Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ahead of their time

Seems there was a race of super-geniuses. Discovered in South Africa in 1913, fossil skulls showed a brain capacity bigger than modern humans. Not only that, but:
These people had small, childlike faces. Physical anthropologists use the term pedomorphosis to describe the retention of juvenile features into adulthood. This phenomenon is sometimes used to explain rapid evolutionary changes. For example, certain amphibians retain fishlike gills even when fully mature and past their water-inhabiting period. Humans are said by some to be pedomorphic compared with other primates.Our facial structure bears some resemblance to that of an immature ape. Boskop’s appearance may be described in terms of this trait. A typical current European adult, for instance, has a face that takes up roughly one-third of his overall cranium size. Boskop has a face that takes up only about one-fifth of his cranium size, closer to the proportions of a child. Examination of individual bones confirmed that the nose, cheeks, and jaw were all childlike.
Why did they die out? Without more information, scientists can only speculate:
Perhaps, though, it also made the Boskops excessively internal and self-reflective. With their perhaps astonishing insights, they may have become a species of dreamers with an internal mental life literally beyond anything we can imagine.

Perhaps the Boskops were trapped by their ability to see clearly where things would head. Perhaps they were prisoners of those majestic brains.
Wonder what they would say about life today?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Passalacqua at it again

What a surprise.
In handing down the punishment for James Luker, 47 of Santa Rosa, Judge Elliot Daum lashed out at the District Attorney's office for what he said was political grandstanding for publicizing the outcome of another repeat drunken-driving sentencing a few days earlier.

Daum said a news release issued by prosecutors complaining about a one-year county jail sentence issued to five-time drunken driver Emilio Guzman Garcia, 35, was politically motivated and filled with “grotesque misstatements and half-truths.”

The judge expressed anger about the ensuing newspaper article, which he said came on the eve of his departure from the criminal bench and the beginning of a re-election campaign for District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua. He said the Luker decision would not be influenced by the publicity.
Sounds like Passalacqua is trying to pump up his record.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The next big thing

Yo, digital artists! You want to go here. 3D fractal rendering. Fantastic landscapes, objects and surfaces.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

Creature Features on WGN Sunday nights was one of the greatest forbidden pleasures of my youth. Forbidden because it came on an hour after my bedtime and I had to be reeeaally sneaky to see it. The music is by Henry Mancini from An Experiment in Terror from 1962.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Why I always vote

political pictures for your blog

Recently I received a notice from my 401K plan for an upcoming proxy vote. I used to throw those away because they wanted my vote on board members I never heard of and procedures I didn't understand. But if the maladministration of George W. Bush and the continuing nefarious influence of large corporations in my own financial health have taught me anything, it's to check up on everything they do and use what little power I have to the most.

It's amazing what 15 minutes of teh Google can tell me. I quickly found this:
There was a shareholder proposal made recently requesting the board to “institute procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that, in the judgment of the board, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity, the most egrigious violations of human rights.”
...First, there was a list of very boring-sounding proposals about electing trustees, updating this, approving that, blah blah blah. The shareholder proposal request came LAST, and it was #8. What came FIRST was this:
“The board of directors/trustees recommends that you vote ‘for’ proposals 1-7 and ‘against’ proposal 8.”
Naturally, proposal 8 was the one urging divestment from companies that do business with the genocidal government of Sudan. If I had thrown this notice away, my vote would have been recorded as agreeing with the board recommendations.

This shareholder proposal was brought about by the efforts of Investors Against Genocide.
My vote may be just a drop in the bucket, but it was last year as well, and enough drops joined me to kick the corporations square in the nuts. If you have money invested in a big mutual fund, check out IAG's website and help bring about the change we need.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Karcherhaus fight song

I got this on a sound-chip card from my cousin and his family. We play it in the morning to motivate us for the work day. It's called the Polonäse Blankenese, a 1982 German hit by Werner Böhm, under the name Gottlieb Wendehals.

