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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Something to keep in mind from this year, now ending

Barack Obama ordered the killing of Osama Bin Laden. It took him two and half years to do what Bush couldn’t do in eight. Just saying. Happy New Year, y'all.

Friday, December 30, 2011

On creativity

Ira Glass, from NPR's "This American Life": Links: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira_Glass

How great would this be?

Here's the deal--you're Margaret Thatcher. You're not especially physically attractive and you fight your way to the top of British politics. You're also into very austere, punishing, Right-wing, Conservative, heartless government.
And that's just the beginning. Much later, after you've long-since retired, none other than Meryl-freaking-Streep is tapped to play you on the big screen.
Further proof, as though we needed it, that life is grossly, grossly, too frequently punishingly unfair. (Think happy thoughts, campers).

What'd I say about "The Adventures of Tin Tin"?

I love this. From Wired Magazine: "Hey, here’s a brilliant idea. Take a comic book series nobody in the United States cares about except as an answer to a trivia question about ’80s band The Thompson Twins, and make a movie about it. But here’s the brilliant bit: Completely ignore the amazingly understated and clear linework that the six people who do care about Tintin admire, and instead clench out another mo-capped CGI-fest. Now everyone’s alienated! Fans briefly made outraged noises when the trailers for The Adventures of Tintin came out, and have since settled into ignoring the movie and instead renting the Gerard Depardieu version of Asterix and Obelix." I thought you could see it from the trailer, before it even opened. Link to original post: http://www.wired.com/underwire/2011/12/alt-text-nobody-cares-2011/

Big, big questions for 2012

They are big, indeed, the questions we can pose now, for this coming new year. So many people are predicting collapses of different kinds. So here goes, some of my questions for 2012: 1) Will Greece's economy collapse? 2) Will Italy follow suit? 3) Spain? 4) Portugal? 5) Will the Euro collapse, in full or part? 6) Will the US financial system face the same or very similar collapse as we did in 2008, yet again? 7) Seriously, many people I've spoken to--friends--have predicted and are predicting--gulp--the collapse of the US. Nice thought, huh? Understand, I'm not predicting any of the above. I've just seen many people predicting these things. Consider it just food for thought. Think happy thoughts, y'all. And happy new year.

Missouri and Kansas in "Top 10 States Hit by Extreme Weather in 2011

Missouri is, indeed, number 3 on the list of the "Top 10 States Hit by Extreme Weather" this year. Kansas was number 7. In a way, really, no surprise on Missouri, is it? Joplin was so famously, horribly hit by the tornado May 22. But that's not all on Missouri and extreme weather this year: Tornadoes were just one prong of the deadly onslaught of extreme weather in Missouri, as a combination of heavy spring rains and upstream snowmelt sent the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers surging over their banks. According to NOAA, in an average year the Missouri River channels 24.8 million acre feet of water. This year, it carried 24.3 million acre feet in May and June alone. When the Army Corps of Engineers essentially blew up the levees to save the small town of Cairo, Illinois, floodwaters inundated around 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland. Then there's Kansas: The massive heat wave and drought that devastated Texas and Oklahoma didn’t hit Kansas quite as hard, but it was bad enough to help push the Jayhawk State into the top 10 this year. By midsummer, much of the southwestern part of the state was suffering under “exceptional drought” conditions — it ended up being the ninth driest year ever recorded — and by year’s end, there was still no relief in sight. Wichita had more 100-degree-plus days than any year on record, beating out even the Dust Bowl summer of 1936.

Watch How 2011 Became a 'Mind-Boggling' Year of Extreme Weather on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

The number one state for most effected by extreme weather? Texas. They fried. This past year has been described as "weather on steroids." (see last 2 links below) Here's hoping 2012 is better to the planet. Links: http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/12/30/395849/top-10-states-hit-by-extreme-weather-in-2011/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+climateprogress%2FlCrX+%28Climate+Progress%29; http://www.climatecentral.org/news/top-ten-states-hit-hardest-by-2011s-extreme-weather/; http://thinkprogress.org/green/2011/12/30/395914/our-weather-on-steroids-the-mind-boggling-climate-disasters-of-2011/; http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/12/29/395730/pbs-covers-link-between-2011s-mind-boggling-extreme-weather-and-global-warming-its-like-being-on-steroids/

The biggest way America is broken

The reason our gov't doesn't represent the people is because "campaign contributions" have gotten so out of hand. We need to, finally, institute true, accountable, tough, prosecutable campaign finance reform so the wealthy and corporations can no longer buy our representatives and so, their legislation, thereby buying our laws and government. Untiil we do that, nothing will change. Until we do that, they will continue legislating for those same wealthy and corporations, instead of for the country and people. Right now, it's not "for the people" at all. We need to get the money out, that's all there is to it.

Quote of the day

“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.” So declared John Maynard Keynes in 1937, even as F.D.R. was about to prove him right by trying to balance the budget too soon, sending the United States economy — which had been steadily recovering up to that point — into a severe recession. Slashing government spending in a depressed economy depresses the economy further; austerity should wait until a strong recovery is well under way. Unfortunately, in late 2010 and early 2011, politicians and policy makers in much of the Western world believed that they knew better, that we should focus on deficits, not jobs, even though our economies had barely begun to recover from the slump that followed the financial crisis. And by acting on that anti-Keynesian belief, they ended up proving Keynes right all over again. --Paul Krugman, economist, columnist and writer for The New York Times. Link to original post here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/30/opinion/keynes-was-right.html?_r=1

Happy National Bicarbonate of Soda Day!

Admit it. You didn't know, did you? (Wouldn't you have thought it would be January 1st or 2nd?).

Happy Friday

Reputedly the top-viewed viral video of this past year. I figured I'd only post it once and this seemed the perfect day for it.Enjoy the weekend, y'all and have a very safe, happy and prosperous new year.

Keep holding on...

An old favorite. He's got such a great voice.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quote of the day

Click on picture to enlarge.

The Apple premium

I needed a pair of headphones for my ipod shuffle and was on the Plaza so I stopped in to see how much they'd be. I figured they couldn't be that much and I like the white ones they have so I'd check it out. I asked a "genius" (I'm not being sarcastic) for their "best, least expensive" ones and he said they were---gulp---$49.95. I was stunned. Not only that but they went up to as high as $79.95 for the "really good ones", I presume. Well, it didn't take me long to blow that off and go up the street to Radio Shack. The difference? Here you go:
Again, Apple earbuds--$49.95/pair. The "knockoffs"? Some other brand's earbuds?
As you can see, an Auvio brand (never heard of them) in black for--check this out--$9.95/pair. Now, I ask you, why would I not pocket the $40.00 minimum savings? Yikes.

Sears, K-Mart to only close one KC store

Breaking news: HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- "Sears Holdings Corporation released an initial list on Thursday afternoon of Sears and Kmart stores it plans to close, including two in the Kansas City metro. The Sears store at 601 North M-291 in Lee's Summit, Mo." The one in Lawrence on Iowa Street will also close. "The date of their closure were not included in the list provided by Sears Holdings Corporation." Link: http://www.kmbc.com/news/30097370/detail.html#ixzz1hxnIE0FQ

I'm so old...

