Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol. 73

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with the painting that was inspired by the Sedona, Arizona scene seen in the photo directly below.

When last we were together, the painting appeared as it does in the photo directly below.

Since that time I have continued to work on the painting. I've concentrated on the central building. It now appears in a slightly different shade. I've added a hint of windows in a color slightly lighter than the main body color of the structure. I've narrowed the dark section at the top and a dark area between the first and second stories. I'm not completely happy with it but since it was just done last night I'll give it some time.

I have one surprise that will be for next week, if I go through with it. Other than these changes, I might change the color of the buttes slightly. In any event, I hope that next week is the last with this piece.

The painting as it currently appears is seen in the photo directly below.

That's about it for now. Your comments are always appreciated. See you next week.

BMT ArtFair 2007

Friday, December 29, 2006

Grand Canyon Created By Noah's Flood?

Contrary to a widely held view, the Grand Canyon was formed by Noah's Flood. Yes, it must be true because it says so in a book. And this book is being sold at the Grand Canyon at the direction of Bush appointees according to PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Washington, DC-Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

One is immediately reminded of efforts by certain parts of the military to promote religion.

But rest assured there there is good reason to institute this policy. In doing this, the Park Service hopes to avoid being offensive to our fundamentalist friends.

"In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’"

Apparently, offending those who hold scienficically-based views was of little concern.

And so the spinning began. But spinning is perhaps an understatement.
Park officials have defended the decision to approve the sale of Grand Canyon: A Different View, claiming that park bookstores are like libraries, where the broadest range of views are displayed. In fact, however, both law and park policies make it clear that the park bookstores are more like schoolrooms rather than libraries. As such, materials are only to reflect the highest quality science and are supposed to closely support approved interpretive themes. Moreover, unlike a library the approval process is very selective. Records released to PEER show that during 2003, Grand Canyon officials rejected 22 books and other products for bookstore placement while approving only one new sale item-the creationist book.

But why stop here. One employee suggested other fertile ground.

"As one park geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book entitled Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan," Ruch added,...

PEER's letter to the NPS director is here.

The NPS admission that no review of the book took place is seen here.

The NPS director's order on interpretation is seen here.

History of the controversy is seen here.

More about the administration's faith-based parks is seen here.

Contact information for the NPS is here, where you can state your considerable disgust.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tribal Council

Here we are at Tribal Council, once again. This week SLB pushes the envelope of good taste even more than usual. Compounding his recent passing, SLB puts upon former President Gerald Ford the further indignity of being ejected from the virtual island of Left Blogistan. Even after all these years, his pardon of Richard Nixon in the alleged interest of healing still leaves a stunning impact. (And not stunning in a good way.) The ripples are still being felt.

Yes, here at SLB we can even eject the recently departed. Farewell, Mr.Ford.

The Tribe has spoken.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidaze

The entire staff of SLB wishes to all a very happy holiday season. And hopefully the coming year will bring better things for all. Peace.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol. 72

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with the painting that was inspired by the Sedona, Arizona scene seen in the photo directly below.

When last we were together, the painting appeared as it does in the photo directly below.

Since that time I have continued to work on the painting. Most notably, the color of the building on the right side has had a significant color change. Again. I hated the prior color. Looking back at the Sedona painting from earlier this year that inspired this 4 color painting, I realized that the buildings were best left as drab blocks. I've done that and added a plant in front. The plant serves to bring over to the right the sense of bright light and to carry over the green color to a second area of the painting. It's always good to have a color appear in more than one place in a painting. This brings a sense of consistency and continuity. The shadow of the new plant adds something of interest to the rather vast parking area.

I've also changed the buttes a bit, but nothing very radical. The plants to the left have had a bit of a color change and I've started to work on the central building. The dark area will be changed before we're done.

The painting as it currently appears is seen in the photo directly below.

That's about it for now. Your comments are always appreciated. See you next week.

BMT ArtFair 2007

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tribal Council

This week there is but one individual worthy of ejection from the virtual island of Left Blogistan. And the entire staff of SLB is in agreement, no small feat. For his now relentless pursuit of a surge in the number of troops in Iraq, the unilateral decider himself, none other than GWB gets the nod. It remains unclear exactly how more soldiers would "help" this situation, but the inner workings GWB's mind must surely run counter to conventional wisdom. This sounds like a desperate attempt to save his "legacy", more death, destruction and lies.

