Saturday, December 31, 2011

Death - The Final Review

Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.
                                                                                                            --A. Sachs

I guess this reveals a bizarre side to my personality, but one of my favorite end of the year rituals is the review of "Notable Deaths". Now I don't mean this in an "I'm glad you're gone you rascal you" way, rather I just love watching the snippets of lives of those that departed this past year.

Sometimes I am totally shocked and it's the first I have heard of the news. In other cases it serves as a nice reminder of someone whose work I enjoyed and now I will miss that. A lot of people died in 2011, many of them old and Death's knock on the door was expected, but many others were young and that is always a shock no matter how recklessly they lived their lives.

I will really miss the writings of Christopher Hitchens, he was a rare bird indeed. Amy Winehouse the young singer with the throaty voice, I will miss her, especially on her good days.

Others like Ken Russell and Sidney Lumet, both directors leave behind great works. Elizabeth Taylor is another one, so many great films and a life full of good deeds, she, I would imagine will be remembered and missed by many people.

There were many sports figures that died this year but I would have to single out Duke Snider, the center fielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I remember hearing him play baseball on the radio. And there was another sound heard and that was the great Joe Marello, jazz drummer with Dave Brubeck.

And the departed list included people who did great things with their lives and leave this world a better place because they were here. People like R. Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps and there was Kip Tiernan, founder of Rosie's Place, the first shelter for homeless women.

There was Jack LaLanne, fitness guru and living example of eating and living healthy and on the opposite end of the spectrum, Doctor Death himself, Jack Kevorkian.

And finally Mississippi Winn, who died at age 113, holding the record for being the oldest living African-American in the United States and the 7th oldest person in the world.

So when midnight rings its bell I shall remember those that made this their last year and give many a nod of thanks for what they did while they were here.

As Kip Tiernan said we can change the world if we are only willing to care enough and, in her own words, “to take the risk of being human.”

 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This New Year

If you think it was tough getting Baby New Year to the top of the hill in 2011, take a deep breath, I think this is going to be a much more harder pull than it was in 2010.

I actually went back to read what I blogged last year. In case you are interested it is here 2011 A Clean Slate.I guess at the time it was a nice point of view, it's good to be hopeful to know that you can change things and people can change.Things do continue to change and not always for the best. Three month's after my 'clean slate' proclamation Japan experienced one of its greatest disasters; the convergence of shaking earth, massive tidal waves and nuclear meltdowns.

After nine months of following the efforts in Japan the end result remains sad and without resolution. A 'thoughtful' reader on my Facebook commented, "Japan survived two nuclear bombs. They will be able to deal.with this." Wow, I wonder if the Jews in Hitler's concentration camps have that same easy gait  view to their survival.

The Republican and Democrat political parties grow closer into morphing into a one-view party that consists of growing greed and and achieving non-solutions. Our nation continues to grow, as it has for close to seventy-five years, a country tightly intertwined with the business of defense and government secrecy. We only have to look back and see our nation out excel all others in the world in this effort.

In 1918 at the end of Word War I the United States was spending $68 dollars per capita on military spending, compared to  countries like France, $235 per capita and Great Britain $188. This seems logical as the war was being fought on both their shores and not ours.

On the eve of the US entry into World War II the United States was spending just 1.7 percent of gross domestic product on defense. Today that has grown to a level three times that proportion. The United States now leads the world; its military spending is 43% of all defense spending worldwide, 6 times the share of China, 12 times that of Russia. The U.S. Navy is larger than the rest 13 navies combined.(1)

Defense spending continued to increase under President George W. Bush to about 70% and this does not include spending on homeland security by other governmental agencies. The Defense Business has become the mainstay of the American economy and it's not going to change over-night or maybe it won't change at all.

This Christmas Eve I celebrated the event at my home and on my terms. It was to be a happy event, with lots of laughing and the giving of presents was minimized to one of a 'fun gag-gift exchange', and we even had a pinata filled with sweet candy treats. A monetary donation to the local Food Bank was made in honor of our family, inviting 'in spirit' less fortunate families to join us in celebration.