1 Die Kellner hamm jetzt Pause,
wir rollen das Buffet von hinten auf;
die Post geht ab, wir mach’n jetzt ’ne Sause;
der Bier ist los, heut’ wackelt hier DIE WAND!!
Los, Vater kommt in die Sock’n,
und Mutter schlurft in ihre roten Pamps.
Hier geht was los, da bleibt kein Auge trocken,
Klaus-Dieter, setz’n Halben ab:

Hier fliegen gleich die Löcher aus dem Kase,
denn nun geht sie los, uns’re Polonase
von Blankenese bis hinter Wuppertal.
Wir ziehen los mit ganz groaen Schritten,
und Erwin faat de Heidi
von hinten an die … Schulter,
das hebt die Stimmung,
ja da kommt Freude auf.
(Los, Oma: hak ein!)

2 Das Orchester auf der Bahne packt der Wahnsinn;
der Pianist reiat alle Tasten ’raus;
die Tuba blast den Trommler, das tut weh, weh;
der Dirigent weint eins und schreit: »LICHT AUS!«
Unten tobt das Volk bereits im Laufschritt,
die Banke fliegen tief, die Tische auch;
der Wirt schmeiat sich schatzend
aberÂ’m Aufschnitt; das Chaos tobt —
Der ganze Saal soll heute abend brodeln,
laat jucken, Jungs, die Nacht ist viel zu kurz!
Bis morgen frah soll hier die Elke jodeln —
was danach kommt, ist uns jetzt ganz schnurz.

Hier fliegen gleich die Lacher aus dem Kase,
denn nun geht sie los, uns’re Polonase
von Blankenese bis hinter Wuppertal.
Wir ziehen los mit ganz groaen Schritten,
und Erwin faat de Heidi
von hinten an die … Schulter,
das hebt die Stimmung,
ja da kommt Freude auf.
(Los, Oma: hak ein!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

50 years ago today

I drew my first breath. I'm half a century old. I showed up in a busy year. Some people think that year changed everything. It certainly did for me. My mom is out here celebrating it with me and we both can't believe how time has gone by.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Who lies?

The douchebag who called Obama a liar during his speech last night is a major recipient of health insurance industry lobby money. What a surprise. It's a classic Rovian tactic to accuse the other side of what you are doing. Fight back here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Family values

From the OC Weekly:
SACRAMENTO--Freshmen legislators arriving in Sacramento receive advice from veteran
 politicians about the intricacies of working in California's capital. One of those tips is to remember that microphones broadcasting legislative debates can also capture embarrassing, career-ending personal admissions if a politician isn't careful. Michael D. Duvall, Orange County's 72nd Assembly
District representative, must have forgotten the warning.

In July--two days after Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Republican leader Sam Blakeslee put Duvall on the Rules Committee that oversees member ethics--the second-term, conservative, Republican assemblyman sat in a public hearing and vividly described lewd details about his trysts with a female lobbyist whose clients had business before another committee on which
 Duvall sits.

Duvall, speaking to a relatively mum Republican colleague seated to his left, apparently had no idea his dais microphone became live beginning about a minute before the start of a cable-televised committee hearing. He was captured in the middle of recounting portions of an affair.

"She wears little eye-patch underwear," said Duvall, who is married with two children. "So, the other day she came here with her underwear, Thursday. And
 so, we had made love Wednesday--a lot! And so she'll, she's all, 'I am going 
up and down the stairs, and you're dripping out of me!' So messy!"
He's also cheating on his girlfriend with another woman. He's anti-gay, too. Apparently hypocrisy is a family value.

Update: Buh-bye!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Do not want

It's hot and muggy here in Sonoma county. The sky yesterday reminded me of the summer skies I used to see in the midwest. I do not like it. It saps my energy, makes it hard to sleep and I sweat like a pig. But I better get used to it. My one consolation is that red states will have it worse.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Meet Nepenthes attenboroughii, a pitcher plant big enough to eat a rat. Found on the island of Palawan, in the Phillippines. A few of these in the vegetable garden would solve the gopher problem in a hurry.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Twenty years ago today

My dad put a bullet through his head. Hope you're happy, Dad, wherever you are.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Empire strikes back

The authoritarian right is regrouping. The Party of no is adding exclamation points. Even though they are hated more now than last November, they've drawn a line in the sand over health care reform. Generously funded by the insurance companies, aided by the media they own, the right wing has given their minions their marching orders to disrupt debate by any means necessary.

When the Right was in power, they tightly controlled their interactions with the public and stifled debate. Now that they're out of power, they are open in their intent to stifle debate. They know that true health care reform would benefit Democrats for decades and they don't care what they have to do to stop it.

