Monday, May 31, 2010

Seize BP's Assets

Seize BP Petition button

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

America's Largest Environmental Disaster

BP and the finest minds of the government and the oil patch cannot manage to shut off the blown out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. It is now by far the largest environmental disaster America has ever faced. Well so much for deregulation and self regulation. All these assholes who supported deregulation, and there are even a few so stupid that they still support it, need to get down on their knees and very sincerely beg for forgiveness.

In the next few months we will see if America and mankind are now completely doomed. Or are we capable of making rational decisions which will help mankind survive?

Until there is honest, open, and peer reviewed proof that new methods have been found which will make this absolutely not happen again, and if it does happen make us be able to shut off the flow, this deep water drilling needs to cease. Maybe all drilling under water. Don't forget that the original crisis in drilling under water occurred off the coast of Southern California in about 200 feet of water.

Oil and gas provided by these under water well heads is a fairly small part of what America is currently consuming. It is true that all the “easy” oil and gas has now been mined. Our options at this point are to either transfer all the national wealth to the lunatics in the middle east who hate us, or we cause intolerable environmental damage by continuing with this drilling under water.

So is there any answer which will work? Yes, there really is. For the last 4,000 miles my car has averaged more than 60 mpg. The air conditioner works great, and the car is safe and comfortable to drive. America uses several times more energy per person than other advanced countries like those in western Europe. We need to stop being so wasteful.

Or we can continue being wasteful. All of our wealth will gradually be transferred to the Arab sheiks in the middle east. We will become a second or third rate, poor country. Italy and Greece used to be great powers. Same with Turkey. Now look at them. The same thing will happen to us unless we cut our military-defense-intelligence spending by about 75%, and stop our wasteful life style. We can still have well air conditioned buildings and drive comfortable cars. We just need to do it more sensibly. Or not. It is up to this generation of young people.

Frankly I'm not at all impressed with this group of people who are just now getting out of college and starting their careers. Many of them are totally self centered, have little empathy, and don't like personal interaction. They prefer to communicate by texting and are more than a little spoiled and lazy. I rather doubt that they have what it will take to solve these important matters.



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T3


I watched the movie Terminator 3, Rise Of The Machines yesterday evening. I had purchased it for $3.00 at a flea market yesterday.

The reviews were only mediocre for this movie. I do not agree. My reaction was great. I think this is a superb movie!

LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminator_3



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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Interview of Bashar Al-Assad President of Syria

In this interview Charlie Rose comes across as far less bright than Bashar Al-Assad. Rose is arrogant, overbearing, and condescending. Worst of all he is rude.

I'm amazed at how open minded, smart, and well informed Doctor Al-Assad is.
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Nuclear Proliferation

I have supported Israel for many years. I'm not Jewish. In the 1960's I liked the ideas behind the Kibbutzes. After visiting Israel and several nearby Islamic countries I cemented my admiration of Israel.

We now have come to the point where the hypocrisy of America (and Israel) having nuclear weapons, but not wanting anyone else to have them just doesn't sell anymore. I agree that Iran is an unstable country with a sick addiction to an ignorant, cruel, and perverted religion. But Israel also has its share of religious fanatics, as does America.

I certainly don't want Iran to get the bomb. North Korea, Pakistan, and India are enough unstable nuclear countries already. But how can we in good faith tell Iran that it is OK for Israel to have the bomb, but not you dishonest Islamic rag heads?

Israel cannot use their nuclear weapons anymore than we can. They are expensive ego trips that you simply cannot consider using in real life. When everyone else realizes that too, your little nuclear bombs become a giant liability rather than an asset.

Israel should agree to join the NPT and completely disarm itself of all nuclear weaponry in return for all their neighbors doing the same.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Stage IV CLL

I was hunting around the internet this morning to try and learn a little more about late stage CLL. I came across this 2006 post by David Arenson which is really good:
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http://clldiary.blogspot.com/2006/01/one-aim-of-treatment-is-to-not-treat.html

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We Are All Connected



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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guns and Ammo

I was visiting with a friend of mine today out in the West Texas desert. He told me that has been thinking about getting a .22 rifle because stray dogs kept wandering onto his property and taking a dump. I tried not to show it too much, but I was really horrified. So was my little doggie who was walking around sniffing and peeing and doing all that other essential dog stuff.

I told him that if I were in a store or the bank and someone came in and robbed it I would be concerned. I don't believe in stealing money, but these corporations have insurance to cover these things and I sure didn't see much value in risking my life to save some rich company a few thousand dollars or maybe even far less.

But if the robber threatened any innocent human being (including myself) he had crossed the line. I always carry a concealed, loaded handgun to protect myself just in case this sort of thing should ever take place. I would not hesitate even one millisecond to do what needed to be done to protect other people or myself.

