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September 19, 2014

Open Thread – Coal Country

Here’s one not to miss if you are in town. The Mat Valley Coalition is having a free screening of “Coal Country,” a film about the effects of coal mining on communities and property values. This is an issue vital to Alaskans and those in other coal-bearing states.

A recent victory in Chickaloon
should not lull us into complacency. The specter of the development of the Chuitna Coal Project looms over Anchorage. Even scarier than those Russians rearing their heads.

~A River near the proposed site of the Chuitna Coal Mine

Comments

comments

Comments
96 Responses to “Open Thread – Coal Country”
  1. EatWildFish says:

    Why is there no outcry about how the state still hasn’t made a decision about the buffer zones fto protect the Chutina River if the big strip coal mine is permitted? A decision was due in April, then it was extended until June 3. Still nothing from DNR.

    What’s up with all this foot dragging?

  2. mike from iowa says:

    Its quiz time. Do you know what thesen seven words have in common? I confess I didn’t.
    Banana
    Dresser
    Grammar
    Potato
    Revive
    Uneven
    Assess

  3. mike from iowa says:

    It makes me wonder what rethugs and tea-baggers would do if Progressives banded together to deny them the right to choose political candidates or where to send their children to school or even what days of the week or month they are allowed conjugal relations and with whom. Maybe we can enforce a maximum wage that is far below the poverty line. Do you think they would like it?

  4. Mo says:

    Whoa! Deja vue much?

    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/07/instead-of-twirling-our-thumbs-we-have-rolled-up-our-sleeves.html

    How FDR Did It [quote from FDR speech]
    “For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up. We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred. I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.”

  5. Mo says:

    Morning snicker:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/online/wolcott/2011/07/pity-party-porn.html

    “Andrew Breitbart, the angry-faced entrepreneur who likes to inflict himself upon press conferences, has announced that he has already seen the new Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated three times.

    It’s a free country, and what Andrew Breitbart mas****ates to is none of my concern.”

    [figured I'd better attempt something, or that wouldn't make it past RoboCensor]

  6. Lacy Lady says:

    OMG @29
    You are soooooo right on all counts.
    It would make me happy to see Fox News shut down.

  7. OMG says:

    We’ve complained about the power of the Murdoch news empire as it works to undermine everything except the radical right in the country. Through his media empire he has made or broken politicians in the UK for decades. Now his media empire may be unraveling, at least in the UK. My hope is that the lessons learned overseas may be learned in the US as well before it gets to the point that has rocked Britain. Please read the following articles and pass them along because what Mr. Murdoch has done in Britain he is trying to do in the US initially through Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post. In the UK Mr. Murdoch’s news agencies have successfully controlled politicians by exposing and destroying any politician who might challenge their powers–and on many occasions they have done just that. Now that he controls the most watched news channel in the US (Fox) and the (still) respected Wall Street Journal he is well on his way to controlling political discourse in the US as well (after all, he already tried to buy the next Republican presidential candidate by hiring them as Fox commentators).

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/10/observer-editorial-murdoch-phone-hacking

    http://www.newsweek.com/2011/07/10/murdoch-s-watergate.html

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/08/relationship-only-ever-worked-one-way

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      Just the tip of the proverbial ice berg. Do you think they have not done the same thing here? Do you think that the vast majority of republican and perhaps also too democratic “lawmakers” are not under the gun of Faux Noise? No republican dares to contradict Rush Lamebutt without recanting and making an ass kissing apology within 24 hours.

      From what I hear in the blogosphere, Murdoch runs a strictly top down organization so it is self evident that he was complicit in ALL of the crimes that have been commited, and under the Foreign Corrupt Practises Act, he can be prosecuted and – although the jail time penalties are light, just a max of 5 years for each count, the big bad gubbmint can sieze all of his assets. Now that might be a just outcome. Let’s see, 5 year maximum sentence for 4,000 incidents of illegal phone hacking, roughly 20,000 years with time off for good behavior. But to take his assets, controlling interest in all of his anatsomosing influence of the press, the media, now that would be poetic justice.

      Will AKM let me start a betting pool? Right now I would give odds of 100:1 that Murdoch will skate.

  8. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    So many comments, so little time.

    Cutting to the chase, Leenie17 has some good comments herein, her first is the best. The purpose of keeing things complicated and confused and obscured is to tire you out, to make you apathetic and to divert your energies into something meaningless and unprofitable to you. Choose a cause, get educated and pursue it with all the passion you can muster.

