Tag Archives: Calling BS

Fake News?

I saw a picture 5 days ago online that was part of a story how the sexist Ukranian army was making female soldiers march in high heels. MUCH outcry over it also, with the world denouncing the barbaric practices.

This story came from the Washington Examiner and was (theoretically) vetted by MSN News before they also posted the story. The Examiner even claims that the photo in question was released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

BUT, are we REALLY seeing what we are told we’re seeing? These are cadets practicing for a parade supposedly. HOWEVER… The picture immediately raised several questions for me.

First, why are they all wearing numbers like they’re entering a marathon? Hardly military.

There are also several other inconsistencies with their “uniforms”:

  1. Their stockings are all different. No Uniformity.
  2. Their T Shirts are different colors and worn differently also, with sleeves folded or rolled at the wearer’s whim.
  3. There’s no rank or any other military insignia anywhere on the uniforms
  4. Their pants are too tight, with many of the girls looking like they’re wearing stretch pants almost. Military combat uniforms are loose to allow freedom of movement.
  5. Hats are pulled down with their bills creased to varying degrees as well.

There’s a variance in posture, head position and hair styles that don’t speak to being real military cadets as well.

For comparison, I did A LITTLE scouting around the internet and quickly found several pictures to fact check. Something it SEEMS that the Examiner and MSN should have done:

image via Reddit

These are actual Ukrainian soldiers (as opposed to alleged cadets). Note that everything I pointed out as wrong in the above picture is different here.

image from UniformGirls.blogspot.com

Above is a picture of women wearing a Ukrainian army dress uniform.

image via warnewsupdates.blogspot.com

And for comparison, there’s the men’s uniforms above and the women’s’ full combat uniforms below:

MY CONCLUSION:

I’d bet that first picture that the Examiner ran with was a fake created by Russia, and wasn’t even fact checked. Russia has wanted The Ukraine back under it’s thumb for a long time, and propaganda is a favorite tactic. If they can make Ukraine’s government look evil, less people will complain when Russia rolls in to take the rest of the country after already seizing part of it’s coastal area for naval bases.

That said, I do indeed smell a rat here, AND wonder where the fact checking and named sources are. I also wonder how we’re supposed to trust the media when things like this are regularly turning up as “factual” news.

Calling BS on “Draconian Business Closure Edicts”

This will end up being a prelude to a post I had already planned on doing about finally getting out on the town on Tuesday night; coming soon (like later tonight).

However, I once again saw a story, (this time a blog post), exploiting the whole situation with COVID-19. While I frequently call BS on the Far Left, (because they have a much wider voice / reach), I’ll certainly pick on the Right also when they’re wrong. Such is the case here. The blog post talked about how Nashville had monkeyed with COVID statistics and used that as an excuse to implement “Dracnoian Business Closure Edicts”.

The trouble here is that I just was there two days ago. We went to go grab a pizza on Broadway; Nashville’s version of Music Row, and then try a milkshake place that was shown on the Food Network’s ‘Best Thing I Ever Ate’.

local rule; as long as you’re at your table, you don’t need a mask.

Truth? Everything was open. Every joint on the strip had live music, social distancing was actually at a bare minimum, and I saw next to nothing closed. The Ryman Auditorium was open, etc… The only thing I really saw closed at all was the civic center. We parked near there since it was the one parking spot we knew, and walked a good mile or so. We passed the hockey arena and the Country Music Hall of Fame along the way too.

Everyone in LA is an Actor, and everyone in Nashville is a singer, lol

In fact, I was actually a little annoyed at the number of people walking around without masks at all. Police were out also but not enforcing the masks in public rule.

For those who haven’t read my previous posts, I’m very middle of the road on COVID-19. It CAN be quite dangerous but often isn’t, and it’s spread about twice as much as a bad flu season. I advocate using a mask in public, a little common sense, and NOT listening to the hysteria on BOTH sides of the issue. It is NOT the end of civilization, nor is it a completely fake story drummed up to scare people. It sickens me also that people on both sides of this mess are trying to exploit it for personal and political gain.

And both sides wonder why the public doesn’t trust anything they say on the issue, or anything else.

They want MY trust, they’re going to have to earn it via accurately informing, NOT manipulation and fear mongering.

FINALLY! SOMEBODY ELSE IS SAYING IT!!

What am I talking about?? How California is willfully negligent in it’s fire management, and how all these fires would be preventable if Governor Gavin Newsome and the rest of the state “leadership” would just pull it’s head out of it’s collective rear.

ProPublica reporter Elizabeth Weil ran a story a couple of days ago that just got featured on Pocket. Since PorPublica has a Creative Commons license policy with it’s stories, I’m just going to link to and copy it here. It can speak for itself.

A Cal Fire firefighter standing with his back to the camera facing a forest fire.

They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen?

This is a story about frustration, about watching the West burn when you fully understand why it’s burning — and understand why it did not need to be this bad.

by Elizabeth Weil Aug. 28, 1:30 p.m. EDT

What a week. Rough for all Californians. Exhausting for the firefighters on the front lines. Heart-shattering for those who lost homes and loved ones. But a special “Truman Show” kind of hell for the cadre of men and women who’ve not just watched California burn, fire ax in hand, for the past two or three or five decades, but who’ve also fully understood the fire policy that created the landscape that is now up in flames.

“What’s it like?” Tim Ingalsbee repeated back to me, wearily, when I asked him what it was like to watch California this past week. In 1980, Ingalsbee started working as a wildland firefighter. In 1995, he earned a doctorate in environmental sociology. And in 2005, frustrated by the huge gap between what he was learning about fire management and seeing on the fire line, he started Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology. Since then FUSEE has been lobbying Congress, and trying to educate anybody who will listen, about the misguided fire policy that is leading to the megafires we are seeing today.

