Monday, July 30, 2007

Nuke schmuke...

[[This is a pretty lengthy watch for the web, but the 30 min. of initial presentation is worth the struggle. With this administration trying to make us afraid that doom is coming because somebody’s grandma has managed to slip onto a plane with a pair of nail clippers or a bottle of Evian, it’s interesting that they’re also encouraging nuclear energy, which I’m convinced we’re not ready for. “Every recent acquisition of nuclear weapons has been tied to civilian nuclear power”]]

“We have met the enemy,
and he is us.”—Pogo

On October 27, 2006, a debate on the future of nuclear power and its role in climate took place in Burlington, VT before the Society for Environmental Journalists, between Moore, former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford and Greenpeace US nuclear safety analyst Jim Riccio.

To see the video of that debate and an accompanying slide show that provides additional commentary, click here.


Peter Bradford is a former Commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and former chair of the New York State Public Service Commission and the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Patrick Moore is chair of Greenspirit Strategies, Ltd and co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, funded by the Nuclear Energy Institute. You can read more about Moore’s position on nuclear power here:

Jim Riccio is nuclear safety analyst for Greenpeace US and formerly worked with Public Citizen and Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Oh, HEPPY Birthday, Don Marquis.

Today in 1878 newspaper columnist, playwright, and short-story writer Don Marquis was born in Walnut, Illinois.

[[I discovered Marquis’ Archy and Mehitabel because of my love of Krazy Kat creator George Herrriman, who did lovely illustrations for several of the books—text is by peter campbell—]]

While Krazy Kat is certainly Herriman’s great work, he is also noted for his wonderfully appropriate renderings of “Archy & Mehitabel.” archy was a talking cockroach and Mehitabel was an alley cat. Due to a tragic mishap of destiny, archy, once a great poet, was reincarnated as a roach, but maintained the poet’s soul, which he poured out in verse each night by hopping from key to key on Mr. Don Marquis’ rusty old typewriter. Archy told stories about Mehitabel the cat, Freddy the Rat, and other denizens of the garage he lived in. Since he couldn't manage the shift key, his verse was relatively unadorned by punctuation.

Don Marquis, the man fortunate enough to have archy living in his garage, was born Donald Robert Perry Marquis. He lived from 1878 until 1937 in the small town of Walnut, Illinois. He was an author and a playwright, and he published archy’s poems in a column he wrote for such distinguished newspapers as the New York Sun and the New York Tribune. All told, three volumes of archy’s poetry were published, one posthumously (for Mr. Marquis, that is—archy, apparently, lives on).

Friday, July 27, 2007


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Giant Squid!! Hide yer fish sticks!

[[I think after years of dealing with voracious predators like entertainment lawyers, theatrical agents, and cosmetic surgeons, California can survive this—I’m just worried about poor Mrs. Paul and her fish stick supply!]]

Voracious Jumbo Squid Invade California
From Associated Press—July 24, 2007 8:46 PM EDT

MONTEREY, Calif. - Jumbo squid that can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh more than 110 pounds is invading central California waters and preying on local anchovy, hake and other commercial fish populations, according to a study published Tuesday.

An aggressive predator, the Humboldt squid—or Dosidicus gigas—can change its eating habits to consume the food supply favored by tuna and sharks, its closest competitors, according to an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

“Having a new, voracious predator set up shop here in California may be yet another thing for fishermen to compete with,” said the study's co-author, Stanford University researcher Louis Zeidberg. “That said, if a squid saw a human they would jet the other way.”

The jumbo squid used to be found only in the Pacific Ocean’s warmest stretches near the equator. In the last 16 years, it has expanded its territory throughout California waters, and squid have even been found in the icy waters off Alaska, Zeidberg said.

Zeidberg’s co-author, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute senior scientist Bruce Robison, first spotted the jumbo squid here in 1997, when one swam past the lens of a camera mounted on a submersible thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface.

More were observed through 1999, but the squid weren't seen again locally until the fall of 2002. Since their return, scientists have noted a corresponding drop in the population of Pacific hake, a whitefish the squid feeds on that is often used in fish sticks, Zeidberg said.

“As they’ve come and gone, the hake have dropped off,” Zeidberg said. “We’re just beginning to figure out how the pieces fit together, but this is most likely going to shake things up.”

Before the 1970s, the giant squid were typically found in the Eastern Pacific, and in coastal waters spanning from Peru to Costa Rica. But as the populations of its natural predators—like large tuna, sharks and swordfish—declined because of fishing, the squids moved northward and started eating different species that thrive in colder waters.

