Saturday, March 2, 2013

1950s Flashback Motto: ‘We Add Nuclear Power To Everything!’

                          Good Day World!

Today’s topic is about vintage 1950s attitude regarding nuclear power. The country loved the atom back then and designers tried to incorporate nuclear energy into everything.

Fans of the old, but still wonderful, Road Runner cartoons might remember Wile E. Coyote's favorite one-stop-shop for mayhem: The Acme Company.

 A clever person once said that Acme's slogan should be "We Add Rockets To Everything." This, in a kind of round-about way, gets us to the 1950s and the near-obsession that certain engineers had back then with a certain power source. To put it another way, their slogan should have been: "We Add Nuclear Power To Everything."

In all fairness, at first we thought that reactors have proven – for the most part – to be pretty reliable (we are now re-evaluating this again, in view of recent Japanese disaster).

Submarines, commercial power plants, and even monstrous icebreakers have proven that nuclear power can be handy if not essential. But back just a few decades ago there were plans, and even a few terrifying prototypes, that would have made the Coyote green with envy – and the rest of us shudder in terror.

Both the US and the Soviet Union had engineers with lofty plans to keep bombers in the air indefinitely by using nuclear power.

Most folks, with even a very basic knowledge of how reactors work, would think that was a bit (ahem) risky, but what's even scarier is how far along some of those plans got. (GO HERE to see more)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dance away the day: the ‘Harlem Shake’ is here to sway!

Harlem Shake original edition

  Good Day World!

Our topic today is dancing.

Are you still twitching when you watch and listen to Gangnam style videos? Do you long for the next dance craze? Don’t worry my friend, it’s already here. It’s called the “Harlem Shake.”

What I love about the crazy world of dancing is anything goes! Nothing is too far out. Why should it be?

Dancing is an ancient form of expression that still ignites our our modern passions. It’s fun to dance. It’s also fun to watch people dance.   

These days, you can never really tell what will become the next viral dance craze, but you can always count on it being totally weird.True to form, the latest wacky dance videos to go viral are "Harlem Shake" videos.It all started when a YouTube user uploaded a 30 second clip of some dudes dressed in Spandex costumes while doing a wild, hip-thrusting version of the Electronica song,The Harlem Shake.Here's a taste of what that looked like (photo above).

Now that this image is burned into your retinas and can never be unseen, know this: this 36 second video has spawned a huge viral video meme that seems to be gaining popularity by the second.Television personalities from Jon Stewart to the cast and crew of The Today Show have been uploading their own crazy version of the Harlem Shake. 10 funniest Harlem Shake videos right here.  (article source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Today’s Topic: NRA: No Research Allowed: Two reasons the NRA is like Big Tobacco

 Good Day World!

Today’s topic is the NRA’s blatant disregard for facts.

 Guns cause eight times more deaths in the U.S. than in our economic counterparts in Europe and Asia. These are preventable deaths. And we need solid scientific research to show what measures work. But this is exactly what the forces on the Right want to suppress or denounce as “junk,” similar to research about global warming, the relationship between fast foods and obesity or the health hazards of prescription drugs.

Wonder why the NRA can say there is no evidence that gun control works? Because they’ve censored research on the subject.

In the aftermath of Newtown, we’ve learned that the NRA successfully lobbied Congress to suppress research on how to limit gun violence. Since 1996, according to one estimate, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has slashed firearms safety research by 96 percent. There was actual language in the CDC’s budget that said none of its funds could be used to “advocate or promote gun control,” and similar restrictions were imposed on research supported by other federal health agencies. The NRA deemed research on the relationship between teens, alcohol consumption and gun use, as well as the impact of gun storage practices, as “junk science studies.”

What got the NRA so agitated? A 1993 study by Arthur Kellermann et al. published in The New England Journal of Medicine that debunked the myth that having a gun in your home made you safer. The study showed that having a gun in your home increased the risk of one family member shooting another by almost threefold, compared to homes without a gun. The risk of suicide was nearly five times greater.

Having a gun in your home, in other words, “doesn’t convey protection.” It actually puts you and your family at greater risk. Indeed, from 1985 until 1996, the CDC funded a variety of studies all leading to the conclusion that stricter gun control was a public health priority. This was not good news for the NRA, so they succeeded in making sure such studies rarely saw the light of day. According to The Huffington Post, the NRA has spent over $28 million on lobbying since 1998, becoming one of the most feared and influential lobbies. (Read the rest here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Coming tomorrow…no research allowed, or can you say NRA?



Stupid laws proposed this month: Creationism, Ayn Rand , Gun Control

   Good Day World!

