Free Shipping ?

I buy from Amazon and get free shipping for slow delivery.

I buy espresso beans from a roaster called Uncommon Grounds in Saugatuck, Michigan, and get free shippiing for my order of $35 or more.

Image result for nottawa wild bird supply photos

For several years I’ve been buying suet cakes for our bird feeder from ________ Bird Supply for 75 cents each and paying about the same for shipping.  The last time I prepared to place an order, I found the price per cake had doubled, but I would get free shipping.  

The man there told me they’d had lots of complaints about not offering free shipping, so they raised prices to cover shipping and announced “free shipping.”  He said sales had increased !

rjn

 

Death Valley Blooms !

 

When Death Valley magically comes back to life

Time-lapse video at source      BBC

It is famed for its scorching heat, but every so often there is heavy rain and the entire desert is carpeted with wildflowers

 By Harun Mehmedinović  BBC 27 March 2016

On rare occasions, all of Death Valley blooms with flowers. These “superblooms” can only happen if there has been plenty of rain over the winter and spring, plenty of sunshine, and not too many winds that would dry out the soils.

The most spectacular superbloom of recent years happened in 2005, but 2016 has been a pretty good year so far.

Note:  Alice and I once drove to San Diego through the southwestern deserts in the spring.  Everythiing was blooming so the ground was full of color and the air was full of scent.  Glorious!  rjn

Why Do Brits Drive on the Left ?

Why Do the Brits Drive on the Left?

 Note:  A man we worked with was killed trying to cross a street in London.  He looked to the left before stepping into the street, never saw the bus coming on his right.  rjn

 

 Let’s be honest, this question is only phrased this way to appease the two-thirds of the drivers of the world that now drive on the right-hand side of the road. The real question, the question that deserves to be asked, is this: why did everyone else stop driving on the left?

Taking the left hand side in traffic is a habit that goes back hundreds of years, possibly as far as the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans, but certainly to an era when people habitually carried swords when traveling. As around 85-90% of humans are right-handed, passing on the right-hand side would leave carriage and cart drivers more open to attack from people coming the other way. Knights with lances, squires with knives, peasants with pitchforks, everyone had to be ready for a dust-up at a moment’s notice, and that meant keeping to the left so you could get a good swing at your assailants. Granted, this did mean they were more vulnerable to be attacked from the pavement, but no system is entirely foolproof.

____________________________________________________

Note: It’s said that horses are trained to be handled and mounted on the near-side (left) because in olden times riders would have swords on their left hips with right hip and leg free to swing over in mounting.  rjn

____________________________________________________

In 1773, the British Government introduced the General Highways Act, which encouraged horse riders, coachmen and people taking their vegetables to market (while carrying swords) to drive on the left, and that was that. The Highway Act of 1835 later reinforced this, making it the law of the land.

However, things were slightly different elsewhere. Russian authorities, for example, had already noticed that their people tended to favor the right (maybe swords are less of a worry if you have to wear heavy coats all the time), so their first edicts on the topic were that they continue to do so. The pre-revolutionary French were on the left, but having revolted, they moved over as part of a general reordering of all society, and when Napoleon took over the army and began invading nations, he ordered them to stay on the right hand side too. Popular myth suggests this was also because he was left-handed, but there were other advantages; it would prove unsettling for his enemies, it would show him to be a great military tactician, and it would irk the British. Perfect!

Everyone else kept left, but with increasing traffic on the roads in mainland Europe, this began to cause confusion, and slowly, over the course of the next hundred years or so, the European nations began to move over too.

Also, this divergent approach occurred at a time when the British and the French were very busy colonizing the world. Every country occupied by the Brits—like Australia, New Zealand, India and the West Indies—kept to the left, and the ones occupied by France moved over to the right. The Americas were split, with the new arrivals from Britain, Holland, Spain and Portugal keeping to the left, and the French colonies insisting on the right.

look rightFrom Alice in Sidney, Australia:  “Still having trouble crossing streets. In tourist areas there are signs- see picture . . . On the sidewalks most people walk on the left. I have to keep moving over.”

However, two vehicles were about to force this situation to change. In the late 1700s freight wagons (including the great Conestoga wagons) became more and more popular, particularly in America. These were pulled by a chain of horses, arranged in pairs. The best place to sit in order to control these mighty beasts was on the back of the left-hand horse at the back, so you could whip the others with your right hand. With the postilion driver in position, the best way for one wagon to pass another without accidentally banging wheels was the right hand side of the road. And where the wagons went, everyone else followed. So driving on the right became more common.