I remember all ten (from an online article): 10 Brand Names Gone, But Not Forgotten They are (were): Woolworth's (first named F.W. Woolworth's), Amiga (computers), Merry Go Round/Chess King (clothing stores), Diners Club Card (a credit card), Tab (sugar-free soft drink), Rustler Steakhouse (I remember it but never ate there. Maybe that's why they failed), McCall's magazine (Mom took this one, at one time as I remember), General Cinema Corporation (a movie theater chain), Pan Am (the jet airline) and Chiclets (chewing gum).

What we denied about the George W. Bush administration and the Iraq War

I ask you, is this not what happened, ladies and gentlemen?

An overnight celebration of Kansas City and the rail town it is

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

$2.87/gal was apparently as good as it gets

Okay, so Christmas, 2011 gas was $2.87 per gallon. At least it was up here in the Northland and on the East side of the city. Now, today, it's back up to $2.99/gallon and is expected to go higher in the new year though it's lower on the international markets today, due to the Saudis saying they'd make up for anything we lose if the Iranians shut down the Strait of Hormuz. Who knows? Stay tuned. Link: http://news.yahoo.com/oil-price-falls-saudis-trump-iran-threat-145636032.html;_ylt=AmHECaU3OViIVGuEdlIh4Rn99XQA;_ylu=X3oDMTRvaHE1dDVkBGNjb2RlA2dtcHRvcDEwMDBwb29sd2lraXVwcmVzdARtaXQDTmV3cyBmb3IgeW91BHBrZwMxZWU5ODJlOC02YmIyLTMwMmUtODA4Ni04ZGMyMzFiMWM5ZGIEcG9zAzIEc2VjA25ld3NfZm9yX3lvdQR2ZXIDMGI0MWIwYjAtMzE5OC0xMWUxLWFiZmYtNGFiOTU4MmM2Yjkw;_ylg=X3oDMTJ0am41dTRtBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDM2ExMDUzZWYtNTVlNS0zZDM3LThiZDgtM2E5OTBhZWE0OTBjBHBzdGNhdAN0ZWNoBHB0A3N0b3J5cGFnZQR0ZXN0Aw--;_ylv=3

A haunting, beautiful, sad tale

From The Los Angeles Times today: Texas teen dies on Christmas, leaves online message Ben Breedlove died on Christmas, leaving behind a wordless, two-part YouTube video message about chronic illness, death and the afterlife viewed more than 450,000 times as of Wednesday. In the first part of the video, posted Dec. 18, the teen starts out smiling, brown hair neatly parted, staring into the camera and holding up the first card, written in blue marker. The only sound is instrumental music playing in the background, Gary Jules' "Mad World." I'll leave the rest to him:

The only vampires I'd care to get with

'at's what I'm talkin' 'bout...

More societal change due to technology

There's a report out today on Yahoo! News about the movie industry and trends in it: Movie crowds dip to 16-year low as apathy lingers I think this is both the result of a few factors, at least, going on now as well as technology. First, the article states that movie attendance is down ever since James Cameron's breakthrough "Avatar" blockbuster. Fine. That's one thing. More things are that computers and "smart phones" and ipads are giving people (younger people mostly, so far) access to more entertainment and "distractions" like movies and videos and just things to occupy their time. This, largely, combined with the lack of good films, in spite of their large--huge?--quantity, makes for these smaller audiences, too, I think. That and the downturn in the economy so instead of paying to go see a movie, you just stay on your computer/iphone/ipad/"smart phone" or whatever. Here's another thought, too--what if, sadly, we are getting shorter and shorter attention spans from these things so we either don't want to or can't commit our attention spans to a two hour movie? (Yikes. Let's hope not). Here's another thought--like the slow decline of bowling and all that social interaction, what if we are becoming less publicly social this way, too, so we go see less movies at theaters? Finally, it is SO much less expensive--and comfortable--to stay at home, put a movie on the TV--likely a flat screen with it's beautiful picture--and watch there. And this is all before the movie theaters themselves go fully digital, too. When that happens, the movie makers have said they want the films to be released for viewing in people's homes at the same time they "open" in movie theaters. So, the movie theater? Let's face it, it's doomed. Link to original story: http://news.yahoo.com/movie-crowds-dip-16-low-apathy-lingers-153925810.html;_ylt=AhN5c4UXK6SF0Lq2PfJg_was0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTRkc2ZrdjR0BG1pdANTZWN0aW9uTGlzdCBGUCBFbnRlcnRhaW5tZW50BHBrZwM3YWEzM2YyZi01MWQyLTM5M2UtYTIwNS0xMGUyODM5NTJlMDMEcG9zAzEEc2VjA01lZGlhU2VjdGlvbkxpc3QEdmVyAzVlOWI4MzkwLTMxNmEtMTFlMS04ZGZmLWNlM2RlNzVhZDg0Ng--;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

Yet another, new Catholic sex scandal

Hot off the wires: Officials: Educator Videotaped Students in Showers Fortunately, it's not from the local area. SOMERVILLE, N.J. December 28, 2011 (AP) Prosecutors say an educator secretly videotaped teenage boys in the shower at a New Jersey Catholic high school for nearly three years. Authorities say the videos were recorded in a communal shower area at Immaculata High School in Somerville starting in January 2008. Fifty-four-year-old Patrick J. Lott, of Somerville, faces numerous charges, including child endangerment and invasion of privacy. He is an assistant principal at a public middle school and volunteered at Immaculata. Too bad he's not a Catholic priest or bishop. He'd get off scott-free. Link: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/officials-educator-videotaped-students-showers-15248621#.TvuI-PnNkqM

So many really bleak predictions

I have friends I keep in contact with, one way or another, through email or on Facebook (yes, that) and frequently they will make the point that we're on the verge of World War III or some such cataclysm. I tell you, it's frustrating. It's really dark, really bleak. News out today, yet again, seems to point that way for them, too, I must admit, in this form: U.S. Fifth Fleet says won't allow Hormuz disruption And today's warning is our repsonse to this: Iranian Official Threatens Military Drill Sealing Off the Strait of Hormuz The list goes on and on for these people of how we're all being set up for one more war, this one with Iran. Some say it will be WWIII. Others say it will be the end of the world. It is tiresome. And nihilistic. Can we not have hope any more? Can we not hope the right things will be done and that intelligence will prevail? Is that too much to ask? Sure, the world economies have gone to heck and there are major realignments all across the planet but if anyone knows anything about human history, it has happened before. Imagine life in 1917 Russia. Granted, now humankind has nuclear weapons capable of wiping life off the planet but can we not hope that cooler, calmer and more intelligent heads will prevail? I know I do. I refuse to be all "pollyanna" about the world but that doesn't mean I can't have hope. Sue me. Links: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/12/13/iranian-official-threatens-military-drill-sealing-off-strait-hormuz/; http://news.yahoo.com/iran-navy-chief-says-shutting-off-gulf-very-092339883.html;_ylt=AlX783MEMF0gglA.2MT8vwWs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTQ1ajE1M2NtBG1pdANTZWN0aW9uTGlzdCBGUCBXb3JsZARwa2cDYjBkYjY3ZmEtZTcwZS0zNWQ1LWE0ZmMtNWE5OTIyYTU1OGRkBHBvcwMzBHNlYwNNZWRpYVNlY3Rpb25MaXN0BHZlcgM1YjZhMmRlMC0zMTc3LTExZTEtOTZjZi1mNGNlYTExYmMwYzI-;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