Today’s topic is about conservative Republicans who don’t do themselves any favors by acting stupid. The GOP is desperately trying to re-brand from the obstructionist & plain stupid party to something better. Anything. The brand has gone toxic.

The talk about reaching out to all Americans – and not just angry white men – has fallen on deaf ears among the nation’s conservative-bitten lawmakers and politicians.

Enter reality…where in spite of themselves, conservatives just aren’t cutting the mustard and have introduced (and backed) anti-intellectual bills recently. They’re listed below.

For those Republicans who don’t drink the extreme conservative Kool-aid, it has to be hard watching their peers make absolute asses of themselves by denying scientifically proven facts.You can’t make this stuff up. It’s a damning indictment of how far conservatives haven’t come in the 21st Century! 

“Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal wants Republicans to stop being the stupid party — but apparently the memo hasn’t gotten out to state legislatures around the country.

February has been a banner month for truly silly and anti-intellectual bills in state capitals across the country. Well, mostly across the South and Midwest. Some of these bills are based on the idea that birth control is poison, and that students should not fail for arguing in biology class that dinosaurs and humans coexisted. Others would stop gun control efforts by making it a felony to try to enact gun control.

This is not the Onion: Here are some of the actual proposals.

1. Let corporations vote!

In Montana, state Rep. Steve Lavin introduced a bill that would allow corporations to vote in local elections, taking the idea that “corporations are people” to new heights.

Think Progress reports that the bill was tabled earlier this month. But under the proposal, “if a firm, partnership, company, or corporation owns real property within the municipality, the president, vice president, secretary, or other designee of the entity is eligible to vote.”

2. Criminalize gun control!

In Missouri, state Rep. Mike Leara believes even proposing gun control should be illegal. So he has proposed legislation that would make it a felony for “any member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States.”

“I filed HB 633 as a matter of principle and as a statement in defense of the Second Amendment rights of all Missourians,” Leara told Buzzfeed. “I have no illusions about the bill making it through the legislative process, but I want it to be clear that the Missouri House will stand in defense of the people’s Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

3. Birth control is poison

The full state Senate in Oklahoma will take up a measure to allow companies to strip birth control and abortion coverage from employer healthcare plans under a bill that unanimously cleared the committee level last week.

“Notwithstanding any other provision of state or federal law, no employer shall be required to provide or pay for any benefit or service related to abortion or contraception through the provision of health insurance to his or her employees,” the bill reads.

That would put the law in conflict with the Obamacare provision that mandates contraception coverage in employee group insurance plans, unless the company in question meets the religious organization that qualifies for an exemption.

The state senator who proposed the bill said the ide

a came from one of his constituents, identified as Dr. Dominic Pedulla. The Tulsa World calls him “an Oklahoma City cardiologist who describes himself as a natural family planning medical consultant and women’s health researcher.” He told the paper he stopped offering his insurance plan because it required contraception coverage.

“Part of (women’s) identity is the potential to be a mother,” Pedulla said. “They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies.”

4. Read Ayn Rand or stay in high school

The chairman of the education committee in Idaho’s Senate introduced a bill earlier this monththat would make students read — and pass a test — on “Atlas Shrugged” as a requirement for a high school diploma.

Then he backed away from the bill, saying he was just trying to make a point. The senator, John Goedde, told the Idaho Spokesman-Review he was “sending a message to the State Board of Education, because he’s unhappy with its recent move to repeal a rule requiring two online courses to graduate from high school, and with its decision to back off on another planned rule regarding principal evaluations.”

Why that book? It “made my son a Republican,” he said, then adding, “well, he’s not a practicing Republican. But it certainly made him a conservative.”

5. Meanwhile, make the teachers question science

In Kansas, the state Board of Education will vote on new science standards this year, so the legislative jockeying has begun. A bill before the House Education Committee would make schools include evidence against climate change in science classes.

According to the bill, science teachers would be required to “provide information to students of scientific evidence which both supports and counters a scientific theory or hypothesis.”

As the Topeka Capital Journal notes: “The bill says instruction about ‘scientific controversies’ should be objective and include ‘both the strengths and weaknesses of such scientific theory or hypothesis.’ The only controversy identified in the bill is ‘climate science.’”

There is no specific sponsor on the bill, which carries the committee’s name. The committee is controlled by Republicans.

In Oklahoma, however, go right ahead and argue that humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time. On a 9-8 vote last week, the Oklahoma Common Education committee approved the so-called Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act.

If the bill becomes law, it would make it illegal for biology teachers to fail students who write papers against evolution, climate change and other theories with near 100 percent approval in the scientific community.

