...fixed things! There's no other way to put it.

The hole in the gable where the bats and flying squirrels used to come in out of the winter weather...fixed.

The bathroom door that wouldn't close? The one that had the bent nail for a lock? Fixed.

The stairway to heaven? Well that applies only if you are going up to the bedroom. Going UP a stairway can be done on all fours very safely. Just try coming DOWN a stairway on all fours! Think middle of the night, pressing need, dark...Got the picture? Anyway, it's fixed.

Ceiling in the bathroom? Fixe. d.

The Bedroom wall where the paneling had been left ununstalled for the last 18 years? Fixed. You can't even see the fiberglass insulation where the bats nested anymore.

Yep, we're having some work done and I have to admit...the place is looking better and better. I decided sometime back that I am a lazy person. Not just your normal "put things off" kinda lazy guy, but a world class lazy, championship Lazy, you would not believe the incredible list of things I haven't gotten finished.

There is a reason for all that, of course...I am, after all, promoting world peace, curing poverty, and saving the a Lazy sort of way. This gets in the way of carrying out the trash and putting up the dishes...and finishing the cabin. So I did the only manly thing I could do...hired someone to FIX It!

We're about halfway through the process and there are differences of opinion. For instance: Carpet versus the plain old plywood floor that has worked just fine for nearly two decades. Everyone knows that a hard plywood floor is a much better surface for smushing bugs on. Soft plush carpet? No way! Let us leave for now, the inevitable, "Why are scorpions getting into the house in the first place? Is there a hole somewhere? Why don't you...





Harold Ford is a Congressman from Tennessee who will probably run for Bill Frist's vacated Senate seat in '06. As you migth expect, the attacks have begun. One big news item from yesterday was that Ford took 61 trips since 2000, all paid for by someone else. And the big story is that only one Congressman took more trips than Congressman Ford.

Well I checked into this and guess what? I found out something even more damaging to his chances of being elected...

Congressman Harold Ford is a CHEAP DATE! We cannot elect this man to the Senate of the United States. If Harold Ford's standard of travel is imposed on the Senate, it could bring that august body to its knees! This could lead to balanced budgets and all sorts of other things that the United States Senate may not be able to flying coach class, not charging for travel expenses when you are already in the area of not taking your wife to every year at lobbyist expense, like Jimmy Sensenbrenner has. Jimmy's travel expenses were roughly three times what Harold's were.

Jimmy's average trip cost over Ten Thousand dollars! His most expensive one was to the Middle East, as in the United Arab Emirates. It was paid for by the Islamic Free Market Institute, which is one of those oxymoronic names I could work with but won't. Consider yourself spared. So what was Jimmy Sensenbrenner doing in Dubai?

Investigating Money laundering!


Can't make this stuff up!

Ok, so here's something you should already know: Congressman Stensenbrenner is a Republican. Harold Ford is a Democrat.

Harold's average trip cost one tenth of what his Republican counterpart's trips cost.

And unstead of going to Paris, Guatemala. Kazakstan. Tokyo, Bankok, Lichenstein, Belgium, and Lichenstein again, Harold Ford went to places like Nashville and Knoxville. That would be his home state, and what was Mr Ford doing in Knoxville? he gave a public policy speech to the graduating class...and most damaging of all to Mr. Ford's chances of being elected Senator from the great State of Tennessee, you know what he was paid for transportation expense?


Paid for it himself. The total cost of his trip?

$228 for lodging.

Dear Congressman Ford,

Having reviewed your travel expenses for the last four plus years, I have decided to offer my expertise in padding travel vouchers to your office at a reasonable rate for my consultations. You are much too honest to survive in the United States Senate. One ting we have learned over the years, is that Senatorial Frugality will not be tolerated.

I can help you in a very big way, Harold.

Call me!



Here's Harold's talley sheet:

Ford's too cheap

Now just for fun check Jimmy Stensenbrenner's and wonder why it didn't make the news:


Monday, April 25, 2005

Buzzard Aire

Driving home after a stormy blustery day, the sky is terrific. The clouds have such dimensions and colors that I have to take a moment and study them. They are flying across the sky but rather than just being a distant layer in the atmosphere, they seem to be globular members of my normal community, connected to the earth, somehow, just taller than the trees.

As I pass through the town of Rockwood's way too many traffic lights, putting the last one behind me, I noticed the typical pecking order in the sky as smaller birds harrass larger birds in a common springtime ritual. This is probably because it is nesting season, though it occurs at other times of the year also. A sparrow sized bird was working over a crow...normal enough...but the crow was attacking a much bigger bird that was proving surprizingly agile for its size. At first I thought it was a turkey vulture and then an osprey, but as the distance shortened between us I could see the white head and tail of a mature bald eagle. Wow! Three way aerial combat right here in almost downtown Rockwood, Tennessee.

On my left was the small flagstone sided Tennessee State Patrol building that was the last outpost on "Thunder Road" of song and movie fame. I pulled over to the side of the road and watched as the trio battled their way over the tree tops and out of sight. That was yesterday.

Today it is even windier and the light on the gorge seems stark in the clear air. It's only like this just after a storm washes the haze clean.

