Friday, April 27, 2007

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol.90

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with our painting of the used car lot, featuring a 1959 Volvo. The photo which I am using is seen directly below. (The painting is 9x12.)

When last seen here, the painting appeared as it does directly below.

Since that time I have continued working on the painting. My work has been concentrated on the buildings in the rear, especially the long neglected tent. I've readjusted the stripes to the front for better proportion. Underneath, I've attempted to add the shadowed area seen in the photo. On the right side of the tent, the stripes have been added along with the shaded side. That shaded side now coordinates with the shaded right sides of the vehicles.

The building to the right of the tent has some definition but not enough to distract. The building also serves to break the blue of the sky from the blue of the lot. I've added a coke machine against the building rather than the unknown brand in the original photo. The red picks up the color of the Volvo.

The current state of the painting is seen in the photo directly below.

I'll probably make some small changes before next week. One thing I'm not sure about yet is the tent. I'll have to see how I feel about it in a day or two.

That's about it for now, see you next week.

Katrina Victims: Pay Up

Apparently, the federal government has determined that it should attempt to recoup some of the many millions which it has spent foolishly in last 7 years.  Unfortunately, it looks to do this from those most in need.  In a demonstration of the continuing indifference to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, thousand of families will be offered the opportunity to purchase the FEMA-provided trailers in which they currently reside, or, to begin paying rent.

NYT link

Thousands of families living in the tinny white trailers provided by the federal government after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will be offered the opportunity to buy them for a few hundred dollars, under a $1 billion housing plan announced yesterday in Washington.

But those who do not buy their trailers will have to start paying a modest rent for them next March, with the payments beginning at $50 a month and escalating sharply thereafter. It was unclear what the upper limit was.

No known upper limit?  For those who lost everything?  When will the nightmare end for these people?

The numbers are not insignificant.    

About 86,000 families are still living in the trailers a year and a half after the storms, said R. David Paulison, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the trailer program. The majority of them are in Louisiana, although about 26,000 families occupy trailers in Mississippi.

The suffering of these people remains a story without end.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

EPA Rewards Big Oil

Giving a gift to the oil industry, the EPA has changed the manner in which production facility air pollution is to be calculated.  Putting form over substance, emissions amounts will be kept separate for facilities physically distant but corporately connected.  PEER has more.

PEER link

Washington, DC -- In a major victory for the oil industry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has adopted looser air pollution limits for sprawling petroleum production and exploration operations, according to an agency order released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, petroleum facilities will be allowed to emit additional tons of hydrocarbons each day.

At issue is a regulatory rule called "aggregation" which prevents polluters from avoiding air pollution permit limits by breaking their operations down into smaller units, each with its own pollution cap.

The EPA has denied a petition filed, in part, by PEER, that requested witdrawal of a permit previously issued for a large BP facility.  EPA determined the facility to be a stand-alone unit, a result contrary  to existing agency guidelines.  Now, the old guidelines have been changed to support this outcome.

In an action that presaged its decision on the PEER petition, on January 12, 2007, EPA issued new national guidance that forbade applying aggregation principles to reduce pollution at oil facilities that are physically separated even though operationally linked. Oil and gas developments typically consist of many pieces of equipment, sometimes thousands in big developments, often connected by pipelines. This new guidance means that oil companies can treat equipment clusters as separate facilities, each with its own pollution allowances. The guidance directive was signed by William Wehrum, whose nomination to be EPA Assistant Administrator for Air was recently withdrawn by President Bush.

As to the volume of production at the North Slope, it would be difficult to overstate the impact.

"The North Slope currently produces as much as a fifth of the nation's oil supply, so the volume of pollution released is immense," stated Bill MacClarence, who had protested the permit both when he served as the supervisor of its air permit program for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and after he retired. "North Slope oil operations are already emitting as much nitrogen oxides as the entire Washington, DC metropolitan area and it is going to get a lot worse."

Left unsaid is the impact nationwide.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Leaving Reality

In having Scott J. Bloch investigate the activities of Karl Rove, we have entered the realm of high farce. The said investigation is directed at Mr.Rove's actions which "may" have influenced the functioning of the US government. While farce is a valued vehicle in works of literature or integral to a memorable movie script, its presence here is troubling. This appointment is a sad indicator of how dysfunctional our government has truly become, by design of course. The investigation will undoubtedly clear Mr.Rove.

That Mr.Bloch is himself the subject of a similar inquiry for activities of similar effect is, apparently, an irony entirely lost upon those in charge.