Farewell, George. The Tribe has spoken.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dangerous Subversive at Bureau of Reclamation

The Bureau of Reclamation, part of the Department of the Interior, is charged with the duty of overseeing various water projects.  Bureau biologist Charles Wahl is currently the subject of a smackdown and potential firing after e-mailing environmentalists from his office computer, an action deemed to be subversive.


Washington, DC -- The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has proposed to fire a biologist after finding e-mails he had sent to environmentalists and to other agencies, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In its letter of proposed termination, the agency alleged the "subversive" activity of communicating with "environmental organizations which are opposed to Reclamation generally and adversarial in nature" justifies immediate removal.

Communicating with entities that are generally adversarial?!!  The audacity!  Why stop at immediate removal?  If an employee communicates with, dare I say it, environmentalists (gasp!!!), shouldn't there be a greater penalty?  Say, forced servitude for a period of not less than 7 years?  Well, there apparently was more.

Charles (Rex) Wahl, a GS-12 Environmental Specialist, has been on paid administrative leave for the past three months while the agency continues to ponder his fate. Shortly after Wahl was notified of his proposed firing on September 18th, the Bureau of Reclamation also dismissed his wife Cherie from a temporary clerk-typist position.

Perhaps a coincidence?  Given recent events at a sister agency, the EPA, involving suppression of scientists and destruction of library materials, I would suspect not.  (The EPA actions are also covered at the PEER site and subjects of my earlier posts.)

Apparently, one's job description is not a shield to agency retribution.

PEER again:

Ironically, Wahl's main duty in Reclamation's Yuma Area Office was to keep stakeholders, including environmentalists, abreast of agency "actions and initiatives" as required under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In addition to his contact with environmentalists, Wahl is also charged with revealing "administratively controlled information" to other federal agencies.

PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein:

"Federal employees are not required to swear bureaucratic omertà - silence at the expense of the public interest," Dinerstein added. "Part of the Bureau of Reclamation's problem is that it apparently regards environmentalists as enemies. Contrary to its paranoid posture, Reclamation is required to be forthright about the implications of what it is doing."

Here is the 10 page proposed termination letter (pdf).

Here is the 37 page responsive affidavit filed by MR.Wahl.

Conform or be cast out.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Loss

My brother-in-law's funeral was on Sunday. He was only a few months older than I, and he went far too soon. I can't imagine what his 9 year old son is feeling right now. I have been thinking about the many things that happened that day, some that were rather ugly and involved his ex-wife and her family. I hope to compose a far longer piece. Right now I just need time to think.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tribal Council

This week's Tribal Council requires that we vote a whole group off the virtual island rather than just one individual. All those foolish enough to attend Iran's Holocaust "conference" are hereby ejected. (Perhaps "foolish" is not really an accurate designation, but it will have to do for now.) Apparently, rewriting history is now a pastime suitable for goverments and not just for those on the fringe.

The tribe has spoken.

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol.71

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with the painting that was inspired by the Sedona, Arizona scene seen in the photo directly below.

When last we were together, the painting appeared as it does in the photo directly below.

Since that time I have continued to work on the painting.

I've completed the sky with several clouds and a slightly different overall shade of blue. Note that the clouds are lit from the left and shadowed on the bottom and to the right.

More prominently, I've repainted the garages in a pink color. I realized that I was unhappy with the prior yellow color. (Preview: The next installment may yield a third/fourth? color for this structure. Stay tuned.)

The plants to the painting's left have had some repainting and right-leaning shadows have been added. (Yes, these shadows lean to the right despite recent Republican goings on.)

Finally, the buttes have received some highlights.

The current appearance of the painting is seen directly below.

That's about it for now. As always, your comments are appreciated. See you next week.

BMT ArtFair 2007

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Senator Brownback Goes To Jail

Sam Brownback in jail?!!  Well, yes.

In a move that some would call prescient, Senator Brownback has gone to spend some time in the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

Food Channel devotees might suggest that perhaps he is an afficianado of bighouse cuisine.  But no, that would be wrong.  Others might suggest that his personal sartorial savoir faire has led him to appreciate fine prison attire.  Sorry, that too would be wrong.  Perhaps he has netflixed one too many George Raft  movies?  No cigar.  (And no, he wasn't there measuring for curtains either.)

The reason Senator Brownback has gone to the State Penitentiary is to highlight the work of religiously-based ministries.


Fresh off of announcing the formation of his exploratory committee as he considers running for president, Sen. Sam Brownback spent a night at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in order highlight what the Right sees as the success of religious-based prison fellowship ministries at reducing violence and recidivism:

Sen. Sam Brownback took his budding presidential campaign to prison this weekend, spent a restless night among inmates and pressed his message that faith can work even to improve the lives of hardened criminals.

Umm, psst, Senator Brownback, perhaps the state pen is not the best place to spend a night early in your presidential "campaign".  (stifled laughing is heard)  Apparently the Senator has decided to throw himself an anvil.

As to the success of those ministries in reducing violence and repeat offenses, their constitutionality is questionable.

Right Wing Watch

The toilets and sinks -- white porcelain ones, like at home -- were in a separate bathroom with partitions for privacy. In many Iowa prisons, metal toilet-and-sink combinations squat beside the bunks, to be used without privacy, a few feet from cellmates.

The cells in Unit E had real wooden doors and doorknobs, with locks. More books and computers were available, and inmates were kept busy with classes, chores, music practice and discussions. There were occasional movies and events with live bands and real-world food, like pizza or sandwiches from Subway. Best of all, there were opportunities to see loved ones in an environment quieter and more intimate than the typical visiting rooms.

But the only way an inmate could qualify for this kinder mutation of prison life was to enter an intensely religious rehabilitation program and satisfy the evangelical Christians running it that he was making acceptable spiritual progress. The program -- which grew from a project started in 1997 at a Texas prison with the support of George W. Bush, who was governor at the time -- says on its Web site that it seeks "to `cure' prisoners by identifying sin as the root of their problems" and showing inmates "how God can heal them permanently, if they turn from their sinful past."

Submit or be cast out. And yes, GWB, destroying constitutional protections since 1995.  Or thereabout.    

The Iowa taxpayer-funded ministries program was subsequently ruled unsconstitutional.

Senator Brownback, your cell is ready.        


Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Before the 109th congress faded into the pages of history, it rushed to pass a flurry of legislation. Included amongst this group was an amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The legislation deals with, in part, high seas fishing and monitoring of fishing compliance.

President Bush must have hurt himself jumping on this bandwagon.


President George W. Bush intends to sign the measure into law. "This bill embraces my priorities of ending overfishing and rebuilding our nation's fish stocks through more effective, market-based management and tougher enforcement. This landmark legislation also provides stronger tools to achieve progress internationally to ensure healthy fish stocks, promote better management, and halt destructive fishing practices based on sound science," he said in a statement.

Umm, I'll assume that putting into effect legislation that sends more mercury into the oceans (The inaptly named Clearskies legislation.) and the fish residing therein is apparently of little or no concern. In fact, Clearskies rolls back air quality standards and allows more flexibility (read more pollution) for the plants of manufacturers (read big business). That the last minute revisions seem at odds with Clearskies has apparently not been grasped by our hardworking legislators. But at least we'll have plenty of mercury-laden fish.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol.70

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with the painting that was inspired by the Sedona, Arizona scene seen in the photo directly below.

When last we were together, the painting appeared as it does in the photo directly below.

Since that time I have continued to work on the painting. I started to paint in what will be the body color of the building on the right, a fairly bright yellow. It is always a good idea to use colors in other parts of the painting. It brings consistency and continuity. Note that the license plate is now the same yellow color. I've also brought blue (carrying it from the sky.) into the car on the window areas. Note also that the windows are painted to reflect the lighting from the left. The windshield is in the light and its blue shade is lighter.

The two new bushes to the left have been painted to reflect the lighting also. The parking lot surface has, once again, been repainted.

The current state of the painting is seen below.