From the cliff above the house you can see Signal Mountain at Chattanooga and the Smoky Mountains all the way to the North Carolina State line. Before coal power days you could see this most all the time except for the most humid days of summer...Not any more. I have sat on the overlook rock with binoculars and figured out where most things are on the other side of the Tennessee valley. On my side, the official edge of the Valley is well defined. it's the rock I sit upon on Walden Ridge. On the Smoky Mountain side...who knows, maybe somewhere near Townsend. On the South end of the mountian range I can pick out Chilhowee and Gee mountains. That's where the Ocoee river and the Hiwasee river flow out of the hills. The Little River drops out of the heart of the Smokies through Townsend and Maryville, eaten by Tellico Lake before it gets anywhere else. The Litle river gap is difficult to find but I've managed...I think. Somewhere in there is Cades Cove, the intended sight of President Bush's visit to the Smokies on Earth Day 2005. We had a fine thunderstorm and he decided to give his environmental speech from the inside of a concrete aircraft hanger, which if ever there were a metaphor for this President's environmental record that was it. So he was a twenty minute drive from the Smokies but didn't go because of rain, which had stopped by the time he spoke.

I don't know, folks, anyone who has ever been in the Smokies after a thunderstorm remembers it as a life experience, the air washed clean, sparkling light, waterfalls everywhere. The drive into Cades Cove alone next to the Little River and Big Creek is fabulous. It's not like he didn't have time...he was headed out to Crawford Texas for another vacation. Let me see...Cades Cove....Crawford Texas...Cades Cove...

What moron would blow off the chance to spend time in Cades Cove after a Spring storm in order to get to godforsaken Crawford, Texas quicker?

I guess we have our answer.

Back here in Whites Creek Gorge, a spring ritual is unfolding. The gorge lines up with the setting sun this time of year and instead of the sunlight being clipped by the far ridge, it lasts on into the evening. Turkey vultures are ripping up the air, doing things folks rarely believe that buzzards are even capable of in the blustery afternoon wind currents. They are actually phenominal flyers. We hiked up to a rock point in the gap to watch them and were rewarded as they would scream by us in one direction lopp around and hang motionless facing into the wind before performing a wingover and dropping out of site below us, surfing the invisible ocean of air, wave after wave. They would come within twenty yards of us even with our eyes at times. What a site.

Not all Turkey vultures do this kind of playing in the air on a spring day. Here is a great photo of a buzzard from the Captain of the Rocky Top Brigade, South Knox Bubba. It was taken on Friday afternoon from his back porch in South Knoxville...The side of town next to the mountains.

Vultures, it appears, are ubiquitous things and may be seen, even in urban and suburban environments, looking for dead things to feed upon:


The name "turkey" and "vulture" would be well applied to this specimen, don't you think?

There's more and please check the comments at Bubba's site:




Friday, April 22, 2005

State of the Earth

Earth Day 2005

Looks bad, sorry. doin' what I can...You?

Ted Turner made one of his famous quotes when asked what he thought the Enivironmental future looked like and why he worked so hard on environmental causes. He said,

"Well I think we're fucked!...But I could be wrong."

As for me? Well sure, I could do more. But actually what I have resolved to do is be more effective at what I can do.

So there...But I think the most important thing we have to do, actually, is to keep the FunXtians from killing themselves and taking us with them. I swear , It looks like Conservatives think it's OK to kill the planet as long as they die rich!

To be honest, I actually do believe with all my heart that a certain minimum bank balance is important to world peace and tranquility...mine anyway. But I also belive that people go about it in entirely the wrong way. They seem to want to make more so they can spend more. Folks, this is not the way to do this.

Richness cannot be based on gold alone, and frankly, too much of it in the hands of one person is a bad thing in most cases...there are exceptions. For example, I, of course, would make a fabulously decent rich person...I'm not so sure about you. But once a certain level is reached, more money doesn't seem to be synonomous with more "Happy". That is the theory behing being a Progressive, which is what I claim to be, as opposed to a Liberal or a Conservative.

"Progressive" is a term for scheduled contributions to the common good.

As you earn more money, your basic needs cannot require all that much more and so you are expected to do things for others. Historically that required the paying of taxes on an increasing scale. America has gone overboard on this concept in the past as have other countries but it is a very good idea, though the execution has been imperfect at times. But there are two main reasons I believe the Progressive movement is the key to saving the world.

First: Taken as a group, the government works mostly for rich people. They should pay for it.

There should always be an incentive for them to make more money, but there should also always be an incentive for them to support the common good. Ask yourself if the common good is being enhanced by virtue of the war in Iraq? Some very rich people are making a ton of money off this war, so it better be good for America, don't you think? How do you feel about it so far? WE spent $200,000,000,000.00 so far with no end in sight...Are WE better off?

By the way, I wish there could be a caption under every report of an American casualty:

NO Actual RICH people or their children were hurt in the making of this War!

One last thing. Ask yourself if the Middle class wanted to attack Iraq? Ask yourself if we would have had this war if Donald Rumsfeld has not gotten snookered on his pipeline deals in Afghanistan and Iraq? Remember that the very first thing Rummy did was to order the American Military to guard and protect the Iraqi oil fields and pipelines, even while they stood by and let the country be looted.