So what’s it like? “It’s just … well … it’s horrible. Horrible to see this happening when the science is so clear and has been clear for years. I suffer from Cassandra syndrome,” Ingalsbee said. “Every year I warn people: Disaster’s coming. We got to change. And no one listens. And then it happens.”

The pattern is a form of insanity: We keep doing overzealous fire suppression across California landscapes where the fire poses little risk to people and structures. As a result, wildland fuels keep building up. At the same time, the climate grows hotter and drier. Then, boom: the inevitable. The wind blows down a power line, or lightning strikes dry grass, and an inferno ensues. This week we’ve seen both the second- and third-largest fires in California history. “The fire community, the progressives, are almost in a state of panic,” Ingalsbee said. There’s only one solution, the one we know yet still avoid. “We need to get good fire on the ground and whittle down some of that fuel load.”

Yes, there’s been talk across the U.S. Forest Service and California state agencies about doing more prescribed burns and managed burns. The point of that “good fire” would be to create a black-and-green checkerboard across the state. The black burned parcels would then provide a series of dampers and dead ends to keep the fire intensity lower when flames spark in hot, dry conditions, as they did this past week. But we’ve had far too little “good fire,” as the Cassandras call it. Too little purposeful, healthy fire. Too few acres intentionally burned or corralled by certified “burn bosses” (yes, that’s the official term in the California Resources Code) to keep communities safe in weeks like this.

Academics believe that between 4.4 million and 11.8 million acres burned each year in prehistoric California. Between 1982 and 1998, California’s agency land managers burned, on average, about 30,000 acres a year. Between 1999 and 2017, that number dropped to an annual 13,000 acres. The state passed a few new laws in 2018 designed to facilitate more intentional burning. But few are optimistic this, alone, will lead to significant change. We live with a deathly backlog. In February 2020, Nature Sustainability published this terrifying conclusion: California would need to burn 20 million acres — an area about the size of Maine — to restabilize in terms of fire.

Mike Beasley, deputy fire chief of Yosemite National Park from 2001 to 2009 and retired interagency fire chief for the Inyo National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management’s Bishop Field Office, was in a better mood than Ingalsbee when I reached him, but only because as a part-time Arkansan, part-time Californian and Oregonian, Beasley seems to find life more absurd. How does California look this week? He let out a throaty laugh. “It looks complicated,” he said. “And I think you know what I mean by that.”

Beasley earned what he called his “red card,” or wildland firefighter qualification, in 1984. To him, California, today, resembles a rookie pyro Armageddon, its scorched battlefields studded with soldiers wielding fancy tools, executing foolhardy strategy. “Put the wet stuff on the red stuff,” Beasley summed up his assessment of the plan of attack by Cal Fire, the state’s behemoth “emergency response and resource protection” agency. Instead, Beasley believes, fire professionals should be considering ecology and picking their fights: letting fires that pose little risk burn through the stockpiles of fuels. Yet that’s not the mission. “They put fires out, full stop, end of story,” Beasley said of Cal Fire. “They like to keep it clean that way.”

(Cal Fire, which admittedly is a little busy this week, did not respond to requests to comment before this story published.)

Carl Skinner (Courtesy Carl Skinner)

So it’s been a week. Carl Skinner, another Cassandra, who started firefighting in Lassen County in 1968 and who retired in 2014 after 42 years managing and researching fire for the U.S. Forest Service, sounded profoundly, existentially tired. “We’ve been talking about how this is where we were headed for decades.”

“It’s painful,” said Craig Thomas, director of the Fire Restoration Group. He, too, has been having the fire Cassandra conversation for 30 years. He’s not that hopeful, unless there’s a power change. “Until different people own the calculator or say how the buttons get pushed, it’s going to stay that way.”


A six-word California fire ecology primer: The state is in the hole.

A seventy-word primer: We dug ourselves into a deep, dangerous fuel imbalance due to one simple fact. We live in a Mediterranean climate that’s designed to burn, and we’ve prevented it from burning anywhere close to enough for well over a hundred years. Now climate change has made it hotter and drier than ever before, and the fire we’ve been forestalling is going to happen, fast, whether we plan for it or not.

Megafires, like the ones that have ripped this week through 1 million acres (so far), will continue to erupt until we’ve flared off our stockpiled fuels. No way around that.

When I reached Malcolm North, a research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service who is based in Mammoth, California, and asked if there was any meaningful scientific dissent to the idea that we need to do more controlled burning, he said, “None that I know of.”

How did we get here? Culture, greed, liability laws and good intentions gone awry. There are just so many reasons not to pick up the drip torch and start a prescribed burn even though it’s the safe, smart thing to do.

The overarching reason is culture. In 1905, the U.S. Forest Service was created with a military mindset. Not long after, renowned American philosopher William James wrote in his essay “The Moral Equivalent of War” that Americans should redirect their combative impulses away from their fellow humans and onto “Nature.” The war-on-fire mentality found especially fertile ground in California, a state that had emerged from the genocide and cultural destruction of tribes who understood fire and relied on its benefits to tend their land. That state then repopulated itself in the Gold Rush with extraction enthusiasts, and a little more than half a century later, it suffered a truly devastating fire. Three-thousand people died, and hundreds of thousands were left homeless, after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and attendant fires. The overwhelming majority of the destruction came from the flames, not the quake. Small wonder California’s fire ethos has much more in common with a field surgeon wielding a bone saw than a preventive medicine specialist with a tray full of vaccines.

More quantitatively — and related — fire suppression in California is big business, with impressive year-over-year growth. Before 1999, Cal Fire never spent more than $100 million a year. In 2007-08, it spent $524 million. In 2017-18, $773 million. Could this be Cal Fire’s first $1 billion season? Too early to tell, but don’t count it out. On top of all the state money, federal disaster funds flow down from “the big bank in the sky,” said Ingalsbee. Studies have shown that over a quarter of U.S. Forest Service fire suppression spending goes to aviation — planes and helicopters used to put out fire. A lot of the “air show,” as he calls it, happens not on small fires in the morning, when retardant drops from planes are most effective, but on large fires in the afternoon. But nevermind. You can now call in a 747 to drop 19,200 gallons of retardant. Or a purpose-designed Lockheed Martin FireHerc, a cousin of the C-130. How cool is that? Still only 30% of retardant is dropped within 2,000 yards of a neighborhood, meaning that it stands little chance of saving a life or home. Instead the airdrop serves, at great expense, to save trees in the wilderness, where burning, not suppression, might well do more good.

This whole system is exacerbated by the fact that it’s not just contracts for privately owned aircraft. Much of the fire-suppression apparatus — the crews themselves, the infrastructure that supports them — is contracted out to private firms. “The Halliburton model from the Middle East is kind of in effect for all the infrastructure that comes into fire camps,” Beasley said, referencing the Iraq war. “The catering, the trucks that you can sleep in that are air-conditioned…”

Cal Fire pays firefighters well, very well. (And perversely well compared with the thousands of California Department of Corrections inmates who serve on fire crews, which is very much a different story.) As the California Policy Center reported in 2017, “The median compensation package — including base pay, special pay, overtime and benefits — for full time Cal Fire firefighters of all categories is more than $148,000 a year.”

The paydays can turn incentives upside down. “Every five, 10, 15 years, we’ll see an event where a firefighter who wants [to earn] overtime starts a fire,” said Crystal Kolden, a self-described “pyrogeographer” and assistant professor of fire science in the Management of Complex Systems Department at the University of California, Merced. (She first picked up a drip torch in 1999 when working for the U.S. Forest Service and got hooked.) “And it sort of gets painted as, ‘Well, this person is just completely nuts.’ And, you know, they maybe are.” But the financial incentives are real. “It’s very lucrative for a certain population of contractors.”

By comparison, planning a prescribed burn is cumbersome. A wildfire is categorized as an emergency, meaning firefighters pull down hazard pay and can drive a bulldozer into a protected wilderness area where regulations typically prohibit mountain bikes. Planned burns are human-made events and as such need to follow all environmental compliance rules. That includes the Clean Air Act, which limits the emission of PM 2.5, or fine particulate matter, from human-caused events. In California, those rules are enforced by CARB, the state’s mighty air resources board, and its local affiliates. “I’ve talked to many prescribed fire managers, particularly in the Sierra Nevada over the years, who’ve told me, ‘Yeah, we’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars to get all geared up to do a prescribed burn,’ and then they get shut down.” Maybe there’s too much smog that day from agricultural emissions in the Central Valley, or even too many locals complain that they don’t like smoke. Reforms after the epic 2017 and 2018 fire seasons led to some loosening of the CARB/prescribed fire rules, but we still have a long way to go.

“One thing to keep in mind is that air-quality impacts from prescribed burning are minuscule compared to what you’re experiencing right now,” said Matthew Hurteau, associate professor of biology at University of New Mexico and director of the Earth Systems Ecology Lab, which looks at how climate change will impact forest systems. With prescribed burns, people can plan ahead: get out of town, install a HEPA filter in their house, make a rational plan to live with smoke. Historical accounts of California summers describe months of smoky skies, but as a feature of the landscape, not a bug. Beasley and others argue we need to rethink our ideas of what a healthy California looks like. “We’re used to seeing a thick wall of even-aged trees,” he told me, “and those forests are just as much a relic of fire exclusion as our clear skies.”

Mike Beasley (Courtesy Mike Beasley)

In the Southeast which burns more than twice as many acres as California each year — fire is defined as a public good. Burn bosses in California can more easily be held liable than their peers in some other states if the wind comes up and their burn goes awry. At the same time, California burn bosses typically suffer no consequences for deciding not to light. No promotion will be missed, no red flags rise. “There’s always extra political risk to a fire going bad,” Beasley said. “So whenever anything comes up, people say, OK, that’s it. We’re gonna put all the fires out.” For over a month this spring, the U.S. Forest Service canceled all prescribed burns in California, and training for burn bosses, because of COVID-19.

I asked Beasley why he ignited his burns anyway when he was Yosemite fire chief. “I’m single! I’m not married! I have no kids. Probably a submarine captain is the best person for the job.” Then he stopped joking. “I was a risk taker to some degree. But I also was a believer in science.”

On Aug. 12, 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the U.S. Forest Service chief and others signed a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, that the state needs to burn more. “The health and wellbeing of California communities and ecosystems depend on urgent and effective forest and rangeland stewardship to restore resilient and diverse ecosystems,” the MOU states. The document includes a mea culpa: “California’s forests naturally adapted to low-intensity fire, nature’s preferred management tool, but Gold Rush-era clearcutting followed by a wholesale policy of fire suppression resulted in the overly dense, ailing forests that dominate the landscape today.”

Ingalsbee looks at the MOU and thinks, That’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. Likewise Nick Goulette, executive director of the Watershed Research and Training Center, has seen too little movement for too long to believe anything but utter calamity can get us back on track. In 2014, Goulette participated in a planning exercise known as the Quadrennial Fire Review, or QFR, that asked the grim question: What is the disaster scenario that finally causes us to alter in a meaningful way our relationship and response to fire? The answer: something along the lines of a megafire taking out San Diego. In the wake of it, Goulette and others imagined one scenario in which the U.S. Forest Service morphed into an even more militaristic firefighting agency that “overwhelmingly emphasizes full suppression” and is “extremely risk averse.” But they also envisioned a scenario that spawned a new kind of fire force, one focused on “monitoring firesheds” and dedicated to changing the dominant philosophy away “from the war on fire to living with fire.”

This exercise took place three years before the devastating 2017 Napa and Sonoma fires, and four years before the Camp Fire destroyed Paradise in 2018. Goulette thought those events would have prompted more change. The tragedies did lead to some new legislation and some more productive conversations with Cal Fire. But there’s just so much ground we need to make up.

When asked how we were doing on closing the gap between what we need to burn in California and what we actually light, Goulette fell into the familiar fire Cassandra stutter. “Oh gosh. … I don’t know. …” The QFR acknowledged there was no way prescribed burns and other kinds of forest thinning could make a dent in the risk imposed by the backlog of fuels in the next 10 or even 20 years. “We’re at 20,000 acres a year. We need to get to a million. What’s the reasonable path toward a million acres?” Maybe we could get to 40,000 acres, in five years. But that number made Goulette stop speaking again. “Forty thousand acres? Is that meaningful?” That answer, obviously, is no.

The only real path toward meaningful change looks politically impossible. Goulette said we need to scrap the system and rethink what we could do with Cal Fire’s annual budget: Is this really the best thing we could do with several billion dollars to be more resistant to wildfire? Goulette knows this suggestion is so laughably distasteful and naive to those in power that uttering it as the director of a nonprofit like the Watershed Research and Training Center gets you kicked out of the room.

Lenya Quinn-Davidson at September Burn in Bear River. (Thomas Stratton)

Some fire Cassandras are more optimistic than others. Lenya Quinn-Davidson, area fire adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, remains hopeful. She knows the history. She understands that the new MOU is nonbinding. Still she’s working on forming burn cooperatives and designing burner certificate programs to bring healthy fire practices back into communities. She’d like to get Californians back closer to the fire culture in the Southeast where, she said, “Your average person goes out back with Grandpa, and they burn 10 acres on the back 40 you know, on a Sunday.” Fire is not just for professionals, not just for government employees and their contractors. Intentional fire, as she sees it, is “a tool and anyone who’s managing land is going to have prescribed fire in their toolbox.” That is not the world we’ve been inhabiting in the West. “That’s been the hard part in California,” Quinn-Davidson said. “In trying to increase the pace and scale of prescribed fire, we’re actually fighting some really, some really deep cultural attitudes around who gets to use it and where it belongs in society.”

A PG&E employee received a $4.5 million Bay Area home from a vendor, and sold it right back a month later, records show. Later, the utility accused the vendor of bribery for unspecified actions.

All Cassandras believe California’s wildfires will get worse, much worse, before they get better. Right now, said Crystal Kolden, the state’s fuel management plan, such as it is, is for Cal Fire to try to do prescribed burns in shoulder season. But given that the fires are starting earlier in the year and lasting later (we are not even this year’s traditional fire season yet), the shoulder doesn’t really exist. “So where is the end?” she asks. “It’s not in sight, and we don’t know when it will be.” The week before this past round of fires saw the hottest temperatures ever recorded in California, the hottest temperature ever reliably recorded on earth: 130 degrees, more than half the boiling point of water, and just 10 degrees below what scientist consider to be the absolute upper limit of what the human body can endure for 10 minutes in humidity.

“Meanwhile, our firefighters are completely at the breaking point,” said Kolden, and there’s little they can do to stop a megafire once one starts. “And after a while you start to see breakdowns and interruptions in other critical pieces, like our food systems, our transportation systems.” It doesn’t need to be this way. We didn’t need to get here. We are not suffering from a lack of knowledge. “We can produce all the science in the world, and we largely understand why fires are the way they are,” said Eric Knapp, a U.S. Forest Service research ecologist based in Redding, California. “It’s just that other social political realities get in the way of doing a lot of what we need to do.”

The fire and climate science before us is not comforting. It would be great to call in a 747, dump 19,200 gallons of retardant on reality and make the terrifying facts fade away. But ignoring the tinderbox that is our state and our planet invites more madness, not just for the Cassandras but for us all.

As Ingalsbee said, “You won’t find any climate deniers on the fire line.”

The only point I might argue is the idea of preventive burning as a way to clear areas. It’s more cost effective than going in with crews and some heavy equipment to clear areas, but preventive fires have started full blown fires upon occasion, and manual labor allows for more selective clearing… leaving some vegetation and clearing out the excess growth. Both options should be on the table…

That and dismantling PG&E once and for all.

Let’s Talk Global Warming

Yes, shoot me now, I’ve threatened a few times to try to dispel some of the myths around it, and I’ve decided to do so since I found a relatively good article about it.

OK, so let’s get a few things straight before anyone starts flinging troll poop in my blog:

First: I am NOT an outright climate denier. That’s just name calling to avoid honest discussion anyway. I believe we’re in a warmer phase right now. What I question is how much of it is man made.

Second: Regardless of what percentage of it is man made, I still strongly believe we as people have a duty to try to clean up the planet and preserve it.

So in short, it’s the rabid fear mongering I object to. It undermines the environmental movement by galvanizing doubters. If you’re not adult enough to understand that, DO NOT bother reading any further.

It’s More Than Global:

A little research will turn up that other planets in the solar system are dealing with warmer temperatures also. We can’t blame mankind for that, so how do we explain it? There are dozens of articles out there by folks on both sides of the argument offering all manner of theories, often outright contradicting each other. None the less, the rise in temperatures on other planets is a reality.

