Friday, December 13, 2013

A Moving flash mob tribute to Nelson Mandela

This might make you cry.  It's very moving,  It shouldn't be.  It should be crass commercialism, but it doesn't come off that way at all.  Sometimes even a corporation can act human.  Enjoy.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A poet for our times

Jack Hasling
Here's a light verse poet who deserves a hand, a laugh and some promotion.

Read this latest poem of his and then if you're interested in seeing more, check out his two books of poetry.   I'll put the books and ordering info at the end.


Once when I was lightly noting how perchance I might be voting
There appeared upon my sill a parrot with a crooked bill.
Ah, distinctly I remember elections early in November
Engaged was I in making choices
Hearing politician’s voices.

I couldn’t help but see that doom was casting shadows in my room
Democracy was almost lost —it must be saved at any cost.
I asked the parrot in despair, and wondered if he’d even care
He look around from side to side
“Socialism,” he replied.

But what about Obamacare? We’ll need it if it isn’t there
We surely know it’s more than fair that healthy people pay their share
The sick and lame just can’t abide, and preconditions won’t subside
The argument can’t be denied.
“Socialism,” he replied.

Food Stamp programs soon might end; still opponents will not bend.
They’re promising to never spend, while money overseas they send.
On faith the hungry have relied
While dealing with their fragile pride
“Socialism,” he replied.

Our roads and bridges need repair; our schools not funded anywhere
But somehow no one seems to care: Protect instead the billionaire.
And while we struggle with this schism
Looking through a shaded prism
Quoth the Parrot, “Socialism.”

My two books of verses are available on
If you don't like to buy on line, write to me at 
—Jack Hasling 


Also available at Leigh's Books 


A little book of light verse with important advice for grandchildren and other folks who think they don't need it.
Available now  
Leigh's Book Store
121 S. Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

That 1912 eight grade exam
When I wrote about how hard the 1912 Bullitt County high school readiness exam was last week in the Daily Times, exactly zero people asked me if they could see the whole test and maybe challenge themselves to take it.
So good news, you can.  You can find it at this site. And to get the answers and an explanation of the answers, go to this link.
Go ahead and try it; it's fun.  By the way, look for the misspelled word in the spelling list. 
The issue I brought up in my column was about the Keystone high school graduation tests now being developed to test high school seniors and deny them diplomas if they don't pass.  This is supposed to get students to invest in their own learning and I hope it works.
Right now, 61 percent of those taking the beta version are failing the algebra portion.  My question is, what are educators going to be able to do to lower that number drastically and prepare students for their college math requirement, which holds many back from graduating. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Our canary in the coal mine?

This polar bear died of starvation because of a lack of Arctic ice on which it could hunt seals.  It was found last week in the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Circle 160 miles from its normal hunting grounds and it was healthy when it was last seen in March.
Maybe that is a short-term good thing for seals, unless they're starving too, but it does not forebode long-term well-being for the seven billion human beings on the planet.  Climate change is, well, changing the natural order.
The North Pole has melted, as has most of Greenland as well as glaciers and snow fields that provide clean drinking water for people all over the world.  One-third of the arable soil of Bangladesh, home to 150 million people, is contaminated by salt from seawater.
Any minute now the permafrost is going to melt just enough to release millions of pounds of methane gas into the atmosphere and that's going to accelerate the warming of the globe many times more intently than anything we've seen so far.  The big burp, some bloggers are calling it.
In our own country, we seem to be enduring a constant barrage of heat waves, droughts, floods, wildfires and tornadoes, in and out of their normal seasons and of a size and scale never before experienced.   The entire Southwest may become too hot to be inhabitable within a couple of decades.  Hurricanes are accompanied by gigantic storm surges and major cities, like New York, Miami and New Orleans are in danger of drowning in rising sea waters.  
Whether or not climate change has been accelerated by human activity, and I think most of us know the answer to that, there is no denying it is happening, no looking away or screaming hoax.
It is long past time that we start doing what we can to ameliorate it and that means lots and lots of clean renewable energy and, just for starters, no Keystone pipeline. 
As Buffalo Springfield wrote/sang:
There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear 
I think it's clear enough.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The prez tackles climate change

President Obama made a historic speech on climate change last Tuesday, historic not just for what he proposes, but also for detailing what his administration has already done.  The 21-page plan that accompanies it puts it altogether. The speech was largely ignored by the Mainstream Media, but if you're interested in the survival of the planet, here it is.  Climate change deniers can deny themselves right back to the Stone Age.  