“I proposed this bill because there are teachers and students who may be afraid of going against what they see in their textbooks,” said state Rep. Gus Blackwell to Mother Jones.” ( By David Daley, executive editor of Salon. MORE DAVID DALEY.)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Parting shots: woman shot by friend’s oven & man wounded by dog

Now and then it’s fun to rip bizarre stories from the nation’s news desks. These two come from Florida, the Sunshine and Gun Enthusiast State!

A Florida man was shot and wounded over the weekend by his dog, who walked away without charges, police said.Gregory Dale Lanier, 35, of Frostproof, Fla., told police Saturday that he and his dog were in their truck in nearby Sebring when the dog kicked a gun that was on the truck's floor, the Highlands Tribune newspaper reported.

The gun went off, shooting Lanier in the leg, Sebring police said.Lanier wasn't seriously injured, said Sebring Police Cmdr. Steve Carr, who actually said police didn't arrest the dog because the investigation was pending, the Tribune reported. He also said he had never heard of a similar case.

According to the police report, Lanier said he was driving along State Road 17 North when the dog kicked "the unloaded .380 pistol." It went on to say that Lanier was "surprised" to learn not only that the gun was loaded, but also that it was actually a 9mm weapon, not a .380.

The incident is only the latest in a string of bizarre shootings in Florida. Just last week, a woman in St. Petersburg was wounded when she was shot by a friend's oven.

Today’s Find: ‘Fantastic’ New Flying Frog - Has Flappy Forearms

A new species of flying frog.

   Good Day World!

 Every now and then I like to visit National Geographic online and check out the animals. Today’s topic is about the discovery of another animal you and I weren’t aware of (unless you’re an expert of course):

 Scientists have stumbled across a new species of flying frog — on the ground

 While hiking a lowland forest in 2009, not far from Ho Chi Minh City (map),Vietnam, "we came across a huge green frog, sitting on a log," said Jodi Rowley, an amphibian biologist at the Australian Museum in Sydney and lead author of a new study on the frog.

Photograph above courtesy Jodi Rowley

Rowley later discovered that the 3.5-inch-long (9-centimeter-long) creature is a relatively large new type of flying frog, a group known for its ability to "parachute" from tree to tree thanks to special aerodynamic adaptations, such as webbed feet, Rowley said. (Also see "'Vampire Flying Frog' Found; Tadpoles Have Black Fangs.")

Rowley dubbed the new species Helen's flying frog, in honor of her mother, Helen Rowley, "who has steadfastly supported her only child trekking through the forests of Southeast Asia in search of frogs," according to a statement.

The newfound species—there are 80 types of flying frogs—is also "one of the most flying frogs of the flying frogs," Rowley said, "in that it's got huge hands and feet that are webbed all the way to the toe pad."

"Females even have flappy skin on their forearms to glide," added Rowley, who has received funding from the National Geographic Committee on Research and Exploration. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.) "The females are larger and heavier than males, so the little extra flaps probably don't make much of a difference," she said.

As Rowley wrote on her blog, "At first it may seem strange that such a fantastic and obvious frog could escape discovery until now—less than 100 kilometers [60 miles] from an urban centre with over nine million people."

(More information and article source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…


Monday, February 25, 2013

Ghost Towns of the Pacific Northwest: Bordeaux, Washington

Good Day World!

Today’s topic is Ghost Towns of the Pacific Northwest. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy checking out the old logging town of Bordeaux, Washington. We have a rich history of logging in Humboldt County and that’s what sparked my interest in other logging towns.

Got a good one today:

Avi Abrams (of Dark Roasted Blend) and a historian Steve O'Neill from Olympia, Washington, team up to bring a true gem of a ghost town. Steve writes: "There are places in the Pacific Northwest that are breathtaking. I'm an historian. Taught history for about twenty years. The Pacific Northwest is not as deeply rooted historically as other parts of the world, but there is a colorful, multilayered, interwoven fabric to this place that I've come to love."

The Story of Bordeaux, Washington: Loads of Pioneer Spirit, Multiplied by Hard Work, Sheer Guts, Greed and Industry
 For sixty years the logging town of Bordeaux, Washington prospered because it was located in the heart of Capital Forest where towering fir and cedar trees provided beams for buildings, spars for sailing ships and shingles for roofs. The 120 ft. straight, clear spars went to Maine to provide the masts for the fast clipper ships. Mumby cedar shingles were prized in the Midwest as the best quality for homes and businesses. After 100 years or more, the warehouses of Seattle and Tacoma are now offices and upscale restaurants with the original, massive, open beams milled from forest giants that once were common, but now are protected.