Elliptical Orbits:

Here’s one I bet only a few of you have heard about. Did you know that the Earth doesn’t have a perfect orbit around the sun? Gravitational pull from other planets and fluctuations in the Sun itself can all contribute to the Earth’s orbit drifting a bit closer or further to the Sun, which will obviously have an impact on temperatures. The article I mentioned by Scientific American cites evidence that such a shift was responsible for a severe shift in climate millions of years ago. It also mentions that those same forces can cause tilts on the Earth’s axis, which will impact seasons.

Volcanoes and Comets:

It ALSO mentions that comet impacts and severe volcanic activity can cause shifts in climate as well. Again, the internet is a fountain of conflicting data and misinformation. Depending upon what site you look at, volcanic activity is on the rise, it’s not (we just have better tracking to note more eruptions, lol) OR somehow global warming is making volcanoes erupt instead of volcanoes spewing CO2 are contributing to global warming.

Bottom line though, most sites agree we’re seeing more volcanic activity, and a volcano can spew a horrific amount of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.

Monoxide, Dioxide…

This used to be a joke when the global warming movement was taking off; that politicians couldn’t even understand the difference between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Carbon Monoxide is the dangerous gas, it’s more caustic and chemically unstable.

Carbon Dioxide is what plants breath and turn into oxygen. It’s also what provides the carbonation in your soft drinks, beer and other drinks. Is it harmless? No. Is it the threat that the global warming crowd makes it out to be? Only if you hate trees.

As somebody who actually paid attention in chemistry class, the misrepresentation here is insulting. Yes, one little atom of Oxygen can make a huge difference too. That’s the only difference between pure water and pure hydrogen peroxide (which can completely dissolve a body, bones and all, if it’s undiluted).

The Unique Physics of Water:

Since I’ve lived close to the ocean my entire life, I can tell you I haven’t seen a modicum of sea level rise in 50 years. Here’s another lesson from my chemistry class that was even used on an episode of MacGyver to break a lock: What’s different about water vs any other common chemical compound in the world?

It EXPANDS as it freezes. Everything else contracts as it goes from a liquid to a solid state. Put water in a cup, add ice to it and see if the water level drops or rises. Or just pay attention to how ice cubes in a tray take up more space than the water you filled the tray with.

What’s more; icebergs have the vast majority of their mass underwater, so if they’re all melting, we should theoretically see a drop in the ocean level before we see a rise from Antarctica completely defrosting.

Here’s another tidbit that at least Canadians should be sharper on: The polar ice sheet expands every winter and shrinks every summer. It’s been that way for hundreds of years at least. I read in elementary school history about the “Northwest Passage” and how even most of the Hudson Bay would be iced over in winter, and settlers would eagerly await spring time and supply ships that would come with the melting ice. I see from a few revisionist history websites that the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to Pacific was a complete myth before global warming though.

ANYWAY… When you see those pictures and short videos of the poor polar bears out on the ice flow… That’s been business as usual for centuries. Polar bears can swim 60 miles.

AGAIN, maybe it’s worse lately. I’m not denying that. What I am calling BS on is the idea that the polar ice never thawed at all, as the alarmists are regularly implying.

The Earth’s Shifting Magnetic Fields:

I first became aware of this one via the Science Channel, which is very pro climate change overall.

Apparently the Earth’s magnetic field and it’s related protective barriers can be impacted by the molten iron in the outer core of the Earth shifting. Scientists have tied that to weak spots in the fields that protect against solar radiation. That on top of actual drift in the magnetic North Pole’s location. Said weak spots allow for more solar radiation to hit the area underneath it and higher temperatures.

It also apparently shifts quite a bit more than scientists had originally believed. That alone could account for droughts and rainy years in various regions as that iron shifts around

Don’t Like the Weather? Just Wait, It’ll Change…

That’s an OLD Southern axiom. I’ve lived through multiple severe droughts and years of severe rain. I’ve even seen snowfall with accumulation in the SF Bay Area when I was in elementary school also. It sucked because I got sent out to recess and didn’t have a jacket. Who needs a jacket in coastal California?? I nearly froze my arse off.

Point is, it’s natural for the weather to vary. Just like erosion and earthquakes are natural. We live on a relatively young and very active planet. Long ago, all the continents were glued together. Continental Drift hasn’t stopped either. The Southwestern U.S. used to be a hot jungle ages ago, but it’s been a desert for centuries. We’ve lived through ice ages and global jungles. The climate has always been evolving and shifting.

Fudging the Readings:

Here’s where the climate change crowd really hurts their own credibility.

First, we’ve got the elimination and discrediting of past higher temperatures since those don’t fit the dogma. The “Dust Bowl” era was incredibly hot also, and that was nearly 100 years ago.

Second, if you do enough digging, you’ll find reports that old standards to guarantee accurate readings are being ignored. With temperature readings, the monitoring stations are being placed on ‘black top’ asphalt and black tar paper roofs that are natural heat magnets, as well as in direct sunlight. Accurate temperature reading is supposed to mandate in the shade and on a natural surface.

The same has been done with pollution readings also. A prime example is the city of Atlanta, Georgia. It was a well known joke that the machines taking pollution measurements that the state’s car smog control program was based on… were placed right at the end of the runways of Hartsfield International Airport; the busiest airport in the world.

Think all that jet exhaust MIGHT have biased the readings a little?

Dirty “Green” Tech:

Another annoyance of mine. I absolutely love the idea of solar power. Even electric cars are growing on me now that they’ve got range and acceleration.

Neither of these are “clean” energy as they stand now. The amount of ultra toxic sludge that is a byproduct of, and goes into a solar power cell is unholy. Cheap ones will only last 5 to 10 years also, and the best only make it to 20. After that… Into a landfill.