So I am a proud liberal/progressive environmentalist who also believes in the 2nd amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Lets says that a bit differently: I am an honorably discharged veteran and I am fairly patriotic. Of course I respect and believe in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Duh! This is a picture I just took comparing some of the various sizes of pistol ammunition I have at the moment.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Juarez, Mexico Murder Rate


I live in El Paso, Texas less than 10 miles north of Juarez, Mexico. El Paso is hot, dry, and very poor - but it has historically also been one of the safest cities in the USA. This is beginning to change as the lawlessness and disrespect for rule-of-law moves north.

In America the most dangerous city is New Orleans. Juarez currently has a murder rate four times higher than that in NOLA. The Juarez carnage is 8 times that of Newark, New Jersey.


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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lightweight Handguns for Concealed Carry

I have a Taurus .38 special + p, titanium alloy, 5 shot revolver with a Crimson Trace laser grip installed. Loaded weight is a very reasonable 487 grams.

My 2 shot .38 special derringer weighs in at 416 grams loaded.

My new six shot .380 Ruger LCP semiautomatic pistol with a Crimson Trace laser mounted on it, and 5 shots loaded in the magazine, comes in at an incredible 338 grams. This is the pistol that Texas Governor Perry used to sadly kill a coyote which was threatening his dog while he was out in the wilds getting some exercise early in the morning.
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My doggie and I were out in the desert and we were stalked by three coyotes. I was armed at the time, but fortunately I was able to scare the coyotes away without having to kill one of them.

When you are carrying a gun concealed in a holster behind your waistband or in your pocket, 150 grams (5.3 ounces) is a very noticeable weight difference.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Interest Rates

I am one of those retired people who carefully saved their money, intending to have a respectable retirement. I don't use credit cards; only my debit card. My house and car are paid for, and in actual fact I owe no money to anyone.

At the moment if one invests $100,000 in an FDIC government guaranteed certificate of deposit, the bank pays me an interest rate of around 1% or 1.5% . If you put your money into some sort of investment that is not insured and which carries significantly more risk they might pay you a rate of 3%.

I was looking at my online bank statement this morning and happened to notice the information on an old credit card that I do not ever use. If I loan the bank some money they pay me 1% or 1.5% interest. If I borrow money from the bank instead of lending money to them I pay them a rate of 24.24% Wow! Talk about a license to steal.

Anyway, this outrageous imbalance sure shows the fallacy of the Republican wish to privatize social security. Ignorant right wing bozos.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Time Warp

I was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002 during some blood tests at the hospital because I had a bad lung infection. But looking back on it I can remember having night sweats and other symptoms of CLL long before then. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia often tends to progress very slowly, and mine certainly has. I have been really fortunate.

In 2006 I got tested for the prognosis of my disease by one of the top CLL doctors in the world. I am now statistically well beyond my “best before date.” Amazingly just all of a sudden many different parts of the body seem to be giving out simultaneously. I checked my old and new blood test results this morning. The ineffective cancerous white blood cells have multiplied unbelievably. Just like my lymph nodes have rather suddenly grown amazingly large. The red blood cells, hemoglobin, platelets, and neutrophils have all declined considerably now. All are now well below the normal minimum. My hemoglobin is now about 40% lower than it was when I left Europe, and the platelets (which previously were very stable) have declined even more.

I'm constantly out of breath now due to low hemoglobin. I have bruises all over me, and the dentist will no longer even consider extraction of a tooth due to the low platelet level in my blood. The immunodeficiency is seen in a variety of ways, but probably most visibly in rampant tooth decay even though I no longer eat any sugar and brush my teeth 5 or more times each day.

Whether I am surfing the internet, reading a good book, or watching an exciting new episode of Dr. Who, I constantly nod off. I have to be very cautious when driving. The possibility of my choosing to “put myself down” is popping into my head as a viable alternative more and more frequently now. But it really isn't nearly that bad yet. I do notice that it has become very important to me to keep my dog's water bowl topped up. Just in case. And my financial affairs and my last will and testament are both in good shape and up-t0-date.

It just occurred to me how pleasant it would be to merely go to sleep and not ever wake up. I have tremendous admiration for the people who have managed to pull this off. And I don't mean a drug overdose, or barbiturates, or some sort of suicide. No, honestly, just naturally taking a little nap and then choosing to never wake up. From this perspective that seems like a wonderful way to go.

Nature is so wonderful. I find that it has a way of preparing one for the inevitable. I've led a far more interesting and successful life than I ever could have imagined while growing up. If learning new things, seeing new things, and having new experiences means anything then I certainly will reincarnate at a much higher level. Of course I don't believe in reincarnation or any of that organized religion nonsense.