(Mumby Shingle Mill, 1904. The pond is where the train would dump the Cedar logs so they could be floated to the mill)

Logging towns were very similar to other historical examples of booming economies such as cattle towns filled with drunk cowboys or gold rush towns with newly rich miners trying hard to spend as much as they could, as fast as they could.
The town of Bordeaux as seen from above the saw mill, in 1918 at the time of the first World War. The mist escaping the building in the foreground was steam from a kiln that dried the timber. GO HERE TO SEE MORE GREAT PHOTOS & READ MORE HISTORY ABOUT THE AREA.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, February 24, 2013

AS IT STANDS: Remembering John Steinbeck, a great American writer

 By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
 My favorite author, John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. has a birthday coming up on Feb. 27th. If he were still alive he’d be going on 111 years-old. I’ve always felt a closeness to him through his books. He told stories ripped from the headlines of the day with a clarity and grace only a great writer could display.
While still in college (1977) I considered writing fiction, and wrote a screen play based on his book “Sweet Thursday.”  My creative writing teacher liked it so much he gave me two addresses to write to so I could ask permission to reproduce parts of the book. 
 I can’t remember the publishing house that had the rights back then, but I do recall that the second address was that of Steinbeck’s third wife, Elaine Scott. Long story short, rights to the book weren’t available at the time. Scott, however did send me a nice little letter and wished me well. She even thanked me for my service to the country. I had told her I was a Vietnam veteran going to college and I wanted to be a writer. Perhaps when she wrote me, she was thinking about her husband’s two sons by his second marriage who were also Vietnam veterans.
  I remember even earlier, when I was a junior in high school (1967), Steinbeck went to Vietnam, to cover the war for Newsday Magazine. He thought it was some kind of heroic adventure and was often criticized for being a Hawk. Years later he changed his position on the war.
The story goes that while working for Newsday in 1968, he visited one of his sons on the battlefield. In a case of life being stranger than fiction, Steinbeck was allowed to man a machine-gun on a firebase while his son, John Steinbeck IV (1946-1991) and members of his platoon slept. 
 For more interesting stories about John Steinbeck’s time in Vietnam you can refer to the August 2012 issue of Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine - “Steinbeck’s Dispatches From Vietnam.” (
Steinbeck’s other son, Thomas (Thom) Myles Steinbeck, also served in Vietnam. He was trained by Armed Forces Radio and Television division at Fort Knox, but when he arrived in Vietnam on the second day of the 1968 Tet Offensive he was immediately reassigned as a helicopter door-gunner.
Elaine Scott’s letter so touched me that I didn’t care about not being able to sell the screen play adaptation. She was still a link to the man I had  admired since I read “The Grapes of Wrath” in high school.
While in high school I played Lennie in the stage play “Of Mice and Men,”  a drama about the dreams of a pair of migrant agricultural laborers in California. Just four years prior to that, the 1962 Nobel Prize citation called the play a “…little masterpiece.”

 There was an irony in his selection for the Nobel prize that most people weren’t aware of until last year. In 2012 (50 years later), the Nobel Prize opened its archives and revealed that Steinbeck was a "compromise choice" from a shortlist consisting of Steinbeck, British authors Robert Graves and Lawrence Durrel, French dramatist Jean Anouilh and Danish author Karen Blixen.
The declassified documents showed that he was chosen as the best of a bad lot. Committee member Henry Olsson wrote, "There aren't any obvious candidates for the Nobel prize and the prize committee is in an unenviable situation.”
Hard to believe isn’t it? One of the greatest of all American authors won a Nobel Prize by default. Steinbeck was controversial in his day for belonging to the League of American Writers, a Communist organization in 1935.
 Historians suggest that Steinbeck’s contacts with leftist authors, journalists, and labor figures influenced much of his writing. The Grapes of Wrath is a great example. Some critics found it too sympathetic to the workers' plight and too critical of capitalism but the book and the movie found a large audience in the working class.
The Grapes of Wrath” was banned by school boards in 1939. Copies were actually burned in Salinas on two different occasions. According to the American Library Association Steinbeck was one of the ten most frequently banned authors from 1990 to 2004, with “Of Mice and Men” ranking sixth out of a 100 banned books in the United States.
As far as I’m concerned those are great credentials. Imagine, people are still trying to quiet his voice. It’ll never happen. Not as long as we are free.

While serving as a war correspondent in WW II, Steinbeck sustained wounds from shrapnel and some psychological trauma. The fact that he was able to overcome them and go on has always inspired me. How could it not?
His body of work, twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories, will always stand as testimony of the human spirit. Once scorned in the communities where he grew up, he’s now a tourist attraction and proud locals are happy to claim him as a native son.
 As It Stands, Happy upcoming Birthday John…

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...