Entries Tagged as 'environment & nature'

animalsenvironment & nature

Extraordinary Snowbirds

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Here, in Texas, we have an annual influx of ‘snowbirds’ … large masses of gente norteña fleeing the winter weather ‘up north’ to enjoy a season of clear skies and milder temperatures ‘down south.’ It’s a long and time-honored tradition … for many years, my great-grand-aunt and uncle made their own annual migration from Leisuretown, New Jersey down to the sun and surf of Florida. And it’s also a tremendous economic boon to parts of Texas that enjoy an annual influx of cash in return for all things leisure – goods, services, opportunities, you name it.

Not all snowbirds travel to Texas by R.V. … and it is THEY who provide US an opportunity, a chance to observe something not-often-seen in these parts of the U.S. Here’s a shot I took of two extraordinary snowbirds in Llano County, Texas, this past week. Regular visitors in the process of raising a brood of future snowbirds.

environment & naturemoney

The plague of smart

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There is a nasty little radio spot airing nationally. It promotes “green” appliances and goods generally; swirly bulbs, “efficient” washers… that sort of thing although the specifics are tactically muddied. The ad pitches to a curiously young demographic. We’ve all met “Timmy”. Like Dickens’ Tiny Tim, Timmy is infectiously cute and contrived to pull at your major arteries. Timmy wants to go to the State Fair! Well, maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. Maybe he didn’t know there was such a thing as a State Fair but the announcer, whose relation to Timmy is unexplored, asks him breathlessly, “Do you want to go to the State Fair?” Of course he does! Sorry, you can’t. You see, Timmy, your parents are NOT using green, energy efficient doo-dads but the old busted bulbs and machinery, causing them to spend more on utilities and draining their pockets of the gas and ticket money necessary. If only your folks had bought the new, government approved and promoted doohickeys they would have been able to take you there for candy floss and teacup rides, whatever those are. If they get on board today then you can go to next year’s fair. “But I want to go NOW!” Radio Timmy coaches Timmies across the land in whinery to cajole mums and pops into replacing their eight-for-a-dollar earth-warming heat globes with pigtail bulbs at $8 dollars or more a pop. Needless to say, this public service message was paid for by Your Federal Family which draws its budget from you. [Read more →]

environment & nature

Murmurations

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Via Jackie Baisa comes something fantastic:

A murmuration of starlings.

environment & naturetrusted media & news

The pelican brief

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I will refresh your memory of this crappy movie without refreshing my own. The Julia Roberts character is a young law clerk who has stumbled on a terrible secret while fulfilling an academic exercise. A Supreme Court Justice has been assassinated. Why? America can only theorize as this fictional jurist was a solid conservative on a panel pretty evenly split and certain to be quickly replaced with another. Now, if he were the swing vote, everyone could understand why he was offed. Whatever the next case coming up, the culprit is whichever party stands to gain from this unexcused absence. QED. How the setting for these events, ostensibly America in the 90s, became a place where political murder was as routine as in Rome, or even on Romulus, we are not informed.  But the baddies are off after a galloping Julia who has discovered that corporate Black Hats were about to do something mean, like drill a nasty hole into the ground and release the black goo within upon the surface world. And the only thing that could stop them, in court anyhow, was the status of a certain indigenous pelican as an endangered species. The late judge, certified Rightwing wanker though he was, apparently had a soft spot for sea-birds or birds altogether. He threatened an upset decision favoring the pelican so he had to die, naturally. Never asked is whether the claims of the pelican to nest and feed undisturbed were clearly superior to our claim to the oil beneath? Also never considered is whether it was quite clear that the oil drilling would be a serious, or indeed even a NOTICEABLE encumbrance to the joyous, omnivorous life of the pelican? [Read more →]

environment & naturetrusted media & news

After the fire, or: How the Chihuahua was spared

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Last week, my friend Sandy sent me an email:

“Dan, do you want to come with me to Bastrop? I’m going to shoot some pictures of the ruins.”

Sandy is a photographer who documents disasters, and since Bastrop just suffered the most destructive wildfire in Texas history- a raging inferno laid waste to 1,600 houses and 34,000 acres of land – he was keen to record the aftermath for posterity. As for me, I had never witnessed the effects of Biblical hellfire before, so I was curious. I agreed to go. [Read more →]

environment & naturepolitics & government

Why is Barack Obama trying to destroy the environment?

