Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Conservatives Abondoning Principals?

As I watched the rise of Newt Gingrich to the top of the Republican polls, I couldn't help but wonder if the republicans are compromising their conservative moral principals in order to support someone they think might be able to defeat Obama in the 2012 presidential election. It seems to me that after all the todo about Bill Clinton's improprieties the republicans would look for someone who's moral standards are a little bit higher.But if you think about it, their "new" attitude about Newt's past transgressions sort of goes along with the obstinate position they have been taking in congress. They have been willing to do almost anything, including measures that penalize the American public, in order to make Barack Obama look bad and keep him from being re-elected next year. Some of the more honest republicans have even admitted this position saying that defeating Obama is their number one priority and they will not cooperate with him no matter what proposals he presents.

The article below discusses Newt's new ad campaign and the position he is takeing to get his poll figures higher after the recent drop. It is interesting to note that one of the key phrases in this add campaign is: "Don't let liberal republicans pick your candidate".

Pro-Gingrich Group Kicks Off Ad Campaign

The first "spy" satellite

It appears that the first spy satellite was a mixture of high tech optics with a low tech delivery system. A recent declassified secret cold war project reveals that the first satellites used to take pictures of the earth for the CIA had extremely high resolution cameras that could spot a backyard swimming pool decades before Google. The problem was that the special cameras still used film and they had to find a way to get the film back to earth from the satellite. What they came up with was very low tech. The film was "dropped" from the satellite through the earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean in a sort of floating bucket with a parachuted. It was then retrieved from the water by C-130 Air Force planes with grappling hooks. The news article below from AP provides some detailed background on the secret project and it's workers.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Do bees feel stress ... scientist say they do!

A recent article in the Scientific American introduced the notion that Bees and other invertebrates may have some type of a emotional response system. The study also provides some evidence that their response to specific stimuli when under duress may become more pessimistic than when in a normal non agitated state.I have always believe that all life is sacred and needs to be considered when living this life. As a quote from the articles points out:

"To put it another way, our criteria for assessing animal emotions should be blind to whether the animal has fur, feathers or an exoskeleton. Either bees and other invertebrates get a trial membership in the club of the genuinely anxious, or we must concede that our beloved pets’ seemingly pessimistic actions imply nothing about their feelings. For a smitten dog owner, at least, the choice is probably obvious."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Play that lamp shade ...

Way back in 1965 I played my first rock-n-roll song with my first group of "musicians". It was preformed in a friend's basement and we had to use jury-rigged equipment in order to do it. The other guitar player and I had microphones duck taped to our flat-top guitars, and the drummer had no cymbals, so he removed the light bulb and glass cover from a pull down ceiling lamp with a round shaped metal top to use as the cymbal.  The song we did was the Beatles version of "Money" since we had head it a lot on the radio and none of us had ever heard the real Motown versions written by Barrett Strong. After a lot of "practice" we eventually played the high point of our little group's career at a private high school party.

By '67 I had moved on to work with several other groups and even had opportunities to play some rather large venues with several regional rock bands before 1970 when I left the music business. I still have a lot of memories that go along what that time in my life, some good, some bad, and some that still make me laugh out loud like the time I mumbled the entire first verse of "Proud Mary". We were preforming on the stage of a large high school auditorium with over a thousand people in the audience listening. I had a mind block and couldn't remember the words. The funny part is that no one seemed to notice including the band! I guess that was a good example of the fact that most people hear what they expect to hear.

One of the other "first songs" that I remember playing was with a band that was actually getting paid for gigs in '66. It was a tune by the Rolling Stones named "Off The Hook".  Here's an early video featuring their performance of the song.

This video was recorded at the Santa Monica Civic Center:

What does Scrooge have to do with politics?

I have been reminded lately that not everyone is as fortunate as others and that many rich conservative politicians really don't care what happens to those struggling to survive. But it appears that the "I've got mine, so you get yours" attitude has been around for quite some time. Charles Dickens brought this point to light in dialog from his famous story "A Christmas Carol".

First Collector: At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.
Ebenezer: Are there no prisons?
First Collector: Plenty of prisons.
Ebenezer: And the union workhouses - are they still in operation?
First Collector: They are. I wish I could say they were not.
Ebenezer: Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. I'm very glad to hear it.
First Collector: I don't think you quite understand us, sir. A few of us are endeavoring to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth.
Ebenezer: Why?
First Collector: Because it is at Christmastime that want is most keenly felt, and abundance rejoices. Now what can I put you down for?
Ebenezer: Huh! Nothing!
Second Collector: You wish to be anonymous?
Ebenezer: I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish sir, that is my answer. I help to support the establishments I have named; those who are badly off must go there.
First Collector: Many can't go there.
Second Collector: And some would rather die.
Ebenezer: If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

After reading the lines above, when I hear conservative politicians talk about cutting welfare, medicare, social security elderly assistance, and other help programs for the less fortunate, they begin to remind me a little of Ebenezer Scrooge.