Local marine mammals needn’t worry about the squid’s arrival since they’re higher up on the food chain, but lanternfish, krill, anchovies and rockfish are all fair game, Zeidberg said.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Master Yoda as a Boy.

Monday, July 23, 2007

On sticking to one’s guns, Pt. 1

[[I’ve always admired those who’ve stuck to guns and got out whilst ahead...the English version of The Office and Rowan Atkinson’s lovely Blackadder series spring to mind. Found this piece about Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson on The Writers Almanac. Who knows whether it’s the whole story, but I find it inspiring nonetheless.]]

He studied political science in college, and originally planned to become a political cartoonist. He got a job at the Cincinnati Post, but his editor insisted that he focus on local politics, and Watterson couldn’t get a handle on the Cincinnati political scene. He lost his job after a few months and began drawing up plans for possible comic strips, including a strip about a 6-year-old boy and his stuffed tiger. This idea caught the attention of the United Features Syndicate, but they told Watterson they would only run the strip if he would insert a “Robotman” character that could be sold as a toy.

Watterson didn't want to turn down his first possible syndication deal, but he also didn't want to give up control over his own characters. So he rejected the offer. But his strip was eventually picked up by Universal Press Syndicate.

Once the strip became wildly popular, Watterson began to get offers to license the characters for toys, T-shirts, greeting cards, and movies. He could have made millions from all the merchandising opportunities, but he decided to refuse all the offers. He said, “My strip is about private realities, the magic of imagination, and the specialness of certain friendships. [No one] would believe in the innocence of a little kid and his tiger if they cashed in on their popularity to sell overpriced knickknacks that nobody needs.”

Watterson worked on the strip for 10 years, and then decided to retire and devote his time to painting. He has declined any interviews or photographs since his retirement, and hasn't shown any signs of returning to cartooning.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Machine That Turns.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sekou Sundiata

[[Sekou was a beautiful man, whom I was fortunate enough to meet and spend a little time around when he was in town three years ago or so performing as part of Vanderbilt’s performing arts series. I caught the tail end of a Fresh Air interview with him today, and realised they were re-broadcasting it because he died of heart failure yesterday at 58. Looking for something to include here, found an amazing dearth of stuff when I Googled his name. Prompted me to write the fine folks at The Writer’s Almanac]]

why, dear writer’s almanac, is there nothing in the writer’s almanac archives or on of the work of sekou sundiata? he was wonderful poet, a gifted gentle man, whom i was fortunate enough to meet three years ago. he died yesterday, and apparently nobody has much to say about his living. regarding this i am curious and a little sad.

Kitty Brown.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Torturing Tortoise.

[[My God...I go to Indiana for four days, don’t pay any attention to the news, and I come home to this! Why do people got to be so damn mean? And to a freakin’ turtle! (OK...yes, I know the difference between a turtle and a tortoise...) You go, Bob!!]]

Police Arrest Man for Torturing Tortoise
From Associated Press
July 19, 2007 6:30 PM EDT

VENTURA, Calif.—An arrest was made Thursday in the vicious attack on Bob, a 42-pound pet tortoise who was slashed and stabbed after being stolen from the home of an autistic boy.

Police said the attacker tried to cut Bob out of his shell. His hind legs were badly cut, a toe was cut off, his neck was slashed and his shell was punctured with a sharp object. The animal also was thrown against a wall, police said.

Jose “Tony” Mosqueda, 18, of Ventura, was booked at the county jail for investigation of cruelty to animals and grand theft.

It is believed he acted alone, police said.

“It’s a good feeling. It's kind of neat,” Sgt. Jack Richards said. “It just really pulled at some heartstrings and it’s good to have someone in custody.”

Witnesses to the torture provided information that helped lead to the arrest, Richards said.

Two rewards totaling $3,500 had been offered for help with an arrest and missing tortoise fliers were posted throughout the area, but Richards said he didn't know if that contributed to the arrest.

The 25-year-old African spurred tortoise belongs to Dorothy and Bill Sullivan and is a special friend to their 6-year-old autistic son, who rarely spoke to people but chattered to the animal.

The tortoise was snatched from their yard on July 7, brutalized and dumped in brush behind an apartment complex.

An anonymous caller told the family where to find Bob.

Police declined to discuss a motive, but Richards said it didn’t appear the attacker wanted to eat Bob.

Dorothy Sullivan said Thursday that she and her son danced with happiness when they heard of the arrest.

“This is wonderful news,” she said.

The boy had not been sleeping well since the attack, she explained.

“His security fell apart,” she said. “He was afraid that somebody was going to come and steal him and take him away and hurt him.”

