Saturday, July 31, 2010

Every dog has his day!

Even mutts!

I didn't know this before but today is Mutt's Day! No one seems to know how it originated but I think it's a very good idea.

If you don't have a mutt of your own, consider adopting one. There are truly uncounted numbers of unwanted dogs languishing in shelters right this minute for want of a loving home.

And while we're on the subject of animal companion adoption, why not take a look at a slide show type article on MSN entitled How Pets Keep Us Healthy as a little encouragement?.

If you already have a dog who happens to be a pure bred, well, why not make him or her an honorary mutt for the day (!) and pamper that sweet thing a little bit.

Excellent illustration of how Breitbart smeared Sherrod:

Something in the "no kidding" category

Take a look:

You can't convince him of anything.

JOHN PRESCOTT, Britain's former Deputy Prime Minister, referring to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney while testifying at the U.K. inquiry into the 2003 Iraq invasion

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Hightower on the Sherrod business

I've admired Jim Hightower for a long time now and so I was happy this morning to see that he's weighed in on the disgusting racist story of the hour. The article is entitled "Why Is No One Talking About the Real Tragedy Behind the Shirley Sherrod Fiasco?" and here's the lead:

The Shirley Sherrod fiasco didn't just expose ugliness on the part of Breitbart, Fox News and Obama. It also overshadowed another, truly racist act.

Here's the part of the article that really, really, really got my attention:

Ugly Number Three is the Barack Obama White House, which swallowed the Breitbart-Fox false story whole and immediately dismissed Sherrod from her federal job. They literally tracked her down in her car and forced her to phone in her resignation, without letting her tell the true story!

To me, the Obama ugliness is the worst, for it reveals a shameful lack of loyalty, fairness and feistiness. Like ACORN and Van Jones before, Sherrod was under vicious and false attack from Obama's enemies -- but the Obamites are so afraid of right-wing smear artists that they instantly run from them, cravenly abandoning their friends. Hello -- if you don't stand for your friends, who'll stand for you?

I did not know that bit about Ms Sherrod being tracked down in her car. That is absolutely despicable.

And I agree that it is utterly reprehesible that President Obama is so afraid of being seen to favor African Americans that he'll turn on them without even the semblance of a proper investigation. Hasn't he figured out by now that the right-wing smear machine has absolutely no compunction when it comes to the dirtiest of dirty tricks?

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Just look:

Ousted USDA employee Shirley Sherrod says she will sue conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, the Associated Press reports.
Breitbart posted a
heavily edited video of Sherrod on his website,, speaking to an NAACP group and appearing to admit that she had deliberately refrained from giving full assistance to a farmer because he was white.
A full version of the speech, released later, shows that she was referring to an incident that occurred more than two decades earlier and lessons she learned after initially hesitating to help a white farmer save his home.

Good for her. I hope she wins and wins big.

Fallen Soldiers' Families Denied Cash as Insurers Profit

I heard this story on NPR while driving home last night. It truly made me quite ill:

Lohman, a public health nurse who helps special-needs children, says she had always believed that her son’s life insurance funds were in a bank insured by the FDIC. That money -- like $28 billion in 1 million death-benefit accounts managed by insurers -- wasn’t actually sitting in a bank. It was being held in Prudential’s general corporate account, earning investment income for the insurer.

Prudential paid survivors like Lohman 1 percent interest in 2008 on their Alliance Accounts, while it earned a 4.8 percent return on its corporate funds, according to regulatory filings.

In other words, the insurance companies are still earning money on benefits after they are already supposedly paid out, well after the death of the person who has been insured. Instead of the lump sum requested, the beneficiaries are sent a book of "checks" (really drafts) but when they try to write an actual check on what they think is an actual account, the "check" won't work. That's when they find out what is going on.

It's a slick trick and you'll have to read about the intricacies of how the insurance companies get away with it to understand what's actually happening. You can do that right here.

Oh, this is rich:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quote of the day

Take a look:

There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new (law).

- SUSAN BOLTON, a federal judge, who blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona's immigration law from taking effect, delivering a last-minute victory to opponents of the controversial law which will take effect July 29

Hmmm. Ya think?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A "thank you" to Bill Maher

for saying this:

Between the oil gushing, and the collapse of Wall Street and people wishing for the failure of our president, we are doing a much better job of destroying ourselves than a terrorist ever could.

It's tragic, really.

(Hat tip to Lisa Casey over at All Hat No Cattle)

Monday, July 26, 2010

War and stupidity

Now here's a quotation to hold on to:

Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?

-- Blaise Pascal

Just because I like it:

Artist: David Martin

It's the Wikimedia Commons "image of the day".