Second: Everyone else in America besides the Very Rich, want things for the common good and is willing to pay for this. Parks, public schools, natural areas, libraries, community centers, public pools, all these things are for the common good and we must pay for them together. We complain about taxes, everyone does, but the great American Middle Class pays the bills. They should get the benefit. It's the Progressive way.

I realize that I am making an incomplete argument here and I promise to fill in the blanks in coming days, but the Progressive movement is on the rise in a big way. This is a fearful prospect to Neo Conservatives such as Dick Cheney who just finished paying less than 15% of his income in taxes. How does that square with what you just paid, America? Your children are fighting in foreign countries to protect his stock portfolio, after all. Your children are fighting for Exxon and Haliburton and Carlyle and we are spending a lower percentage of our gross domestic product on schools, parks, natural areas, environmental protection, core health care, and what are we getting?

American life expectancy has dropped since 2001. American infant mortality has increased since 2001. The United States National debt has skyrocketed since 2001. Gas prices have...Hell, you folks know what has happened to gas prices!

...And the Bush Administration will keep the tax deduction for gas guzzling suv's and end the deduction for high mileage vehicles.

Progressives will change all of this...It's the only way to save our planet.

Happy Earth Day!



I wish this could be bigger but you can follow the link below and see where your tax dollars go...That big pile on the left...guess what it is?

where the money goes

The Progress REport

Here's a good Proggressive web site:


Go here and wander around, at least at some point today:

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Yep...Sun came up just like I thought it might. There's news in the world and I thought you might want to hear it. I think one of the things about American life that constantly surprises me is how deeply ignorant most people are, and of course, it is my mission to fight this ignorance. At the same time I am fighting for this just and honorable cause, I tell myself to accept the fact that while ignorance is curable,

stupidity is not.

Let's see...Hey, did you folks know there's a war going on? It's in a country called Iraq, and since the elections, civilians are being killed faster than ever before. The U.S. military finally owned up to killing just over 600 innocent Iraqi citizens when they leveled Fallujah, by the way. Remember any of the promises and assurances that "every possible step will be taken to insure that no civilians are harmed"?

American troops are dying faster than ever. Here's a test: How many American troops were killed last week? How many total in this war? When will this war end? Why did we attack Iraq?

See!...You're ignorant, too!

OK, from our Religion Editor: A spinster man has been elected to head his country by secret ballot of all the other spinster men in the country who get to wear red. What color you get to wear is a big deal over there because As a prize for winning, the man became the only man in his country allowed to wear white.

I'm not sure how the process works but observers seemed to be overly concerned with what was coming out of a pipe, I think it had to do with what they were smoking.

The title of Pope was conveyed to one Joe Ratzinger, whereby he changed his name to Benedict...I think this might be because if he kept his old name, Americans might remember how he interfered in our Presidential elections by proclaiming that John Kerry could not have a conscience of his own, and therefore would be denied Holy Communion. Joe Ratz, his street name in the hood, was the head of an organization that had also changed its name for P.R. reasons...The previous name of "Holy Inquisition" having left a bad taste in people's mouth for a couple of hundred years. All hail the Marketing Department.

To top it off, This was announced to the world in a dead language.

"No more Mr. Nice guy" John Bolton has gone on record supporting the blowing up of the United Nations. Just so they could work this little conflict out, President Bush nominated Mr. Bolton to represent you and me in the very building he thought it would be a good idea to fly an airplane into. Turns out he also in an abusive man to his subordinates and falsified or withheld information from his boss at the time, Colin Powell, who proceeded to testify to things Mr. Bolton knew were false in this same building. Interesting things keep popping up about olb Johnny B. This has caused a couple of Republican Senators to join Senator John Kerry in saying, "Hey???...Wait just a minute here." Mr. Bolton's nomination has been delayed.

And speaking of Delayed, poor Tom DeLay is being persecuted by the unrighteous. God will protect him from these satanic forces so it will all be ok. Here are some quotes from Mr. DeLay, just so you can see how righteous he is...

"We are ideologues. We have an agenda. We have a philosophy. I want to repeal the Clean Air Act,"

(I love that one...Did you know that an Air Pollution Alert was issued for the Smoky Mountain National Park, this week? Geroge Bush will stand on a Mountain in the Smokies for meaningless photo-op to celebrate Earth Day this Saturday...That lump under his coat will be an oxygen supply.)

Then there's this one from Toxic Tom's email:

"This whole thing about not kicking someone when they are down is BS. Not only do you kick him -- you kick him until he passes out, then beat him over the head with a baseball bat, then roll him up in an old rug and throw him off a cliff into the pound(ing) surf below!!!!!"