One can only hope that the investigation directed at Mr.Bloch is being handled in a more appopriate fashion.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol.89

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with our painting of the used car lot, featuring a 1959 Volvo. The photo which I am using is seen directly below. (The painting is 9x12.)

When last seen here, the painting appeared as it does directly below.

Since that time I have continued working on the painting. Considerable change has come to the vehicle to the left of the Volvo. I've decided that this car needed its own interior. It is painted in a shade of blue somewhat lighter than that of the Volvo's. (So far, I've only used 4 colors and derivatives thereof in this painting: 2 blues, red and white.) I've also added moldings around the windows. Note the highlighted area on the roof.

In the rear, I've started to paint the building to the right. Right now it is a simple white box. The tent will be getting attention soon.

The current state of the painting is seen in the photo directly below.

That's about it for now, see you next week.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tribal Council: Open Casting Call

Okay, here's your chance at the big time of international blogging. Welcome to SLB's first open casting call for Tribal Council. To be more succinct, suggestions are now being accepted for Tribal Council nominees. The lucky winner will get an all expense-paid trip to the lavish SLB offices and enjoy a lunch buffet with the staff. Meet all your favorite SLB staffers!

Submit your entries in the comment section below by midnight Friday April 20th. Good luck.

All entries become the property of SLB. Staff members and relatives are not qualified to enter. Void where prohibited.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Wingnut Returns

"When are we going to put some lead in Al Sharpton's head?", he said.

That's how our "conversation" started. But in reality, it was a rant with only occasional breaks for my minimal input. Yes, you've met him before, the wingnut with a gun. Thankfully, his gun was not present at this time. But it seems that he has not made the progress for which I had hoped. But I digress. Back to our meeting.

"Al Sharpton is the biggest fucking racist!", he stated excitedly. I attempted to point out that Mr.Imus has made many such remarks and has been getting a pass for some time, but this received only a grudging acknowledgment. Mr.Wingnut stated that Imus attacks white people "like us" too. An equal opportunity abuser as it were. I did not indicate that as a Jew I'm not a "real" white man, at least in the view of some individuals. But for this discussion I was apparently deemed sufficient.

"Imus is not a racist. He said it as a joke. People are just too sensitive." Again, I did not point out that had a black man called a group of white college girls "hos", we'd likley be sending in the infantry to forcibly remove the speaker.

"Whitey is always at fault." Clearly, Mr.Wingnut was far beyond my modest powers of pursuasion.

He left the room. I was glad.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol.88

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with our painting of the used car lot, featuring a 1959 Volvo. The photo which I am using is seen directly below. (The painting is 9x12.)

When last seen here, the painting appeared as it does directly below.

Since that time I have continued working on the painting. I've painted the 2 ancillary vehicles to the left and rear of the Volvo. Although the photo has more vehicles, I've kept it to a total of 3 to avoid too much visual clutter.

I've kept these 2 vehicles to various shades of blue, providing contrast to the red of the Volvo. However the blue grille, wheels and interior of the Volvo tie into the colors of the other 2 cars. The windows of the new vehicles have been painted in an opaque fashion, further minimizing the visual clutter.

This particular car lot had vehicles of various vintages. The car to the left of the Volvo is from the mid 70s, behind is a late model.

The current state of the painting is seen in the photo directly below.

That's about it for now, see you next week.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tribal Council

For his many years of racist and sexist remarks, Mr. Don Imus is sent packing from the virtual island of Left Blogistan. He has been given a pass for far too long. His half-hearted apology left little doubt that he still fails to understand. Firing Mr.Imus will likely not change that, but that makes it no less appropriate.

Mr.Imus, the tribe has spoken.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Assault on the Manatee

With the Bush assault on the Endangered Species Act comes an attempt to relax protections for the Florida manatee. It is now contemplated that the endangered designation will be reduced to threatened, thereby opening habitat areas to development.

According to a March 26, 2007 briefing paper from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) labeled “White House Report,” the FWS is preparing a recommendation to downgrade or “down-list” the manatee from its present “endangered” status to “threatened” under the Federal Endangered Species Act. This change will reduce protections against the “taking” of manatees and facilitate construction of more marinas and other development in critical coastal habitat areas.

And this bullseye for the following commenter:

“A federal reclassification at this time could undermine our chances of securing the manatee’s future in the face of exploding human population growth and shrinking aquatic habitat in Florida,” stated Patrick Rose, an aquatic biologist who is Save the Manatee Club’s executive director. “With the price of coastal land skyrocketing, regulations protecting manatees are seen as standing in the way of even more extensive development of Florida’s coastline.”