How far will they take it? There have been vague but ominous threats as to what they'll do if they don't get their way on Election Day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A wingnut explains global warming.

An Obama Birther disrupts a Republican's town hall and the crowd is on her side.

These are the people who still supported Bush last year. They cannot be reasoned with, and there is no common ground between me and them. The only way to deal with them is to show the world how insane they are, and to use the ballot box to stop them cold.

Friday, July 10, 2009

How to peel a banana

I saw this on Pharyngula and since I had a banana, I tried it. It works! And to think I've been doing it wrong all these years. I guess you're never to old to learn. So the next time a creationist says, "if evolution is true, why are there still monkeys around?" You say, "to show us how to eat bananas, duh!"

Friday, July 3, 2009

Oh, come on!

sarah palin

This is becoming ridiculous. These Republican 2012 hopefuls are just getting silly. Still, I'm going to miss her. She's been comedy gold platinum.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All hail SENATOR Franken

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

The Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously rules in his favor and Norm Coleman finally accepts reality, letting Tim Pawlenty off the hook.

Lee J got her shirt signed by him. Wonder how much that's worth right now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another one bites the dust

At this rate, the GOP is going to have to put out a Craigslist ad for somebody to run against Obama in 2012.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why we need public health care

A common practice among health insurers is rescission, customers dropped from coverage as soon as they need care. Now that the Democrats are a majority, lawmakers want to put a stop to it. So they had some execs from three of the biggest companies testify. Here's how it went:
Late in the hearing, Stupak, the committee chairman, put the executives on the spot. Stupak asked each of them whether he would at least commit his company to immediately stop rescissions except where they could show "intentional fraud."

The answer from all three executives:


Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) said that a public insurance plan should be a part of any overhaul because it would force private companies to treat consumers fairly or risk losing them.

"This is precisely why we need a public option," Dingell said.
You can see for yourself, it's about 4:45 in:

Health care reform is not reform until it has the public option.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

An act of terror occurred today in Kansas

Family planning provider Dr. George Tiller was murdered entering his church's Sunday service. People who call themselves "pro-life" rejoiced. This was an act of terrorism by definition. Think the traditional media will define it that way like they did over a bunch of idiots?

The right wing gets crazier by the day. Expect much more of this.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hold your head up

A new paper by Darren Naish, Michael Taylor and Matt Wedel is rewriting the book (again) on how sauropod dinosaurs looked. It compares the neck posture of living tetrapods with the iconic giant sauropods and concludes that they walked with their incredibly long necks held erect rather than held out in front of them, like commonly depicted. These guys know what they're talking about; they're hard core when it comes to the vertebrae of sauropods.
Image Credit: Mark Witton

Sorry. I just had to add this.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 1953

Lee J and I are at my mom and stepdad's house in North Carolina. Keith Fisher, my stepdad, showed us some journals that his grandfather, Edmund Redfield, kept obsessive journals about his life. We got a good laugh reading those so I decided to transcribe the entry exactly 56 years ago. I'll try to make this verbatim, but since this was handwritten in pencil on scraps of paper, some of the words I have to guess at.

