Friday, February 27, 2009

Cherish those fish sticks

Back in the 80's I caught an interview Larry King had with Ted Danson, who despite his best intentions hurt the environmental movement by declaring with a near fanatical look that the oceans would be dead in ten years. Danson brought up the killing of sharks, pollution, mega-sized factory ships overfishing, and other very real issues. I can't tell you how many times I have heard some conservative nut bring up that interview saying that its been way over ten years and the oceans are still there. Never the less. despite the snickers and the good old boys and girls slapping each other on the back reassuring each other all this is crazy liberal crap a very real problem does exist:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Barack Obama could protect ocean wildlife and save jobs in commercial fisheries by ending widespread overfishing, environmental and economic leaders and scientists reported on Thursday.

About 70 percent of the world's fisheries are over-exploited or have already crashed, the report said. If this long-term trend continues, scientists have predicted that all current salt-water fish and seafood species will collapse by 2048.

Trying to explain some of this stuff to someone whose greatest literary possessions are the complete "Left Behind" series or the collected works of Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter is simply hopeless. Hell, they see grocery store freezers stocked full of processed fish sticks and figure this is another example of liberal Chicken Littles wanting to tax something new. But as the befuddled conservative masses contemplate the unfairness of having to deal with the new president who can walk and chew gum at the same time the entire world edges ever closer to the abyss Ted Danson talked about. Cheer's Y'all.

Why is overfishing a problem
In the first chapter we discussed already that globally fishing fleets are at least two to three times as large as needed to take present day catches of fish and other marine species. To explain why overfishing is a problem we first have to get an idea on the scale of the problem. This is best done by looking at some figures published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. 1 The FAO scientists publish a two yearly report (SOFIA) on the state of the world's fisheries and aquaculture. 2 The report is generally rather conservative regarding the acknowledging of problems but does show the main issues. In general it can be stated that the SOFIA report is a number of years behind time of the real situation.
The above shows that over 25% of all the world's fish stocks are either overexploited or depleted. Another 52% is fully exploited, these are in imminent danger of overexploitation (maximum sustainable production level) and collapse. Thus a total of almost 80% of the world's fisheries are fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse. Worldwide about 90% of the stocks of large predatory fish stocks are already gone. In the real world all this comes down to two serious problems.
The single best example of the ecological and economical dangers of overfishing is found in Newfoundland, Canada. In 1992 the once thriving cod fishing industry came to a sudden and full stop when at the start of the fishing season no cod appeared. Overfishing allowed by decades of fisheries mismanagement was the main cause for this disaster that resulted in almost 40.000 people losing their livelihood and an ecosystem in complete state of decay. Now, fifteen years after the collapse, many fishermen are still waiting for the cod to return and communities still haven't recovered from the sudden removal of the regions single most important economical driver. The only people thriving in this region are the ones fishing for crab, a species once considered a nuisance by the Newfoundland fishermen.

My biggest fear is that we humans will continue this game of just increasing our efforts to make up for a ever declining global catch until at some point we go over a cliff Danson talked about and WE crash.

In the long run I'm not worried about the oceans because they will recover. It may take many many years but the biosphere will evolve and endure, its just we won't be here.

But I expect Mother Earth will cull another way us long before that happens.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Night with Jimmy Buffett and one Crazy SOB

As usual my wild Saturday night will consist of multiple beers, chips with salsa, and a movie. Given the austerity measures we have going on here at the house to pay off some bills I will be digging into the DVD vault for any viewing pleasure beyond the free stuff on You Porn.

I must admit the news has not been the best lately with all sorts of serious shit being flung. Big bankers both scared that their precious banks will go under and that the government will nationalize them are acting like spoiled brats. Yet another financial wizard, Allen Stanford, has been charged doing "curious ritualized thievery" to again borrower a term. Jobs are dissolving at an ever increasing pace with Republicans suddenly worried over the deficit wanting again to help their rich friends and whine about the little guys and gals getting any help. As far as they are concerned we can afford billions for imperial adventures to secure oil for billionaires but can't afford health care for poor kids. Iraq is on a low simmer with none of the internal issues settled and Afghanistan is a wreck.

With all this I feeling the urge to pull out the tequila, get blitzed, and spend the night listening to Jimmy. Especially after hearing this crazy bastard Allen Keyes, and I really thought no one could be worse than Limbaugh and Coulter.