    Coal is kind of nasty stuff. It is a good fuel but it is hard to utilize it efficiently because it is rather impure and even with through scrubbing of fly ash from the stacks, you still have the fly ash to deal with. And of course, it is the same as any other fossil fuel, it takes sequestered carbon, oxidizes it into carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide and then releases those two gases into the atmosphere and that is the key cause of AGW – anthorpogenic global warming.

    If we were smart, we would treat the fly ash not as waste but as a resource for scarce elements that we currently have to mine to obtain. But it has never been true that you have to be smart to get rich and the rich run the show, so they choose to sweep the fly ash under the proverbial carpet and let some one else clean up after them. In economic double speak the costs incurred by releasing wastes into the environment are called “externalized”. Another word for that is pollution.

    All of us using our computers right now are utilizing the electrical potential generated by some kind of burning of fossil fuels, well lets say 98% as there may be a few running off hydropower, but you have to remember a lot of fossil fuel went into building those dams as well. Our global economy and particularly the economy of the US is foundationally dependent on the use of fossil fuels. It will take us decades to make the change from that systemic reality to something else, whatever it happens to be.

    Regrettably, we now know that we may not have decades in which to make that switch. In the past, because there were only about 2 climate scientists per million people in the world, and we spent only a miniscule amount of money on climate science, we thought we would have a century or two to tweak the system and clean it up, we didn’t figure on the effect of the hundreds of billions of tons of carbon dioxide exceeding the saturation point and beginning to pollute the oceans as well as the air. Now we know that is happening as well, but we don’t have any idea what the consequences may be. We also know that the the obvious air pollution is having effects much greater and much earlier than anyone thought they would. The world is getting warmer. For all we know now, if we could stop burning carbon entirely tomorrow, we still might be facing a catastrophic change in the global ecosystem. We know that it is trying to adjust, but it is simply too complex and arcane for use to fathom what the changes mean and what, in the long term will occur.

    To put it bluntly, we are like a vast playground of 3rd graders kicking around high explosives.

    Great time to dumb down the dialog, education, reasearch, anything that might dispel the sense of legitimate and serious alarm and lead people back to blind faith in “our leaders who were chosen by god also too.”

    Fracking. Natural gas exploration/exploitation is in the process of dying a natural death because there is an amazing glut of the stuff and demand for it is still relatively low. I am embarrassed to admit that most of the opposition to it is based on simple minded and largely unfounded claims. Frankly I don’t think that helps much unless those claims are made in a propagandized way that gives them the imprimature of credibility that will carry amost any argument. There is also an important point here that should be assessed in a coldly realistic way, natural gas is far cleaner than coal or oil in terms of the complexity of its pollution. That is not to say that it is a lesser producer of carbon pollution, in fact it can be worse because it is volatile. However, it does not contain significant amounts of other more exotic elements. Utilizing more natural gas will not solve our carbon problem and may actually make it slightly worse. It will, however, simplify mitigation efforts by orders of magnitude so in the near term it is a better option than burning more coal or oil.

    Fracking itself is an arcane business with which I have only a passing familiarity but many of the claims being made in its regard that I have seen are simply not credible and I think that is not a useful way to go about regulating and focusing a logical energy policy.

    My point is this, you cannot make an illogical argument and have a beneficial effect because any argument that can be easily refuted only lends credibility to the side that denies a problem exists.

    Choose a cause, educate yourself throughly, and then go forth, still learning as you go and find like minded people on the same path. The catch word I see most commonly is sustainability and perhaps it is more honest and true than my own preference which is equilibrium.

  9. yukonbushgrma says:

    If you’ve been following the news from Wisconsin — and you should — here are are a couple of opposing opinion pieces from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Personally, I like the first one.

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/125246804.html -
    With Walker, it’s clear which groups he favors

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/125246784.html -
    A new optimism in Wisconsin
    (**I think this one was ghost-written by the Koch bro’s)

  10. Mo says:

    In case you missed it:

    http://www.politicususa.com/en/the-epa-announces-tough-new-rules-for-coal-burning-power-plants

    “Of course, the real issue is money. According to the Washington Post, “The measure, along with a proposal aimed at cutting summertime smog in the Midwest, is projected to cost the utility industry about $2.4 billion in pollution-control upgrades over several years.”

    But Lisa Jackson points out that the new rule will yield between “$120 to $280 billion in annual health and environmental benefits in 2014, including the value of avoiding 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths” which will “far outweigh the estimated annual costs of CSAPR.”