While we're at it, we may as well look at something Benjamin Franklin said (as he said a lot of really good stuff):

Mankind naturally and generally love to be flatter'd: Whatever sooths our Pride, and tends to exalt our Species above the rest of the Creation, we are pleas'd with and easily believe, when ungrateful Truths shall be with the utmost Indignation rejected. "What! bring ourselves down to an Equality with the Beasts of the Field! with the meanest part of the Creation! 'Tis insufferable!" But, (to use a Piece of common Sense) our Geese are but Geese tho' we may think 'em Swans; and Truth will be Truth tho' it sometimes prove mortifying and distasteful.

Or, to put it more simply: Pride goeth before a fall! :-)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Climate change deniers, please watch this:

All right, Senator Inhofe. Listen up. How long are you going to claim that climate change is a "hoax"? It's not a hoax and you know it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The alarm that didn't sound

because it was kept on "silent":

The emergency alarm on the Deepwater Horizon was not fully activated the day the oil rig caught fire and exploded, killing 11 people and setting off the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a rig worker on Friday told a government panel investigating the accident.

The worker, Mike Williams, the rig’s chief electronics technician, said the general safety alarm was habitually set to “inhibited” to avoid waking up the crew with late-night sirens and emergency lights.
While it is not known whether it would have saved the workers who died in the April 20 disaster, the lack of a fully functioning alarm hampered the effort to safely evacuate the rig, Mr. Williams said.

This is a good example of what happens when you let an industry regulate itself.

Are you listening, all you libertarians out there??????

(You can read the rest of the story at the New York Times right here.)

Just a little comic relief:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

We've lost another good one

This time it's Daniel Schorr who died this morning. This saddens me greatly.

Daniel Schorr, a longtime senior news analyst for NPR and a veteran Washington journalist who broke major stories at home and abroad during the Cold War and Watergate, has died. He was 93.

Schorr, who once described himself as a "living history book," passed away Friday morning at a Washington hospital. His family did not provide a cause of death.

As a journalist, Schorr was able to bring to contemporary news commentary a deep sense of how governmental institutions and players operate, as well as the perspective gained from decades of watching history upfront.

"He could compare presidents from Eisenhower on through, and that gave him historical context for things," said Donald A. Ritchie, Senate historian and author of a book about the Washington press corps. "He had lived it, he had worked it and he had absorbed it. That added a layer to his broadcasting that was hard for somebody his junior to match."
Schorr was surprised to find himself on the so-called Enemies List that had been drawn up by Richard Nixon's White House when he read it on the air. The list — naming hundreds of political opponents, entertainers and publications considered hostile to the administration — became the basis for one of the charges of impeachment against Nixon.

Schorr, along with some other members of the list, counted his inclusion on it as his greatest achievement.
"What passes for commentary today is almost all opinion," Ritchie said, "but Schorr was part of that breed of commentators who dug up information before they pontificated about it."

The above is from an NPR story entitled "Journalism Legend Daniel Schorr Dies At 93".

He died in the saddle, didn't he? I hope I can keep going professionally until 93 (should I live that long...).

May he rest in peace and may all who loved him be comforted.

Sadly true:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Temporarily out of commission

Hello, dear readers. My computer is being worked on by the computer guru so getting my usual blogging done will be difficult. I'm hoping all will be back to normal by Friday evening at some point.

Blessings to all.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Something about war

Here's an observation by one of the great Quaker intellectuals of the 20th Century. I think it is worth remembering:

In any case, fighting will not settle whether the claims were just or unjust. It will only settle which nation can mobilize and handle its fighting forces and its economic forces the better.

- Rufus Jones

Monday, July 19, 2010

Good ol' Leno

Just take a look:

A lot of people continue to be very upset by the fact that we can’t get Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden? We can’t even get Roman Polanski.

- Jay Leno

Oh, the snark!

(Hat tip to Lisa at All Hat No Cattle)

Economic reality

You know, I experience it as truly crazy-making when Republicans assert that unemployed people don't have jobs because they are lazy. Here's an example of what it's really like out there:

Training was fruitless. I'm not seeing the benefits. Training for what? No one's hiring.

-- Israel Valle, who has been unemployed for over a year, despite enrolling in a federally financed training program

I found the above in the Quotes for the Day section of the Time Magazine website.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Questions that deserve some answers

I want to call your attention to an article entitled "Pandora’s Box in the Gulf: Does Hope Remain?" and also quote a few of the questions that are posed:

1. Why was BP allowed to drill in this location? Both the MMS and BP geologists cautioned against drilling in the location of the Deepwater Horizon due to evidence of a highly volatile methane bubble beneath the seabed. They warned that if this bubble was disturbed and exploded, it could cause a 200 foot tsunami that would virtually wipe out six Gulf states! In spite of all this, MMS waived environmental impact studies for the rig and well.

