Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Politician Alert

I was just reading a story about the rise in Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades. It seems these legless creatures have found the Everglades to be a limitless buffet of deliciousness.

The article stated: "The pythons don’t seem to be especially fussy eaters, chowing down on anything that moves --  raccoons, opossums, deer, birds, even alligators. All have turned up in the stomachs of captured pythons."

I just felt the need to send out a word of caution to any and all politicians in the area, " Be careful, be very careful."

Monday, January 30, 2012

On A Clear Day You Can See...Byron, Illinois

A loss of power from Unit #2, nuclear plant located in Byron, Illinois occurred today. The full article as reported in The Washington Post can be read by clicking here.

Steam, containing low levels of radioactive tritium, was being vented out into the air to help reduce the pressure within the reactor.

Of interest and awaiting answers:

  • NRC spokeswoman said - Smoke was seen from an onsite station transformer but no evidence of a fire was found when the plant’s fire brigade responded. 
  • Exelon spokesman Paul Dempsey said there is “no reason we can pinpoint right now” for the power loss. 
In March 2008 the NRC investigated a problem with electrical transformers at the plant after outside power to a unit was interrupted.

In April 2011 the NRC conducted special inspections of backup water pumps at the Byron and Braidwood generating stations after inspections raised concerns about whether the pumps would be able to cool the reactors if the normal system wasn’t working. Exelon Corporation initially said the pumps would work but later concluded they wouldn’t.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Have a pastoral weekend folks.

Image by: Maira Kalman

Hey! Diddle, Diddle
by Mother Goose

Hey! diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Friday, January 27, 2012

BRC on America's Nuclear Future

Yesterday President Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future issued its final 180 page report. I am looking forward to curling up by the fireplace today and reading each and every word and for those of you that are interested you can get your own copy of the report at BRC Final Report January 2012

Initially what I find disturbing is this He Said / She Said, sorry...Republican / Democrat approach to how nuclear waste should be handled. I really don't understand why everything we do needs to be spit along party lines. Who speaks for all of us that fall in the middle? At any rate I will try to keep on a happy face and hope that this early derision does not mean there will be no forward movement on this issue.

In a nutshell here are the top three recommendations being reported in the news coming from the Blue Ribbon Commission:
  •  Interim Storage for Spent Nuclear Fuel
This recommendation would allow storage of spent fuel from reactor sites either to be used in future reactors or eventually disposed, without needing to retrieve it from deep in the earth.
  • Resumption of site selection process for a second repository
The recommendation would allow permanent disposal of actual high level waste that has no value since it is waste from reprocessing old fuel.

  • Set up a quasi-government entity, or FedCorp, to execute the program and take control of the Nuclear Waste Fund.
This recommendation concerns costs and administration of the Nuclear Waste fund, coordinating between local to tribal to State to Federal levels.

I'm off to read the report - more on this issue later.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Don't Kill Whales, but people are OK?

Yesterday in downtown Saint Louis a discussion was held between proponents and opponents of nuclear energy. The discussion was labeled "free-wheeling, generally civil" by Jo Mannies, political reporter for the St. Louis Beacon.

Former Governor Bob Holden moderated the forum which featured speakers:

Russell Hopper, director of the Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Center at Crowder College and Patrick Moore, an early member of Greenpeace and now co-chair of pro-nuclear group, Clean and Safe Energy Coalition.

I found an interview comment made by Patrick Moore only slightly amusing when he said, "I still oppose killing whales" but went on to admit he was wrong to oppose nuclear power as an alternative energy source.

I guess when you find yourself on the opposite side of an issue it becomes harder and harder to see what makes the other side believe the way they do. We have access to most of the same data, we see the same horrors happen before our very eyes, yet individually we have filters in place that sort and clean up facts in a way we find acceptable to ourselves.

The argument that I keep hearing over and over again for the use of nuclear power is the same: Nuclear power is CLEAN, ABUNDANT AND AFFORDABLE. But when I factor in the costs of nuclear power that are important to me, my calculator doesn't come up with the same answer. Risking human life for generations to come is never AFFORDABLE in my book.

Another argument given by the proponents of nuclear energy is as Moore said, "in the short term and with current research, solar and wind power cannot come close to producing the large amounts of energy that the nation and the world need."

Perhaps SHORT TERM goals are a little SHORT-SIGHTED. Many more money should be directed to seeking long term safer solutions to our energy problems, even if it means in the short term we will need to tighten our energy belts just a little.

Moore also feels the problems associated with storing nuclear waste are "overblown" and he feels that much of the nuclear waste being produced can be reused in nuclear plants to produce thousands of years more of energy. Hmm. Mr. Moore, do you mind if I get a second opinion on that?