The election of Barrack Obama as president has really shaken the Republican crazy tree dropping all sorts of nuts. A certain degree of craziness is to be expected whenever politics are involved but this delusion that President Obama is not an American citizen goes beyond the pale. My worry is that the crazy crap being spouted by Keyes might insight others whose grip on reality is even less secure. The fact is that despite their worries that Obama might pull a Tom Delay and fix the census changing representational numbers in Congress to favor Democrats that genie is already out the bottle. The Republicans have screwed the pooch with Hispanic-Americans over immigration and the racists policies at the bedrock of the Repubilcan base will never allow many more than a few nuts like Keyes and tokens like Steele to vote GOP. The people that came out to elect Obama will not go away and in fact will only grow in the coming years. So I guess in the end there is a lot to drink about.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Must taste like chicken

Cruising around the National Geographic web site and found a small article about this bird, called a Worcester's buttonquail, thought extinct but it took time from his busy schedule to posed for this picture before it had to rush off for a lunch the lunch. I don't know but if I was some scientist going walkabout around the Philippines and recognized what could possibly be the last specimen of a species in a poultry market I would quickly buy the bird before it was swimming around with pieces of carrots, noddles, and celery.

Then on the other hand:
"However, the buttonquail is from a "notoriously cryptic and unobtrusive family of birds," according to the nonprofit Birdlife International, so the species may survive undetected in other regions."

If that's the case then this particular individual wasn't exactly on the deep end of the Darwinian gene pool by getting caught. Sucks to be him.

Sort of freaky

Also found this on the National Geographic website in their video section. The person who posted it username is "rinku98u" and lists his/her hometown as Tehran. Not making any sort of statement here other that its just a freaky video. The "craft" do appear to have some size to them in relation to the trees they come from behind and for the life of me I don't see any signs of it being faked are altered. What puzzles me is that these aliens are obviously lost since UFO sightings mainly come from the people named Billy Bob and Norma Jean in the American South. Yeah, I'm bored and don't have any decent story ideas.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Twittering Turd Blossom with a gun

Raw Story notes that even “under Congressional subpoena,” Karl Rove is finding “a little time for rest and relaxation,” going on a hunting trip in South Texas where he “fired off a few updates on Twitter.” One user joked that it was good Cheney wasn’t along for the ride, although Rove actually said that he wished he had been:

@tomatcc: “ALL CLEAR!” Dick’s in Wyoming. 8:45 AM yesterday

@KarlRove: You’re correct—unfortunately Cheney’s not here. But, I look forward to my next hunt with him. #TCOT #SGP 9:54 AM yesterday

Fox News’s Chris Wallace and the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes accompanied Rove, who also posted a “Twitpic” of Barnes with shotgun in one hand and dead bird in the other. Rove said Barnes hit “two out of a covey.”

I guess Cheney's back was still hurting from lifting those boxes last month when he couldn't stand during President Obama's inauguration. But on second thought if Cheney could easily shoot a "friend" in the face what would he do with this crowd?

Excuse me if I get all preachy but there is another issue here for me. I fully realize that not everyone is cut out for the military. As much as the recruiting advertisements might like to suggest at times that serving is a great job, it is not. Serving in the military is a very difficult lifestyle that stresses the strongest of individuals and can easily destroy the best marriages.

But I find it bizarre as Hell when non-serving chickenhawks, both in the public eye and private life, go around carrying weapons acting like the mighty hunter, Rambos expecting doomsday with an AR-15 in the closet, or as armchair generals who after hours of watching the Military Channel while munching on pork rinds figure they could have any war wrapped up in days . It has been my experience that at best these people offer only stale platitudes to those men and women who for some reason actually signed their name and raised their right hand to defend this country.

As for the rich and powerful, college deferments or in the past a convenient rearrangement of National Guard waiting lists allowed them to sit out the wars they now so eagerly rushed others off to fight in. As for the Rambos sitting at home with an assault weapon nearby and the armchair generals who just can't understand why some have misgivings about torture I've heard many an excuse as to why they ain't out chasing down bin Laden themselves. Except for the odd individual with a legitimate reason for not joining all the others are a laugh riot.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Mysterious Miss Wiggles