Here's the video of his speech.
Here's the text.
Here's the graphic that explains it all.
Here's the 21-page plan.
Here's a report on Pennsylvania and the Northeast.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A judge has fun ... and so can we

"Sober as a judge" is more than a cliche. 
Judges by and large have to be serious folk, given to writing long, pedantic, meticulously researched and nuanced and, let's face it, deadly boring legal opinions.
But every once in a while one of them gets the chance to let loose and when they do, it's great fun. 
Judge Fred Biery of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas went to town on a ruling released April 29 denying a preliminary injunction to a strip club, 35 Bar and Grille LLC, in San Antonio, Texas, and well, the rest of this just writes itself.
The issue is whether a strip club is being denied its First Amendment rights by having to take out a license in order to allow its entertainers to appear topless.  The club was seeking a preliminary injunction against the city of San Antonio to prevent it from enforcing an ordinance to that effect.  Sit back and enjoy.
First, Judge Biery gave the title to his decision, which is unusual in itself: "The Case of the Itsy Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Bikini Top v.  the (More) Itsy Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Pastie."
The dispute over the ordinance, Judge Biery says, has "once again fallen into the court's lap."
The city of San Antonio wants exotic dancers employed by the plaintiffs to wear larger pieces of fabric to cover more of the female breast and "thus, the age-old question before the court, now with constitutional implications, is:  Does size matter?"
The judge then notes that the case arose out of an earlier decision known by some as the "Salom̩ order,"which derives from Salom̩'s dance of the seven veils in the palace of King Herod as noted in the Bible, Mark 6:16 Р28.
That dance, he observes in a footnote, resulted in "a fatal secondary effect for John the Baptist."
The plaintiffs "clothe themselves in the First Amendment seeking to provide cover against another alleged naked grab of constitutional power," the opinion says.
The city's enforcement of the ordinance would "strip [the club owners]of their profits," but the city asserts that businesses such as this contribute to reduce property values, violent crime, increase drug sales, prostitution and other sex crimes, and "therefore need to be girdled more tightly."
"Plaintiffs, and by extension their customers, seek an erection of a constitutional wall separating themselves from the regulatory power of city government," the judge says.
"While the court has not received amicus curiae ( friend of the court) briefs, the court has been blessed with volunteers known in South Texas as 'curious amigos' to be inspectors general to perform on-site visits at the locations in question," he says.
Here's where the judge really branches out from the issue at hand.  He observes that these curious amigos would have enjoyed far more the sight of "Miss Wiggles," an exotic artist "of physical self-expression even into her 80s" who died in October 2012 at the age of 90.
I'm not at all sure what Miss Wiggles has to do with this case but, what the hell.
"To bare, or not to bare, that is the question," Judge Biery says paraphrasing Shakespeare.
"The court doubts several square inches of fabric will staunch the flow of violence and other secondary effects emanating from these businesses," he says.
"Indeed, this case exposes the underbelly of America's Romanesque passion for entertainment, sex and money, sought to be covered with constitutional prophylaxis."  Really, judge!
"Alcohol, drugs, testosterone, guns and knives are more likely the causative agents than the female breast, proving once again that humans are a peculiar lot," the judge says alluding to a line from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.
Then the judge delivers the coup de grace: "Should the parties choose to string this case out to trial on the merits, the court encourages reasonable discovery intercourse as they navigate the peaks and valleys of litigation, perhaps to reach a happy ending."  Ooh, naughty.
In denying the preliminary injunction, Judge Biery makes it clear that there is no First Amendment violation involved in a municipal ordinance that seeks to regulate strip clubs and that the club's pursuit of the case is virtually certain to end unhappily for it.
As an addendum, the judge notes that he has supplied an appendix with the entire history of the case "for those interested in a lengthy exposition, those who wish to appeal and those who suffer from insomnia."
Amen to that.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

6000 dead pigs ... in the drinking water

Say what you want about the Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Department of Agriculture,  think what you want about government regulation, I'll bet we'll never have 6,000 diseased pig carcasses floating down the Delaware River.  If we do, time to move to Canada, en mass.  
For those of you who cannot access videos, CNN and Reuters and a bunch of Chinese bloggers reported that more than 6,000 diseased pig carcasses were dumped in the Huangpu River, which supplies the city of Shanghai, China with its drinking water, in the last few days.
What's even worse, Chinese officials insist that the dead pigs, which were removed, posed no health risk to residents.  What would have been worse, and apparently happens all the time, is that upstream farmers, who have lost 70,000 pigs since the beginning of the year, have been selling them to unscrupulous middlemen who put them into the food supply.  This is cheaper than burning or burying the carcasses as the law requires and according to news accounts, it's a law that is not much enforced.
Bloggers on Weibo, China's version of Facebook, dared Chinese officials to drink the water first.  "big leaders, please do go ahead and have the first drink," one quipped. 
Clean Air Act anyone?  Clean Water Act?  Food inspection?