So even when I try to listen to the arguments of the other side, that filter of mine comes in to play and what I hear sets off a little alarm inside of me. Oh, wait, maybe that's just my conscience at work - "I still oppose killing humans"...

Here is the link to St. Louis  Beacon article by Jo Mannies http://www.stlbeacon.org/voices/blogs/political-blogs/beacon-backroom/115627-forum-on-nuclear-power-unleashes-the-emotion-on-both-sides

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Time Reserve Bank

There is no Time Reserve Bank where all those precious seconds, minutes and hours that we don't use are stored away for another day.

We all are allotted the same portion of time - 24 hours each day, give or take a little. How we choose to spend or not spend this time is pretty much up to us.

A research doctor working on a cure for cancer may feel he has less time as he gobbles up and puts to use each second that is allotted to him each day.

The drug addict on the other hand,  lying in an alley somewhere is probably trying to stop time all-together.

So why do we, seemingly normal intelligent people find it so easy to toss aside this most precious commodity? Is it because time recycles back to us every twenty-four hours going on and on in an almost unending fashion.

When Einstein put forth his theory on relativity he believed that time was no longer uniform and absolute. Let me mention just two consequences that were noted by theorists at the time: 1) Time dilation: Moving clocks are measured to tick more slowly than an observer's "stationary" clock and 2) Gravitational time dilation: Clocks run more slowly in deep gravitational wells.

As much as I love Einstein and his pack of theorists I never could quite grasp this relativity thing. Believe me it was discussed on many occasions, but I am more of a black and white person and until I have the chance to venture out and experience this curvature of spacetime first hand I'm sticking with "we've all got the same 24 hours a day" theory.

Which leads me to this. In the past recent months we have had numerous occasions to see and hear what the contenders for the Republican presidential nomination have to say. Really their shinning free TV moment to tell us about their qualifications, how they would fix things and how things would be better if they got our vote.

I don't know what the going rate is for TV advertising time, but I'm guessing that the number of minutes of all this debate time would add up to a nice chunk of change if someone had to pay for it. So why aren't these candidates taking advantage of this and laying out the cure for all our ills?

Instead they get up there every night (well, it seems like every night) and blab about nothing, offering no concrete solutions to anything, just griping about Obamacare, Obamaeconomics and Obamadefenselessness etc.

They turn down this offer of TIME, free time to talk of truths and tackling problems and finding solutions and instead waste and toss away this precious time that won't come around again.

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you
                                      ~ Time in a Bottle, Jim Croce

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Old Cronies

Cronyism before 1900 was a group of old long time friends. They were close and had a long shared history together and their relationship was mutually beneficial. Usually when we would refer to people as 'old cronies' that's what we thought of, two old dudes who knew the endings of the others stories no matter how old the story was.

In the 1900's "cronies" started to take on a more sinister meaning taking that giant step from one of long-term friendship and mutual benefit to one of corruption and nepotism and in the process the layer known as friendship was peeled away and replaced by layer of power instead.

You are hearing more and more today about this term 'crony capitalism' - a term which describes the success of business as dependent upon a close relationship between business people and government officials. Now the old cronies have become Wall Street and the Treasury Department.

Today's cronies are made up of corporations with power and money to back them up to accomplish whatever it is they want to do. Even when it comes to crime and punishment, the cost of penalty is nothing more severe than a tap on the wrist. If rules and regulations are changed the 'cronies' make sure any changes that come about will be ones that can easily be worked with.

Perhaps when the OWS supporters emerge this Spring they will see that it is necessary to stop the cronies now, cut off their air supply, which is their unlimited ability to fund campaign elections. Take the necessary steps for campaign reform, amend the Constitution to put a stop to this and get 'the people'  back in to the mix of things.

Nothing will heal in the country, nothing will get better until cronyism is stopped and it starts with the ability to fund election campaigns, which then allows the creation of rules and regulations on how those old cronies do business.

Friday, January 20, 2012

'Cold' War

Street Art, Berlin

Photograph by Marcela Proctor, My Shot

Taken on a cold night in Berlin, Germany, as my brother and I were admiring the incredible street art.

(This photo and caption were submitted to My Shot.)

It's January and chilly here in the mid-west. You know the kind of chill that makes you want to keep moving even when you are standing still.

It reminded me of a January evening when I was living in Berlin. While I was there I did volunteer work for the Red Cross and I had left my office and walked the few blocks to the bus stop for my ride home. As I stood at the corner stop waiting for the bus it was a chilly night just like tonight.

I found myself hopping from one foot to the other to help keep the chill away. A woman approached me and said to me in English, "You're from America..." I replied that I was and asked how she knew.

She laughed, in her German way, and said, "only American's hop like that to keep warm." 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rick's Cafe is Closing

Gov. Rick Perry to Drop Out of Presidential Race, Two Republicans Say

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is poised to end his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, according to two Republicans close to Mr. Perry, a decision that comes two days before the South Carolina primary.

