Thursday, February 28, 2013

28 February 2013 One month done and another begu

Cassi Creek:  February is behind us now.  The month leaves us, like much of the nation, windy, snowy, and tired of winter.  While I am weary of hauling in firewood and tending the wood stove, I am not that eager to see the spring weather patterns arrive. 
          The last several years seem to indicate a change in the severe storms distribution patterns. This worries me after the storms of 2011.  I’ve never cared for the spring season.  Between deadly weather and allergies, I’d just as soon skip the season. 
          Whether I choose or not, spring will be here and there are many tasks to accomplish before it arrives. 
          Today, I received a copy of the album “First Rehearsals,” by the Sycamore Slough String Band.  I’ve listened to it and suggest that any fan of acoustic music stemming from the Grateful Dead’s catalogue, should buy this album.  It is truly amazing for a first rehearsal.  It’s well played, well sung, and promises more incredible performances. 
          Things here are proceeding as we expect them to proceed.  Birds and squirrels mob the feeders.  Loki guards against squirrels, and we will have pizza and salad for dinner tonight. 
Until next month… 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Son Had, spokesman for Jema'ah Ansharut Tauhid, the Islamic group founded by Indonesian firebrand Abu Bakar Bashir, said it was clear that bin Laden had become a martyr.

"In Islam, a man who fighting for sharia will earn the highest title for mankind other than a prophet, that is a martyr. Osama is a fighter for Islam, for sharia."

But for many Muslim leaders the greater concern was bin Laden's burial at sea, not land. His body was taken to an aircraft carrier where U.S. officials said it was buried at sea, according to Islamic rites.

I.A. Rehman, an official with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said it was more important than the issue of how bin Laden was killed.

"The fact that he was not armed is a smaller thing...There will be more focus on whether he was buried in an Islamic way. There has been reaction from Islamic clerics that he was not properly buried and this will be discussed for some time."

Saudi Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al-Obaikan, an adviser to the Saudi Royal Court, was more direct.

"That is not the Islamic way. The Islamic way is to bury the person in land (if he has died on land) like all other people."

Amidhan, a member of Indonesia's Ulema Council (MUI), the highest Islamic authority in the world's biggest Muslim society, said he was more concerned about the burial that the killing.

"Burying someone in the ocean needs extraordinary situation. Is there one?," he told Reuters.

"If the U.S. can't explain that, then it appears just like dumping an animal and that means there is no respect for the man ... and what they did can incite more resentment among Osama's supporters."

(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington, Michael Perry in Sydney, Alistair Scrutton in New Delhi, Rebecca Conway in Islamabad, Olivia Rondonwu in Jakarta, Aaron Gray-Block in Amsterdam; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

15 November 2011 Sons and daughters of the Inquisition

The Torture Candidates
Published: November 14, 2011
As hard as it is to believe, the Republican candidates for president seem to have learned very little from the moral calamities of the administration of George W. Bush. Three of the contenders for the party’s nomination have now come out in favor of the torture known as water boarding. Only two have said it is illegal, and the rest don’t seem to have the backbone to even voice an opinion on the subject.
At Saturday night’s debate in South Carolina, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann said they would approve water boarding of prisoners to extract information. They denied, of course, that water boarding is torture, even though it’s been classified as such since the Spanish Inquisition. “Very disappointed by statements at S.C. GOP debate supporting water boarding,” Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, wrote on Twitter. “Water boarding is torture...
            ” Only two candidates on the debate stage recognized the danger of the path being advocated by Mr. Cain and Mrs. Bachmann. Representative Ron Paul said water boarding is not only torture, it is illegal, immoral, uncivilized and has no practical advantages. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. eloquently pointed out that water boarding and other forms of torture diminish the nation’s standing in the world.
“We lose that ability to project values that a lot of people in corners of this world are still relying on the United States to stand up for,” he said…”
Also of interest:
·         Op-Ed Columnist: Torture and Exceptionalism (November 15, 2011)
·         The Loyal Opposition Blog: It's Spelled T-O-R-T-U-R-E(November 14, 2011)

            “Is Mr. Cain not aware that leaders have emphatically rejected water boarding and other forms of torture? Did he not know that active and retired military leaders have said that the use of such abhorrent techniques makes it much more likely that U.S. service members would be subjected to such brutality?
            “For her part, Ms. Bachmann said she would be “willing to use water boarding” if she were elected president. “I think it was very effective. It gained information for our country.”  

