Moose in the sun

October 8, 2014

Moose in the sunlight - Back lit bull moose on the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, Wyooming.  Photo: #USFWS

Moose in the sunlight – Back lit bull moose on the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, Wyooming. Photo: #USFWS

How could you miss a moose in broad daylight? Easy to miss, if you’re not looking with thought.

Do moose think about coming at you from out of the sun?

If you’re looking for that particular moose, the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge is near Green River, Wyoming.


Education just like making toasters?

September 30, 2014

Fred Klonsky, the best under-published cartoonist on education issues:

Fred Klonsky tells the truth:

Fred Klonsky tells the truth: “Teaching your kids like making toasters?” “Not my kids. Your kids.”

Also at Klonsky’s blog.


Trickle down economics made Kansas business dry up

September 30, 2014

Kansas voters are angry; they elected Sam Brownback governor on his promises that slashing state budgets and slashing taxes for the wealthy would make Kansas prosperous.

Now the roads are bad, schools are suffering, and many other state services can’t be done.  Kansas is crumbling, and the state government is too broke to do anything about it.

Which explains this picture, in Mother Jones:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback meets with Kansas farmers about why the roads to get their crops to market are so bad, breaking their trucks and costing them time and money. Illustration by Roberto Parada, in Mother Jones Magazine.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback meets with Kansas farmers about why the roads to get their crops to market are so bad, breaking their trucks and costing them time and money. Illustration by Roberto Parada, in Mother Jones Magazine.

I do love that illustration. It tells an important story.

From the story, by Patrick Caldwell:

That the RGA had been forced to mobilize reinforcements in Kansas spoke to just how imperiled Brownback had become. After representing Kansas for nearly two decades in Congress, he had won the governorship in 2010 by a 30-point margin. Once in office, Brownback wasted no time implementing a radical agenda that blended his trademark social conservatism with the libertarian-tinged economic agenda favored by one of his most famous constituents, Charles Koch, whose family company is headquartered in Wichita and employs more than 3,500 people in the state. Other GOP governors elected in the tea party wave, such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, garnered more ink for their brash policy maneuvers, but in many ways Brownback had presided over the most sweeping transformation.

Early in his tenure, he said he wanted to turn Kansas into a “real, live experiment” for right-wing policies. In some cases relying on proposals promoted by the Kansas Policy Institute—a conservative think tank that belongs to the Koch-backed State Policy Network and is chaired by a former top aide to Charles Koch—Brownback led the charge to privatize Medicaid, curb the power of teachers’ unions, and cull thousands from the welfare rolls.

“[Brownback] said, ‘I’ll be glad to campaign for you coming up, but I want all of my guns pointed in the same direction,’ meaning there’s no room for difference of opinion. From there on it was chilling.”

But his boldest move was a massive income tax cut. Brownback flew in Reagan tax cut guru Arthur Laffer to help sell the plan to lawmakers, with the state paying the father of supply-side economics $75,000 for three days of work. Brownback and his legislative allies ultimately wiped out the top rate of 6.45 percent, slashed the middle rate from 6.25 to 4.9 percent, and dropped the bottom tier from 3.5 to 3 percent. A subsequent bill set in motion future cuts, with the top rate declining to 3.9 percent by 2018 and falling incrementally from there. Brownback’s tax plan also absolved nearly 200,000 small business owners of their state income tax burdens. Among the “small” businesses that qualified were more than 20 Koch Industries LLCs. “Without question they’re the biggest beneficiaries of the tax cuts,” says University of Kansas political scientist Burdett Loomis.

Laffer told me that “what Sam Brownback has done is and will be extraordinarily beneficial for the state of Kansas,” but many Kansans beg to differ. Brownback had said that his tax cut plan would provide “a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.” Instead, the state has gone into cardiac arrest. “The revenue projections were just horrendous once the tax cuts were put into place,” Loomis says. The state’s $700 million budget surplus is projected to dwindle into a $238 million deficit. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s downgraded the state’s bond rating earlier this year as a result. “The state’s on a crisis course,” says H. Edward Flentje, a professor emeritus of political science at Wichita State University who served alongside Brownback in the cabinet of Kansas Gov. Mike Hayden in the 1980s. “He has literally put us in a ditch.”