All in all it was a happy Christmas, one that if it is my last, is exactly how I would have wanted it.

There are still a couple of battles out there that I am taking on, but I grow weary. I can feel it in my bones each day I set out upon this path I have chosen to walk. The choice to do nothing is not one I can make, I just can't ignore what goes on around me, so I continue to allow a portion of each of my day to be one devoted to being outrageously angry. My belief is that beyond our life on Earth there is nothing, so you either get it done right here and now or you can 'forget about it'.

On the off chance that I am right on this, there are some of you out there that better get off your assess and get to doing something. Otherwise you may be having one of those Perry "oops" moments.


(1) One Nation Under Arms, Vanity Fair, January 2010, page 76

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka


Best Wishes to all who tarry on the pages of this blog from time to time. However you celebrate or don't celebrate this season, I wish you all good health and a future that is filled with Peace!

Artichoke Annie & Friends


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fukushima and Other Terrors

Nine months now since the Fukushima disaster and there are still so many unknowns, or things that are known and are being covered up. It is so disturbing.


The full story from Aljazeera can be read here  Japan: Nuclear plant clean up to take decades.

I worry for the future of our own country should there be a severe nuclear accident of any type, because it seems to be the trend these days for cover-ups or white-washing of any incident be it an oil spill in the Gulf or an earthquake causing cracks in one of the existing nuclear plants in the United States. Big business has the money and the power to silence and alter facts almost at their whim.


And now in a recently reported story in the New York Times a U.S. government advisory board is asking scientific journals to not publish details of certain biomedical experiments. You can read The New York Times story in full Seeing Terror Risk, U.S. Asks Journals to Cut Flu Study Facts

David R. Franz, a biologist and former head of the Army defensive biological lab at Fort Detrick, Md., said, "My concern is that we don't give amateurs -- or terrorists -- information that might let them do something that could really cause a lot of harm."

Since 9/11 we have been traveling down a very slippery slope when it comes to the war on terrorism. The passage of the Patriot Act has done much to strip away at our freedoms and accessibility to information. I'm not so sure this is a good thing. Government cover-ups and manipulation of access of information has a faint taste of an evil we lived with not that many years ago.

As Dr. Bruce Alberts said in the article, "It's a precedent-setting moment, and we need to be careful about the precedent we set."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Academy Awards Reminder List

Beverly Hills, CA – Two hundred sixty-five feature films are eligible for the 2011 Academy Awards®, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today (Dec. 19, 2011).
 
To be eligible for 84th Academy Awards® consideration, feature films must open in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County by midnight, December 31, and begin a minimum run of seven consecutive days.

Under Academy rules, a feature-length motion picture must have a running time of more than 40 minutes and must have been exhibited theatrically on 35mm or 70mm film, or in a qualifying digital format.

Feature films that receive their first public exhibition or distribution in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release are not eligible for Academy Awards in any category.

The “Reminder List of Productions Eligible for the 84th Academy Awards” is available at http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/rules/reminderlist.html.

The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre. (By The Deadline Team)
~

Here is a link to see all the available movies for nominations:

Reminder List of Productions Eligible for the 84th Academy Awards

Are your curious about the Academy Awards organization? Check this one out:

The Oscars Organization


My viewing habits have changed over the years but not my love for movies. Now 90% of the movies I see are via my Netflix membership or on a television channel. I rarely venture out to a movie theater. I did go so see The Descendants a couple of weeks ago. My first reaction made me miss living in Hawaii, the scenes were beautiful, second, George Clooney is almost always great to look at, whether he opens his mouth or not. He performed some comedic moves in this picture that were great. Most of my friends that I know will probably love this movie, I will list it as "a movie I liked", too slow/dragging at times for me - but over all I give it a strong B.

An A-List movie for me is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - the original Swedish version, not the recently released Hollywood version.

But I am pleased that there is a goodly number of films being offered up - there will no doubt be a number that will rise to the top like delicious, rich cream.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bright New Year 2012

Photo courtesy of  Anthony Clark (NRDC)
Yahoo Blogger Sarah B. Weir Fincially Fit has written a really informative post of the new Light Bulb Law that will take effect January 1, 2012. Looks like those former eco-unfriendly bulbs will get replaced by a new bulb that looks more like our old bulb. We all like change don't we, as long as it's not too much change.