Cassi Creek:
          Herman Cain’s stated position regarding the use of torture, water boarding is unequivocally torture, is sadly consistent with his stated position with nearly everything else.  “Might (money) makes right.”  He obviously follows the Cheney/Goebbels school of propaganda – lie big, lie loud, lie often; when in doubt, lie.  Cain is apparently often in doubt.  His capabilities on intelligence collection seem to be on par with his capabilities on social safety networks, taxation, and foreign policy.  Mr. Cain would most likely sell Iran the components they need to complete a bomb. 
          As for Ms. Bachmann, her lack of acquaintance with reality deepens daily.  She may pretend that water boarding is not torture but given her religious fundamentalism, I would not only expect her to use torture techniques against supposed terrorists but others as well when convenient to her campaign and/or term of office.  Given the archaic positions, she holds concerning homosexuality, it would not be unexpected to see her reinstitute political police units empowered to sniff out gays, lesbians, and others who deviate from the Vatican and American Taliban’s views on sexuality and gender-specific roles in American life. 
          The Inquisition was initially about finding and killing apostates and heretics.  Under the loving care of the Catholic Church, it soon became a catch all device to use against anyone who failed to meet the then current social, political, and religious standards/norms.  We have had our witch trials, our prohibition, our ostracisms, monkey trials, and un-American activities trial.  We have a sub-populace of evangelicals all too ready to play “Christians and heretics” at the slightest opportunity, the slightest governmental loss of separation from the pulpits of our Taliban. 
          Ms. Bachmann needs to be apprised that the history of torture far exceeds what she may view as serving national security.  It becomes a tool for the amusement of the powerful and immoral.  Water boarding is a gateway torture.  It leaves few marks but taps into universal fears and physiology.  The awareness that people will lie to end torture becomes a reason to follow up the initial, approved, non-marking, interrogation techniques with more painful, permanently marking techniques; torturing a subject to the point of imminent death in order to extract a confirmatory lie about the lie first extracted. 
          Ms. Bachmann has claimed that the U.S. has a purpose, the improved treatment of Afghani women, as reason to continue our military presence in Afghanistan.   She seems unaware that approved tortures will be applied to females in the military and civilian searches for intelligence and information.  She also fails to recognize that women are more at risk of extreme torture than are men.  The most extreme and painful tortures were reserved for women in almost every regime that allowed torture. 
          We don’t need another Cheney in office.  We don’t need religious fundamentalist in our government.  We don’t need torture allowed as an interrogation tool.  In today’s teavangelist slate of candidates, we have all three poised and eager to return to the torture cells of the inquisition. 