And then the motor car arrived. While original designs for cars put the driver in the front and center of the vehicle, it wasn’t long before the advantages of having the driver able to see down the middle of the road became clear. And in those countries where car manufacturing became an essential industry for export (America, this means you), right-hand-drive vehicles with the steering column on the left quickly became a worldwide norm, forcing relative latecomers like Sweden to give in and move over too.

Although it’s interesting to note that this arrangement does favor the left-handed driver somewhat, as their dominant hand is the one that never leaves the steering wheel. A right-handed driver in a British car spends a good deal of their time steering with his or her right hand while fiddling with the gear stick with their left, which seems the safest way.

This may account for the relative popularity of stick-shift gearboxes in British cars to this day.

Oh and one last thing. In Japan, they historically drove on the left—partly by choice, partly because British engineers built their railway network to be left-hand drive—until 1945, when U.S. rule forced the Okinawa Prefecture to switch to the right. They returned to the left in 1978.

Fastball–How Fast?

The documentary film “Fastball” opens nationwide this weekend, and it’s available On Demand.               _____________________________________________

Bob Feller

‘Fastball’ Documentary Explores Classic Showdown Between Pitcher And Batter

  • The new documentary Fastball explores the classic showdown between pitcher and batter. NPR’s Robert Siegel talks with director Jonathan Hock about his film, and with David Price, a left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In September 2010, Aroldis Chapman, a rookie relief pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds, made history. A fastball he threw in the eighth inning of a game in San Diego was clocked at 105.1 miles per hour. It was the fastest pitch ever recorded in the major leagues, and it added to a century of lore and legend about the fastball.

TIMOTHY VERSTYNEN: The pitcher is pushing the limits of how fast a ball can go. And that limit is coming close to the limit of how fast a hitter can make a decision. And so you have these two extremes of human performance doing this kind of dance right at the edge of where their biology is constraining them.

SIEGEL: That’s psychologist Timothy Verstynen of Carnegie Mellon University. The science, history and sheer marvel of the game’s fastest pitch are explored in a new documentary called “Fastball.” Jonathan Hock wrote and directed the film and joins us from New York. Welcome to the program, Jonathan.

JONATHAN HOCK: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: And the film features scientists like Verstynen and several players, including left-handed pitcher David Price of the Boston Red Sox who joins us from Fort Meyers, Fla., where his team spends spring training. Welcome to you, David Price.

DAVID PRICE: Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: Let’s start, Jonathan, with you. How fast is a great fastball?

HOCK: You know, there are a lot of guys throwing 98, a hundred now, and that used to be blinding speed, and now it’s kind of typical of what’s coming out of the bullpen. But there’s a lot more to it than just speed – release point, movement, late movement, especially

SIEGEL: David Price, there’s a moment in the documentary where we see you striking out a man and throwing a ball, according to the speed gun, 100 miles per hour. What was that like?

PRICE: That was a first for me. I remember that moment very clearly, you know? I was in the bottom of the fifth. You know, my pitch count was at a hundred or higher, so I knew this was – you know, it was probably my last hitter.

I think it was a two-two count, and you know, just threw a good fastball up in the leg. He swung through it. And I just remember walking off the field to the first-base dugout. And I looked up ’cause they had a radar gun reading right there and in Detroit above our dugout, and I saw 100. But that was special.

SIEGEL: When you threw that pitch, could you feel that there was something different about this fastball from a fastball that might be clocked in at 97 miles per hour?

PRICE: No, I didn’t feel any different. You know, I like to kind of play it to golf. You know, a lot of the golfers on the – on tour, you know, they’re not – they’re never swinger a hundred percent. You know, very rarely will they ever really go at a golf ball unless they really need to.

And you know, less is more. And I feel like if I can keep my mechanics in line and just get on top of that baseball, you know, I can still throw the baseball just as hard as if I was to hump up and try and really get after it.

SIEGEL: I want to play a couple of clips from “Fastball,” from the film, that address the question of, say, the difference between a 92-mile-per-hour fastball and a 100-mile-per-hour fastball. First, at one point, the narrator, Kevin Costner, delivers a scientific comparison.

KEVIN COSTNER: If the two pitches were thrown together, when the 100-mile-an-hour pitch reaches home plate, the 92-mile-an-hour pitch would still have 4-and-a-half feet left to travel.

