Archive for December, 2007

As 2007 draws to a close it appears that it will be the hottest year on record in the northern hemisphere. U.S. weather stations broke or tied 263 all-time high temperature records. England had the warmest April in 348 years of record-keeping there. It wasn’t just the temperature. There were other oddball weather events. A tornado struck New York City in August, inspiring the tabloid headline: “This ain’t Kansas!” In the Middle East, an equally rare cyclone spun up in June, hitting Oman and Iran. Major U.S. lakes shrank; Atlanta had to worry about its drinking water supply. South Africa got its first significant snowfall in 25 years. And on Reunion Island, 400 miles east of Africa, nearly 155 inches of rain fell in three days ? a world record for the most rain in 72 hours.Thats almost 13 feet of water. Enough to fill most swimming pools to capacity. Worst of all ? at least according to climate scientists ? the Arctic, which serves as the world’s refrigerator, dramatically warmed in 2007, shattering records for the amount of melting ice. 2007 really brought some of the naysayers over to the fact that the earth is heating up and we apparently are the cause of it. Al Gore won an Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth” plus the Noble Peace Prize for his work in trying to get the message out that we need to be doing something about it and real soon, if it is not already too late. Al Gore was vindicated by these awards , now maybe those who poked fun at him with nicknames of “Owl Gore” and others as they were denying there was anything going wrong with our climate. They have for years denied the fact that the earth is getting warmer or said it was a natural phenomenon.

Through the first 10 months, it was the hottest year recorded on land and the third hottest when ocean temperatures are included. Setting new records was all too common, especially in August. At U.S. weather stations, more than 8,000 new heat records were set or tied for specific August dates. More remarkably that same month, more than 100 all-time temperature records were tied or broken ? regardless of the date ? either for the highest reading or the warmest low temperature at night.

Across Europe this past summer, extreme heat waves killed dozens of people. And it wasn’t just the heat. It was the rain. There was either too little or too much. More than 60 percent of the United States was either abnormally dry or suffering from drought. I know here in the upstate of South Carolina we were begging for rain all summer long as fields and gardens suffered through the near drought conditions. Though I get my water from a well and do not get it from the two pristine lakes that feed Greenville I do know that both of these lakes are low and needing rain to fill them back up. Atlanta‘s main water source, Lake Lanier, shrank to an all-time low. Lake Okeechobee, crucial to south Florida, hit its lowest level in recorded history in May, exposing muck and debris not seen for decades. Lake Superior, the biggest and deepest of the Great Lakes, dropped to its lowest August and September levels in history. Los Angeles hit its driest year on record.

Lakes fed by the Colorado River, which help supply water for more than 20 million Westerners, were only half full. Australia, already a dry continent, suffered its worst drought in a century. On the other extreme, record rains fell in China, England and Wales. Minnesota got the worst of everything: a devastating June and July drought followed by record August rainfall. In one March day, Southern California got torrential downpours, hail, snow and fierce winds. Then in the fall came devastating fires driven by Santa Ana winds.

The time for action is now. We must act to save the world as we know it. The polar ice caps are rapidly melting – something that could raise the sea levels by dozens of feet – something that would put most major sea side ports and cities under Water. Even places like the Whitehouse could become inudated by water.If sea levels were to raise that much the world as we know it would change. I hope that it doesn’t ever come to that and we have managed to slow down the greenhouse gases that are leading this heat wave.

On Saturday President Bush signed legislation that extends the popular children’s health insurace program. He twice vetoed the bill refusing to allow any increases to children of families that made more money but still too much for medicaide and too little to afford health care.The extension of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is expected to provide states with enough money to cover those enrolled through March 2009. Bush and some Republican lawmakers say the program will still serve those that it should and not those whose parents make more money. The matter came to dominate legislative debate and further sour relations between the Democratic leadership and Bush this year.

Many of the Democrats – with help from other Republicans – wanted to give the program a significant cash infusion and broaden coverage to an estimated 4 million children. They overwhelmingly supported use of a tobacco tax increase to pay for the expansion.

Personally I feel they should have went with the higher figures as those 4 million children who weren’t covered are still not protected by insurance. What we need instead of legislation like this is a comprehensive plan to protect each and every American who needs health care. No one should be in the
position of not being able to get needed medical treatments because they can not afford them. We are the only country in the western world that does not provide health care to it’s citizens.

