Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gaffes and Downright Lies

Gaffe: Noun: An unintentional act or remark causing embarrassment to its originator; a blunder: "an unforgivable social gaffe".

Downright Lie: Noun phrase, the noun referring to: A  false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood. 2. Something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture. 3. An inaccurate or false statement. 4. Any statement made by Mitt Romney.

   When I recently visited my lovely sister in Arizona she told me that when she votes in elections she votes for the man (I'll be politically correct for her and posit that she meant "person") rather than the issue.
   I didn't tell her at the time because I didn't think of it, but upon reflection, that is a ridiculous position or voting strategy, for several reasons.  Or at least two.
   Number 1: The electorate may vote for a candidate who they "like" or admire due to their perceived personal qualities rather than one who will solve the nation's problems, or attempt to, in the manner the electorate may wish. When George W. Bush ran for office the media made a big deal about how common folks could identify with him, how he was a guy they would like to have a beer with, and his "swagger," whatever that meant, more than the less demonstrative democratic candidates he was running against, yet... George W. Bush started two unpaid for foreign military actions which we are still involved with costing the nation huge losses in life and treasure, decimated individual civil rights within the country, made torture a national policy, let a major American city languish after a natural disaster, and through his policies caused the nation to slide into the most sever economic crisis in 80 years, on and on. Some would say these policies were decidedly against the best interests of the voting public.
   "Miss me yet?" No George, we do not!
   Number 2: It's the issues that are important, not the ma... person who is elected to deal with them. The issues will always be more important than those elected to deal with them. The issues will also be around longer than any one person who is elected to deal with them at any particular time. In the next general election, for instance, the economy, issues of foreign policy forseen and unforseen, health care, regulation, etc., will still be with us long after Obama or Romney leave office to write more books and collect fees on the lecture circuit.
   Still, my dear sister does have a point.
   If a particular candidate's... deficiencies... are so glaring, so obvious, then one is forced, it seems to me, to take them into account.
   Or should.
   For instance, hypothetically speaking of course, if given the choice between a presidential candidate, an office of some importance, one who is demonstrably a pathological liar, and unapologetically so, whose entire campaign is based on proven lies and distortions, and a candidate who does not rely on lies and distortions, who may occasionally get his facts wrong, either intentionally or unintentionally, but still is markedly more truthful, who would you vote for, no matter what the issues are that we face?
   If you answered that you'd vote for the person who was the pathological liar just because of party affiliation or the opposing candidates race, then there is something horribly wrong with you.
   Because if a candidate for high office believes it's perfectly alright to lie to gain office, and does it repeatedly, they will surely continue that practice once the actually gain that office, and you will never know the truth about anything. How could you?
   Mitt (Mitt) Romney is a proven liar. He knows he is and doesn't care. It's my belief that he is a sociopath, but I'll explore that later. He's been called out on his lies (and flip-flops, which are a form of lie, taking whatever position is most convenient at the time) and he doesn't get flustered as most normal people would, he doesn't even make excuses. He gloriously accepts that he lies, and has not, as yet, apologized for them, or made any effort to correct them.
   This shows a shocking lack of principle.
   All politicians lie, you may say.
   To a degree you're absolutely right, and that is a direct result of money in politics, our nation's biggest political problem. But I've never seen a candidate lie like Mitt Romney. Not even Tricky Dick Nixon or Bill Clinton.
   How so, you may ask.
   Well, let's start with his very first ad he ran against President Obama:
   Forget about the political gobbly goop that Romney spews in the last part of the ad which is just empty promises devoid of any specific plan (a problem still plaguing his campaign), but the first part in which he selectively edits a campaign speech Obama made in 2008 against Sen. John McCain. Romney's ad would lead you to believe; 1: that Obama's speech was recent, and 2: that Obama was trying to hide his handling of the economy with this excerpt: "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."
   We already know the ad wasn't recent, and in that speech candidate Obama was actually quoting his opponent, John McCain, who was trying to hide the effects of the Republican stewardship of the economy during the George W. Bush years.
   Romney was confronted about this ad being a distortion... and he just did not care.
   Here, let our erudite friend, the ever lovely Rachel Maddow, speak to this point, a subject she has thoroughly documented:
   Please excuse the advertisement at the beginning, and that Rachel takes about as long to get to the point as I do.
   "...what's sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander..."
   That response to the fact that his ad misrepresented what Obama said; 1: doesn't make sense, 2: doesn't address the issue, and 3: shows that he is such an elitist one per-center that he's unfamiliar with the more general term "What's good for the goose is good for the gander."
   The man doesn't even know what a donut is!
Oh yes, dear readers, there's many more examples of Mitt's lies and flip flops. Oodles.
   Here's a pretty comprehensive list of some of some of them complied by Jueseppi B.
   Lately though the Romney campaign has been blitzing the airwaves (and cablewaves) with another clear cut, easy to check, distortion of the President's words.
   The second clip at the top of this post is of a speech the President made on the 13th in which he was clearly speaking of the country's infrastructure and other considerations that help make individual achievement possible in this country, especially business.
   But of course the Romney campaign, showing clear desperation, focused on a few lines the President spoke of, took them completely out of context, and has been running negative ads on this issue ever since.
   It's pathetic really. I would even feel sorry for the poor miserable sons of bitches if they weren't such inhuman, psychotic assholes.
   Everyone knows these ads are distortions of what the President actually said, except of course the poor fools who rely on Fox so-called news, and Rush Limbaugh as their only source of information, which is why the Romney campaign continues to run them (they're currently running ads with supposedly small business people who are offended by the distorted remark by President Obama that was taken completely out of context. In one, a supposed business owner gets very indignant:  "He says that you didn't make that business yourself, and that the government helped you make it. That ticked me off more than anything else." Number 1: This guy gets ticked off pretty easily. Number 2: This guys a moron because he's referring to a Romney lie that's ticking him off, and Number 3: the government did help him start his business. Who provided his elementary and secondary education, was he home schooled? No? Then his local government did. How did he get to work? In a car? A car that was built with the help of a government bail out of the auto industry required by the mishandling of the economy by the Republicans. Who built the building he built his business in? Did he build it himself? Did he build the roads, the telephone and cable lines, and the Internet? If he did I for one would like to shake his hand. Some of these guys used in these ads have been found to take government money directly to help finance their businesses, just like Romney himself did when he ran the Olympics in 2002, and when he ran Bain)
   Even the so-called mainstream, corporate media plays that game.
   The Republican love fest called "Meet the Press," was preempted Sunday due to some kind of sporting event being held in London, so I watched "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," instead, but you know what? George Strepkaloupakus wasn't even there. Some guy named Matthew Dowd, Maureen's brother I guess (chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney '04 presidential campaign. Wow, how impartial!), was standing in for him, and interviewed former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Romney spokesman Kevin Madden
   In the interview Dowd said this: "So we'll go to -- let's switch now to the economy. And the president got into a little hot water over his comments about you didn't build it that he made, and that many people think a gaffe is really a politician accidentally telling the truth..."
   Is this Dowd guy brain dead? It was not a gaffe, and the President was deliberately telling the truth... about the nation's infrastructure... and mentors, and teachers, and people like James Clerk Maxwell who first formulated classical electromagnetic theory, which allowed for these businesses to have electricity, not what Dowd was inferring, that individualism in business does not exist.
   But the Romney campaign continues to repeat their lies over and over again, attempting that old Republican trick, repeat a lie often enough and it will become the accepted truth.
   Does the Obama campaign rely on lies and distortions? Has it ever taken anything that Mittens has said out of context?
   Nope. Not that I'm aware of. If you are aware of an instance, dear readers, please let me know and I'll give Obama a mighty what for.
   But it would be so simple to do. One doesn't even have to wait for a candidate to make some provocative statement that would be easy to take out of context.
   Let's take Romney in the first clip at the top of this post for instance. In it he makes this statement: "Number one of course are the athletes, that's what overwhelmingly the games are about."
   From this sentence alone, with a little selective editing, we can come up with these rather alarming statements:
   Interviewer: "Is it true that your campaign advocates for the use of small children to be used as golf driving range markers?"
   Governor Romney: "Of course."
   Interviewer: "Are you a compulsive liar, who works only for the benefit of the richest in the nation?"
   Governor Romney: "Of course."
   Interviewer: "Have you ever picked your feet in Poughkeepsie?"
   Governor Romney: "That's what overwhelmingly the games are about."
   Interviewer: "Excuse me?"
   Governor Romney: "Number one."
   Interviewer: "Come again?"
   Governor Romney: "Of course."
   Interviewer: "I just want to be absolutely clear about this... you are unequivocally a Poughkeepsie foot picker?"
   Governor Romney: "Of course."
   Interviewer: "What is your sexual preference Governor, if you don't mind my asking?"
   Governor Romney: "The athletes of course."
   Interviewer: "Excuse me?"
   Governor Romney: "The athletes."
   Interviewer: "You like to have sex with the athletes?"
   Governor Romney: "Of course."
   Interviewer: "Did you have sex with the athletes when you ran the Olympics in 2002?"
   Governor Romney: "Of course."
   Interviewer: "One last question Governor. Are you like the biggest freaking asshole the world has ever seen?"
   Governor Romney: "Of course, number one."
    Why I could have Romney say: "Hi. I'm Mitt Romney and I'm running for president of the United States. I'm also an effeminate blatherskite with an addiction to Indonesian child pornography, and suffer from a bad case of piles, incontinence, and horrible, foul smelling out of control flatulence that is at once pleasing and somewhat disconcerting at the same time. I'm also a socialist, commie, Nazi sympathizer with a predilection toward fascist anarchy. I'm a practicing Muslim Hindu. My mother was a marsupial, and my dad a Bohemian midget whose diet consisted of spoiled cabbage and mustard sauce. I practice infidelity as much as possible, two or three times a day if I can arrange it. I do worship Beelzebub, the great Lord of the Flies, and hope to one day soon join him in the seething bowels of hell only to return to wreck havoc upon all of mankind," if I so desired.
   The point I'm so delicately trying to make here is that by lying in a political campaign you can get your opponent to have any position that is advantageous for your own position.
   We've discussed downright lies quite a bit in this post. What about gaffes.
   "The private sector is doing just fine," is an example of a gaffe that the President made during a press conference on the economy. I knew that the moment he said it, and sure enough the right wing media and the Romney campaign pounced on it in a couple of nanoseconds. Why did he say it? Most likely because he was more concerned with the public sector employment rate at the time, and he didn't realize what fodder he was providing for the right.
   Now the gaffe that Mr. Romney made in that first clip above was made because... I honestly don't know. Considering our close relationship with Great Britain, it was very much like a distant relative coming over to visit for the first time and saying your house smells like crap. It's remarkable really.
   Alright, enough of this, I have to get back to woman's beach volleyball.
   Now that's something true and beautiful.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Skid Row Diary 4