Fighting. At the Church of the Nativity. In Bethlehem. At Christmas. Just as Jesus would have wanted

Can you believe these people? Here's the description of the video from YouTube: "A fight broke out at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem after rival groups of Orthodox and Armenian clerics clashed over the boundaries of their jurisdictions inside the church." Nice. So much for that "turning the other cheek" stuff, eh? WWJF? (Who would Jesus fight?) Then, not to be outdone, the Jews got into it: Israelis Clash Over Strict Religious Codes
Seriously, does it not seem as though the whole world has gone mad? (I must say, however, that I love that smiling, laughing kid in the middle background of the picture. He's totally loving it. I hope he's not a brat.) Link: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/28/144364324/israelis-clash-over-strict-religious-codes

Sorry, but that picture cracks me up

I mean, no disrespect for the deceased intended and I know Kim Jong Il had that whole "cult of personality" going for him his entire reign but geez, come on. Get over it. He died. He was a monumental, murdering, selfish jerk, to boot. Let him die. Let him be gone. He's dead. Could you stop worshipping him now? Please? Are you not embarrassed? (Of course you're not). Don't you feel foolish? (Answer: no). Don't you even feel stupid? (Answer: Again, no, even though they should). Link: http://news.yahoo.com/funeral-north-korean-leader-amid-worry-future-000414786.html

Some good news for the new year

A little good news... 8 states are raising their Minimum Wage rates on New Year's Day, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Their rates will increase by 28 to 37 cents an hour to between $7.64 and $9.04. The National Employment Law Project (NELP) calculates that will bring nearly 1.4 million full-time minimum wage workers an extra $582 to $770 per year. Studies show that even during times of high unemployment, raising the minimum does not lead to a loss of jobs. Actually, the number of jobs has grown after each of the 19 times the federal minimum has increased over the past 73 years. Happy new year, y'all.

Someone had some local video fun

From their notes: "Time lapse of various scenes in Kansas City, MO. All scenes were shot between May and December, 2011, with a Pentax K5, using the built-in intervalometer and various lenses and filters." We look pretty good, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An old idea revisited: A Smithsonian in the Midwest

I see in the Star today that Franklin, Kansas is getting a travelling Smithsonian exhibit soon. They're all excited, naturally, for what it can mean for their town. Good for them. Good for the Smithsonian. Good for this area. It brings back the idea, for me, that it would really benefit the Smithsonian, Kansas City, the region and even the entire US, really, if that same Smithsonian took just some of the things in their collection--from storage--and opened a midwestern museum here in Kansas City. It just makes so much sense. They have more things than they can show so they're in storage. This way, more people could see more of their things. I'm sure it would raise money for them, what with an entrance fee. It would make those pieces more available since you wouldn't have to go all the way to Washington, DC to see them. It would be a great boost for the city and region. People from all over the midwest and even the nation could come here to see the objects. Sure, Union Station is no longer available for it (who knows if that would have been big enough anyway) but we have plenty of space in downtown to locate such a facility. It just makes so much sense. Link to original story: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/27/3339396/franklin-kan-prepares-for-big.html

A load of propaganda--and crap--from the airport authority today

I can hardly believe what I see in the Star this morning. It's an article about the pollution in the KCI airport's pond due to runoff of the deicers used on the jets. That, by itself, would be fine but the article goes on to say that the "New terminal would provide a solution to the pollution." This is so clearly an attempt by the airport authority to propagandize the people of the city into buying into this whole "we need to build a new airport" nonsense. I call it that, too--nonsense and hogwash. As my grandfather used to say, "In a pig's eye." You don't tear down 3 buildings to fix the water clarity of a pond, for pity's sake. I say again, you can't tell me that tearing down and throwing away 3 entire already-existing buildings and then building a new one (or new ones) is more economically-feasible than working with what's already there. There is no way that makes economic sense. Then, added to it that we--the people of the city--like our airport and its current, convenient, sensible, logical design, it's beyond question. The city and airport authority need to drop the idea of tearing down that airport and we need to get them to drop it. Link to original story: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/25/3339013/new-terminal-would-fix-kcis-polluted.html

A no-bid contract??!!

Kansas City, Missouri and yet another no-bid contract?? Are you freaking kidding me? There's an article in this morning's Star, telling of yet another of these things: Energy auditor angry over no-bid Green Impact Zone contract Why is this even legal let alone allowed? How much hell do taxpayers have to raise until this kind of ridiculous, irresponsible, unfair, biased practice is no longer allowed? Why is this even still legal, on this, local level or on national, public purchasing? Why does the Federal Government get a pass on it? The Pentagon and Department of Defense do this with abandon, from what I read. I ask again, why is this allowed? Why is this legal? It's long past due that this should be done away with. If anything needs an initiative so we get it on local, state and national ballots for election, it's this. Link to original article: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/12/3338975/dispute-over-weatherization-grant.html

China vs. the USA

Okay, here's the Chinese part:
China tests 500 km/h super high-speed train A train that goes 500 kilometers per hour. In the meantime, we, here in the USA aren't even working on such technology, I don't think. If we are, I'm certainly not aware of it. Some company may be working on some superspeed train but they aren't being tested or installed anywhere here in the States, between our cities. Here's our current train, as we know:
What is that? At least 40 year old technology, isn't it? 50? Are we the "world's leader" in much anymore? I mean, except in war and warmongering, anyway. Link to original article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/26/us-china-train-idUSTRE7BP04N20111226

War is not a game, by any means

More and more, the American military has been advertising in the last several years to teens and young people in the country, with what seems to be an appeal to potential candidates for service with them, as though war and what they do is some kind of computer game. I found the following yesterday, making my point: "Below is a 30-second Air Force recruitment TV ad (h/t SuperBowlXX); how can anyone, after seeing this, not swoon over the greatness of drones? It’s precisely because of their constant glorification in the War on Terror that their use is virtually inevitable on U.S. soil: if they’re such fantastic weapons for stopping Bad Guys over there, why wouldn’t they be used over here?" I'll discuss the seeming, growing fascism and police state in the US here later, I promise. Link to original post:http://www.salon.com/2011/12/06/nprs_domestic_drone_commercial/singleton/

Missouri, Kansas & Iowa ranked as some of the worst states for "Home health workers"

Missouri, Kansas and Iowa are ranked some of the worst states in the nation for these important workers--that is, very important, once you need them. (see link below). None of these 3 states have either a minimum wage or offer overtime pay for home health workers so companies don't have to pay a true "living wage". Making it even worse is the fact that that's the way most of the nation is, too. Nice, huh? And with mostly Republican and Right-wing leaders runninng too many statehouses, it won't change any time soon, either. Pitiful. So much for that middle-class we used to enjoy. Link: http://stateimpact.npr.org/new-hampshire/maps/home-health-pay-and-overtime-policies-by-state/

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cheap entertainment

Enjoy. Season's greetings.