Even those who are lucky enough to be covered by an insurance policy can still suffer drasticly if a major medical problem were to arrise. Families have lost their homes and entire lifes savings when struck by cancer or other terrible diseases that are extremely expensive to treat. Just the co-payments alone are enough to break the budget for individuals and families. It’s sad that people have to make the choice between eating and putting a roof over their head or get the treatment that can save them from the ravages of disease.

This is an election year. You should see exactly how your chosen canidate stands on the subject and don’t be mislead by the tired old excuse that it is socialized medicine and it will lead the country away from democracy. It hasn’t had that effect on France, Great Britain, or Canada and they all provide exellent
health care to their citizens. And they all have a greater life expectancy than us in the U.S.. I feel it is because they can go to the doctor when they need to instead of waiting until they can either afford it – or more likely – the situation has gotten so bad they can not put off going anymore.

So once more check your canidates stance on health care and above all join in the democracy and vote. If you never speak up with your vote you have not right to complain what they do. But if we can get the millions who do not presently vote to register and vote canidates in that will look out for us and not
themselves we will be much better off. As it stands Congress gets exellent health care why can’t we?

I do not know if any of you know this or not but today is an anniversary of one of the most tragic events in our history. On this day in 1890, in the final chapter of America’s long Indian wars, the U.S. Cavalry massacres 146 (most historians put the total at twice that amount) Sioux at Wounded Knee on the PineRidge reservation in South Dakota.
On December 29, the U.S. Army’s 7th cavalry surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under the Sioux Chief Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. As that was happening, a fight broke out between an Indian and a U.S. soldier and a shot was fired, although it’s unclear from which side. A brutal massacre followed, in which it’s estimated almost 300 Indians were killed, nearly half of them women and children. The cavalry lost 25 men.
It is almost certain that the Sioux did not start the fight as they were already surrounded by a much superior force. Events like this should not be hidden away and forgotten about. We need to learn from these tragedies so as to never repeat anything like this again anywhere on earth. We also need to give them back the sacred Black Hills that were stolen from them even after we signed a treaty with them giving that land to them forever.

NHK television, quoting unnamed officials said Japan ” has decided to delist humpbacks for now due to the
negative impact it would have with Australian relations”. Japan had planned to harpoon 50 humpback whales in its current expedition to Antarctica. It would have been the first time that Japan would have hunted the beloved humpback whales since the 1960′s. Commercial hunts of humpback whales ? which were nearly harpooned to extinction in the 20th century ? were banned in the Southern Pacific in 1963, and that ban was extended worldwide in 1966.

Japan had earlier denied remarks by the US ambassador, Thomas Schieffer who said Wednesday that “Japan had agreed to stand down from its plan to kill humpbacks” Humpback whales are renowned for their songs and acrobatic displays.The humpback has turned into a major tourist attraction that attracts approximately 1.5 million whale watchers a year to the Australian coasts and coastal waters.

Defying warnings from the Western nations of the US and Australia, Japan’s whaling fleet set sail last
month for Antarctica with a mission to kill 1000 whales. Most of them the small minke whale as well as the
planned 50 humpbacks.

Japan claims that whaling part of their culture even though Japanese it very little of its red meat, favoring other meats like beef. Coastal communities in Japan have hunted whales for centuries, but whale meat was not eaten widely here until the U.S. occupation officials encouraged it in the poverty stricken years after the Second World War.Despite the commercial hunting ban, Japan is permitted under the IWC rules to kill whales for “scientific research.” The meat is sold under the program and often ends up as pricey items in specialty restaurants. However, its popularity as a staple has plummeted with the availability of beef and other meat varieties.

I tend to agree with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith who said ?While this is a welcome move, the Australian government strongly believes that there is no credible justification for the hunting of any whales,?
Japans Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura takes another stance and said ?The government has decided to suspend hunts of humpback whales while talks to normalize [relations with] IWC are taking place,? He added that the suspension would last a year or two. ?But there will be no changes to our stance on our research whaling itself.?

Despite the suspension of the humpback hunt, Japan still plans to take as many as 935 minke whales and up to 50 fin whales in the Antarctic in what the Fisheries Agency says is its largest-ever scientific whale hunt. Japan also takes more minkes in the northern Pacific later in the year.

Environmental movement Greenpeace and the militant splinter group Sea Shepard have each sent a ship to try and disrupt Japan’s whaling. The Sea Shepard activists went too far last year when they threw acid onto the Japanese mother ship in an attempt to disrupt the hunt.

There is a new search engine on the block and it?s name is Spock. This search engine is for looking up people. Be it a famous person like an actor or major league ball player or something simple like your high school buddy or sweetheart.