And lastly, This week is the 10th anniversary of the greatest and most destructive act of violence by a domestic terrorist group. The Oklahoma City bombing was a horrible act that killed hundreds, including a number of preschool children. This vile act was in retaliation to mark the 2nd anniversary of the Waco tragedy in which the Bureau of Alchohol Tobacco and Firearms mounted a military style attack on the Branch Davidians, ultimately resulting in the deaths of most of them. In the initial attack, it turned out that the Davidians were better shots than the AT eFfers. Looking out the windows and seeing people wearing all black uniforms and black hoods over their faces and firing automatic rifles, the Davidians seemed to think they were somehow justified in firing back. No one had told them these people were from the government and were there to help!

So we got a couple of hundred people, ok over four hundred and lots of them women and children, dead as a result of right wing nut jobs and terror groups, so who does the Department of Homeland Security announce this week as terror groups they are after? The Earth Liberation front, ELF, and the Animal Liberation Front, Alf, neither of which has ever harmed a human.

Not one single right wing group made the list.

Feel safer now?

Like I said, you can only cure ignorance, stupidity appears to be terminal!



Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Tommy Can you Hear Me?

Wow, what a day. This is the time of year when everybody feels good...after the allergies settle down at least. Fifty shades of green with a few pinks thrown in, that's the palette of the far hill, lit up by morning sun.

I was looking at a wild blueberry that grows in the yard. it only has berries about one in three years but they are way better than the tame blueberries we planted, just not as reliable or prolific. The rarity is justified, though when you finally do get to pop a few in your mouth. Years ago, I showed the berries to my youngest son and told him you could eat them. He looked at me, as this new information sunk in.

You can eat things you find outside! Whoa, what a world!

Well some you can and some you can't, and some you could but can't anymore. The fish in Watts Bar Lake come to mind as a prime example of the latter. In my childhood home we ate fish about half the time, caught in the Oconee river or one of the many farms ponds on Grampa's farm. Fish from a pond were considered "raised" and the river fish were better. Though I've developed a taste for salmon in my old age, I still think a big bluegill taken from a clean river may be the best tasting fish going, even better than red eyes from the creek but not much.

Eating river fish will become a thing of the past, or at least eating them safely, if corporate America has its way. I sent an email to my State Senator, Tommy Kilby asking him to please vote yes on a SB498.

This bill is a simple one. It directs the Department of Environment and Conservation to

"...continuously perform a thorough examination of actions necessary to preserve and protect forested watershed and the control of non-point sources of water pollution."

Well that seems simple enough, right? Well not in Tennessee! I guess that since the bible says the world is going to be destroyed eventually, we might as well start now. Somehow, the "Culture of Life" we keep hearing about doesn't include "not poisoning" people who eat fish! Or poisoning people who swim in anything not resembling a big hole surrounded by concrete and filled with chemical laced water.

Anyway, I wrote Tommy a note asking him to do a little something for the people who live in his district, even though those out of state lobbying firms were spending money to get him to vote against the bill. One of those firms goes by an interesting name. It calls itself,

The Tennessee Farm Bureau.

It also claims to represent farmers. maybe...and just maybe it actually represents the folks who make tons of money off farmers. Farmers don't make any money, after all. chemical companies make billions, though. And then there's "Factory Farms."

Now the folks who really don't want this bill to pass, are the factory farm people. Well actually I shouldn't call them people because they actually are corporations.

Corporations are interesting things. take some good people with kind intentions and gather them up into a corporation and they turn evil! Things that individual people would never ever do, corporations will never think once about not doing. For instance, none of my neighbors would ever think of putting 5000 hogs on a concrete fed lot, pump them full of hormones and corn, and hose the hog shit off the concrete and into Whites Creek, turning the largest unpolluted watershed in the state of Tennessee into a foul reeking mess of contagion and sickness.

I do not exaggerate!

This is what happens when factory farms get going in a state. It happened in North Carolina. People got sick with things we had never heard of before like Pfisteria. A horrible disease from which some folks never completely recover, their health ruined.

Hey, the corporations said, It's just BIDNESS! Sorry 'bout that.

Then they got run out of the state by those mean environmentalists who are extremists and terrorists because they hate a little profit making by a corporation, just because it killed, and I mean killed, rivers and streams and...


Then they went to Alabama and killed rivers and streams there. And now...They are trying to come to Tennessee.

I am not against profit making. I've made a little bit of it myself. I am against stealing something and calling it profit. The people of Tennessee have something no one else has and it is being stolen right before our very eyes. It is our beautiful clean rivers and creeks and streams...or what's left of them, anyway. We've already lost so much. the fish in Watts Bar Lake, home of over 40 world record fish, will make you sick if you eat them! They're big! They're beautiful! They're poison!

Now let's just do the right thing, this time folks. I wrote Senator Kilby and I would like for you to do this also. Here is what Tommy said back to me. It is obvious that he has given this matter a great deal of thought:

Steve: Thank you for your email!


Tommy Kilby

State Senator
12th District

OK, maybe not. Here is his email address...

see what you can do to get through to Tommy!



Sunday, April 17, 2005

Sunday morning coming down.

Can't wait for the rest of the family to wake up so I can play the Tony Emmanuel cd's I bought last night at the Tennessee Theater. Gonna play 'em loud. If all he had done was play the his first two songs over and over, it would have been enough for me. Actually I was pretty amazed that anyone on this planet could play those two pieces in the first place. Chet Atkins called him the "Best Finger Picker in the World" and if there's anybody better, I don't need to know.