Conventional electric batteries use lead and sulfuric acid. They’re a toxic nightmare. Lithium Ion batteries are toxic also and even give off a range of toxic gases.

Then there’s the other issues as well. Solar panels get really hot. How hot? Well, there are several stories of birds flying over solar farms in the Southern California desert catching on fire as they fly over the panels. The workers call them “streamers” because of the smoke trail they leave as they crash to the desert floor.

Yes, desert. Extreme situation. But solar panels collect heat and you don’t fight global warming by putting a giant hot plate on everyone’s roof.

Am I saying scrap all of these? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I’m saying quit lying that they’re the perfect solution as they stand, and let’s get them improved. There were ancient batteries found in India that apparently used citric acid as an alternative to sulfuric acid for example… You know… Orange Juice.

The answers are out there, we just need to find them instead of jumping headlong into what feels good. It’s that exact mentality that gave us plastic grocery bags. “We have to save the trees!!!” was all I heard around 1980. Fine mess that turned into, all because environmentalists couldn’t think long term and go immediately to reusable cloth bags.

Fires Are NOT Global Warming:

One LAST rant as I see the California fires whipping up this horse crap again. I lived in California most of my life. The fires there are a combination of complete neglect of the state forest system, and the state electrical company letting it’s equipment fall apart.

Fire is nature’s forest management tool. An area gets overgrown, a lightning strike starts a fire and the excessive growth is burned away. Most species of pine trees won’t even open their cones to release seeds unless exposed to fire. Crazy but true.

If you want to prevent nature from self-managing the growth, you have to be willing to go in and clear the excess underbrush and dead trees with people. That minimizes the chance of a forest fire and makes fires that do break out slower to spread and easier to fight. You can’t argue this one with me either. My grandfather was state fire marshall for California.

Wannabe environmentalists with no understanding of nature blocked the forest management though, so the state said fine, and just spent the money elsewhere (taxes are never returned to the people who pay them). Gavin Newsome’s morally bankrupt claims of global warming are just his way of diverting attention away from the state’s failure to protect it’s citizens.

Speaking of failures… I did a related post about PG&E, the statewide power company. They never cleared adequate space around their power towers or maintained their equipment. They’ve been responsible for several fires and gas pipeline explosions over the past 10 years. Here in the South, they clear trees back several yards from power lines just to prevent what California is facing yet again.

I can’t speak for Australia here. I don’t know what their brush management plan in the outback was like before the fires there.

Putting it All Together:

Again, none of this changes the reality that we need to do better by the planet. SOME global warming is likely man-made as well. Even if it isn’t, there’s no excuse for things like the great Pacific Ocean garbage patch to exist (thank you China’s government).

My two major gripes here are:

The doom sayers are turning people off from the movement.

In order to fix any problem, you have to first honestly ID it’s causes. We can’t do that if we’re blaming cow farts for climate change. Let’s fix what we can, improve the existing green tech, and accept that some things are going to be out of our hands… Unless you want to be like the Annunaki and mine gold to put in the upper atmosphere to combat global warming, lol.

At any rate, if we don’t silence the crap, we’ll never get at the truth or a solution. But as with many topics today, the crap is more important to some people than a real solution.

Lost Two More…

I lost two more followers today. I knew that was a risk when I started talking politics. Things like my Rush Limbaugh post are bound to offend the easily butt sore. That doesn’t change the fact that there are people out there wishing death on him. It also doesn’t change the fact doing so is fundamentally EVIL. It doesn’t matter if you’re wishing death on Trump, Obama, Reagan, Carter, Limbaugh or Chris Mathews.

As Democrats used to say; “Hate is not a family value”.

I get that some of you come here for the writing talk, or my cooking. You don’t care about politics or social commentary. I get that. Sometimes the blogisphere is as much an escape from reality as a book is.

Skip those posts then. I’m fine with that. I promise.

Dropping a blog that you thought enough of to follow initially because you disagree with a post and can’t discuss it… THAT, right or wrong, gives the impression that your opinion isn’t grounded in any kind of objective thinking and you’re afraid to have your ideas challenged.

Me personally, and this blog… I’m open to rational discussion. I will only shut ANY opinion down if it’s spewing hate. Likewise, if you try to deliberately misquote me to pull some sort of gotcha, I won’t have it. Even then, at first, I’ll just assume you misread.

One of the drops I know was because I dared to question their view of Brexit in their blog. I did it in a fairly polite way though. Even admitted I didn’t have as much insight on it as I’d like. Instead of opening dialog and educating me on what he perceived the drawbacks were, he shut the door and hid. We both might have learned something.

I’m always open to learning more also. I view it as self-improvement and growth. I’ve learned to see both sides of several issues along the way also. Case & point; my dad was a cop. I was taught that cops are these wonderful protectors always concerned with doing right and protecting the innocent. I’ve listened to people that have issues with law enforcement though. I’ve seen video of a guy here in Sacramento thrown to the ground and manhandled for what really did essentially amount to walking while black. I called out the cops here on it also. Long story short, I can see times where the complainers are right, and times when the cops are also. Sometimes maybe both sides could have done things better.

Take the same approach to life and you might be amazed how much you grow and learn. 😉

In the mean time, I’m going to continue doing social commentary and spiritual posts along with writing, cooking and personal posts. That social commentary will include calling BS on both extremes too.

A Quick Impeachment Addenda…

I was TRYING (and failing, lol) to keep the post on impeachment from getting too long. I forgot to add my final point as a result:

If you wanted to keep milking the cash cow of contributions, and keep playing the divide and conquer game with the public, could you possibly ever come up with a better way than the current infantile behavior both sides are displaying?

“I’m not turning over the articles of impeachment until I’m happy with the planned trial.”

