Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts

Monday, January 19, 2015

Research, An Expensive Vitamin

Hubby got an email the other day from someone he had never met.  She was the niece of a research scientist that he had gone to school with many decades ago.  She was doing some historic exploration on her uncle, but not because he had passed away recently.  He had died a long time ago and she wanted to know more about him.  This uncle had taken a night dive off the coast of Oahu back in the 1970s and was never heard from again.  Some surmised that he had been taken by a tiger shark that had been cruising the area, but since he had had a diving partner who also never returned, there were other guesses of an accident and perhaps heavy currents.

I think this is a gray taken by me back in the 1970's

I used to S.C.U.B.A. dive fairly often when I lived in the South Pacific, and I have posted on this time in my life earlier in this blog.  I look back on those years as if I was some other woman, because I never got out of the water until my tank was nearing empty; I was fearless.  Over the years, I preferred snorkeling, because there was more flora and fauna in the less than 30 feet water.  It was a wonderful time in my life.  We were young, just married, in good health, and the cost of diving, since we had just purchased a small outboard motor boat, was easy to swallow, as was the ability to enjoy the remote beaches sans clothing.  I should tuck a story or two away for my grandchildren to read someday so that they can think Grandma was just a little fascinating and not always a boring old lady sitting at home, because this was where my love affair with the earth kicked into high gear.

This is I next to some soft coral.

Crinoids which were my favorites when they waved their feathering "arms" in the current.

An other life form bored by all the paparazzi. (squid)

I remember seeing small sharks (3 to 5 feet long) at the edge of reefs on half of those diving days.  They ignored us and we just kept an eye on their distance and dorsal fin to check their mood as we cruised looking for interesting stuff.  (A dorsal fin is like the hair on the back of a dog.)

I digress.  Getting back to Hubby's email, Hubby thought back over his relationship with this former colleague and said he remembered that the guy was super-focused on his work which was to research cave fish that came out only at night, and therefore he had to do a lot of night diving before his grant money ran out.  There are always those that take dangerous chances for their passion and sometimes inadvertently give their life.  In spite of what conservatives like to tell you, scientists are like policemen, teachers, journalists, doctors, nurses, parents etc. They feel their work is important even if it revolves around cave fish, they do like their work, and they are as honest or dishonest as the next guy.  The huge majority of scientists are truly focused on finding the facts, taking that chance and making the world a better place with their discoveries, not on beating a drum for a preconceived agenda, or doctoring results so that they can get that pittance of a grant that barely pays for the boat fuel once a graduate student's salary is paid and lab materials are purchased.

I have worked very briefly on a committee reading and reviewing grant applications, and politics never came into the discussion on whether a grant should be awarded.  It was always whether the grant was well thought out, well written, had an accurate budget, fit the discovery of the granting institution and of compelling interest to the citizens. There were always many more grant applications than money to grant.  Scientists and their assistants spend much time writing even while researching and many good applications fall by the wayside.  Regardless of who gets the money the search for INFORMATION is the key.  (In this cave arena information involves bacteria that may have applications in cancer research, data showing changes and evolution in species adapting to environmental change, etc.)

There was a recent bill passed in the House of Congress (H.R. 1422--little chance of it ever being moved and signed but let's continue to waste the taxpayers dime) that has restricted independently funded scientific environmental experts from being appointed to boards of the EPA, because Congress feels these scientific experts "have an agenda."   It also restricts scientists that get grants from EPA to serve on the boards; I am assuming that Congress feels their results will be questionable as well.  The same bill makes it easier for petrochemical scientists to be on the boards of EPA though, because this will erase any "appearance of impropriety".  Pretend that someone who studies viruses finds that his data foretells a preventable epidemic and he gets his funding from NHS, but he must pretty much keep from talking to the primary institution and hope they read it and grasp its importance.. but those who could take action on it are well informed by pharmaceutical companies that have a new weapon against this self-same virus. (Can you tell I am furious with this ignorance or actually the greed of self-serving politicians?)

