Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wombat Spaceships and Michael Savage

Just as with many other online writers, I've often noticed that some readers land on this humble and lovable page by entering some utterly curious and odd phrases and questions into the ol' Google Machine.

For instance, there seem to be a notable collection of people in East Tennessee who are seeking naked images of Knoxville TV news anchor Robin Wilhoit (shame, shame on you), there are searches for Cats that look like Hitler or Stalin (and one for Cats that look like Jimmy Carter), and far more odd thoughts than you can imagine.

Today however a search question grabbed my attention: it read "Are Wombats Spaceships?"

Such a question conjured images of some dude somewhere whose jar of home-made brain debilitation had hit a low point as he gazed into they sky one starry evening while slumped on his porch and pondered to himself -- "maybe .. could it be ... that wombats are really spaceships?"

And oddly enough, such a question did indeed lead him directly to my post dated Aug. 1, 2007 entitled "Wombats Fly Spaceships".

Said post was actually addressing the incessant lunacy of radio talk show goon Michael Savage, and a theory he offered that nefarious Democrats had somehow made Supreme Court Justice John Roberts have a seizure which required some medical attention. So I offered this prediction for Savage's upcoming talking point:

I am going to predict the next Big Scandal from Savage -- he will claim that Wombats Fly Spaceships. And not just yer ordinary everyday Wombat, either. These will be Liberal Democrat Wombats who seek to become the Dark Overlords of Time and Space."

Note that I wrote that he might claim that wombats fly spaceships, not that wombats are spaceships.

Savage, just by coincidence (or is it??), has been raising a stink because the government of Great Britain has banned Savage from entering their country:

" ...
who was described by the Home Office as “seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence.”

Also banned was the rage-inducing prophet of madness known as Fred Phelps. Phelps stand on wombats is not on record that I am aware of.

Maybe the Spaceships helmed by and/or constructed solely by wombats are smarter than we ever dared imagine. Though really, truth is that even a wombat would eye the rantings of Savage as potentially dangerous. Or maybe, just maybe, wombats are indeed galactic overlords cruising he galaxies with unimagined technology. Let's ask the ol' Google Machine if they have any images of these murky aliens whose wisdom is beyond the ken of mortal man -- here's the top results:

1 . A crime novel called The Wombat Strategy by Claire McNab, which Amazon describes as "Don't miss this intro to the most unconventional, laugh-out-loud private eye in lesbian crime fiction."

2. And for some years a videogame called Space Wombat has also been for sale for some time, wherein the adventures begin when "Space Wombat is heading home to planet Ucliptus with a valuable shipment of Power Gumnuts when he receives a distress call from a nearby planet".

Maybe the real question to ask -- is Michael Savage a Wombat Who Flies Spaceships???

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Southall Wins World's Best Job Contest

A 34-year old Briton named Ben Southall has won The Contest of All Contests -- he's going to live in a three-bedroom villa on a tropical island in the barrier reef, get paid over $100,000 and blog about his daily chores of snorkeling, swimming, hiking, tanning, boating and other such tiresome efforts.

I mentioned this contest previously
, and the winner, who is a charity fundraiser and already something of an adventure traveler is, of course, delighted to be the winner:

It’s amazing,” an ecstatic Mr Southall told The Times today, while already dressed in his regulatory island wear of boardshorts and flip flops. “You think of a three of four bedroom house in England and it has nice red bricks and is quite small but this house is a dream, it’s enormous and looks out over the Coral Sea and at least 4 or 5 people can stay at any one time.

“I stayed in a tent on top of my Landrover while I travelled through Africa last year, so this is going to be a very welcome difference.”

Tourism Queensland, which came up with the novel marketing approach, predicts the interest in the competition has generated $AU110 million in international publicity.

Mr Southall spent time in Africa working as a tour guide and driver after leaving university and cites riding an ostrich, bungee jumping, scuba diving and finding new adventures as his favoured achievements.

He was selected from a final group of 16 applicants, who came from 15 different countries, and were flown to Hamilton Island last week for a final series of tests, including demonstrating their swimming abilities, snorkeling and being pampered at a luxurious island resort.

Queensland Tourism Minister Peter Lawlor said he believed Mr Southall, who had described himself in his initial application as the "adventurous, crazy energetic one" in his application, would build up a loyal online following after taking up the position on July 1.

"His ideas for how he will make the role his own, plus his initiative and ability to rise to a challenge, impressed the selection panel and secured his place in the top job," Mr Lawlor said

Mr Southall, whose parents celebrated his win this morning over a champagne breakfast at home in Hampshire, plans to bring his Canadian girlfriend with him for his six-month sojourn on the island."

Southall may just have found the best way to ride out the current economic nightmare.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

TVA Says Ash Spill Disaster Not Their Fault

I noticed via KnoxViews and Roane Views some pretty outrageous claims which accompany any buyouts of property owners suffering after that disastrous ash spill.

It is also important to The TVA is making people sign away any future medical clams and the claims of any of their decedents. And there is also a clause in there that states you agree the TVA was not at fault in anything that happened on Dec. 22nd

Yes they do need to stick together. I also think it is important to remember Mr. Kilgore’s statement of we want to make people whole again and work with them. Well a offer take it or leave it is not working with no one."