10 July 2012 Picture this

The GOP’s crime against voters
By Eugene RobinsonPublished: July 9
Spare us any more hooey about “preventing fraud” and “protecting the integrity of the ballot box.” The Republican-led crusade for voter ID laws has been revealed as a cynical ploy to disenfranchise as many likely Democratic voters as possible, with poor people and minorities the main targets.
Recent developments in Pennsylvania — one of more than a dozen states where voting rights are under siege — should be enough to erase any lingering doubt: The GOP is trying to pull off an unconscionable crime.
Late last month, the majority leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Mike Turzai, was addressing a meeting of the Republican State Committee. He must have felt at ease among friends because he spoke a bit too frankly.
Ticking off a list of recent accomplishments by the GOP-controlled Legislature, he mentioned the new law forcing voters to show a photo ID at the polls. Said Turzai, with more than a hint of triumph: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done...”
Prodded by GOP political activists, the Justice Department under Bush conducted an extensive, nationwide, five-year probe of voter fraud — and ended up convicting a grand total of 86 individuals, according to a 2007 New York Times report. Most of the cases involved felons or immigrants who may not have known they were ineligible to vote.
The Pennsylvania law and others like it are under attack in the courts; this week, a federal three-judge panel in Washington is hearing arguments on Texas’s year-old law, with a ruling expected next month. Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a conservative Republican, broke with orthodoxy last week and vetoed bills that would have toughened an existing voter ID statute. Maybe the tide is turning. If it doesn’t, these laws will potentially disenfranchise or discourage millions of qualified voters.
In a previous column, I wrote that voter ID was a solution in search of a problem. I was wrong: The problem seems to be that too many of the wrong kind of voters — low-income, urban, African American, Hispanic — are showing up at the polls. Republican candidates have been vowing to “take back” the country. Now we know how.
Robinson might have ended his column, “Now we know how and why!”
Cassi Creek:  Utah has previously passed a resolution opposing the “Real ID card legislation passed and signed in 2005.  Reasons for opposing REAL ID include the intrusive  nature of the law. Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota,Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington have joined Maine and Utah in passing legislation opposing Real ID.[52][53][54][55][56][57]
Note that Texas, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and other states have since passed laws that demand all voters have a state-approved/issued photo ID in order to be allowed to vote. 
          The bulk of objections to the REAl ID card came from the political right, claiming that despite the Homeland Security concerns, the card was un-necessary and politically intrusive. 
          I find myself in agreement with Mr. Robinson.  It is easy to see that the minority voters are far less likely to vote for Romney than are the white voters who either see for their selves, or who have been told, repeatedly and loudly, by the teavangelists, that the role of whites as the linear successors of the old South is rapidly becoming only a memory. 
          I’ve always found the teavangelists demanding “our country back” to smack of racism, anti-Semitism, and other hate mongering.  One has to wonder, given the failures in court to prevent the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, if there is going to be a return to the violence of the 1960s. 
          It seems to be fairly easy to push a bill through GOP dominated state legislatures that can limit the access of minority voters to the polls.  It may require a huge effort on the part of minority citizens to thwart this legislated return to wholesale denial of the franchise to those minorities.  Church busses and personal vehicles can be pressed into service in order to ferry those voters with no drivers’ license to the most accessible point where the approve photo ID card can be obtained.  People organized in such a manner all over the nation  to help others register to vote in opposition to the wishes of the white majority.  Now it may be the necessary tool to pry the reigns of legislative power from the shaking hands of a demographic that is changing, losing its tight control to a pair of minorities that have been excluded and abused at every opportunity.  The aging white southern population appears to be afraid of the potential African-American/Latino coalition.  Such a coalition would have the necessary numbers to seize and hold legislative power.  Together they must strike fear in the teavangelist/GOP base.  That potential coalition is “who we want to take our country back from.”  Blocking the ballot box one last time is “how” they plan to “take our country back.”
          I don’t know anyone who has been purged or excluded from the voter pool.  Neither do I know of any factual instances of voter fraud.  Like the Communists still waiting to overthrow the U.S., the myth of voter fraud is intended to scare the people who lack any awareness of history and science.  Because they can’t tell fact from myth, it does scare them. I'm voting for the side of truth, ethics, and eventual American justice.

15 August 2012 “Who needs the middle class” or “What Big Teeth You Have, Congressman?”

“Paul Ryan: Cruel, not courageous
“By Katrina Vanden HeuvelPublished: August 14
            …”“Ryan’s budget isn’t courageous — it’s just cruel. Three-fifths of the cuts he wants would hit those with low incomes, while those who have the most would continue getting more. It’s no wonder the former altar boy has had his knuckles rapped by a group of nuns for peddling a budget that “rejects church teaching about solidarity, inequality, the choice for the poor, and the common good.”
            “Ryan’s claim to courage — beating up on the poor notwithstanding — lies in his supposed willingness to tackle tough fiscal issues without obfuscation or sugar-coating. This would be admirable – if it were not utter nonsense. He preaches the need for austerity while refusing to touch defense spending. He doesn’t specify which tax loopholes would be eliminated to pay for massive tax cuts. He voted against stimulus to help the whole country, but for the auto bailout to help his own congressional district.
            “Still, it’s true that on pages 44-47 of Ryan’s so-called “Path to Prosperity” plan, you can read exactly what he intends to do with Medicare. Pages 50-54 explain his plans for tax reform. There are giant gimmicks and plenty is left unsaid, of course. But, yes, technically it is a plan, outlined in black and white and illustrated with colorful graphs and charts.
            “Is that courageous? Not on the level of, say, our returning veterans, for whom Ryan’s budget would slash support by 13 percent. No, he is remarkable only because — unlike the man at the top of the ticket, who is a shameless cipher — Ryan isn’t hiding the ball. Instead, he’s hitting struggling Americans in the face with it.
            “But however courageous you consider a congressman for actually revealing his policy preferences, Ryan’s blueprint — now the blueprint for the entire Republican Party — is profoundly uncourageous in its implications for the vast majority of the country.
            “Under Ryan’s plan, the wealthiest 1 percent would get a massive tax break. Meanwhile, Medicare would be privatized, leaving seniors with vouchers that could never keep up with rising health-care costs. It would slash programs helping struggling families stay afloat, such as food stamps and housing assistance, by nearly a trillion dollars over the next decade. Education and employment training — vital to our nation’s future — would be cut by a third. Ryan, whose great-grandfather founded a large road construction company, would spend 25 percent less than President Obama rebuilding our deteriorating infrastructure. And since gutting Medicaid and Medicare isn’t enough, he would also repeal the president’s health-care law, leaving tens of millions of people uninsured.
        “Recently, voters in focus groups refused to believe anyone would propose such a vicious plan. Back when the GOP retained a modicum of humanity, even many Republicans were shocked by how far Ryan went. In polls, people of both parties recoil from his proposal to end Medicare as we know it.
            “It is a plan, as the recently departed Gore Vidal said of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that so influenced Ryan, “nearly perfect in its immorality.” Ryan’s extremism bleeds into social issues. He saluted the troops on the deck of the USS Wisconsin, but voted against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He has repeatedly voted for defunding Planned Parenthood and letting hospitals refuse emergency abortion care, even when a mother’s life is in danger. The right to love whom you want or to make decisions about your own body are not, apparently, among the rights that Ryan believes “nature and God” gave us…”

