Fraudulant Fairness?

George Will is rapidly becoming an angry, strident voice on the conservative side of conservative politics. Now he is using name calling as a weapon against the Democratic Party. His use of the term “illiberals” over and over in his latest rant against liberals is almost funny…almost.

Some illiberal liberals are trying to restore the luridly misnamed Fairness Doctrine, which until 1987 required broadcasters to devote a reasonable amount of time to presenting fairly each side of a controversial issue. The government was empowered to decide how many sides there were, how much time was reasonable and what was fair.

I hate to break it to Mr Will, but the only reason anyone wants to re-institute the “Fairness Doctrine” is that the “Corporate Media” has abrogated the truthful reporting of the facts. The very ability of political groups to drop a smear with an add buy and then watch the story grow as the “News” is reported so often as to turn a lie into the accepted truth shows the need for “Media” to be held to a monetary responsibility for the “Fairness” they no longer feel.

The Reagan administration scrapped the doctrine because of its chilling effect on controversial speech, and because the scarcity rationale was becoming absurd.

It seems to me that the scarcity rationale has now swung full circle. With the media consolidation of the past few years, the publics access to get their voice heard is confined to the internet and not the “Public” airways or the newsprint of the cities of this country. Not everyone in this country has access nor the need to subscribe to multiple forms of information. The broadcast spectrum has, since it’s inception, been a special category of business. Access to spectrum has always been confined to a limited number of gatekeepers, and the “Fairness Doctrine” is all that kept the publics ability to gain the access to present opposing views.
It is time to take another look at all of the rules that have been relaxed in this mad rush to deregulate America.

Source: Newsweek
Author: George F. Will

Monday in Paradise

The weekend at work turned into more physical “work” than this older body has become accustomed to. Yesterday morning before returning to work the body was really complaining in all of the joints and muscles. But the job got done and the big show that opens today will be one more for the line stretching back into the early ’70’s.

Unless you have ever worked the setup of a trade show, you have no idea how totally chaotic it can seem to an outsider. This is the industry I have called home now for 34 years this month. The constant movement over the first 2/3rds of that career, all on concrete usually carrying heavy weight, is now catching up with my desk bound (mostly) body…Where did the time fly.

From the look of the yard, I’ll need to spend a bit of time this week riding the Deere. Mind you, I am not a fanatic about lawns (one of the reasons I discovered a decided unfitness for life in the “master planned communities” the developers around here call their suburbs. I like my “civilized” nature a little ragged around the edges. I am not much of a string-trimmer kind of guy. It usually drives the immediate neighbors a bit wild…In this climate though, at this time of year at least you have to ride the Deere at least every other week. Later in the season the weekly ride is almost too little. And, just for the record, I refuse to fertilize and water lawn grass. I know, not very neighborly of me in this “yard beautiful” world.

Oh well, gotta run…May your Monday be Un-Mondayish.

Saturday Morning Web Wandering

I slept in a bit today and I have to go in to work this afternoon to take care of a project we ship tomorrow, but this morning after reading my email I went link wandering. Here are some of the things I found I feel I should pass along…

Somehow I didn’t keep up with the schedule for the return of Bill Moyers to PBS so I missed his documentary on “The Buying of the War”. Somehow the regular schedule for his new show on Friday had permeated what I call my brain, and the fact that the special would be on Wednesday didn’t…Oh well, I’m sure it will be replayed at some point.

In my wandering this morning I did stumble on a site that is new to me, COA News. This led to a link to an Amy Goodman interview with Bill Moyers on Democracy Now this week, which led me to this quote…

Bill Moyers – “I would like to be nice about it. I would like to be diplomatic about it. But the fact of the matter is there’s a cancer eating at the heart of democracy, and it’s money in politics. If free speech means you have to buy it, then only those who can afford it have free speech. And that’s contemptible.”

If you have the time the video is very good.

Source: Independent News Portal COAnews: : How the U.S. News Media Helped the Bush Admin Sell the Case for War

The link that led me to CAO News was an article about Local Foods by Brita Belli of The Environmental Magazine.

Local is the New Organic

It used to be that organic was enough. That organic label told consumers their food was safer, fresher and more likely to have come from a small, reliable farm than a mega-farm-factory. Then, last year, Wal-Mart started selling organic products. Suddenly, organic didn’t seem so special.

Last fall, an outbreak of E. coli bacteria in California- grown organic spinach that left three dead and hundreds sick shone the national spotlight on the question of where food comes from. Most produce people eat, organic or not, travels thousands of miles to reach the shelves of their local supermarket. The journey exacts a huge toll on the environment as refrigerated tractor-trailers packed with green tomatoes and bananas crisscross the country, burning diesel and spewing pollution and greenhouse gas. And the potential for unsanitary handling and nutrient depletion exists at every stop along the way.