Research scientists that work for universities and the government are not the ones bringing down big salaries and making money off of polluting the air and the water and causing this documented increase in small earthquakes near fracking sites or the tremendous increase in carbon dioxide being now held in ocean waters---soon to reach its limit.  Yes, it will cost you and me money to breathe clean air and drink clean water and stem the tide of the rising oceans and mitigate the long droughts.  But at what price is a healthy world?  Although in reality it is too late to prevent some of this---islands and low lying parts of countries are going to go underwater and we will have waves of refugees leaving their sunken land in coming decades.  (A glacier recently calved a piece of ice the size of lower Manhattan and three miles wide!.)

As an aside, in my research, the FBI website lists eco-terrorists as more active in this country in causing havoc than ISIS.  I am NOT advocating that!

By the way, neither political party gets even a B from me on their environmental report cards. And sadly I think most people do not seem to care what kind of world the meek will inherit much less what they leave their grandchildren because many of faith in Congress leave it all up to God and those of money know they can build their castle high on a hill in a better climate.  I think Sophocles wrote, "No good e'er comes of leisure purposeless; And heaven ne’er helps the men who will not act."

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Too Good To Not Pass Along

Banging head on desk and wondering why some people cannot find a country with no government where they can go live and leave the rest of us taxpayers alone.  When you are done reading this brilliant response from a small town newspaper note the first letter in each paragraph.

You can go here or cut and paste below.  It has gone somewhat viral on the "net" already.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Am the 1 Per Cent!

We have certainly had the luxury of travel often in our retirement, and my son, on this recent trip with him and his future wife, pointed out that, if my retirement income was rated globally,  I am among the 1%.  I am retired but get to travel when I want and pretty much where I want.  You may very well be among that group also.  All you need to be a part of the global 1% is an income of $34,000!  No, you cannot travel when or wherever on that income, but the perspective of this figure pretty much makes you sit up and realize how lucky you are to be in this strata.  It also makes you wonder how much of your life is producing waste and could be better budgeted and more generous.

I only have one home, do not keep money offshore to avoid paying my fair share of taxes, nor send my business manager to a Caribbean island for 6 months so that the IRS cannot reach her, as an acquaintance of my son's did!  I have this status, not because I am brilliant or sneaky, but because I lived and worked overseas for the first 7 years of my married life and did not have to pay for my housing or the cost of an automobile during that time.  Since both my husband and I had a combined income during this time we invested every dime that we could and that gave us the head-start that we needed to have the retirement we are now enjoying.  It was luck and the willingness to live outside my country in a country that had water and electricity just often enough to keep me comfortable.

I will not have this luxurious life-style I now enjoy if the stock market crashes once again.  I have no respect for Wall Street folks as the money they make has nothing to do with improving the United States or the lives of its citizens or creating jobs.  How much money does a billionaire have to have before he invests in a small business or two?  Their supercilious lobbying forces will destroy this country again thanks to the "non-activist" Supreme Court Judges that were appointed under conservative Presidents and passed the Citizen United ruling.  This country has been bought and if you want a voice you had better demand the repeal of Citizens United from your representatives.  I mean this in all seriousness.  Both parties are beholden and only if we take back our country (perhaps with a third party), will we return to a true democracy.

I say this because I have done my research carefully and read the data.  You can scream the dangers of class warfare all you want, but the rich are not suffering in anyway in this.  WalMart family has more wealth than the combined 40% of the lowest income of our society.  It is no where near a class war until they have reached the wealth of the combined lowest 4%!!  It is up to you.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Did You Know...any of these Thursday 13? #37 in a Boring Series

When the hurricane crossed all those Haitians who are still living in tents 2.5 years later after donations of over a billion dollars from around the globe, you may be wondering where all the money went.  You can go here and check on the charity of your choice and see what it (claims) did.  The explanations are pretty generic and there is some controversy over this.  I donated to Shelterbox which is not on this list, but also is not a charity that works for long term support but rather immediate disaster assistance.  Here is another take on this.

The recent LIBOR scandal where Barclays manipulated the rates to borrow unsecured loans actually is now coming back to this country to bite institutional investors such as pension funds that may have used LIBOR based derivatives and lost money.  Yes, this sounds complicated, but simply it means we still need greater regulation of banks.  (And there should not be anything that is too big to fail in my opinion.)