Things I have right now because of Christmas

Things I have right now because Christmas was yesterday--things I don't usually--virtually ever--have: 1) ham in the refigerator; 2) turkey; 3) broccoli casserole; 4) apple pie (thanks, Myra!); 5) a new merona wool scarf (thanks, Sarah!).

Yahoo! and Yahoo! News have become solidly Right Wing

In the last few months, there have repeatedly been times when I've seen a headline on Yahoo! News that strikes me as patently biased, Right- Wing "reporting". Today is another such day as this is the headline I saw: Ron Paul Is a Dangerous Tin Man Who Has No Heart (link at bottom) Sure, it's commentary and it's even from one of their "contributors" but could they be any more biased? This isn't even reporting. This is just ugly, very-slanted opinion. Later, up poppedd these two headlines, too: . First this one: Ex-Aide: Ron Paul Foreign Policy is 'Sheer Lunacy' And then this one: Fmr staffer: Ron Paul planned ‘No’ vote for Afghanistan invasion, staff threatened mutiny It seems clear Yahoo! really doesn't want Ron Paul even remotely considered as a candidate. Don't get me wrong here, either--I'm no big Ron Paul fan or supporter. I just think there should be responsible reporting and journalism in the country for the benefit of the voting populace. This is just ugliness, opinion, again, and possibly even vitriol. It serves no good purpose. Link: http://news.yahoo.com/ron-paul-dangerous-tin-man-no-heart-053200808.html

America loves the young, rich, brilliant and/or beautiful

Further proof today that America likes to support, help and be with the young, rich, brilliant and/or beautiful, to the exclusion of the rest: Mentally ill flood ER as states cut services (link at bottom) If you're poor, black, Hispanic, gay, homely (yes, I'm serious), a child, mentally- or physically-challenged, hungry, sick, or otherwise downtrodden or deprived in some way, America is not going to beat a path to your door. We reward success, unabashedly. Sure, there are some people and organizations that do help some downtrodden, but by and large, as a society, if you're "down" in some way, America is not for you. At least America is not really for you since the 80's. We seem to have lost our way about then. We love kowtowing to the rich and beautiful above all other, too. We know far more about Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian than the hungry or sick or others in our society. I only point it out so a) we recognize it and b) we change. Here's hoping. Links: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/24/us-usa-health-psychiatric-idUSTRE7BN06820111224; http://pdf.reuters.com/pdfnews/pdfnews.asp?i=43059c3bf0e37541&u=2011_12_22_10_29_7ee9cb1cb9ef4d1bbe110e706e416290_PRIMARY.gif; http://pdf.reuters.com/pdfnews/pdfnews.asp?i=43059c3bf0e37541&u=2011_12_22_11_17_5e768f52c85343ed9bbdc4ee19921da7_PRIMARY.gif

In pursuit of humanity

Observations on a holiday

1) It's always great when Christmas is over (at least for me); 2) The sunshine this holiday was fantastic. Just one more gift; 3) There surely were some odd things about people yesterday; 4) It's always nice to be able to visit with people--family and friends--if even briefly; 5) I have no idea how my daughter knew to come up with the perfect gift for me; 6) The best part of the entire holiday is always--always--the Christmas Eve I get to spend with my daughter. If I can have that, I need no material gift. It's all I want; 7) I always cry at the end of the Christmas Eve church service when, at the end, everyone sings "Silent Night", acapella, each with our own lit candle. It's so beautiful; 8) If the minister knew this year, I think there were plenty in the audience who didn't, how right he was about "people hurting out there." At least he knew.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

"River", redux

I wish I had a river... Merry Christmas everyone.

It's a Calvin & Hobbes Christmas

As ever, click on the picture for larger viewing.
Merry Christmas, y'all.

Joni Mitchell, "Blue"

Have yourself...

Merry Christmas, y'all. Merry Christmas, every one.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Rejoice, rejoice...

For you night owls--or early risers. Merry Christmas.

Silent Night...

God bless us, every one.

Come all ye faithful

God bless us, everyone.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Silent Night

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Merry Christmas

(The Iraq war, anyway). Merry Christmas to all.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

There's nothing more to say. Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Now.

Go, Chiefs!!

Give us this--one more Christmas gift---please! If you can overpower the Packers, surely you can do this!

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

Friday, December 23, 2011

Andy says Merry Christmas

All 26 minutes of him. Merry Christmas, y'all.

We need to stop sugar-coating war

Far from "pretty", war is ugly. War is humankind at its worse. If anyone's going to engage in it, the least we should do is be honest to the point of blunt about it. Then maybe we won't want to continually, repeatedly engage in it. Here's hoping.

More outrageous, ignorant hypocrisy from a Republican Congressman

This person, above, is Representative Jim Sensenbrenner. This is the guy, nearly unbelievably, who said First Lady Michelle Bachmann has a "large posterior." To make matters worse, he was quoted saying it at a church event. The stupidity, ignorance and hypocrisy, all, are staggering. Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2077779/Michelle-Obama-U-S-politician-Jim-Sensenbrenner-apologises-calling-First-Lady-fat.html

No, there's no racism about this president...or at Fox "News"...or in the Right Wing

And it doesn't inform their politics, either, no. Right.

The United Corporations of America, singing the "Hallelujah Chorus", their way

So true. (Thanks to friend Duane for thinking of me and sending this).

I'm so old...

(Taken from a link from Midtown Miscreant's blog--The American Digest, to be open about it). Have a great holiday weekend, y'all.