But I do remember what took place a few weeks after my father died. He was an amazing guy. Maybe what I experienced was real. I sure thought it was at the time, and 33 and one-half years later it still seems like it took place yesterday. Maybe I will get lucky enough to be chosen to move on to a higher plane of existence. Or maybe it all just ends. Either way is OK. Really.

I've led a great life and that's enough. Honest. But what a wonder it would be if.....


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Rand Paul

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fecal Incontinence

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is not curable. It is a blood cancer where unusable white blood cells refuse to die and begin to grow and grow and grow. They eventually begin to crowd out the red blood cells and hemoglobin which carry oxygen to all the body's tissues (like the leg muscles, the heart, and the brain), the platelets which are rather useful in clotting, and all the various types of blood cells which help fight disease. So the CLL patient gradually becomes highly immunodeficient.

I am now well into this late stage process where the platelets and hemoglobin decrease well below normal ranges.

This afternoon I thought I let a really good fart. A bit later I realized that in fact I had shat myself. How humiliating. Thank heavens I was at home at the time, and no one other than me or my little doggie were aware it or saw me in the mortifying act of washing out my underwear.

This leukemia situation is getting rather tiresome.

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Mr. Calderon Has Forgotten His Manners

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has been lecturing the president and members of congress about what America is doing wrong. He doesn't like it when our law enforcement personnel actually enforce rule-of-law. Calderon apparently sees nothing wrong with his citizens entering the U.S.A. surreptitiously and then working or getting government benefits on a fraudulent basis.

He thinks that just because he is the elected leader of the failed country directly to the south of America, he has some right to try and dictate to our state and federal government elected officials what they need to do. What they need to do about illegal immigration; the U.S. constitution and what it guarantees about the right to bear arms, etc. How horribly ill-mannered.

The reason that Mr. Calderon's country is well along on the road to complete chaos and lawlessness is that for many years they have tolerated bribery, lying, and corruption. They have generally laughed at the idea of rule-of-law. Their judiciary is a sick joke. The Mexicans thus have a difficult time accepting it when America decides to finally begin enforcing our long existing immigration laws.

I have known many Mexicans and also many immigrant Mexican-Americans over the years. In general I find them to be people, just like the rest of us immigrants. The one exception I see when looking at their wave of immigration compared with the Polish, German, Chinese, and others is that immigrants used to realize that in order to be successful they had to become Americans. Fully and completely. Linguistically and culturally.

But a great many of these Mexican immigrants think that they can refuse to become proficient in speaking and reading English, yet still be successful in their new country. They are badly deluded, and so is President Calderon.

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The Rolling Stones


Robert A. Heinlein wrote a great many books. I just finished his 1952 book called The Rolling Stones.

There has been some terrific change in technology and communication in the last 60 years, but this book does not seem at all dated. I have found only a few science fiction authors who were good enough scientists that they could pull this off. Arthur C. Clark was another.

A quick quote from this book:

“What's your real reason? Why do you want to go?”
Why? Why does anybody want to go anywhere? Why did the bear go round the mountain? To see what he could see! I've never seen the Rings. That's reason enough to go anywhere. The race has been doing it for all time. The dull ones stay home – and the bright ones stir around and try to see what trouble they can dig up. It's a human pattern. It doesn't need a reason.”

I really enjoyed this little book, and I recommend it to others.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Steve Jobs Offers Freedom From Porn

The Apple co-founder is engaged in lots of fights at the moment. They insist upon doing everything their own personal and largely secret way, so they find companies like Adobe to be a real annoyance. Apple has always been more than a bit arrogant and vastly overpriced.

Now Steve Jobs has made the dubious claim that Apple can offer users of the internet “freedom from porn.” Frankly I don't want Mr. Jobs to become the censor of what I see or don't see. What supreme arrogance on his part.

I don't look at much porn frankly. I take about as much interest in this subject as I do in hearing self absorbed homosexuals or gay cross dressers go on about their sexual fantasies. I would be far more interested if some computer company were to offer users a guarantee of freedom from hidden marketing tracking cookies, theft of my private or personal information, pop-ups, viruses, and all the various types of con artists and malware that one runs into daily on the internet.

Apples are still overrated and horribly overpriced. They are like the Toyota Lexus. Both are for people with severe ego deficiencies who are so demented that they enjoy wasting their money just to try and appear to be more successful than the Joneses.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Offshore Oil Drilling

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



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The Death of the Euro

I was living in Europe when the European common currency, called the Euro, was implemented. It was great for me since I lived in the southern Netherlands, and both Germany and Belgium were less than 20 minutes away on the freeway. It meant that all of a sudden going out to eat, or going shopping in these “foreign” countries became far more practical. After the introduction of the Euro I did very little shopping in Holland. I did almost all my shopping in Germany or Belgium.

But even back then it was clear to anyone who had any academic foundation in Economics that the concept of the common currency couldn't possibly work over the long term. Closer political integration via the European Union was a political idea, and probably a very good idea at that. But establishing a common currency, and then letting all the little individual countries keep full control of their own national budgets (and borrowing) meant that the Euro was built on a very shaky foundation indeed. A house of cards. Nothing but an illusion or a big con game.

This morning when I got up my email in-box contained a note from a dear friend of mine who still lives in Europe. I have known this guy for almost 20 years, and he was even the best man at my third and final wedding. The massive financial fraud perpetrated by the Greeks has made many smart and powerful people worldwide wake up to the basic weakness in the Euro common currency. This is causing very real turmoil and problems for my friends in Europe. Unfortunately this is only the beginning.

Deleting all the parts of his email related to personal things, this is what he had to say about the financial situation:


“Over here there is great turmoil and fear has struck due to the problems with Greece and fears for Spain and Portugal. When the German Secretary of Economy outed his doubts about the salvation plan (the 750 billion euros) the stock went down sharply. Funny that a small sized economy as the Greek can cause so many problems. Kinda of an indication how "carefully" the EU was planned. I sense this uncertainty in meetings with managers. It seems as if the economy is improving slightly but companies are still very careful in hiring new personnel.

Funny that this could lead to a situation where one could go broke after 22 years of hard labour. The attitude of the banks sucks. First they take irresponsible risks, go broke, become rescued by tax money that was payed by companies and citizens and then they refuse to lend money. Absurd situation.”



I have recently begun seeing more forecasts that Europe will suffer a double-dip recession. When (not if) the Euro currency union finally falls apart, there is going to be real chaos in Europe. This will cause horrible suffering. As integrated as the world's major economies are, I doubt that America will escape from the effects of this financial chaos.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

James Bond Movies


There have been twenty two of Ian Fleming's James Bond stories made into movies. I'm gradually watching all of them. I began with the first movie, and I just finished number fifteen. It is called The Living Daylights.

All of these are a little hokey, involve some high tech weaponry, the Aston Martin, some accurate shooting, good guys eventually winning over against the bad guys, and of course at least one very beautiful woman.

Some of these James Bond movies are quite good, others just barely fair. No doubt a lot has to do with one's own attitude when you are watching the movie. Number 15, The Living Daylights, really is very very good. Maybe the best one so far.

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Deficit Spending

There are an increasing number of people who are concerned about the spending deficit that the federal government is running. The Republicans and the right-wing fanatics particularly like to gripe about deficit spending, but when they control congress and the presidency they are far more financially irresponsible than the Democrats.

Many extremists, radicals, red necks, members of the tea party, and Republicans want to criticize deficit spending in hopes that this will allow them to regain power and control. Using this issue as a tool to criticize the nation's first black president certainly is convenient for these various racists.

I see in the news today that “Greece's defense expenditure is the highest as a proportion of gross domestic product of any country in the European Union, a fact that could hardly be ignored as the country was forced to accept an EU-International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout to combat its staggering debt load.”

The reality is that the nation's spending on the military, weaponry, independent contractors (mercenaries), and spy agencies must be cut substantially. A 30% to 50% reduction in spending on warfare would still leave America's expenditure far larger than any other country.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Arizona Immigration Law

According to a recent poll conducted by the prestigious Pew Research Group, 73% of all Americans think it is a good idea for the police to have the authority to require people to produce documents which show that they are either American citizens or are in America legally.

Only 32% of Americans disagree with Arizona's new immigration law.

The problem here is that the American authorities have turned a blind eye and wink-winked at the concept of rule-of-law for many years. The wealthy businessmen wanted cheap labor. And they wanted people who would not turn them in to the authorities when their pay was illegally low or the working conditions of these employees were unsafe. It was just perfect to keep these people illegal. That way they were kind of modern day slaves. Afraid to turn the rich bastards in for their immoral and unlawful practices.

For many years it has been Federal Law that all non-citizens must always carry proof of their immigration status. Anyone who has lived or traveled abroad much knows that this is the norm. You always carry your American passport with you, and if you have been granted temporary residency status in some foreign country, then you also carry your green card which proves it. This is the the same in nearly all civilized countries.

Now America finds how hard it is to suddenly try to begin enforcing laws which they have intentionally ignored for many years. Of course people must be able to prove to the police both who they are, and that they have the right to be in America. If you don't carry proper identification with you I would suggest that you are either some kind of a criminal, or you have a chip on your shoulder and you are just asking for trouble.

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Delusional Escapism

I got a really strange e-mail from a friend of mine this morning. This is pure escapism. I guess I should expect no less, my friend is a recovering alcoholic and life-long abuser of just about any substance he could get his hands on:
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SoNa Energy Arrives on 14 May

As you may already know from reading Shabdan's new website, SoNa energies arrive on Earth on 14 May 2010.