Sat. May 16, 1953. Raised west window about 1", Slept to 6:10. Arose. Put on fuzzy-wuzzy slippers. Made a 9-view pencil sketch of a folding aluminum Bee Hive, complete with folding aluminum base, nesting aluminum cover, and lining inner cover, and floor in base. Worked sketching 8:40 to 9:40, up to 1st floor. N.B.E. extensive, loose. Down to basement 9:55. Built up fire in stove with some paper, a board, and a dozen sticks of wood. Put teapot on top of stove. It contained Fenugreek Tea. Added water. Put 74-grams of A&P Summerfield Quick Oats in the top bowl of Pyrex glass double boiler. Placed on top of stove, added 8-oz. of hot water 10:00, wrote diary 10:00 to 10:10. Lay down on bed. Tired and sleepy 10:15. Slept to 11:45. Ellen Bellars came to the door. I arose. Put on fuzzy-wuzzy slippers. Opened the door a little. Told Ellen I was not feeling well, and not dressed. She wanted to know if I wanted anything from the store. I told her I would make out a list if she would wait. Gave her the list and a bill of 40¢ due Eshleman's East Side Market, and some money. She left 12:00. I went up to 1st floor. Took along stainless steel frying pan, also covered aluminum frying pan. Down to basement. Dressed. Put on old white rayon "Du-Ons" underwear, 3rd best blue Kupenheimer pants, heavy wool, plaid work shirt, long, light brown cotton soxs, and old brown oxfords. Pored out 16-oz. of rather weak Fenugreek Tea. Added 64-grams A&P Spring bloom Honey, and stirred. Ellen Bellars got back. She couldn't get all the things I listed. She purchased 1-12-oz carton A&S Cottage cheese 23¢, a 1-14 oz, can of Taylor's Sweet Potatoes 29¢ and 1- Northern Paper Towel 20¢. Total 72¢, Tax 2¢, total spent 74¢. Ellen paid bill of 40¢. Total $1.14. I wrote a note to Vandenberg Paint Store for 1-Qt. of Turpentine 30¢. Gave Ellen 30¢, Tax 1¢, Total 31¢, and 5¢ for the errand, including picking up the turpentine and bringing it back from down town after the show at the Sterling Theater, which she plans to see. She left 12:25. I drank 16-oz Fenugreek Tea. Not very warm. 13:30. Up to 1st floor, bathed face and hands. Down to basement 12:35. Brought along an old face towel and hung on a rack at rear of stove. Wrote diary to 12:50, Got remaining sugar syrup in pt. glass jar and went outdoors. Uncovered the Package Bees under the lean-to shelter. Found a lot of large black ants were licking up the surplus sugar syrup. I killed a lot of them. Fed the Package Bees sugar syrup,  and covered them with a piece of old canvas 12:50 to 1:10. Back in the house, strong cold east wind. Cut out a sliver in left thumb and a couple slivers on back edge of right hand to 1:15. Wrote diary. Put a 5" dia x 19" long chunk of wood in stove. Up to 1st floor. Took along a roll of paper towels. Put in the plastic paper towel fixture. Washed some thin paper off top of a hive where stuck to paint. Down to basement 1:35. Put 13-(92 grams) pitted dates to soak in 200-grams hot water, added 36-grams of A&P Spring bloom Honey, added 20-grams of Lynne Goat Milk Powder, 8-grams of Live Wheat Germ, 10-grams Loma Linda Soyalac, Soy Bean Milk Powder, and about 260-grams of oatmeal. Ate slowly 1:45 to 2:15. Wrote diary to 2:25. Read "Prevention" magazine for April 1953 to 3:25, Earl Ellmaker came 3:25. We went up to 1st floor. Earl nailed together 10 Shallow Supers, and 5-Deep Hive Bodies, and 1-Base. Gave them all a coat of white shellac to 6:15. I nailed an aluminum top on a cover I had given 2-coats of Ivory Paint and sat around and talked. Too miserable to do anything. Bad pains in chest and a dry hacking cough. Down basement 5:20. Earl got a couple 2-Queen Separators. Earl also got a couple crates from the trunk of his car gave me. Earl left 5:25. Raining all afternoon. I noticed Charles Gaumer brought over the old rear porch steps he had a carpenter replace yesterday. I pulled off some board from one of the crates Earl gave me and got a fire started. Wrote diary 6:30 to 6:40. Opened a 1-14 oz. can of Taylor Sweet Potatoes. Put on top of stove to warm. Added a little hot water, and about 1/2-gram of Sage and 1/2-gram of Sweet Basil 6:45. Put on old rubbers, 3rd best Kupenheimer vest and coat, dark gray hat and neutral color Top Coat. Outdoors 6:55. Over to Bellars. Asked Mr. Bellars if Ellen got home. I mentioned I asked her to get a bottle of turpentine for me. He said she was expected home most any time. I walked home 7:00 Removed rubbers, Top Coat, and dark gray hat. Wrote diary 7:05. Knocked a crate apart, Pulled nails put some of the wood in the stove. Swept floor to 7:20. Up to 1st floor. Washed hands. Down to basement 7:25. 
I sat in old Craftsman chair too tired to move. Read a little in Sat. May 16th Gazette to about 9:00. Fell asleep about 10:00. Continued reading to 12:05 Wrote diary to 12:10. Miserable, and awful tired. Up to 1st floor. N.B.E. average, plastic. Down to basement 12:15. Built up fire in stove with some paper. Also put in part of a carton and some thin crate boards. Wrote diary. Sat in old Craftsman chair and read "Life" magazine for May 18th, 1953 to 3:25. Put part of carton in stove. Up to 1st floor. Found I left light burning in dining room. It had been burning since 12:25. Down to basement 3:35. Put part of an old carton in stove. Room chilly. Wrote diary.
Cash on hand $13:24.
Removed clothes. Put on old blue pajamas and old blue robe.
Retired 3:50. Awful tired and sleepy. Chest pains due to congestion, cough, digestive upset after eating. Nervous. Eyes hurt. Miserable, no pep or interest in things, indecisive, tire quickly everything I do, and weary beyond words to describe.
Weather, cloudy all day cold E. wind. Rain, mist all afternoon. To-night, cloudy, more rain. E. wind, miserable weather.

