Tuesday, January 31, 2006

On the lighter side -- new crossbreeds of dogs

We've been awful gloomy here lately so here's a bit of levity.

Thanks to Jeannette W. and Laurie Butler for passing these on.

New Dog Cross Breeds:

Collie + Lhasa Apso = Collapso, a dog that folds up for easy transport

Pointer + Setter = Poinsetter, a traditional Christmas pet

Great Pyrenees + Dachshund = Pyradachs, a puzzling breed

Pekingnese + Lhasa Apso = Peekasso, an abstract dog

Irish Water Spaniel + English Springer Spaniel = Irish Springer, a dog fresh and clean as a whistle

Labrador Retriever + Curly Coated Retriever = Lab Coat Retriever, the choice of research scientists

Newfoundland + Basset Hound = Newfound Asset Hound, a dog for financial advisors

Terrier + Bulldog = Terribull, a dog that makes awful mistakes

Bloodhound + Labrador = Blabador, a dog that barks incessantly

Malamute + Pointer = Moot Point, owned by... oh, well, it doesn`t matter anyway

Collie + Malamute = Commute, a dog that travels to work

Deerhound + Terrier = Derrier, a dog that`s true to the end

Bull Terrier + Shitzu = Oh, never mind ...

Monday, January 30, 2006

A global warming tune you can dance to...

If you like a lot of humor while considering the plight of future generations of humans and dogs (and all those other species too) check out the new animated clip from Defenders of Wildlife. Its funny and it has a good beat too. In our version of American Bandstand I think I'd give it a 5 out of 5. And you can dance to it too!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Silence the messenger, not defeat the problem -- Bush appointees try to stifle top NASA scientists from speaking out about global warming

I am reminded yet again that we are living in Orwellian America by an article in today's New York TImes . Instead of alerting Americans to the very real consequences our actions have on future generations, the administration is working to silence the warnings. Don't worry about solutions they seem to say. Just don't talk about them and no one will know.

Here's the article in total:

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.

Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. "That's not the way we operate here at NASA," Mr. Acosta said. "We promote openness and we speak with the facts."
He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen.
Mr. Acosta said other reasons for requiring press officers to review interview requests were to have an orderly flow of information out of a sprawling agency and to avoid surprises. "This is not about any individual or any issue like global warming," he said. "It's about coordination."
Dr. Hansen strongly disagreed with this characterization, saying such procedures had already prevented the public from fully grasping recent findings about climate change that point to risks ahead.

"Communicating with the public seems to be essential," he said, "because public concern is probably the only thing capable of overcoming the special interests that have obfuscated the topic."

Dr. Hansen, 63, a physicist who joined the space agency in 1967, directs efforts to simulate the global climate on computers at the Goddard Institute in Morningside Heights in Manhattan.
Since 1988, he has been issuing public warnings about the long-term threat from heat-trapping emissions, dominated by carbon dioxide, that are an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels. He has had run-ins with politicians or their appointees in various administrations, including budget watchers in the first Bush administration and Vice President Al Gore.

In 2001, Dr. Hansen was invited twice to brief Vice President Dick Cheney and other cabinet members on climate change. White House officials were interested in his findings showing that cleaning up soot, which also warms the atmosphere, was an effective and far easier first step than curbing carbon dioxide.

He fell out of favor with the White House in 2004 after giving a speech at the University of Iowa before the presidential election, in which he complained that government climate scientists were being muzzled and said he planned to vote for Senator John Kerry.
But Dr. Hansen said that nothing in 30 years equaled the push made since early December to keep him from publicly discussing what he says are clear-cut dangers from further delay in curbing carbon dioxide.

In several interviews with The New York Times in recent days, Dr. Hansen said it would be irresponsible not to speak out, particularly because NASA's mission statement includes the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet."

He said he was particularly incensed that the directives had come through telephone conversations and not through formal channels, leaving no significant trails of documents.
Dr. Hansen's supervisor, Franco Einaudi, said there had been no official "order or pressure to say shut Jim up." But Dr. Einaudi added, "That doesn't mean I like this kind of pressure being applied."
The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet."
The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions.

After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.

Among the restrictions, according to Dr. Hansen and an internal draft memorandum he provided to The Times, was that his supervisors could stand in for him in any news media interviews.

Mr. Acosta said the calls and meetings with Goddard press officers were not to introduce restrictions, but to review existing rules. He said Dr. Hansen had continued to speak frequently with the news media.

But Dr. Hansen and some of his colleagues said interviews were canceled as a result.
In one call, George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. Hansen, said Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the Goddard Institute.
Citing handwritten notes taken during the conversation, Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. "the most liberal" media outlet in the country. She said that in that call and others, Mr. Deutsch said his job was "to make the president look good" and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch's priority.

