Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Another Bush Smackdown

Most schoolchildren are familiar with California's Giant Sequoia trees. Towering over ordinary trees, they can become thousands of years old.

With appropriate ceremony, President Clinton announced the creation of Giant Sequoia National Monument in April of 2000. More than 300,000 acres were set aside to protect the Giant Sequoia trees, unique to the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.

Jump forward just a few years.

In another shameless attempt to divest the public of precious natural resources in favor of big business, the Bush administration intended to permit logging within the protected area. Ruling the plan illegal, a federal judge has made it twice within a week's time that a Bushco policy has been shot down.


SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a Bush administration plan to allow commercial logging inside the Giant Sequoia National Monument violates environmental laws.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer sided with environmental groups that sued the U.S. Forest Service over its plans for managing the 328,000-acre preserve, home to two-thirds of the world's largest trees.

The Bush administration plan permitted the cutting of 7.5 million board feet a year and trees up to 30 inches in diameter. Two separate lawsuits arising from the plan were brought by several environmental groups and the California Attorney General.


Judge Breyer found that the "Monument Plan is decidedly incomprehensible" and "lacks coherent or clear guidance" on how the unique ecological resources of the Monument, including numerous sequoia groves and old forest dependent species, would be managed.
In addition to ruling that the Forest Service's overall management plan for the monument is illegal, Judge Breyer invalidated several individual timber sales inside and adjacent to the monument because of their potential impact on endangered wildlife.

Apparently, in a now familiar pattern, the relevant federal agency, in this case the Forest Service, supplied cover for Bushco.

In the lawsuit filed last year, the Sierra Club and other conservation groups said the management plan for the reserve in the southern Sierra Nevada range was a scientifically suspect strategy that was intended to satisfy timber interests under the guise of wildfire prevention....

"The plan proposed by the Forest Service ignores the clear recommendations of its own fire scientists that fire risk reduction is not about logging large trees," stated Craig Thomas, director of the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign.

Is nothing sacred? I suppose not. All bow down to the great American dollar.

This says it for me.

"The American people are looking to their government to protect these forests forever as a National Monument, not as a tree farm," stated Carla Cloer of the Tule River Conservancy. "Logging the Sequoia National Monument is just as unacceptable as selling the Statue of Liberty for scrap metal."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Special Early Tribal Council-Taking The Low Road

Events have necessitated an early Tribal Council, usually done at the end of the week.

It seems that Survivor producer Mark Burnett has decided to further the cause of racism in the new cycle. In dividing the players into 4 teams based upon race, Burnett has set events back to the civil rights stone age. It is a cheap and shameful way to increase flagging ratings.

It is Mr.Burnett's plan to have the 4 teams competing against each other. Pat Buchanan must be salivating.

As fans of the series, the entire SLB staff is saddened by this turn of events. As such, it is the unanimous concensus that Mr.Burnett should be voted off the virtual of Left Blogistan.

The Tribe has spoken.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol. 55

Welcome back!

This week, I'll be continuing our new project, the 1950 Hudson Hornet seen in the photo directly below.

When last we were together, the painting was a pencil sketch, seen below. The sketch provided a guide for things to come, setting the proportions and major elements of the vehicle.

By the way, the Hudson Hornets were advanced vehicles with unit bodies, powerful 6 cylinder engines when equipped with the twin carb setup and good aerodynamics. They were NASCAR winners for several consecutive years in the early 50s until the Hornets succumbed to the V-8 madness embraced by other manufacturers. But I digress.

Since the last installment, I've highlighted all major elements of the painting in ochre. I often use ochre for this purpose. It provides a clear outline and is easily overpainted. It appears in its current form directly below.

For next week I'll be adding some colors to the major elements. See you then.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tribal Council

This week's voting has revealed a candidate so deserving, that she needs little introduction. Voting unanimously, the SLB staff has decided that "author" Ann Coulter should leave the virtual island of Left Blogistan. She prevails not just for her many published "works", not for her intentionally outrageous statements and not for being a general drain on society. She gets the vote this week for this.

Farewell, Ann. The tribe has spoken.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Late Tribal Voting

Late though this is, I'll proceed as in the past.

For his continued denial of reality and for his apparent growing support amongst Republicans, Senator Joe Lieberman has gotten the unanimous nod of SLB staff members to be voted off the virtual island of Left Blogistan for the second consecutive week. (Yes, here at SLB we can do that!) All this at the expense of what is, at least nominally, his own party. You know the drill, Joe.