He lived from June 7, 1888 to December 19th 1954.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo

A little Bay Area flava for today: Pete and Sheila Escovedo with Rebeca Mauleón kick up a latin groove.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

C'mon in, the water's fine

The long collapse of the GOP into a regional fringe party heard another big crash today as Arlen Specter, one of the last Republicans with any interest in legislating, became a Democrat. To be honest, he didn't really have a choice, with polls showing he would get clobbered in the primary. By jumping ship, however, he kept his hopes alive for winning in the general, provided the Democrats support him. Certainly he worked that out with Harry Reid before this announcement.

Still, this shows how crazy the Republicans have become by forcing all the moderates out. With the eventual seating of Al Franken, the Democrats will have a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the senate. The Party of No has to talk to the hand now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Turning over another rock

And finding the horror squirming in the light. That's what happened this week as more torture information is being revealed. Today McClatchy reported that the Bush administration pressured interrogators to torture detainees into claiming a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration.

"There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used," the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.

"The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there."
That's right. People were tortured not because they were lying, but because they were telling the truth.
"Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies."

Senior administration officials, however, "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information," he said.
Cheney and Rumsfeld didn't give a damn whether it was true or not. They didn't give a damn that torture didn't work. They just wanted some cover. This began as early as the summer of 2002.

Last night Rachel Maddow interviewed former executive director of the 9/11 Commission Philip Zelikow who had written a memo against the use of torture. Not only did the Bushies ignore it, they sought to suppress it, to pretend it never happened.

They knew it was illegal. They didn't care. It was party time. These scumbags gave themselves absolute power over other people's lives, bodies and sanity and crushed them just to show how tough they were. They and their enablers on the Democratic side, like Jane Harman, who is shocked, shocked, I tell you, that they would abuse their self-bestowed powers.

Obama who is reluctant to get involved in an investigation and possible prosecution, has gotten hammered (yes!) by the Left for it, has still left the door open. We'll see if anyone steps through it.

I've said this before and I'll keep saying it until it happens or I die, these people belong in prison.

Friday, April 17, 2009

In our names

Obama's decision to release four OLC memos confirms what a lot of us already knew. The United States of America engaged in criminal acts of torture.

This is the result of  a government that has lost its moral bearings. These memos show that the Bush administration at the highest levels instituted torture even when it knew it was on shaky legal standing. One of the authors of these memos, Jay Bybee is still deciding fates of Americans as a federal judge. He needs to be held accountable. They all need to be held accountable. 

If you are an American, if you believe in the Constitution, if you believe we are better than this, make some noise. These monsters cannot be allowed to get away with this, for if they do, the next time (and there will be a next time) it might be you. Pat Leahy wants an inquiry, which is a start, but we need a special prosecutor. Tell the White House. Sign the ACLU's petition, or FireDogLake's petition.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Don't let the door hit you in the ass

Rick Perry wants to secede from the Union. He rants at an anti-tax rally attended by idiots who just had their taxes cut, for chrissakes and says the U. S. government is oppressive.

Oh please. You fucking conservatives told us to sit down and shut up when we pointed out that Saddam had no WMDs. You called us traitors for saying the war in Iraq is wrong. When Bush dismantled our constitutional rights you didn't utter a peep.

Every one of your stunts, from Freedom Fries to Sarah Palin to teabagging is intellectually and morally bankrupt. These protests weren't about taxes. They were a petulant lizard-brain tantrum by people used to having their way, leading a mob of imbeciles who have no idea what any of this is about.