Weekends are often stressful affairs in their own right at my house. After five working days dealing with the usual affairs of life many weekends are just a continuation of other normal work week activities along with trying to get things done that can only be accomplished on Saturday and Sunday. Running the kids around to their activities, getting needed maintenance on the cars, washing mountains of dirty clothes, and cleaning the house and yard take up much of weekend time. During these stressful weekends everyone in the family is pressed into service with the understanding that once the critical objectives are at least met time will be spent on other more enjoyable activities. The only problem holding true to the critical objectives is when the children are involved.
Just a few weeks ago was one of those stressful weekends with the bathrooms, as far as Dragonwife was concerned, hazardous toxic waste dumps. Mountains of smelly laundry were piled high in the hallway next the washer and dryer needing to be done. Of special concern to my wife were the dust stalactites hanging from the ceiling fan blades that she insisted needed to be cleaned. Being honest here but I will have to admit that my motivation that Saturday morning was not at the highest level. The bathrooms, in my opinion, were not as dangerous as my wife suggested. At the hospital where I work I'm on the HAZMAT team and while I wouldn’t have eaten off the bathroom floor there wasn’t any green slime visibly moving anywhere although that could not have been said for some dark green items of laundry slowly crawling away from the rest of the piles. As for the dust stalactites hanging from the blades of the ceiling fans I admit that they needed to be removed.
With the benefit of having my radio tuned into the Saturday morning NPR shows my duties were passing quickly and as far as cleaning can be enjoyable I was having a pretty good time. During this time I was multitasking the various chores all across the house since Dragonwife had gone on the monthly Sam’s Club run to stock up on groceries. Since one of the darkest pits in Hell must surely be having to spend eternity in a crowded Sam’s Club I felt that I was getting the better end of the Saturday chores right then. The kids had long since finished what they had to do and were either playing the guitar, in the case of my son, or watching SpongeBob which usually never fails to complete enthrall my daughter. That is until that particular Saturday.
After I finished the cleaning of the smaller of our two bathrooms I moved the cleaning stuff into the master bathroom and started cleaning the invisible soap scum off the walls of the shower stall. There are two things I find intensely curious about soap scum. One, I can almost never see the offending substance although my wife assures me it covers the walls of the shower stall. Two, my wife’s intense and personal dislike of the substance that at times sort of scares me. Even though I question the very existence of the substance most of the time I felt it was my husbandly duty to do my best to save my wife the shock of finding it still on the walls when she got back. Plus, carefully wiping the shower stall walls would save me the hassle of hearing her complain (nag) about how scummy and disgusting the bathroom still looked. It was then that Miss Wiggles decided to join me while I was working.
“Daddy, what are you doing?” My daughter asked me standing in the doorway.
“I’m just cleaning the shower sweetie.” I said as I continued to wipe down the walls.
“But I don’t see anything on the walls except the stuff you are spraying on them.”
It was there I froze, I had an independent confirmation that the whole soap scum issue might reside in my wife’s brain. But just to be safe I continued to clean since discretion is always the better part of valor where wives are concerned.
“Daddy, I’m going to help you with the cleaning.” Miss Wiggles moved inside the bathroom picked up another rag and began wiping the bathtub that is right beside the shower stall I was cleaning. My daughter wanted to clean and I was cool with that, grateful that at her early age she still wanted to help. As opposed to my son who often when instructed to pick up and organize all the assorted detritus on the floor of his room will just toss it on his bed and cover it with his bedspread. My son has long since mastered the out of sight, out of mind approach to cleaning.
Still though Wiggles’ enthusiasm and honest desire to help is often at odds with her actually skills. So I wasn’t surprised to see a few minutes later that she had spilled the bottle of cleaner in the bathtub making a bigger mess than what was there originally. After she and I cleaned it up she gave up on helping and drifted back to the television.
What followed after that was a series of interruptions that at first were just honest attempts on the part of Miss Wiggles to do something on her own but since SpongeBob had lost its appeal that day these interruptions soon became almost deliberate attempts to draw my attention away from my chores. I got pulled away as pots and pans began crashing from cabinets as Wiggles went looking for something in the kitchen. A few minutes later Wiggles sheepishly came and told me she had spilled fruit juice on the coffee table and the carpet. Right after that I had to chase the dog down after it had snatched the television remote for the purpose using it for a chew toy. The biggest issue was removing my daughter from my son’s room after she had invaded his inner sanctum because she was bored. After each interruption I would tell my daughter she needed to listen to daddy and that we would do something fun once I was through.
I handled all theses disturbances and few other pretty well although my frustration level was rising. After separating my son and daughter then removing her from his room there was period of time where things calmed down enough for me to start back to work. What finally derailed my cool and wise fatherly demeanor though was seeing that my daughter had come back into the bedroom, climbed on top of my bed and was using it for a trampoline. Normally, that alone wouldn’t have fazed me in the least but at that time I had about four loads of clean laundry folded on that bed and Miss Wiggles jumping had utterly destroyed my neat and organized stacks sending most of the clothes to the floor below.
I was finding difficult to catch Wiggles who had built up some serious inertia bouncing all over the bed enjoying my efforts trying to stop her. Wiggles eventually just jumped into my arms oblivious to the work she had destroyed. Putting her on the floor next the bed standing up I bent down on my knees to have a little “coming to Jesus” talk with her like my grandmother often had with her grandchildren.
“Young lady,” I began. “How many times have I told you that daddy had stuff to do and that you would have to let me finish?”
My daughter gave no answer; instead she dissolved into a fit of cute but irritating giggles. Asking the question again, which I did, was both a waste of time and energy since it just precipitated a batch of even more incoherent giggles. All things considered I’m a fairly good dad able to handle most of the things my kids have thrown at me. However, that time I was at a complete loss to deal with events and to this day I don’t know where in the dark recesses of my mind my next words came from.
“Listen young lady, right now you belong to me and you will pay attention to what I have to say.”
One of the things I love about my daughter is the energy and freshness she brings to everyday life. She has never met a stranger, greets each day with hope and optimism, and looks at everything as an adventure as only a child can. But there are times that I often wonder that at her inner core if she is actually an old soul who has wandered this world far longer than I can imagine. Many times she has surprised by wife and me with an insight on some matter that simply shouldn’t be within the understanding of someone so young. This was another of those times because just as soon as my last words left my mouth I knew I had made a mistake.
My daughter’s giggling abruptly ended and her smiling face was replaced with a look of mild but tired amusement parents often give their children when they say something that makes no sense. A few seconds ticked by and I could almost see this gathering storm of dark clouds over my daughter’s head as forces I can’t imagine struggled to be reined in with her trying to figure out a way to communicate with the tall but very foolish and presumptuous mortal who just happened to be her father. She crossed her arms and raised one eyebrow I knew I was about to get an ear full.
“Daddy, you should know I belong to no one but myself.” With that she turned away from me in a dignified imperial manner and walked out of the room leaving me with my mouth hanging open, totally speechless and overwhelmed. To say all the frustrations I was feeling disappeared would be an understatement, my six year old daughter had just put me in my place letting me know that she fully understood she was a unique and free person in her own right.
What does one do after such a brief but total trashing from a six year old child? I picked up and refolded all the clothes abandoning my other chores, then joined my daughter on the couch who had inserted a DVD in the player and was now watching Disney/Pixar’s “Cars” like nothing had happened.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wondering about the day the music died.