The old riddle about the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object has new meaning here. There is no unmovable object when it comes to rewarding business interests, at least as long as Bushco remains in power.

“This reclassification comes at the worst possible time for the manatee when record numbers are dying and threats to their long-term survival are increasing,” Rose concluded. “This move to down list manatees is politically driven, is not legally defensible, and is certainly not motivated by concern for the survival of the manatee.”

The above PEER links provide considerable information.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol.87

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with our painting of the used car lot, featuring a 1959 Volvo. The photo which I am using is seen directly below.

When last seen here, the painting appeared as it does directly below.

Since that time I have continued working on the painting. I have spent time painting the interior and window glass of the Volvo. The interior is painted in a single color as more would have likely detracted from the piece. Likewise the Volvo's lefthand and rear windows have been painted in an opaque color. Here too simplicity seemed preferable to more detail. Keeping the windows opaque minimized the visual clutter.

I've added to the building to the rear. That pink shade will be changed but that's for another day.

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

That's about it for now, see you next week.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tribal Council

It's that time again. This week the lucky individual to be ejected from the virtual island of Left Blogistan won't be some mere politician or other subject of current events. No, this time we're aiming at the big kahuna. (Well, at least in reality TV terms.)

Mr. Mark Burnett, producer of Survivor, has, apparently, run into a brick wall with respect to that grandaddy of reality TV. The current edition is weighed down by the now obligatory Exile Island, boring participants and lackluster challenges. The locale is pretty but not spectacular by Survivor terms. The teams are made up of mostly 20somethings picked more for looks than interesting character. Few older individuals are evident. As such, the current cycle has fallen out of the top ten. Mr.Burnett, go back to the original format: sixteen interesting individuals of various ages. The inspiration for this blog has fallen on hard times.

Mr.Burnett, the tribe has spoken.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Running With Scissors

Sometimes the simple act of a child gives rise to a stern warning from a concerned parent. Don't eat with your mouth open. Don't talk with your mouth full. Don't run with scissors.

Once again, a federal agency has attempted to play the role of stern parent to its children/employees.

PEER link

Washington, DC — Federal climate, weather and marine scientists will be subject to new restrictions as to what they can say to the media or in public, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Under rules posted last week, these federal scientists must obtain agency pre-approval to speak or write, whether on or off-duty, concerning any scientific topic deemed “of official interest.”

On March 29, 2007, the Commerce Department posted a new administrative order governing “Public Communications.” This new order covers the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which includes the National Weather Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Commerce’s new order will become effective in 45 days and would repeal a more liberal “open science” policy adopted by NOAA on February 14, 2006.

Putting the lid on more talk of global warming apparently. Just ignore it and it will go away is now official policy.


“This ridiculous gag order ignores the First Amendment and disrespects the world-renowned professionals who work within Commerce agencies,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Under this policy, National Weather Service scientists can only give out name, rank, serial number and the temperature.”

Having experienced professionals subject to the authoritarian whims of politicians is highly damaging to both the effectiveness of those federal agencies and the goals of a healthy democracy. But in Bushworld, democracy has been left far behind and science is secondary to corporate profits.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Calling Fielding Mellish

You might remember this:

From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish.

Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now... 16 years old!

The film from which these words came, Bananas (1971), sets forth the tale of how Mr.Allen came to be the president (Fielding Mellish) of the fictional banana republic of San Marcos, replacing the power-drunk leader who uttered the above orders.

At the time, the film seemed very funny but it becomes somewhat less so as we continue to descend into the nightmare that is Bushworld.


CHICAGO: The names of people infected with HIV will be tracked in all 50 states by the end of 2007, marking a victory for federal health officials and a quiet defeat for AIDS advocates who wanted to keep patients' names out of state

Vermont, Maryland and Hawaii, the last states not tracking the names of HIV-positive people, are quickly moving toward adopting names-based surveillance. Eight other states and Washington, D.C., began collecting the names of HIV patients last year, and Massachusetts switched in January.

And why would the states just fall into line and provide support for this big brother scenario? As usual, follow the money.

The states are bowing to federal pressure so they will not lose money for medications and health services for patients.

The data is allegedly being collected for the preparation of allocations of treatment funds. But names are not necessarily needed to accomplish this task. One is left with the distinct impression that there is more here than meets the eye. And HIPPA legislation would seem to bar such a practice.

It's time for Fielding Mellish to make his return.