But she added: "I'm a career civil servant and Jim Hansen is a scientist. That's not our job. That's not our mission. The inference was that Hansen was disloyal."
Normally, Ms. McCarthy would not be free to describe such conversations to the news media, but she agreed to an interview after Mr. Acosta, at NASA headquarters, told The Times that she would not face any retribution for doing so.

Mr. Acosta, Mr. Deutsch's supervisor, said that when Mr. Deutsch was asked about the conversations, he flatly denied saying anything of the sort. Mr. Deutsch referred all interview requests to Mr. Acosta.

Ms. McCarthy, when told of the response, said: "Why am I going to go out of my way to make this up and back up Jim Hansen? I don't have a dog in this race. And what does Hansen have to gain?"

Mr. Acosta said that for the moment he had no way of judging who was telling the truth. Several colleagues of both Ms. McCarthy and Dr. Hansen said Ms. McCarthy's statements were consistent with what she told them when the conversations occurred.

"He's not trying to create a war over this," said Larry D. Travis, an astronomer who is Dr. Hansen's deputy at Goddard, "but really feels very strongly that this is an obligation we have as federal scientists, to inform the public."

Dr. Travis said he walked into Ms. McCarthy's office in mid-December at the end of one of the calls from Mr. Deutsch demanding that Dr. Hansen be better controlled.

In an interview on Friday, Ralph J. Cicerone, an atmospheric chemist and the president of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's leading independent scientific body, praised Dr. Hansen's scientific contributions and said he had always seemed to describe his public statements clearly as his personal views.

"He really is one of the most productive and creative scientists in the world," Dr. Cicerone said. "I've heard Hansen speak many times and I've read many of his papers, starting in the late 70's. Every single time, in writing or when I've heard him speak, he's always clear that he's speaking for himself, not for NASA or the administration, whichever administration it's been."
The fight between Dr. Hansen and administration officials echoes other recent disputes. At climate laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for example, many scientists who routinely took calls from reporters five years ago can now do so only if the interview is approved by administration officials in Washington, and then only if a public affairs officer is present or on the phone.

Where scientists' points of view on climate policy align with those of the administration, however, there are few signs of restrictions on extracurricular lectures or writing.
One example is Indur M. Goklany, assistant director of science and technology policy in the policy office of the Interior Department. For years, Dr. Goklany, an electrical engineer by training, has written in papers and books that it may be better not to force cuts in greenhouse gases because the added prosperity from unfettered economic activity would allow countries to exploit benefits of warming and adapt to problems.

In an e-mail exchange on Friday, Dr. Goklany said that in the Clinton administration he was shifted to nonclimate-related work, but added that he had never had to stop his outside writing, as long as he identified the views as his own.

"One reason why I still continue to do the extracurricular stuff," he wrote, "is because one doesn't have to get clearance for what I plan on saying or writing."
Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Am I writing science fiction or a snapshot of our actual future? Most of teh time I think its the former, until I read things like this article. Then I have to wonder.

Friday, January 27, 2006

EPA wants to test pesticides on children and pregnant women

I write science fiction but THIS stuff scares me!

This just out in an article from our noble journalists at TruthOut, the same government which is pushing legislative tort reform (read that cutting liabilities to large corporations) now wants to allow some of those large corporations (large pharma and chemical in particular) to, ahem, test their bug killers on pregnant women and children.

Where's the Queen of Hearts? Which way out of THIS looking glass?

That's right, the companies who already make a lot of money want to use unborn babies as test subjects! Where's the Pro-Life movement when you need them? Seems that dosing the next generation with bug spray just to find out the deleterious effects seems rather odd at best. I mean, haven't there been decades of evidence that bug sprays designed to take out smaller creatures by stopping their nervous systems isn't too good for developing humans? No big discoveries here.

What is very interesting that the same people who want to "loosen up" those controls on human testing also want to "tighten up" the reins on average people who get harmed by large corporations like, oh well, the drug and chemical companies. Might be something there but I couldn't say for sure. All the same, you might want to connect the dots.

We give trophy hunters tax breaks

Did you know that we actually help trophy hunters kill animals by giving them tax breaks? I didn't but the Care2 and The Humane Society of America folks did. Seems that our brave but bloated hunters (you know, the same ones who think its fun to shoot live animals via webcams in Texas) just can't seem to afford their little vice so a whole cottage industry has grown up advising them on how to make their hunting less expensive or even free by calling it "charity" and getting tax breaks. Amazing!