So I'm a little groggy from the late night and I have a few items I'll share for now. If I get a round Tuit, I'll sermonize later. I do have a couple of things on my mind, but they can wait. I'll start here.

Quote of the day:

"If you cannot stomach a breach of decorum when justified outrage erupts then your support is nearly worthless anyway."

"At least do not allow yourselves to become complicit in discrimination by demanding obedience from its victims."

Eric Berndt

That jewel is from the student who had the courage to ask orgy advocate, Antonin Scalia, if he had ever sodomized his wife. Scalia, of course, has written opinions stating that laws against sodomy and homosexual acts are constitutional. Scalia refused to answer the question, thereby branding himself a cursed sodomite.

The rest:


A friend and I were driving together and he asked me how Howard Dean was doing, as if I would actually know. Dean has a good plan if he can just deal with the old line fake Democrats whose corruption sold us out in the first place. He asked me what I meant and I tried to explain it. Later, I picked up this little jewel that shows in graphic white light, what Dean's problem is:

Bart Gordon and Lincoln Davis...Looking out for the little guy! Bart and Lincoln voted for the Republican bancruptcy bill. This bill would eliminate the "start over" ability of workers who endure financial problems due to job loss of catastrophic illness, while a the same time, preserve the ability of the wealthy to shield millions of dollars from the bancruptcy courts.

Thanks, guys...With Dems like you two, who needs Republicans?

Adam Felber has a little piece that made me laugh:


Then I saw this one.

"Personally, I'm getting a little tired of all this making fun of conservatives. When you think about it, they deserve a lot of respect."

I read what he said and frankly, I have to say he made a lot of sense.


See! It is really tough to be a Conservative wingnut. Even Zach Wamp and Jimmy Duncan are having trouble toeing the line. Zach only voted with Tom Delay 94% of the time. Duncan managed a paltry 87% but he did vote to make ethics violations disappear if they were charged against Republicans and he did give old Tom $5000.00 for his defense fund.

Congressman Duncan said, "Even a low life piece of back shootin' scum, like Tom Delay, deserves the best defense from his heinous, hypocritical, crimes agains Nature and the American way! Good Republicans cannot just stand aside and let justice prevail when it is one of their own kind involved"

At least I'm pretty sure that's what he meant to say, anyway:


One point keeps coming back, time and again about who runs the Country best...Hands down, it is the Democrats. Numbers just don't lie.

Hey Dick, make sure you print this one out for Gerald:


Peace...or some reasonable facsimile at least,


Friday, April 15, 2005

Well, rats...I was going to write about that moment of Dogwood dominance, that moment each spring that is overwhlemed by white. Then I was going to write about the curious behavior of the eagles, flying back up the creek so early in the morning and thinking how lucky I am to live above them, wondering how many people ever see their whitest of white tails radiating in the brilliant morning sun. Then I was going to write about what that lump in the picture of the dogwood limb turned out to be. Then I was going to write about the President's Economic Report of 2005 that showed the Republican administrations for the last 30 years have sent every single economic indicator, whether it is inflation, deficit, trade balance, government spending, you name it, every single one of them except for corporate CEO salaries, has gone the wrong way under Republicans and the right way under Democrats. It's true and I will try to get to that or at least get you the numbers. But I decided I won't write about any of that.

Actually, I decided to not write at all except to suggest that you read something.

Riverbend is a young woman living, or trying to, in Iraq. She is a blogger writing about her life and what she sees, and often enough, she has told us things that have happened in Iraq that only came to light after months of cover up by the Bush Administration.

She has never been wrong! She has told us things that we did not want to know about our country's actions and their consequences. She aslo tells us about the small things of life that allow people to survive, of cooking and the search for water; of buying school supplies for her nieces; of the task of sending them to school accompanied by the family men carrying weapons to see them there safely.

And then she tells us things like this:

BuzzFlash: The Bush White House and their representatives keep saying it was all worth it to get rid of Saddam Hussein. We think there might have been other ways of getting rid of Saddam Hussein besides wrecking a nation and taking over its oil. What do you think?

Riverbend: I think this wasn't about the welfare of Iraqi people and ridding them of a dictator. I think this has been about the US strategically placing itself in a Middle Eastern 'hot spot' -- in the middle of Turkey, Iran, Syria and the Gulf countries -- to wreak havoc and promote instability in the area, and have direct access to the oil, of course.

Democracy has to come from within and it has to be a request of the people -- not of expatriates who have alliances with the CIA and British intelligence. People have to want something enough to rise up and change it. They have to be ready for democracy and willing to accept its responsibility. The US could have promoted democracy in Iraq peacefully, but then they wouldn't have permanent bases in the country, would they?

Please read her interview:

Riverbend Interview



Thursday, April 14, 2005


Slime mold sounds like the worst of the worst.

And this could be!

Slime mold has been called many names by science: plant, animal, fungus..but slime mold is none of these, exactly. They have their own kingdom.

Witness the Slimes.