On the insanity that is Iraq

I've written about this before so I'll make this brief but I just don't understand, can't understand the insanity of bombing and blowing up and maiming and killing people in your own country--your fellow countrymen and women (children, too, at times)--for some "purpose" you imagine. Yesterday, there were reports out of Iraq that, now that the US troops have, for the most part, left that country finally, Iraqis are starting to blow up and kill each other again. A headline this week: Iraq bombings kill 60, revive old fears 16 bombs blown across Baghdad alone and 60 people killed. I always assume that it's because of Sunni vs. Shia differences but that just makes it worse, to me. First, it's worse because it's killing for your religion and second, it's far worse because not only are they fellow countrymen you're killing or trying to kill but there are also such small differences, really, between the two religious sects. It is truly insanity. How does a world deal with this kind of mentality? If you can't make it internally, as a nation and a people, how can anyone on the outside of the country help you? And the answer is, of course, they can't. Links: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iraq-sectarian-divisions-20111223,0,3829851.story; http://www.thejournal.ie/iraq-vp-blames-prime-minister-for-violence-312904-Dec2011/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam

Sam Brownback and Kansas in the news

Unfortunately for Kansans, it isn't good news. The Washington Post ran an article about how Governor Brownback is slashing Kansas spending ala' the Tea Party. In and of itself, cutting government spending could be a good thing, potentially, if it weren't on the backs of education spending and the children's educations. (I love the caption they give the picture for the story: Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas is a career politician. He has served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.) What's sad is that it's all just so he can get national attention for his next presidential run. Luck you, Kansas. Link to original post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-kansas-gov-sam-brownback-puts-tea-party-tenets-into-action-with-sharp-cuts/2011/11/02/gIQAkbnOAP_story.html

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quote of the day

"Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being as humans, and the catastrophe for which the world is headed — be it ecological, social, demographic, or a general breakdown of civilization — will be unavoidable." --Czecholslavakian President Vaclav Havel, 1990 to U.S. Congress Link:

Springfield, MO No. 3 on list of "Cities Gaining the Most Jobs"

This out yesterday, according to the 24/7 blog, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They're findings: 3. Springfield, Missouri > Employed pct. increase: 4.96%; > Total employed increase: 3,610; > Workforce: 82,429; > Unemployment rate: 7.4% The employed workforce in Springfield, Mo., jumped nearly 5% between November, 2010 and October, 2011. The city has added 3,610 jobs over the course of the past year, and unemployment has dropped to 7.4%, below the state rate of 8.5%. The city of Springfield says its sales tax revenue increased more than 10% from last year. The improvement came in "sectors like restaurants, department stores, and home improvement stores," according to Ozarksfirst.com. This growth points to a healthy, growing economy — the most important component of job growth. By contrast, Washington State had cities in the "Losing the Most Jobs" category. That would be Spokane (3rd worst), Tacoma (4) and Vancouver (5). Who knows what's going on in Washington State, eh? Link to original post: http://financiallyfit.yahoo.com/finance/article-113812-11705-4-the-american-cities-that-gained-and-lost-the-most-jobs?ywaad=ad0035&nc

KC: No. 10 on List of "The 10 Emptiest Cities"

Man, is that depressing. I really didn't think we'd be on this list. Detroit? Sure, at the top--but they aren't. The Motor City is at number 8. St. Louis? Heck yes (but actually, they're not even on the list). But Kansas City, Missouri? I just didn't think we were that empty. It's from the CNBC news page last evening. They're stats: --Rental vacancy rate: 11%; --Homeowner vacancy rate: 3.7% "Although the Kansas City, Mo., metropolitan area has seen rental vacancy rates drop significantly — from 17.2 percent in the second quarter of 2010 — homeowner vacancies have gone up by nearly 30 percent over the same time. Interestingly, homeowner vacancies were higher in Kansas City prior to the housing crisis, hitting 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2007." For a bit of schaudenfreude, Indianapolis is at number 2. Forgive me if I should try to make you feel better. Link to original post: http://www.cnbc.com/id/44860467

Breaking internet/UFO news out of Kansas!

A UFO?? In Kansas?? (THAT was a drone??) Link to original post: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/did-military-haul-ufo-kansas-150544531.html

Aisha Khan safe

Aisha Khan, the student at KU who disappeared four days ago has been found safe and sound, thankfully. But it's so odd. In the first and most important place, sure, she's fine. Thank goodness. But in the meantime, she was gone for those 4 days. At this time, the family isn't able or willing to say where she was or why. If police and other authorities spent time working and searching to find her, expending that time, energy and effort, it seems the least the public deserves is to know why she disappeared, if not where. Who can say, at this point? Anyway, it's just odd, really odd. If she felt she had to disappear because of some stalker or some such, it seems it could have been done without this big question. For now, we'll just have to wait for more information.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Long December"

Big fan here.

Even the Wall Street Journal has had it with the Republican leaders

How do you not love this? In the Republican leaders' zeal to kill all things Democratic or Obaman, they've finally, finally gone a "bridge too far", even for The Wall Street Journal. Yay. Did you hear about this yet? The Journal did a piece today on how these Rethuglicans screwed up on this tax cut for the Middle Class: The GOP's Payroll Tax Fiasco How did Republicans manage to lose the tax issue to Obama? (link at bottwom) It's just getting better and better. The only way this could be better is if this were about October of next year, right before the election. A couple favorite lines from the article: "The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play. Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter..." What I loathe in their "we're against everything" and "we want America to fail so we can get back in office" is more than a bit made up that they've finally screwed up big time so we all know it. God forbid they should learn anything. Links: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204791104577110573867064702.html#id=I1_1324508871470&parent=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com&rpctoken=55499318&_methods=onPlusOne%2C_ready%2C_close%2C_open%2C_resizeMe; http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/70746.html

Face it, I-70 will be a toll road one day

Sure, let's face it now. Missouri hasn't got the big money--billions?--it will take to make I-70 the safer highway it needs to be. That and we're in the worst economy in 80 years, since the Great Depression. What other choice does the Department of Transportation have? Answer: none. It's only a matter of time. They'll have to get us all ready to accept it but, after that, it's fast-forward. Get over it. Link: http://www.landlinemag.com/Archives/2004/Dec04/news/states_tolls.htm

New take, part two

New take, part one

Floyd
Pink Floyd

Did I mention I love irony?

That's classic. In fact, I think as soon as it was made, it was.

Jib Jab 2011: They've done it again

An early "happy new year!", y'all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Like a Rolling Stone

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose...

Don't think twice, it's alright

Goodbye is too good a word, babe, So I'll just say fare thee well

A favorite Christmas song

Kindness: pay it forward

It really does work as simply as this. Have a great day, y'all.

Now that's funny

Question

At what point did sweatshirts with pictures on them become "dressy"? Would someone tell me? When was that?

Carl Sagan, 11/9/34 to 12/20/96

"We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers." --Carl Sagan

I'm just glad Victoria Secret uses regular, everyday women for their models

I mean, really, isn't it a relief to you, Mr. and Mrs. Average American, that Victoris Secret uses everyday, average, middle-aged women as models for it's advertising? I know it's especially meaningful for and to me--all of us, really--at this time of year--the holidays--when there are so many of their commercials on TV, that they don't use overly young and slim and particularly beautiful women. They could do that, sure, but they don't. They maintain far more integrity this way, it's obvious. And this way, they also don't objectify women. I tell you, it's inspring. No wonder their sales are so high, with all that "integrity" and realism.

Is this the kind of America you want?