Spock makes use tags for searching. They make up the way you search and how members can add to searches. Tags are simply bits of information about a person. If you wanted to add yourself to Spock then you could add your profession, your blog name, any awards you have, home town, etc. These identifying words are tags.

Another popular way of searching is to search by category. This could be helpful to bloggers looking for work. Try searching for on line advertising. You could also do searches for politicians. Either local or national politicians can be searched for and perhaps turn up things in their past or ways they have voted that will turn you against or for a certain candidate With the price of a vote being so terribly cheap you may want to keep a check on all your local representatives using Spock.

Spock is not a social engineering site like My Space etc they do have some capabilities like messaging. I was astonished to find me come up as the number one entry when I typed my name in the search box. Pretty eerie actually. But pretty cool at the same time. I also tried it out searching for Jessica Simpson and got the results. you see below.

This search engine can be used for many reasons. Yes you can find friends and catch up on the latest news about celebrities and politicians. You can also help yourself by joining, adding yourself and then add your blog, website, anything you may be doing on the internet be it selling, looking for work, etc.

World hunger it’s a terrible thing, we hear about it all the time through commercials begging for your donations or occasionally the news will carry a little spot about a certain area that people are starving in. The images of it will break your heart if you have one. Myself I wish I were in a position to donate to each and every one of them to try and help these people. But my finances prevent me from helping others as much as I would like to. I am sure there are plenty of other people out there that feel the same way. What can I do, as I am struggling from pay check to pay check is what most families would tell you.
Well I have found a way for you and I to help prevent hunger and it won’t cost you a dime. There is no sign up and you don’t even have to get out of your chair. Plus it will help you with your vocabulary. You can donate rice to United Nations World Food Program by a word game. The concept is so simple. You are presented with a word and 4 possible definitions. Select the correct definition and you have just donated 20 grains of rice. I know that doesn’t sound like much but the more people play it adds up. FreeRice automatically adjusts to your level of vocabulary. It starts by giving you words at different levels of difficulty and then, based on how you do, assigns you an approximate starting level. You then determine a more exact level for yourself as you play. When you get a word wrong, you go to an easier level. When you get three words in a row right, you go to a harder level. This one-to-three ratio is best for keeping you at the ?outer fringe? of your vocabulary, where learning can take place.

Since October 7, 2007 over 11,603,687,650 grains of rice have been donated. Yes, that’s 11.6 billion grains of rice. I don’t know how many pounds that equals but it has to be a lot. Think about it, this is such a great idea. You get educated and help feed the hungry at the same time. All it takes to help donate rice to people who truly need it is to spend a little time on the FreeRice site and see how good your vocabulary is. I have the site bookmarked and visit it every chance I get when I am not busy doing something else. I am imploring you to share the link to this post, or just the FreeRice link with all of your friends and family. It may not be enough but it is a great start. I would also suggest you check out their sponsors if you can as without them this would not be possible.

??? A provision in the energy bill that was passed by Congress and signed into law by by President Bush is a law that will bar US stores from selling inefficient?incandescent light bulbs. The light bulb as invented by Thomas Edison has made very few changes since the late 1800′s. Now to say that Edison actually invented the light bulb is wrong he figured out how to make it practical.
Anyhow the new law will force everyone to use more efficient forms of lighting. For all intents and purposes though the?
incandescent bulb is soon to be a thing of the past. After 2012 the selling of inefficient incandescent light bulbs will be against the law in the United States. The European Union? and Australia have already decided to ditch the inefficient bulbs in the not too distant future. Australia is the worlds first to outlaw incandescent light bulbs in favor of the more “fuel-efficient, compact fluorescent bulb. This is a great step for our US government but still not enough. This will help some as the savings on electricity alone will mean that we burn less coal to make electricity as the average compact fluorescent burns only 20% of what the same rated incandescent bulb does. Replacing all of our lighting with bulbs of this efficiency will reduce the need for new power plants or the ones we have running at peak operations.
We need to?
follow Australians example though and commit to reducing greenhouse gases. Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s environment minister says that they intend to “cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by four million metric tonnes a year by 2015.” Citing the “climate changes” the world is facing as a “global challenge,” Turnbell also urged other nations to follow suit in making a difference. What a difference between the Aussies and us in our attitude towards global warming. In the US our very own EPA that is charged with protecting the environment is doing nothing to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases?emitted by our power plants and other industry. Even after a court order they still have not acted. A quick look at their website will show you nothing about reducing greenhouse gases for industry but at least they are working on reducing it from vehicles which comprise the increase of vehicles mileage figures to 35 mpg and the use of renewable fuel up to 36 billion gallons. Actually they did nothing but take claim to be doing something because all of this is covered in the new energy law. Right now it is cheaper for the coal burning power plants to take no action to retrofit their plants with clean coal technologies and wait to see if the EPA decides to fine them or not. In the mean time they are belching tons of carbon dioxide every day. And unfortunately I am afraid this will continue until enough of us vote into office, people who really care about the environment and their constituents who are down wind of the plants in question and have to breath their pollution everyday.