Now we have a President and a Congress finally trying to clean up the mess you made you don't want to play any more. Yeah, that's patriotic. That's really helping your neighbor.

Go. Take your stupidity with you.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring flowers at La Casa.

I'm always glad to see flowers make it through the winter.

The little purple irises bloom first.

The Japanese cherry is in full bloom this week.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

That's it, I'm done

Obama should have everything fixed by now, and it's not. Therefore the only thing left to conclude is that the Republicans were right and we should all be free-marketeers. Sarah 2012!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The big shitpile, continued

funny pictures of cats with captions
Is the global economic shitpile created by crooked financiers whose collective Ponzi scheme collapsed? Matt Taibbi says that it's much more sinister than that. It's nothing less than a takeover by the Big Money Boyz of our financial system. Greenwald says we need to get angrier than we already are. Krugman says that Obama is wasting his political capital on more-of-the-same crap from people who got us into this mess in the first place.

I think Obama is sincerely trying to fix this, but he's getting bad advice from people like Geithner, a Bush holdover who just wants to save his buddies. This is a class of people who have nothing in common with the rest of us, don't see any problem with the way things are, and see it all as a game.

We're already in a class war, people. You don't get to pick which side you're on. It's time to fight back.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Time to rewrite the textbooks again

It appears that all those books, movies, illustrations, etc. showing dinosaurs as big, scaly creatures will have to go in the trash. The discovery of a new dinosaur, Tianyulong confuciusi, by Chinese researchers led by Xiao-Ting Zheng could possibly remodel conventional wisdom regarding the body covering of dinosaurs

Anybody who has looked at a dinosaur picture book more than once in childhood can remember dinosaurs in all their myriad shapes as having scaly or armor-plated skin. Over the last few decades, the discoveries of theropods, meat-eating dinosaurs with evidence of feathers has brought the idea of theropods covered in a coat of feathers. The early horned dinosaurs, psittacosaurs, left fossils with apparent quills over the back and tail. That was it for covering.

Until now. Tianyulong was found with impressions that resemble the proto-feathers of early theropods. One problem. Tianyulong was a heterodontosaur, an early branch on the tree on the other side of the main split; the Saurischia-Ornithischia division. That means all of the families of dinosaurs might have had some sort of covering at some point in their history. They might have been fuzzy or furry or downright shaggy.

Illustrators are going to have a field day.

Image by Xing Li-Da.

Monday, March 9, 2009

An honest Republican

So, let me get this straight....Bush gets a pass for 9/11 happening on his watch, because it was  *only* 11 months into his presidency, but at 6 weeks into my presidency, *I'm* responsible for all the dipshits selling low on Wall Street? ... What kind of
Nobody, Barack. But that won't stop some people from saying it. Via the Plum Line, Patrick McHenry, R-NC, speaks plainly:
“We will lose on legislation. But we will win the message war every day, and every week, until November 2010,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., an outspoken conservative who has participated on the GOP message teams. “Our goal is to bring down approval numbers for [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and for House Democrats. That will take repetition. This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
They don't give a damn about you, me or the country. Getting back in power is all they care about. That's why they miss this guy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why we fight

Lee J and I became politically active because we feared that democracy was in danger here in America. We joined millions of other concerned progressives to turn the tide in the last two elections. Our efforts are bearing fruit. The Obama administration has begun disclosure of secret legal documents written by Bush administration lawyers. We knew it was going to be worse than we thought, and this is being verified

Progressives had already denounced Bush's trashing of habeas corpus and the 4th Amendment, but these memos show that his attorneys thought they could override the 1st Amendment and probably the entire Bill Of Rights as well. This is not hyperbole, this is confirmed the Bush administration's own writings.

A substantial percentage of Americans have no respect for democracy and are relentless in undermining it. Even the people we've elected can be infected by this. A dictatorship could happen here if we let them win. That's why we fight.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Here's your shovel.

Billmon, again, gives us an idea of what needs to be done to get us out of this mess. Essentially, it mirrors Paul Krugman and Nouriel Roubini in saying that somebody needs to spend big bucks to stop this global tailspin. That somebody is the U. S. Government.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The big shitpile

oh shit  busted!!!!
Billmon over at DailyKos explains why we're in the mess we're in. When conservatives are allowed to set policy, we all take it in the shorts.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy birthday, big guys

Today is the 200th birthday of both Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. I wonder what they would think of today?