SIEGEL: So that’s the result of serious calculations. Brandon Phillips, the second baseman of the Cincinnati Reds, describes being a batter and looking at the difference between a 92-mile-per-hour pitch and a hundred-mile-per-hour pitch. He describes it a little bit differently.

BRANDON PHILLIPS: When you’re thrown a 92, you can read the Major League logo on the ball. You can see the seams. You can see all that. But when the guy throwing a hundred…

PHILLIPS: ...It look like a golf ball.

SIEGEL: (Laughter) It looks like a golf ball, David Price – back to golf.

PRICE: (Laughter) That definitely makes sense. You know, whenever you see a guy throwing, you know, upper-90s, a lot of people say that the baseball looks about the size of a bb, so I definitely get what he’s saying there.

SIEGEL: One of the questions that you address – the big question that you address in “Fastball,” Jonathan, is who actually threw the fastest fastball. And I was very surprised to learn how different the methods have been for measuring the speed of a fastball. Nowadays we have this radar gun that’s measuring it. But before that, it was a much more random kind of science.

HOCK: Yeah. We sort of took it for granted when we began the project that the, you know, the current timings were just sort of the same as anything that had ever been timed before and when Aroldis Chapman hit 105.1, that was it.

But what we discovered with the help of the scientists from Carnegie Mellon – that the method they used over the years to scientifically time some pitchers, which hadn’t happened that often before the radar gun – but it did happen, and the methods they did use were accurate. But the way they set it up was a little bit lacking.

SIEGEL: In 1939, as the movie shows us, Bob Feller, the great pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, wanted to be timed.

HOCK: Bob Feller was the first pitcher who really wanted to know how fast his fastball went. And he tried many ways of measuring this. And the first one and the most amusing one to watch is – he literally races his fastball against a police motorcycle. They filmed this. It was in Chicago. And you see this cop racing in on a motorcycle, going 86 miles an hour.

And just as he passes Feller, Feller, with his eye on the cop, winds up and lets go of the ball. And Feller’s fastball hits the target before the cop going 86 miles an hour. And then Feller was in his street clothes, you know, with hard-soled shoes, pitching on the street without a mound.

SIEGEL: (Laughter) There’s a scientific consensus in this film that a fastball cannot rise.

HOCK: Yeah. The idea is that when we’re tracking an object in motion, we’re not actually looking directly at the object. We’re looking slightly ahead of it – a tenth, two-tenths of a second ahead of where it goes, and our brain then fills in the missing frames. And when we anticipate a ball going the normal speed – say, 90, 92 – our eye, as a batter, races to the spot where a 92-mile-an-hour pitch will cross home plate, and we swing there.

The hundred-mile-an-hour pitch thrown as a four-seamer, as David describes in the film, with backspin is going to create what they call Magnus force, which creates a slight lift on the ball. It doesn’t actually lift the ball, but the ball won’t fall. So it crosses the plate higher than the batter expects it to, and so his – he’s literally seeing the ball rise because whatever part of his brain is interpreting what his eyes are seeing is actually making the ball rise.

SIEGEL: David, are you persuaded by what Jonathan just said, explaining the – what he would say is the illusion of the rising fastball?

PRICE: I really don’t think the baseball can rise, but if there’s anybody in baseball that could do that, it would be Darren O’Day just from, you know, his arm spot of where he throws and then him still being able to generate, you know, 87, you know, to 90 mile an hour that gives that look of that.

SIEGEL: We’re on the eve of a new Major League Baseball season. Jonathan Hock, David Price, how exciting is that for the two of you?

PRICE: This time of year, you know, before the season gets going is always exciting. And then to be throwing with a new team and a new organization – that’s always exciting as well.

HOCK: For me, the – baseball is the soundtrack of my summers for 50 years now. And there are two kinds of life we live every year. The six months where every night we can turn on the radio and put a ballgame on in the background is – that’s the half of life I prefer.

SIEGEL: Filmmaker Jonathan Hock, whose new document is called “Fastball,” and David Price, whose new team is the Boston Red Sox, thanks to both of you for talking with us.

HOCK: Thank you, Robert.

PRICE: Not a problem, thank you.

SIEGEL: The documentary “Fastball” opens nationwide this weekend, and it’s available On Demand.

Easter Morning

 

Easter morning,

Bright and cool.

The church is warm, filled

To receive the good news.

Pastor ascends her pulpit,

Over looks the congregation,

Raises her arms and calls

He is risen !

I am thrilled and

wish just then I could believe.