SoNa is a divine radiance of pure unconditional love from Source that resonates at the level of the 5th Dimension. SoNa energy is intended as a tool to help us prepare more effectively for the coming consciousness shift. As the world consciousness point rises and the alignment to galactic centre increases, the frequency of SoNa will increase correspondingly. We previously described this occasion as "2012 begins in 2010" but at the moment nobody knows when the consciousness shift will actually take place. However we do know that from midnight GMT on 14 May 2010, SoNa energy will come forward formally to help us prepare. Shabdan has been working with the Keys of Creation since last November to open the way for this by opening pathways here on Earth.

What follows is a message to all of us from SoNa brought through Shabdan. We are not asked to do anything to make this happen or arrange huge events - simply to witness and acknowledge, wherever we are, alone or in groups, at some point during the first 24 hours of their arriving. SoNa beings, translucent with white light, will come forward with the energy to work with us. You are invited to participate in whatever way feels right to you.

"Our coming signals a new beginning, as unconditional love flows into the world at every level, through all planes and dimensions within the Earth sphere. We come to bring renewed hope and - of course - love to the world. Our light is an expression of divine love and we come at the request of Source to help this world align to the divine.

"Sit with us, be gentle in your heart and become still. Let your breath take you into stillness, slowing and lengthening to a comfortable level so that your being opens to the divine. Let this mantra pass your lips:

"Serecu-Ah-nuuto, An"

"This will open your heart deeply to SoNa. We ask you simply to witness our coming and invite us gently into the world. This simple acknowledgement is all that is required. From this small beginning, unconditional love will grow softly in the hearts of all within the Earth sphere. We wish to begin in the smallest way in order to begin at the beginning, so to speak."

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Energy Legislation

John Kerry and Joe Lieberman have introduced climate legislation which encourages additional offshore oil drilling, nuclear power, and clean coal (there ain't no such thing).

What planet have these guys been living on? Maybe they've been smoking those funny little cigarettes again. But I'll bet it is just simple old political corruption and bribery.

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Being Properly Prepared

A quote from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

"I was wondering what the mouse-trap was for." said Alice. "it isn't very likely there would be any mice on the horse's back."

"Not very likely, perhaps,"
said the Knight; "but, if they do come, I don't choose to have them running all about."

"You see,"
he went on after a pause, "it's as well to be provided for everything."

It is like the old Boy Scout motto about being prepared, real men always carrying pocket knives, and having a loaded concealed firearm on you.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fragile Wetlands

In the news this morning I read that the “Spill Threatens Louisiana's Fragile Wetlands.” Unless you live right on the Gulf Coast, or your livelihood is directly affected, I don't think most people care. Not much at all.

Just like most people don't care if the Maldives are washed away. Any more than they care about Bangladesh (or New Orleans) getting flooded. Just as long as they can keep driving their gigantic, poor fuel economy SUVs, and the air conditioners at their homes and offices work real well, they are so self centered that they really don't care at all.

My own personal experience is that young people in their 20's and 30's are worse about this arrogance than older folks. I don't see the idealism of youth. I see the greed and arrogance of youth. And this is not just an American phenomenon. Worldwide we see that people just don't care.

How society can possibly deal with this baffles me.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Derringer


The term derringer is a misspelling of the last name of Henry Deringer, a famous maker of small pocket pistols in the early 1800s. The derringer type of hand gun is the smallest configuration in a given size of bullet. This has made it the gun of choice for concealed carry for many years. In the past derringers were frequently used by assassins (such as John Wilkes Booth), and women because they are easily concealable in a purse or even as a stocking gun. Sometimes people think of the derringer in connection with gamblers.

I was out in the desert this morning with the dog several miles away from civilization test firing my new Cobra large bore derringer. This derringer was made in America, and is a two shot version. It comes with interchangeable barrels for either .38 special (but not the higher pressure +P version) or Federal .32 H&R Magnum rounds.

It is an incredibly small and light firearm. Sometimes I have wanted a handgun that is smaller and lighter even than my titanium frame .38 special snub-nose revolver. This derringer is perfect. My only comment that is less than 100% positive is the high trigger pressure required. My goodness, you really need to squeeze very hard on the trigger for it to fire. But I suppose in way this is a safety feature.

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What The Hell Is Wrong With Great Britain?

Proportional representation and one-man-one-vote are not things one discusses in polite company in the United Kingdom. What seems to be the problem with these folks?

I can't understand why the normal British people put up with a system where one person's vote counts for much more than another person's. Apparently white rich people still openly control things in Britain, and there is no pretense otherwise.

It becomes more clear all the time why the American Revolution had to take place and why it was successful. I guess this is what you get when you still have a monarchy and no formal constitution or bill of rights. The rich white folks still think they are the plantation owners. No doubt the poor white folks also think they are better than immigrants and people of color too. Sicko!