    You can’t argue that even the lowest estimate of $120 billion is far more than the $2.4 billion estimated by the coal industry. And as the EPA puts it, the rule will improve air quality for over 240 million Americans.

    Naturally, 240 million Americans mean nothing when compared to a few rich corporations and the pocketbooks of the top 2% of America’s wealthy. But the Republican Party, while it cares nothing for those 240 million-plus people, does care a great deal for the ultra rich and their corporations.”

    [plus nice charts and graphs]

  11. mike from iowa says:

    Hi Bubbles-try this.www.tmelive.com/index.php/articles/view/642.html

    • Baker's Dozen says:

      No, someone messed up when they labeled that pic. That’s Ike from Miowa. I’ve met him personally–I was his “floatie” (flying roadie) on his last World Migration Tour. TCW, as I recall, was a groupie. I’m sure you remember his big hit, “I wanna be like Ike.” You can check out his Facebook page.

      But Ike from Miowa doesn’t look anything like you. I know because Ike looks like Ike. Hence the song.

  12. mike from iowa says:

    Sorry Bubbles-I’m not sure what you mean by copy and paste. Will work to solve problem and get back to you..

  13. bubbles says:

    Mike please copy and paste the page you want us to see.
    i tried going to Craig Tanner’s blog page and typing Mike from iowa in the search box and nada.
    when you want to link something Mike just make sure you paste below your comment . then we can right click on to another page. i can’t wait to see your handsome mug.

  14. mike from iowa says:

    I’m not one for tootling my own horn,however,I am gonna make this one exception for an exceptional American….uh… me. While looking for stuff on the web this day,I uncovered a stunning photograph of ….uh….me… by a photographer named Craig Tanner. I think he does ad photography for a living. Anyway,he took my photograph with a 500 mm lens and happened to catch me in a moment of reflection. He also airbrushed the hell out of the photo so I no longer have grey hair and whiskers. At least he got the name right. Type in photography critique-mike from iowa and you can see ……uh……me…..I think. Then you can critique the photo. Its okay,I can take it.

    • yukonbushgrma says:

      Beautiful swallow tail gull, Mike! You’re right — I don’t see any whiskers anywhere!

      Love the pic.

  15. Hubby and I are now first-time grandparents of a beautiful little baby boy, Ryker. He was born last night. On the way home from the hospital I remarked to my husband that in years to come when he looks at one of those lists of “what happened on the day you were born”, he will have the last launch of the Space Shuttle as the one that stands out. And the death of Betty Ford. We’ll have to make sure he knows what an important person she was to all of us. ♥

  16. G Katz says:

    I just ran across a comment about Gull Island (Alaska) and oil fields under it that could supposedly fuel America with oil for 200 years. I tried to search for information about it, but seriously don’t want to read a lot of biased articles about government conspiracies and the likes. So, I thought I’d come straight to the source of information about such things and see if a mudflatter could give me insights or links to pertinent articles about this.

    • tigerwine says:

      Good question, Katz! I’ll be watching to see if our Mudpuppy friends can help!

    • mike from iowa says:

      Try this site-http://www.petroleumnews.com/pntruncate/690171677.shtml. I found it in a comment section on Gull Island. You might find it interesting as well. BTW-in Ioway we don’t know everything,we just pretend we do.

    • leenie17 says:

      I’m always skeptical when I hear comments about enormous sources of energy just waiting to be tapped somewhere under the US. There may be large quantities of oil, coal and gas, but the access is usually limited (hard to dig it up if it’s under a major metropolis!), the quality is so poor that it’s not worth the effort, or the process of accessing it produces unacceptable damage to our environment.

      We’re having a controversy here in NY (and PA) about hydrofracking for natural gas. Yes, there’s a tremendous amount of gas in the shale under most of NY and PA, but getting it out is a problem. Hydrofracking uses enormous amounts of water to break up the shale in order to release the gas. That water is polluted with dangerous chemicals either from the shale itself or from what the companies add to the water. Unfortunately, the laws in place right now do not require that the drilling companies divulge exactly what those chemicals are. Much of that used water ultimately contaminates our drinking water with chemicals that our state and federal governments can’t even identify.

      In addition, the Marcellus Shale has substantial quantities of radioactive material like radium that is released into the air and water when the fracking occurs. While much of the water is processed through sewage treatment plants, they are often not capable of removing many of the chemicals and radioactive materials in the water, which is then released into rivers that supply drinking water. Both the gas and the materials used in hydrofracking can also seep into and contaminate underground water tables through the process of breaking up the shale. Because the industry has grown far faster than federal regulations, drinking-water plants in PA are only required to test for radioactivity in their water every SIX TO NINE YEARS!!! When the wastewater from the gas wells can be more than 2,000 times the allowable limit, you can bet the treated water is also going to be seriously contaminated…but no one really knows.

