Friday, August 27, 2010

Another perfect Luckovich toon

The Atlanta Constitution's Mike Luckovich is the Gary Larsen of editorial cartooning. Larsen's "Far Side" cartoons were by far the most consistantly hilarious single-panel toons of all time, in my humble opinion. He came very close to batting .1000. I see Luckovich almost the same way. Just go over to his blog and scroll through this week's cartoons. Every one a jewel. Most cartoonists are hit and miss (present company at the front of that line!) but the Luckster just keeps 'em coming.

This one on Glenn Beck is killer. I've never actually watched a Beck show, I'm proud to admit. Life is way to short for that. But I've seen little clips of it and I know about his blackboard fetish. This toon works on lots of levels. A good caricature. A funny joke. A good sort of deeper meaning to it, as we see Beck is actually vandalizing Abraham Lincoln's legacy.

One more cartoon for me to throw in my bin labelled: WIDT (Wish I'd drawn that).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Look familiar?

From R. Crumb's "Cradle to Grave" print, which isn't everybody's cup of tea.

On consumerism

Here's a short excerpt from the British film "The Age of Stupid."

Monday, August 23, 2010


I wrote this little ditty to promote a great program at Trees for Life.

Balbir Mathur, president of Trees for Life, was presented with a world-renowned Manuel Rodriguez & Sons classical guitar in Nov. 2009 after speaking at an international conference in Spain.

“I would like to present your guitar to the children of Nicaragua,” Balbir told the president of the guitar company. “Those children have no musical instruments, and their hearts will sing with such a gift.”

“Books for Life, an educational branch of Trees for Life, has 50 libraries in Nicaragua. Your guitar will go to one of the libraries, where many children can enjoy the music of your precious gift,” Balbir told him.

The guitar maker was inspired and offered 200 guitars for only $50 each.

Now you can join in by providing a guitar worth $350 to the children of Nicaragua for only $50—or giving a share of a guitar for as little as $5.

He hearts (and lungs) Wichita

My KMUW commentary: WSU football

Listen here or just read below.

Lots of good folks locally feel pretty strongly about college football. Some of them are convinced that Wichita State University made a wrong-headed move when it punted its own football program into the trash bin of history at the end of the 1986 season.

There is always a conspicuous absence of WSU on the sports pages this time of year as Kansas State and KU become the subjects of endless speculation about this season’s football teams.

I’d put myself in the camp of those who think dropping football was the right decision. The more I read and hear about college football programs, the huge amounts of money spent on coaches and staff and facilities and such, the more I think of the proverbial tail wagging the dog. Are football programs an extension of a college or is the college merely there to support the football program?

Yeah, I know, it’s a school spirit thing. Sis-boom-ba, rah rah rah and all that. But what it’s really mostly about is the money. That’s been apparent for a long time but the recent conference reshuffling was as brazen an admission of money’s importance as could ever be.

Seems to me that college football has a three-fold purpose. It exists for our entertainment, it exists to make money for universities and it exists to serve as a free minor league program for professional football.

So when I read recently of all the excessive travel charges which KU’s athletic director, Lew Perkins, had racked up, it wasn’t much of a surprise. Yawn. More of the same. One very muscular tail wagging that Jayhawk furiously.

I can live with WSU getting shaken up a little less than KU and K-State every fall. They bobbed off that tail 24 years ago.

For KMUW, I’m Richard Crowson.

A Chopra moment

I like this phrase used by Deepak Chopra recently when telling about his first 2 days in America. He says that he quickly got into the system of "spending money that I hadn't earned to buy things that I didn't need to impress people that I didn't care for."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Why, it's Perry introducing Hank Snow!

A great song, Music Makin' Mama from Memphis, by a great performer "in the country tradition" introduced by the great Perry Como!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

What went wrong?

If trucks still looked like this all would be right with the world.

We're overdue for another Perry moment

I make no attempt to disguise my unabashed love for Perry Como. And I don't mean it in an ironic way. I simply love Perry. Nobody else even came close to singing in his laid-back, easy-going style. He seemed to channel peace in his music. Let's have a little Perry music in honor of the recent Perseids meteor shower.


Like a lot of people, we've been forced to learn to do more with less at my house, especially after my layoff almost 2 years ago now. And along the way I've gotten interested in some of the Buddhist/Eckhart Tolle thought regarding materialism. So this article from the New York Times was right up my alley. Maybe you'll get something from it as well.

This is just the beginning of it. Read the whole thing here.

It's long but well worth your time. Another reminder of some of the great reporting and writing that still comes out of the NYT.

But Will It Make You Happy?

SHE had so much.

Weekend Business: Tim O’Brien and Stephanie Rosenbloom on what makes consumers happy.
J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Roko Belic, a filmmaker, moved from San Francisco to a trailer park in Malibu and now surfs often. He is working on a documentary about happiness.

A two-bedroom apartment. Two cars. Enough wedding china to serve two dozen people.

Yet Tammy Strobel wasn’t happy. Working as a project manager with an investment management firm in Davis, Calif., and making about $40,000 a year, she was, as she put it, caught in the “work-spend treadmill.”

So one day she stepped off.

Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, Ms. Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, both 31, began donating some of their belongings to charity. As the months passed, out went stacks of sweaters, shoes, books, pots and pans, even the television after a trial separation during which it was relegated to a closet. Eventually, they got rid of their cars, too. Emboldened by a Web site that challenges consumers to live with just 100 personal items, Ms. Strobel winnowed down her wardrobe and toiletries to precisely that number.

Her mother called her crazy.

Today, three years after Ms. Strobel and Mr. Smith began downsizing, they live in Portland, Ore., in a spare, 400-square-foot studio with a nice-sized kitchen. Mr. Smith is completing a doctorate in physiology; Ms. Strobel happily works from home as a Web designer and freelance writer. She owns four plates, three pairs of shoes and two pots. With Mr. Smith in his final weeks of school, Ms. Strobel’s income of about $24,000 a year covers their bills. They are still car-free but have bikes. One other thing they no longer have: $30,000 of debt.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Luckovich on Bush tax cuts

Krugman: "Who cooked the planet?"

Never say that the gods lack a sense of humor. I bet they’re still chuckling on Olympus over the decision to make the first half of 2010 — the year in which all hope of action to limit climate change died — the hottest such stretch on record.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Paul Krugman


Readers' Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.

Of course, you can’t infer trends in global temperatures from one year’s experience. But ignoring that fact has long been one of the favorite tricks of climate-change deniers: they point to an unusually warm year in the past, and say “See, the planet has been cooling, not warming, since 1998!” Actually, 2005, not 1998, was the warmest year to date — but the point is that the record-breaking temperatures we’re currently experiencing have made a nonsense argument even more nonsensical; at this point it doesn’t work even on its own terms.

But will any of the deniers say “O.K., I guess I was wrong,” and support climate action? No. And the planet will continue to cook.

So why didn’t climate-change legislation get through the Senate? Let’s talk first about what didn’t cause the failure, because there have been many attempts to blame the wrong people.

First of all, we didn’t fail to act because of legitimate doubts about the science. Every piece of valid evidence — long-term temperature averages that smooth out year-to-year fluctuations, Arctic sea ice volume, melting of glaciers, the ratio of record highs to record lows — points to a continuing, and quite possibly accelerating, rise in global temperatures.

Nor is this evidence tainted by scientific misbehavior. You’ve probably heard about the accusations leveled against climate researchers — allegations of fabricated data, the supposedly damning e-mail messages of “Climategate,” and so on. What you may not have heard, because it has received much less publicity, is that every one of these supposed scandals was eventually unmasked as a fraud concocted by opponents of climate action, then bought into by many in the news media. You don’t believe such things can happen? Think Shirley Sherrod.

Did reasonable concerns about the economic impact of climate legislation block action? No. It has always been funny, in a gallows humor sort of way, to watch conservatives who laud the limitless power and flexibility of markets turn around and insist that the economy would collapse if we were to put a price on carbon. All serious estimates suggest that we could phase in limits on greenhouse gas emissions with at most a small impact on the economy’s growth rate.

So it wasn’t the science, the scientists, or the economics that killed action on climate change. What was it?

The answer is, the usual suspects: greed and cowardice.

If you want to understand opposition to climate action, follow the money. The economy as a whole wouldn’t be significantly hurt if we put a price on carbon, but certain industries — above all, the coal and oil industries — would. And those industries have mounted a huge disinformation campaign to protect their bottom lines.

Look at the scientists who question the consensus on climate change; look at the organizations pushing fake scandals; look at the think tanks claiming that any effort to limit emissions would cripple the economy. Again and again, you’ll find that they’re on the receiving end of a pipeline of funding that starts with big energy companies, like Exxon Mobil, which has spent tens of millions of dollars promoting climate-change denial, or Koch Industries, which has been sponsoring anti-environmental organizations for two decades.

Or look at the politicians who have been most vociferously opposed to climate action. Where do they get much of their campaign money? You already know the answer.

By itself, however, greed wouldn’t have triumphed. It needed the aid of cowardice — above all, the cowardice of politicians who know how big a threat global warming poses, who supported action in the past, but who deserted their posts at the crucial moment.

There are a number of such climate cowards, but let me single out one in particular: Senator John McCain.

There was a time when Mr. McCain was considered a friend of the environment. Back in 2003 he burnished his maverick image by co-sponsoring legislation that would have created a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions. He reaffirmed support for such a system during his presidential campaign, and things might look very different now if he had continued to back climate action once his opponent was in the White House. But he didn’t — and it’s hard to see his switch as anything other than the act of a man willing to sacrifice his principles, and humanity’s future, for the sake of a few years added to his political career.

Alas, Mr. McCain wasn’t alone; and there will be no climate bill. Greed, aided by cowardice, has triumphed. And the whole world will pay the price.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Today's Eagle toon on Brownback

KMUW cartoon (yet again) on primary campaign's dirtiness

KMUW commentary and cartoon on this past primary campaign

The unprecedented nastiness of this season’s primary campaign seems noteworthy. Has there ever been a political atmosphere as charged with negativity as this one? Have there ever been so many candidates who’ve had so little to say about what they are actually in favor of? Okay, we did hear some platitudes about “Kansas values.” But mostly we heard negative messages telling us what they were against. They were against President Obama. They were against health care reform. They were against taxation. They were against undocumented immigrants. And more than anything else, they were most emphatically against whatever low-life scoundrel was their opponent.

The older I get the less interest I have in negativity. It saps my energy and my time from those things in life that are truly important. Things like going out for ice cream with my family; listening to the warm August wind as it rustles the cottonwood leaves and scratching my dog, Ollie’s belly for him when he rolls over on his back and sticks his limp legs skyward expectantly.

I know negative campaigning is nothing new. We’re all pretty used to it by now. Heck, there’s a whole news network that’s dedicated to negativity 24/7. Talking heads blather on incessantly about this outrage or that one and we soak it up. Negative campaign ads are widely known to be effective as a way of winning elections.

If opposite polarities attract, then my theory is that we are attracted to negativity because we are basically positive beings. But sometimes our positive terminals get corroded. We can fill ourselves with dispiriting negativity and the unhappiness and suffering that results from it.

Here’s hoping someday a politician will talk about ice cream and rustling cottonwood leaves and my dog’s belly. That’s the person I’ll be campaigning for.

The canine-didates

Climate change accelerates

The mentally challenged talking heads at Fox chortled about all the snow last winter as if it proved Al Gore was wrong. They're as quiet as mice now in the face of global climate disasters. This piece from Daily Kos outlines the current situation while Fox News nibbles on its usual cheese crumbs tossed from the Industrial-Republican Complex.

[UPDATED] They laughed at Al Gore - now the "Inconvenient Truth" starts to make its presence felt

Sat Aug 07, 2010 at 06:46:51 PM PDT

A few items from the recent news and a note to readers - "weather" and "climate" doesn't just affect your city, state or country. Open your eyes and smell the GLOBAL warming happening all around you.

Please follow me over the fold. I've tried to take a look at five or six current and very recent events that I think foretell the consequences of the sequence of inconvenient truths that await us, our children and their children after them if we cannot find the political and organizational will to enact major measures slow and then halt global warming as soon as possible.

ITEM 1 - A Giant Floating "Ice Island" Is Born
100 sq-mi iceberg is bornEarly on Thursday this week, the Peterman Glacier (northernmost glacier on Earth and one of the two remaining largest glaciers on Greenland) calved off a monstrously large 100 square-mile iceberg. The floating ice island is MORE THAN FOUR TIMES THE SIZE of the island of Manhattan in New York and at its thickest part is half the height of the Empire State Building.

Thursday's iceberg calving took approximately 25% of the Peterman Glacier's floating ice shelf out to sea in one fell swoop. The last time an iceberg of this size was calved into the Arctic was nearly 50 years ago, in 1962. Now, as this island makes its way out to sea between Greenland and Canada, its drifting at the hands of North Atlantic ocean currents and winds could take it into common shipping and fishing lanes.

Here's what MSNBC's "Science and Technology" page had to say about it yesterday:

[University of Delaware Professor of Ocean Science & Engineering, Andreas] Muenchow said he had expected an ice chunk to break off from the Petermann Glacier, one of the two largest remaining ones in Greenland, because it had been growing in size for seven or eight years. But he did not expect it to be so large.

"The freshwater stored in this ice island could keep the Delaware or Hudson Rivers flowing for more than two years," said Muenchow, whose research in the area is supported by the National Science Foundation. "It could also keep all U.S. public tap water flowing for 120 days."