Darwin would probably be amazed at the advances in biology and medicine that have been made as a result of his writings, but dismayed at the number of people who still refuse to see the elegant truth he revealed.

Lincoln would probably be heartened by the advancement in justice he set in motion that has resulted in an African-American to be enthusiastically elected to, and currently hold, his old office. He would probably be dismayed at the deterioration of his party, now the home of delusion and corruption.

Well, good on ya, fellas. I'll hoist a beer in your honor.

Friday, February 6, 2009

From cold to hot: more cool palaeo stuff.

You've heard about the Ice Ages. Ten thousand to a million years ago. Glaciers, mammoths, Raquel Welch in a fur bikini. Pshh. Big deal. A few big glaciers and what did we get out of it? Igloos? Let's go back to the real ice age. The Cryogenian period. 850-630 million years ago. The Earth got so cold that it might have frozen completely over. A global hockey rink.

As cold as it was on the surface, things were happening underneath. A new paper announces the discovery of the oldest animals yet, sponges that date back 635 million years. Fossil imprints weren't actually found, rather there were deposits of steroids (Barry Bonds was alive back then?) in the rock left behind from the sponges' tissue. It appears that all that cold may have had a hand in changing the chemistry of the oceans, introducing  more oxygen in the system, allowing single-cell organisms, who had already been around for a couple billion years, the energy to evolve into complex multicellular organisms.

Credit: Copyright Jason Bourque, University of Florida

I can't feel my toes. Let's put our shorts on and hop in the time machine to the Paleocene epoch, 65.5-55.8 million years ago, right after that big rock plowed into the Yucatan and finished the dinosaurs off. After the evolutionary party that was the Mesozoic, the earth had had about enough of thunder lizards and wanted peace and quiet while it slept off its hangover. The mammals, which had evolved while trying not to get stepped on by dinosaurs, now had the run of the place. The world was like a kid's TV show, populated by small, furry creatures. That's what I always thought, anyway.

Like anything else, just as you think it's safe.... For one thing, it was hot as fuck, smoggy from forest fires and muggy. Little mammals still had to watch out, because there were snakes 45 feet long that could swallow something as big as a cow. Stalking the underbrush were sebecosuchans; big, fast crocodiles that could run like hell. Nervous and sweaty, our ancestors in the Paleocene didn't have the post-dinosaurian kumbaya that I thought.

A few other recent goodies: New evidence that proto-whales with feet still gave birth on land, a revelation on the origin of claws in arthropods, and our ancestors had jaws of steel.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Now it's personal

My boss had to cut everybody's hours at work. We're all taking one unpaid day off per week in the hope of avoiding layoffs. While there is no shortage of work to do around the house and I'll have more time to do it, a 20% pay cut hurts. Especially with a California mortgage. This economy hasn't hit bottom yet, so my pay might still get cut again, maybe by 100%.

Lee J and I have done our part all these years. Our mortgage is one we could afford, with 20% down and a fixed rate. We don't have any other debt except for a modest amount on the credit card. I put my 15% into retirement savings every single pay period and Lee J went back to school and begun a new career. The Republicans took a surplus of hundreds of billions of dollars and squandered it into a trillion dollar hole. All they can say is "more tax cuts" while arrogant executives spend our bailout money on cruises and manicures. Overpaid and unregulated Masters Of The Universe showed they had no idea what they're doing and were rewarded anyway.

President Obama, members of Congress, here's my take on the stimulus. Right now, I'm not gonna spend a dime unless it's necessary. No going out, no purchasing of gadgets, toys, treats, goodies or anything. A tax cut won't mean a damn thing. If I can't be reasonably sure I'm still going to have a job, any tax savings will go into the bank, or to the aforesaid mortgage. I'm not helping the overall situation this way, but I've got my own ass to worry about. Democrats, we donated money, worked the phones and pounded the pavement for you. Do your part. Shut the Republicans up and do this right.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Smell the bipartisanship

On behalf of real, true Republicans...
He wined them. He dined them. They still spit in his face. Obama courted House Republicans for their votes on his stimulus plan and didn't get any. Not one. It still passed, thanks to the voters who elected enough Democrats. Now the bill goes to the Senate where it is automatically assumed to be filibustered unless the Democrats can peel two skittish Republicans off or Obama guts the bill completely. I hope he learns from this.