The tribe has spoken.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol. 54

Welcome back!

This week, I'll be starting our new project, the 1950 Hudson Hornet seen in the photo directly below.

Where do we start?

With subject matter such as this, it's all about the proportions. The correct proportions are crucial to achieve the right look of the car. With cars, the wheelbase, the distance from front wheelcenter to rear wheelcenter is the important measurement. Looking at the photo, note that four units the size of each wheel, in a line, would fit between the wheel centers. Or, 3 wheels in line would fit in the space between the front and rear wheels.

Further proportions are evident. The front end protrudes about one half the size of one wheel beyond the front of the car. The rear protrudes about the length of a full wheel. The hood rises about one half wheel above the front wheel. And so on.

Once some basic measurements have been made, the rest falls into place.

The photo directly below shows my basic drawing, still in need of some adjustment, with my marks still showing directly below the car. I need to adjust the cabin roof, but there will be time later.

One thing that I did not notice until after the drawing was done, the car sits midway between the top and bottom of the canvas. That is not usually a good choice. It usually makes for a less interesting work as there is no dominant point of view. (either from above or below.) But the drawing is too far along to go back. I'll hope that this one of those happy accidents. I will note that the heavy shadow under the car may help.

I'll leave it here. Next week we'll add some paint. See you then.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Where Oh Where Did The GMO Go?

Picture a pastoral scene.  Under a blue sky there is an open field.  Birds are singing, bees are buzzing.    Amongst other things, wild grass is growing in that field.  But some of that is something other than the product of mother nature.

NYT Link

An unapproved type of genetically engineered grass has been found growing in the wild in what scientists say could be the first instance in the United States in which a biotechnology plant has established itself outside a farm.

What!!??  How could that be?  Well, this is how it started.

The genetically engineered grass, called creeping bentgrass, is being developed by the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and Monsanto for use on golf courses. It contains a bacterial gene that makes the grass resistant to the herbicide Roundup, known generically as glyphosate.

The goal is to create a product to allow groundskeepers to spray the herbicide on greens and fairways to kill weeds without hurting the grass.

Yes, a product designed to make it easier to put more potentially dangerous chemicals into the environment.  And who wouldn't support that?

But it seems that that escaping genetic material wasn't the product of plants that had the government's seal of approval.

Because of those concerns, the Agriculture Department is doing a full environmental impact assessment before making a decision.  It will be its first involving a genetically engineered crop.

Yes, this will be the first such study!!!  Nothing like closing the barn door after the genetically altered material has already departed.

But in another instance of inappropriate monitoring, a federal judge has called bullshit on the very same agency, the Department of Agriculture.

In Hawaii, the Department has received what can only be deemed appropriate treatment.


Honolulu, HI -- Citing possible harm to Hawai'i's 329 endangered and threatened species, a federal district judge has ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in permitting the cultivation of drug-producing, genetically engineered crops throughout Hawai'i. The court found that USDA acted in "utter disregard" of the ESA, and also violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), by failing to conduct even preliminary investigations prior to its approval of the plantings.

Violating existing laws?  Hmm, where have I heard that before?

"This decision shows that regulatory oversight of this out-of-control industry has been woefully inadequate. The agency entrusted with protecting human health and the environment from the impacts of genetic engineering experiments has been asleep at the wheel," said Paul Achitoff, attorney with Earthjustice.

I would concur.  But here is further evidence of the extent of incompetence.

Plaintiffs point to a scathing critique of USDA's regulation of biopharm and other genetically altered crops issued by the agency's Inspector General in December 2005 as evidence that USDA continues to neglect its regulatory duties. That report documented numerous violations, including USDA's failure to record locations of field trial sites and conduct required inspections. In two instances, USDA regulators were unaware that a total of more than two tons of harvested biopharm crop material was stored at uninspected facilities for over a year.

Hopefully after the customary reshuffling of personnel, things will actually change.

More interesting information with pretty charts.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Breaking: New TSA Policy

The large open container adjacent to gate 44 was similar to those commonly associated with various commerical activities.  But there was one difference.  This one was overflowing with underwear, recently worn panties, briefs and boxers.

Chicago Ohare International Airport-New TSA guidelines have prohibited and/or sharply curtailed the wearing of underwear on both domestic and international flights.