Cassi Creek:         There it is the plan of attack for the Teavangelists to polish off the former middle class.   The 1%, the super wealthy, will receive yet another tax cut which will be paid for by levying a tax increase on the former working class and former middle class.   The insult will be made all the greater by privatizing Social Security and Medicare; increasing costs to those citizens depending upon our social safety nets while funneling the profits from privatization into the already well-lined pockets of Wall Street investment bankers and financiers who maintain their personal accounts in secret offshore banks. 
          Ryan voted to undertake two un-funded foreign wars, Afghanistan and Iraq.  The cost to our armed forces in injuries and lives lost, WIA and KIA, seem to have evaded his thoughts then or now.  He’s quite eager to cut veterans benefits by 13%, leaving an already under-funded Veterans Affairs agency to try to clean up the mess that these wars have created for veterans. 
          He’s never worn the uniform of our armed forces but is willing to send the troops out to be chewed up and discarded.  He’s well off financially and has excellent health care provisions.  To make certain he keeps that policy, he’s willing to shove vouchers for insurance policies into the hands of retirees and the working poor, knowing that the vouchers will buy little or nothing when inflation and greed have rendered them of no value. 
          He speaks about the sanctity of life while condemning women to die rather than allow them to have a medically necessary abortion.  He plays the same evil game with women’s lives by trying to outlaw contraception.  He preaches about religious freedom while doing his best to shove his brand of Roman Catholicism down our throats and into civil law.  
          There’s nothing brave about Congressman Ryan.  He has other people to suffer in his place, to fight in his place, and to die in his place while he hides behind an economic policy gleaned from a work of fiction written by an author who collected the Social Security payments and Medicare benefits that she so viciously decried.  Be careful which mob you stir up, Congressman. 

27 February 2013 Every silver lining's got a Touch of grey

Cassi Creek:  We escaped any major wind damage and most of the precipitation that swept through the area yesterday.  When I took Loki up valley this morning there were some branches down and evidence of a broken tree just south of our property. 
        Of major concern is that neighbors and visitors are accustomed to using the roadside as a trash can.  From our driveway south, there are a large number of bottles and cans that must be picked up before they become lost in new growth. 
        From our driveway north, the problem is of more concern.  It appears that someone has thrown a plastic bag of used diapers onto the triangle of land that the bad neighbor across the street claims he bought from a previous owner.  There is no record of that small bit of land being sold to him, according to both county records and to other neighbors who previously lived in that house.  I strongly suspect that this trash originated there, as there is a small child there some of the time. 
        I can’t prove that the trash originated there.  I’ll get a shovel and trash bags to clean it up.  While I’d like to return this mess to whomever chose to dump it, I have no desire to throw it onto the wrong property.  There is also interest in not heating up what has become a highly unfriendly situation.  So while the weather remains cold, I’ll deal with this. 
        Quite the touch of gray found in the silver lining of living here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