July 16th  Wednesday  Day 4  

   Up at 3:00AM to begin watching "Voyager, but soon fell back with Jennifer and robbed the Home Bank of Grapevine, Texas, only to wake during the closing credits. I went to take a shower, but heard someone in there already and returned to my room to wait for who ever it was that had the impertinence to be up this early.
   Ever efficient, I used this time for a brief session of yoga and crunches and push ups before returning to the shower room. It was quiet now, but I was fooled. My neighbor from across the hall, Terence, was in there drying off. An engineering student, we greeted each other and then he took off. I undressed, waved my pendulous willy at a sleepy Los Angeles, then took a nice hot shower, allowing the water to cascade down the back of my perfectly formed neck.
   I meditated for 400 breaths upon returning to my room. Then began writing. At 6:00 I switched the radio from classical music to Mark and Brian. Mark was still making an ass of himself, not allowing Brian much of an opportunity to follow suit. Today he was insisting the reason he couldn't get into J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye," during a recent attempt, was because he was no longer a teenager. That's like saying you didn't care for "Moby Dick," because you're not a whale, or "Dracula," because you're not a vampire anymore.
   Oh well. I must have patience. At least he's reading something... I guess.
   John Manzano came to my room at 6:50. We both waited breathlessly for 7:00 to arrive and Despirita America to begin so we could see what Giselle was wearing today.
   "I had a dream last night," he confided. "A strange dream."
   "Tell me about it, my son."
   "It was about fire."
   "Dreams about fire usually denote homosexuality," I assured him.
   Giselle was wearing a nice sequined dress thank God. It was supported by two thin straps which showed off her lovely shoulders.
   Fulfilled, John and I went to breakfast.
   Grilled cheese sandwiches and potatoes. Interesting.
   I had a 8:30 appointment at the local Vocational Rehabilitation office for orientation, so walked over to Spring St. to catch a 71 bus headed for The Beast, the USC/LAC Hospital. General Hospital. The Death Palace. The rehab office is just down the street from it.
   I arrived 30 minutes early and read from "Edge of Tomorrow," until orientation began. There were about 10 others there, mostly black people, 2 Hispanics. One big, ugly, old white woman sat next to me who kept hitting on the black guys. I didn't see anyone take her up on her offer.
   For an hour and a half Janet Chong, of the Chong family, explained how the Department of Rehabilitation could help us become self sufficient if we were deemed eligible. One needs to be disabled to receive their assistance. Since I'm mentally unstable I certainly qualified. We were given several forms to take with us and complete before returning at a prearranged date. Mine was on July 30th, at 10:30AM.
   I left after Ms. Chong had finished. There was no point in staying around there. I took another 71 bus to Spring and Temple where I caught a B Dash to Arco Plaza. I found 2 letters from the Department of Social Services (DPSS) in my P.O. Box, but did not open them there. I have an electric letter opener in my room especially designed for such tasks. I did mail my application for Federal and State Student Aid.
   It was 10:30. I decided to walk to the One Stop center. On the way I passed a small group of Hispanic school children, 1st graders it looked like, escorted by 3 teachers. The children were all grasping plastic rings held together with a thick plastic cord, to keep them all together as they traversed the busy downtown streets and corridors. They resembled midget mountaineers tied together to keep from falling off the mountain.
   If only we had those devices when I was in school. Think of how my life would have changed.
   Several of the children noticed me as we waited together for a street light to change, and waved and smiled at me. They were sweet and innocent, not yet tainted by the world around them. Their smiles were the highlight of my day.
   I used the computer at One Stop to retrieve several pictures of Jessica Biel before looking for a job. A long haired, gnomish, white guy intercepted my printouts at the printer and gave me an odd look as I picked them up. I saw him go over to the young attendant and speak to him. He was ratting me out, the little bitch. The attendant, quick to weed out any improprieties, came to my station, excused himself, and asked to see something on my computer.
   I had since abandoned the photo site and was looking through my Email at a message from Flip Dog, the employment service. The young attendant, being very computer savvy, checked the History function to see what I had been accessing. There was nothing I could do, and prepared myself for an embarrassing admonition and warning not to use their computers for anything other than job procurement, and to mortally wound the busy body informant.
   However, chance would have it that the photo site I had utilized to retrieve the images of the lovely actress was named "Actress Archives," which could easily be mistaken for a website devoted to helping actresses looking for work in the entertainment industry. There was nothing else in the history that was incriminating. The attendant was very thorough, positive that he had yet again caught an perpetrator red handed. He hovered the cursor over the "Actress Archives" tag several times, but didn't click on it. If he had he would have instantly been rewarded with Jessica's beautiful face, which would have gotten me into more trouble since the attendant was gay.
   After a few moments I felt like saying, "Hey buddy, don't you have your own computer to play around with? I'm trying to get some work done here," but thought better of it. Soon enough, my little investigator sighed, defeated, and walked away. He later talked to the stool pigeon, who was still pissed at my not being harshly reprimanded and shown the door. It's guys like that who watch "America's Most Wanted," avidly, and become members of Neighborhood Watch.
   I continued to use the computer to apply on line for several customer service jobs at USC, actually having to retype my entire work history which I wanted them to know about. I called Leonard, who told me that Wells Fargo, the banking company, was looking for customer service reps.
   "I think I owe them money, Leonard. What else have ya got?"
   I didn't think I owed them money. I knew it.
   I had one message on my voice mail from Stacy Tran at Vocational Rehab, who wanted me to know my appointment had been changed to tomorrow at 2:00PM. I'd have another evening of filling out forms.
   I printed out some pictures of Condoleezza Rice and Traci Lords before leaving One Stop, on my way back to LACC.
   The Red Line station  at 7th Street now has a sign outside saying it was now Grand Central and 42nd St. in New York City.
   Ahhh, the miracles of movie making.
   I immediately began a little Two-Step Shuffle, and broke out into song:

   "Come and meet, those dancing feet, on the avenue I taking you to, 42nd street.
     Hear the beat of dancing feet. Its the song I love, the melody of... 42nd street."