 

I think of those followers,

Before the Rising,

Cowering together,

Despairing in their loss

Of leader, the defeated

message, meaning

Of their lives.

Descended then the Ghost.

Said the noted bishop:

We cannot know what happened.

We do know something wonderful,

Some incredible,

Wonderful thing had happened.

To us.

rjn

“Monster” Lived in Illinois–New Info

 

Monstrous news on state fossil front
By Steve Johnson Chicago Tribune   3.17.16

   Since 1955, when amateur fossil hunter Francis Tully discovered the unlikely prehistoric creature in a coal mining area near Morris, the thing that would be named the Tully monster has presented one of the great puzzles in paleontology.   Much as the people of Metropolis wondered whether Superman flying overhead was a bird or a plane, scientists have struggled to classify these fossils that showed traits associated with several disparate animal types and such abnormalities as eyes mounted on an external bar and a long, toothy proboscis.   “If you put in a box a worm, a mollusk, an arthropod and a fish, and you shake, then what you have at the end is a Tully monster,” said Carmen Soriano, a paleontologist at Argonne National Laboratory. 

  The Tully’s renown stretched even to the Illinois state legislature, which named it the official state fossil in 1989, some 308 million years after it inhabited the shallow salty waters that turned into the state’s Mazon Creek geological deposits, in Grundy County, one of the richest fossil troves on Earth.  

Now, though, Tullimonstrum gregarium has a home on the Tree of Life rather than in the biological category known as the “problematica.” Utilizing the synchrotron X-ray machine at Argonne and the Field Museum’s collection of 2,000 Tully specimens, a team from those two institutions, Yale University and the American Museum of Natural History announced in a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature that “The Tully monster is a vertebrate.”  

Below that headline, the paper describes Tully as belonging “on the stem lineage to lampreys,” a find that “resolves the nature of a soft-bodied fossil which has been debated for more than 50 years.”    “This is one of the mysteries that I heard about since I was a kid,” said Soriano. “To be able to study, to basically ‘unmonsterize’ the monster, is really exciting.” 

  “Resolving this is a big deal,” said Scott Lidgard, the Field’s associate curator of fossil invertebrates and another of the paper’s authors. “It’s one of the examples used in textbooks around the world as what are called ‘problematica,’ ” creatures that defied ready classification and were sometimes thought to be examples of extinct phyla, or animal categories.   “This is kind of a poster child for that sort of evolutionary puzzle,” Lidgard said.

The finding “changes it from a mystery to a fishlike organism that is probably on the lineage leading to what we would recognize as lampreys.”  

It’s also a big moment for those who study lesser prehistoric animals and realize, said Lidgard, that “we’re never going to be as popular as dinosaurs and fossil birds.”  

The Tully monster is named for its assemblage of features, not for any sort of fearsome size. The biggest of the many, many specimens that have been found suggested a maximum length of about 18 inches and typical length of 12.  

But because Mazon Creek fossils are so well preserved, there is a lot of Tully to study. Skeletons have not survived, but detailed impressions in stone have.   “If you see the specimens, they are typically well preserved,” Soriano said. “It’s not that they are a blob in the rock.”  

BOB FILA CHICAGO TRIBUNE 1987   Francis Tully’s big fossil find was made near Morris.

Tully, a pipefitter for Texaco and lifelong fossil hound, described his find to the Tribune in a story in 1987, also the year of his death: “I found two rocks that had cracked open from natural weathering. They held something completely different. I knew right away. I’d never seen anything like it. one of the books had it. I’d never seen it in museums or at rock clubs. So I brought it to Chicago to the Field Museum to see if they could figure out what the devil it was.” 

  The first scientific paper describing the Tully monster, and giving it its vivid Latin name, came in the mid-1960s from one of Lidgard’s predecessors at the museum, who “thought it was a worm,” Lidgard said.   Later papers proposed that it was a “free-swimming shell-less snail,” he said, and then a conodont, extinct eel-like creatures very rare in the fossil record.   “I’ve been looking at this thing for 30 years,” said Lidgard. “Years ago I had a stab at it, thinking it might be related to squids. We gave up. We didn’t publish anything.”  

What got the ball rolling again was Lidgard hearing about Victoria McCoy, a Yale grad student exploring the Mazon Creek deposits who would become the paper’s lead author.   They met at a 2014 conference, and the following year, an assembled team spent three weeks at the Field studying its Tully specimens.   The Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, southwest of Chicago, came into the picture because of its advanced imaging techniques using the Advanced Photon Source, an electron accelerator and storage ring that “provides ultra-bright, high-energy storage ring-generated X-ray beams for research in almost all scientific disciplines,” according to Argonne.   “The thing with these machines is they are incredibly powerful microscopes,” Soriano said. “We can get information not only on the morphology of the sample, but also on the structure, on the composition.”   It allows people “to see what no one saw before basically,” she said. 

  What the scientists saw, as they studied the Argonne imagery, digital photographs of the fossils and the fossils themselves were characteristics that tied the Tully monster to lampreys.   A chemical analysis of the eye stalks, for instance, showed the presence of zinc, “very similar to the material in the eyes of vertebrate fossil fishes,” said Lidgard.   “Tully is usually preserved so that you’re looking down on its back,” he added. “Every so often you can see its side. In those twisted fossils we found a very few where we think we can distinguish openings we interpret as openings to a particular kind of gill structure present in very primitive fishes like lampreys.” 

  And they were able to find the animal’s gut trace, as well, the shadow of its digestive system, in the lower part of the body, which suggested that what had previously been thought to be a gut trace up on the back was in fact a notochord, a flexible rod in the back.   That made it a primitive vertebrate, he said. He does not recall a moment where somebody said, “Hey, lamprey!” but recalls that “it became more and more clear,” he said. “As those results started to come in, it was pretty convincing right away.”  

So if the Tully monster is now a known vertebrate lamprey ancestor with a place in the historical animal record, that raises two big questions:   First, do all those specimens at the Field move out of the invertebrate department?   Paul Mayer, collections manager of invertebrate fossils, laughed. “I’ve been talking with the vertebrate fossil collection manager,” he said. “We’re going to wait a couple of years and make sure there’s no rebuttal. It’s a lot of work to move these things up the stairs to where his collection is.”   Question two: Does the Tully monster need to be renamed?   “No, because it’s still a monster,” said Soriano.   “It’s something really different from anything we have seen. It’s one of a kind. If you come back to this idea of a monster as anything strange, it’s still strange.” sajohnson@tribpub.com Twitter @StevenKJohnson

What’s in Your Toothpaste?

 

YOUR HEALTH

How To Pick A Tooth Paste

Go to any pharmacy or grocery store and stand in front of the toothpaste aisle and you will face an overwhelming array of choices. Each brand has a plethora of options

PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: And I’m Patti Neighmond in Los Angeles. One of the best things you can do to prevent tooth decay is brush your teeth well and floss every day. But choosing a toothpaste can be overwhelming.

LARRY KOZEK: Toothpaste, look at that.

NEIGHMOND: I’m standing in a local pharmacy with my dentist Dr. Larry Kozek. We’re looking at rows and rows of toothpaste.

KOZEK: I remember when toothpaste used to be toothpaste.

NEIGHMOND: What do you mean?

KOZEK: Well, it was white, it tasted like peppermint. Now we have a whole menu of items in there. We’re afraid not to put things in toothpaste. We’re afraid it won’t sell if it doesn’t have everything in it.

NEIGHMOND: Well, exactly, ’cause what are we looking at? Truly radiant, sensitive, daily repair, advanced whitening.

KOZEK: Pro-health, my goodness – radiant white.

NEIGHMOND: But does all this do anything or is it hype to sell the product?

KOZEK: Let’s see, can we read some of these ingredients?

NEIGHMOND: Yeah.

KOZEK: Water, zorbitrol, hydrated silica, poloxamer 407.

NEIGHMOND: Moisturizers, flavorings, coloring. But Kozek says the single most important ingredient is fluoride.

KOZEK: Because fluoride is the ingredient that hardens the enamel and makes the tooth more resistant to the acids of the bacteria in the mouth.

NEIGHMOND: And there are different types of fluoride.

KOZEK: Sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride. And it’s pretty well accepted that the stannous fluoride is more effective. So if I were looking for a toothpaste and wanted the basic protection and basic care, I would look for a toothpaste that had stannous fluoride in it.

NEIGHMOND: When you were reading that list of ingredients, was that among them?

KOZEK: I didn’t see that in any of those (laughter).

NEIGHMOND: So let’s see if we can grab another one and see if it has stannous fluoride in it.

KOZEK: OK, well, let’s take this here.

NEIGHMOND: This one didn’t contain it either. Another important ingredient, he says, triclosan to fight bacteria that causes tartar. Some worry this chemical is contributing to antibiotic resistance. And if you have sensitive teeth, desensitizing toothpaste does work.

And the whiteners, do they work?

KOZEK: Everybody likes to have white teeth. And we find that the whiteners that are added to the toothpaste and to the mouthwash over time tend to be able to help people keep their teeth whiter but strictly a cosmetic.

NEIGHMOND: And, of course, floss.

KOZEK: The singularly – the most important feature of cleaning our teeth. Which works better, waxed dental floss, plain dental floss, glide dental floss? As long as we mechanically are able to use this string to dislodge the film of plaque on the teeth, we’re doing an effective job.

NEIGHMOND: Kozek recommends flossing first, followed by brushing. Patti Neighmond, NPR News.

Wolves in Danger

.

GARY KRAMER/AP 2008

A threat to wolves and wilderness  Chicago Tribune 3.14.16

   If you think the problem with modern America is that there are too many wolves, a bill passed in February by the U.S. House of Representatives probably made your day. If you think there has been more than enough killing of them over our history, however, the measure is cause for alarm.  

The legislation, titled the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE), has the enthusiastic support of the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and conservative House members. It stems from resentment of the very idea that the federal government should control millions of acres of land and manage it for broad national purposes.  

One of those purposes is restoring and preserving endangered species, such as the gray wolf. Some 2 million of them once lived on this continent, but only a few thousand remain. The bill would expose this iconic beast to hunting and trapping in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Wyoming — with predictable consequences.  

The Obama administration de-listed the species, only to be later overruled by federal courts. During the time the wolves lacked their former protection in the Great Lakes region, reports the Humane Society, 1,500 of them died at the hands of humans.  

The SHARE Act would not only deprive wolves of federal protection but also bar court challenges to this policy. The only reason to bar court challenges, of course, is to avoid having the legal weakness of your case exposed.   The measure shows a distressing indifference to some basic environmental concerns.

It would waive federal environmental reviews for management decisions on 150 million acres of public land. It would prevent the government from banning the use of lead fishing tackle, bullets and shotgun pellets — what the NRA refers to, charmingly, as “traditional ammunition.”   But lead pollution is harmful to wildlife, which is why this type of ammo has been banned for hunting waterfowl since 1991 — and why most states have added restrictions of their own. California has entirely outlawed its use for hunting. Nonlead options are widely available and widely used. Even the U.S. military has chosen to make the switch.  

The House legislation also would open up wilderness lands to road construction and mechanized vehicles, which raises the question:   What part of “wilderness” do the supporters not understand?   There are plenty of federal lands that are open to these activities, because the vast majority of what the feds own is not designated as wilderness.

But the goal of the Wilderness Act of 1964 was to preserve areas “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”   Roads and dirt bikes have their place — elsewhere.   The fate of the SHARE Act now rests with the U.S. Senate, which ought to reject it. Wolves, wilderness and the environment deserve better.

 

Election Season, “Independents”

 

VOTE this Tuesday,  March 15

This is the entertaining season, we even have a clown, when political  

parties choose their candidates for office in the coming general election, so we have Republicans running against Republicans, Democrats against Democrats.

It used to be that a party’s candidates for president and vice-president would be chosen in a convention of the party by vote of the delegates to the convention.  That was suspenseful entertainment.

There may be candidates from small parties, too, referred to as “third parties”.  There is a short story (can’t find it just now) about an American traveling abroad who is treated with enormous respect when word gets around that he is a presidential candidate.  He has been chosen by the Vegetarian Party!

Are these primary elections important?  Sure, since the winners will run for election to the presidency.

A lot of people don’t vote in primaries, because they don’t like being identified with a party, call themselves “independents”.

I don’t understand that.  One party may have a candidate who is more experienced, who seems smarter or wiser or more lovable and you’d like to vote for him.  But he/she belongs to a party, and a party has a platform of things it is for and against, laws to pass or repeal.

If an admirable person belongs to a party that favors the interests of the wealthy over the needs of working people and the poor, if one party opposes the right to abortion, if  one party opposes government regulations on corporations,  on air and water pollution, promises to kill Obamacare,  how can you be “independent”?   rjn

Democratic Platform  2012

Republican Platform 2012

 

Why Conspiracy Theories ?

 LISTEN  at source  18 good minutes

What prompts people to think in this way? How should Governments react to the people who doubt them? Or are they in fact critical in our attempts to hold Governments to account?

Mike Williams talks to a psychologist, a Professor of Political Science and a conspiracy theorist as he attempts to separate fact from fiction.