Those of you who have been with me for any length of time know I enjoy many things other than politics - art, history, humor, cooking, wordplay and who knows what all else. But I have always winced a bit when I posted such things on an ostensibly 'political' blog. I enjoy creating - especially animated images, collages, slideshows and plain old 'art'. It is that which gives me pleasure - writing about current events is something I am compelled to do. Were it not for the ability to express myself in that arena, I would go slowly insane. Until now, I simply tossed it all up onto this place and begged your indulgence. To my mind, doing so not only diluted my thoughts re current events, news and politics - it distracted negatively. It also made things more difficult physically by slowing things down and discouraging potential readers.
The new place - www.notaforum.org - addresses all that and more. Because the software is so simple and easy, I am less distracted myself and can focus on the actual content. Now, I still have plenty to say about the current state of affairs in politics, culture and society and say it. I will continue to say it here and there. But what I post here will be specifically things which fall into the category of 'conservative political opinion' - what I have to say about that as unworthy or insignificant as it may be. I will continue to create and post images which illustrate those thoughts here. If I make something that might be entertaining or useful for other conservatives, I'll post it here. If something comes up that relates directly to the 'blogosphere' it will be posted here - although blogospherics has never really interested me. And until the new place starts getting the traffic - if something demands the largest airing - it will be here I post it.
Everything else and there is a whole new world of it - will be posted over there.
The registration is very fast, simple and easy and I will assist in any way.
Reposted from 10/12/06
Second reposting 10/21/07
Recently, the DC-10, you see on the left, was successfully used in California, to battle the massive 'Day Fire' in SoCal, which is still burning. This fire will be one of the largest forest fires in this nations history, already burning nearly 300,000 acres on state and federal land. The fire started on Labor Day and is costing $1,000,000 a day to fight.
This was the debut of jet fire fighting in the United States. The DC-10 is capable of carrying over four times as much water as conventional air tankers and has a much faster turnaround time. It does the job of five C-130 Hercules tankers. But it is only allowed to fight fires on state land.
After the crash of two C-130s two years ago, due to wing fatigue, the Federal government has all but banned the entrance of any new aircraft into the fire fighting arena. Which federal bureacracy is holding this advance up?
The United States Forest Service. The USFS is responsible for contracting fire fighting equipment, such as trucks, tractors and crews on fires on federal land. They are requiring additional inspections, above and beyond those for regular commercial aircraft, thereby imposing an almost insurmountable barrier to bringing the DC-10 and even more advanced air tankers online.
Four years ago, a fire burned in Southern Oregon, in terrain that was without any roads and almost impassable, for two months. At that time, the Russians offered the use of two of their huge Ilyushin-76TD 'Waterbombers' to the USFS. The offer was declined. The Forest Service stated that the Russian craft were designed to fight fires in Siberia, in relatively flat terrain. Even though, the Waterbombers had been successfully used for years thoughout Russia in all terrains.
The Russians apparently think more of their forests than us, for they have now developed an even more advanced jet platform with which to fight fires. An amphibious jet. The Beriev BE-200. Because it is amphibious, it requires no airfield, therefore eliminating long turnarounds for fueling, allowing it to stay on the fire much longer. The BE-200 has been ordered by several European nations and used recently in Greece. One U.S. company, Hawkins&Powers, has signed a letter of intent to purchase 8 of these craft. H&P is at this writing financially unable to fufill this agreement, and is near bankruptcy.
Evergreen Aviation, is developing the 747 Supertanker. And while, much larger and able to carry 3 times as much as the DC-10 and not nearly as difficult to certify, the Supertanker costs 20 times as much and is unable to work in as rugged terrain, and more importantly, unable to work out of rural airfields. Most forest fires burn far from urban airfields with long enough runways to support the 747. Thus the turnaround time is greatly extended.
So, we have the Russians willing to let us use a tried and true firefighter and we decline.
We have a US company, which was practically founded by the C.I.A. (Evergreen Aviation), building a Supertanker, which will have limited potential.
And we have a tried and true workhorse of an aircraft, the DC-10, readily available, easily refitted, very well adapted to all but the most rugged terrain, able to land and takeoff from most airfields and any number of qualified pilots available - already equiped to fight fires NOW. And the DC-10 has proven itself on actual fires in front of thousands of television viewers via news footage of the Day Fire.
And yet, the United States Forest Service continues to stand in the way of putting out the fire.
Author's note. Why is this? While it should come as no surprise, the US government is so wrapped up in redtape, that it has almost ceased to function, this question of fire fighting tankers is one that will become more pressing each year. This is due to the protections for the spotted owl and disallowance of clear-cutting and recent court decisions barring the building of roads into national forest land. All of these factors contribute to an ever denser and more vulnerable forest. The fires will move faster, burn more, destroy more habitat, buildings and wildlife. Being unable to improve the equipment with which to fight these future fires will result in the destruction of all of that which those many regulations sought to protect.
BEAVERTON, OR - Nike on Tuesday unveiled what it said is the first shoe designed specifically for American Indians, an effort aiming at promoting physical fitness in a population with high obesity rates.
The Beaverton-based company says the Air Native N7 is designed with a larger fit for the distinct foot shape of American Indians, and has a culturally specific look. It will be distributed solely to American Indians; tribal wellness programs and tribal schools nationwide will be able to purchase the shoe at wholesale price and then pass it along to individuals, often at no cost.
"Nike is aware of the growing health issues facing Native Americans," said Sam McCracken, manager of Nike's Native American Business program. "We are stepping up our commitment ... to elevate the issue of Native American health and wellness."
Nike said it is the first time it has designed a shoe for a specific race or ethnicity. It said all profits from the sale of the shoe will be reinvested in health programs for tribal lands, where problems with obesity, diabetes and related conditions are near epidemic levels in some tribes.
Nike designers and researchers looked at the feet of more than 200 people from more than 70 tribes nationwide and found that in general, American Indians have a much wider and taller foot than the average shoe accommodates. The average shoe width of men and women measured was three width sizes larger than the standard Nike shoe.
As a result, the Air Native is wider with a larger toe box. The shoe has fewer seams for irritation and a thicker sock liner for comfort. Link
Few corporations are as adept at marketing as Nike - Phil Knight is a certifiable genius. This new line of shoes will be very expensive, more so than the run-of-the-mill (sorry) athletic shoe. The greater cost will be ascribed to the usage of more material, the research conducted, the separate ad campaigns and the fact that it is a 'niche item' and thus cannot be produced in as great a quantity as the more widely sold lines, hence smaller profit margin. Okay fine.
But that is all bullshit. The actual cost of a pair of Nikes is around $5.00 - the rest is all hype and profit. And you can expect these 'injun' shoes to cost close to $200.00, if not more. Nike is trying to give the impression that they will offer discounts to Native America organizations. Newsflash! Native Americans have the highest ratio of poverty and public assistance of any race (ack) in America. That means that these will be paid for with taxpayer money, by and large (oops). Rest assured that local, state and the federal government will find ways to fund the purchase of these race-specific shoes. The Americans with Disabilities Act will come into play eventually. And I have no qualms about that at all.
I've said it often enough hereon, that I personally find the situation on the reservation abhorent AND that I am mostly Indian myself. So when I see the white man trying to blow smoke up my ass, I go on the warpath. Here's the real deal. This 'foot size and structure' issue is NOT isolated to Native Americans. Most people in this nation have Native American blood and thus, there are MILLIONS of Americans with this 'bigfoot' affliction. (You knew THAT was comin') Nike is merely doing something that should've been done decades ago. Make shoes designed for real people.
I had a girlfriend who was a shoe model, and as with clothes models, she was diminuitive and had tiny feet - Size 4 1/2 - and THAT's why she was a shoe model. shoes are designed for small feet - ask ANY woman. Men too, have to buy work boots a half or whole size bigger because their toes get crunched - ask any guy who has worn steel-toed boots. Not only that, I once was very good friends with the CEO of one the largest shoe manucturers in the world at the time - 'I Miller' - so I know a little something about this. Basically, what Nike is doing is making a product they should have been making all along, appealing to our collective sympathies, playing the race card, pretending to be a corporate angel, acting very self righteous and getting a huge amount of free publicity. When in actuality, they are planning to rip off taxpayers, pandering to liberals, patronizing Native Americans and offsetting some of that ugly publiicty which keeps raising it head regarding forced and slave labor in Third World countries.
All that said - I've lived with 'injun foot' all my life, but nobody ever put a name to my affliction - hell, I just thought I had big feet. I'm glad that the problem is being addressed and if could afford these shoes - I'd probaby buy 'em, just like 100 million other Americans. But I sure don't appreciate a bunch of corporate toadies tryin' to pull a fast one. And you know what really pisses me off? They will not only get away with it, make boatloads of money doing so, but will also be able make people buy this 'kinder gentler' corporation bullshit.
Sooo ... there I was, just searching around for something and I noticed the 'Google' logo on its search page was different - in the manner of how Google celebrates special days and holidays. But I couldn't figure out exactly why September 27th was important. But the second 'g' in Google has obviously been replaced with a pinata - that papier mache vessel filled with candy which you strike at with a stick while blindfolded, so I assumed this must be some Spanish or Mexican holiday. I searched for an answer. It was more difficult to find than you'd think.
Mexican Independence Day is celebrated in Mexico on September 16th and that is the official day designated as Mexican Independence Day - the day Mexico declared independence from Spain. However, the actual day that event occurred was September 27th, 1821.