I think I ended up only buying two of those "squiggly" bulbs that were suppose to last almost forever. Then I read about how it was very important that they be disposed of properly and not just set out with the daily trash - I panicked and constantly worried I would forget and send the used bulb off to my local dump by mistake.

So this new 'old-looking' bulb looks like it may be the bee's knees in the bulb world. Sarah writes:
"The new incandescent bulbs operate and look just like the old-fashioned bulbs that you are used to-they have the same shape and base design. And, according to Horowitz, most people won't notice any difference in the color or quality of light. What is different is that they have an improved filament design, which makes them 28% more efficient as the law requires. So, when you are bulb shopping for replacements for your old 100-watt incandescents, look for new ones labeled "72-watt soft white." Sylvania, Philips, and GE all make similar versions."
Clink on this link to read the full story from Sarah B. Weir's blog post, it's interesting. In the meantime I think I will just take this time to wish you all a very "bright" New Year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Criticalities - Have you heard of this?

It almost plays like science-fiction except it's real...

RICHLAND — One of the most contaminated buildings at Hanford, the 209 East Critical Mass Laboratory, has been demolished.

The 8,979-square-foot building was used for more than two decades for research on plutonium and uranium solutions to identify controls for uncontrolled nuclear reactions called criticalities.
After two years of safety preparations, Contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company demolished one of the most contaminated facilities at the Hanford Site.

Built in 1960 during the height of the Cold War, the lab was one of three buildings of its type in the nationwide DOE complex. Battelle used the lab at Hanford for experiments to test the criticality limits of radioactive solutions.

The building included an administration section and control area where experiments could be remotely monitored and controlled, plus a contaminated mixing room and a contaminated criticality assembly room.

The lab had highly radioactive tanks, including two underground storage tanks beneath 2.5 feet of concrete.

Two long, narrow tanks — 20 feet long by 2 inches wide and 4 feet high — that were above ground in the lab were used to control solutions to prevent criticalities, said Mike Swartz, deputy project manager.


 Sources: Tri-City Herald and Enformable


Friday, December 16, 2011

Another Voice Silenced

Christopher Hitchens has died at age 62. Despite his nagging and painful illness he continued to work right up until the very end.

There were many times when I didn't agree with what he had to say but I always appreciated listening to him. He never spared anyone's feeling, telling it like he saw it, like it or not.

I think Christopher found peace with his life and he left death for what it is, just that death. So here's to a good man, one you could embrace, one you could have a drink with and one who was smart enough to get it when you told him he was "full of it". Your words and voice will be missed. But when we need a "Hitch-Fix" there are plenty of books and articles that will bring his words back to life in our living rooms.

Read more at Polemiscist Who Slashed All Freely, With Wit

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The War is Over, Long Live the War


When World War II ended many people heard the news by way of the sound of cars honking and people cheering. Today the US officially ended its war in Iraq, mostly to the sound of silence. It was a war that began on false assumptions, a war that was expected to last only weeks at the most. Now almost ten years later it is over and it goes out with a whimper, not a bang.
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
From the poem The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

                                                                    REUTERS
US soldiers at the former U.S. Sather Air Base near Baghdad prepare before the start of a ceremony marking the end of US military engagement in Iraq, with the last American troops withdrawing nearly nine years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

"No words, no ceremony, can provide full tribute to the sacrifices that brought this day to pass."
                              - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

You can read the full New York Post story here - US ends its war in Iraq


How is Your Year Going?






The Huffington Post reported in a story today that CEO pay has jumped a minimum of 27 % this last year. Full story link is here.

American CEOs saw pay increases of between 27 and 40 percent last year, according to a GovernanceMetrics International survey cited by the Guardian. In addition, the median value of CEOs profits on stock options jumped to $1.3 million from $950,400.
One would think in a really bad economy with companies doing so poorly they have to lay-off workers and cut back on hiring that this would also be reflected in the pay of the top company official. Apparently that is not the case.

