Posted by: SWL | April 22, 2015

Obama Environmental Hypocrisy on Earth Day

To mark Earth Day, President Obama flew to Florida on Air Force One to talk about the effect of climate change – which he says is human-caused – on the Everglades.

If Mr. Obama truly believes humans are damaging the earth with emissions caused by burning fossil fuels, why would he fly that distance on a jet for a visit of less than a day? Air Force One emits over 20,000 pounds of CO2 per hour.  (When a president travels, a second decoy and/or emergency jet goes along, doubling the emissions for any trip.)

There are only two answers to that question:
* The President doesn’t really believe (or believes but doesn’t care), but keeps up the show for his environmentalist supporters.
* He believes, but think he’s so special that he is exempt from acting responsibly. We, his subjects, can pay higher prices for fuel and goods, and higher taxes to somehow balance out the CO2 emissions caused by the President and other politicians traveling unnecessarily.

President Obama could have easily given a speech at the White House that was broadcast live to an audience at the Everglades National Park visitors’ center (or multiple locations across the US). Besides being a self-proclaimed advocate for the environment, Mr. Obama also touts technology as an answer to many problems. He should “walk the talk” in both areas.

Posted by: SWL | April 22, 2015

49ers Release 2015 Game Schedule

It seems a bit early in the year to write about football, but yesterday San Francisco announced its schedule for this autumn’s games.

At my house, the early season game that will draw the most interest will be the October 4 match-up with the Green Bay Packers – my spouses’ favorite team. It’s always fun to have a little in-house rivalry!

In her first event since officially announcing her bid for the presidency, Hillary Clinton spoke Tuesday to a small group at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, Iowa.

She outlined four concerns she would focus on during her campaign:
*building “the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday”
*strengthening families
*national security
*getting unaccountable money out of election campaigns

In Marco Rubio’s Monday speech announcing his intention to run for president, he mentioned those first three points. It was interesting that none of the news outlets covering Mrs. Clinton’s event mentioned that she was echoing Rubio.

Posted by: SWL | April 13, 2015

Marco Rubio Makes Presidential Run Official

Less than an hour ago, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave a speech announcing his intention to seek the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential election.

All the possible GOP candidates have positions on some of the issues with which I agree.  But Rubio’s speech positively touched on all issues that are important to me, and a few others.  As the details of his positions are revealed, I will find out if Rubio is the best GOP candidate.  But he’s looking strong right now.

I believe the wisdom that comes from age and experience is an important asset for the president of the world’s most powerful country.  Rubio is a bit young, as are the other announced GOP candidates,Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.  But the fact that Rubio is a first-generation American keeps him mindful of the strength classic immigration brings to America.  (Cruz is also the son of Cuban immigrants, but I haven’t been able to warm up to him.)  Whereas many of us whose families have been in the country for longer often take our freedoms for granted, Rubio (and Cruz) is still keenly appreciative of them.  But he is also in touch with the issues facing the country in the current world economy.  It seems like a good mix.

Right now I’m a Rubio fan.

Posted by: SWL | April 1, 2015

Sen. Reid Won’t Seek Re-election

Great news! Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced he will not seek another term in the Senate. He has been an obstruction to bipartisan legislation in Washington for the past 6 years. The end of his term cannot come too soon.

The world is full of terrible contradictions.

I just read a story about a dog named Derby, who was born with deformed front legs. He was not euthanized, but loved and cared for. Recently he received a set of prosthetic legs made with a 3D printer. A video accompanying the story showed this dog happily running with its adopted owner.

Then I saw a story about a woman in Indiana who died last month and, in her will, requested that her German Shepherd, Bella, be euthanized and Bella’s ashes buried in the same plot with her. Connie Ley’s attorney, Doug Denmure, said no one can change the situation except possibly the executor of the will. (An earlier story also mentioned the option to send Bella to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah, but that option seems out of favor.)

While I do not want government interfering in my affairs, there are times when intervention is warranted. I’ve heard of child services workers putting parents under supervision or even removing children from homes for silly reasons such as children (6-8 years old) being allowed to play on the sidewalk near their home with supervision or in a fenced yard when the parent was blind. Animals being neglected are routinely removed from owners’ homes. Surely a life and death situation – even if it is an animal – deserves review by the proper authorities. Carrying out this woman’s wishes should be considered animal cruelty.

Mr. Denmure has been justifying euthanasia by asserting that the deceased woman thought Bella potentially dangerous. Why would she keep the dog, if Bella was a danger to her? Denmure also said it was difficult to get into the home when Ms. Ley died. Shepherds are known to be protective, so should that be a surprise? At a minimum, the dog should be evaluated before declared a danger.

If you want to follow Bella’s situation or contact people involved, the Washington Post article linked above has several links to articles, a Twitter campaign to save the dog (#SaveBella) and the shelter where Bella is currently staying. Maybe continued bad publicity for the attorney will encourage a good resolution for Bella.

Posted by: SWL | November 3, 2014

Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage in Nevada

Following close on the heels of Nevada’s 150th anniversary of statehood last week, we mark another significant milestone today: the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. On November 3, 1914, Nevada women were granted the right to vote.

Like all Western states except New Mexico, Nevada approved the female vote before passage of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution, which granted suffrage to all American women.

Women, don’t take suffrage for granted; cast you vote in tomorrow’s election!

The US federal mid-term elections are tomorrow (Nov. 4). Please vote, if you haven’t already cast an early or absentee ballot. I believe the current Congressional gridlock is, at least partially, an indirect consequence of low citizen participation in elections.

WordPress has partnered with the Pew Charitable Trust and Google to provide a Voter Information Tool to help you find your polling place and local ballot. You’ll find the tool below. Learn what and who you are voting for before going to your polling place.

Posted by: SWL | November 1, 2014

Happy 150th Birthday, Nevada!

150 years of statehoodSesquicentennial is a big, seldom used word that means a 150th year celebration. The word has become more common here in Nevada during this past year as the state prepared to mark the 150th anniversary of statehood.

As the Civil War raged on, the Union needed the silver produced by the mines around Virginia City. Nevada’s admission as a no-slavery Union state was rushed through Congress and approved on October 31, 1864. (Hence the state motto: “Battle Born”.)

I’ve heard that Nevada has the largest statehood celebration in the nation. In most years there is a parade, chili feed, beard contest, concerts and the World Championship Single Jack Drilling Contest (in which contestants mimic the method used by early miners to make holes for dynamite). For the 150th anniversary additional events were added, creating a 4-day celebration.

I’ve lived in Nevada more than 30 years and had never went to the parade. With this year’s special celebration, I figured it was the right time.

The parade ran a whopping four hours! That’s longer than Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade or the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. There were politicians, bands, businesses, school groups, scouts and entries from counties and cities across northern Nevada. (There was little participation from the southern part of the state – no Las Vegas area politicians or school groups, which is a shame since this was a celebration for the entire state.)

When my spouse and I arrived, we happened to find a small empty patch of sidewalk near the announcer’s booth. The most interesting thing happened at the start of the parade. A woman with a beautiful voice began to sing the national anthem over the audio system. Within a few bars, people for at least two blocks in each direction fell silent. I’ve been through the ritual at sporting, school and civic events, but it’s never been as quiet as it was on Carson Street today. Very impressive.

Start of Nevada Day Parade

Start of Nevada Day Parade

NV Rep. Mark Amodei cleans up

NV Rep. Mark Amodei cleans up

Humboldt County entry

Humboldt County entry

Posted by: SWL | October 4, 2014

Arizona State Stuns USC with Last Second TD

Sparky's pitchfork

Fear the Fork!


Whoo-hoo! What a fourth quarter!!!

As we watched the ASU Sun Devils battle #16 USC in the LA Coliseum, our optimism surged and waned as the lead changed hands throughout the first three quarters. By the start of the fourth quarter, ASU was down by 9 and had used all their time-outs. The consensus of the audience at my house was, “Wasting all their time-outs will cost ASU the game.”