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

"Probe of blowup in Gulf of Mexico oil spill is an important inquiry: An editorial
By Editorial page staff, The Times-Picayune
May 09, 2010, 6:46AM

BP is still trying to contain its Gulf of Mexico oil spill -- and that must remain priority No. 1 as the disaster enters its fourth week.


The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns and collapses into the Gulf of Mexico on April 22, two days after a blowout in its exploratory well.But federal investigators are about to launch another important task: public hearings to determine what went wrong at Transocean's Deepwater Horizon rig. Their findings should inform a national debate on how to prevent similar disasters in the future.

Officials with the Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service will begin the joint hearings this week. Already there are troubling questions about the role of BP, Transocean and other firms working at the well when it blew up April 20, killing 11 rig workers and unleashing environmental disaster.

Survivors are suggesting that prescribed safety procedures to cap the well were not being fully followed when the explosion occurred. An attorney for an eyewitness told The Times-Picayune that BP and Transocean started to remove a mud barrier in the well pipe before a final cement plug was installed, an account supported by assertions from workers involved in other lawsuits. Removing the mud prematurely would have weakened control of the well during an emergency.

BP declined to comment on the allegations.

The hearings should also shed light on the massive failure of the blowout preventer, a 450-ton series of valves manufactured by Cameron International and placed atop the well as the last line of defense against a blowout. Even though preventers have had documented troubles, including problems identified previously by BP and Transocean, the industry has considered the contraptions to be "fail-safe."

That clearly is not the case.

Finding out why the preventer in this particular case failed is not enough. Regulators must also examine the standards used to build and test the mechanism, and whether they are appropriate. The United States, for example, does not require the acoustic back-up system to activate the preventer that's required in Brazil, Canada and Norway.

Ultimately, the hearings should lead to important reforms to better prepare the oil industry and the government to respond to this type of massive failure in deep waters.

The failure of the federal levees in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina exposed how the Corps of Engineers failed to account for residual risks in the system, essentially assuming that it was infallible. The oil industry and regulators did the same when it came to blowout preventers.

And that doomed the Deepwater Horizon."
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LINK: http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/05/probe_of_oil_well_blowup_is_an.html

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Family

There is an old saying that “You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family.” The implication being that one does not necessarily always like the members of one's family.

Upon reaching what the kids think is adulthood, a large number of children decide that they do not respect their parents, do not agree with much of their parents' wisdom, don't have to obey their parents' wishes or rules, and in fact many kids actually go so far as to start disliking their parents immensely. There is no doubt that in some (perhaps many) cases the kids are right, and they have come to a responsible and reasonable decision. Their parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol, have regularly employed physical violence against the kids, are not hard workers, are unmotivated, and are not able to set goals and then follow through consistently to achieve them.

This kids-dislike-parents phenomenon is well documented and publicized.

What is not so well publicized is that many parents feel much the same way about their kids. When parents realize that their 30-something is still working on getting a four year college degree, is dishonest, rude and arrogant, mostly just enjoys listening to rock music and taking drugs, is not into satisfactorily pursuing a career, and that their child not only dislikes them but their values too, it is entirely appropriate for the parent to come to the conclusion that one doesn't like what this child-person has morphed into.

When a child is still young enough to change a parent has the obligation to continue doing everything possible to help this young person become a responsible adult. But once the kid reaches age 30 all bets are off. Ben Franklin didn't like his son at all, and he was totally estranged from him. Other examples are not difficult to find. It is a pity, but this sometimes happens. Perhaps sometimes when it does it is because the parent has such a strong personality that their kid has no choice but to divorce himself entirely from the parent in order to find his own way.

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Gordon Brown

It looks like they are going to have to pull British Prime Minister Gordon Brown from his official residence at #10 Downing Street kicking and screaming. Maybe they will need to tase him. Watching that fat, arrogant, half blind Scotsman being tased would certainly get some hits on You Tube.

For many years I worked under and reported directly to Gordon Brown. He was my mentor. He was a brilliant and classy guy, but he was a different Gordon Brown. He was the President of Bruce Foods Corp., not the British prime minister who forced out Tony Blair using unethical tactics.

Britain is looking like a tin pot, banana republic central American dictatorship, or maybe some corrupt African country. A little third world country where the entrenched leader refuses to step aside, even though the opposition candidate got vastly more votes in the election. This is not democracy. I begin to see now why America could not tolerate them as bosses and had to seek independence.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Solar Energy


As a lifelong committed leftist, tree hugger, pinko environmentalist, I hold a strong interest in solar energy. The El Paso Solar Energy Association (EPSEA) is the oldest solar energy group in America, and I am a lifetime member. I guess the only issue which surpasses energy conservation and renewable energy to me is the desire to protect marine mammals.

