Six fundamental forces (Dave Barry via Mark Sackler)

July 19, 2012

Needed some comic thought today. Fortunately, Mark Sackler blogs:

“Magnetism is one of the six fundamental forces in nature, the other five being gravity, duct tape, whining, remote control and the force that pulls dogs towards the groins of strangers.”–Dave Barry

Dog on leg gifDown boy!

I can certainly agree with the first three. I think there is also an absolute force which draws my daughter towards her mother’s credit cards, and everything else is relative.

Well, maybe I don’t agree with the .gif. Our bigger dog has a nose that is just groin height on most people, though, and he acts as if he considers himself duty-bound.  But isn’t Sackler right on with the Dave Barry quote?


Sen. Marco Rubio’s call for a mediocre America

July 19, 2012

As good ideas go, it’s difficult to top the idea of public broadcasting, and particularly Lyndon Johnson‘s creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the subsequent formation of NPR and PBS, and the proliferation of public broadcasting stations across the U.S.

For a small pittance of money from public coffers, the nation gets the massive advantage of working news networks dedicated to informing the public accurately, and great cultural preservation, including education of the very young.

Big Bird, wikipedia image from PBS

Florida’s U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio wants to kill the Big Bird that lays the golden eggs for our kids. Big Bird doesn’t make rude comments in response.

For-profit broadcasting has been absolutely unable to equal quality programs on television like “Sesame Street,” or “Masterpiece Theatre,” or “American Masters,” or “American Experience.  For-profit radio has nothing to equal “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” “Prairie Home Companion,” or even “Car Talk.”

You know some politician is playing to the yahoos and anti-civilization types when he takes a swipe at schools, libraries, or public  broadcasting.

So, we know Marco Rubio‘s questioning of funding for CPB is a swing for the foul territory, an appeal for ignorance, to ignorance and ignorants.  ABC News, a rival of both NPR and PBS, reported the story with all its ironic drippings:

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., expressed worry this morning about broadcasting outlets that use taxpayer money to stay on the air.

But Rubio made his comments on NPR, a broadcasting outlet that uses taxpayer money to stay on the air.

“I do have concerns about spending money on public broadcasting,” Rubio told Diane Rehm during an hourlong Q&A on NPR.

NPR has been a source of criticism from congressional Republicans who view it as a liberal refuge that espouses its views courtesy of public funding. Although only 2 percent of NPR’s funding comes from government grants, the loss of federal funding would undermine the ability of NPR stations to pay for NPR programming, NPR says.

Rubio argued that private donations should support such an enterprise as NPR, and that plenty of outlets are available to house that ideology and format. He admitted, though, that he enjoys Rehm’s show and that NPR’s funding is low on the list of costs that should be cut.

A caller pointed out the irony of Rubio’s position, saying, “He’s spending an entire hour on the show today.”

Rubio countered that a half-century ago, a station like NPR might have been necessary, but “today there is no shortage of options” for news and opinion.

“I have 300 stations on my satellite radio,” Rubio boasted.

300 stations on his satellite — which most Americans cannot afford — and not a single station equal to the worst of NPR’s network.

Shame on Marco Rubio.  Tighten your seatbelts, America, it’s going to be a bumpy election, with lots of appeals to ignorance and praise for doing less than the best.

Do you know where the word “yahoo” comes from?  Rubio is one of the epitomes.

Now, here’s the trouble:  Is he making this appeal in hopes of winning votes, in hopes of getting Mitt Romney’s attention for the vice president’s slot on the ticket?  Or is he really just that anti-quality, anti-American?  Bet he doesn’t like baseball or apple pie, either — we won’t even mention Mom.


July 19, 2012

Found this at Under the Lobsterscope — our incarceration rates form a testament to one of the greatest failures of the U.S. over the past two decades. Live links added here for your convenience.

(This may be the last time we use the reblog feature — it’s very clunky!)

Under The LobsterScope

 

Here are the facts… you make your own conclusion. Personally, I think making prisons a private industry sucks— I wonder when they’ll be exporting the prisoners to China.

 

View original post


John Muir: The saving of 100 million acres begins with a first word on paper

July 19, 2012

John Muir’s place in American history endures constant assault.  Not only did businessmen and politicians of his own day find Muir’s policies anathema to their hopes of profiting from the destruction of the American wild, so today do we hear that profits cannot be had without the rape of the environment.

Muir knew better, and so should you!

On July 19, 1869 — in the middle of the administration of U. S. Grant, Muir began his journals on the beauty of life in the Sierras, to be published 42 years later as My First Summer in the Sierra.

It should be required reading in more American classrooms:

John Muir

Watching the daybreak and sunrise. The pale rose and purple sky changing softly to daffodil yellow and white, sunbeams pouring through the passes between the peaks and over the Yosemite domes, making their edges burn; the silver firs in the middle ground catching the glow on their spiry tops, and our camp grove fills and thrills with the glorious light. Everything awakening alert and joyful…John Muir,
Entry for “July 19 from
My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911.
“California As I Saw It”: First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849-1900

John Muir
John Muir,
1902.
The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920

On July 19, 1869, naturalist John Muir set pen to paper to capture his experience of awakening in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Published in 1911, My First Summer in the Sierra is based on Muir’s original journals and sketches of his 1869 stay in the vicinity of the Yosemite Valley. His journal tracks his three-and-a-half-month visit to the Yosemite region and his ascent of Mt. Hoffman and other Sierra peaks. Along the way, he describes the flora and fauna as well as the geography and geology of the area.

Muir immigrated from Scotland to Wisconsin as a child. He attended the University of Wisconsin and began working as a mechanical inventor. After an 1867 industrial accident nearly blinded him, he abandoned his career as an inventor to work as a naturalist.

California, El Capitan, Yosemite Valley
El Capitan,
Yosemite Valley,
California,
William Henry Jackson, photographer,
1899.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

An early defender of the environment, Muir in 1876 advocated adoption of a federal forest conservation program. His popular articles and books describing Yosemite’s natural wonders inspired public support for the establishment of Yosemite National Park in 1890 and expansion of the park in 1906.  At the same time, Muir continued to work and write as a serious scientist whose fieldwork in botany and geology enabled him to make lasting contributions. Alaska’s Muir Glacier is named for him. In 1892, Muir co-founded the as an association explicitly dedicated to wilderness preservation and served until 1914 as its first president, shaping it into an organization whose leadership in political advocacy for protection of the natural world continues to this day.

The popularity of President Theodore Roosevelt’s groundbreaking conservation program owed much to Muir’s writing. In 1903 Roosevelt and Muir visited the Yosemite region together. In 1908, Roosevelt issued a presidential proclamation establishing the Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, California, in Muir’s honor. Muir died six years later. Although sorrow and disappointment at his failure to save Hetch Hetchy Valley from becoming a reservoir for San Francisco may well have contributed to his death, Muir had succeeded more than any other single individual in establishing the preservation of wild nature as a major American cultural and political value. The clarity of his vision and the eloquence of his writing continue to inspire environmentalists throughout the world.

Learn more about John Muir and the conservation movement in American Memory:


%d bloggers like this: