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You know those lucky 5,700 troops stationed in Iraq who are going to win the George W. Bush Christmas Lottery 2007?  What I’d really like is for them to rise up, en masse, and tell Bush to shove it up his lying, hypocritical ass.  I wish those soldiers would refuse to leave the country prior to the end of the full term of their deployment unless all members of Bush’s “surge” are allowed to return to their lives and families in December.   That’s what I really want.

For those of us who are fortunate enough to be unionized and those who wish they could organize and those who should be unionized and all those who labor the world over.

For those who are socialist and/or liberal and/or democratic and/or egalitarian and/or Democrat and even conservative and/or Republican and/or an asshole…

Happy May Day!

I love what this man has to say!

Yeah!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

That’s what I used to read to my sister every night when she was little, and to my son when he was small. That and Clement Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before ChristmasEvery Christmas Eve.

I miss my sister this Christmas.  And I miss my dad; oh, how I miss Dad.

I have a wonderful son and daughter-in-law and a spectacularly bright and adorable grandboy.  I have my mom and brother, as always, the reliable ones, the constants.  I have love in my life and more coming in, I can just feel it.

But I miss the old times and the lost loved ones and feel selfish.  I decorate my home with relics from a long ago past, a secret childhood I never had and always had.

I raise my glass ( lovely, simple Australian Merlot) and toast the birth of Christ, the love in my life and those I love and those…newly and long…gone from my life.  But never gone from my heart.

Happy Christmas to all and, on earth peace, good will toward humanity.

The group of scientists and scientific organizations meeting in San Fransisco this week at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting.

The latest data presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting suggests the ice is no longer showing a robust recovery from the summer melt.

Last month, the sea that was frozen covered an area that was two million sq km less than the historical average.

“That’s an area the size of Alaska,” said leading ice expert Mark Serreze.

“We’re no longer recovering well in autumn anymore. The ice pack may now be starting to get preconditioned, perhaps to show very rapid losses in the near future,” the University of Colorado researcher added.

The sea ice reached its minimum extent this year on 14 September, making 2006 the fourth lowest on record in 29 years of satellite record-keeping and just shy of the all time minimum of 2005.

‘Feedback loop’

Dr Serreze’s concern was underlined by new computer modelling which concludes that the Arctic may be free of all summer ice by as early as 2040.

The new study, by a team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the University of Washington, and McGill University, found that the ice system could be being weakened to such a degree by global warming that it soon accelerates its own decline.

“As the ice retreats, the ocean transports more heat to the Arctic and the open water absorbs more sunlight, further accelerating the rate of warming and leading to the loss of more ice,” explained Dr Marika Holland.

“This is a positive feedback loop with dramatic implications for the entire Arctic region.”

Eventually, she said, the system would be “kicked over the edge”, probably not even by a dramatic event but by one year slighter warmer than normal. Very rapid retreat would then follow.

You can read the whole article here, thanks to BBC News.

Click here for the study cited, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Thank God scientists still have consciences!

I heard this on the BBC’s The World Today this morning. (Wake up, Brits! It’s 7AM!) As a matter of fact, as they just replayed it, one scientist reported that the Arctic has not been ice-free in “hundreds of thousands of years.” That’s 100,000’s of years! This would be a monumental event the likes of which modern humanity has never witnessed.

So, the polar ice caps are not only going to melt but, once they pass that critical point, the descent will become increasingly more rapid. This pisses me off no end!

We’ve known about this for decades and the fucking Republicans (Reagan, Bush and Bush-Lite) systematically downplayed any research and scientific evidence supporting the catastrophic consequences of global warming. You remember the broohaha over chlorofluorocarbons in the 70’s and 80’s (in which, if I recall correctly, the US did not want to take its full share of the burden…sound familiar? Kyodo?), the evils of aerosol spray cans. They trotted out reputed scientists to pooh-pooh the mounting piles of proof.

And all the while industry marched merrily along.

It’s sure starting to look as if the Chicken Littles weren’t overreacting after all.

Jesus, I hate this monstrosity our country has become. I’m sometimes ashamed to be called an American.

(Damn, I hope the above wasn’t enough to send up any flares to the NSA. Swear to God, guys, I do not plan on blowin’ anything up!)