It seems that if these "hunters" claim they are shooting a couple of extra animals for museums they canw rite off their expenses. Needless to say someone HAD to write a book. SO those guys are not only making money off dead animals, they've encouraging others to kill MORE animals to enable them to kill the ones they wanted to kill in the first place.

Now don't get me wrong. I am NOT a vegetarian and I am NOT absolutely positively anti-hunting in all cases. What I am is outraged that some sick souls would have taken the video game to the next level -- killing live beings. Its one thing to hunt pheasant in person, a completely different thing to shoot a water buffalo via a camera attached to a rifle a thousand miles away from where you sit ensconced in your comfy recliner with your Cheetos! Talk about dehumanization! talk about disconnection from the real event! How do these guys get blooded? Via FedEx?!?!!?

But back to the issue at hand. I'm even more outraged that our tax dollars would support this lazy, inhumane treatment of animals. Here's what Care2 had to say in a recent email:

"The blatent corruption is evident even in canned hunt ads; many operators use slogans like "Hunt For Free," "Hunting in a Tight Money Economy," and "7 Secrets of Tax Deductible Hunting." Can you believe they are actually advertising the taxpayer-financed killing of helplessly enclosed animals? "


If you want to find out more check out ThePetitionSite, HSUS or Care2. All have ways to protest this stupendously stupid way to add to the national deficit via theft of tax funds.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

ASPCA's 10 most poisonous plants

If you're an avid gardener (or even a not-so-avid gardener) this is a list you may want to read. There are some plants on it that many of us have in our homes or yards. Most of us know that things like mistletoe are dangerous to pets but did you know kalanchoe is too? I didn't.

Thanks to the ASPCA for yet another service for our home companions!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

New York Times editorial on accepting dogs' amazing abilities and one Wonderful Scottish Pixie

If you've ever seen a diagnostic dog in action, this editorial is no surprize nor revelation. The New York Times has a lovely and short editorial on how we forget how amazing are the animals around us in everyday life.

The writer discusses cancer-sniffing dogs but the piece reminds me of one outstanding little Scottish dog named Pixie. If I had not misplaced my new digital camera shortly after returning from Scotland I would be proud to post Pixie's picture on this or any site. Pixie was a black and tan mix of perhaps border collie and doberman or some other breed with the distinctive blanc body and caramel colored eyebrows. A delight to be around at any time but if one needed to learn just how disadvantaged we are as a species when it comes to natural abilities, spend some time with Pixie, her human companion Adrian Glynn and their friend David Mackie.

All three are absolutely delightful Scots but Pixie was the one who was always at work. You see, Pixie is a diagnostic dog. She watches over Adrian (who is diabetic) and David (who is epileptic). She constantly monitors both and makes sure both are cared for and about. When Pixie is on duty both Adrian and David are safer for it. And the world is a better place for all of us who believe in natural "magic."

No one ever mnetioned in Grimm's Fairy Tales that Pixies could be angels too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

George Monbiot's recent article, "The Scam of Global Warming..."

Have you ever wondered how some people could blithely deny the reality of global warming that we see around us every day? Then check out the new article by George Monbiot in the Guardian and passed on to us by the sterling folks at Common Dreams. In "The Scam of Global Warming is That We Pay Others for Our Complacency" Monbiot pulls away the veil from the carbon offset trade. But he also does something even more interesting; he not so subtly raises the larger question of the monied interests' shell game with something that affects us all --global warming and the lack of true action in addressing the very thing that will pull our own earth out from under us as surely as the ice is falling away from the polar bears.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Global Warming Accelerating

From the fine folks at Common Dreams yet another compelling article on Global Warming. The Independent is reporting that we are about to see an acceleration of Global Warming. Seems that the readings of carbon dioxide parts per million have jumped from 1.6 in the 1990's to recent unpublished findings of 2.2 ppm.

I guess I'd better write the sequels faster so we can see what happens. It would be nice to know if there is much of a future. Sardonic of me I know...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

And if you believe this I have a few bridges to sell you -- US government says private enterprise will solve global warming

Common Dreams has sent on another great article on global warming. In this one the Guardian reports that the US government is addressing global warming by depending on the private sector to devise new technologies!!!! Talk about governing by putting one's head in the nuclear sand!!!! I'm guessing these political appointees never heard of the tragedy of the commons.
Frog species victim of global warming

Interesting article in The New York Times today about global warming being the root cause of the demise of a variety of frog. Biologists have said for decades that frogs are our canaries in the mines. When they start going, so do we. Thanks to Common Dreams for circulating the article!

And so it begins...

I guess that isn't really correct because I'm sure there are other species of animal and plant life that are already beginning the slide into extinction due to global warming and we just don't know about them yet.