Republicans don't care about anything but returning to power. They want Obama to fail. Their leader said as much. Karl Rove is still thumbing his nose at Congress. Republicans cannot be reasoned with. Obama will have to go around them or through them if he wants to get anything done.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New revelations of the past

The tree of life may need a fundamental reorganization according to a new paper from the American Museum of Natural History. The writers state that the "lower" orders of animal life, like jellyfish and sponges comprise their own branch on the tree and evolved a nervous system independently. Image Credit: AMNH

The Open Source Palaeontologist has a new paper on combat among ceratopsian dinosaurs, using fossil wounds to reconstruct ancient battles among horned dinosaurs. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The future is go

We have entered the Obama era. I started drinking since 8:30 this morning and now Lee J and I will hit a MoveOn party at a bar. I haven't celebrated like this for I don't know how many years. Things will suck for a while, thanks to the outgoing people, but the healing begins today.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

'Nuff said

A visual summary.
Almost over.

Who is cutting the farts of Mars?

The discovery of methane in the atmosphere of Mars has both astronomers and biologists in a tizzy. There really shouldn't be any in the atmosphere so this is a very exciting mystery. There are a few equally plausible reasons it could be there. A geological one, in that internal heat causes subsurface water to react with carbon dioxide, a chemical one from the oxidation of iron, and a biological one, being made by the waste of bacteria. Naturally it's the last one that's generating interest. Given the many depictions of martians in popular culture, it would be deliciously ironic that we would finally find them by their flatulence. Image credit: NASA

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The case for prosecution

We're in the final week of the eight-year nightmare that has been the Bush Administration. Most Americans are glad to see him finally leave, allowing us to begin the healing process. Bush, on the other hand, will amble off to a comfortable retirement, having learned few lessons from his toxic term in office. Those of us on the left, who called for his impeachment a few years ago are now asking whether Obama will investigate, much less prosecute Bush and his associates over possible war crimes.

There are two main reasons why investigating and, if necessary prosecuting members of the Bush Administration. First, we need to ask ourselves what kind of nation we are. Are we a nation of laws, a nation that works with other nations to foster justice and democracy around the world? Or are we an empire whose maintenance justifies any action?

Second, If we decide that things like torture and the elimination of basic civil liberties are acceptable for the President to use, do we draw a new line that the President can't cross or do we leave the door open for a dictatorship down the road?

We know that the USA under Bush committed war crimes. Bush admitted it. Cheney admitted it. CIA Director Michael Hayden admitted it. Books have been written about it.

Cheney in recent interviews has been not only unrepentant, his admissions are essentially daring Congress to go after him. Cheney is betting that they won't. This will establish a precedent that future Presidents who want unlimited power can hide behind.

Some congresspeople like John Conyers want to investigate. The media, who were on the bandwagon all along, naturally wish it would all go away.

Obama and the Democrats had an epic win. Republicans are arguing amongst themselves and Karl Rove's Permanent Majority is rubble. But these people are like weeds that can't be killed. They never give up. Just like Cheney and Rumsfeld learned at Nixon's knee, loyal young Bush stormtroopers, like this guy, will wait, and have their time again.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bush's legacy

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
From MSNBC, comparing when Bush took office to today:

Then: 4.2% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2001)
Now: 6.7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2008)

Then: 10,587 (close of Friday, Jan. 19, 2001)
Now: 9,015 (close of Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009)

Then: 115.7 (Conference Board, January 2001)
Now: 38.0, which is an all-time low (Conference Board, December 2008)

Then: 6.4 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 7.6 million (Census numbers for 2007 -- most recent numbers available)

Then: 39.8 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 45.7 million (Census numbers for 2007 -- most recent available)

Then: +236.2 billion (2000, Congressional Budget Office)
Now: -$1.2 trillion (projected figure for 2009, Congressional Budget Office)

Not to mention two unjustifiable wars, the destruction of habeas corpus, letting New Orleans drown, ruining the environment and on and and on. Chimpy says history will judge and he's right about that. I just wish I could see how he'll be portrayed 200 years from now. Less than two weeks to go.