As a little, added bonie, here’s the links list from the BBC site for the article to which I referred. Very interesting stuff:

SEE ALSO

Big-dollar deals tempt Arctic firms
09 Nov 06 | Business

‘Drastic’ shrinkage in Arctic ice
14 Sep 06 | Science/Nature

Arctic ice ‘disappearing quickly’
28 Sep 05 | Science/Nature

Arctic heads into warmer future
02 Nov 04 | Science/Nature

Earth – melting in the heat?
07 Oct 05 | Science/Nature

RELATED INTERNET LINKS

AGU Fall 2006

NSIDC

NCAR

There are crickets chirping in the balmy, 62 degree breeze in suburban Philadelphia at 2 AM on December 1st. Only 23 shopping days left, peeps…

It all started out, as it so often does, at AlterNet. That’s where I found this terrific article about a Baptist pastor musing, “What if we’re wrong about homosexuality?” Given the ever-rising mountain of scientific evidence suggesting that being gay is no more a choice than being blond or left-handed. (I am neither of these but I do happen to be gay.)

Anyway, I noticed the article was written by Melissa McEwan, who blogs as Shakespeare’s Sister. I’ve really got to go visit there more; there’s some good stuff there. I took a side trip to The Heretik‘s long enough to become depressed about Pam and Kid’s break-up. They say it’s a sign of the coming Apocolypse. Phew, glad I’m in good with the Lord! Seriously, I don’t follow many B-level personalities but Pamela Anderson‘s got to be the most tragic woman around. I mean, look at that boob job! I’d be on a permanent bummer following that surgery, too. I hope things start looking up for her soon.

Anyway, A link in the Pam Anderson story led me to the Boston Globe online. While there, I noticed a headline in the sidebar which read, “The Anti-gay Obsession.” Well, of course I had to go check that out. Well, this wonderful op-ed piece “highlights” some of the recent activity among religious types with regard to homosexshality. I’d highly recommend it.

But one part stood way out for me and that is this. South Africa voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

While all this nuttiness was going on here, the South African parliament this week voted 230-41 to legalize same-sex marriage. This vote came after South Africa’s highest court ruled that existing marriage laws discriminated against gay and lesbian couples. The post-apartheid South African Constitution passed about a decade ago was noteworthy for being the first in the world to explicitly outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

South African Defense Minister Mosuia Lekota was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, “The roots of this bill lie in many years of struggle. . . . This country cannot afford to be a prison of timeworn prejudices which have no basis in modern society. Let us bequeath to future generations a society which is more democratic and tolerant than the one that was handed down to us.”

The tone of affirmation in South Africa had been set years before by the likes of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who lost a son to AIDS, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, who has repeatedly criticized homophobia in the church. “This is crazy,” the retired archbishop said eight years ago. “We say the expression of love in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship is more than just the physical but includes touching, embracing, kissing, maybe the genital act. The totality of this makes each of us grow to become giving, increasingly God-like and compassionate.

This is the part that wriggled its way into my consciousness. Read it again:

“The roots of this bill lie in many years of struggle. . . . This country cannot afford to be a prison of timeworn prejudices which have no basis in modern society. Let us bequeath to future generations a society which is more democratic and tolerant than the one that was handed down to us.”

Are they not the most glorious word combinations you’ve ever seen? “Timeworn prejudices.” “Modern society.” Leave our community a better place than when we came into it. Isn’t that what’s it’s all about?

I’m very heartened to hear and read more about the rising social consciousness of many Christian movements, even some evangelicals. (These are not the first stirrings I’ve heard. When I’m off on Thursday, I’ll have to research some more…a recent interview on Radio Times here on Philly’s NPR station. Tonight, I’ve got to get to bed! It’s 2 AM now.) This is what it’s all about. Leaving the world not only unspoiled but better in some ways than when we were put here. Like packing out your hiking trash, moving or cutting that log in the tail.

This coming from Africa. If there’s one place on earth that is still perceived by the “western world” as primitive, dark, dangerous, backwater it’s Africa. Asia is garnering her respect via India and China. South America has its bright spots. But Africa is still widely viewed as more ‘uncivilized’ than we Eurocentric snobs here in the good, ol’ US of A. Yet they’ve gone ahead and done the “right,” the “progressive” thing. And we in the US lag far behind even the “darkest continent.”

We should hang our collective head in shame.

Before that she bitched about: