More Bird Buddies
You can't see until you look. I've been recently looking at the birds on the little lake that comes up to my back yard. I'm seeing birds that I have never seen before. The Buffleheads were out yesterday morning along with a couple of Mallards and an odd duck that I hadn't seen before. It was black and white like the little Bufflehead females but more the size and shape of the Mallards. But, unlike the Mallards, it was a diving duck. Out with the binoculars and bird book.
It's not easy telling some of these birds apart. At first I thought it might be a Lesser Scaup (Who thinks up theses names?). But after repeated views through binoculars, bird book, and web sites it turned out to be a male Ring-necked Duck
The Ring-necked Duck is abundant on all our western waters during autumn and winter. It is also met with along our Atlantic coasts; but there, although I have seen many individuals on the Chesapeake and other large arms of the sea, it is by no means so plentiful as in the interior. Its flesh is excellent, equalling in my opinion that of any other Duck; and when it has been feeding along the margins of rivers, creeks, or ponds for a few weeks, it becomes very fat, tender, and juicy, and has none of the fishy flavour of those species which are in the habit of diving deep for their food. In shape, the Tufted Duck, or Ring-bill, as it is called in Kentucky, resembles the Scaup or Flocking Fowl, but is plumper and more rounded.
After about a half hour the Buffleheads and Mallards were gone, leaving the Ring-necked Duck. And then he was gone. No sign of him today.
The pictures of Monday night's TestingTesting are up. Pictures of my living room and our Fabulous New Year's Eve Show.
Craig mentioned this site before he disappeared into a snow bank. I was going to link to it then, but I must have wandered off somewhere. Then Mark mentioned it and it all came back in a rush. This is a must site for those who are fascinated with words and their representation. That should include anyone who can write. Right?
In A History of Writing, Steven Roger Fischer argues that no one definition of writing can cover all the writing systems that exist and have ever existed. Instead he states that a 'complete writing' system should fullfill all the following criteria:
Complete writing must have as its purpose communication;
Complete writing must consist of artificial graphic marks on a durable or electronic surface;
Complete writing must use marks that relate conventionally to articulate speech (the systematic arrangement of significant vocal sounds) or electronic programing in such a way that communication is achieved.
So how many different marks are there? This site shows some of the amazing variety.
This is another tale of environmental disaster and corporate greed. Maybe greed isn't the right word for what happened here. The article chronicles another community being devastated. But it also tells the story of an organism, a corporation, who's only thought is for it's own survival. An organism that is responsible to it's shareholders but not to the people it's killing. Maybe cancer is the right word.
Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution
On the west side of Anniston, the poor side of Anniston, the people ate dirt. They called it "Alabama clay" and cooked it for extra flavor. They also grew berries in their gardens, raised hogs in their back yards, caught bass in the murky streams where their children swam and played and were baptized. They didn't know their dirt and yards and bass and kids -- along with the acrid air they breathed -- were all contaminated with chemicals. They didn't know they lived in one of the most polluted patches of America.
Now they know. They also know that for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents -- many emblazoned with warnings such as "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy" -- show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew.
In 1966, Monsanto managers discovered that fish submerged in that creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dunked into boiling water. They told no one. In 1969, they found fish in another creek with 7,500 times the legal PCB levels. They decided "there is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges." In 1975, a company study found that PCBs caused tumors in rats. They ordered its conclusion changed from "slightly tumorigenic" to "does not appear to be carcinogenic."
This PCB pollution happened years ago so the company says "We don't do this anymore." This was their mindset in 1969:
In September 1969, Monsanto appointed an Aroclors Ad Hoc Committee to address the controversies swirling around its PCB monopoly, which was worth $22 million a year in sales. According to minutes of the first meeting, the committee had only two formal objectives: "Permit continued sales and profits" and "Protect image of . . . the Corporation."
What should make me think anything has changed?
thanks to Red Rock Eater Digest
Only four years after celebrating the end of chronic deficit spending, Congress soon will be forced once again to raise the federal debt ceiling so that the government can keep operating.
Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill has notified Congress that the current $5.95-trillion debt ceiling could be breached as early as February. He asked lawmakers to move quickly to raise the limit to $6.7 trillion.
"Sure, it's a big deal. Instead of having latitude to do lots of things, we're back to the old business of trying to balance our wishes and our resources," said economist Susan Hering of UBS Warburg, a New York securities firm. "I'm sure it will loom large in the elections."
Democrats are gearing up to lay the responsibility for the return of budget deficits firmly on President Bush and the GOP -- a threat Republicans scoff at, contending the deficit will not be a cutting issue in the middle of a war on terrorism and an economic downturn.
For Democrats, the virtual certainty that federal revenues will not match expenditures -- forcing the government to dip into the Social Security and Medicare trust funds -- vindicates their opposition to Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cut and offers a potent campaign issue for this year's midterm elections.
thanks to SmirkingChimp.com
Although images of the riots in Argentina have flickered across our television screens, hardly anyone in the U.S. cares. It's just another disaster in a small, faraway country of which we know nothing — a country as remote and unlikely to affect our lives as, say, Afghanistan.
I don't make that comparison lightly. Most people here may think that this is just another run-of-the-mill Latin American crisis — hey, those people have them all the time, don't they? — but in the eyes of much of the world, Argentina's economic policies had "made in Washington" stamped all over them. The catastrophic failure of those policies is first and foremost a disaster for Argentines, but it is also a disaster for U.S. foreign policy.
thanks to Red Rock Eater Digest
Secure in the belief that Argentina's economic collapse will not spill over to the rest of the hemisphere, the Bush administration has chosen to stand aside. That may be a fair assessment of the immediate economic risk to other countries. But there is a lot more to Argentina's free fall than economics.
Underlying the economic crisis is a social crisis that afflicts virtually all of Latin America. If not addressed soon, this crisis will undermine attempts to integrate the economies of the Americas, and become a serious drag on the U.S. economy.
thanks to wood s lot
As Argentina's government was resigning in the face of full-scale riots and protests from every sector of society, a BBC-TV reporter asked me whether this economic and political meltdown would change the way people viewed the International Monetary Fund. I wanted to say yes, but I had to tell him: "It really depends on how the media reports these events."
So far it looks as if the IMF is getting off easy, once again. The Fund and the World Bank -- the world's two most powerful financial institutions -- learned an important lesson from their brief spate of bad publicity during the Asian economic crisis a few years ago. They have become masters of the art of "spinning" the news.
The Library of Congress has a bunch of stuff. A whole bunch of stuff. The Library of Congress has also been very active in putting this bunch-o-stuff online and making it available to the public that owns it. Go to the American Memory home page to get to all the online collections. Here are three of my favorite collections.
The By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943 collection consists of 908 boldly colored and graphically diverse original posters produced from 1936 to 1943 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. Of the 2,000 WPA posters known to exist, the Library of Congress's collection of more than 900 is the largest. These striking silkscreen, lithograph, and woodcut posters were designed to publicize health and safety programs; cultural programs including art exhibitions, theatrical, and musical performances; travel and tourism; educational programs; and community activities in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. The posters were made possible by one of the first U.S. Government programs to support the arts and were added to the Library's holdings in the 1940s.
Check out the collection highlights
thanks to MetaFilter
I studied photography in the early 70s. As I learned of photography's history, I learned of the photographers of the WPA. Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, Ben Shawn, and many others. I had always wondered, since these images were taken under contract to the government, if they were available to purchase. Well, they are.
The images in the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection are among the most famous documentary photographs ever produced. Created by a group of U.S. government photographers, the images show Americans in every part of the nation. In the early years, the project emphasized rural life and the negative impact of the Great Depression, farm mechanization, and the Dust Bowl. In later years, the photographers turned their attention to the mobilization effort for World War II. The core of the collection consists of about 164,000 black-and-white photographs. This release provides access to over 160,000 of these images; future additions will expand the black-and-white offering. The FSA-OWI photographers also produced about 1600 color photographs during the latter days of the project.
This is one of the early collections LOC put up on the web. Remember those Mathew Brady Civil War pictures? Here they are. And you can buy prints of these too as well as download higher quality images.
The Selected Civil War Photographs Collection contains 1,118 photographs. Most of the images were made under the supervision of Mathew B. Brady, and include scenes of military personnel, preparations for battle, and battle after-effects. The collection also includes portraits of both Confederate and Union officers, and a selection of enlisted men.
I have the comments function set up for the current posts. The Archives will come later, if at all. I also took the liberty of revising the page layout to make it a little clearer. Which is why some of the pages may have been looking weird in the last hour or so. Just one more tweak to make...
I had planned to move to Movable Type for this weblog since I like the way it handled permalinks. So I thought. I had troubles getting Movable Type to run and suddenly the way Greymatter handled permalinks looked just fine.
I had a little struggle getting the permalinks set up but it's done. Greymatter will let me add comments to the entries. That will be next. Maybe tonight. Maybe not.
Our TestingTesting New Year's show is archived. Enjoy. Best wishes for all in this new year.
Happpy New Year!
The web site is set up for tonight's TestingTesting. We will be webcasting the TestingTesting House Band from my living room tonight. The bread is started. Now to clean up the house and set up the sound. Click on in tonight at 7pm (pacific) and enjoy and hour's worth of fun music.
Oh yes, and let's hope we have a New Year.
The War Against Some Terrorists is embraced by India
West bids to avert Kashmir war
Kashmir is part of the mess that Britain left behind
Genetically Engineered Food
The Place With The Most New Year's Parties
My Bird Buddies
I live on Honeymoon Lake which is a small man made lake.
There used to be a small stream but it was dammed to make a lake for the developers to sell lots on. It's named Honeymoon Lake because it happens to be next to Honeymoon Bay. The story is that Honeymoon Bay used to be called Dogfish Bay. (Dogfish are a small shark prevalent in Puget Sound. Also known as the mud shark that Frank Zappa make famous.) I guess the developers thought that renaming it Honeymoon Lake might make it a little easier to sell lots.
But, like baseball fields, if you build it they will come. There are a variety of birds that live around the lake. Katie asked what kind they were and I said I didn't know birds beyond ducks and seagulls. I actually do know a few more than that, but not much. She thought I should get a bird book. Well, I already have a bird book so, this morning, I started identifying them.
These little ducks are wintering over on Honeymoon Lake. We also have the more common mallard, but more about them another time. Bufflehead. What a great name. The picture is by John James Audubon. The following description is also Audubon's.
There are no portions of the Union on the waters of which this beautiful miniature of the Golden-eye Duck is not to be found, either during the autumnal months or in winter; and, therefore, to point out any particular district as more or less favoured by its transient visits would be useless. The miller's dam is ornamented by its presence; the secluded creeks of the Middle States are equally favoured by it as the stagnant bayous and lakes of Lower Louisiana; in the Carolinas and on the Ohio, it is not less frequent; it being known in these different districts by the names of Spirit Duck, Butter-box, Marrionette, Dipper, and Die-dipper. It generally returns from the far north, where it is said to breed, about the beginning of September, and many reach the neighbourhood of New Orleans by the middle of October, at which period I have also observed them in the Floridas. Their departure from these different portions of our country varies from the beginning of March to the end of May. On the 11th of that month in 1833, I shot some of them near Eastport in Maine. None of them have, I believe, been found breeding within the limits of the Union. During the period of their movements towards the north, I found them exceedingly abundant on the waters of the Bay of Fundy, the males in flocks, and in full dress, preceding the females about a fortnight, as is the case with many other birds.
There were three females and one male out on the lake this noon. The females were hanging out on my side of the lake while the male was on the other side. They swim lower in the water that the mallards. They are underwater swimmers. They dive under the water and are gone. They will pop up 30 feet away from where they dove in.
Here are more links to this little duck with the funny name.
thanks to boingboing
The War Against Some Terrorists
The New Delhi Order
thanks to Cursor
I remain, sir, Haggard of the Hindu Kush
thanks to Blowback
U.S. "GROSSLY UNPREPARED" FOR UNLIKELY THREATS
There is dissent in Israel.
"Many women in the peace camp would be pleased if their children refused to serve in combat units," says Smadar Nehab. "I've been blessed by a son who has chosen not to serve in the territories. This is the strongest possible statement against the occupation. My son, Matan, is a patriot. He prefers not to serve there so that the state will continue to be able to exist."
Hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians met at the barricades outside this embattled village today, but instead of bullets and stones the air was filled with hands lifting sacks of rice, bags of sugar and jugs of cooking oil.
Most Israeli Arabs see both Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians and Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens as acts of terror, according to a survey published Sunday. This marks them out from both Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as Jewish Israelis, the survey shows.
Quality and inequality
In the US 10 years ago, the income of company directors was 42 times higher than that of the blue- collar workers; it is now 419 times higher; 95% of the surplus of $1,100bn generated between 1979 and 1999 has been appropriated and consumed by 5% of Americans. What happens inside every single society occurs as well in the global sphere - though on a much magnified scale. While the worldwide consumption of goods and services was in 1997 twice as large as in 1975 and has multiplied since 1950 by a factor of six, 1bn people, according to a recent UN report, "cannot satisfy even their elementary needs".
thanks to also not found in nature