      There have been stories on the news about people in areas that are being hydrofracked who can actually set their drinking water on fire as is comes out of the tap. There is so much that we don’t know about the long term effects of hydrofracking, and other methods of obtaining these fossil resources, and we risk the destruction of critical resources like water and air by embracing these fuel sources too quickly.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/us/27gas.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

      • G Katz says:

        You’re right to be concerned. An elderly neighbor of mine, who is really pretty intelligent and wellread, mentioned fracking for gas as a viable energy source. I knew there were problems with it, but didn’t know enough to explain them. Thanks for all the information. I’ll be better prepared now the next time it comes up.

  17. thatcrowwoman says:

    Open Thread, so

    Happy 71st Birthday, Ringo Starr, just a wee bit late.

    Act naturally:

    Don’t Pass Me BY

    • thatcrowwoman says:

      Ahhh, Mr. Starkey, here’s listening to and looking at you, kid!

      With a Little Help from My Friends:

      You and George Carlin were/are my Favorite Mr. Conductors for Thomas the Tank Engine, also, too. :)

      Don’t Be Cruel

      hahahaha caw Caw CAW CAW!
      thatcrowwoman

  18. thatcrowwoman says:

    Rest in Peace, Betty Ford.
    Yahoo calls her a feminist icon.

    Because of Betty, my dear Norwegian Grandmother of blessed memory, was able to talk to her granddaughters about her own breast cancer.

    Betty Ford made our world a better place for me and for my daughter.

    L’Shalom,
    thatcrowwoman

    • mike from iowa says:

      Betty Ford is the one former First Lady from the wrong party to actually better the lives of all people,especially women. She is the gold standard that all Rethugs and tea-baggers should aspire to emulate,if they ever hope to join the Human race. On a curiouser note,I see Minnesota elected a female Rethuglican as head of the Senate(a first for Minnesota) and her last name is a four letter word….let me see…… oh,yeah its KOCH. Just saying. I haven’t found any connection between this one and those two of Wisconsin infamy,yet.

    • She was a classy lady with a ton of courage. She made the world a better place for a lot of women.

      • mike from iowa says:

        Congratulations new Grandma and Grandpa. The best thing about Grandkids is they don’t go home with you when you do.

    • PollyinAK says:

      And she was “pro-choice”. She said having babies was a blessing, not a duty.

  19. overthemoon says:

    WEll, Bachmann is right on time for this thread:

    “During a campaign event at Iowa’s world-famous (?) Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor & Museum this past weekend, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said that energy is “the most easy problem for America to solve.” How, you ask?

    We have 25 percent of the world’s coal here. Trillions of cubic square feet of natural gas here. We just built one of the world’s largest lines of natural gas here. We have got more oil in three Western states in shale oil than all of Saudi Arabia. Did you hear that on your local nightly news? Are you kidding? We’ve got it. I say let’s go get it.”

    She’s dangerous…and stupid. Very bad combination.

    See rest at
    http://www.grist.org/politics/2011-07-05-bachmann-energy-is-the-most-easy-problem-for-america-to-solve

  20. carol says:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43686757/ns/us_news-environment/
    Montana versus Exxon. Has a familiar ring to it.

  21. merrycricket says:

    I think it was the PBS special titled: Earth, the Operators Manual, where I heard someone propose that rhe president declare that all auto and related manufacturing be turned towards creating solar panels and wind turbines for the U.S. and that few cars will be made until we achieve x percent energy generated this way. It was done during WWII in order to build so many ships and planes and was achieved in a very short period of time. Think of all the jobs it would create and how quickly our economy would turn around. It may seem radical but I think it’s doable.

  22. Lacy Lady says:

    Yes Tiger vine @ 11
    I have had to help kids at the grocery with counting money. A high school boy was rather up-set when I paid cash and I had to help count the money.

  23. mike from iowa says:

    According to Think Progress,Wisconsin guv Walker’s assault on collective bargaining will allow prison inmates to take over union jobs. They don’t get paid,but can collect credit for time served for earlier release. Michelle Bachman says rising unemployment will be good for her campaign. Which pretty well explains why we aren’t aseeing any jobs bills. Rethuglican budget cuts will cause hardship and layoffs for ordinary cusses. What we certainly can’t afford are more Rethugs and wimpy Democrats.