They crawl around to find food and once sated they crawl to the perfect spot for sex, in which only the priveleged may participated, then they crawl to the perfect spot to die...shriveling up to a black dry mass whereupon they break up releasing sporelike minions to invade the world riding upon the wind dropping in near invisibilty upon likey soil to begin the evil life cycle all over again.

One kind of slime mold consists of one celled slugs that crawl around seeking food, crawling through dung, devouring rotted vegetation, helpless bacteria, and protozoa that get caught, surronded and assimilated into the slime slug's body, ever growing in the night...daylight too! Can Nothing stop this ravenous madness?

Growing and growing... until the signal comes.

But...From where does it come, this signal? What beast sends it? Of what nature is this evil signal? We can only guess, and though scientists believe it to be chemical in nature, Preachers pound the podium and claim this horrible blight has been sent as a plague upon us and in reality... comes from the...

Devil!.... BwaHaaHAAAAaaaaaaa!

And could it be that there is no scientific process involved but that a signal to these evil minions goes out to call them and then they all crawl back to one spot and...and...oh this is difficult to tell you dear reader, but...they join together and have sex! Yes they do, but not in ways we believe are proper but in ways so perverted that I can not bear to put my two tortured fingers to keyboard in such a way as to describe for you, this vile act, soon to take place upon the very ground that our children run barefooted across in the morning sun, unaware of the perversion the soles of their feet will tread upon!

But not all of these vile slugs get to experience this carnal slug knowlege. Only the priveleged few that form the top ranking orgy members, mitochondrially speaking...How fair is that?...Worse...they never die, exactly. After the orgy, the chosen worthy, and it pains me to use that word, worthy, and those worthy are destined to become spores, sent out to perform this evil and disgusting dance all over again from the beginning, I tell you folks, this is an evil thing and must be destroyed in all its forms!

OK, they're pretty much harmless but Slime Molds are weird beyond belief. Scientists have given up and decided that they are not plants, Animals, or Fungi, and have awarded them their own kingdom!

Kingdom Protista!

And like all living things, the lovable slime molds have their predators. So what feeds upon such a thing a slime mold?

Conservatives, you might say?

Well it could just be that indeed they do! Here you go:

"Two former Cornell University entomologists who recently had the job of naming 65 new species of slime-mold beetles named three species that are new to science in the genus Agathidium for members of the U.S. administration. They are A. bushi Miller and Wheeler, A. cheneyi Miller and Wheeler and A. rumsfeldi Miller and Wheeler."

Quite the honor, indeed. Apparently the entomologists named some of the other beetles after an ex-wife and "Star Wars" villain Darth Vader.

More, and pictures too!

See! It MOVED!




Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Bee Kind

OK, well...after hearing from all the cat lovers out there I have decided to issue an apology.

I hereby apologize to Mom Nature for humans being so stupid as to domesticate a non social predator in the first place. Given the choice between birds and cats...I pick the dinosaurs. Even though I love my cat. I am fairly certain this one, dear Magnolia, will be the last outside cat for me. Now if I can figure out how to keep the dinosaurs from flying into the windows...It's odd to me that my house has a gazillion windows ( well fifty anyway) and the birds only conk into three of them. There's some natural science field work needed here.

I'll get on it right after I kill all the carpenter bees. Some environmentalist, me!

I may have told you guys this, but the big bumblebee with the white face doesn't have a stinger. My mom told me that 48 years ago when I was trying to get a tired junebug to fly while I held on to the string I had tied to his leg. after a couple of tries at tossing him up into the air, harder and harder, I stared at the junebug leg that was all I had left on the string as my mom tried to tell me one of those many lessons moms try to tell their unheeding children. But Moms of the world take heart. You will be pleased to know that the very lessons you tried to drill into our heads, before the testosterone ruined everything, will come back to us in those "Mom told you so!" moments, even if that moment is decades later.

No stinger...the ones with the white dot on their head can't sting and they fly way better than junebugs. Ok, so my Mom's chickenshit son had to look it up to be sure, no he didn't totally trust his mom, and he was still scared when he grabbed the bee with the white dot on its face with his bare hand. The thing just flew right up and hovered and he grabbed it even while he didn't want to...and the bee was not happy at being grabbed but did not sting, even though his hand was ready to send the ripping pain message to the brain...The bee kept trying to claw its way out of the hand and then the hand opened up and the bee sat there and didn't fly away and then it did. And the Mother's son shook his hand as if it had been stung but it hadn't and he was just shaking the bee tracks out of his mind and thinking,

Mom was right. The whitefaced bees can't sting. They are the males, by the way. The girls will kick your ass. Mom was right about that, too.

Metaphor everywhere you look.



Sunday, April 10, 2005

Sunday Sermon

These are the days of the year that make the rest worth tolerating. Yesterday, I paddled a kayak around in my yard with my oldest son, which is to say, we had the entire six mile run of Whites Creek to ourselves and some skunks, whose presence was made known to us via their olfactory signature. Something got blasted and the whiff of said signature followed us for a mile or more, but didn't matter. Cold water, warm day, and the spring rain waterfalls cascading into the creek on both sides, overcame everything else.

