Thursday, December 15, 2005

TV and Christmas Past

Put on those traveling shoes and go backwards in Time for a look at Christmas and Television the way it used to be. While I have never been part of the "it-was-better-years-ago" crowd, it is interesting to see how American culture has been so vividly and drastically changed with the arrival of half a billion TV channels to choose from compared to the handful of networks and independent channels that existed pre-1980s.

TV has a peek at what was, including the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special (yes, even then the evil secularists had used the word Holiday), plus a look at how the Rudolph special was made and those shows where old Hollywood crooners like Bing or Hope kept the family around the television. Check out the page here. I seem to remember it all changed the year Bing Crosby had David Bowie on his Christmas show.

They have loads of forgotten TV moments. You can rundown the schedule for a Saturday morning cartoon round-up in 1978 which included the Bay City Rollers cartoon, the sixth season of Fat Albert, and lots of superheroes and American Bandstand.

It all looks like ancient history today.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Snake-Oil Standard

"Persuasive guessing has been at the core of leadership for so long—for all of human experience so far—that it is wholly unsurprising that most of the leaders of this planet, in spite of all the information that is suddenly ours, want the guessing to go on, because now it is their turn to guess and be listened to.

Some of the loudest, most proudly ignorant guessing in the world is going on in Washington today. Our leaders are sick of all the solid information that has been dumped on humanity by research and scholarship and investigative reporting.

They think that the whole country is sick of it, and they want standards, and it isn’t the gold standard. They want to put us back on the snake-oil standard."

That's from "A Man Without A Country" by Kurt Vonnegut Jr and featured at In These Times. The full excerpt is here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Five Years After Bush v. Gore

It was Dec. 12, 2000 when the race for president went to George W. Bush instead of Al Gore. Sizing up the last five years is a current fad and ongoing debate.

George Bush is talking again, and I don't have a clue what he's saying. It's not that he's mangling his syntax. That's par for the course. And while it's as amusing as it is disconcerting, I usually think I know what he's trying to say (though I do confess to being stumped by "more and more of our imports are coming from overseas").

Bush is talking about Iraq, which is always confusing for those of us who like our words and facts to match. He's saying he'll "settle for nothing less than total victory". And I'm wondering: what in the world is total victory? Does it mean large numbers of American troops will stay until Iraq is a fully functioning democracy with a vibrant economy and the political will to help spread freedom across the Middle East? That could take, like, 100 years. Or does it mean that we'll stay until we stand up enough Iraqi police officers and soldiers to claim with a straight face that they can handle their own security? That could mean substantial troop reductions in time to prevent total defeat in next year's mid-term elections. I just don't know."

That's one viewpoint among many, which you can read here.

It's All About The Coffee

I can recall my very first cup of coffee - and I can recall the most recent. Coffee stains more than the countertop and the cup.

Since this blog is, after all, about having a Cup of Joe, isn't it time I included some coffee links? Then read on, read on.

Sure, the French and Coca-Cola have their own unique offering, called Coca-Cola Blak. Its part of the new marketing idea of "fusion". Drinks are now something that gets "fused" in the 21st Century.

Coffee has been a part of the development of our modern civilization, and now you can find web logs dedicated to the drink itself, its history, and the various forms coffee can take. I can't imagine a World War Two movie without it or a cowboy campfire. Starbuck's even put a store in the tourist land of Pigeon Forge.

The Links?

Here is one. And another. And another. Or if you are searhing for something in depth, here is a whole list of coffee links. Tennessee of course has an entire Coffee County.

I like the old joke, "I like my coffee like I like my women - dark and murky." Then there's my favorite line from "Twin Peaks" - "Black as coffee on a moonless night." Or from "Ren and Stimpy" - "Mmmmm, my coffee, God Bless you Stimpy, I don't know why I'm all the time mean to you."

Maybe a T-shirt with the caffeine molecule is what you're after. Think Geek has more.

Ahhhhh, coffee.

UPDATE: As mentioned by Julie, there are more coffee issues to consider. One is the campaign to provide Fair Trade Coffee. And a link for Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. Thanks, Julie!

Monday, December 12, 2005

County Ranks Tops In Health Risks From Pollution

For about 10 years I have been learning how badly polluted the air, water and land in Hamblen County and East Tennessee have become after decades of constant industrialization. The result of the release of deadly toxic pollution have put Hamblen County among the most polluted counties in the nation, not just in the state.

For example:

In 2002, this county ranked among the dirtiest/worst 10% of all counties in the U.S. in terms of total environmental releases."

Based on EPA's most current data, this county ranked among the dirtiest/worst 20% of all counties in the US in terms of an average individual's added cancer risk from hazardous air pollutants."

This information is compiled here, where you can submit your own area code and find out details about how much toxic pollution is released, what illnesses are likely to occur and which industrial sites release the most as well as what toxic elements are released.

The chemicals tracked pose serious risks for Developmental Health and Reproductive Health for every resident. In fact, the county is ranked Number One in toxic air releases that could damage Developmental Health, with almost 18 million pounds of toxic releases in the air alone. The same is true when it comes to toxic releases that could damage Reproductive Health.

Cardiovascular or blood toxicants also leave the county ranked as the worst in the state.

The information is staggering and while it might take you some time to review the information here, it may shed much light on the poor health conditions that exist, the potential damage you risk by breathing the air or drinking the water and which industrial entities are to blame.