The EPSEA sent me an article today which contained this picture. Amazing! Apparently no place in America gets more sunlight than El Paso, Texas.

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The Louisville Flood

The photographer Margaret Bourke-White is why I am familiar with the great flood of 1937. When the Ohio river flooded 1 million people were left homeless and 385 people were dead. At its peak the water rose reached 57 feet (17 m) in the Louisville area, setting a new record. 70 percent of the city was under water at that time. Martial law was declared in Evansville, Indiana where the water level was at 54 feet (16 m). It took nearly three weeks for the water to fall below flood stage.

She took a picture shortly after the flood showing mostly black people lined up to receive free bread. Behind them was a billboard showing a happy white family and their dog driving along and smiling like a bunch of fools. The billboard said, “WORLD'S HIGHEST STANDARD OF LIVING” and “There's no way like to American Way.” This picture is still famous today more than 70 years later. I bought this particular copy of the pic at a Margaret Bourke-White exhibition in Amsterdam several years ago.

What the billboard said was grossly incorrect. It was nothing more than blatant government propaganda trying to keep the poor of America from rising up in some kind of an insurrection or a revolution.

Wikipedia says, “The 1937 flood was so unprecedented, civic and industrial groups forced authorities to create a comprehensive plan for flood control. The plan involved reducing Ohio River flood heights by creating more than seventy storage reservoirs. The plan was not fully completed by the Army Corps of Engineers until the early 1940s, but it has drastically reduced flood damages ever since.”

Now in 2010 the Louisville area is experiencing comparable flooding to what it saw in 1937, prior to these 70 dams and storage reservoirs being built.

There is virtual consensus among all the real climate scientists (I just ignore the right-wing phreaks and the various lunatic deniers) that as levels of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere increase global warming will increase, and the severity of storms and weather will increase. Some parts of the globe which previously had received enough rain to raise food crops will become deserts, and almost everywhere we will see increasingly strong storms. Perhaps we are witnessing signs of it already.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohio_River_flood_of_1937
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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Greece Is Screwed

I went to Greece one time. I flew over the Greek Islands, and in Athens I visited the wonderful Parthenon on Acropolis Hill. This was in the 1970's and at the time Greece was a poor, third world country. Now in 2010 protestors are dying in Greece. There is a massive uproar among workers and the middle class because people don't want any “belt tightening.” The Greeks have been living way far beyond their means for a long time. They are true pros at living on borrowed money and OPM (other people's money). The Greeks have no desire to be poor again. Tax evasion is a Greek national pastime.

Imagine that Greece simply defaulted on all of their government debt. They didn't pay interest or principal. Just gave the big Greek middle finger to all the people, pension funds, banks, and countries who have bought their debt. The Greek national government would still be running an 8.5% budget deficit! This situation is looking more hopeless all the time. These guys lied to get into the European Common Market, and they have been adding onto and hiding their debt just like Enron every since. Just like alcoholics or drug addicts.

I forecast that Greece will repudiate their government debts, and that they will leave the Euro zone. Whether this departure will be voluntary or not is almost irrelevant. But once they set the example the floodgates will be open for the other PIGS like Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and maybe even Italy. Belgium isn't really that far behind.

Their only option is a severe currency devaluation, which they can't do when they are still using the Euro. This is one of the really valuable options which both Britain and America have. Devaluation is not nice or polite, but it can be useful.

It isn't cool to kick someone while they are down, but: Greece is the same country that has been demanding the Elgin Marbles back from the British Museum. Forgetting of course that the Greek government already sold these precious marble statues to the Brits one time. They are much safer in London sitting to the left as you walk into the British Museum...right near the Rosetta Stone. These dishonest Greeks would probably just take out a second or third mortgage on the Elgin Marbles if they did get them back.

What a horrible mess. There have even been genuine suggestions that the Greeks begin selling off their islands. This is much like a young person graduating from college with a useless degree like philosophy or political science (my major), owing $100,000 for student loans and another $100,000 to various Visa and Master Card accounts. Just plain screwed. Big time.
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LINK: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/05/greek-end-game/

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2010 Prius


2010 Prius, originally uploaded by Paul Garland.

When I took the doggie out to walk in the desert this morning the sky was beautiful.

I have almost 5,000 miles on the Prius now and I am still getting more than 60 miles per gallon.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Scorpion Plant


Scorpion Plant, originally uploaded by Paul Garland.

NOAA Map Of Oil in Gulf of Mexico

I have had a life long love of maps. Now with GPSes, computerized topo maps, and Google Earth I no longer own many paper maps.
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But paper maps are still neat. Cartography is cool. Click on this map and it will enlarge.
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Roundup Resistant Weeds

For 25 years I worked for a food processing company. When I retired I had been the General Manager of our European Division for 15 years. One of the products we made was Mexican Food items like taco shells and tortilla chips. These are manufactured largely from corn which has been cooked into a form where it will make a dough, like wheat flour. In American English we use the same word as in Mexico to describe this, Masa. Normal corn meal is like sand – you can mix it endlessly in water, but it won't ever turn into dough. The masa is baked and then fried in hot oil to make taco shells or tortilla chips.