First and foremost I want to wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas. Most of the presents have been opened and they were nice but the best thing about Christmas is getting together with family and loved ones. Notice I said friends and family. That is because you can pick your friends but not your family. Momma always pointed that fact out to us when someone in the family had caused a hurt to another. But we always patched things back up because we were family. I am hoping that if any of you have had problems with family members that you will patch up your relations as I feel family is very important. Blood is thicker than water or so they say. Not that I do not feel friends are not important. I have some very dear friends. Not too many years ago it was almost unheard of to have friends that you never had met. But in this age of email and instant messaging a lot of us do have very close friends that we never have actually met in flesh and blood but have seen their nature via on line communications.
I am hoping that if you have any friends or family members that you have quit having anything to do with for any reason real or imagined that you feel the true spirit of Christmas love and you will patch things back up. After all Jesus taught us true unconditional love and he is the reason for the season.??


Here in the upstate of South Carolina it has turned off frosty this morning. The kind of morning that makes you snuggle down deep in your covers and gather around the heater once you are up. My wife and daughter went out to hit the stores one last time before Christmas is upon us. I went out with my daughter yesterday and had enough walking to last me a few days. Me, I stayed at home with our dogs. I’ve been told before that “all men are dogs” so I fit right in. But dogs and children like me so I can’t be too bad of a person. Though it still requires work on my part to be good. It is much easier to be good now that I finally, after years of denying it, went to seek help for my bipolar. Now that I can see what life is like without the racing thoughts and radical mood swings I wish I had sought help years earlier. My life and my families would have been much better as I was a holy terror at times. Or as my son told me it was like I was two separate persons, which basically I was. Now that they have my mind operating better if my body would cooperate I would be happy as a pig in mud.
Here I am off subject again but what else is new. I can go off on a tangent at any time and ramble on forever it seems. But life is so much better on the proper meds it is wondrous to me.
Anyhow it has turned off chilly to you northerners who are used to having cold weather and down right cold to us southerners who enjoy mild winters for the most part. I will agree that fresh layed snow is a lovely sight and if we got some it would be a delight to the child in all of us. But we seldom get snow. Most times we end up with ice storms that knock power out for a few days. The cold weather does make it feel more like Christmas when you have to bundle up to go outdoors. Saturday night we went out to look at Christmas lights, something that we do every year and have done since our first child was born. Now our baby is nearly grown and I wonder how many times she will go with us any more.
I may not get time to post tomorrow as I expect to be pretty busy for most of the day but may have time late if I am not too worn out. I run out of spoons if any of you know the story. So if I do not make it back here tomorrow to Wish Y’all A Very Merry Christmas I am doing it now.

I don’t know if any of you have heard of this but, in a widely watched free-speech case, a New Jersey judge has upheld a blogger’s right to criticize county officials anonymously. Judge Terence P. Flynn threw out the subponea filed by Manalapan Township seeking the name and account info of the auther of the blog The contention of those officials was that the blogger is actually a former mayor/attorney being sued by the local government for malpractice. This comes less than a month after the Electronic Frontier Foundation began their legal efforts to shield the blogger, claiming that the subpoena for Google to release his identity was ‘part of an unrelated and unauthorized campaign to embarrass or otherwise outmaneuver the Defendant.’ Score one for the First Amendment. “Bloggers, as well as everyone else, have a First Amendment right to speak anonymously,” said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “Litigants don’t get a blank check to pry into the private lives of critics when they say things the litigants don’t like”. “Attempts to intimidate critics into silence need to be confronted whenever and wherever they occur,” said Zimmerman. “Governmental entities simply cannot be permitted to investigate critics because they dare to voice disapproval of public officials”.
This is a great decision of a Superior Court judge in New Jersey. I kind of wish it had been in front of our Supreme Court as the decision would then make it harder for anyone to attempt to out an anonymous blogger. Though this court case will be referenced by anyone else who tries such underhanded methods to silence the voice of bloggers. Not every blogger is an activist but some of us are and their rights to speak freely should never be abridged.