So while millions of Americans are out of work and many facing empty plates on Christmas Day there will be plenty of CEO's private jetting off to warm secluded islands and enjoying a rather merrier than usual holiday.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and the mainstay of America, the middle class, continues to shrink. I hope 2012 finds renewed strength for the OWS movement and that the protests will continue to grow in small cities and towns throughout the nation.

The people may not have the power of money but they do have a voice and with persistence it will be heard across America. Let freedom ring with the voices of those who have been silent and by those who have been oppressed. Power to the People 2012.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nuclear News - From Enformable

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) gave a public statement regarding the recent controversy at the NRC.

Taking the side of the 4 accused commissioners, NEI seemingly placed the blame on Commissioner Jaczko, despite the facts as argued by U.S. Representative Markey showing the collusion within the NRC to limit the lessons learned from Fukushima.

“Safe performance of nuclear energy facilities and the NRC’s credibility are the two most important factors for policymaker and public confidence in nuclear energy. As such, the industry is concerned with anything that threatens the credibility of either,” Marvin Fertel, president of the industry group said.

NEI’s Fertel said, “The issue that is of most concern is the question of a chilled working environment at the agency, including the possibility of staff intimidation and harassment, at a time when the senior management and staff are working on critical licensing activities and post-Fukushima safety recommendations. The industry takes safety culture issues seriously and we expect the same priority treatment of these issues by our regulator.”

U.S. Representative Edward Markey blamed the four commissioners who sent the letter to the White House saying they were impeding U.S. nuclear safety reviews after the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant inJapan following a massive earthquake and tsunami.

“The actions of these four commissioners since the Fukushima nuclear disaster has caused a regulatory meltdown that has left America’s nuclear fleet and the general public at risk,” said Markey, a Democrat and a long-time nuclear critic.

Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also defended Jaczko, a man he helped put into power.


These types of findings are to be expected as the industry becomes more resource starved, as it faces losing many resources in the global perspective, uranium prices dropping, and AREVA‘s recent disclosure that they will be facing many financial difficulties in the coming years.  Since it’s existence, the NEI has been far more of a nuclear industry mouthpiece, than a real force in educating and advancing the safety of industrial nuclear stations.

NEI has dogs in the race, to be honest, and was today also the subject of an explosive CBS investigation, showing the abnormal amounts of finances that the NEI had committed to lobbying for nuclear industry interests this year.

If ever an industry was plagued with unfulfilled expectations, it’s the nuclear energy industry. Even before Three Mile Island in March 1979, the number of planned nuclear plants was shrinking, largely because of the intense capital requirements. After the event, the industry simply fizzled.

The River Bend plant in Louisiana, now operated by Entergy Nuclear, turned out to be the last new plant built for more than 30 years, and construction at River Bend began the year before Three Mile Island.

Any hope for a nuclear revival was dealt a final blow by the toxic fallout from Chernobyl in 1986.
Four nuclear projects in the early stages of development are currently underway, and an additional resurrected station hardly sounds like a renaissance.

But the fallout from Fukushima is far less than expected, and it is clear that the United States will not follow Germany in abandoning nuclear energy.

Horrific as the Fukushima meltdown was, it’s unlikely to have anywhere near the impact that Three Mile Island had, and nothing like the deadening effects of Chernobyl.

Lessons left unlearned, often end repeated, and when those lessons are related to nuclear energy, the consequences are generally much more serious then predicted.

Source: Energy Biz
Source: Reuters
 
Here is the link for this post http://enformable.com/2011/12/nei-and-4-embattled-commissioners-face-off-versus-jaczko-reid-and-markey/

Is Nuclear Power a Good Investment? Are You Listening Ameren?



3 Reasons to Avoid Nuclear Power

ByTravis Hoium, The Motley Fool

There are three remaining reasons that I don’t think nuclear is a place investors should be looking for value right now.

For safety’s sake
Whether it’s mechanical failure, human error, or a natural disaster, there are major risks associated with nuclear plants. Boosters may count these as one-time events, but they’ve happened more than once, and with Japan looking at billions of dollars to rebuild what was lost after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the risk should be a major factor in any investment.

