Archive for February, 2010
Strange Planet has a good post about the recent earthquakes, including yesterday’s 8.8 earthquake in Chile. As Strange Planet points out:
An 8.8 compared to Japan’s 7.0 is not a quake 1.8 times the intensity, as many of you know. It’s exponentially horrific. A 7.1 is ten times the power of a 7.0, a 7.2 is ten times a 7.1, and so on.
When the sea lions left the San Fransico area, I posted that they left for a reason, and I said that they left because of soon to be witnesses earthquakes. Strange Planet also wonders, as I did last night when I heard the news, if the OCR attack on his trainer wasn’t in some ways due to the earthquakes. Giant squid washing up on beaches all up and down the coast, and other unusual marine life behaviors — we’ve been witnessing this recently. A combination of factors, including global warming/climate changes, which the earthquakes are a part of.
As to the orca Tilkumat and the death of his trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld and that tragedy, part of that tragedy is that whales and other creatures (big cats, elephants, etc.) are kept in captivity in the first place. Strange Planet comments:
Several days ago, there’s the sad incident at Sea World in Orlando, Florida, where a trainer was killed by a 12,000lb. OCR. Reps for the park called it a deadly misstep on the trainer’s part, leaving her ponytail wagging in the water, signaling the animal to seize it as a ‘toy’. Could be. Could also be that he wants out of this bathtub and back into the wild, and that he also sensed something out there. Because if you remember, in the interviews that followed with the staff, they said all of the animals were behaving strangely, were agitated, and just weren’t performing as they know how. There’s something deeper there. [italics mine]
There certainly is “something deeper there.”
The tragic end of Keiko (the orca known as “Free Willy” and kept at the Newport, Oregon aquarium until his release into the ocean) is not something I want to see happen again. I don’t know if releasing Tilikum the orca (I will not use the exploitive and titillating term “killer whale”) back to the ocean is the right thing to do. Maybe it is, I honestly don’t know. A start to prevent these tragedies, and, to simply prevent the imprisonment of sentient beings like orcas in the first place, is to make it illegal to keep these creatures in captivity.
As to the events occurring now, local news (Eugene, Oregon, about 50 miles inland) tells us of tsunami warnings on the Oregon coast because of the earthquakes in Chile and Japan. According to the KEZI news website:
The National Weather Service has issued a tsunami advisory for the Oregon coastal area. Coastal residents are advised to stay out of the water, off the beach, and away from harbors and marinas.
This is not a watch or warning. No significant coastal flooding is expected to be produced by this wave. However, some areas of the coast could experience dangerous currents and surges in harbors and bays due to this tsunami. [a href=”http://kezi.com/news/local/164262”> Massive Quake Prompts Tsunami Advisory For Oregon Coast
I heard about the earthquake in Chile from Ian Punnett on C2C. He said there weren’t any details but that the news was, an 8.5 (at the time, that’s what was reported; today’s paper said it was 8.8) earthquake in Chile. So I turned on the TV, with our roughly 250 channels, and I couldn’t find one news program. 11:30ish pm, and not one news program. I mean news, like the old CNN, where you had simple, straight forward information coming in about what was going on in the world. What I found were “news” shows having to do with entertainment, news shows, of a sort, with a host or two but clearly the show was about them, and what they wanted to focus on, which seemed mostly to be the tragedy at SeaWorld. The most news I got was from the Weather Channel.
In an odd bit of juxtapositioning, the following item was in today’s local news about Oregon’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport: State OKs money for Oregon marine mammal center:
Assuming Gov. Ted Kulongoski signs the bill, researchers at Hatfield hope that amount will be enough to win $16 million in federal funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, also called NIST. Combined, that would be $25 million, enough to build the new center.
“This would establish a unique center, a university-based center for the study of marine mammals,” said Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute. “It would be the largest in the U.S.
“It will give us the unique capacity to advance technology for the study of and protection of marine mammals, including satellite tagging, advanced studies of life history and analyses of genetics diversity.”
As with the people of Haiti, my prayers and thoughts go to those in Chile as well.
Thanks to Iona Miller for the link.
From Walterville, Oregon, the following item:
CIA Requests Its Own Documents From Author. Oregon writer H.P. Albarelli Jr.’s A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, has the CIA interested. The book is about the CIA’s use of:
drug experiments and exposes a large number of previously anonymous physicians and business officials who contracted with the agency. The experiments resulted in the deaths of a number of people and sent hundreds more seeking medical help…
“The caller, an agency official, who identified himself by a name I was quite familiar with from past requests,” explained Albarelli, “asked if I would be so kind as to send by fax two documents my book referenced in its narrative and footnotes. I suppose I should have been bowled over by the request, but I wasn’t. It happened once before.”
“The crazy thing,” added Albarelli, “is that all of the requested documents came from my FOI requests to the agency in the early 1990s.
Residents in John Day in Eastern Oregon are fighting Aryan Nation scum who want to buy and settle in the area: Rural Ore. rises against Aryan Nations A man, Forteanly named Paul R. Mullet, says he’s the leader of the movement, which is in dispute with other PNW self-described neo-nazi Aryan Nation whatevers. But Mullet is having a hard time because no real estate agency will do business with him, according to the news item.
Oregon will soon find out if teachers will be allowed to wear “religious garb” in the classrooms. (I assume this applies to non-certified instructional and support staff as well.)
With a strongly favorable vote in the House on Wednesday, Oregon is on its way to becoming the 48th state to permit teachers to wear head scarves and other religious dress in school.