25 February 2013 Oh, the wicked Wind and Rain - Revisited

Cassi Creek:  Woke up at 0400 this morning.  I had 2.5 hours before the alarm was set to pry me out of bed.  Unfortunately, never made it back to sleep.  This insomnia may be the worst side effect.  I may pile up on the couch and doze for a while. 
          Hit the road this morning, resuming the hike with Mike routine and route.  Going downhill wasn’t too bad.  The reverse leg was a real slog.  However, made it down and back in 30 minutes or so.  Loki was happy to be on the route again as well. 
          Tonight will feature another high wind warning.  Gusts up to 70 MPH are possible.  The south and southeast wind flow will contribute to mountain waves forming at the valley headwall and dropping in to our part of the valley.  Hopefully the upper valley step will direct it over us.  Sounds like another broken night.
`         Rain is also expected tonight.  We probably have a rough week ahead of us as weather is concerned.  We will most likely not see the snow dumps that Colorado and Kansas are dealing with. 
          “The only tune that the fiddle would play was, “Oh the Wicked Wind and Rain.”

26 February 2013 The moon was a ghostly galleon

26 February 2013    The moon was a ghostly galleon
Cassi Creek:  The high winds which were forecast to arrive last night held off until this morning in our part of the world.  Then they arrived in force. 
          When I took Loki out last night, the moon was just topping the eastern wall of the valley.  With the wind=driven lowering clouds diffusing its light, I was instantly thinking of Noyes, “The Highway Man.” 
          This morning there was a sort of break in the weather that allowed me to take Loki along and meet Mike for the hike.  We had the wind and mist at our backs for the downhill leg.  We also had a rather nice rainbow off to our West/left to brighten the skies.   On the uphill return leg, the wind was gusting at 20-30 MPH and the mist was replaced with little bursts of hard-hitting rain.
          Loki enjoyed the downhill leg but the uphill leg left her spooked by the wind.  We normally stop at Mike’s driveway to chat a bit and Loki knows to sit or lay down to wait for me to tell her “house.”  This morning, she was having no part of standing around.  When we reached Mike’s, she pulled on past, indicating her intent to keep going for the house. I let her pull me up the last 0.1 mile.
          The Midwest is once again sliding to full stop under blizzard winds and snow.  The storm is forecast to track in such a manner as to bring us only rain and wind.   But we are then under the gun for increasing snow probability throughout the next several days. 
          Right now, it is mostly cloudy with random periods of sunlight.  I can sit here and watch the trees bend as if they were the masts of a ship under sail, rolling back and forth.  There were branches down along the road all the way down and back. 
          “On a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees.”

Sunday, February 24, 2013

24 February 2013 Following the Oregon Trail

Cassi Creek:  Bad or no cell phone reception, lack of cable bandwidth, and lack of sunlight caused by steep valley walls have all come together as an indicator that we may need to follow the Oregon Trail.  Throw in the onset of Parkinson’s and the various sources of pain that we deal with daily, and it seems to us that the time to move from extreme rural to urban dwelling has arrived. 
          Six years ago, I could cut and split firewood using a hammer and wedges.  Today, even using a hydraulic splitter taxes me.  The vibration from trimmers, mowers, chain saws, etc., got to the point last year that after half an hour or so of using them I would find it difficult to use my left arm. 
          This is no place to live when the upkeep and daily chores over power the ability to perform those chores. 
          It’s time to move back into the city.  If that is evident then perhaps a greater degree of change is called for. 
          Six years ago when moved here, neither of us propose moving any further west.  Gloria did not tell me that she had always wanted to live in Eugene Oregon and I made the erroneous assumption that my drive to move west and north, always present, side tracked for a number of good reasons, would not appeal to her.  Therefore, we wound up here and have largely enjoyed the place.  But the Pacific Time zone beckons and if we are to get there without seeing the elephant, the time to migrate is upon us. 
          So the planning has begun. 
          In the interim, it is nearly Jim Bridger’s birthday!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

23 February 2013 The music never stops

Cassi Creek:  Today, at 1200 EST on KPFA, our friend David Gans will begin a marathon Grateful Dead broadcast.  For 16 hours, he will play music by Grateful Dead, conduct interviews, and play live music as a member of the Sycamore Slough String Band.  That performance, beginning at 1400 PST, is well worth committing your time to listen to the band weave its magic. 
There will be on-line auctions of Grateful Dead memorabilia. 
I encourage anyone who can to listen to the marathon and to contribute what you feel you can.  Here’s the link that will take you to the ongoing auctions on Facebook.
Here’s the link that connects you with the KPFA Grateful Dead Marathon web page.