   At LACC I turned in my school application to a beautiful, young, Asian type girl, and was told to make an appointment for an English/Math assessment test. I did this, being able to follow simple instructions rather well (the navy taught me this), and I was scheduled for next Monday at 10:30AM.
   I also discovered I already had 15 units of credit from way back in the 70s when I attended Piece Community College, in Woodland Hills (which is in the San Fernando Valley). I didn't remember finishing the classes (I may have been drunk those years), but I'll take whatever I can get.
   I also had 3 units from Pasadena City College, when I took English 101.
   So why am I being assessed if I've already taken English 101?
   The ways of higher education are mysterious.
   Done for the day I returned to the Weingart. I was there before 3:00 and was able to get some nice laundry tokens from my case manager.
   As a requirement for staying here at the Weingart, rent free, I'm to have a weekly get together with my lovely case manager, Labren Marshall. She wants to see me, I want to see her. If I don't for some reason, or she forgets to enter into her computer the fruits of our last conversation, she will place nasty notes in my room key box downstairs at the front desk.
   But it is not always an easy thing to see my lovely case manager. Today for example. I had time and wanted to get our session for the week out of the way. I went to her door. It was closed, but I saw her sitting in an office two doors down, talking to her new boss. She talked and talked. I waited and waited. The office door closed. What the hell? I retrieved my new yoga book from my room and parked myself outside of her door.
   "Mr Joyce! You're not gonna do me like that?" she called as the door opened again.
   "You wish." I should have said, "Yes, I'm staying here until you come out. You can't hide all day. I'll stay here for as long as necessary, by God!"
   She asked me to wait in the day room instead. Too many cantankerous veterans in there to suit me. They were all watching a breaking news story about an older gentleman losing control of his vehicle at a farmers market in Santa Monica and hitting about 8 or 9 people.
   I waited in the lounge instead, and continued with the writing I had begun in the morning.
   "Are you writing me a letter, Mr. Joyce?" my case manager, now free from her boss, asked me at my side.
   "You wish," I almost said. "No. I want a face to face sit down. I want my issue!" I demanded.
   She was about to go off with her fellow case managers to parts unknown, but I got to her first.
   In her office now she asked, "What's up?"
   Ms Marshall, Labren, is a beautiful lady... model beautiful. She looked like a cross between Dorothy Dandridge and Rosanne Katon. And she was single. I could see why her new boss kept her in his office for so long.
   "Oh I just wanted to check in. I'm supposed to do that every week. I thought I was going to have to call the S.W.A.T. team to get you out of there. Please let your boss know that's all true and good to get together and talk about work every now and then, but it's also good to actually do some work once in a while, as well."
   She ignored my sass. "And thank you for your birthday card," she said. I'd given her a birthday card last week. She is now 31 years old. A little old for me, but in her case I'd let that slide.
   "Did you have a nice birthday?" I asked, suave bastard that I am.
   "Yes," she answered. "I was able to have some fun activities over the weekend."
   Fun activities. I love that. That's case manger speak.
   I told her what was happening recently with my pathetic life, or some of it at least. She seemed excited that I planned to go back to college.
   "What will you be taking?" she asked.
   "Para-legal," I told her.
   "Well," she happily exclaimed, "we have a new goal for you then, don't we?"
   "I guess," I said wistfully.
   She entered my new goal onto her computer.
   After a while she said we were finished.
   "We're cool then, you and me? We're straight?"
   She just smiled at my Hip Talk. I left her then and went to my room.
   I finished writing, then went down to dinner. Chicken a la King.
   The Spring Break episode, part 1, was on "Married with Children."
   Charley Rose spoke with the Prime Minister of Germany. He's always doing something like that. I filled out paperwork for Voc Rehab while they talked. I had to write out my work history again, and explain how sick I am.
   Instead of "The History Detectives" again,  I watched "Star Trek Enterprise," the current Star Trek manifestation. The Federation's first contact with the Tholians, tonight, the alien, web spinning bastards.
   The possibility of humans breeding with Vulcans was first mentioned on this prequel to every other Star Trek show.
   "I wonder," the captain pondered with his female Vulcan hottie, science officer T'pol, (the lovely Jolene Blalock, the 10th sexiest woman in the world by FHM magazine in 3 years), standing close by, "if humans and Vulcans were to mate, would the offspring have pointed ears?" T'pol looked on disdainfully.
   I love this stuff!
   Of course a fly would have a better chance of mating with an elephant than two species that evolved independently of each other on different planets. But what the hell, we wouldn't have had Spock if we stuck to particulars.
   I finished my paperwork and read Monday's paper while watching a dramatized documentary about the six wives of Henry the Eighth.
   I fell asleep before Ann Boleyn was beheaded, however I dreamt that I had been abducted by a flying saucer as I had been making my way to the Vocational Rehab building for my appointment, and the Vulcan T'pol and an Orion Slave girl who looked exactly like the wonderful actress Desireé Cousteau of "Caged Heat," and "Pretty Peaches," fame, except that she was green, were examining me as I laid paralyzed on an examination table. I didn't mind because she looked pretty good green. A lot of girls do.
   "So you wanted to know if offspring between Vulcans and humans would have certain physical characteristics?" T'pol asked me.
   "Err, uuumm, eerrggarebba." I replied, being paralyzed and all.
   "Okay, well it's easy enough to find out, Mr. Joyce." she smiled that Vulcan smile down at me. "You were aware of course that on Vulcan it is the male who bears the young?"
   "Oh yes. Are you ready to try this little experiment Mr. Joyce? Just between you and me... and Gaila here..." Desireé, er Gaila looked down at me too with that sensual look Orion Slave Girls always seem to have.
   Damn those Orion Slave Girls!
   I resigned myself to my fate and began to relax.
   "Galila, would you please hand me the insemination probe?"
   "Of course, Commander," she said breathlessly.
   "Innnssemmiinnaaaatioonnn prroooobbbbbeee!"
   "What was that, Mr. Joyce? I couldn't quite make that out."
   "Err, uuumm, eerrggarebba!"
   "Why of course. Thank you Galila," T'pol said as Galila handed her a long cylindrical object, about two feet long and 4 inches in diameter.
   "The Orion Vaseline, please. Thank you. Very well," she continued, "help me turn him over."
   "eerrrggdrr, ffhdggrnbnnnddd, sshdhdttfbbhghgyydff, ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!"
   "See, that didn't hurt much, now did it?"
   "Yyyeeesssssss, iiittttttttgggdrrddbbfggsdhh, hhhururrrttssd!"
   "Only a couple of more hours... and then we get your head, as is our custom."
   "I find this extremely stimulating," T'pol added after a ten minutes or so. I was a whimpering mass of protoplasm by then.
   "Can I do it for a while," Desireé asked.
   "Of course, my dear."
   Then Dorothy Dandridge and Rosanne Katon showed up and took their turns.
   "Ooooohhh jjjeesssuuususs Cccchhhhrrrriiisssstt!!"
   I dreamt that I passed out...
   ... and when I woke up I had pointed ears.
   How odd.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bee Declines & Fishy Mercury