    • thatcrowwoman says:

      Privatized prison inmates, am I right, there, Mike?
      Profits much, Citizens United?
      Follow the money. (All the President’s Men 1976)

      • yukonbushgrma says:

        Yep, pay the inmates $1 per hour under state contract. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Ugh.

        “All The President’s Men” was pretty insightful. I need to check that out again.

  24. Cassie Jeep says:

    See this movie.

    I grew up in coal country, Pennsylvania. A coal miner’s salary raised my father and he became a coal miner. His coal mining salary raised and educated his 3 children so that we were never forced to go into the mines. His United Mine Worker’s Union benefits still take care of my 86 year old mother.

    When my own daughter went away to college, an English professor corrected a paper she wrote with a red “Coal Furnace? Really? In 1996? I sincerely doubt it!” But we still heated with coal through 2001.

    Today, non-Union mines in West Virginia and Kentucky tell even more tragic stories than the ones I lived.

    Strip mining is even more horrendous.

    Underground coal fires that burn for years are not uncommon. The one in Centralia, PA has burned for 49 year! Can you believe that?

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2010/0205/Centralia-Pa.-coal-fire-is-one-of-hundreds-that-burn-in-the-U.S

    And I can still imagine the taste of sulfur in the back of my throat without trying very hard.

    See this movie and do what you can do to prevent the mistakes we’ve already lived in the lower 48.

  25. Lacy Lady says:

    Zyomma@8
    As to schools opting out teaching cursive (handwriting) and teach keyboarding instead—
    Bad idea!
    Hope they learn to sign their name——-they may need the know-how when getting a job!
    I was asked by a 19 year old recently how to write a capital T. My jaw fell open.

    • tigerwine says:

      Hi, Lady! This reminds me of folks being amazed when you can actually count out change! Most large businesses have a cash register that will figure out the change you owe a customer after a transaction. Older customers have actually grinned and complemented me as I count out their change the old-fashioned way, not just hand them what comes up on the register. Seems to bring back memories!

      • I’m one of those older customers. I never worked retail, but my mom had worked in the post office in the 40s and taught me the proper way to count back change. I did the same with both my girls and when they had retail jobs they were able to give change back the old fashioned way. Any you are right – people do appreciate it. The other thing is that it is one more way to keep our minds sharp. We shouldn’t get in the habit of letting machines and computers do all our thinking for us.

        • tigerwine says:

          I think I learned to count out change around the 3rd or 4th grade. The teacher brought in a real cash register and some fake money. We kids thought it was such fun – not really something we would use all our lives.

          They don’t teach a lot of stuff that they used to. I have always wished that they would teaach a course in car maintenance to kids (who all seem to have one these days). They don’t even teach Driver’s Ed here.

          • yukonbushgrma says:

            Oh gosh, reminds me of my post-divorce days, when I had to figure things out on my own. I took an “Auto Mechanics For Dummies” course — yep, that was actually the course title. Best thing I ever did. We did brake jobs, carburetors, and the best things I learned were how to change a tire and change my oil! It saved me a lot of money too!

    • yukonbushgrma says:

      Only slightly related — but has anyone seen the ad on TV for the “Gyro Ball”? It’s a dish for your toddler that never spills — because it keeps righting itself (as in ‘gyroscope’).

      Now I just saw this freakin’ thing tonight. My first thought was, “good grief, when you give a two-year-old a snack in a bowl, isn’t it good for their eye-hand coordination to let THEM pick the stuff up and make sure the bowl doesn’t tip over?” Isn’t that good training for their little fingers and muscles?

      But no, these con men out there have figured out a way for toddlers to get their treats the lazy way. Blechhhh ……..

      Same thing with not having to learn how to write! Keyboarding is fine, but if we can’t write, we simply can’t communicate. Period.

  26. Zyxomma says:

    I just came across this Harper’s article, and now know what book I’ll be reading next:

    http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/10/hbc-90007615

    “The Republican Party’s opposition to the Obama Administration has nothing really to do with conservatism or liberalism. The Republicans simply wish to seize power again, and they will apparently say anything toward that end. Obama’s political incompetence has given his partisan opponents the opportunity to motivate a large number of relatively ill-informed voters with outlandish and incoherent claims about his purported socialism when he is in fact the best friend Wall Street could hope for. Public opinion is largely an artifact of political struggle, and the most successful politicians are those who are able to define the terms of debate; astonishingly, Obama’s Democrats have proved themselves to be the weaker party even as they controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency. The absence of authentic conservatives in our politics serves to ensure that our national debates are largely carried out in the realm of fiction; pseudo-conservatives take on pseudo-liberals in symbolic battle over cultural ephemera when what is really at stake is which of the two corrupt parties will win the privilege of representing the interests of the superrich.”