Costs are rising, not falling
Compared to other alternative energy sources like wind and solar, whose costs are falling, nuclear is headed in the wrong direction.

It’s a dying business
A look at how financial markets view nuclear power may give even the most hardened supporters pause. Rating agencies have downgraded companies with nuclear assets, and nuclear stocks have plummeted this year.

Investors should also consider that in the past year, U.S. nuclear power generation was down 2.7% and worldwide capacity has fallen from 375.5 GW to 365.5 GW. It’s true that nuclear is out of favor, and according to trends, renewable energy is picking up the slack.

Foolish bottom line
Despite backlash from commenters when I asked if nuclear was really safe, it turned out it hasn’t been for investors since Japan’s disaster. There hasn’t been a bounce back, and shares of Cameco(NYS:CCJ) ,Uranium Energy(NYS:UEC) , and Uranerz Energy(NYS:URZ) have continued to slide.

Read more on this at http://enformable.com/2011/12/a-plethora-of-reasons-investors-should-avoid-nuclear-power/

Monday, December 12, 2011

NRC - Representative Markey Has Safety Concerns

Dec. 9, 2011: New Report Details Conspiracy to Delay, Weaken US Nuclear Safety in Wake of Fukushima


“Regulatory Meltdown” Reveals Efforts to Improve Nuclear Safety Undermined by Four NRC Commissioners


WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of his ongoing investigation into U.S. nuclear safety since the Fukushima meltdowns, today Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Congress’s leading voice for nuclear safety, released a blockbuster new report that details how four Commissioners at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) colluded to prevent and then delay the work of the NRC Near-Term Task Force on Fukushima, the entity tasked with making recommendations for improvement to NRC regulations and processes after the Fukushima meltdowns, the worst nuclear disaster in history. The Near-Term Task Force members comprise more than 135 years of collective experience at the NRC, and with full access to expert NRC staff completed a methodical and comprehensive review of NRC’s regulatory system.

Rep. Markey’s office reviewed thousands of pages of documents, including emails, correspondence, meeting minutes and voting records, and found a concerted effort by Commissioners William Magwood, Kristine Svinicki, William Ostendorff and George Apostolakis to undermine the efforts of the Fukushima Task Force with request for endless additional study in an effort to delay the release and implementation of the task force’s final recommendations. Documents also show open hostility on the part of the four Commissioners toward efforts of NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko to fully and quickly implement the recommendations of the Task Force, despite efforts on the part of the Chairman to keep the other four NRC Commissioners fully informed regarding the Japanese emergency.

“The actions of these four Commissioners since the Fukushima nuclear disaster has caused a regulatory meltdown that has left America’s nuclear fleet and the general public at risk,” said Rep. Markey. “Instead of doing what they have been sworn to do, these four Commissioners have attempted a coup on the Chairman and have abdicated their responsibility to the American public to assure the safety of America’s nuclear industry. I call on these four Commissioners to stop the obstruction, do their jobs and quickly move to fully implement the lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster.”

A copy of the report “Regulatory Meltdown: How Four Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners Conspired to Delay and Weaken Nuclear Reactor Safety in the Wake of Fukushima” can be found HERE.
 
Major findings in the new report include:
  • Four NRC Commissioners attempted to delay and otherwise impede the creation of the NRC Near-Term Task Force on Fukushima;
  • Four NRC Commissioners conspired, with each other and with senior NRC staff, to delay the release of and alter the NRC Near-Term Task Force report on Fukushima;
  • The other NRC Commissioners attempted to slow down or otherwise impede the adoption of the safety recommendations made by the NRC Near-Term Task Force on Fukushima;
  • NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko kept the other four NRC Commissioners fully informed regarding the Japanese emergency, despite claims to the contrary made by these Commissioners; and
  • The consideration of the Fukushima safety upgrades is not the only safety-related issue that the other NRC Commissioners have opposed.