"Dave Hackenberg makes a living moving honeybees. Up and down the East Coast and often coast to coast, Hackenberg trucks his beehives from field to field to pollinate crops as diverse as Florida melons, Pennsylvania apples, Maine blueberries and California almonds.
As he has done for the past 42 years, in the fall of 2006 Hackenberg migrated with his family and his bees from their central Pennsylvania summer home to their winter locale in central Florida. The insects had just finished their pollination duties on blooming Pennsylvanian pumpkin fields and were now to catch the last of the Floridian Spanish needle nectar flow. When Hackenberg checked on his pollinators, the colonies were "boiling over" with bees, as he put it. But when he came back a month later, he was horrified. Many of the remaining colonies had lost large numbers of workers, and only the young workers and the queen remained and seemed healthy. More than half of the 3,000 hives were completely devoid of bees. But no dead bees were in sight. 'It was like a ghost town,' Hackenberg said."
-By Diana Cox-Foster and Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Scientific American, March 2009

Bees are cool.
I've always liked bees even though a couple of them have stung me when I was a kid. I think I accidentally stepped on one once.
I even had a pet bee I named Aibreann Dòmhnallaidh, but except for queens, bees don't live very long. Aibreann passed away after a couple of months. That's her head shot at the top of the post, may she rest in piece.
If you don't want to be seen by a bee dress up head to toe in a red body stocking. Bees can't see red. I don't know why.
Bees are related to wasps and ants. This does not surprise me as all three species are extremely socialized (which is why Republicans like Michelle Bachmann don't like them and often claim Congress and the State Department are being infiltrated by socialist insects who are also members of the Muslim Brotherhood) and live in colonies, or hives. All three species also fly, ants only when queens and males swarm to found other colonies. That's how we got the giant bus sized, radioactive ants that live in the storm drains of the nearby Los Angeles River, which is also why it is not wise to sleep on the 6th St. Bridge at night).
In Indonesia bee babies are eaten as a companion to rice.
Queens and drones (male bees) primarily exist to make baby bees, after which the Indonesians come and eat them. Worker bees, who are all women (how typical), go out and work for a living. They make the hive, they bring back food, they repel invaders.
Bees are very important to other living things, like plants and flowers. Bees like to eat nectar and pollen (if they aren't allergic). Flowers and plants know this and therefor produce nectar and pollen. Pollen is like flower seeds, and since, except for triffids and tumbleweeds, plants and flowers can't move around a great deal, they have this deal going on with bees who come around and spread their pollen, thereby fertilizing other plants and flowers. This is called pollination.
Bees are very good at this. As a matter of fact us humans depend on them to do that. If it were not for bees one to two thirds of our natural crops would not be propagated. That means one to two thirds of the grown food that you and I eat and make other products from, would not exist. which would major suck.
Here's a list of crops that rely on insects (mostly bees) for pollination:
I would have written it out for dramatic effect but there's just too many of them!
As was quoted from the second clip above, the famous entomologist, Albert Einstein once said: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!”
That's a pretty strong statement, and may or may not be true. However, I certainly would not like to test that hypothesis.
Accordingly, any decline in bee populations should be cause for concern, as Dave Hackenberg was concerned in the example above.
And it appears that since 1972 the populations of both feral and domesticated bee colonies have declined.
Wikipedia tells us: "This decline includes the cumulative losses from all factors, such as urbanization, pesticide use, tracheal and Varroa mites, and commercial beekeepers' retiring and going out of business. However, in late 2006 and early 2007 the rate of attrition reached new proportions, and the term colony collapse disorder was coined to describe the sudden disappearances. After several years of research and concern, a team of scientists headed by Jerry Bromenshenk published a paper in October 2010 saying that a new DNA-based virus, invertebrate iridescent virus or IIV6, and the fungus Nosema ceranae were found in every killed colony the group studied. In their study they found that neither agent alone seemed deadly, but a combination of the virus and Nosema ceraneae was always 100% fatal.
In 2009 some reports from the US suggested that 1/3 of the honey bee colonies did not survive the winter, though normal winter losses are known to be around 25%. At the end of May 2012, the Swiss government reported that about half of the bee population had not survived the winter. The main cause of the decline was thought to be the parasite varroa.
Apart from colony collapse disorder, many of the losses outside the US have also been attributed to other causes. Pesticides used to treat seeds, such as Clothianidin and Imidacloprid, have been considered prime suspects."
Don't take my or Wikipedia's word for it. Take our lovely little Canadian actress and entomologist friend Ellen Page's. Surely, she would not lie to us:
I don't think I saw potatoes on the list of crops that need pollination. I guess we can all live off of those if need be.
This is important! But like climate change (which also may be a factor in declining bee populations), the damage done is so subtle politicians are unlikely to do anything about it until it is too freaking late.
And we've already tried.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created (by a Republican, Richard Nixon)  for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.