    The article, from a month before the disastrous TP midterms, is fantastic. I look forward to the book.

  27. ks sunflower says:

    Was going to watch the last NASA space shuttle launch this morning, but got so discouraged by the “other” story connected to the Space Shuttle Program, that I simply didn’t have the heart to do so.

    Seems that of the 12,000 people who work on the shuttle program, only 1,000 will still have jobs within two years.

    Why? Because the George W. Bush appointee to head NASA worked diligently to prevent a new NASA program to come after the space shuttle.

    Why? Because he wanted to privatize the space program. That is exactly why all those people will be out of work. The private company will not be ready to launch for at least a couple of years and right now they are not sure if they will use the same facilities. If they locate elsewhere that will be devastating on the families and communities left to dangle after so many years of dedication to the space shuttle program.

    Why on earth – other than greed for profits – would we privatize something that crucial?

    After this flight, only the Russians will be able to send people into space for several years.

    The private company taking over only has cargo capabilities. A few of the NASA folks – only a few – will be working with it to convert the vehicle to be able to carry passengers.

    This makes me very sad. I remember the excitement of the early flights of space travel, the hope it produced, and the enthusiasm for science it produced.

    • mike from iowa says:

      Chances are they will build facilities overseas with foreign and US investors because labor and other costs will be less. Might outsource all work to China. Keep all taxes and revenues away from American tax collectors and still be subsidized by US government.

    • A gift from w…….figures!

  28. Zyxomma says:

    See Coal Country, or The Last Mountain. Get on the mailing lists of environmental organizations, and take action (it’s not like the old days when we had to get out our stationery or our typewriters).

    Meanwhile, it’s open thread, so here’s an interesting story. Indiana schools can opt out of teaching cursive (handwriting), and instead teach keyboarding.

    http://tribstar.com/news/x1435410216/Archaic-Method-Cursive-writing-no-longer-has-to-be-taught

    What think you, mudpups?

    • leenie17 says:

      Unfortunately it’s the direction all school districts are going…if it can’t be tested by a standardized test published by some company making millions of dollars, it isn’t important and we don’t have to teach it. In addition, because the teachers have to spend so much time preparing their students for the tests they DO have (and which, increasingly, determine the evaluations and salaries of the teachers), they just don’t have the time for that ‘other stuff’.

      Sadly, science and social studies/history are rapidly joining the list of usual elementary subjects (art, music, PE) that are eliminated in the quest for higher test scores. We are creating a generation of children who can only answer multiple choice questions but can’t think for themselves, nor can they appreciate the beauty of a painting or a concerto. They no longer enjoy the physical exhilaration of running in a race or winning a softball game, all activities they no longer learn in school because the PE teachers have been laid off.

      It’s a sad, sad future for our children and, as an educator dealing with budget cuts every day, I only see things getting worse.

      • I was listening to something the other day on NPR about education in Japan. They have been producing kids who score higher on tests but lack creativity. They are now starting to focus on how to make their students do more than just regurgitate answers. And yet we constantly hear that we should aspire to their standards. I think that, as with many other things, we are headed in the wrong direction with education but with all the best intentions. Those “best intentions” aren’t going to do much for our kids if they aren’t given an education that allows them to experience the richness of all of life. I’m so glad that my education was very general until I was in college. Even then, I had to take subjects that gave me a well rounded education before I took courses in my major.

        As for cursive writing – it does seem to be slipping away and I think that’s a shame. I remember, however, that we taught cursive starting in second grade. Some kids were ready for it and others just weren’t. Later I think they changed it to third grade which seemed to be more appropriate. My own cursive writing wasn’t very good (always legible, however) until I taught it. So I have no abiding love for learning to do it. I wonder, though, if there is some developmental advantage in learning cursive writing. It does make the brain work differently to be able to read it or connect those letters, it would seem.

      • Where does music fit into any of that…?? It’s rotten and wrong…!

    • thatcrowwoman says:

      I think it’s a crying shame. My Norwegian Grandmother, of blessed memory, had the most beautiful “library hand” penmanship.

      I treasure her dear husband’s (my Grandpa Linus) favorite community cookbooks with all the marginalia in his spidery, surprisingly legible, script. Open one and a sheaf of recipes falls out, some cut from the newspaper or a magazine, some he’d copied from who knows where, and some he’d traded with friends and neighbors.