Federal researchers have ascertained that the elastic commonly used in most underwear may be utilized to construct a simple explosive.  "In combination with a few other readily available components, a crude explosive device could be constructed during the course of a flight." said Hugh Droan, regional TSA director for the Chicago area.  "As such, it is now required that passengers remove their underwear prior to boarding their aircraft."

In furtherance  of this new policy, the TSA is providing changing screens and large bins adjacent to each gate.  Moving behind the screens, passengers can quickly remove the offending garments and toss them into the bins.

Asked about difficulties with the program, Mr.Droan had offered this:

"By and large, this has moved along smoothly.  Monitoring passenger compliance has been relatively easy given the current trend of wearing pants around the knees."

But, as with anything new, there have been a few difficulties.

"Due to the lack of pantylines, the monitoring of thong useage has been difficult.  And given American's current preference for supersizing, the tendency of thongs to bury themselves in the wearer's flesh has been amplified."

And, of course, there is the problem of being reunited with one's own unmentionables upon arriving at the final destination.

"We've had a few individuals that preferred to change horses midstream, so to speak.  One gentleman, preferred to leave with new black silk panties from Victoria's Secret rather than his own well-worn Fruit of the Loom boxers."

Link to follow.  

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol. 53

Welcome back!

This week we'll be concluding the painting of Wild Horse Butte, a scene from southern Utah.  It is seen in the photo directly below.

When last we met, the painting appeared as it does directly below.

Since that time, I've made a number of changes, most of them small.  The biggest change is the sky. I've actually repainted all of it. Unfortunately, once I started repainting small portions, it became clear that a cohesive sky required more extensive work. It's much more full now with vague clouds throughout and one more defined one on the lower right. It provides a bit of an accent.

I've also made minor revisions to the right side of the butte. (Blue paint inadvertently got on it.) And of course I've made the color(s) of the background, seen on the extreme right side, more consistent with the foreground. It was previously just a bit too bright. I've added my signature on the left foreground. Now I've got to get a frame. The final painting is seen in the last of the series directly below.

I'm pleased with the result.

I have a preview, once again, of our next painting below.

It is a circa 1950 Hudson Hornet.  See you next week.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tribal Council

Once again we are back to Tribal Council to vote some deserving individual off the virtual island of Left Blogistan. This week there is one person so deserving of this dishonor that he probably doesn't even need to be named, but we will do so anyway.

Soon to be outgoing Senator Joseph Lieberman gets the unanimous vote of the entire Left Blogistan staff. To call him a Democrat is equivalent to calling Mel Gibson warm and fuzzy. Mr.Lieberman has put self above all else, the needs of his constituents, the country and his party. Not that unswerving allegiance to the party is the be all/end all, but Joe doesn't even pretend to have anything else in mind other than his own ego.

For these reasons, Senator Lieberman, it's time to go.

The tribe has spoken.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I'm Not Loving It

Upon arriving home the other night, I almost tripped over an object across the floor from the sofa.  Closer examination revealed that it was a red toy Hummer.  It was the H1, to be exact.  You know, the original gargantuan behemoth that started the Hummer craze.

It seems that Madame boran was a bit rushed and decided to stop at McDonald's to feed the boran2 boy.  (A rare event in our home, otherwise known as the east coast headquarters for organic research.)  For some reason, my son is partial to those chicken McCrap things.  The Hummer was the toy included with his Sappy meal.  A Hummer?!!  How, umm, timely?


WHEN General Motors introduced the three-ton, 11-miles-to-the-gallon Hummer H2 four years ago, it redefined American extravagance. But now, with gas prices hovering at $3 a gallon and threatening to go higher, sales of Hummers are declining as Americans become increasingly conscious of gas mileage.

McDonald's, however, appears not to have gotten the message. This week, the restaurant chain started putting toy Hummers in children's Happy Meal boxes, calling it the "Hummer of a Summer" promotion. Television and radio ads, which started running this week, feature a family riding in a Hummer on the way to a McDonald's.

So much for depicting an ordinary American family.  

The problem is that McDonalds no longer has a contractual arrangement with Disney, a source for so many Sappy meal toys.  In a desperate attempt to fill the void, McDonald's has turned to GM for help.  McDonald's now offers 8 different versions of toy Hummers with the meals.  (Come back and collect one of each!!!)

One response:

Not surprisingly, environmental groups are appalled. Brendan Bell, an energy policy analyst at the Sierra Club, says that Hummers in Happy Meals are about as responsible as "dipping a Big Mac in the fry oil and serving it to your kids."