The Sun Devils fought their way to a TD with a handful of minutes left on the clock. Their on-side attempt on the kickoff ended up in Trojan hands, and USC soon got a TD of their own. Arizona State answered quickly with yet another TD. So they were back where they had been two minutes earlier, but now had only a little under 3 minutes to get a field goal to win.

They managed to hold the Trojans on the next series, but less than a minute remained in the game. After a play or two, the question was whether they had enough time left to set up the field goal that would put them ahead by one. We expected ASU QB Mike Bercovici to throw toward a receiver near the sidelines to stop the clock; the FOX Sports commentators expressed the same thought. Everyone – except the Sun Devils on the field and coach Todd Graham – was shocked to see Bercovici throw a huge arcing pass toward the end zone. The ball looked overthrown and destined to be intercepted by a waiting USC player. But ASU’s Jaelen Strong made a giant leap to capture the ball, landing with one foot on the goal line with one second on the clock! As the other foot came down, the clock ran out. Absolutely amazing on its own, but even more so considering ASU’s crushing 35 point loss last week to UCLA and that Bercovici had been the back-up QB just two weeks ago. (Even in last week’s defeat Bercovici had a great performance, setting school records. His stats were great this week too. Makes you wonder what Coach Graham will do when Taylor Kelly’s injured foot is healed.)

The only other Arizona State football game that I’ve seen that was as exciting was the 1978 meeting between these same two teams, when ASU was still in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). ASU won that match too (20-7), against what at that time was a much stronger PAC-8 opponent. Our cheering from Sun Devil Stadium could be heard at the opposite side of the Tempe campus long after the game was over. Tonight, in Trojan territory, USC fans left quickly and quietly.

Six teams in the top 25 lost today. ASU’s main rival, the University of Arizona, toppled #2 Oregon. ASU and Arizona will meet in the annual “Duel in the Desert” in November.

Go NinersWhat happened to my 49ers this season? The same key personnel as last year are present, and those who were on the injured reserve early last season are healthy this year. But they look like a different team!

SF Coach Jim Harbaugh is a serious guy; he rarely even smiles when the team gets a TD. I would assume he handles the team with the same seriousness and expects players to play tough and fairly. The nine penalties against the Niners yesterday and 16 the week before are definitely not the norm for them. What is going on?

While the 49ers’ defense looked pretty good Sunday, the Cardinals’ defense was exceptional, putting pressure on SF QB Colin Kaepernick during virtually every play. But I think the penalties, which totaled over 100 yards, were the biggest factor in this loss.

The guys need to get their emotions under control immediately. Another loss this early in the season could keep San Francisco out of the play-offs months down the road.

This morning, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that climate change is the most serious threat facing the US and the world.

Is he kidding???

There are a number of threats to humanity that are far more important – and easily proven/observed (as compared to the “science” of climate change).

* The ebola virus is sweeping through western Africa and could go global through modern air travel. More than 2000 have died already. Ebola will kill more people in the short term than any climate change could in twice the time.
* The electronic waste from the developed world (2.4 million tons annually from the US) is poisoning much of the developing world. Eighty percent of US e-waste is sent to other countries, principally in Asia. In some places there are actual businesses that takes apart devices, but without environmental oversight, allowing lead and mercury to poison the land and water in the area. Where e-waste is just dumped, children often burn devices to extract copper wire to sell. Burning releases toxic gases which make the children ill.
* ISIS has killed thousands of people simply for their thoughts or beliefs. They or their sympathizers have already attempted to implement their terror campaign in Australia (fortunately thwarted) and have vowed to bring it to the US and Britain. US military experts say defeating ISIS could take a decade or more. ISIS could easily murder a million people in that time. Climate change won’t take a million lives in the next 10 years.
* According to the aid group World Vision, a child dies from hunger every minute. Money spent in a futile effort to change long-term world-wide weather patterns would be better spent on food and farming education.