Read More:

After a Day of Darkness...Letting in a little light.

If you missed Frontline - Nuclear Aftershocks that aired on January 17th here is a link to the PBS show Nuclear Aftershocks

Episode: Nuclear Aftershocks

FRONTLINE correspondent Miles O'Brien travels to three continents to explore the revived debate about the safety of nuclear power, the options for alternative energy sources, and questions about whether a disaster like the one at Fukushima could happen in the United States.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA Protest

Supporting SOPA Protest - January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rise in Thyroid Cancer

 Thyroid cancer is reported to be on the rise and the reason why is baffling medical researchers. Thyroid cancer occurs more often in men than women and is more common in women under 45 but doctors don't know why.

“Ten years ago, if I saw four new thyroid cancer patients a year, it would have been a lot,” says G. Irene Minor, a radiation oncologist with Indiana University Health Central Indiana Cancer Center. “Now sometimes I see that many in a month, and I have seen three in a week.”
 “There is definitely something going on,”  says Tod Huntley, an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon with the Center for Ear, Nose, Throat and Allergy in Indianapolis. “How much is due to increased surveillance and detection and how much is due to an actual biological change in disease prevalence, we don’t know, but we know it’s both.”
 I have my own ideas of what might be going on but I will withhold judgement for now. Let's just say it has to do with the environment and certain cancer causing elements being released into it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bit Chilly in Your Area? Here's A Warmer Upper

Let's have some chowder and watch some football this weekend...

  • 3 ounces salt pork, rind discarded and the salt pork cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 small red potatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 25 shucked medium hard-shelled clams, reserving 3/4 cup liquor, chopped*
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half, scalded

  • *If shucked fresh clams are not available, a 6 1/2-ounce can minced clams, drained, and 3/4 cup bottle clam juice may be substituted.
Rinse the salt pork and pat it dry. In a heavy saucepan sauté the salt pork over moderately high heat, stirring, until it is golden, transfer it with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, and pour off all but 1 1/2 tablespoons of the fat. In the fat remaining in the pan cook the onion over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is softened and stir in the potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, and the water. Simmer the mixture, covered, for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender, and boil it, uncovered, for 12 minutes, or until most of the liquid is evaporated. Stir in the clams and the reserved liquor and simmer the mixture for 2 minutes. Stir the half-and-half and the salt pork into the clam mixture and season the chowder with salt and pepper.

From Epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fear and Loathing But Not Just in Las Vegas

Fear is defined as "a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid." 

In recent years the marketing of fear has become BIG business in American, actually fear has been something we have marketed for as long as I can remember.

In the Joseph McCarthy era we were looking under our beds for communists, the evil that was that was going to take over the world. Today we seem to look to the skies for the menace known generically as 'terrorism'. 

The unifying ingredient is 'fear' and it works very well for those whose goal is to immobilize the people and in doing so make a profit from it.

It was a different fear that FDR spoke of in his Inaugural Address in 1933, but real or imagined the reality is that we have nothing to fear but fear itself...

"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory." ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt
When we allow the government, our government, to operate in an environment that is addicted to defense spending and secrecy we are indeed swimming in shark infested waters. Anxiety and fear can be very disabling and can at times make us unable to cope with our day to day lives.

We fear terrorist attacks, we fear the failure of banks, we fear inaction on the part of Congress, we fear the rising debt, we fear the reduction of debt - you name it, we fear it. So much so I think we have allowed ourselves to become disabled, unable to think of the very things that are important to our very existence. We need to rid ourselves of these fears and take back the art of living.

We need to get back to work building. Building products, building jobs and building dreams, investing in America at its very core, the middle-class - the women and men who made America great back when it was great. 

Romney wants us to run around in gorilla suits pounding our chests and screeching out to the world - "Beware, fear us, fear us!" If we have to fear then fear 'fear itself'. We don't have to re-digest the history of the world to understand. Just look back the last few years and you can see how totally ineffective fear has been. It has created an environment that led to the collapse of the middle-class. It created an environment  that has seen the growth of a small select group of people and companies I'll call war profiteers.

It all started before President Obama and it it still with us, and fear has become such a valuable commodity for a select group that it is working its way back to become the mainstay issue for the election of 2012.

Now would be a pretty good time to stop this tide, to ask and demand that America focus on issues that involves building back up our middle-class. With roofs over their heads, soup in their bellies a healthy middle-class will be able to lie down at night with its head on the pillow and begin to dream once again...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh Deer!

This was a story that ran in this morning's Chesterfield Patch: Deer rams woman outside local store and knocks her unconscious. The woman remains in ICU in critical condition as one or our local hospitals. 

We have an abundant deer population in my town and adjacent towns and the deer have been a cause for concern on both sides of the issue. No hunting signs are posted around the city of Town and Country and at last month's council meeting heard protests against having sharpshooters brought in to help control the deer population. Ellisville where the deer attacked occurred is adjacent to my town, they claim a deer density of about 65 per square mile. They try to maintain a deer density of about 20 to 30 per square mile.

Both the Fire Chief and the Metro West Fire Protection District Chief Medical Officer said they have never heard of an incident where a deer struck a person outside of a car in their over thirty years on the job.

Perhaps this was just a rouge incident of a deer gone bad, let's hope so at least. Would hate to see the "Attack of the Killer Deer" become common place.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"A Threat to the Future of Humanity"

Pope Benedict XVI was quoted in an article in the Huff Post Daily Brief today as saying that gay marriage was one of several threats to the traditional family that undermined "the future of humanity itself". He went on to tell the assemblage of diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican that the education of children needed proper "settings" and that "pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman." 

The Pope said that while homosexual tendencies are not sinful, homosexual acts are, and that children should grow up in a traditional family with a mother and a father.

I find it astonishingly odd, and yes, downright sinful, that the Catholic Church can turn a blind eye to the sexual abuses of children by their very own priests right there under the mantel of God  and continue to whitewash the events for years on end.

How comforting that the Pope doesn't see this child abuse by the priests as a "threat to the future of humanity".

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Thin Red Line

Pvt. Witt - The Thin Red Line

Spoken by Pvt. Witt ~

“This great evil. Where did it come from? How’d it steal into the world? What seed, what root did it grow from? Who’s doin’ this? Who’s killin’ us? Robbing us of life and light. Mockin’ us with the sight of what we might’ve known. Does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow, the sun to shine? Is this darkness in you too? Have you passed through this night?”
                                               - From the screenplay by Terrence Malick (1998)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Paradise Lost (Again?!)

Satan as drawn by Gustave Dore in Milton's Paradise Lost

There are many interpretations of the meaning of the words of Milton in the epic poem he wrote. Some see it clearly as a work about the human condition, others viewed it as about political war, the English Revolution and Restoration.

Still others see Milton's work as a civil war where Satan raises 'impious war', leading a third of the angels in heaven in a war against God, "Heav'ns Awful Monarch".

Maybe, due to our current condition, a re-read of Milton's Paradise Lost would be deserved. Maybe Milton had the ability to look ahead and make a revelation about our furture.
"The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less then he
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce 
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n."
                                      ~ Paradise Lost - Milton

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Look Back - Vietnam 1965

George S. McGovern Vietnam trip November 1965
"Every Senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every Senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land - young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes. There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes. And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us."  ~ George S. McGovern

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rise and Root

I found this wonderful New Year's gift from our dear Rima, this drawing of Rise & Root, perhaps a symbol that this new year 2012 will be one of change, perhaps a year where fights will be won, a year where growth in the humaneness of humankind will be seen. Perhaps from Rima's dream our hopes will be realized. Thank you Rima for this caring gift, and Peace to you the whole year through.

Excerpted from The Hermitage: Rise & Root

"And so I made this drawing for you - Rise & Root - a symbol perhaps, a waymarker for the Zapatistas of suburbia. As I drew the rooted tree-people raising their fists, I realised that they were the embodiment and representation of my dream-rune: raised fists to the fight, and roots in the earth. I give you this image to do with what you wish: download it, reblog it, print it, photocopy it, make it into stickers and take them with you in your bag to stick on the backs of public toilet doors, on supermarket conveyor belts or over underground advertising screens; make it into a poster, a projection, print it on bags and T-shirts, paint it large on the sides of petrol stations, pavements, parliaments. 
Or take the rune as a symbol we’ll all recognise when it’s chalked on our doorsteps, and tattooed on our foreheads.
I want this image not to be for sale - take it freely and use it, let’s make it spread unrelenting from the edges, appearing everywhere, but not obviously authored. I will not make a website about it. It is rough, and black-and-white as a badly photocopied pamphlet. It is yours. A gift to our revolution for Two Thousand And Twelve. Take it and run."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Never on Sunday

You still have time to set your calendar for Monday, January 2, 2012 so you won't miss the annual Rose Parade, also know as [officially] The Pasadena Tournament of Roses. This year's theme is "Colorful Imagination" and this year the parade will not be held on January 1st in accordance with the Never on a Sunday policy.

I grew up only minutes from the parade route and I wish I had my old black and white photos from the late forties. I remember showing them to my kids and telling them when I was a child the floats were decorated in black and white flowers. It worked for a while.

I don't know about you, but I get so confused when holidays occur on Sunday requiring the Monday Official Holiday rule. I suppose this also means no mail delivery until Tuesday... cheeze ... 2012 will be half over by then.