2. Why aren't all oil companies exploiting the land and seas of the United States, required to drill relief wells and to have equipment at the ready to deal with accidents?
8. Why was the Coast Guard allowed to create a 65 foot "safety zone" around spill sites, denying media access? While the Coast Guard says that this rule was urged upon them by local government officials, none have come forth to corroborate this claim. To this day, the public is being denied full disclosure of the enormity of the losses while rumors of toxic rain, methane explosions, a "bleeding" seabed, and the possibility of mass evacuations ricochet around the net.

There are other questions that are definitely worthy of consideration.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Roman Catholicism and women priests

Pathetic. Just pathetic:

I think they see us as their worst nightmare.

-- BRIDGET MARY MEEHAN, one of five American women who say they have been ordained as Catholic bishops, on revisions to Vatican-issued internal laws that make it easier to discipline sexually abusive priests but state that ordaining female priests is as grave a sin as pedophilia

You know, I get it that they don't approve of women priests but how can they say it's a "grave" sin when we've had women priests in Anglicanism since 1976 and the sky hasn't fallen yet? And does the Vatican have any idea how this statement comes across as trivializing child abuse?

Good point, sadly:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oh gosh; I so agree:


Lately, I've found myself doing my very best to explain some of the fundamentals of brain science to individual clients who seem bewildered by their own sometimes contradictory thoughts and behavior. And so I was pleased to come across an article today entitled "It's a Jungle in There: Our Brains Are Not As Evolved As We Might Think" and I'd like to recommend that you click through and spend a little time with it.

Here's an excerpt:

The neocortex, for example—the part of the brain that organizes our powers of conscious thought, imagination, and empathy—must coexist and cooperate with primitive survival networks conserved by natural selection through hundreds of thousands of generations. This means that beneath our newer equipment, capable of composing sonnets and developing computers, are structures driven by primitive instincts, unconscious impulses, and primordial fears. Within our skulls, the reptilian, ancient mammalian, and modern human brains attempt to coexist and cooperate, at least enough to get us through the day.

The American physician and neuroscientist Paul MacLean first discussed this structure, which he called the "triune brain." The basis of his theory is that the contemporary human brain resembles a site inhabited by successive civilizations, and embodies a living record of our deep evolutionary history. At its core is the reptilian brain, responsible for arousal, homeostasis, and reproduction. The paleomammalian ("old-mammal") brain, involved with learning, memory, and emotion, surrounds it. The neomammalian ("new-mammal") brain, required for conscious thought and self-awareness, sits atop the other two. These levels roughly conform to the common distinction of brainstem, limbic system, and cortex. Though MacLean's theory has many significant limitations, it can both assist us to better understand some of the most distinctive features of human experience and give us fresh insight into how psychotherapy influences brain function.

MacLean suggested that our three brains don't necessarily work well together because each of them processes information in a distinctive manner and has a unique agenda. The functions of the reptilian brain, which drive our instincts and behaviors—fear, rage, eating, mating—retain a good deal of executive control over our actions, while only a small region of the cortex is capable of conscious awareness and articulating its strategies. This means that multiple levels of the brain often vie for dominance simultaneously and in conflict with each other....

An awareness of how the brain is put together can definitely help us cultivate both an understanding and acceptance of some of our inner struggles. All to the good, I'd say.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Another absolutely great headline

Just look:

It's All About the Wages -- Our Economy Would Be Fine If Everyone Made Their Fair Share

Here's part of what the article says:

Missing from almost all discussion of America's dizzying rate of unemployment is the brute fact that hourly wages of people with jobs have been dropping, adjusted for inflation. Average weekly earnings rose a bit this spring only because the typical worker put in more hours, but June's decline in average hours pushed weekly paychecks down at an annualized rate of 4.5 percent.
We're back to the same ominous trend as before the Great Recession: a larger and larger share of total income going to the very top while the vast middle class continues to lose ground. And as long as this trend continues, we can't get out of the shadow of the Great Recession. When most of the gains from economic growth go to a small sliver of Americans at the top, the rest don't have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing.

You know, I came close to flunking economics when I was an undergraduate but this has been obvious to me for a long time. Why is it so hard for the movers and shakers of our society to grasp????

Monday, July 12, 2010

Definitely a quotation to save

Here. Take a look:

An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.

-- George Eliot

(She was such an astute observer of human nature.)