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The Obama administration claims to be concerned about the environment. One need only look at its commitment to green energy subsidies to understand how totally serious they are about taking care of the world in which we all live.

This commitment to the environment is one of the president’s most defining qualities. That’s why I was shocked to learn that the president is seeking to prop up an industry that is directly responsible for devastating environmental impact.

President Obama on Monday unveiled a plan to save the U.S. Postal Service and its employees from insolvency — a plan that includes the possible end of Saturday mail service.

[Read more →]

environment & naturemoney

The long-range forecast: no sun, no wind

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How could ANYONE or indeed ANYTHING possibly go out of business just after a straight cash infusion of a half a billion dollars? Somehow Solyndra has managed it. This middle-sized firm with the maudlin name was never Too Big To Fail in its own right but it is exemplary. Solyndra is a “Green” business. You know that. And “Green” is the economic future. Green is clean. Green is keen. Green is nice, unlike those nasty cro-magnon energies like oil, gas and nukes. Even hydro power is in an infamous stink. That’s something of a puzzler, isn’t it? What could be cleaner than washing the whole landscape with cool, fresh creek water? As with so many of our current misapprehensions we suffer from Humpty-Dumpty-itis. Which is to say that the words you are hearing, Alice, do not mean what you presume they mean. Indeed, they are subject to revision or even flat inversion opportunistically by the eggshell sophists. In such an environment your most basic presumptions will fail you.

The bugaboo with this stuff is always CO2, carbon-dioxide. You are sitting in a vile cloud of it right now. Wait! Don’t go fleeing into the street. Out there is a dose of carbon-monoxide! Not an improvement and in any case the CO2 is everywhere on earth; a disgusting state of affairs. Most sadly its source, among others, is your two little nostrils. You breathe in 300-odd parts per million of this toxin and breathe out considerably more. This, the Green Advocates seek to stop. And so they should. A shocked humanity gazes in horror at its exhalations and wonders, what is this poison and how did it get inside my lungs? Was it Monsanto? Dow-Corning or Dow-Jones? Ah, it was Archer-Daniels, wasn’t it? Perhaps a blanket ban on hyphens would solve our crisis. [Read more →]

environment & naturemoney

Green jobs or pink slips?

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environment & naturetrusted media & news

How I was almost incinerated

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The other night I was working in my backyard when I caught a whiff of smoke on the wind: a barbecue? I wondered. But there were no smoke trails coming from behind my neighbor’s fences; nor could I smell sizzling meat.

I checked the green belt behind my house- no tongues of flame there either. Furthermore, the odor was different, not a wood fire, but rather…. Ah that’s it! It was the same burning plastic/chemical/metal aroma that had hovered over my Austin apartment last year after an angry man had flown a plane into the local tax office, hoping to inflict a mini 9/11 on the IRS (He got there too early, before most of the staff were at their desks, and so killed only himself and one other person). [Read more →]

environment & nature

A prayer for everyone back-east

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Even as we experience one of the worst droughts in Texas’ recorded history, our television sets and desktop news feeds are filled with words and images of the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Irene. I realize that many WFTC contributors are based somewhere in the storm’s path … our thoughts and our prayers are with you, and with all those in harm’s way. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingenvironment & nature

Top ten answers to the question, “How hot is it?”

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10. “It’s so hot, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s having an affair with the counter lady at Baskin-Robbins.”

9. “It’s so hot, Dick Cheney was caught waterboarding himself.”

8. “It’s so hot, street people are making their own gravy.”

7. “It’s so hot, Charlie Sheen tested positive for Slurpees.”

6. “It’s so hot, I saw an Amish guy buying an air conditioner.”

5. “It’s so hot, former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn said he was looking forward to spending some time in the cooler.”

4. “It’s so hot, chickens are laying omelets.”

3. “It’s so hot, my car’s GPS lady keeps directing me towards Canada.”

2. “It’s so hot, Hillary Clinton’s been wearing her pantsuit without the pants.”

1. “It’s so hot, Anthony Weiner actually appreciates his wife giving him the cold shoulder.”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

environment & naturepolitics & government

Forget aliens — it’s squatch that we really need to worry about

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Recently, presidential candidate Rick Perry claimed to be skeptical of man-made climate change.