But check this out:
"...a number of beekeepers and environmental groups from around the U.S. came together this past March to petition the EPA to cease sales of clothianidin, a neonicotinoids (neonics) class of pesticides that is suspected of being harmful to honeybees.  The EPA rejected the petition due to failure to demonstrate a case for “imminent harm,” or harm that will occur “within the one to two years necessary to complete cancellation proceedings.” The agency also downplayed the science connecting clothianidin to bee decline, acknowledging that the chemical effects bees but not on a widespread scale."
Considering the EPA is charged with protecting human health and the environment, they must know what they're talking about... right?
Probably... except for this:
In a Wiki-Leak release in 2010, it was revealed that the EPA was well-aware of the toxicity of clothianidin but failed to act responsibly in banning its use.
"Clothianidin's major risk concern is to non-target insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and oral basis. Although EFED does not conduct RQ assessments of non-target insects, information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoids insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long term toxic risks to honey bees and other beneficial insects. An incident in Germany already illustrated the toxicity of clothianidin to honey bees when allowed to drift off-site from treated seed during planting."
And if that wasn't clear enough:
"This compound is toxic to birds and animals. Treated clothianidin exposed on soil surface may be hazardous to birds and mammals. Cover or collect clothianidin seeds during loading."
And if that wasn't specific enough:
"This compound is toxic to honey bees. The persistence of residues and potential residual toxicity of Clothianidin in nectar and pollen suggests the possibility of chronic toxic risk to honey bee larvae and the eventual instability of the hive."
Wow! This is pretty damning evidence that the EPA is not looking out to protect human health and the environment as much as it is the business interests of pesticide makers like Bayer, the manufacturer of clothianidin, Monsanto, Dow Chemicals, Syngenta and BASF, who actively lobby to ensure their agricultural chemicals remain in use.
And all this during an Obama administration!
This also demonstrates how important whistle-blower organizations like Wikileaks are for the general welfare of humankind, and why governments hate them so.
This whole situation shockingly reminds me of how the Food and Drug Administration (The FDA is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs (medications), vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, electromagnetic radiation emitting devices (ERED), and veterinary products... supposedly) is being sued by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies who challenge the FDA’s failure to implement stricter standards to protect the public from mercury in seafood.
It is not without a certain sense of irony that I report the EPA reports the number one source of mercury exposure for people in the United States is contaminated seafood. The EPA calculates that 15 percent of newborns (630,000) in the United States are at risk each year to  neurological defects from mercury contamination.
Alex Ralston of the Center for Biological Diversity reports: "Mercury contamination of seafood is a widespread public-health problem, especially for women of childbearing age, pregnant and nursing women and children. Mercury ingestion can lead to memory loss, developmental and learning disorders, vision loss, heart disease and, rarely, death."
As you can see with the chart above we all should think twice about opening that next can of tuna.
“By ignoring its own standards and allowing seafood that is high in mercury to be sold, the FDA is putting hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting Americans at risk of permanent nerve damage and cognitive disorders,” said David McGuire of GotMercury.org. “The FDA is putting Americans in harm's way through its lack of advisories, enforcement and testing of our nation’s seafood supply.”
On the surface it would appear that the FDA is looking out for the interests of volcanoes,  operators of coal burning power plants and mines, like perhaps Charley and Dave Koch, before the health of the American public.
And all this during an Obama administration!
Both of these dire situations raise some very important and immediate questions, like who is government supposed to serve, and who does it actually serve, irrespective of politics.
And that raises the problem I have put before you so many times, dear readers, that money in politics, rather it be through lobbying, or campaign contributions from volcanoes, coal burning power plant operators, mine owners, and insecticide manufacturers (not to mention oil, banking, pharmaceutical industries, etc.), is the single greatest problem this country faces.
And this problem needs to be addressed, because if it isn't other, natural forces, may address it for us.
The last picture above is of the lovely one-eyed actress Joanna Frank in the 18th episode of the 1964 series, "The Outer Limits." The episode is entitled "ZZZZZ" (the entire episode can be seen through the third link at the top of this post, via Hulu) and Joanna plays Regina, a giant mutant queen bee in human form who is searching for a human mate to evolve her species.
"Don't let giant mutant queen bees take over our species." Buy Direct TV and tell the EPA and the FDA to get their priorities straight and protect people instead of big business.
As the omnipresent Outer Limits announcer reminds us:

"Human life strives ceaselessly to perfect itself, to gain ascendancy. But what of the lower forms of life? Is it not possible that they, too, are conducting experiments and are at this moment on the threshold of deadly success?"

We shall see.

Addendum: 8-30-15: Culprit found

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Discovery of the God Particle and Republican Alternate Universe, Part 2