ITEM 2 - Uh-oh! It Appears Earth Has A Nasty Fever Coming On.
Global temp anomalies - June 2010The news coming from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association's (NOAA) report in mid-July was not good. NOAA monitors the Earth's temperature, combining both land and sea temperatures, and it appears that Earth has a very nasty fever coming on, to wit:

  • The six months from January through June 2010 was the warmest global 6-month period on record.
  • The three months from April through June 2010 also represented the warmest on record for that period.
  • And finally, June 2010 was the warmest June on recordglobally, and especially hot on the land masses of the northern hemisphere.

That first item about the first six month temperature record is particularly interesting to me. Why? Because what it means is that while climate-change denialists like Senator Jim Inhofe (MoronRepublican-OK) and the idiots who accommodate and believe him were having a great big belly-laugh, building igloos in Washington, D.C. and poking fun at Al Gore because of a string of "abnormally strong" blizzards sweeping up the mid-Atlantic coast of the US, the EARTH WAS WELL ON ITS WAY TO SETTING NEW HIGH-TEMPERATURE RECORDS!

And those "abnormally strong" storms in February? Also predicted by climate change science, at least as far back as TWENTY-TWO YEARS AGO. That's primarily because warmer air has a higher "carrying capacity" for moisture/humidity combined with the fact that warmer temperatures lead to higher rates of water evaporation, feeding moisture for these monster storms. Yes, 1988 is when Professor James Hansen (also of NASA & NOAA - yes, *that* James Hansen) was quoted by the New York Times predicting much stronger droughts and storms:

He said the warming of the ocean would speed evaporation, which would cause more active convection currents in the atmosphere. This increased atmospheric activity could produce storms with 40 percent to 50 percent more kinetic energy than the fiercest storms known today.

Still laughing, Senator Inhofe? How about those 110-degree days in Washington this summer - how's the old "igloo" holding up, you denialist ***hole?

ITEM 3 - Whodathunkit? A 10,000 Year Flood Season In The First Year?!?
70,000 cubic-meters/sec dischargeSpeaking of those "abnormally strong storms" and the increased moisture-carrying capacity of warm air, this summer has brought story after story afterstory after story after story of heavy rains falling across interior China. Since the rains started in April and continue through today, hundreds of rivers have overflowed their banks. Reservoirs and dams have failed. Thousands of people have died and more than 100 million people have been affected by the floods, with nearly 10 million people relocated because of the rising waters.

Water rages from Three Gorges DamAnd in late July, China's latest "engineering marvel", the Three Gorges Dam stood under threat of failing. Just one year after completion and built to withstand a supposed "20,000 year flood", the dam was within just 20 meters of having its crest topped by floodwaters. To avoid devastating tragedy, officials oversaw relief flow-rates from the dam that exceeded 70,000 cubic-meters per second, much higher than the flow rate of the then-undammed Yangtze River that caused nearly 4,000 deaths and 10s of millions to be displaced in 1998.

Trash island at Three Gorges DamAnd yesterday came another story from the Three Gorges Dam. Now, in addition to the swollen floodwaters of the Yangtze and other rivers feeding into the dam, its superstructure and administrators are also having to deal with floating islands of rubbish - flotsam - from cities, towns and the countryside upstream. The combination is proving to be a real threat to the $25 billion dam project.

ITEM 4 - Worst Monsoon Season In 80 Years Devastates Pakistan
Still more on those "disturbingly abnormally strong storms".

Awaiting flood relief suppliesThis past week has seen stories erupting from the Punjab province of Pakistan (that nation's "heartland") of devastating flooding and disrupted food and water supplies for millions of people. Already, more than 1,500 have died and the BBC are reporting that as many as 500,000 people have been evacuated and relocated to higher ground, while another 4.5 million are being impacted by the rains and floods. This summer Pakistan is suffering the worst monsoon flooding it has seen in 80 years.

A meal in a relief campMonsoon rains continue to fall - already at totals that are 25-30% above normal - hampering the ability for Pakistani government and volunteer aid workers to deliver supplies to those affected areas. Bridges and roads have been washed out and helicopter aid flights are continually being suspended because of the ongoing strong storms. The floods are expected to spread further across Pakistan and already Pakistan's largest city, Karachi in the Sindh province, is suffering from flooding overflowing the city's rivers.

Worst-timed photo-op ever?In politics, timing is often very-nearly everything. Adding insult to injury for Pakistanis is the fact that their president took this week for for a trip to France and to England. President Asif Ali Zardari left Pakistan late last week, just as the floods began, to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron and to make seriously-pouty faces about and then smile, shake hands and pose for the camera in the spirit ofrapprochement over this statement by the British PM in Bangalore, India last week:

"We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country [Pakistan] is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world."