Parents are now getting renters insurance for their college bound kids because they have so much expensive stuff that they bring to college.  When I went to college we were not even allowed to bring a portable radio.  Times have changed.

A Sirs Barbet Capito fitzpatricki  is a new species that was found in Costa Rica this year, actually just this summer!  It is a beautiful bird and amazes me that we can still find lovely new animals this high on the biology tree in my life time as we continue to remove rain forests and mountains to mine diminishing resources.

All grant and loan programs from State and Federal governments are socialistic in nature and the job of government (I feel in a democracy) is to provide a minimal social support floor for businesses and individuals.  But it might surprise you to learn that the Energy Loan Program (designed to help businesses fund high risk research efforts for energy resources) was started in 2005 under a Republican Congress and the Solyndra business was number three on the list for funding (high priority) under the prior administration 5 days before Obama took office.  High risk means high chance of failure and even some drug companies get this socialist help.  Of course we heavily subsidize the oil and gas industry and have for decades.  I hope they can soon turn a profit without our help.

No matter which president gets elected and which health plan is instituted your health costs will go up.  We are the huge demographic bubble of aging boomers and everyone is going to be stuck with paying for all us old folks going through the health care system before we die, unless they kick us to the curb and the rich are the only ones to get comprehensive health care.  Medicare will have to change.

Speaking of being old and penniless, Casanova at age 60 was forced to take a position as a librarian to Count Joseph Waldstein who lived in Bohemia in Castle Dux 60 miles north of Prague.  This castle is now open for selected touring.  Casanova's life, by the way, seems to have been much more complex than just adding up amorous conquests.  And, irrationally,  I have always thought there was something dark and sexy about librarians.

Remember those strawberry pots with hanging plants on patios and decks?  Did you know that Singapore is starting a project which will construct 18 supertrees as high as 160 feet with trunks covered with vertical planters that will hold more than 162,000 plants of up to 200 species in a city park?  Above these trunks will be enormous metal rod branches forming canopies to provide shade.  Some rods will be fixed with solar panels to light them up at night.  The highest tree will have a bistro offering a panoramic view of the gardens.  I hope I can go see this someday.

I rented The Hunger Games the other day.  I have read the trilogy and liked it well enough in spite of the tremendous violence.   I couldn't help but wonder if conservatives and liberals would see this movie in very different lights, one seeing Sutherland as a Tea Party dude and the other seeing him as a socialist dictator in control of all the money.

I am Reading Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre which is the true story of a very complicated British deception plan to fool the Germans during WWII and which worked.  Movies and books have been produced on this true story but I am loving the "cast of characters" some of whom we all know that come to light in this version...such as Ian Fleming and that British guy, Leyland, of the cypress tree fame. 

I am also Reading A Hope in the Unseen by Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Suskind which is the story of inner city students and their families in Washington, DC struggling to find their place in society.  It sounds depressing, but it is very well written with realistic characters.  I have met some of these characters in my life and their version of pulling up by their bootstraps is a little different that we know..

On a related note, Princeton sociologist Sara S. McLanahan has shown, poverty is what hurts children, not the number or gender or age of parents.

And FINALLY, number 13,  (drum roll please if you have gotten this far) back in 1988 it was called the greenhouse effect but the scientist who reported on it over 20 years ago says he would have changed his predictions with what he knows today.  He says he would have made these predictions much more dire with the speed of global warming going much faster than he thought and with much more violent weather and extremes ahead.  (Yeah one of those nerdy scientists that good-ole-boys love to make fun of.)  I am terrified at how expensive insurance on everything from houses to crops is going to become as companies try to pay for these huge weather disasters.  I am terrified about lots of other things about this as well, of course.

(I am on travel with my son and future DIL, so no future posting for a while.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Memorial to the Others

I am mourning the demise of this should each and every one of you in this country.  They accomplished much during their tenure, but they are being trampled to the ground by some very crazy people who will soon demand that all science taught in our schools come directly from the Bible, their Bible.  While they give lip service to the Koran and the Torah they know that all tomes similar to these are cult writings.  If you are an atheist or agnostic you are on your way to hell, because God is the determiner of all things.   They will interpret that "determination" for you if you are somewhat unclear from your Bible readings.

I have placed black crepe across my mantle and am lighting a candle for those that no longer speak out and those that are leaving the scene of the crimes.  We needed you in this battle to save our country and we strongly recommend you start a new group of leaders and speak out!

(I also strongly suggest that drinking water be tested in Missouri and their schools introduce a basic science class.  Please do NOT tell me he miss-spoke.  He spoke from his heart and mind and no excuses are necessary nor will be believable.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This and That

What does it say about us when we post colored charts for threat levels on terrorism and Canada posts colored charts for this .

I decided that I would adjust my blog settings so that any comments that come in more than 10 days after a post would be held until I could moderate. I did this because for some reason blogger lets spam and scam through for commenting on older posts. I get comment posts weeks later and of course I don't get back fast enough to read those posts to delete. So now they sit on my dashboard hidden until I decide to delete. I have been getting quite a few lately.

I also have been feeling guilty for not commenting on some blogs. I read the entry but can't really think of anything interesting to say when everyone ahead of me has said the same thing. So I just keep my keyboard shut.

My husband's trip took him across the many, many, many islands in the Indonesian chain as well as some bordering countries. Indonesia is both Muslim and Christian but Bali is mostly a hybridized Hindu. He noticed that the island and/or villages where the majority of citizens were either Muslim or Christian remained relatively peaceful and the areas where the division was 50/50 or 40/60 were full of rancor and anger as each group fought for control of the local political system. Why does God make people so angry? I know, I know...just had to write that

While staying at my daughter's house last week a young father came by with his son to play with my grandson. As we got to talking I learned that his wife worked for the FDA and was in the office where they worked on drug approvals for humans. He said she had been there for 10 years. I asked how she liked her job and he said that during the past administration their budget had been cut substantially and they had also felt pressured to get drug approvals moving faster and she had been very miserable. Now she is happy as they have been given a decent budget and are being allowed to do their job as professional scientists without any outside interference.

I took hundreds of photos of fall scenery over the last month and recently found that my camera settings had been on a lower resolution than I usually have. I guess it was from fiddling around with settings that I don't really understand as I experimented with photos. When I was younger I could immediately figure out a camera setting and easily focus on the subject. Now with age I forget to make changes and focus...well even depending on autofocus doesn't always work! I do not like getting old, but I do love having the time to play with the camera.

Hubby brought back a number of gifts from the islands...most from him but some from friends of his. I will post on that later. They are not the usual things one brings from an overseas trip.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Big Event

The past few days have been an exciting lead up to one of the most important days in the history of our nation. The BBC is setting aside 5 HOURS for this event, so I do not think it is hyperbole to say it is a very significant time in our history. This is one of the most anticipated inaugurations in our nation's history and also one of the most protected. I will not detail the 3,000 restrictions that are being placed on attendees including carrying nothing larger than a lunch bag to some of the areas. My lovely daughter and her two children are fleeing the area and joining me at the house late Sunday night through Tuesday evening...or perhaps staying until Wednesday morning. She is not going in to work on Monday or Tuesday. Why is this, one might ask?
  • The highway and bridge she takes to get into work will be closed as will every other bridge in the immediate area.
  • The garage beneath her office where she regularly parks, which is about a mile from the Capital, will be closed to the public.
  • Everyone will be forced to take Metro or a bus or walk. (The Metro is a VERY crowded trip on the 4th of July when there are fewer people coming to the city.)
  • The events begin Sunday and go through Tuesday.
  • There will be hundreds of celebrities.
  • They are predicting 4 to 5 million people will attend. It will be miserably cold, so I am predicting about 2 million people.
  • Someone said there will be 5,000 port-a-potties and an 'expert' analysis said that is not near the amount needed. (That should be fun in cold weather.)
  • Every hotel is full and some folks are renting their apartments for $1, son, whose apartment is walking distance from a nearby metro station, considered this but then got cold feet as the day grew closer.
  • There will be great concerts...some free and some requiring tickets.
  • There will be a parade...a very cold parade unless you are marching in it.
  • There will be 10 inaugural balls (and no place to sit at these balls if one wears high heels.)
  • Therefore, even those attending will have to brace themselves for a challenging event. My daughter is afraid she won't make it to work...much less make it home to pick up the kids from day care on those days.
And thus, I will not have the courage to go myself, even though I think it is a big deal. I will raise a glass of bubbly to the big screen TV and wish him a decent first 100 days but not expect more than is realistic in these difficult times. (For a little more inspiration...go here.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Invitation

I got this in the mail the other day. It does not mean I am important because anyone who contributed to Obama's campaign probably got one of these. I have gotten invites years ago from Bill and Hillary, but they looked more like invites to a 'party' whereas (note the use of the archaic here) this one looks like an official document, is letter size, card weight and is even embossed.

The odd thing (other than the fact that I am not going) is that this also came along with an ad for a half dozen items I could purchase to remember the important event. Mugs, coins, whatevah. That sort of took away the dignity of the whole thing for me. Having worked with archivists who preserve realia for a living I am not much of a memorabilia collector. Just something more to dust or store.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Morning After

The lines at the voting booth yesterday morning were somewhat long but it only took me 30 minutes waiting time before I did my duty as a citizen. Everyone in line was calm and friendly and the polling staff were super friendly...almost as if anticipating frustrated citizens.

I came home and spent the better part of the day watching the election coverage while doing laundry, small cleaning and nursing hubby through a cold he caught from his precious granddaughter.

As the rainy day progressed and the tension built I tried to keep my mind on busy activities. I channel surfed through a dozen news channels to make sure I didn't miss anything. In the P.M. I ran outside and took some pictures of the fall which has peaked in my yard but was drawn to the TV each time I came back inside. I knew and told my husband that we were not going to get any resolution on this until at least 11:00 P.M. and so we prepared for a long evening.

Late in the evening after dinner, as the network I was watching ran the final vote of Virginia across the screen; we turned to each other and high-fived each other realizing that at last our hope for this country to get back on track was now very possible.

I was so impressed by John McCain's speech and wondered why he had let the party base transform him into that very erratic and angry man that we had seen over the months. Yes, he was talking about losing to my candidate, but the real man came through and I realized the election could have changed on a dime if he had been his true self.

Then we watched the faces of all the people in times square as Obama made his dignified and statesman-like speech. No bragging, grinning or fist pumping. He knows the huge challenges that lie ahead and that is why I voted for him. He knows that this is about turning the Democracy around as the world watches--and the international newspaper headline this morning confirm my view. I had tears in my eyes and was so elated that it took quite a while to fall asleep after watching the happy black and white families on the podium wave to the citizens.

Now this morning I realize that wasn't just a romantic dream and feel so honest once again.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Tomorrow, as early as I can muster, I will go to my polling place to vote. I am "dreading" the possible rainy weather and the possible long lines since I did not decide to vote by absentee ballot. If I had lived in this small town for longer, perhaps I would see this as an opportunity to visit with townfolk that I had not seen in a long time. It would be an opportunity to catch up on the activities of children and grandchildren. If I had volunteered, as I was asked a few weeks ago, to work at the polling place, I would be so busy that I would not have time to dread a long line. Instead I would be dreading the long day! But I passed this effort this time and actually hope to volunteer in some way in the coming years.

In all honesty I am not totally dreading the voting lines or the slowness of process. I am excited as I always have been every time I voted over the years. I am romantic and passionate about my country and the beauty of this process whereby we select those who will lead us. Sure, sometimes my candidate doesn't get in and once or twice we even get a duffus who hasn't a clue about the constitution and the significance of the job ( like the last two presidential elections). I only missed one vote since I turned 18 and that was when I was living overseas and failed to get an absentee ballot on time. Early years that I have gone to cast my vote I took my small children with me so that they could see this important process. I talked to them about how powerful it was and when they grew up, they all could be a participant in this process.

I disagree with Sara Palin and honestly believe that every single person in line with me tomorrow will be pro-American. Every person will be from the "Real" part of the States in America. And I am proud to stand with them no matter how they vote. And if you have not already voted or are not going to vote better have a d**n good reason!