“You don’t control the Senate, quit over-stepping your bounds.”

It’s all just enough to keep the mindless followers out for blood. Both get to throw tantrums and claim the other is endangering democracy. They can potentially keep this up all the way past the 2020 election, God help us.

Ironically, they’re both right about being a threat to democracy.

As for the answer… Richard Pryor had it right:

A DIFFERENT View on the Impeachment Drama

I’ve been wanting to write this since before Christmas. Fair warning: If you’re a mindless idealogue of the far left or far right, you’re probably not going to like what I have to say. To be blunt, I’m going to call BS on everyone. IF you have the courage and attention span to read all the way through this however, you just might find yourself agreeing with me.

SO what am I basing all this on? What’s my basic premise? That both sides of the issue are giving the public just enough information, (almost always spun), to inflame their base. This will take a whiIe, but let’s look at individual pieces of this mess.

The Aid to Ukraine:

A few conservative sources claim that Congress put anti-corruption strings on the aid that Trump “slow walked”. I can’t find any primary sources to verify that, BUT if anybody’s tried to get a search result from Google (and most search engines use their software) that was NOT leaning strongly Left, you know how difficult this can be lately.

U.S. Government concerns about Ukainian government corruption go back to at least the Obama administration also. This is tied into the whole allegation that Joe Biden blackmailed the Ukrainian government also. Here’s a quote from Breitbart News:

George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, testified Tuesday that he worried that Hunter Biden’s position at the firm Burisma Holdings would complicate efforts by U.S. diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules surrounding the deposition.

Fox and other conservative sites / companies have pointed out this also. Hunter Biden’s Good Morning America interview was a PR disaster if people had actually been listening. He admitted he had NO experience in oil and natural gas, no knowledge of Ukraine, nor international trade. He admitted at one point in the interview that it was his connections to his father that likely got him the job on Burisma Holdings’ board of directors.

One other thing needs to be looked at in regards to Hunter Biden getting that job. The man was, perhaps still is, a repeat drug addict who has been out of rehab for cocaine. Now is a person with a serious drug addiction and absoultely NO qualifications somebody that any company is going to hire for ANY position, much less one helping run the multi-million dollar corporation?

Those of you who lean Left, bear with me, as I’m going to get to where the whole Right’s arguments here fall apart in a minute.

Investigating Political Rivals:

First though, let’s look at the whole question of Joe Biden’s involvement in all of this. The mainstream media is quick to just repeat Biden’s lie of “No” without any details. then again, by classical debate rules and logic, you can’t prove a negative and the burden of proof is on the positive. Well, here is Joe Biden speaking at the Coucil on Foreign Relations bragging about getting the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Burisma and his son fired:

Joe Biden CFR Talk About Ukraine (Real Clear Politics Article)

There’s a video there and you can find an hour long video on YouTube that covers his entire speech. For those who want the quick version though here’s the specific quote of Biden talking to the Ukrainian President:

I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

Now this is all wrapped up in terms of Ukrainian corruption if you look at the entire thing BUT, the head prosecutor he got fired WAS in fact investigating his son and Burisma.

What’s missing from BOTH sides however was “What level of corruption investigation was launched elsewhere in Ukraine?” If it was none, you can bet the Democrats would hold that up as further proof. If there was any substantial investigation elsewhere, the Republicans would be showing it to vindicate Trump. Or would they? More there in a minute. Suffice it to say they should be though.

None of this is REALLY about political corruption though. It was a show maneuver to make it look like Trump was being tough on democrat corruption. That’s why only a few “red meat” Republican sources are posting the info.

I could go on and on here disecting evidence. There’s lots of little things that people skip over, like how witnesses on both sides) are offering third hand acounts and opinions on what they thought what they heard meant. One former ambassador was being overly dramatic during the hearings over Trump criticizing her. Well gee, who’s the boss and who is the employee? Ambassadors do not set policy, they carry out whatever the President and Congress decides is policy.

The whole thing is a circus on both sides for anyone with any political knowledge. I’ve been leaning a bit too much to the Right, so let’s look at a farce of a complaint on the Right. Trump and his supporters have been bellowing that he hasn’t been given due process in the hearings in the House. That would be true IF that were the actual trial.

The House of Representatives portion of an Impeachment is akin to a Grand Jury hearing. It’s an investigation to see if there’s enough evidence to warrant a trial. Nobody confronts witnesses at that point, etc… The Senate portion of Impeachment is the trial. There, the President and his lawyers should have a Constitutional right to cross examine witnesses, present evidence, etc… What we’ve heard is a false flag / straw man argument designed to whip the Republican base into a fury over denial of rights.

I won’t even get into the second impeachment count, as it’s completely baseless. Executive Privledge is a long established right that every president since Truman has used to thumb their nose at Congress. We can certainly debate if the law is wrong, but it’s an absolute defense aginst this defying congress nonsense.

It’s ALL A Big Fat Bunch of BS:

Everywhere you look, both sides are presenting arguments with holes big enough to fly the Death Star through. You can argue that it’s because the other side is dancing around having no case and playing loose with the truth. If you’re a Republican, you can claim you can’t get a fair shake from the mainstream media also. I believe it goes deeper than that though.

Trump is deliberately presenting the worst, well most inflamatory, defense possible. He can’t seem to say anything on his twitter account that isn’t toxic. The man is obnoxious, but he’s not stupid. People don’t get to where he is in business and life without learning to play the system.

If *I* were in his shoes and wanted to defend myself, I’d have the Biden video on the home page of WhiteHouse.Gov. Same with the Ukrainian court records showing that their government was actively helping Hillary in the 2016 campaign. It doesn’t matter though because it’s all a game to both sides. Trump knows that with a Republican Senate there’s no chance of a conviction. So does Nancy Pelosi. Instead they’re both turning it into a fundraising extraviganza.

