Sarah Palin Confession

Thankfully, days of Sarah Palin making headline news is history. Palin tries – her recent call to impeach Obama fizzled faster than a dollar store sparkler. Likening Obama’s treatment of America to that of an abusive spouse, Palin argued “his unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, no mas”.

“Without borders, there is no nation,” Palin wrote. “Obama knows this. Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants is deliberate. This is his fundamental transformation of America. It’s the only promise he has kept.”

“It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment,” Palin wrote. “The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.”

Oh Sarah – last year you called for Obama’s impeachment for the debt limit debacle – not even your old running mate John McCain found the stomach to back you up. Which brings me to my Sarah Palin confession – if I’m feeling a little grumpy, looking for something to buoy my spirits or a good old fashioned belly laugh – Sarah never lets me down.Take her comment to Sean Hannity when asked her opinion of the missing Malaysian airplane…

“I see all these smarty pants people on CNN saying it was terrorism or a fire in the cockpit, but I don’t hear anyone talking about the God possibility. I mean, what if they accidentally flew too high and got stuck in heaven”

Part of me wants to run a stream of equally idiotic Palin quotes – common sense screams “don’t kill the moment”. Read Palin’s “stuck in heaven” quote one more time before scraping your brain off the wall, then ponder Sarah Palin as a sure fire cure anytime you need a little “pick me up” – works for me every time. Holy crap.



Rosetta Mission

In March 2004, the European Space Agency launched Rosetta – the mission, to reach Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by August 2014, deploying a probe (dubbed Philae after an obelisk discovered on an island in the Nile leading to further unraveling of Egyptian writing and the Rosetta Stone) , one destined as the first to  land on a comet surface.

Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko travels around the Sun at approximately 800 million kilometers, on an orbit between Earth and Jupiter. For Rosetta to make the journey, “gravity assists” (momentum from flybys of Mars in 2007, and Earth in 2005, 2007 and 2009) explain the 10 years and over 6 billion kilometers Rosetta travels before reaching her destination.

Recently woken from a 31 month slumber, Rosetta sent extraordinary pictures on July 14 indicating the comet might be a binary system (one with two nucleus orbiting each other). On July 24, more pictures will be released following a “FAT burn” (far approach trajectory) adjustment to slow Rosetta down. “CAT burns” (close approach trajectory) on August 3 and 6 will place Rosetta 100 kilometers from the comet surface, traveling in polite unison. Months of August and September bring another “burn” taking Rosetta within 70 kilometers of the surface. October will find Rosetta within 5 kilometers of the surface, looking for a place to land Philae.

Possibly a few days one way or the other, November 11, 2014 Philae will separate from Rosetta, land on the comet surface, deploying anchors to keep it in place. For the next 7 days, a few more if we’re lucky, Philae will sample gases, water, ice, mineral composition – all while taking close up and panoramic pictures of the surface.

Ponder a unmanned space probe using gravitational support and a whole lot of ingenuity to journey 6 billion kilometers in 10 years – all for the prize of a week or so on the surface of a distant comet. If that doesn’t blow your mind, or at very least pass a “holy crap” through your head – I give up.

Surely You Don’t Plan to Eat That!

Some problems are considerably more difficult to solve than others. Despite multiple contributing factors, number of people involved or sense of personal responsibility, the logical solution never changes – tackle the root cause. Band-aide solutions not only prolong the agony, they create unfair burdens on those involved. Recognizing a problem exists is admirable – wimping out by ignoring the cause while scolding those caught in its web – pisses me off.

A plan under consideration by Public Health England to combat alarming obesity rates epitomizes  half assed band-aide solutions. These geniuses want to involve major grocery chains in a program to shame customers whose carts overflow with fat, salt and sugar. Based on analysis of purchases, customers deemed guilty of unacceptably high unhealthy choices, would find a printed “health alert” on their receipt. Messages cautioning purchases fell short of nutritional requirements, or where unacceptably high in salt or sugar. Holy crap – they can’t be serious.

We live in a rabid hotbed of marketing hype – words like natural, healthy, whole grain, real fruit or lightly sweetened assault from grocery shelves. Natural can’t contain synthetic or artificial ingredients – so far so good. Good until you grasp they can be processed within an inch of their lives, contain pesticides, genetically modified ingredients, and high fructose corn syrup. How about “Made with Real Fruit” – real fruit usually means a small portion of fruit concentrate. Take Betty Crocker Real Fruit Strawberry Gushers – in reality, a minute amount of pear concentrate, Red Dye #40, and almost half their weight in sugar. Lightly sweetened – in the U.S. the term isn’t regulated, the claim means squat as products contain any amount of sugar the manufacturer sees fit.

Staggering obesity results from a multitude of of factors. This ponder isn’t about anything other than asinine bureaucrats plugging their ears and covering eyes, while patting themselves on the back for finding it brilliant to publicly scorn unfortunate victims of corporate poppycock. Honestly – one of the stupidest, not to mention misplaced attempts to solve a problem I’ve ever encountered.

Did it occur to any of these nincompoops to go after manufacturers? Turning a blind eye to corporate deception, allowing half truths and blatant manipulation – somehow unaccountable because “Joe average” doesn’t know any better? What is wrong with you people!

Problem solving  wastes time unless you’re willing to look the root cause straight in the eye.

Yes Men Fix the World

If you haven’t heard of Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno , let me introduce you to the “Yes Men”. Bichlbaum and Bonanno are aliases – Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos respectively, fell into the “Yes Men” with their creation of a fake website poking fun at the World Trade Organization. Apparently satire masquerades as truth – they were contacted to speak at a conference in Austria and the Yes Men were born.

Posing as government or corporate spokesmen, satiric political activism began ruffling feathers. One of their first “pranks” was the 2004 “Yes, Bush Can”. Touring the country in a “Bush wrapped” RV, they encouraged supporters to sign the “patriot pledge” – agreeing to keep nuclear waste in their backyards and send their children to war. The duo even appeared at the Republican National Convention. Another petition circulated on the Bush/Cheney campaign trail urged supporters to support global warming because America’s competitors would suffer while Americans dealt with a few minor inconveniences.

In December 2004, Andy Bichlbaum, AKA Jacques Servin, appeared on BBC news as Dow Chemical spokesman Jude Finisterra.The 20th anniversary of Union Carbide’s chemical disaster in Bhopal India, Finisterra announced that Dow – who acquired Union Carbide a few years earlier- planned to liquidate the company, using the estimated 12 billion dollar worth to make amends in Bhopal. For just over an hour headlines erupted with breaking news of Dow taking full responsibility for the disaster. Finisterra told the BBC interviewer Dow came to the realization truth and people were more important than a dip in stock. Residents of Bhopal wept, believing the company who spent countless millions on warm, fuzzy damage control marketing, and not one dime to tear down the factory or deal with contaminated water supplies, had finally found a conscience. (Union Carbide settled with the Indian government for $470 million – roughly $2,200 paid to families of the dead) BBC issued a retraction, Dow cried hoax – everyone went back to business as usual.

Yes Men have taken on housing in New Orleans following Katrina – posing as Rene Oswin with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, they appeared with Major Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco before an audience of real estate developers to break  bad news the government planned to rebuild and open public housing rather than bulldoze and turn the land over to “mixed income” development.

I rarely link to Wikipedia but this gives a great summary of Yes Men accomplishments…

Two documentary films – Yes Men released in 2003, and The Yes Men Fix the World which debuted in 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival – well worth tracking down and taking a peek. Linked below – The Yes Men Fix the World…

Kudos Yes Men, political activism owes you big time.


If you wanted my eyes to light up, a whisper of ancient history would suffice.Ancient history makes me goofy, I swoon at the mention of Bolivia’s Puma Punku or Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. Take a moment to read the link below “Why Puma Punku Makes me Smile”

Jordan’s ancient treasure Petra, established around 300 BCE as the hub of Nabataean culture – a ponder equally mind blowing.  UNESCO added it to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1985, saying “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”, Smithsonian Magazine named it one of the 28 places to see before you die.