And another:

Charlie Miller, a spokesman for Environmental Defense, said he thought that McDonald's might be trying to help an ailing General Motors win some future customers. Sales of the H2, which currently costs about $96 to fill up at the pump, are down 34 percent for the first seven months of this year versus the same period in 2005, and General Motors has sold only 229 H1's this year, according to Autodata, an auto industry statistics firm in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

"Anything that sends a message to kids that these are the cool vehicles to buy is the wrong message," Mr. Miller said.

I agree.  That Hummer will be out of the house shortly.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Connecticut Primary

The Connecticut primary takes place tomorrow. As of this writing, Ned Lamont still leads by several points. The entire staff here at Survivor Left Blogistan stands behind Mr.Lamont, though none amongst us are Connecticut voters. We wish him good luck on what will undoubtedly be a sleepless night.

As for Mr.Lieberman, he should be relegated to the dustbin of history for being a raving Bush apologist. He has failed miserably in representing his constituents and is now paying the price. And deservedly so.

While his views might be tolerated in some other places, it seems that he has fallen terribly out of step with the people of Connecticut, his tribe, if you will.

The tribe should speak loudly and "vote him off the island".

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol. 52

Welcome back!

This week we'll be continuing with the painting of Wild Horse Butte, a scene from southern Utah.  It is seen in the photo directly below.

When last we met, the painting appeared as it does directly below.

Since that time, I've worked on the sky. I've added the cloud to the left side, as seen in the original photo above. The remainder of the sky has been changed and the rough areas right against the butte. The sky now acts as a kind of halo to the butte. I may yet change this effect. In all fairness, I hadn't noticed it until I stood back after painting for short period. But the overall appearance is soft, consistent with the foreground. The painting is seen below.

I'm almost done with this one. Next week will be our last installment on this piece. It will be interesting to see how this one looks in a frame. Meanwhile, I have, once again, the preview of our next painting below.

It is a circa 1950 Hudson Hornet. That's all that I'll say for now. See you next week.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Tribe Has Spoken

Who will be voted off the virtual island of Left Blogistan this week? After tallying the votes, we have the name. For being the biggest Republican tool and sockpuppet of the week, it's Condi Rice!!! (Her trip to the middle east may have been useless but at least she earned raves for her piano playing.)

Condi's torch will be immediately extinguished and she will proceed to the departure area. The usual parting gifts will provided.

Farewell, Condi!

The tribe has spoken.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Selling Out

What could explain this?

Native populations have suffered for decades through various government actions. During that time, valuable resources have been taken.

But now, it seems that a coalition of native nations are complicit.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada, August 2, 2006 (ENS) - The British Columbia government and Clayoquot Sound First Nations have decided to allow logging in untouched Clayoquot Sound watersheds that environmental groups fought for more than 15 years to protect.

But these are not just any untouched watersheds. These old growth parcels were the subject of earlier protests that drew the attention of thousands and ultimately resulted in protection agreements.

Clayoquot Sound became a battleground in the 1990s when a government decision to allow logging in the island rainforest was opposed by environmental groups. More than 10,000 people stood in logging blockades and nearly 900 people were arrested before a 1999 agreement was signed by environmental groups, First Nations and the logging company McMillan Bloedel. ...

Seven years ago environmental groups signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the First Nations logging company, Iisaak Forest Resources, preserving the remaining wild forested areas in Clayoquot Sound for cultural, ecological, non-timber and ecotourism values.

But money trumps all comers. There is no force which it can't overcome, no mountain too high to scale, no ocean too deep to cross.

"The problem is that the forest lobby is stronger and more well-established than the tourism lobby, and the government has not put in place laws halting the logging of old growth in B.C.," said Carr. Sixty percent of the old-growth forest in each area is now open to logging.

But, apparently not all have lost their heads to the great sellout.

SEATTLE, Aug. 2 — Indian tribes along the Klamath River rallied in Portland on Wednesday for the removal of four hydroelectric dams that block salmon from spawning in their historic habitat upriver, and they said they intended to pressure the governors of Oregon and California to help push for removing the dams.

I wish them luck.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Breaking: Important Announcement

Turn off your televisions, put down the newspapers, your complete attention is required. When the current painting is completed in the next few weeks, the new project will be a street scene, seen in the photo directly below. The circa 1950 Hudson Hornet, in all its mottled aerodynamic glory, will make for a most interesting subject, no?