Now, as if on cue, some people at an institution called Pennsylvania State University have come up with a very serious reason for human beings to fear climate change, and their role in it.

Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth’s atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain.

This is ridiculous. We all know that we have much more to fear from Sasquatches (“Squatches”), Chupacabras (“Chuppies”), Loch Ness Monsters (“Nessies”), and Moth Men (“Mothies”) than we do from extraterrestrials. [Read more →]

environment & naturetrusted media & news

Living in a natural disaster area

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When I was young, droughts were something that happened elsewhere: as a punishment from God in the Bible, or in far off Africa, where unfortunate babies with distended bellies would die in the scorching heat of an evil sun. In Scotland, by contrast, there was never a shortage of rain – quite the opposite, in fact: We hardly ever saw the sun, and might have thought its existence a mere rumor were it not for those people who came back from holidays in Spain burnt red, toy donkeys under their arms.

Flash forward a few decades and suddenly I find myself living in Texas where droughts are a regular occurrence. Currently we are enduring our ninth month of epic dryness, my second drought in five years, which – depending on which website I consult – is either the worst or third worst in the history of the state. [Read more →]

environment & naturepolitics & government

Earth RIP 4.54 Billion B.C. – 2011

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Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten other environmentally bad ideas, after del Monte’s single bananas wrapped in plastic

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10. Gas-powered electric blankets

9. Whole-Watermelon-in-a-Box

8 The motorized garden gnome

7. Plug-in mittens

6. The electric toilet paper dispenser

5. Coconuts packed in Styrofoam

4. The return of the Hummer

3. The electric spoon

2. The gas-powered pooper scooper

1. Individually wrapped peas
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

environment & naturevirtual children by Scott Warnock

Less

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The Gulf full of oil. Radiation seepage in Japan. War in petroleum-rich countries. Mines collapsing. And the incessant, blow-by-blow, steady-drip news about all of it. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten answers to the question, “How cold is it?”

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10. It’s so cold, Lady Gaga’s charbroiling her meat dress before putting it on

9. It’s so cold, opticians at LensCrafters are giving away free ice scrapers with every new pair of glasses

8. It’s so cold, TSA agents are required to put on mittens before fondling you

7. It’s so cold, the Statue of Liberty decided to hold her torch under her robe

6. It’s so cold, Miley Cyrus is lighting her bong just for the warmth

5. It’s so cold, Charlie Rangel was spotted with his hands in his own pockets

4. It’s so cold, yesterday I chipped a tooth on my Cup-a-Soup

3. It’s so cold, Al Gore recently came out in favor of global warming

2. It’s so cold, Glenn Beck has requested he be sent to Hell earlier than scheduled

1. It’s so cold, Brett Favre is just describing his junk to women
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

creative writingenvironment & nature

‘Tis the season!

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Autumn is upon us, dear readers, and there is no season which I like better. The reasons for my unwavering love for the falls are simple ones, yet they remain worth sharing. Perhaps seeing some of my favorite activities will help you make the most of your season.  [Read more →]

environment & nature

From the desert … thoughts and prayers for our dang Yankee friends, back east

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For those born and raised here, on the fringes of the high Chihuahuan Desert, it’s hard to imagine just how big “a little rain” can get. Sure, we see floods following a downburst, narrow and rapid, especially during the late-summer ‘monsoon’ season. But those come, and then go, very quickly … and the dry heat takes over once again.

But I have lived up-north, back-east. And I know how big a little rain can get. In 1972, Tropical Storm Agnes headed inland. I was one of thousands lining the banks of the Susquehanna, desperately adding sandbags to the dikes along Kingston, and Wilkes-Barre. In the end, our efforts were for nought, and the Wyoming Valley was flooded.

Which is why my thoughts and my prayers are with my dang-Yankee, back-east friends as they cope with “a little rain” from Tropical Storm Nicole … God bless.

announcementsenvironment & nature

I am a tropical storm

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Seldom in life, a man is given an experience that sticks with him forever. His wedding day, for one.  Maybe his Bar Mitzvah. Perhaps his Catholic Bar Mitzvah*. [Read more →]

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