“Now he feels safe. Now he can go out and play,” she said.

The family has installed security cameras and an alarm on the backyard fence so that Bob will be safer when he returns.

The tortoise was being treated at Turtle Dreams, a Montecito rehabilitation center. He remained in guarded condition and was being fed through a tube in his neck.

“He’s getting more relaxed and coming out of his shell” more often, said Jeanie Vaughan, the center's owner. “If he continues without any infection, I think he’s going to be fine.”

Dorothy Sullivan said Bob did an amazing thing when she visited the center earlier in the week.

“He took his first steps,” she said. “He brought his head completely out of his shell...and then he struggled to his feet.”

The tortoise collapsed but then managed to take eight steps.

“When he finished, he had a tear in his did the rest of us,” Sullivan said. “It was an excellent, great sign.”

Bob’s plight made headlines across the country and prompted a flood of calls from people wanting to help. Sullivan said she had created a huge display of cards and letters, including one from schoolchildren who sold lemonade to raise money to help pay Bob’s vet bills.

“I’m still getting 25 calls a day from people all over the nation: New Jersey, Montana, Arizona. I can name almost every state,” Richards said.

Hot tramp...I love you so.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The finger that points...and the finger that gives you the finger.

A brief finger-themed series, it seems.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

I’m with stoopid...

Nev. Couple Blame Internet for Neglect
From Associated Press
July 15, 2007 6:11 AM EDT

RENO, Nev. - A couple who authorities say were so obsessed with the Internet and video games that they left their babies starving and suffering other health problems have pleaded guilty to child neglect.

The children of Michael and Iana Straw, a boy age 22 months and a girl age 11 months, were severely malnourished and near death last month when doctors saw them after social workers took them to a hospital, authorities said. Both children are doing well and gaining weight in foster care, prosecutor Kelli Ann Viloria told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Michael Straw, 25, and Iana Straw, 23, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts each of child neglect. Each faces a maximum 12-year prison sentence.

Viloria said the Reno couple were too distracted by online video games, mainly the fantasy role-playing "Dungeons & Dragons" series, to give their children proper care.

"They had food; they just chose not to give it to their kids because they were too busy playing video games," Viloria told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Police said hospital staff had to shave the head of the girl because her hair was matted with cat urine. The 10-pound girl also had a mouth infection, dry skin and severe dehydration.

Her brother had to be treated for starvation and a genital infection. His lack of muscle development caused him difficulty in walking, investigators said.

Michael Straw is an unemployed cashier, and his wife worked for a temporary staffing agency doing warehouse work, according to court records. He received a $50,000 inheritance that he spent on computer equipment and a large plasma television, authorities said.

While child abuse because of drug addiction is common, abuse rooted in video game addiction is rare, Viloria said.

Last month, experts at an American Medical Association meeting backed away from a proposal to designate video game addiction as a mental disorder, saying it had to be studied further. Some said the issue is like alcoholism, while others said there was no concrete evidence it's a psychological disease.

Friday, July 13, 2007

RU feelin’ lucky, punk?

Thursday, July 12, 2007


[[“The Calf-Path” by Sam Walter Foss. Public Domain]]

One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bell-wether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell-wethers always do.
And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ’twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed—do not laugh—
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane
That bent and turned and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare.
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed this zigzag calf about
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way.
And lost one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf.
Ah, many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Points for originality?

[[Despite the corny writing, this is from a legit news source, not just a bad night on Letterman]]

Robber Disguised As Tree Hits N.H. Bank
From Associated Press—July 09, 2007 8:22 AM EDT

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Leaf it to New Hampshire, where a bank branch was held up by a man disguised as a tree.

Just as the Citizen Bank branch opened Saturday morning,
a man walked in with leafy boughs duct-taped to his head and torso, and robbed the place.

“He really went out on a limb,” police Sgt. Ernie Goodno said Sunday.

Police said the leafy man didn’t saying anything about having a weapon, just demanded cash, and was given an undisclosed amount.

Although the branches and leaves obscured much of the man’s face, someone who saw images from the bank’s security camera recognized the robber and called police.

Officers said James Coldwell, 49, was arrested early Sunday at his Manchester home and charged with robbery. Arraignment was not expected until Monday.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Ah, the support of Family.

His father wasn’t happy that [Saul] Bellow wanted to be a writer.

He said, “You write and then you erase. You call that a profession?”

His brothers went into more conventional careers and Bellow once said, “All I started out to do was to show up my brothers.”

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

W.M.D. (Weapons of Miss Doe-eyes)