September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959

Due in part to the Don Mclean song and a slightly idealistic high school history teacher I see the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, and several others, not only as the creation of a mythical American pop music icon but the entering of a new era filled with both promise and troubles with the beginnings of the 1960's. Whenever someone with such energy is lost so young in life often the "what if" question gets asked wondering what sort of impact he or she would of made if things had only been a little different. The playing of Don Mclean's "American Pie" prompts me to also ask the "what if" question that if only a few things been different about the 60's.

Had JFK not been killed would have the Vietnam War been been stillborn as some suggest? Had Robert lived would he have taken the Democratic presidential nomination from Vice President Johnson after John had done his two terms and gone on to be president after his brother? And if all this had happened would Nixon's return to politics been as stillborn as the American involvement in Vietnam? Just how much of the troubles America experienced from the 60's until now could have been avoided with only a few things altered?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Some thoughts on marriage

Men marry because they are tired, women because they are curious: both are disappointed.
Oscar Wilde

"Three rings of marriage: The engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering."
author unknown

By all means marry. If you get a good wife you will become happy, and if you get a bad one you will become a philosopher.
-- Socrates

Most married couples, even though they love each other very much in theory, tend to view each other in practice as large teeming flaw colonies, the result being that they get on each other's nerves and regularly erupt into vicious emotional shouting matches over such issues as toaster settings.
-- Dave Barry
In my experience I have seen some marriages that were a true union between a man and a women. But the vast majority are actually desperate coalitions between two people trying to escape loneliness that both would be far better served for companionship if they just bought a dog.