We’ll be listening here in Chuckey TN.  Hope you’re listening to something that fills your ears and brain with happy memories and new music as well. 
Shabbat Shalom!

Friday, February 22, 2013

22 February 2013 Wave That Flag, Wave it wide and high

Cassi Creek:  Today is the anniversary of George Washington’s birth.  Washington fought the American Revolution using poorly paid volunteers.  From the Revolution to the Civil War all our soldiers, sailors, and Marines were volunteers. 
          The Civil War ushered in Conscription and subsequent riots.  However, conscripts could actually buy their way out of the war by paying someone else to take their place in the army. 
          Following the Civil War, the military was once again an all-voluntary force which absorbed many immigrants who needed jobs and found them in the army and navy of a nation still expanding internally and imperially as a result of land conquests, purchase, and acquisitions via the Spanish American War. 
          The onset of WWI brought about a draft to meet the sudden need in men in uniform.  WWII required even larger scale conscription.  VietNam began with the Cold War draft and ended with a lottery that was intended to alleviate resistance to the universal obligation for national service for all male citizens. 
          The end of the VietNam War brought about the “All Volunteer Armed Forces.  There remain many arguments for and against such a force.  The great leveling effect of mandatory national service remains unequalled.  While the proponents of the all-volunteer force claim that the internal make up mirrors the demographics of the nation at large, there are major problem that concern me. 
          The growth of mercenary armies for hire, composed of former members of the U.S. forces deeply concerns me, as does our government’s use of such ‘’’private contractors” to round out the active duty forces.  Concomitant to “private contractors” is the disturbing evangelical makeup of some of the Army and Air Force units, including their service academies.  I have heard and read too many times about the concept of our armed forces fighting for Christianity.  If for no other reasons than to eliminate those situations, I think that, a national service requirement for all citizens should be reinstated. 
“Summer time done come and gone, my, oh. my!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

21 February 2013 Wheel broke down, leader won’t go

Republicans run out the clock

By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: February 20

“The deficit that should concern us most right now has to do with time, not money. Money can be recouped. Time just disappears.
“And time is what Washington is wasting on an utterly artificial crisis, driven not by economics but by ideology, partisan interest and an obsession over a word — “sequester” — that means nothing to most Americans.
Here is the most important thing about the battle raging in the capital over $85 billion in automatic spending cuts: Republicans are losing the argument but winning the time war.
The more time we spend on pointless disputes about budget cuts no one is expected to make soon, the less we spend trying to solve the problems that confront us today — and, God forbid, thinking about the future…”
Cassi Creek:  Another manufactured economic crisis looms over the nation.  When the ordained budget cuts become effective, thousands of currently employed people will join the ranks of the unemployed.  Federal offices and national parks will be stripped of part or all of their funding until such time as this GOP/teavangelist controlled House can be made to understand that the majority of Americans do not want the U.S. economy trashed, again, by elected officials loyal to ideology rather than loyal to the nation. 
          It has been 25 years since Reagan foisted trickle down  economics on a population that should have known better but chose personal and corporate greed over progressive politics.  The GOP is still pissing on our shoes and telling us that it is raining.  Grover Norquist and his junior high school level economic pledge need to be unseated along with his shell corporations and his bought and paid for legislators. 
          To fully accentuate the lack of concern for the economy held by  the GOP, Congress chose to recess and ignore the problems we voted them into office to resolve. 
          Call your Congress persons and Senators to let them know that the populace wants them back at their desks, chained to them if possible; until such time as they understand that they may not sell out the nation to ideologues and lobbyists.  Feed them MRE’s and give them adult diapers.  They, collectively, don’t deserve better.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