There was a story out this weekend: Russia oil spills wreak devastation--In Russia's northern oil fields, an environmental tragedy _ drip by drip USINSK, Russia (AP) -- On the bright yellow tundra outside this oil town near the Arctic Circle, a pitch-black pool of crude stretches toward the horizon. The source: a decommissioned well whose rusty screws ooze with oil, viscous like jam. This is the face of Russia's oil country, a sprawling, inhospitable zone that experts say represents the world's worst ecological oil catastrophe. Environmentalists estimate at least 1 percent of Russia's annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. That is equivalent to one Deepwater Horizon-scale leak about every two months. Crumbling infrastructure and a harsh climate combine to spell disaster in the world's largest oil producer, responsible for 13 percent of global output. I ask you, is this the kind of world we want here in America? Do we want such a tiny government that corporations can make an ecological mess as big and devastating as this and walk away, unperturbed? Did you see China's air, the weeks before they hosted the Olympics? You couldn't see through it. Sure, we want "smaller government." I get that. I'm on board for that. But I'll tell you what I don't want. I don't want an EPA that is so small and weak that it can't monitor corporations and their possible pollution so things like these take place here in America. I do, in fact, want--heck, need--clean air, clean water and soil. Aren't we all "on board" for that? Link: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/ap-enterprise-russia-oil-spills-050153139.html

Senator John McCain on Kim Jong Il

Perhaps you heard Senator John McCain's quote on Kim Jong Il, after his (Jong Il's) death: "The world is a better place now that Kim Jong-Il is no longer in it. I can only express satisfaction that the Dear Leader is joining the likes of Kadhafi, bin Laden, Hitler and Stalin in a warm corner of hell." My take? Seriously, for the sake of the country, if you can't say anything nice, Senator, don't say anything. These are people with nuclear weapons. There is an outside chance now is a time when maybe we could reach across the globe and no longer be enemies. With all due respect, shut the hell up, Senator McCain. Link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=143968279

Washington, DC time lapse

District Nights from Drew Geraci on Vimeo.

"River"

I wish I had a river...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tired, tired, tired

I am so incredibly tired of the ugliness and negativity and pessimism--too much of it unfounded--along with the baseless paranoia rampant in the world today. Maybe it's just the United States. Between people who haven't paid attention to the local, regional, state, national and international situations, along with the fear of the country failing or falling, coupled with the outright fear of something as simple as having a president of a different race as them who isn't on their own intellectual level, is it any wonder so many are confused? If you haven't known what's going on for the previous decade and suddenly you find yourself--and your nation--in a bit of trouble--financial, mostly--it's no wonder people are scared. Sadly, they lash out. Some just verbally. Others, physically. Uninformed? Yes, frequently. Sincere? All too frequently.

One of the best Super Bowls ever?

That would be this one, this year: The New Orleans Saints vs. the Green Bay Packers. Oh, yeah. The North vs. the South. The nation's second "Civil War." You read it here first.

On Vaclav Havel's passing

Yesterday, Czechoslavakia's "shy and bookish" former leader died. As he was both a reluctant leader and a person who pushed his country to be humanitarians and helped end the Cold War, it reminded me, yet again, of the famous quote from Margaret Mead: "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." May he rest in well-earned peace. Link: http://news.yahoo.com/havel-hero-anti-communist-revolution-died-140546433.html Link: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/margaret_mead.html#ixzz1gxRvXwF1

The Kim Jong Il I'll always remember

From the creators of "South Park"--Matt Stone and Trey Parker, from their 2004 movie "Team America, World Police."

Does this not seem true?

I wasn't a big fan of comedian Louis C.K. but with time, after hearing more from him, I've grown to appreciate what he says. This whole "we're pretty danged spoiled" thing rings true to the core of modern society, I think.

Question

Since corporations are people as the Supreme Court of the US told us last year in their "Citizens United" ruling....why don't we tax them as people?

Great, breaking news on solar energy

Check it out: Breakthrough could double solar energy output "A new discovery from a chemist at the University of Texas at Austin may allow photovoltaic solar cells to double their efficiency, thus providing loads more electrical power from regular sunlight. Not only that, but it’s way cheap." And that's not the end of the good news: "Breakthroughs in the solar industry seem to be coming fast of late. Just two weeks ago we heard about researcher Douglas Keszlar at Oregon State University in Corvallis, who is studying the photovoltaic potential of fool’s gold– pyrite – and discovered instead that some more ordinary materials could make improved photovoltaics, especially iron silicon sulfide. Once again, the advantage would be that it’s hyperefficient and cheap." I'm telling you, one day in the not too distant future, we will be able to have photovoltaic cells all over our homes, our office buildings and cars and they will generate their own electricity, far, far cleaner than we create that same energy today and with, obviously, far less pollution and carbon dioxide released. We won't need big, expensive, crushing utility companies any longer. Think about it. As the song says, "It's a new dawn. It's a new day." Link: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/environment/la-me-gs-breakthrough-double-solar-energy-output-20111216,0,3897047.story

The Top Ten Quotes of the Year

"Fred Shapiro, associate librarian at Yale Law School, has released his sixth annual list of the most notable quotations of the year:" 1. "We are the 99 percent." — slogan of Occupy movement. 2. "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for." — U.S. Sen. candidate Elizabeth Warren, speaking in Andover, Mass., in August. 3. "My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress." — Billionaire Warren Buffett, in a New York Times op-ed on Aug. 15. 4. "I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." — Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman in an Aug. 18 tweet. 5. "Oops." — Presidential candidate Rick Perry after unsuccessfully attempting to remember the third federal agency he would eliminate during a Nov. 9 debate. 6. "When they ask me, 'Who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan?' I'm going to say, 'You know, I don't know. Do you know?'" — Then-presidential candidate Herman Cain in an interview by Christian Broadcasting Network on Oct. 7. 7. "I am on a drug. It's called 'Charlie Sheen.' It's not available because if you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body." — Actor Charlie Sheen in a February interview with ABC News. 8. "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow." — Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' last words on Oct. 5, as reported by his sister Mona Simpson in her eulogy. 9. "I can't say with certitude." — Then-U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner on June 1 when he was asked whether a lewd photograph was in fact him. 10. "Instead of receiving the help that she had hoped for, Mr. Cain instead decided to provide her with his idea of a stimulus package." — Lawyer Gloria Allred on Nov. 7 discussing Herman Cain's alleged sexual harassment of her client. Link: http://news.yahoo.com/99-percent-chosen-years-top-quote-171947746.html

John Boehner & the Republican leadership, once again the tail wags the dog

Once more, John Boehner, his office and the Republican leadership make a deal with the Democrats in Congress, take it back to his people--the rest of the political party--and the extreme right wingers kill it: Boehner Says Two-Month Tax Cut Bill 'Just Kicking Can Down the Road' A day after the Senatevoted 89-10 to extend the payroll tax cut by two months, Republicans in the House are signaling their displeasure with the short-term fix, saying action should have been taken to resolve the issue for the whole year. It's difficult, at least, if not impossible, to work with these people. Link: http://news.yahoo.com/boehner-says-two-month-tax-cut-bill-just-202122428.html

California politician calls for the assassination of President Obama---and his family

Nice, huh? Here it is: "California libertarian and Tea Party darling Jules Manson is caught calling for the assassination of President Barack Obama and his children. On Sunday, many Facebook users were greeted by the shocking spectacle of a California libertarian and Ron Paul supporter by the name of Jules Manson advocating for the assassination of President Barack Obama. Manson, a failed politician, recently ran for and lost a seat on the City of Carson’s City Council last March. The following is the text of Manson’s racist, treasonous, deplorable post: 'Assassinate the (expletive deleted by examiner editors) nigger and his monkey children' I only post this to show how horrible this is and so no one else repeats anything remotely like it. We have to shine light into the dark corners of our society to flush this kind of thing out so it isn't replicated. Link: http://www.examiner.com/democrat-in-national/california-politician-advocates-assassination-of-obama-and-family?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150481264902206_20390720_10150481406332206#f1fb3395f0c88

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ding, dong!! Kim Jong Il is dead!!!