But guess what? The pinata is there to celebrate Google's ninth birthday. But Google's actual birthday is September 7th but apparently the date is arbitrarily chosen each year, determined by when the employees at Google want to throw a party. Cute huh? The 'pinata 9' looks like a small 'g'. Now, I have seen other birthdays marked by Goggle before and a birthday cake with candles was used. Does the coincidence of Google using a pinata to mark their company's birthday strike anyone else as odd, considering that the date is ALSO the very day Mexico declared independence?
The new leash-free park was named for Hondo, a police dog killed 10 years ago chasing a suspect, and the flag-painted hydrant was intended as a tribute to him. "We put a lot of effort into it," said artist Jason Ross.
However, after a photo of the hydrant appeared Sunday in The Oregonian newspaper, e-mails started arriving at the parks department.
"That gallant dog must be turning in his grave at the thought of the flag being desecrated every time a dog pees on that hydrant!" wrote Louanne Douris, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer.
Parks officials had thought of that problem, and had put the red, white and blue hydrant on an 18-inch-high base, surrounded by "dog- unfriendly" shrubs including prickly barberry bushes.
Another hydrant was placed at ground level for the dogs' convenience.
Parks officials said there had been no reports of dogs urinating on the flag hydrant.
"I think the overall message was support for the dog park and support for honoring the police dog-the fallen police dog-but the concern (was) over the perception of a dog peeing on a hydrant painted with an American flag," said Corrine Bloomfield, the department's community resources manager. She said the city hadn't decided where to place the hydrant. Link
Why do I suspect that 'artist' Jason Ross was laughing under his breath after 'selling' this art project to the City of Hillsboro? Hillsboro is a suburb of Portland Oregon. Portland Oregon is as liberal a city as exists in the West outside of the San Francisco Bay area. If he could've put a picture of George Bush on that fire hydrant - he would've. Call it a hunch.
Microbes that cause salmonella came back from spaceflight even more virulent and dangerous in an experiment aboard the US space shuttle Atlantis, according to a study published on Monday.
The experiment by microbiologists at Arizona State University sent tubes with salmonella bacteria on a shuttle flight in September 2006 to measure how space flight might affect disease-causing microbes.
The salmonella sample that travelled millions of kilometers (miles) in orbit changed their pattern of certain genes compared to identical bacteria back on Earth, said the study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Following the shuttle flight, studies using mice showed the salmonella bacteria aboard the shuttle were "almost three times as likely to cause disease when compared with control bacteria grown on the ground," said a university statement outlining the study.
After about three weeks, 40 percent of mice fed the salmonella from Earth were still alive while only 10 percent of those given the bacteria from space survived, according to the study.
The professors who carried out the research, Cheryl Nickerson and lead author James Wilson, said the results of the research could help advance understanding of salmonella and other infectious diseases -- in space and on Earth - possibly paving the way for development of new treatments.
Salmonella and other related bacterial pathogens are a leading cause of food-borne illness and infectious disease, particularly in developing countries. No vaccine exists for salmonella and it has become increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment, the study said.
The research revealed the key role of a regulatory protein, Hfq, which could be responsible for the enhanced virulence of the microbes after space flight, the authors said. The finding could shed light on how cells act on Earth.
The study also examined the morphology of the bacteria during space flight and found changes that indicate the formation of a biofilm, which was not observed in the samples grown on Earth. Biofilms are associated with increased virulence of bacteria. Link
All the elements we know and perhaps as many we don't yet know, were created within the first second of the 'Big Bang'. Add to that cosmic cauldron another equally large list of 'anti-elements'. THAT is a where our theoretical and speculative science is today. We have a fairly basic knowledge of that and any permutations of that and it is unlikely that will change no matter (sorry) how much further we evolve or how much more we learn. We have the sketches - we are back-filling the colors, like some cosmic paint-by-numbers exercise in conjecture, fact and supposition. We don't know everything, but we DO know how and why it happened. And even factoring into that pot o' boiling miasma things like 'time', string theory, chaos and quantum physics, we have a decent handle on how it all began.
The most prevalent element in the Universe is hydrogen. Followed by helium, carbon and iron. There's a reason for that, they are all very simple, stable and long-lived elements. Most of the elements we hold dear and which support OUR life form are results of the fissions and fusions of those elements under all the extreme conditions existing mere seconds after the big bang. Toss into that mix the influences of extreme gravity, cold and constant bombardment by sub-atomic particles released at the big bang and you have what we know as The Universe, our home. These conditions gave us the other factors our life form requires to ...live. Those include certain ratios of elements, existence of more complex elements and the ability of those elements to bond by virtue of attractions based on sub-atomic particles conducive to what we call life.