      After some brain damage from a car wreck and a bike wreck in the 80s, and time marching on, I’ve noticed I have to Take My Time to write legibly. If I dash it off (like I “used to could”), sometimes I can’t even read it later. meh

      • Zyxomma says:

        My mother Edith, of blessed memory, had gorgeous penmanship. I was horrified in second grade (I could first sign my name in cursive at two, after practicing for a week to sign it to my first library card) when I saw the script we were expected to use. It was so ugly! And I had to use it; we were graded.

        Because I learned my small letters from the typewriter (mom taught me block capitals, and when I hit them on the typewriter — which was verboten — I realized that the small letters corresponded to the capitals. Mom was shocked when she first saw me use them; when she saw how I formed them, she realized I’d used her typewriter. She was not pleased. She did, however, show me the shift key.

        In seventh grade, we were no longer graded for penmanship. I developed my own style, using many letters resembling those from a typewriter. With a few refinements over the decades, it’s still the way I write. I can keyboard with the best of them, but I’ll always love my cursive.

      • benlomond2 says:

        I write just plain terrible….. have been accused of being a doctor, cuz it looks like a perscription !! Being half Greek, I just figure it’s English and Greek letters jumbled together !

      • Thank you for sharing that!

  29. Mo says:

    And in case you missed this concise beauty:

    http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/family-budget-not-equal-to-govt-budget-reposting/

    “First of all, it’s bass-akwards: when families are tightening their belts, the federal government is the one institution that can actually help the economy—and these belt-tightening families—by loosening its belt and running a deficit.

    That deficit should be temporary and should come down when the private economy climbs up off the mat—which again tweaks the analogy: when families start to loosen, gov’t should eventually start to tighten (“eventually” because these transitions can be fragile and if gov’t tightens too soon, it can reverse the early gains–see UK).

    But there’s another fundamental way in which this family budget analogy gets misused. Families borrow to make investments and to get over rough patches. They run deficits too. I went into pretty deep debt to finance college and grad school and I’m glad I did.

    The whole credit system is based on the fact that if we had to pay cash-as-we-go for everything, we’d seriously underinvest. And that’s true for families and governments—and yes, you can overdo the borrowing thing. But to flip too far the other way is equally dangerous.”

    • I would tell people to pay cash or do without…. If you have to have something, clothes or whatever….go resale…! It’s fun…and you get a feeling of real savings. If you buy clothing from a resale ’boutique’….and you like certain brands, you can actually afford those brands in a resale situation. INCLUDING shoes…!

      We live on one income, we paid off our home….we do not own or use credit cards. It’s just pure luck that we don’t…but we still enjoy life without them…

  30. Mo says:

    Pirated from PoliticusUSA today:

    http://www.creators.com/opinion/jim-hightower/massey-energy-s-manmade-hellhole.html

    “Massey’s secret reports are, however, now out of the closet, thanks to a comprehensive, 15-month-long probe by a hundred-member team of federal mine-safety investigators. The team’s findings reveal not only an ugly safety record, but also a truly ugly corporate culture.

    The investigators concluded that Massey — an enormously profitable corporation — pushed an ethic of profits over safety. Its executives took premeditated, systematic steps to circumvent safety rules, including falsifying records, failing to maintain (and sometimes actually disabling) safety systems, and intimidating and even firing workers who tried to report hazards. The probe included interviews with 266 people — but, interestingly, 18 Massey honchos (including longtime CEO Don Blankenship) refused to be interviewed, invoking their right against self-incrimination.”

    • Durham says:

      I blieve can speak with authority from my education, and 20 years of experience of being in charge for Environmental, Health and Safety regulation for pesticide manufactures. I am also somewhat familiar with the coal industry from working around the industry shorty after graduating from college. From my experience, most companies hate health and safety regulations simply because it increases cost, decreases production, and therefor hurts profits. I think private companies are the worst. Most larger corporations who leaders must report to their boards and stockholders, are usually more carefull in following regulations. Where I’ve seem the most violations or unwilliness to follow safety regulations, is on the local level, whether it’s a local foreman trying to push his men to increase production and to look good to his supervisors, or a facility manager for the same reasons. Massey coal was bad because the head of the company owned and controlled the entire company, and didn’t have to report to anyone. With a corporate leaders who’s only interest is in making money for personal gain, he’ll take every short cut he can to increase production no matter where he has to do it. Like Massey, he’ll also try to cover it up his violations and will lie to government inspectors when they see violations. Their profit motivated, and also someone who doesn’t really care about his employees, dispite what he may say openly. I don’t believe I was ever so shocked in my career then when I heard a corporate leader tell me his employees “are like modern day slaves”. At the time, the plant employee’s were mostly African-Americans, but when they found out hispanics (legal or not) were better workers, they started hiring hispanics.