I have several addictions that I nourish as old friends. Morning coffee is one. Paddling is another, but I should say that I am not so much addicted to paddling as I am to fooling around in and on water. I first learned to run whitewater as a tool to get to new places rather than for the adrenaline rush, which turns out to be a really nice extra once you master the skills. Intellectually, I accept the point of view illustrated by the "Park and Play" kayakers who go to the Ocoee River and spend their entire day finding new and more creative ways of turning over in Hell Hole rapid...but I don't understand it in my heart. I am amused by and appreciative of the talent and craft involved in extreme sports but it's not for me...Not my addiction. Well, a little maybe...


I remember reading a line in an old science fiction novel that intrigued me and puzzled me at the time, say 35 years ago. It comes back to me now:

"What a poor person it is that can look at a bird flying overhead and not hear the noises in its stomach!"

So I now wonder at the impoverishment of people who can walk around on a concrete sidewalk and not think of the old majestic forest that once stood there and has now been replaced by a man made rock. I wonder at people who paddle on rivers and don't see the silky azaleas yet to bloom growing among the rocks at water's edge... Or the snubnosed darter living under the stones in the shoals...or the helgrammite that will kill and eat it if it can...or the red eyed bass, which is really a perch, which will eat the helgrammite. Most of these people don't even realize that they themselves will eat the red eyed bass, given that chance, and so on.

I had a pair of binoculars that I bought from a Nikon photographer one time when I was in Japan. A 10 by 25 pair of very lightweight glasses that had the additional advantage of close focussing at 60 inches or so. They disappeared at some point and I have looked for another pair like this but no luck so far. The reason I loved this pair is that I could sit on a rock beside the creek and look into the water and watch the darters walking around. The males are stunning this time of year in their courting finery. I remember watching a Tennessee snubnosed darter one afternoon as he walked across a large boulder in a pool. Darters have no swim bladder so they sink if they don't keep swimming. Most of them just "dart" from spot to spot on the bottom and rest on their leg like fins. This one had moved gradually across the boulder until he was right at my feet, so close that I could see his colorful markings scale by scale through the binoculars. And right before my very eyes, he died! Swallowed by a young smallmouth bass. It was as if the darter had been transformed into the bass before my very eyes, so quickly did this happen, and my reaction was of anger that this predator had eaten my darter...but then I, personally, have eaten this bass's friends and family, so how could I justify my anger? And frankly, I might even eat him, too, if I get the chance. Though we release nearly all of the fish we catch, we do cook up a few of the unlucky ones.

So last evening I sat on the deck with a glass of wine and looked at what I believe was a Blue-Gray gnatcatcher through my binoculars. (My new ones don't focus closely enough to study fish but they work well beyond fifteen feet for birds.) As I watched the gnatcatcher, I accidentally noticed the blooms of the oaks and hickories it moved through in its erratic search for things one rung lower on the food chain. I let the bird go and studied the lush green growth errupting from the tree limbs.

As I studied the blooms, I thought about that science fiction writer's line. I thought about the poverty of people who have never looked closely at the blossom of a hickory tree, an amazing construction, created and discarded once its purpose has been fulfilled. Now is your chance to go outside and remove yourself from these ranks. You may find yourself rewarded by richness in ways unexpected.



Thursday, April 07, 2005

A boy named Karol

Should somebody warn the Vaticaners? Or is that Vaticonians? Vaticanites?

Anyway that Presidential visit to look at the dead guy's body is a pretense. I mean everybody knows that President Bush and Condi Rice are hellbent on bringing democracy to all sorts of countries and the Vatican, after all , is an independant and sovereign nation and is NOT a democracy! If they drive up and the Presidential motorcade is all Humvees...Well I told you so!

I mean it is OK to keep women from voting if you do business with the Prez and his boys. Saddam and Rummy got along just fine, getting weapons of Mass Destruction in nice padded crates delivered at very reasonable cost as long as Saddam was picking on Iran and leading Rummy on about letting Rummy's company build a really big oil pipeline which they would then control.

But you see what happened as soon as Saddam decided having Rummy run your economy wasn't a good idea! The Ambassador fron the US says "Sure, invade Kuwait all you want...No problem." And soon as you do, BOOM, they start dropping Bunker Busters on your women and children. I'm pretty sure that when Pope John Paul ll (just his stage name, actually. His real name was Karol...) told President Bush that he did not like the Iraq war one little bit, Old George made a mental note to "bring a little democracy" on his ass, too!

I was thinking I might be out on a limb here, but the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that Bush is going to invade the Sistine Chapel!

I mean the Iraq war was, "Not about oil!" I repeat,

"Not about oil!"

It was to bring Democracy to Iraq!

How many times do I got to tell ya? They wouldn't let women vote and only had one candidate for everything anyway. Democracy, I tell you. That's the ticket. And that's why I'm worried about Bush invading the Vatican. Soon as he does, Pow! there goes all Michaelangelo's paintings and statues of god, being naked from the waist up and Jesus being naked everywhere else, that the Country of Vatican has stashed in every nook and cranny. Bush seems to have some deal with some international art dealer to fence all the looted stuff from these countries he brings democracy to.