Until recently, it was thought that life on this planet was carbon based and required oxygen. Not so. We have discovered 'lifeforms' on Earth which are silica based, require no oxygen, no light and which can exist under extremes of temperature, light and pressure which theretofore we'd ascribed to extraterrestrial imagination. In short, we have lifeforms on this planet which would do nicely at the extreme reaches of our knowledge of the Universe. It is now accepted that 'life' could teem in the frozen methane seas of Titan. Or in the lithosphere of Saturn. Perhaps even in the atmosphere of Jupiter. We have learned 'life' is merely a conjuntion of factors which, for some reason or another, is capable of replication by means, as yet, unknown to us.
It just so happens that during the infancy of our own little corner of the cosmos, there were untold numbers of comets which bombarded Earth. We know with certainty that comets are primarliy 'ice'. Not neceesarily 'water' or H20 'ice', but other forms - like methane, or the components thereof, which include copious amounts of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and heavier isotopes of our favorite element - hydrogen. During that period when our own planet's crust was almost liquid in it molten lava and its atmosphere was almost nonexistent - those comets rained upon Earth.
The crust stabilized, the volcanic activity abated and all the 'steam' created by all those incoming comets condensed into our seas. The seas cooled things down and added the stability of a steady mass of huge proportion to our new and still fragile crust. But there was no life yet on Earth. It had a noxious atmosphere, and it was more like Venus in its basis. But things did start shaping up for the approach of life as we know it, about 3 billion years ago. The more complex elements and some newly formed molecules began to condense in the seas of Earth, warmed by the heat of the planet's core and the still unrelenting rain of asteroids and meteors from afar - all containing new and different additions to the grand mix.
At some point right about here in the supposed geological history of Earth, there occurred life. It is and will be continued to be argued whether it was the alchemy of a cauldron filled with the appropriate elements OR seeded by components which hitched a ride on 'the tails of comets' which acted as the basis for life as we know it to begin. I have an instinctual intellectual need to credit both as the source. And here's why.
In that boiling pot of random elements which was the Earth 3 billion years ago, I cannot bring myself to assume it could be mere happenstance that life might arise. The possibility of it coming from seeds found in comets seems to me more likely and my positon is widely held. Yet, I cannot rule out a terrestrially-centric beginning, considering experiements and observations done in laboratories. I tend to think it is probably a combination of both. I would like to think that is a fairly accepted method. And, actually it IS.
Given that, the next logical step in the emergence of 'proto-life' would be that once the seas of Earth had calmed and cooled somewhat and things quieted down enough geologically, that more complex molecules fell here from comets and passing or colliding bodies, which facilitated terrestrial life. Like little seeds. In the words of Immanual Velikovsky - 'manna from Heaven'.
Given that and the Drake equation, age of the Universe and our own solar system's infancy in that grand scheme, it is not unlikely that microbes or viruses also fell to Earth.
Given that, it is, again, not unlikely that life on this planet came from somewhere else. That is as least as likely a possibility as it originating here of its own volition. To my mind - BOTH are about the same in likelihood. So this news of bacteria becoming even more virulent or strengthened by the stresses of space comes as no surprise to me. In fact, it confirms my life long held suspicions. Life, once created, is damned difficult to eradicate.
Our solar system is a baby in relation to the larger Universe, based on how and when it was created, and we are fairly certain in that, it is easy to assume that there were many others created many times long before us. And those systems, for whatever reason were destroyed or disturbed and spawned chunks of rock, pieces of planets, parts of ancient seas which were thrown violently into the cosmos and fell for billions of years UNTIL they landed HERE.
PARIS - Marcel Marceau, the master of mime who transformed silence into poetry with lithe gestures and pliant facial expressions that spoke to generations of young and old, has died. He was 84.
Wearing white face paint, soft shoes and a battered hat topped with a red flower, Marceau breathed new life into an art that dates to ancient Greece. He played out the human comedy through his alter-ego Bip without ever uttering a word.
Offstage, he was famously chatty. "Never get a mime talking. He won't stop," he once said.
A French Jew, Marceau escaped deportation to a Nazi death camp during World War II, unlike his father who died in Auschwitz. Marceau worked with the French Resistance to protect Jewish children, and later used the memories of his own life to feed his art. Link
I have never had the aversion most people do to mimes - I enjoy them. Marceau was one of the best. I always considered pantomime just another form of clowning. There used to be so many very famous clowns, Emmett Kelly, Red Skelton, Marcel Marceau, even W.C. Fields was a clown once. There is a fine beauty in the subtle moves of a great clown. Today, we prefer daredevils and the outrageous, 'Jackass' inspired boorishness. So whenever I see a street mime, I'll stop and give them an audience and buck or two. The link goes to an article that documents a very long and storied life, it's worth reading.