The evil of payday loans

I well remember when payday loans became legal in Oklahoma and the offices of such organizations sprang up all over town like mushrooms. Take a look at this headline:

Meet the Man Who Made a Fortune Exploiting the Poor With Payday Loans

I really can't find an excerpt that will do this justice so do click through and read the whole article. Let me just say that I think these loans represent a great evil. Here's part of a comment that someone posted underneath the article itself:

Those who blame the victim should hope they never get in that position themselves. The assumption that people are to blame for getting into a position of requiring such a loan is the worst sort of hubris.

Those who still want to justify a system that allows such a phenomenon need to wake up.

Frankly, the ones who offend me the most of those who take on a paternalistic tone, who pretend to give a damn about people who are harmed by this crap and presume to give advice - as if that's the point here. It is not. The point is a system that even allows usury, a sin that most major religions consider one of the gravest.

What do people think Jesus was supposed to have been raving at in the temple of the moneychangers? It was usury, the concept that's at the heart of capitalism and is worshipped by our society.

I so, so agree.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Lakoff really, really gets it

You know what I wish? I wish the Democratic Party would hire George Lakoff as its top strategist.

I want to call your attention to a Lakoff article entitled "Why Conservative Lies Spread and What Progressives Can Do to Fight Them". Here's the lead:

When Democrats use conservative language to promote their agenda, it ultimately creates more support for Republicans.

Here's what tends to happen:

* The Republicans outmessage the Democrats. The Democrats, having no effective response, face disaster: They lose politically, either in electoral support or failure on crucial legislation. The Democrats then take polls and do focus groups. The pollsters discover that extremist Republicans control the most common ("mainstream") way of thinking and talking about the given issue.

* The pollsters recommend that Democrats move to the right: adopt conservative Republican language and a less extreme version of conservative policy, along with weakened versions of some Democratic ideas.

* The Democrats believe that, if they follow this advice, they can gain enough independent and Republican support to pass legislation that, at least, will be some improvement on the extreme Republican position.

* Otherwise, the pollsters warn, Democrats will lose popular support -- and elections -- to the Republicans, because "mainstream" thought and language resides with the Republicans. Believing the pollsters, the Democrats change their policy and their messaging, and move to the right.

* The Republicans demand even more and refuse to support the Democrats.

Now, please go read the rest of the article. It's very carefully written and thought out but, surprisingly, quite easy to read.

And, I would submit, its message is important.

Schwarzenegger signs humane egg bill

This has far-reaching implications because California is so heavily populated:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a historic bill on July 6 that will extend protection to egg-laying hens that live in other states, if the egg producers want to do business in California. The new humane law will have hens across the country spreading their wings with joy.

The bill, AB1437 will require out-of-state egg farmers that want to sell eggs in California grocery stores to adhere to the humane confinement rules created by Proposition 2. That law was passed in 2008 and will be fully implemented by 2015. Proposition 2 ends the use of inhumane battery cages to house chickens.

The Humane Society of the United States said this means all hens that contribute to the egg industry in California must be housed in cages that allow them to
“stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs without touching one another or the sides of an enclosure” – whether or not they live in the state.

The way laying-hens have been treated is unspeakably cruel. This is good, good news.

You can read the complete article right here.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

I'm sorry but this is just funny...

First of all, look at the headline:

Christian Right-Winger Worried Glenn Beck Is Taking Christian Souls to Hell

Now take a look at how the article gets started:

Glenn Beck presents a conundrum for the Christian right. They appreciate his bigotry, but are in turn bigoted against his Mormon faith. Sometimes the politics of hate is complicated.

“Internet evangelist” (no, I don’t know what that means) Bill Keller is no longer willing to compromise his Christian principles though. Keller, who warned 2008 primary voters that a vote for the Mormon Mitt Romney was a vote for Satan, has launched a campaign to warn Christians that Glenn Beck is taking their “ignorant souls to hell.”

Go on and click through; the article is very short.

Or don't. You could just shake your head in bemusement and carry on with your day...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

"Jim Inhofe in a skirt!"

Okay. It's a rant, that's for sure. But this guy makes some excellent points and, apparently, he's a fellow Tulsan:

UGANDA: Gay advocate priest found decapitated

Oh, this just makes me sick beyond description. Take a look:

Ugandan police have identified the severed head of a young Christian and gay rights worker, according to a blog post from the Rev. Colin Coward, a Church of England priest and director of U.K.-based gay and lesbian advocacy group Changing Attitude.

A search team had been looking for a missing pro-gay priest, the Rev. Henry Kayizzi Nsubuga, when they discovered the decapitated head of Pasikali Kashusbe in a pit latrine on a farm in Makindye Sabagabo, Wakiso District, where he worked.