20 February 2013 In the backwoods of Fenario

          “The wolves are running round…” 
Cassi Creek: 
          No wolves in this valley.  Once in a while when I take Loki out for her late evening comfort run, I’ll hear coyotes far off in the distance.  More frequently, I hear one of the screech owls that reside in the upper end of our property.  On a rare night, I may even see one of the owls.  Amazing, how quietly they fly.  We have a bat house up in the trees but it seems to be unused by all appearances. 
          The winter storm season seems to be hanging on.  The spring storm pattern is firming up.  It may be a bad spring for severe weather. 
          Spent the morning doing our income taxes.  It is so much easier with on-line software and e-filing. 
          The forecast calls for a low temperature in the teens tonight.  The wood stove is cleaned and reloaded.  I’ll light it about 1700-1730 and then tend it all evening.  I’ve hauled in about 75 pounds of wood this morning.  I’ll probably bring in another 50 or so this PM. 
          “The winter was so hard and cold, froze ten feet 'neath the ground.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

19 February 2013 Plant ice you’re gonna harvest wind

Lightning bolts and ice: testing planes to withstand wild weather
updated 8:20 AM EST, Tue February 19, 2013

Cassi Creek:  I’ve flown in all sorts of bad weather.  I’ve ridden helicopters in monsoonal rains, landed in commuter planes on icy runways.  I’ve been in planes that were struck by lightning.   Every time I’ve been a passenger in bad weather, I’ve had the good sense to be more or less concerned for the safety of the aircraft and the crew and passengers aboard. 
          I’ve always been willing to accept that the various aircraft have been designed and built with sufficient resiliency and redundancy to survive lightning strikes and with sufficient durability to survive being battered by winds, rain, and ice without falling immediately from the sky.  So far, I’ve been fortunate, and have experienced none of the worst weather conditions that have been implicated in accidents that make the evening news. 
          The testing processes for such inclement conditions and dangerous events are well worth reading about.  This does provide a bit more information than the average passenger may currently possess. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

18 February 2013 In the slot

Cassi Creek:  Sunny and expected to be above freezing today.  No good weather goes unopposed in nature.  Tonight we will be treated to more high winds and rain.  Both are expected to continue into tomorrow.  I believe we have had more high wind conditions this year than any other since we moved here.
          Cruise ships should be carrying backup generators sufficient to maintain, at the least, life support functions.  They should have some form of emergency food supplies that can be stored at ambient temperatures and eaten without heating. 
          The cruise industry would be well advised to improve their planning for such contingencies as have presented in the last couple of years. 
United Arab Emirates helps Joplin ‘think big’ in rebuilding tornado-scarred schools

          The article linked above details the provision of foreign aid to the city of Joplin MO by the United Arab Emirates.  The UAE provided a MacBook laptop to every high school student in the Joplin school system as a replacement for books destroyed by the 2011 tornado.  The UAE is also funding a Neo-natal ICU at the under reconstruction Mercy Hospital in Joplin. 
          According to the article there is far more foreign aid being sent to the U.S. than most of us realize.  The process is fairly quiet and is being channeled to many hospitals including Johns Hopkins. 
          Since there are many areas of the United States that lack only location to be classified as “third world “ in terms of poverty and poor education and health care services, the UAE may make considerable improvements possible for relatively little money. 
          I was not aware that the UAE was involved in funding such programs within the U.S. borders.  This should be more widely known.
The gifts are part of an ambitious campaign by the UAE government to assist needy communities in the United States. Motivated by the same principal reasons that the U.S. government distributes foreign assistance — to help those less fortunate and to influence perceptions among the recipients — the handouts mark a small but remarkable shift in global economic power.
For decades, the United States has been the world’s largest provider of foreign aid, paying for the construction of schools, health clinics and vaccine programs in impoverished countries. It still is, but the level of donations has been increasing among nations with new financial clout, including China, India and oil-rich Persian Gulf states. And at least one of them now sees poor parts of the United States as worthy recipients for that same sort of assistance.
“We spot needs and we try to help,” said Yousef al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the United States.
During the past two years, the UAE government has paid for the construction of all-weather artificial turf soccer fields in low-income parts of New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. The embassy wants to build three more fields this year. Otaiba hopes to break ground on the first of them this spring in the Washington area, although the embassy is still in discussions with potential partners and has not settled on a location.
Otaiba said he also has promised New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) about $5 million apiece to help rebuild their jurisdictions in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.”
          Those who insist upon complaining about foreign aid to other nations should be referred to this article.  So should ever member of Congress.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