I don't wish ill on anyone (unless they're patently, provably horribly) but, so you know, breaking news. Karma? At long last? "What goes around comes around"? "The good die young"? Whatever. May we now live in an even slightly more peaceful world, because of today's events. Link: http://news.yahoo.com/north-korean-leader-kim-jong-il-69-died-030848603.html

Things our soldiers are doing in our name

We send them over there. The least we could do is know what they're having to do for us.

YYYYAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!

KC Chiefs trivia... Only one other time in Chiefs' history have they changed coaches before the end of the season. In 1977, Tom Bettis took over as interim coach, after Paul Wiggin was fired. His first game as interim was a win. At Arrowhead. Against the Green Bay Packers. Another note: for this 5 minutes, at this moment in time, they achieved what no other team in the NFL did all season. Tonight, they're champions, if but for a day. We can enjoy, for sure.

Former President Harry S. Truman, from the 40's, on GOP Leadership

Click on picture for easier reading.
Stunning. They were that way then and they still are today. Sad.

Ladies and gentlemen, your United States government

500 billion dollars and they don't know what central banks it went to. One half trillion dollars.

Looking forward, looking back

Today in History: U.S. Supreme Court upholds forced relocation and detention of Japanese-Americans during World War Two. That's the looking back part. Looking forward? Congress just passed the National Defense Authorization Act which is said to have made possible--legal--the "indefinite detention" of American citizens without formal arrest charges or trial. As the song goes "when will we ever learn?"

Jon Daily on Newt Gingrich

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"Hey, Newt! Donald Trump called. He wants his irrational ego back."

Iowa, one of top 5 states saving on energy

A report out today shows that neighboring state Iowa is one of the "The 5 States With the Most Installed Wind and Solar Power Saw the Least Increase in Electricity Prices from 2005-2010." The top 5 states are Texas, California, Iowa, Minnesota, and Oregon. As the article says, "The health, environmental, and direct job creation benefits of renewable energy vs. traditional forms of power generation are widely accepted. All other things being equal, it would be a foregone conclusion that renewable energy should be chosen over other types of generation." If one only looked at these factors,cost, above, it seems the investment in clean, "green" solar and wind energy makes sense. If one also takes into account the carbon dioxide and pollution, at minimum, that is not released into the atmosphere, the benefits continue to mount. Think happy thoughts, y'all---and enjoy your Sunday. Link to original article: http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/12/18/390865/states-most-installed-wind-solar-power-least-increase-in-electricity-prices/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+climateprogress%2FlCrX+%28Climate+Progress%29

What have you (this US Congress) done for me lately?

“Just 62 bills were signed into law through November this year, meaning that 2011 may fall short of the 88 laws enacted in 1995, the lowest number since the Congressional Record began keeping an annual tally in 1947.” --Bloomberg News

Quote of the day

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.” ―Franklin D. Roosevelt

A tribute to brilliance

Indeed we do, Bill--we miss you. Happy holidays, everyone.

Big "oops" at Missouri Southern University on the internets right now

Ouch. Those mistakes hurt, don't they? There's a big story on the Associated Press (AP) and Yahoo! News right now about--well, read it: Mo. university chief sorry band played 'Dixie' SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Missouri State University is apologizing after its band performed "Dixie" at a site where three black men were lynched in 1906. Ow. Someone needs to pay more attention to details down at SMU.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The big Iowa endorsement: oh, here's a shock, huh?

Breaking Republican political news: Des Moines Register backs Mitt Romney for GOP nomination Wow, didn't see that coming, huh? Link: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/des-moines-register-backs-mitt-romney-gop-nomination-014155146.html

Sewage rates in Alabama due to federal requirements

I was reading the news today when I was struck by this rather explosive headline: Alabama Residents Furious Over Possible Rate Increases: ‘If They Let This Stuff Happen They Are Going to Get the Biggest Riot the South Has Ever Seen’ It seems people are paying sewage and water bills from the city to the tune of $150 per month--and it's been threatened with big increases. What got me about the story, as far as KC is concerned is this: "Sewage and water rates (on average) have increased faster than inflation because the federal government has demanded that cities replace their “worn-out” sewer facilities to meet federal clean-water standards. When a federal judge forced Jefferson County to upgrade its outdated sewer system, officials decided to finance the project with bonds." Now, they did make a big mistake by taking out floating interest rate loans for the bonds but here's another big problem: "The sewage system was supposed to cost $300 million. However, since the project started in 1996, the costs have risen to $3.1 billion after various problems and a series of bond and derivatives deals fell through in 2008. Not surprisingly, a large amount of corruption was involved. JP Morgan Securities and two of its former directors have been fined for trying to bribe to Jefferson County employees and politicians in a bid to win business financing for the sewer project. Six former Jefferson County commissioners have been found guilty of accepting bribes, along with 15 other state officials." Hopefull nothing remotely similar will happen here in little ol' KCMO with the new sewers we're supposed to be getting. Here's hoping. Enjoy your weekend, y'all. Link to original article: http://news.yahoo.com/alabama-residents-furious-over-rate-increases-let-stuff-202403568.html

2011's weather catastrophes

"To date, the United States set a record with 12 separate billion-dollar weather/climate disasters in 2011, with an aggregate damage total of approximately $52 billion. This record year breaks the previous record of nine billion-dollar weather/climate disasters in one year, which occurred in 2008. These 12 disasters alone resulted in the tragic loss of 646 lives, with the National Weather Service reporting over 1,000 deaths across all weather categories for the year." --The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Link: http://www.truth-out.org/how-now-brown-cloud-what-smog-hath-wrought/1324077646

Obama haters aren't going to like this

Check this out: "President Barack Obama is still the world's most respected leader, according to a new six-country poll." Beat that. It goes on: "Released today by France 24 and Radio France Internationale, the Harris Interactive Poll asked 6,135 adults between the ages of 16 and 64 who live in the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Germany or Spain to name their favorite world leaders. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed chose Obama, which is one percentage point higher than when Harris Interactive asked the same question in November. Close on his heels is the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, who was mentioned by 75 percent of those polled. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton came in third at 62 percent, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel was mentioned by 54 percent of respondents, good enough for fourth place." Just saying. Have a great weekend, y'all.