After the Near Term Task Force released its report in July, Rep. Markey called for the rapid adoption of all recommendations, and sent letters criticizing the proposals to delay even their consideration that were put forward by Commissioners Svinicki, Magwood and Ostendorff. 

Rep. Markey also introduced legislation to overhaul nuclear safety. The Nuclear Power Plant Safety Act of 2011 will impose a moratorium on all new nuclear reactor licenses or license extensions until new safety requirements are in place that reflect the lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster.

Rep. Markey’s office also released the report, “Fukushima Fallout: Regulator Loopholes at U.S. Nuclear Plants ”, detailing several concerns about NRC safety regulations following the Fukushima crisis.
 
### 
 
Here is a link to the full report  Regulatory Meltdown by Rep. Markey


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Republicans Debate Yet Again

I got another text message from the girls saying they were busy once more helping Macbeth.......err Macgingrich out with his debate speech.


Enter Macgingrich: 
Then live, Macromney. What need I fear of thee?
But yet I'll make assurance double sure,
And take a bond of fate: thou shalt not live,
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder.
Cauldron is pulled on from Stage Left:
 

Exit Stage Right ... to the sound of a quietly played lute...


" Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow. "

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Total Eclipses: Of the Moon & Of the Heart


Lunar Eclipse December 10, 2011


Total Eclipse of the Heart


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A as in Absinthe





You know I really need to get my head out of the 'spent fuel bin' and in to the real world. I just discovered that Absinthe has been legal in the United States since 2007. A copy of the above picture L'Absinthe, by Edgar Degas, hung in my home for many years. Somewhere along the way it got discarded in a move, but for years the couple was lovingly referred to a Grandma and Grandpa Pick.

I always wondered about this mythical substance that could carry you away to a dulled state as depicted by Monsieur Degas. There is something about a banned product that always leaves me wondering even if not to the point of experimentation.

Absinthe has been the subject of many artists throughout time which may have added to my curiosity. Wikipedia had this to say on its cultural influence:


The legacy of absinthe as a mysterious, addictive, and mind-altering drink continues to this day. Absinthe has been seen or featured in fine art, films, video, music and literature. The modern absinthe revival has had an effect on its portrayal. It is often shown as an unnaturally glowing green liquid which is set on fire before drinking, even though traditionally neither is true. In addition, it is most portrayed in the media as causing over-the-top hallucinations.The aura of illicitness and mystery surrounding absinthe has played into modern literature, movies, music and television. Such depictions vary in their authenticity, often applying  dramatic license to depict the drink as anything from an aphrodisiac to poison.

Usually when I think of Absinthe I think of this liquid that turns into a milky substance with the addition of water. I never realized there was this entire subset of Absinthe spoons that was added to the mix. I guess I was never curious enough.


And added to that several methods of preparation with their own special names like The French Method or The Bohemian Method. Why would anyone settle for a simple teaspoon and heroin when you can have an entire production going on while you search for the ultimate trip?

"The Bohemian Method" is an alternative method that uses fire. Like the French method, a sugar cube is placed on a slotted spoon over a glass containing one shot of absinthe. The difference is that the sugar is pre-soaked in alcohol, usually more absinthe, and then set ablaze. The flaming sugar cube is then dropped into the glass igniting the absinthe. Finally, a shot glass full of water is added to douse the flames. This method tends to produce a stronger drink than the French method. A variant of "The Bohemian Method" is to allow the fire to burn itself out. This variant, called "Cooking the Absinthe" or "Flaming Green Fairy," removes much but not all of the alcohol. The origins of this burning ritual may come from a coffee and brandy drink that was served at Café Brûlot, in which a sugar cube soaked in brandy was set aflame.
Or simply Ernest Hemingway's favorite "Death in the Afternoon" cocktail:  His directions are as follows: "Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly." Ah, yes, bring on the bulls.

If this little tidbit leaves you wanting for more I direct you to Absinthe a detailed Wikipedia entry on the subject.