17 February 2013 Cold Rain and Snow

Cassi Creek:  Winter has ridden the wind up the valley yet again.  Wednesday the high temperature was in the 50 °F range.  Today it will be, at best, 34 °F.   Snow came with the wind.  We received about 3 inches in total.  There was a thing ice layer under much of it.  The decks and steps were scraped down twice between noon and nightfall.  So did the Pathfinder.  The winds were northerly and gusting to 25 MPH.  Roads were open but the potential for black ice was the subject of a NWS warning/winter weather statement. 
          Four loads of wood made the outdoor to indoor migration yesterday.  One load has migrated this morning.  Normally we try to use the woodstove in the evening and night hours.  Today I intend to keep it going all day.
          Loki has staked her claim to the floor space around the stove.  She’s laying there while watching for squirrels to attack the bird feeder.   She seems to have a particular set of internal rules that determine her responses to squirrels.  She seems to behave as if keeping then off the platform feeder is her contribution to the household.  At random times, we will let her out to chase them off the deck and feeder.  She has yet to catch one but I’m not willing to bet against her doing so.  She is surprisingly fast for her size and age. 
          Time to feed the stove.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

16 February 2013 Danger Close Drop ‘em on my planet

As asteroid whizzes by, surprise meteor makes an impact over Russia

By Brian Vastag, Will Englund and Joel Achenbach, Published: February 15

“It was a day when the Earth was caught in a cosmic crossfire. The big rock came from the south, the smaller one from the east. They were unrelated objects, with different orbits, one the size of an apartment building, the other slimmer but with better aim.
The larger asteroid missed by 17,000 miles, as expected, but the Russian meteor stole the show Friday, fireballing across the Ural Mountains in spectacular fashion and exploding into fragments, creating a powerful shock wave that blew out windows, collapsed roofs and injured 1,200 people, mostly from broken glass…”
Cassi Creek: “ Definition: (DOD, NATO) In artillery and naval gunfire support, information in a call for fire to indicate that friendly forces are within 600 meters of the target.” 
An indication that the unit calling for support was in desperate straits.  They were willing to risk casualties from their own artillery or TAC Air in order to put the incoming rounds onto the enemy forces.  The extreme case was indicated by the call, “Danger Close – Drop on my smoke!”  This meant that the unit in trouble was marking their position with smoke grenades, indicating little or no separation between the two forces. 
            We’re not at quite that point with meteors and asteroids.  We can track them if we can find them.  The object that hit Russia yesterday was entirely undetected until it entered the atmosphere.  The angle of approach and the position of the sun relative to the telescopes tasked to detect such objects prevented prior notice. 
            Even if we develop and deploy better detection systems, the manner in which we will act to destroy or redirect incoming objects away from the planet’s orbit remains to be determined.  We have no single or combined agency capable of deflecting or destroying a large meteor or asteroid.  The cost of such projects will rival all satellite launch vehicles relative to heavy lift capacity.  There will need to be multiple backup launch vehicles available and multiple backup destruction/deflection payloads available and capable of being deployed at extremely short notice.  We have the capability to build and launch such vehicles but we don’t have the payload systems. 
The kinetic energy of such objects is unimaginable to most of us.  Even comparing them to nuclear and thermo-nuclear devices is a poor comparison.  The last two impacts in, or above, Russia produced damage over hundreds of square miles.  Compared to these events, the bombs detonated over Japan in WWII were miniscule. 
                        Further concern must be considered at a more local level.  Any launch vehicle capable of lifting an anti-asteroid system could easily be used to deploy a nuclear weapon against other nations.  This may prove to be an even more difficult problem to solve than the potential objects impacting from space.   
            Closer to home, the material falling is snow.  We have a light ice-layer under the snow on the decks and steps.  I’ve scraped them down about an hour ago and all the flat surfaces have at least another inch of snowfall now.  I’ve hauled in two loads of wood for tonight’s consumption.  Travel may be ill-advised today.  There is no winter storm forecast for our location.  However, there is a winter weather advisory in effect for the eastern side of our Appalachians.  The demarcation line is the state border with NC.  We are three miles west of that demarcation line.  We are supposed to have a 30% chance of snow today.  Totals later.  Possible film at 2300, but do not hold your breath.
            Last item this morning, Gloria got some good pictures of the turkeys feeding on the snow-covered back yard.