The 51-8 vote on House Bill 3686 is the first decision toward repealing Oregon’s 87-year-old ban on religious garb. Oregon, Nebraska and Pennsylvania are the only states that prohibit religious clothing.
If approved, the Oregon law would take effect in 2011. Before that, the state’s education and labor agencies would hammer out rules designed to protect students from religious coercion while allowing observant Muslim women, Sikhs and Orthodox Jewish men to teach in Oregon classrooms.
It goes to the Senate next.
The opposition to this bill is ironic; among those against teachers wearing “religious garb” is the ACLU, and Representative Ron Maurer, out of Grants Pass. Maurer says that “we put . . . teachers on a pedestal” to support his opinion that students are impressionable, and too swayed by their teacher’s beliefs. I wonder what Maurer’s record is on voting for teacher and school issues; if, as he says, teachers are “put on pedestals” one assumes he’s all for school funding and related issues.
The reasons for not having teachers wear “religious garb” (unclear if it also applies to religious jewelry) includes unduly influencing “impressionable” children. Apparently those who believe that students will suddenly want to follow Buddha or Mohammed or whoever don’t feel secure enough in their own beliefs and values, let alone parenting skills. Ironic that in a school setting which, at least in theory, fosters critical and individual thinking, is also the potential site for censorship of differing beliefs.
There’s already clear policies in place concerning teaching of religions and maintaining what school districts in the area call “religious neutrality.” And yet, the state has mandated that teachers drill their students once a month in propaganda by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, which includes of course the following . . . “one nation, under God.”
On the opposition side (against repeal of the ban) is the fear about religions being taught in schools seems to be the motivating factor here, as if the state doesn’t trust its teachers to know the difference between acknowledging one’s personal faith, and preaching or attempting to convert others.
Religious beliefs and traditions can get murky; a crucifix is an obvious symbol, but Wiccan, Native American, possibly some Buddhist symbols, and so on are more nebulous … where does one decide what is “religious?” Wicca is a federally recognized religion; will Wicca symbols be included?
Oregon already has a religion in the workplace law which protects employees from harassment for wearing religious garb. Passed just this year, the Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act requires employers to:
accommodate the scheduling of leave time for religious observance and/or the wearing of religious apparel in the workplace, unless such practices would pose an undue hardship.
It’s only in the classrooms that this consideration is considered unworthy.
This isn’t about anything other than control.
Maybe somewhat ironically, I am not a Christian, not a religious person (not any mainstream religion anyway) and support the separation of church and state yet find those who want to keep teachers from wearing religious garb scary for its Orwellian tone.
Adding to the irony of this is the history of the ban as well as the esoteric elements (1923, KKK initials,) in 1923, Oregon banned religious dress in schools in part to keep nuns from teaching, but it gets better:
In my previous post about Oregon columnist Bob Welch’s piece on praising The Lord before partaking of bison, wild cow, nutria, lemon peppered cougar and bear, I mentioned that Welch had written a column about Bigfoot. The column is reprinted on the Bigfoot Encounters website, with comments about Welch’s column. Here it is, from March of 2002:Bob Welch: Tall, tall tales equal Bigfoot The column, inspired by Welchs reading Bigfoot at 50: Evaluating a Half-Century of Bigfoot Evidence. in theSkeptical Inquirer. Welch basically follows the uber skeptic mindset concerning Bigfoot and basically parroting their stand on Bigfoot. Commenting that one almost wants to be a “dreamer” and believe in Bigfoot, it just can’t be:
But you can’t.
Why not? Because the idea is so bizarre? Nope. Bizarreness shouldn’t preclude belief in something. People believe in all sorts of bizarre concepts, from God to gravity to Oregon’s home football uniforms.
No, the real reason you can’t believe is because most of the “water-tight” evidence leaks like your 25-year-old gutters. To wit:
And then he lists the skeptic response of, basically “no evidence” and quotes skeptic Benjamin Radford.
Bob Welch is a columnist for the Register-Guard, Eugene-Springfield area’s local newspaper. It’s a mainstream column; Welch likes sports a whole lot, and writes about so-called human interest type stories in the area. He isn’t out there at all, (I remember a column he wrote some years ago where he made insipid fun of Bigfoot witnesses, yuck yuck) so it’s that kind of thing.
He had an little moment of synchronicty the other day which inspired him to ask readers to share their interesting odd moments involving synchronicty.(Mysterious, magical or just weird? ) In his recent column Mysterious, eerie events remembered
he shares some of those responses. My favorites: the story about feral cats in Hawaii, and the coach in Harrisburg who had a ghostly encounter with his mother.
Not to pick on Welch (though I’m not a fan particularly) but in another column, as well as a very different kind of column, he writes about a wild game feast in Potluck’s food is, well, a little wild At no point during the article does he address the ethical issues; it’s simply a golly gee kind of piece about, in a surreal juxtaposition, a local country church’s annual game meat fest:
The setting is beautiful, quintessential Americana, a white church steeple rising into the sky amid trees, fields and rolling hills about five miles northwest of Monroe.
The dress is primarily, well, camouflage.
And the décor is what I’d call country fish & game: guns, pelts, poles, antlers, traps, duck decoys and two giant elk mounts, including emcee Scott Ballard’s world-record “8 by 9” Roosevelt elk — eight points on one side of the rack, nine on the other.
After the prayer, we head through the kitchen to go through the potluck line.
The whole scene is bizarre; prayer, camouflage, dead animals on the walls as well as on plates, and the contrast between the country and the gun toting hunters.
Among the food offered: bear, bison, wild cow soup, Nutria, elk, and lemon pepper cougar. And among the door prizes for the event: waterproof Bibles.