      One serious injury I particually remember happened when I wasn’t around, which is almost always the case, and happened on a piece of equipment I was always lecturing them for not following proper safety procedures for that particual piece of equipment. They always promised me they would start following the required safety procedures, which is also very common, and would immediately take care of it. The injury happened when someone started the equipment during a repair while another employee was still inside. An auger took off the man’s foot. Another happened for the same reasons and took off a man’s arm. If a manager or a corporate official has little respect for his fulltime employee’s, he absolutely had no respect for temporary employee’s.

      One last comment I’ll make before I end this long comment, is dispite what the coal companies say and advertise about “clean” coal”, there is no such thing, and currently there is no method found for treating it to become “clean coal”.

      If anyone has any questions, I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

      • mike from iowa says:

        Under dubya bush,mine operators got away with over 4000 safety and health violations,and the enforcement agency didn’t collect most of the fines that were supposed to be mandatory.The guy bush recessed in was head of Pa. mines inspections in 03 when miners were trapped in Pa. All got rescued and seven of the eight miners saisd they didn’t want that guy to get a federal job.

      • Well said, Durham. I’ve seen the same kind of disregard for danger and pollutants in several other “wholly-owned” private companies. Ethical business owners are as rare as hens’ teeth.

        • Gene says:

          “Ethical business owners are as rare as hens’ teeth.”

          Sil, I take offense to that. As a business owner ethics are the utmost of importance. We always work toward “coloring within the lines”. While some business owners cross the line,it is unfair to judge us all in that light. It is not just about the money, it is about the continuous stream of money. You can’t do that if you are shut down for unethical behavior.

    • Those bastards should be in prison….especially Blankenship, since he is a virtual murderer.

      • Zyxomma says:

        Nothing virtual about it. He is a cold-blooded killer whose money and status protect him from prosecution for a series of crimes he is known to have committed.

  31. thatcrowwoman says:

    Partly sunny with a chance of barbeque, so I’m off to tackle some chores, solar-powered. :)

    It’s all right.
    Here Comes the Sun.

    *with visions of solar panels and wind turbines dancing in my head*

  32. thatcrowwoman says:

    How many years can a mountain exist…?

    Blowin’ In The Wind/Bad Moon Rising – Bruce Springsteen

    Knowledge is power, eh?
    Forget Rock City.
    See Coal Country.

  33. thatcrowwoman says:

    and 6 minutes from Patty Loveless:
    You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive

  34. thatcrowwoman says:

    If you thought chickens struck a chord, let’s talk about mountains and home and coal and energy and sustainability. With so much Work to be done, isn’t it time for Jobs?

    If you have time for a short story and a song (5 and a half minutes), here’s John Prine with Paradise:

    • leenie17 says:

      Jobs? The environment? Sustainable energy? Equitable taxes? Mortgage crisis? People dying because they don’t have health care??????

      Who’s got time to worry about all that silly stuff when we’ve got more IMPORTANT things to think about, like making sure teenage girls who are victims of rape and incest are forced to give birth and women no longer have access to cancer screenings from that evil PP!

      And don’t forget banning p@rn and making sure gazillionaires don’t pay any taxes and instituting unconstitutional voting restrictions to prevent the rampant (non-existent) voter fraud (so only the ‘right kind’ of people can actually vote in upcoming elections).

      Oh, and I almost forgot, tanking the economy so that the President isn’t re-elected next year because that’s THE most important thing to think about right now (except for cutting more taxes for those gazillionaires, of course, because they really DO need more yachts and private islands!)!

      Whew, I’m just tuckered out from worryin’ about the IMPORTANT things! Maybe I’ll think about jobs and saving our planet tomorrow, if I’m not too busy with all that other REALLY important stuff! ;)

    • mike from iowa says:

      Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.

  35. ks sunflower says:

    Go see the film, please. Big Coal is raping our country, polluting our air and water, mistreating its work force and generally acting with impunity. If our people do no stand up against the abuses, there is no going back – no way to get back what is lost, be it people or land.

    Stop the abuses of Big Coal, please. To do so effectively, please see the film. You really do have to know your enemy in order to confront and triumph over it, particularly when it is so much bigger, richer, and more powerful than you are.

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