Kashusbe was a volunteer worker for Integrity Uganda, a group that campaigns for gay rights.
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, chairperson of Integrity Uganda who was excommunicated by the Church of Uganda in 2006 for his support of homosexuals, lamented Kashusbe's murder as "absurd," adding in Coward's post that "clearly, the values of tolerance and social inclusion are sadly being sacrificed on the altar of state ignorance, ineptness and good old colonial stupidity."
"Pasikali's death is tragic, and stands as a reason why the Anglican Communion must change its teaching on homosexuality," said Coward. "There is no reason why the consciences of those who oppose the full inclusion of LGBT people should be allowed to inhibit change in the church. The prevention of torture and murder of any individual must always be the first priority, ensuring that all citizens and Christians can live in an environment of love, security and affirmation."

I think the expression, "good old colonial stupidity," is quite apt in this situation.

You can read the whole article from Episcopal News Service right here.
UPDATE: I'm terribly sorry, folks, but it turns out that the above story was a hoax. Even Episcopal News Service was duped. I don't know what the motivation and/or objective was in spreading this false story. I'll let you know if I find out.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Things are really heating up

Just look:

[The Israelis] will either apologize or acknowledge an international, impartial inquiry and its conclusion. Otherwise, our diplomatic ties will be cut off.

-- Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, threatening to break ties with Israel over its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla

This is very, very worrying.

Just a reminder, dear people:

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty

Artist: Edward Moran

By the fall of 1886 the Statue of Liberty was virtually finished, and a massive celebration was held to unveil the statue on October 28, 1886.

President Grover Cleveland presided, and after a number of speeches, the sculptor Bartholdi pulled a rope and the French tricolor covering the statue's face was pulled away.

Cannons boomed, fireworks lit the sky, and observers said it was like a thousand Fourth of July celebrations.

(As reported in

A Founding Father speaks

Let us think about this with all due seriousness:

When it shall be said in any country in the world, my people are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive..., when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and its government.

-- Thomas Paine

What is patriotism?

It's from an opinion piece by Willy Scanlon. Take a look:

Patriotism for me not only voicing agreement with my government and supporting it, but it also means voicing disagreement as well. My government right or wrong is not Patriotism; that's the road to fanaticism. We are not only called to protect our nation, we are also called to protect its future, its resources, to protect its institutions from one sided rule of fanatics whether conservative, religious or liberal from taking away the rights of some or all that do not agree with their view. To protect each other from racism, bigotry and hate... To ask ourselves what have we done for each other to make the nation whole and heal its wounds. Patriotism is a call to action. What can I do for my country? That's Patriotism. Happy Fourth of July, my Fellow Patriots.

And from me to you, dear readers.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Radical homemaking

On Wednesday of this week, Alternet published an article entitled "10 Easy Steps for Becoming a Radical Homemaker". Here are the steps:

* Commit to hanging your laundry out to dry.
* Dedicate a portion of your lawn to a vegetable garden.
* Get to know your neighbors. Cooperate to save money and resources.
* Go to your local farmers' market each week before you head to thegrocery store.
* Do some spring cleaning to identify everything in your home that you absolutely don’t need. Donate to help others save money and resources.
* Make a commitment to start carrying your own reusable bags and use them on all your shopping trips.
* Choose one local food item to learn how to preserve for yourself for the winter.
* Get your family to spend more evenings at home, preferably with the TV off.
* Cook for your family.
* Focus on enjoying what you have and who are with. Stop fixating on what you think you may need, or how things could be better "if only."

Now here's something I really appreciated about the laundry suggestion:

Take hanging out the laundry as an example. At the outset, it is deceptively simple: It saves money and resources, and it’s easy...But many people don’t do it. They’re too busy. Thus, the commitment to hanging out the laundry represents a commitment to slowing down—it means starting to align one’s daily household activity with the rhythms of nature. In my mind, hanging out the laundry moved from being a simple chore to being an act of meditation and reflection on a deeper, more profound commitment that a person wanted to make. Thus, draping shirts and socks on a clothesline wasn’t just about getting a chore done; it represented the new, sane world so many of us are working to create.

I've been doing this for some time now and I'm fortunate that I have a screened in back porch with clotheslines. That way I don't run afoul of the homeowners association. I also went to the trouble of ordering a seriously cool drying rack for hanging things inside. Take a look:

And here it is closed up for storage:

I like the fact that this is American made. It is also excellent quality and much better than those accordian type racks that are so easily knocked over.

It's called "Best Drying Rack" and you can order one right here.

I highly recommend this rack. It's wonderful. Beautifully crafted and very stable.