A story on Missouri kids and tobacco I missed

Last month, a story was released on Missouri's rank, nationally, on how it funds programs to keep children from tobacco and smoking. Unfortunately, it's not good news: Missouri Ranks 48th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Missouri ranks 48th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations. Missouri currently spends $60,000 a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 0.1 percent of the $73.2 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)." What's really horrible about this, besides, first, that we don't seem to care about our children's health statewide, is that Missouri collects $245 million this year "from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend almost none of it on tobacco prevention programs." Making this far worse is that "•The tobacco companies spend $419.9 million a year to market their products in Missouri. This is 6,998 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention." The final travesty? That money is just shuffled off, to be spent elsewhere. Sorry, kids. Really. Sorry. Apparently there is no shame in Jefferson City at all. Link: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/missouri-ranks-48th-in-protecting-kids-from-tobacco-108682719.html

KS Governor Brownback: Back to Brown vs. the Board of Education?

According to The Star a couple days ago: "Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback waded into the complex waters of school finance Wednesday with a sweeping new plan that would give Johnson County schools their long-sought ability to raise more taxes locally." And while that all seems well and good for the Johnson County schools, what happens to all the rest of the counties across Kansas, particularly the ones who don't have nearly the affluence of that county? Doesn't this potentially set up counties in Kansas with school districts that are less well-equipped, because of their inability to raise as much money? So what you end up with are achieving, wonderful schools in wealthier counties and struggling schools--and so, students--in the less affluent counties. Does "separate but equal" sound familiar here to anyone else? Links: http://joco913.com/news/brownback-unveils-school-plan-that-would-allow-districts-to-raise-more-money-locally/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_v._Board_of_Education

On the KCMO School District

Word on the street is that all the school districts in the area that can, in fact, take students from the Kansas City, Missouri School District are all telling the parents or children who call---no. They won't be accepting any of the students from what I understand. They're supposed to actually live in the area/town/city they'd be trying to change to, first, and second, the schools are just too full and are told to say no, when/if anyone asks. That surely has to be a bit of a relief both to the schools who can and do say no, if they don't want or need the new students, and it must be a bit of a relief to the KCMO District. There might have been some concern about too many kids leaving at one time. There's one more factor, too, in this. The KCMSD is said to be willing to pay up to "X" amount of the student's fees and I'm sure they're obliged by law. In the meantime, the other schools the student might transfer into says it's costs are actually higher than that so what would be paid isn't high enough. (see 2nd link, below) Short conclusion? Not many transfers will happen any time soon. March, however, when the lack of accreditation hits, though? That has yet to be figured out. Links: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/15/3322254/kc-district-outlines-how-student.html; http://www.kmbc.com/education/30019921/detail.html

KC Southern Holiday Express Train at Union Station this weekend!

The Kansas City Southern Railroad's Holiday Express is at Union Station today--Saturday--and Sunday and it's free! It's definitely better at dusk or dark, and only open until 7:00 PM both days. Go check it out! Enjoy! And happy holidays! Have a great weekend! (Many thanks to Roy Inman, local professional photographer and train buff) for the "heads up").

Happy Wright Brothers Day

Who knew? Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_Brothers_Day

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy holidays

''Legend has it that every time you say, 'Happy Holidays,' an angel gets AIDS.'' —Jon Stewart on the War on Christmas

Christopher Hitchens quotable

“To terrify children with the image of hell, to consider women an inferior creation—is that good for the world?” - Christopher Hitchens, writer, author

Missouri on the list of "10 Senate seats most likely to change parties in 2012"

The Washington Post's "The Fixx" blog has come out with it's list of, as you see above, the "10 Senate seats most likely to change parties" this year and Senator McCaskill's seat is one of them, unfortunately and, honestly, no surprise. What they have to say: "4. Missouri (D): Republicans continue to insist that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is in deep trouble while Democrats insist that she is inoculating herself from President Obama and her party — look at her recent call for a permanent earmark ban — and that a lackluster field of GOP candidates could save her. Of the GOP field, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) recently told the Wall Street Journal: “We have a three-way primary, and it really depends on who’s nominated, whether they are able to withstand what they know is coming at them in a general election.” (Previous ranking: 3) If there's anything remotely positive about this is that we used to be ranked 3rd most likely to have it happen. It's backed off a little bit, anyway. Here's hoping they're wrong. Link to original article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/could-2012-be-the-most-competitive-senate-election-in-years/2011/12/16/gIQAXEtlyO_blog.html

The Iraq War

Yet more from the consistent, abusive Catholic Church

This out today on the AP wire: Report slams Dutch Catholic church over sex abuse THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — "Thousands of children suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions over the past 65 years, and church officials knew about the abuse but failed to stop it or help victims because they feared sparking scandals, according to a long-awaited report released Friday. The report also estimated that one in 10 Dutch children suffered some form of sexual abuse more broadly in society." Here's hoping that if we shine enough light in these dark corners, it will eventually, one day soon, stop. Link to original post: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ivqYsOO4KtmmFr_RSMAR6Gdo_h3g?docId=57ad53e693704ac0b3f056615c416552

On the Congress that doesn't work

The Pew Research Center found the following in a recent poll: "A record-high 50% say that the current Congress has accomplished less than other recent Congresses, and by nearly two-to-one (40% to 23%) more blame Republican leaders than Democratic leaders for this. By wide margins, the GOP is seen as the party that is more extreme in its positions, less willing to work with the other side to get things done, and less honest and ethical in the way it governs." Just saying.

"Dan Harman Day" tomorrow

It seems there is no better way to remember Mr. Harman than with a donation, too, if you can. His family has set up a fund in lieu of flowers. If you’d like to donate: The Don Harman Memorial Fund Benefiting local Kansas City Charities, c/o Tightwad Bank, 1160 SE Highway 7, Tightwad, Missouri 64735. Link: http://www.nbcactionnews.com/dpp/news/local_news/mayor-james-plans-day-of-honor-for-popular-tv-meteorologist-who-died-last-week

Quote of the day

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." --Albert Einstein

Happy birthday, Ludwig

(and brother Thad).

Can't have it all

A new song by a young and upcoming artist.

Rest in peace Joe Simon, creator of "Captain America"

Rest in peace Christopher Hitchens

Now I just hope not one person or source says or writes anything nasty about him or his passing. Particularly any "Christian."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What the Iraq War was

In a soldier's own words:

I'm so old

 
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One more thing you can't steal

Much as so many people love these things, these Apple iPhones, it's clear now, it's one more of two thing you can't steal. From local news today: Police Use iPhone To Track Robbery Suspects It seems a young man got his iPhone stolen this morning on the way to work. He later thought about the tracking device already on it so he phoned police and got with them. They tracked the phone from the Missouri side of town to KCK and voila'--one iphone returned and two men in custody. It reminded me of the story a couple years ago of the men who stole a new Cadillac, as I recall. The problem, for them, was that it had OnStar on it. The victim, again, got with the police and they tracked the car--within 10 minutes I believe they said--and found the car and the men who stole it, inside their house, eating dinner. Isn't technology wonderful? Link: http://www.kmbc.com/news/30003402/detail.html