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

From California to the New York Island


This from Gov. Jerry Brown of California:

"My proposal is straightforward and fair.  It proposes a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax, and guarantees that the new revenues be spent only on education.  Here are the details:
  • Millionaires and high-income earners will pay up to 2% higher income taxes for five years. No family making less than $500,000 a year will see their income taxes rise. In fact, fewer than 2% of California taxpayers will be affected by this increase.   
  • There will be a temporary ½ cent increase in the sales tax.  Even with this temporary increase, sales taxes will still be lower than what they were less than six months ago.
  • This initiative dedicates funding only to education and public safety--not on other programs that we simply cannot afford."

 And from New York we have:

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders announced on Tuesday that they had reached an agreement to overhaul New York State’s income tax, creating a higher-tax bracket for the highest-income residents and reducing the tax rate for millions of middle-class residents.


And I say why not, let the rich pay a bigger share of the taxes. For several decades now their mantra has been "bigger" - bigger house, bigger car, bigger salary, bigger dividend........ Let's not stop at the tax doorstep.

If they have to pay a bigger share of the tax bill, then so be it. It won't hurt the job market or the economy. And judging from comments from a whole lot of really rich people they aren't opposed to paying more either. Fare share (yep, I spelled that correctly).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Congratulations Mr. Santo!




By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com | 12/05/11 11:00 AM EST
DALLAS -- Legendary Cubs third baseman and broadcaster Ron Santo was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by a 16-member Golden Era Committee, which revealed the results of its balloting on Monday at the Winter Meetings.
Santo becomes the fourth member of the Cubs teams from the 1960s and '70s to enter the Hall, joining teammates Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and Ferguson Jenkins. Williams was a member of the committee that elected Santo.
Santo will be inducted during next year's ceremony on July 22.
Full story can be read at Ron Santo elected to Hall of Fame

Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant

In this Nov. 12, 2011 file photo, workers in protective suits and masks wait to enter the emergency operation center at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station in Okuma, Japan. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, Pool, File)

By MALCOLM FOSTER   12/ 5/11 09:29 AM ET   AP

TOKYO -- Japan's crippled nuclear power plant leaked about 45 tons of highly radioactive water from a purification device over the weekend, its operator said, and some may have drained into the ocean.
The leak is a reminder of the difficulties facing Tokyo Electric Power Co. as it tries to meet its goal of bringing the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant to a cold shutdown by year's end.
A pool of radioactive water was discovered midday Sunday around a decontamination device, TEPCO said in a statement on its website. After the equipment was turned off, the leak appeared to stop. Later, workers found a crack in a concrete barrier leaking the contaminated water into a gutter that leads to the ocean.
TEPCO estimated about 300 liters leaked out before the crack was blocked with sandbags.
Officials were checking whether any water had reached the nearby ocean.
The leakage of radioactive water from the Fukushima plant into the Pacific Ocean in the weeks after the March 11 accident caused widespread concern that seafood in the coastal waters would be contaminated.
The pooled water around the purification device was measured Sunday at 16,000 bequerels per liter of cesium-134, and 29,000 bequerels per liter of cesium-137, TEPCO said. That's 270 times and 322 times higher, respectively, than government safety limits, according to the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center in Tokyo.
Cesium-137 is dangerous because it can last for decades in the environment, releasing cancer-causing radiation. The half-life of cesium-134 is about two years, while the half-life of cesium-137 is about 30 years.
TEPCO is using the purification devices to decontaminate water that has been cooling the reactors. Three of the plant's reactor cores mostly melted down when the March 11 tsunami knocked out the plant's cooling system.
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 Editorial Comment:

We are approaching nine months since the Fukushima disaster and what have we learned during these past nine months? Well, I think you can put at the top of the list the inability of TEPCO and the Japanese government to tell the truth about what is going on at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear facility.

This seems to be a shared trait among nuclear power plant operators. They know that the product they are dealing with is highly dangerous and potentially very deadly if even the slightest little thing goes wrong.

They seem to possess the gamblers thrill when they roll the 'for-profit' dice and shoot the moon. As long as Lady Luck shines down upon them all is well with their world. That's the funny thing about gamblers.

But when luck turns bad and the thrill of the game becomes instead deadly dance for survival and the gambler pulls in those around him whether they are playing the game or not.