Even though the corn used to make our masa was supposed to not be genetically modified, the DNA of the Monsanto Roundup-ready corn has contaminated much of the corn in America. The same cross contamination has happened to soy beans.

With this Roundup-ready corn the farmer can spray large amounts of the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) on his fields to kill the weeds, but his main crop is not affected. The overall Roundup-ready line of herbicides and GMO seeds accounts for roughly half of Monsanto's sales of $12 billion. Monsanto's annual earnings (EBIT) are in the range of $3 billion, resulting in a net income (profit) of about $2 billion per year.

Even though I am a life long environmentalist, on this issue I found myself at times sitting across the table from anti-GMO groups like Greenpeace Europe. Once I was talking with an old man who was at the end of a long career with Cargill. I knew him well, and he was close to retirement. He also was concerned about the unknown effects of this genetically modified corn, and he told me that one of the earlier products had to be killed just before it went on the market due to it being toxic/poisonous to certain people.

Now it seems that farmers in America, Australia, China, and Brazil are beginning to have a real problem with Roundup-resistant weeds. Weeds which are not killed by this herbicide. The New York Times reports that “Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds.”

When we try to buck Mother Nature things seem to go wrong much of the time. This is a good article. If you've got the time you should read it.

LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/business/energy-environment/04weed.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Dachau

From Deutsche Welle:

Sixty-five years after the liberation by US forces of the Dachau Nazi concentration camp, German President Horst Koehler spoke at a ceremony there, thanking former prisoners for their work in keeping the memory of the Nazis' crimes alive.

Some 650 former inmates of the camp took part in the commemoration ceremonies on Sunday, during which Koehler called Dachau an important reminder of Germany's darkest period.

Before giving his speech, Koehler laid a wreath at the site of the former crematorium. He is the first German president to visit the memorial, located near Munich in southern Germany.

Dachau was set up in 1933 and was the only camp to operate for the entire 12 years of the Nazi regime. It also served as a model for other camps later constructed across Germany and in countries occupied by Nazi forces.

Dachau was liberated on April 29, 1945 by US troops. The first inmates at the camp were political prisoners, but soon Dachau also held Jews, Sinti and Roma, gays and people classified as "asocial" and "criminal" by the regime.

In total some 200,000 people from across Europe were held at Dachau - more then 43,000 people died or were killed at the camp. When US troops arrived on April 29, 1945, they found around 32,000 prisoners.

Two decades after its liberation, the site became a memorial thanks to the work of surviving inmates. The memorial and museum receive around 700,000 visitors each year.
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http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5530195,00.html
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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Bill Moyers Finale

The final Bill Moyer show was on last night. It was superb.

I especially liked his interiew of Jim Hightower: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04302010/watch2.html

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Ronald Rayguns

President Raygun began his political career as a Democrat. He later flip-flopped and switched over to the Republican party.

This guy was known for his good looks and his personal charm and charisma; not his ethics and certainly not his intellectual abilities.

His almost religious faith in smaller government and deregulation has been great for rich people. The gap between the middle class and the rich has expanded greatly since his time as President.

Deregulation has damaged the American dream for middle class and poor people more than just about any other radical idea of the twentieth century. This bozo was one of the very worst things to happen to America in the twentieth century.

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Bill Maher

video

Oil Spill Catastrophe

The news media is reporting today that British Petroleum downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic accident in the offshore oil drilling rig which exploded and burned.

My response is, “Duh, Yes. Of course. Just like all the other oil companies do.”

BP had to file a 52-page exploration plan and environmental impact analysis before their project could be approved. But when the congress and the president are all encouraging deregulation and “looking the other way” this is exactly what happens. The regulators will not properly regulate if it means that their careers are damaged or they get fired. Even a retard could figure this one out (I use the word retard because that is what Obama and his closest advisers call the Liberals and the Progressives).

Keep in mind that this same level of government regulatory zeal and incompetence is what is looking over the country's nuclear power stations.

The Republicans and in fact many Democrats too made this all happen by their blind faith in deregulation. This idea began back in the time of Ronald Rayguns. It was a terrible idea back then, and over the years it gradually got even worse. It has now almost destroyed the American economy and has done terrible damage to the middle class and the environment.

It is about time to admit that “deregulation” is a really bad word. Like the word Nazi.

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The Dali Lama

The Dali Lama and Barack Obama are both on Twitter. Think about that all of you old geezers who are afraid of Twitter.


Good advice:

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