ITEM 5 - Mother Russia, "En Fuego"!
NASA satellite photo of Russian wildfires

While the rivers and waters of China and Pakistan run wild, the Steppes of Russia are burning up under dramatic drought conditions. Russia has been under a weeks-long heat wave, the worst heat wave since Russia has been keeping official records (130 years) and in the past several weeks the dry heat has helped spawn over 800 raging wildfires (nearly 300 in the last day) that are burning through forests, peat bogs and expanses of the Russian wheat fields. Temperatures have risen as high as 108 degrees Fahrenheit in the plains to the east of Moscow and over 100 in the city itself ("normal" summer high temperatures are in the mid-70s) for weeks.

Smoke fills Red Square in MoscowSmoke from as near as the outskirts of Moscow and as far away as 1900 miles has choked Muscovites with smog pall for days. Today, over 200 flights in and out of Moscow have been cancelled or delayed, with visibility down to under 50 meters in some areas. Earlier today, the level of carbon monoxide detected in the city were at 4.8 times the maximum safe levels. So far, over 50 people have died as a result of the fires and about 2,000 homes have been destroyed.

Smog/smoke in MoscowThe heat wave engulfing Russia has been brutal and raging since late June. According to one story:

An official from the Moscow registry office, Yevgenia Smirnova, told reporters they had "recorded 14,340 deaths in Moscow in July, that is 4824 deaths more [a 51% increase] than in July 2009." She said that the numbers did not begin to increase significantly until July, not in June when the heat wave began, but added "...the heatwave has certainly had an influence."

ITEM 6 - Congress Goes On A (Spineless) Summer Break - Without Addressing Climate Change & Still Without The Political Will Or Cajones To Do So
Harry Reid lacking political courage on Energy BillIn the last item, we have the whimpering of Democratic Senate Leader, Harry Reid. Minutes before heading off home to try to save his re-election bid in Arizona Nevada (luckily, his opponent is more offensively moronic than most), Reid declared any debate and/or votes on Comprehensive Energy Legislation all but dead.

As usual, the "Party of No" Republicans have offered nary a shred of possibility that they would come up with a single "yea" vote and Sen. Reid whined about that. But also the Democrats lacked the political will and resolve to push for any movement of import on this important topic, choosing instead to run home and hide from the political heat in their air-conditioned abodes.

According to Senator Reid:

"Many of us want to do a thorough comprehensive [climate and energy] bill that creates jobs, breaks our addiction to foreign oil, and curbs pollution," Reid said. "Unfortunately at this time we don't have a single Republican to work with in achieving this goal. For me it's terribly disappointing and it's also very dangerous. So the President, Senator Kerry and I and others, large numbers of my caucus will continue to reach out to Republicans and work with environmental and energy committees, communities, to garner the support we need to move forward on a much larger more comprehensive bill."

Both Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California are now promising to bring legislation to the Congress after the summer break, but it's widely assumed that trying to move forward this close to mid-term elections will make the politics of Climate Change legislation a non-starter and that trying to deal with it in the subsequent "lame-duck" sessions will be even more so.

Frankly to Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi I say, "I'll believe it when I see it."

And so far, President Obama and the White House has been very loathe to engage in trying to move on any comprehensive climate change legislation. For lack of political courage to do what's right, and not necessarily what's popular, Nero fiddles while the Earth burns.

UPDATE: ITEM 7 - Hey Dude; Who Moved My Plankton?
disappearing plankton[A special hat-tip to Gooserock for this one!]

Late last month, NPR reported that the population of phytoplankton in the Earth's oceans this year is down by over 40% since the 1950sand falling in "8 out of the 10 large ocean regions". Now, they are microscopically tiny and you may not think much of them, but phytoplankton are key to the world's ocean food chains and (note: please sit up and pay attention here) plankton are responsible for producing about 50% of the Earth's oxygen. If pockets of the oceans suffered from large plankton die-offs, "dead zones" in the oceans could occur, with limited oxygen in the sea for fish and crustaceans.

So that's it. Is this a glimpse into our future saying, "WELCOME TO THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH YOU CHOSE TO IGNORE AND LAUGH ABOUT!"? Or will the Democrats somehow muster the courage to move forward with some bold actions at the end of this scorching-hot summer? Don't wait for them - get mad, get active and then get going. The Earth is the only place we've currently got to inhabit - for our children and their progeny can we please try to keep the place livable?!?!?!

Please visit and find out what YOU can do today.