I have been linking to posts like this for some time. It appears that the local food “movement” is on the verge of reaching viral status around the country and the world. If we have many more food disaster’s like the ones from the last year where we are beginning to understand that the people we once thought were protecting the safety of our food aren’t, for whatever reason, we will have to protect ourselves. You can’t do that if the food you are buying come from across the country or around the world.

Source: Independent News Portal COAnews: : Local is the New Organic

And another week bites the dust…

On my drive home from work I had one of those moments that drive home the need to have the camera in reach and ready to shoot…I didn’t and I wasn’t, so I missed what was probably a once in a lifetime shot. As I was drive toward home of an evening I sometimes pass a skydiving establishment in Rosharon, Skydive Spaceland. Yesterday as I came upon the facility there was a group just in their final approach to landing. They were coming in fairly well spaced out so that they were landing a couple of minutes apart from each other as I drove into town.

Every time I see this sight I wish I was prepared to catch some shots but so far I always approach as they are already landing. As I sat in the turning lane waiting for the light to change I looked up and was immediately returned to Fred First’s photo of the other day of the Vulture crossing the moon. Instead of a vulture, picture a man hanging below a bright red parasail passing back and forth in front of the moon. Needless to say, my camera was in it’s bag on the floor board behind my seat just out of reach and the light was about to change. Oh well…

I see Tom Philpott has a new article over on Grist. Everyone who has an interest in food should take a look at it…

Two years ago, dairy giant Dean Foods shuttered a milk-processing facility in Wilkesboro, a town at the eastern edge of North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains.

…Since there were no other USDA-approved processing plants around, the few remaining dairy farmers in the mountains faced a stark choice: pay to have their milk hauled an additional 55 miles to Winston-Salem, where Dean ran another plant, or exit the business.

In the tiny mountain town of Bethel, N.C. — 45 miles west of Wilkesboro — one such farmer took the second option, closing a 50-cow operation he had started in 1959. When he started his farm, Bethel had around a dozen dairy farms. Today it has none.
When I think of consolidation in the food industry — fewer and fewer companies controlling more and more production — I think of that small farm in Bethel.

The start of this article has a special meaning for me as I will never forget the day I wandered into Bethel for the fist time. the view of the valley as I wandered down from the mountains just screamed farms. It was such a striking scene I kept driving around for quite sometime. So striking in fact that I totally forgot I was carrying a camera and was out looking for photographs…go figure!

Source: How food processing got into the hands of a few giant companies | By Tom Philpott | Grist | Victual Reality | 26 Apr 2007

Coffee’s hot and there are 20 emails to read before I leave for work, so…

Ok, now I thought the Blue Ridge Mountains would still be enjoying a cool start to spring right about now. Instead they seem to have moved into what should be an early June weather pattern, or am I wrong. When a day on the Blue Ridge in late April starts out at the same temperature as the Texas Gulf Coast, well people, we have a problem. Not that I am complaining about the coolness of the morning as I sit with the door open listening to the birdsong as I sip coffee, read the morning emails and type these meandering muses. But, what will this mean for my trip in late July. I look forward to the cool mornings and the coffee out on the porch watching the valley fog below rise up and burn off. I don’t want to think it could be just as warm as Texas…

Ballot barriers – Houston Chronicle

It looks like the Republicans feel the need to try to redden even this red state further. Could it be they really don’t think they can win an election without stamping on the voter’s rights? This is the same tactic that is getting them in so much trouble around the country.

In Texas, the biggest problem facing our electoral system is the voters’ shamefully low participation in choosing our representatives and leaders. Yet instead of encouraging more people to exercise this fundamental right, some lawmakers in Austin are hard at work trying to make it more difficult to vote.

With no proof of significant voter fraud in state elections, the Texas House is considering bills that would require voters to provide additional identification in order to register and cast their ballots. Not only is the legislation unjustified, if enacted it could disenfranchise large numbers of the elderly, the poor and minorities.

Republicans have promoted voter identification legislation as a cure for ballot fraud, though documented voter impersonation cases are rare. Democrats contend the measures are really aimed at suppressing Election Day turnout among their traditional support groups.

Source: Ballot barriers: Legislation requiring Texas voters to present extensive identification would create far more problems than it would solve. | – Houston Chronicle

Where has the month gone?

Here we are rapidly closing in on the end of April. Seems like it was just March the other day. The weather system that blew through here yesterday morning dropped the temperature if not the humidity. This morning is dawning a cool 57 degrees with a low fog out the (open) back door. I pulled a Fred first thing this morning (did I trigger your Google alert Fred?) wandering out in the dew covered backyard to see what kind of images I could capture early before the sun came up. It’s always nice when we have a Blue Ridge morning in Texas.

Here is the best of the handful of images I pulled in…my backyard just before sunrise this morning.

The first cup is poured and I see I have mail, so…

Horoscope for the week
I really like Ron’s take on Astrology and find this weeks horoscope ties in with where my head is (how 70’s is that)…

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): According to the macrobiotic approach to diet, the healthiest food for you to eat is that which has been grown near you, or at least in the same latitude. Unless you live in the tropics, for instance, bananas shouldn’t be on your menu. Let’s make that meme your Metaphor of the Week, Aquarius. According to my interpretation of the omens, all your best bets will be local and homegrown. You should pluck pleasures that are close by, and avoid temptations beckoning from a distance. You should trust clues that arrive from sources you can personally verify, and be skeptical of those from friends of friends of friends.

I really liked “the healthiest food for you to eat is that which has been grown near you”. Seems like I keep saying pretty much the same thing…
Source: Rob Brezsny’s Astrology Newsletter

The news from Washington is all the same, so I won’t bother to go there. Just imagine where we would be today had we not tried this experiment in Judicially appointed Presidents. I am sure that just scares the hell out of the right, “Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue”. Come to think of it, that’s just what it’s been, six years of waking nightmares.

Endangered turtle lays 84 eggs on South Padre | – Houston Chronicle

From the local newspaper, this tidbit of environmental news…

The first endangered Kemp’s ridley turtle known to have nested this year on the Texas Coast laid 84 eggs on South Padre Island Tuesday, officials said…

From 1979 through 1996, only 17 Kemp’s ridley nestings were recorded in Texas. Last year, the known Kemp’s ridley nestings on Texas beaches hit 102, more than double 2005’s record of 50.

Source: Endangered turtle lays 84 eggs on South Padre | – Houston Chronicle

Wednesday Morning Coffee Muse

Yesterday’s gusty winds had the trees dancing with their limbs going from side to side. I spent a lot of time yesterday afternoon watching from the cast iron chair out back. I had to “babysit” the youngest son as he had tests run that required a strong dose of anesthesia. Let’s just say, he didn’t remember being wheeled out of the facility. Anywho, afterwards, I fixed him some chicken noodle soup and spent some time waiting for the soup to kick in. By then it was too late to run in to work so I sat and watched the day draw to a close with lots of wind shakin’ everything.

The weather prognosticators late last night were telling the world that all of this wind, blowing in of the Gulf of Mexico is going to meet up with a temperature boundary headed over from the west coast and wake us up with thunder and gully washers. So far the morning looks dry (what I can see from the porch lights at the back door as the cats changed shifts), but there is no telling what the morning will bring. I guess I should really take a look at the weather radar…Oh, hell…It looks like the drive to work will be exciting I should be hitting the road about the time the stormfront hits.

Oh well, On to the morning emails…The clock has chased itself around to the place where I gotta run…catch you later.

Later from work…I had a strange commute this morning. I was driving into night all the way to work. It just got darker and darker as I got closer to Houston. I managed to get to work and into the office without getting more than a little damp…Strange drive into a rough looking storm.

From this past weekend…Pecan bark.

There is something about the bark of a pecan tree. It’s shaggy even when young. This tree is barely twenty feet tall and this is what it looks like at eye level. This tree is so young it’s only been producing nuts for the last two years.

Last years left overs…

This is on of the few remaining stands from last years crop of grasses…

The thistles of this year…

The thistles are blooming all over already this year…

Tuesday Coffee Muses

As I sit here with my coffee reading the morning email and news, I hear the wind chimes outside the door going crazy in the wind. We have had a pretty steady breeze blowing for the last four days. Sadly, the ac is cranking this morning so the doors and windows are closed. It’s not so much the temperature that keeps us running the heat pump in cooling mode as the humidity. This morning at 7am the temperature is at what would be a fairly comfortable 71 degrees if it weren’t for the 92% humidity. And folks it isn’t even threatening rain yet…

I promised more spring photo’s from the weekend so here are a few showing the wild flowers hiding in the grass around my backyard…

Spring Blooms

Yesterday I posted on the perfume wafting on the spring air. Here are the two main culprits for the ultra sweet fragrance. White and yellow blooms are everywhere along the edge of the woods along the backyard.

As I wandered here on both Saturday and Sunday I was amazed at the insect life that abounded on all of the blooms attracted, I’m sure by the same fragrance that had me adrift in time. The predominate insect seemed to be what we call locally “love-bugs”. Tiny black flying insects that at this time of the year are always joined to each other in the nether regions. Soon they will be so numerous you have trouble not inhaling vast quantities as you roam around outside.

I was happy to see some honeybees working the blooms this weekend. While they were few in number, at least they are still around. Earlier I had mention the lack of sightings this spring. You can definitely tell they aren’t as common as in past years just by the number of apples on my two (way to south) trees. Each year we have a large number of really small tart apples. This year I’ve only spotted a couple of apples trying to grow…

Then there is this big guy. These bees are always visiting the thistle blooms in our field. I was actually amazed I was able to catch any shots at all over the weekend due to the almost constant wind. It did make the day much more enjoyable, without the breeze the high of 78 would have been a bit much, but then this is Texas…I’ll post some more shots tomorrow.

Y’all have a great day…