Think I'm wrong? Well how about this one...Not only do the Vaticanians not let women vote, but here's the weirdest thing of all:

Not one married man will be allowed to vote on the new Pope, either!

Now that's getting pretty damned close to home, being a married man, I take that personal, and if President Bush wants to bring Democracy to all the married men in the sovereign Nation of the Vatican, well maybe I'll just wave my American Flag and support our Troops right along with him! ...Long as I get to stay in Alabama while somebody else fights, that is.

What the hell kinda country only lets old virgin men of high rank, wearing red suits and beanies, cast a vote anyway?

Time to put together another "Coalition of the Willing" and Democratize the crap out of these guys, if that's what they really are...but this time, George old buddy, I think you can forget about Poland.

Of course, now George, if you can get the New Pope to promise to bless your impending war with Iran, which won't be about oil, either, why then you can just have a fine time and try on a couple of beanies, get some phots of you looking all pious and thoughtful and come on back home. But if not, could I get one of those paintings on the Sistine Chapel wall? You can have the Shepherd's crook. It will look nice alongside that pistol you got from Iraq.



Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Freedom from Reality

I was talking business... I actually do work a little...with an associate who also happens to be a friend. We were talking about having to sit in meetings with people who were there to win the meeting as opposed to interacting cooperating and figuring things know the type and a certain number of you are that type. It's about winning, not doing what is right. It's a tendency we all have and must learn ourselves out of.

Speaking of those who are terminally concept deaf, I made the offhand remark,

"You have to work with the thoughtful folks, and take the others out of the gene pool."

Well that was the gist of what I said, anyway. I actually used the words, "Save the ones you can, take the others out of the gene pool." Neither sounds very kind. What brings me to tell you this is that my friend laughed and said, "Exactly! You need to write these things down and save them." So I am.

Now I didn't mean anything other than a business concept here, so don't try and take it any other way. This type of thing is what Conservatives try to do every minute of every day in reverse. They don't want anybody doing any thinking...just follow orders and speak in the official talking points...or die!

I don't advocate actual killing, much, just a figurative kind of termination. Not even the killing of other life forms, except for fleas and ticks and those big carpenter bees that are eating my house. We have a population explosion of those things now that we have a couple of million acres of dead pine trees lying around East Tennessee. They eat spiders and I happen to like spiders. I don't kill spiders. Folks sometimes think I'm a little off when I pick one up in the house and take it outside. Most insects are fairly benign and nowhere near as harmful as the stuff humans regularly spray around their house and lawn to kill insects. Accounted for properly, most insects do virtually no harm.

Humans don't take a long view on problem solving and they tend to use nuclear weapons when a flyswatter will work just fine.

My mom used to complain about the lack of butterflies in the world. "There were so many butterflies everywhere when I was a child, and now there are so few," she would say while she was spraying something out of a can that had "Keeps on Killing!" boldy printed on the label.

Mom and her family were white sharecroppers, meaning "dirt poor", just around the time DDT was invented. They traded all their butterflies for cotton so a few men in Memphis could get really rich and get football stadiums named after themselves.

Mom often said things like this with a cigarette held fashionably in one hand, just like Betty Davis used to do the movies she saw as a teenager. She died from a cascade of things related to high blood pressure at 63.

This wandering rant started about a cute phrase I rattled off that essentially means you can't help everyone, concentrate on those you can. I don't really advocate taking people out of the gene pool except in a metaphorical sense, but sometimes...

There are two items that I want to share with you that are vaguely related to this. First, there is a bill before the Tennessee Senate that would punish a teacher for saying anything controversial or insulting a student's beliefs in class. It is Senate Bill 1117 and is a more complicated rehash of Scopes and his Monkey, except that this time it is no Chamber of Commerce P R stunt. This is going on in several states. Here it is from a group called "Students for Academic Freedom" which isn't a student's group and is definitely against academic freedom:

legal lunacy

I am not sure our local Senator can read and he danged sure can't cogitate beyond simple sentences, so he'll probably vote for this ideocy before he realizes that it will bring all of our colleges to a screeching halt. Well actually it will only affect the public universities...private schools can continue to insult anyone they want to. Morons!

The other item I have for you is another quip that sent me cackling:

"I think he’s just a shiver looking for a spine to run up."

It's about the man who wants to bring back DDT and Jeesus and it is the most recent send up of our main Lizard in the US House of Representatives, Tom DeLay, and hilarious to boot:


I bought a signed print of one of Mr. Fincher's Scribbles right off the internet. He draws a danged good dog, too!


Monday, April 04, 2005

Sunday Sermon

Here are two blogs that have caught my eyes recently. The first is


I turn the Sunday Sermon over to him this week.

An Army officer takes this oath when he is commissioned. Read it carefully:

"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;...

I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic!

Kos put us onto this blog.

dailywarnews archive

And while we are sermonizing, ask the question:

Has the Rapture all these armageddonists rant about already come and gone?

Are we stuck with these people for another 1000 years? I mean, dang, couldn't they be beamed up and leave us be, here on Earth, for just a little while?