Conservatives once celebrated Brownback’s grand tax experiment as a prototype worthy of replication in other states and lauded Brownback himself as a model conservative reformer (“phenomenal,” Grover Norquist has said). “My focus,” Brownback said in one 2013 interview, “is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, ‘See, we’ve got a different way, and it works.'” By this fall it was hard to imagine anyone touting the Brownback model, especially with the Kansas governor at risk of going down in defeat—in the Koch brothers’ backyard, no less—and dragging the entire state ticket down with him. The Wall Street Journal recently dubbed Brownback’s approach “more of a warning than a beacon.”

More at the website.

Income inequality, failure of trickle down economics, dramatic tax cut disasters, all come home to roost at some point. Kansans, it appears, are ready to change things.

How about the rest of the nation?

More: 


Does a name seal one’s geographic fate?

September 28, 2014

A site out of Utah that compiles a list of blogs based in Utah County, around Provo, lists Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub as one of the local products.

It’s tough to complain.  The site doesn’t drive much traffic my way, but there is an occasional foray.  The Bathtub can use all the traffic drivers anyone wants to provide for free, in honest linking.

There’s some good company on the list.  Jared Stein writes about education issues from Utah Valley University, and his blog is listed there.  (One must appreciate a blog that correctly uses a clip of the Black Knight sequence from Monty Python in discussing on-line education resources.)

Mount Timpanogos is based in Utah County.  It’s a beautiful, underappreciated block of ancient stone.

Mount Timpanogos at sunset.  Timpanogos is the second highest mountian in the Wasatch Front (11,752 ft/3,582 m), and forms the eastern border of Utah County.  Wikipedia image, photo by Eric Ward from Provo, UT, USA - Mount Timpanogos - 01/19/08

Mount Timpanogos at sunset. Timpanogos is the second highest mountian in the Wasatch Front (11,752 ft/3,582 m), and forms the eastern border of Utah County. Wikipedia image, photo by Eric Ward from Provo, UT, USA – Mount Timpanogos – 01/19/08.  The founder/editor of this blog has been inspired by this mountain for years, particularly in those years that it greeted him each morning from his bedroom window.

But the Bathtub is not based in Utah County, despite the reference to the mountain in the URL.

It’s great to have something of beneficial serendipity to note, in contrast with our usual observations that the “idiots” are carrying us all to hell in an uncomfortable and inadequately air-conditioned hand basket.

(Writing this reminds me that I’ve never been to the summit; anybody organizing a hike soon, and need a now-flatlander blogger along?)

Another important clue:  Amazon.com is not a company located in the Brazilian rainforest.


Curing malaria in the USA, 1938

September 26, 2014

Photo from the collections of the Library of Congress:

“Groves Bromo Quinine,” sign on a shack advertises a treatment for malaria, and other products; near Summerville, South Carolina. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott, December 1938. Library of Congress.

This photo was taken by Marion Post Wolcott for the Farm Security Administration, documenting how farmers and other Americans lived during the Great Depression.

1938 was a year before DDT’s insecticidal properties were discovered, and at least six years before DDT became available for civilian work against malaria and the mosquitoes who spread the parasites.


Milky Way from Mosquito Creek, Olympic National Park

September 25, 2014

Does the name, “Mosquito Creek,” discourage people from visiting?  See what they miss.

Milky Way from Mosquito Creek, #olympicnationalpark A gorgeous night in a spectacular location. @NPCA , via Hudson Henry @Hudson_Photo

Milky Way from Mosquito Creek, #olympicnationalpark A gorgeous night in a spectacular location. @NPCA , via Hudson Henry @Hudson_Photo


Vulture surfing crows

September 21, 2014

Frans de Waal posted this on Facebook a while back.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to join the crows in vulture surfing?  Doesn’t that look like fun?

A crow, surfing on a vulture. Place, time, and photographer unknown to me.  Via Frans de Waal.

A crow, surfing on a vulture. Place, time, and photographer unknown to me. Via Frans de Waal.

You’ll not convince me easily that the crows don’t know what they’re doing, and don’t have loads of fun doing it.


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