... at least psychologically, which upon further examination and analysis of the available data may one day point the way for our physical scientists to actually discover alternative universes using our cherished scientific method, and thereby discovering where it is our Republican brethren seem to be trapped, and therefore creating a possibility they may one day be rescued and brought back to us who live in the real universe, or world.
But it seems unlikely.
They seem to like it wherever their poor bedeviled minds have leapt off to.
What verifiable, qualitative evidence do I have for this proposition? The evidence, like the hypothetical Higgs Field, is ubiquitous.
As I've mentioned previously in earlier posts many of my family's dear friends come from the south and mid west. Some of these I'm Facebook friends with even though I've personally never met them.
One is a man of about my age who lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He seems to be a likable individual. We are both single, exceptionably good looking, and love this country. We also share an interest in classic rock. He seems to be an intelligent and expressive individual... I'm a half wit. He apparently actively plays in a band, I have sung in bands in the past.
We have our differences. He is quite an active Facebook poster. Some are. I am not really. But I do monitor the posts of others that wind up on my page. My friend from the south is not shy about sharing his political and social views. I would dare say he is conservative in nature. Sometimes he posts things that are outrageous and usually I let it pass as I don't like to use Facebook as a platform to display my own political views, that is what Joyce's Take is for. However, sometimes I just can't help myself.
The other day I ran across one of his posts which prominently displayed a picture of 24 year old  alleged Aurora, Colorado gunman James Holms along side a picture of President Obama, with a caption reading, "Isn't it funny that in just 4 days we know more about James Holmes than we do about Barack Obama?" (by the way, one answer to our gun control needs in this country was provided by a listener to "The Stephanie Miller Program" this week. The Second Amendment does state we have the right to bear arms, but it doesn't say the government can't sales tax the hell out them, like they do here in California with cigarettes. How many more mass shootings will we see when each round costs $10)
My friends comment read: "This is so true!" and one of his friends wrote something like this: "Yeah, Obama's a Muslim," and something else, I forget what exactly. Something ill considered I'm sure.
Now I read this and thought to myself how can this possibly be true? Obama has been president for going on 4 years, which means he has virtually been under a looking glass for those 4 years. He's in the news virtually every day. The facts of his life are well documented and have been discussed exhaustively throughout the campaign that elected him to office. It isn't hard to find out about him if you look on the Internet machine. I just Google'd "Barack Obama," and there are at least 190 personal results (more are promised if I upgrade to Google+. I refuse to do this). He's written two books primarily about himself for gosh sake!
So how can this be explained? These people aren't stupid... except the guy that says Obama's a Muslim.
Obviously these people reside in an alternate universe, one in which relatively little is known of the President of the United States. Clearly this must be true. They certainly don't live in the same universe you and I live in dear readers. The universe where all we have to do is Google "Barack Obama," and hundreds of free references will come to your fingertips almost instantaneously.
I decided to try to rescue these guys, throw them a lifeline so to speak, and pasted Obama's Wikipedia page to my friends post with this comment, "Just click on this link guys and you'll learn all you'll need to know."
I turned from Facebook, did some other stuff, checked my Email to discover that my friend had commented on my comment. This is what he said: "No thanks Richard (he calls me Richard). I know all I need to know about this man."
Huumm, I wonder what he meant by that.
I couldn't help but reply.
"Really? I wish I knew all I need to know about Mitt Romney. He won't release his tax returns, or talk about his time at Bain, his Olympic records seemed to have disappeared. He won't talk about any specific plans or ideas of what he'll do if he becomes president. As a matter of fact we don't know anything about him! Maybe we'll find something out during the debates in October. We can only hope."
He made no further replies to this thread, and continued posting as is his custom a little while later (how do they manage that from other dimensions?).
Last Thursday night I watched an episode of HBO's and Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom (which is very odd as "The Newsroom" airs on Sundays)." In it the fictional anchor played fantastically by the always underrated Jeff Daniels spotlighted the real story of how Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and Michelle Bachmann continued to spread lies about a trip President Obama was making to India last year I guess. They all claimed that Obama was spending $200 million of tax payer money a day on the trip, had an entourage of over 200 people, was renting the entire Taj Mahal to stay at (it's a mausoleum, not a hotel, and can't be rented), and was using like a quarter of the United States navy as a military escort, the whole trip costing over 2 billion dollars. The Daniels character reported that the White House states these accusations are false and had no base in reality. He further reported that these three and the head of the NRA insist that the President's hidden agenda is to get absolute control of privately owned guns. Absolute control to the point of repealing the Second Amendment. It appears the president's strategy to get control of the nation's privately owned fire arms is to allow them into national parks, and make no other laws whatsoever regarding guns. He's going to do it by being more gun friendly than George W. Bush, or any other recent president (these same people are now claiming that even though Obama didn't make a move toward gun control in his first term, if reelected he will be free to unleash his true, hidden agenda and usurp all of the nation's weapons).
Daniels character states, and I paraphrase: "I don't know why Limbaugh, Beck, Bachmann, and the head of the NRA are lying about the president and his family, but every time they do their ratings go up, more guns are sold, and the presidents approval ratings decline." He also suggested that like sex offenders, those who knowingly lie to the American public for personal and political gain be permanently and publicly branded as chronic, compulsive liars.
I agree.
It's my belief that these people, and Fox so-called news in general, act as wormholes in which viewers are sucked into alternate universes by listening... never to return.
"Don't get sucked into an alternate universe." Get Direct TV without Fox so-called news.
Examples go on and on. Like my friend's friend above, 30% of Republicans today believe President Obama is a Muslim. Almost one third of Republicans in another Universe (and let us not forget the Birthers (I always knew Donald Trump was not of this world)).
He's not a Muslim, but so what if he was? As far as I remember the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion in this country, with no religious test to run for national office.
Oh yes, but that's our Constitution, the real world one, not the one that exists in the Republican alternate universe, which states whatever the hell is convenient for Republicans at any time that is convenient for them.
Same holds true that the U.S. is a Christian country. It is in their universe, not the real one.
There's no climate change in the Republican universe. We just happen to be having a hot summer they say.
The hottest summers on record for the last 25 years.
In the Republican universe slavery was good for black people because it brought them here. They change school history books to prove it when they can.
The presumptive Republican nominee for president, Mitt (Mitt) Romney, seems to be able to slip in and out of the Republican alternate universe at will. It's called "flip flopping," and plain old lying: http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/06/romney-just-making-stuff-up-now.html
His campaign has been running an ad recently stating Obama ran on a promise to change, and "what have we gotten? Continued high unemployment, a stagnant and weak economy, more restrictions on job creators," on and on, and again I paraphrase here, the tag line being "he tried, you tried... it's okay to make a change."
That ad comes straight from the Republican alternate universe. How do I know? Because if it were from the real universe it would go like this: Obama ran on a promise to change, and "what have we gotten? continued high unemployment (caused by the Republican recession), a stagnant and weak economy (caused by the Republican recession), more restrictions on job creators (companies are outsourcing jobs overseas and sitting on trillions in profits), he tried, you tried... it's okay to make a change (but not for the worse)."
We could continue to document the existence of this alternative universe almost infinitely, and therefore prove the existence of the Higgs Field without needing that big old 17 mile Large Hadron Collider, saving the planet a few billion bucks in the bargain.
But then again... it wouldn't be as much fun.