Even if you buy into the claim that the climate change that is happening is cause by humans (sorry, mere mortals cannot seriously impact something as huge as the world’s climate/circulation system), predictions are made for theoretical scenarios with people who are not even alive now. I make lists, organize and attempt to identify potential problems for future events for my family, so I am in favor of looking at the long-term affects of current policies and behaviors. But there are people suffering right now who see no hope for their children or grandchildren. If (big question mark) we could make a change in global temperature of one degree in the next 100 years, the high cost to governments and industry would make life even more difficult to the people living through those 100 years. Much of the population in the developing world could not survive if food and services cost more. Not to mention that the one degree change would not make any significant difference to the environment.

I appreciate people who are passionate about making a difference in the world. But I am saddened by those who waste their energies on concerns that are beyond their lifetime, while ignoring the needs of the moment. Some of the demonstrators in NYC on Sunday have been swept away by enthusiasm or ignorance, others are using the issue of climate change for political or professional gain. I am not sure where Secretary of State Kerry is on that spectrum, but I am sure that he knows his statement is untrue. It made him look ridiculous.

Posted by: SWL | September 10, 2014

Media Focuses on Wrong Aspect of Ray Rice Video

For two days I’ve been hearing news anchors debating whether the NFL Commissioner knew about the video of the Ravens’ Ray Rice shoving his then girlfriend (now his wife) against the wall of an elevator. (Actually, most of the anchors were convicting and condemning as if they knew every detail of the situation.)

Domestic violence is an issue that does not get enough attention. The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens did not treat this incident as seriously as they should have. But they were called out for that, have apologized and fired Rice.

That aspect of the incident is over and done. Anything else is a law enforcement matter and/or a problem for the Rices to work out, hopefully with professional counseling.

The media missed the point almost entirely. A question that should have been explored with experts is why Janay Rice married a man who treated her so poorly. But I guess that is a private matter between her and Ray. But general questions of why so many women stay with abusive men and often recant abuse accusations could have been debated. Discussions of these aspects of domestic violence would educate viewers, which is more helpful than speculating who knew what when.

Posted by: SWL | September 5, 2014

2014-15 Season Opener: Packers-Seahawks

Flying the Packers' colorsThe NFL officially opened last night with the Green Bay Packers visiting the Seahawks in Seattle.

For some reason, I’ve had a difficult time building enthusiasm for football – college or pro – this year. Last year I rearranged my schedule to be sure I could see all the Forty-Niner and Packers preseason games. Last month I caught only 2 of the 5 broadcast in our area.

Of course, preseason is a bit boring. Most of the first-string plays only the first quarter, and generally plays cautiously to avoid injuries. During San Francisco’s first home game in their new Levi’s Stadium, I decided that QB Colin Kaepernick needs to stay healthy because I was not at all impressed with any of the 3 QB’s vying for the #2 spot. (On the other hand, Denver has some good potential back-up for Peyton Manning.)

Candlestick Park 2013

Candlestick Park 2013

Last year’s excitement may have been caused in part by anticipation of attending the season opener between San Francisco and Green Bay (my fave team and my
Candlestick farewell logo (2013)

Candlestick farewell logo (2013)

spouse’s) to say farewell to Candlestick Park. Between the cost and the distance, we’ve only attended 4 games in the last 15 years. Even with a monster headache that day, it was exciting to see last year’s game in person.

But there are positive things about watching the game at home. Last night it was great not having to fight the crowds to get back to my seat with a freshly made bratwurst!

The only disappointment of the evening was the final score! It wasn’t a big surprise – playing the reigning Super Bowl champions with most of the offensive line out with injuries is tough. Hopefully those guys are healthy very soon.

Thousands of children from Central American countries have poured over the US border this year – already about 20,000 more than in 2013. There are reports that many of these children have health problems, from head lice to worse. Cities near the border are protesting the Department of Homeland Security busing these illegal immigrant children to their areas.

So what is President Obama doing? So far, very little. Administration officials appeared on the Sunday news talk shows, but offered only vague answers.

The President will be going to Texas this week for a fundraising event, but will not visit any location on the border to see the situation for himself.

Democrats ridiculed President George W. Bush when he flew in Air Force One over the areas with damage from Hurricane Katrina. They insisted he needed to visit New Orleans in person.

How come no one is urging President Obama to see the conditions on the border with his own eyes?

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