That's it for now, see you next week. Your comments are always appreciated.

BMT ArtFair 2007

Thursday, December 07, 2006

EPA Vets Staff Objections

Even in these last few weeks of Republican congressional control, politics still trumps actual need. Despite the coming transition, the games are still being played.

The EPA is at it again.

In a previous post, I wrote about the destruction by the EPA of its own libraries. Now, those in charge are attempting to undercut any wetlands permits objections by agency staff.

ENS Link

WASHINGTON, DC, December 6, 2006 (ENS) - Under a new screening procedure, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires prior approval from EPA Headquarters for any objections agency staff may contemplate filing against wetlands destruction permits.

The order is contained in a October 30, 2006 Memorandum for the Field signed by EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin Grumbles.

The discosure was made by PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. PEER was involved with the disclosure of the prior library destruction. PEER is an association of employees in various natural resources agencies.

And the reason is apparently that all speak in the unified language of the Bush administration. (Read, If it's good for big business, it's just plain good!)

The rationale for this new policy is to "ensure consistency with national program regulations, policies, and goals," Grumbles states in the directive.

Yes, let's not let those nasty environmental concerns get in the way of the interests of big business.

Here's another view.

"The aim and effect of this policy is to stifle EPA’s own staff from protecting wetlands," said New England PEER Director Kyla Bennett, a biologist and lawyer formerly with the EPA’s wetland program.

"This new policy puts the final decision in the hands of officials who have never seen the land in question and whose principal interest is political rather than environmental," said Bennett.

Well said. More at the PEER link above.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tribal Council

Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

The thankfully outgoing John Bolton is this weeks lucky recipient of the Tribal Council vote. Everyone at the UN must surely be breathing easier with this news as well as the election results. But in this case, the exceptionally deserving Mr.Bolton should let the door hit his ass on the way out, and with some force. Hopefully he will simply enter his undeserved retirement and fade into the sunset.

The Tribe has spoken.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Inflated Importance

It's a clear night. The clock says 12:30 and I make my preparations for bed. The house is quiet except for the shrill sound off in the distance coming though the open bathroom window. It is the sound of many small air compressors. In the last week, we have become nearly surrounded by a small army of inflatable holiday lawn decorations belonging to our neighbors.

In the yard behind us is a large polar bear attired in holiday finery. The house next to us offers another similar bear along with Santa and a snow man. Some of these figures have been installed upon this neighbor's roof where they peer down at the young children playing in the yard. Apparently, having a lit, brightly colored 6 foot tall polar bear installed upon the lawn did not provide for sufficient visibility.

Thankfully, the high winds have finally subsided, calming my fears about having inflatable Santa and his integral compressor drop through the sunroof of my prized Mazda.

I'm alone at this hour. Just me and the compressors. I have time to think. What I'm thinking is that Americans are already using a disproportionate amount of the world's energy. With warnings about global warming a daily occurence, when exactly will Americans acknowledge their impact? When will they begin to behave to mitigate environmental impact, assuming that mitigation is still possible.

Americans have now expressed their distaste for the continuation of events in Iraq, the message made clear with the last election. But if Americans would like to see the end of what is, at least in part, a war for control of oil, why hasn't their useage of oil changed? While higher gas prices drove Americans to smaller vehicles, the trend began to reverse itself when costs fell.

When will Americans begin to take responsibility for their actions?

While I sat and thought, the shrill sound of the air compressors continued through the night.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol.69

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with the new painting that was started last week, the Sedona, Arizona that was inspired by the photo seen directly below.

When last we were together, the painting appeared as it does in the photo directly below.

Since that time I have continued with the painting. I've had to adjust the parking lot surface and the shadowing on the buttes. Additionally, I've added some temporary color to the two structures. The color on the structure to the right will be lightened a bit for the final painting. This will make a nice contrast with the shadowed areas that will be painted shortly. Also, I've started to change the plant to the left. It will likely change a bit more in shape as I'd like it to have lit and shadowed surfaces. I might bring it back into the parking lot. The current appearance of the painting is seen directly below.

That's it for now. I'll see you next week.

BMT ArtFair 2007

BMT ArtFair 2007