P.S. From all of us here at Joyce's Take, our hearts and thoughts go out to Wendy Schultz who is recovering from surgery for ovarian cancer. We don't care all that much about Ed, her husband, but we all love Wendy and wish her a speedy and thorough recovery.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Discovery of the God Particle and Republican Alternate Universe


A lot of people have been asking me lately, "Rick, what exactly is a boson, anyway?" And I have to tell them that it is common knowledge that a boson is a subatomic particle that is governed by Bose–Einstein statistics, which of course describes one of two possible ways in which a collection of indistinguishable particles may occupy a set of available discrete energy states, and apply only to those particles not limited to single occupancy of the same state—that is, particles that do not obey the restriction known as the Pauli exclusion principle. This means that two particles can occupy the same state, and when you have two particles occupying the same state you have what is known as a "Bosonmate," thereby giving them the capability to steer and paint ships of various sizes and colors.
Swab the decks too!
I have to admit particle physics is not my area of expertise. As a matter of fact I don't have any areas of expertise. However, it has come to my attention that those crazy folks at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN (I don't know why) celebrated the Second Continental Congress's adoption of the Declaration of Independence from Britain (the 4th of July), by announcing that two independent teams had each confirmed the formal discovery of a previously unknown boson of a mass between 125–127 GeV/c2 (gigaelectronvolt/speed of light squared), whose behavior so far has been "consistent with" a Higgs boson, which practically everyone (I know I have) has been looking for since it was first proposed in 1964 by Professor Peter Higgs, who coincidently happens to have the same name as the particle.
Now as far as bosons go the Higgs is pretty massive, and the only way we know how to observe one of them is to speed up other particles like protons close to the speed of light (approximately 186,282 miles per second in a vacuum) using a particle accelerator, which is very good at this kind of stuff, and smash them into each other to see what happens (hopefully the Earth won't blow up). The good people at CERN just happen to have the largest particle accelerator on Earth called the Large Hadron Collider (picture above (a hadron is a type of particle that includes protons)). As our good large headed friend Sean Hannity often says, "some say" the Large Hadron Collider was specifically built just to find the Higgs Boson (at a cost of approximately 9 billion dollars to build, and 4.4 more to operate, the Higgs will almost be the most expensive boson ever to be  found, and one of the many reasons I've never found it. I just don't have that much disposable income at the present time).
Let's be clear, the CERN people have not stated they have actually found the Higgs. What they announced was they detected a particle that is consistent with the properties the Higgs is theorized to have. Further tests and analysis of available data may confirm that the Higgs has indeed been found.
So why do we care? Why have I been searching so stridently and for so long for the Higgs? Why is it commonly referred to as "The God Particle," even though scientists in general, and Dr. Higgs in particular, dislike the term?
First things first. Why do we care?
Beats me.
Naw, just kidding. We care because the discovery of the Higgs Particle in nature would help solidify what is called the Standard Model of physics, which is the most successful theory of how everything works in our universe.
"The Higgs boson is an elementary scalar particle first posited in 1962 [I say 64], as a potential byproduct of the mechanism by which a hypothetical, ubiquitous quantum field – the so-called Higgs field – gives mass to elementary particles. More specifically, in the standard model of particle physics, the existence of the Higgs boson explains how spontaneous breaking of electroweak symmetry takes place in nature." -The Guardian
The Higgs Particle indicates the presence of a Higgs Field that permeates throughout the entire universe giving particles the quality of mass (scientifically speaking mass can be defined as a quantitative measure of an object's resistance to acceleration (minus a gravitational field). Typically we relate mass to weight (within a gravitational field), what gives substance to substances. Remember, Albert Einstein theorized in his famous equation E=MC2 (Energy equals Mass times the speed of light squared) that mass and energy are interchangeable, and that everything that isn't mass is energy... or nothing. The Higgs Field kind of slows other particles like protons and electrons down so they can bind together.
Now if the universe did not propagate the quality of mass within it, we wouldn't be here, which is probably why Leon Lederman called the Higgs the God Particle in his 1993 book on the subject, and the answer to our third question above. The atoms and molecules that make up our bodies wouldn't exist if they didn't have mass. Nothing else would either. The universe without a Higgs Field would be a universe of fast moving tiny electrons and protons zipping by each other and doing absolutely nothing of value.
That is why we care about the discovery of the Higgs Boson.
Why have I been searching for it so long?
I'm very lonely and have nothing better to do.
Check out this CNN interview with distinguished physicist Michio Kaku:
The idea of parallel universes, or "alternative universes," "quantum universes," "interpenetrating dimensions," "parallel dimensions," "parallel worlds," "alternative realities," "alternative timelines," "dimensional planes," and "multiverses," has been around for awhile, long before the idea of the Higgs Boson even. As a matter of fact the term multiverse was coined by the American psychologist/philosopher William James in 1895. And it turns out... appropriately and ironically so.
As we still haven't officially identified the Higgs particle, we have no quantitative, physical, verifiable evidence of all of these other universes... except...
... for the fact that our dear Republican brothers and sisters seem to be living in at least one of them, in a universe far, far away, and divorced from our own...

To be continued:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Images From the Gardens of the Las Americas

Alright, back from recuperating from that unfortunate incident with the strawberries and electric toothbrush.
Here are some recent pictures of our garden:

Thanks go to Academy Award winning cinematographer Robert Navarro for these pictures.