To understand what all the fuss is about, ponder this – Forget computers, engineers, core samples and heavy machinery. Forget frames of reference or standardized construction techniques. Walk into a valley enclosed by steep limestone cliffs – announce you’ve found the perfect home. Don’t quarry those cliffs, use basic stone cutting tools to carve structures into them. Water? No problem, sure it’s a desert but you know of a spring – channel that water into the city, create cisterns to catch rainwater, and above all a massive pool for bathing with a pretty garden. How was this even possible?

The “Monastery” at Petra stands almost 150 feet tall. The magnitude of a feat flawlessly executed over 2000 years ago with nothing but hand tools is astounding. As if my knees weren’t weak enough, learning how they tackled cliffs epitomizes ancient wonder. Petra was built from the top down – before any semblance of structure took place, stairs were carved into the rock face. Starting at the top, workers cut away stairs as they made their way down, from one side to the other, less than half an inch difference.

I don’t care if we have all the answers, we have Petra. Stoic fragments of civilization lost dot the planet – places fantastic enough to spawn a sub culture of alien conspiracy theorists. Ancient history is like that. Staggering accomplishments, unimaginable by today’s standards are difficult to process. When ancient mysteries confound to the point alien intervention trumps humanity, I practically purr with delight.

A satisfying ancient wonder – we know who built it, approximately when, how they transformed landscapes, without  having to sacrifice brain freezes associated with Petra’s enormity or physical execution. Petra serves wonder just the way I like it – sitting politely for all the world to see, tossing occasional clues, not caring if we ever solve the riddle.

A link to UNESCO and Petra…..



Rolling Coal

Testosterone fueled chest thumping is hardly new. Historically, displays of human bravado aren’t that different from the animal world, the strongest of all species prevail. Evolutionary wiring made mankind possible; competition always has, and always will be part of what we are. Revered are those exhibiting mastery of combat, weapons, physical superiority, strength and strategy.

Rolling coal came from such a place – pick-up trucks in “truck pull” competitions held at County Fairs modified diesel engines, pumping extra fuel to the motor, increasing speed and power. Extra burnt fuel resulted in bursts of black soot – soon the biggest, baddest blackest smoke bombs became  important as payload. Rolling coal – a macho crowd pleaser, one guaranteed to satisfy any desire to  “strut your stuff”.

Human nature being what it is, the practice naturally moved from Fairgrounds to city streets. No different from a couple of guys reeving engines at stoplights or staging impromptu pissing matches on the highway.

All fine and dandy until Elizabeth Kulze posted an article last month on vocativ, dubbing it “pollution porn”. Overnight the term and concept became a social media phenomenon.

The article “exposes” a sub-culture of redneck “meat-heads” spending thousands of dollars to modify pick-up trucks for the sole purpose of suffocating symbols of “Liberal” sentiment. Pedestrians deemed left wing, drivers of Japanese cars, and the big prize – bleeding heart environmentalists who “ask for it” by daring to drive a Prius or electric car.

“I run into a lot of people that don’t really like Obama at all,” one coal-roller tells Slate, which detailed the practice at length. “If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck – that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.

That paragraph says it all – rolling coal isn’t about who has the biggest stack – social media threw down the gauntlet – now any diesel-head worth his salt has to post a video of noxious soot fouling hand picked targets judged to care about the future. This quote from a campaigning Newt Gingrich at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa Oklahoma 2012 speaks volumes – “you cannot put a gun rack in a Volt”. Apparently America has more than gay and civil rights, abortion, Christian outrage and guns to worry about. Good Americans – those steadfast defenders of Constitutional freedom, loathe the environment.

Rolling coal entered social media’s arena, asinine encouragement of dim witted shenanigans has arrived. “Trending” makes no distinction between bat shit and reason – a equal opportunity curse, unfettered by conscience or consequence. Elevating and validating nincompoops, little more than hits and views.

Pondering isolated displays of bravado is one thing – wrapping my head around scores of socially unified jackasses, buoyed by the notion of strength in numbers, incapable of distinguishing attention from validation – depressing, the only description I’m capable of.

Rolling coal has understandable beginnings, social media making it a wing nut platform for protest – also understandable. Daunting as that reality might be, we don’t have to sit idly as these donkeys chortle. Come on America, enough of playing the whiny victim. A few days ago I never heard the term “rolling coal”. In the blink of an eye, I know more about it than I care to – simply because media took notice. Wake up America.