It’s ultimately about pushing the “Us vs Them” mindset in an era where the mainstream public has gotten increasingly sick of it. Weaponizing fear and loathing to such a degree that those prone to acting without thinking can’t help but be drawn into a conflict “to protect our way of life!”

As a result, both sides have shrunk the independent middle ground, AND raised MASSIVE, record amounts of campaign funds for their national committees.

Not only that, they’re all playing a game of “watch this hand here not the other one” in regards to other legislation. Trump recently signed another non-budget spending bill. 2015 was the last time the US had a REAL federal budget, and it was 6 years without one before that. Nobody pays attention to stop gap spending bills though, esp if there’s other drama elsewhere.

Trump LOUDLY criticized Obama for spendng away the nations future. Folks like Sean Hannity repeated the statistic that Obama had outspent the last 6 presidents before him COMBINED. It’s true too. But, TRUMP is outspending Obama, and giving the Democratic Congress everything on it’s wishlist. The U.S. national debt is scheduled to hit 1 TRILLION dollars in 2020. Three years earlier than the last Congressional Budget Office prediction.

If they’re all cooperating on robbing the treasury and the taxpayer blind, how at odds can Democrats and Republicans really be???

More importantly, can anybody say they’re getting ANYTHING at all from all this extra spending??? Nope. It’s just like here in California. All the money is going to personal perks, graft and buying influence.

So yes, it’s ALL a game to consolidate power and screw the American public. I’d guess what happened with Brexit in the UK was a similar distraction game too.

One of my longer pieces. If you made it through, I congratulate you even if you disagree with me. If you just hit like without reading or skimmed looking for something to troll over, shame on you. The only way to change the world is to start paying attention to what’s going on.

I’m going to leave comments closed on this one due to the trolls I’ll doubtless attract. Feel free to hit “Like” if I at least gave you something to think about however. 🙂 Likewise I’m going to remove the approval requirement I’ve had on reblogging my posts. Sometimes I don’t get back to WordPress for several hours.

Nothing on TV is Real

Being a trained observer and a lifelong learner can be a pain in the rear at times. Out in the real world, I notice things like the professional panhandler wearing Nike Air Jordans or Birkenstock sandals while pretending to be homeless. It can ruin TV as well.

I’m not just talking the pseudo-science on regular TV shows either. Things like CSI Miami breaking up a jet fuel theft ring that turned out to be a bunch of street racers. Problem there BTW; Jet fuel is essentially high grade kerosene. It’s NOT going to run a gasoline engine, LOL. Nah, things like this you excuse as sloppy research for the sake of a hopefully good story. That’s what suspension of disbelief is for.

It’s all the other stuff that tries to present itself as real that has me shaking my head. There’s the obvious News media only telling half the story and spinning the meaning, and they ALL do it. I won’t even dwell on that either.

“Reality” shows rarely are though. Amish Mafia for example… The Amish are complete pacifists and disdain technology, so you’re NOT going to see shotgun toting Amish thugs driving around in blacked out Chrysler 300s terrorizing members into staying in the community.

Same idea with the anti-Mormon shows on cable. They make no differentiation between the mainstream Mormon church and the handful of polygamist cults in South Utah. Mormons gave up polygamy to gain Utah’s statehood. There are similar shows exploiting backwoods people, the morbidly obese, etc… Why should it matter? Because when you allow groups like the Amish and Mormons to be mocked and misrepresented, it becomes much easier to start allowing other groups to be put on the attack list.

Make no mistake, I’m FAR from politically correct. However, if one is going to criticize any group, I believe it should be fair, factually accurate and as constructive as possible.

Ghost hunting and other supernatural shows drive me nuts. I belief there’s some truth to the supernatural, and that it’s dangerous for people to go chasing spirits and demons. These shows are blatantly faked and make this all look like a game. Google up the Name Derren Brown if you want to see how easy it is to defraud people here. He’s a stage magician that fakes alot of this stuff as parts of his act. He’s shown how to do it also.

Equally annoying is the way so called educational channels have gone to the dogs. While I find the idea of ancient aliens fascinating, the leaps in unsubstantiated logic in these shows is breathtaking. And it’s not just weirdos. I just watched a scene where Michio Kaku did a scene as part of an episode that said Element 115 (invented in Russia by an international team) was proof of the US Government reverse engineering alien space ships. *headdeak*

The science channel runs shows like “What on Earth” where there’s wild unsubstantiated guesses about what a satellite photograph or other video represents. A whole series of electrical transformers blowing in Texas was declared to be everything from an EMP attack to aliens. Chili peppers drying in the sun was declared chemical weapons development and opium poppy fields. Shouldn’t a “Science” channel be applying logic and promoting critical thinking?

I’ve seen plenty of faking in competition shows also. Everything from “ICE Wave” continuing to run after losing it’s motor in Battle Bots to a baker on a Food Network competition screw up a cookie recipe he’s made for over a decade for his chain of cookie shops. It’s their signature cookie. My other half’s family was friends with the guy before he moved out of the area, and agree there’s no way he’d screw up THAT cookie.

I’m even starting to wonder about sports anymore when I see things like the Patriots comeback against Atlanta in the superbowl. Even with only one college level statistics class, I’m able to know the odds of a team going from zero to hero to make up that big a points spread in a quarter and a half is absolutely astronomical. Doubly so since it required Atlanta to utterly self destruct after playing perfectly the first 2/3 of the game. Hard to believe that many people could keep quiet about what would be a widespread conspiracy.

Bottom line: question EVERYTHING you see on TV. Take nothing at face value and fact check all of it.