More here at KV about how reports on the health risks from ash ponds have been kept secret, and at RV. Roane Views has been hard at work reporting on the aftermath of this disaster, such as posts here, here, and, here.

Monday, May 04, 2009

TVA Ash Spill Seeks Dump Into Smith Mountain, Costs Near $1 Billion

The catastrophic ash spill from TVA's coal ash containment site in East Tennessee continues to see costs rise - estimates for the December 2008 disaster cleanup are topping 1 billion dollars and will take years to resolve. Sadly, Tennessee's federal representatives appear to be content to let the mess and it's cleanup all land on someone else's desk.

As for that cleanup, plans are underway to haul away tons and tons of the debris (180 dump trucks per day) and stash it in a quarry on Smith Mountain in a Cumberland County mining site. But not so fast, says Cumberland County Commissioner Robert Safdie, who penned an editorial in the Crossville Chronicle:

It has been brought to my attention that Crossville Mining Company has asked the Cumberland County Commission to review a proposal to build a hazardous waste dump on Smith Mountain. This proposal will be reviewed by the county commission's environmental committee on Wednesday, May 5, at 4:30 in the small courtroom.

Crossville Mining Company has proposed that they be permitted to dump ash from the Kingston disaster into a quarry in their Cumberland County mining site. Although not made public, my sources have revealed that the county will be paid at least $2 million in "load" fees if the commission approves this. In addition the coal company has promised to improve the road system leading to the quarry. About 180 dump trucks of ash a day will make its way from Kingston to Cumberland County. My sources also tell me that the trucking firm involved in the potential contract is owned by former state Senator Tommy Kilby of Morgan County."
"These questions include, "What else do you plan to put at the site? What levels of radiation are emitted by the ash? What risk is posed by the dust particulates to the residents in the area? How much mercury and arsenic are contained in the waste materials? What is your safety plan for dealing with problems that might occur such as the leaching of contaminants into the county's aquifer? What is the environmental impact on the area? How will road accident and spills be handled?" If approved without the appropriate information, under state law, the county has no repeal options.

Here is my opinion. 1.) We are entitled to a public hearing with ample notification before the county considers this. Announcing that a "land fill" project is up for discussion at Wednesday's environmental committee meeting is an inadequate notification to the community that a hazardous waste dump is being considered and does not constitute a public forum on the issue.

2.) Turning even a part of Cumberland County into a hazardous waste dump defies every action that the county and city have taken to make this community appealing to the tourist industry and retirement community.

3.) The county and city have been striving to bring clean industry into our community to preserve the natural beauty in our area and maintain a clean environment.

4.) I find that this type of development does not provide an economic solution to business and industry growth in Cumberland County; however, it does provide a short term business opportunity for some, but also poses a long term threat to the community.

5.) Our county is quarry rich and if the county approves this proposal, it will not only open the door for TVA, but every federal agency (DOD, DOE, etc.) to solicit quarry owners and the county
commission for the right to use our home as a dumping ground for toxic chemicals and other waste.

Answers to these very pertinent questions need to be answered now, not some years down the line after the dumping has taken place.

Will the office of Mining of Mining Safety be given charge of regulating safety issues here rather than the EPA? The United Mountain Defense Fund has grave concerns there too:

"The Office of Surface Mining does not have the requisite expertise to develop regulations permitting the disposal of dangerous waste in mines. This expertise lies specifically with the Environmental Protection Agency. Congress enacted the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for this purpose and gave EPA the authority to safeguard human health and the environment from the disposal of solid waste.
10 Coal ash is considered a hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Emergency Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), which is also administered by the EPA.

EPA has made no attempt to assess the threat posed by disposal of coal ash in mines, but instead passed the responsibility for regulation to OSM. But EPA cannot under RCRA ignore the disposal of millions of tons of toxic waste in mines. Congress required EPA to prohibit open dumping of solid waste. If OSM permits the dumping of coal ash in mines, it will allow the creation of illegal open dumps. For example, heavy metal pollution at mines in Pennsylvania , West Virginia , and Maryland constitutes illegal open dumping.

Stop OSM from approving disposal of toxic waste in mines before considering the risks to human health and the environment

If OSM insists on proposing a rule on coal combustion waste, it must fully consider the threat posed by disposing of millions of tons of coal ash in mines. EPA’s recent risk assessment on the disposal of coal ash has great bearing on the threat to human health and the environment from the disposal of ash in mines. OSM must consider EPA’s risk assessment, the NAS report, and assess their full implications before proceeding. It is necessary for EPA and OSM to work together to ensure that the disposal of toxic coal ash in mines does not pollute the air and water of coalfield communities with the hazardous chemicals found in the ash." (Full Report here.)

And sometime next month, Federal inspectors will finally start examining the 400 sites nationwide which store coal ash -- as one committee member, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, says:

The Kingston spill was caused by regulatory neglect, a lack of government oversight and "irresponsible coal ash practices," said U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, the subcommittee's chairwoman. The EPA could show some leadership on the issue by regulating coal ash, she said."

SEE ALSO: These two posts via Enclave, 1 and 2.