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Fri May 30, 2014 at 01:26 PM PDT

School Lunches: Follow the Money

by loblolly

Why on earth would we want to lower the quality of school lunches just when we are starting to see progress in reducing childhood obesity? What's really behind efforts to roll back the nutrition standards adopted in 2010? As usual, the answer may lie in corporate profits.

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You may remember that when an F5 tornado with wind speeds of up to 210 mph struck Moore in 2013, 7 children and a teacher died at Park Towers Elementary School because the school incredibly had no tornado shelter. A year later the school still has no tornado shelter. But not to worry- students are getting bicycle helmets.

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In a previous diary, I  wrote  about attempts by climate change deniers to create controversy around the teaching of global warming in the public schools. Now, thanks to leaked documents from the Heartland Institute, we know of a insidious new plan to create a whole K-12 curriculum to spread doubt and make teaching about global warming as controversial topic in public school classrooms as the theory of evolution.

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Wildfires broke out in multiple areas of drought-stricken Central Texas this afternoon, as a combination of two weather systems, the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee to the east and a cold front moving in created hot, extremely dry and windy conditions. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for parts of Bastrop County, and Travis County.

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My granddaughter and I were out walking in the woods when she spotted what looked like a clod of dirt that appeared to be propelling itself slowly along the trail. When we looked more closely we were lucky enough to see a small beetle hard at work, laboring with all its might like a miniature Sisyphus, to move its prize, a bit of coyote scat, over a clump of grass towards some unknown destination.

Nearly anywhere in the world, if you turn over a cow patty, and perhaps dig an inch or so below the soil, you may find these fascinating creatures at work. They are dung beetles, and they are an important part ecosystems all over the world.

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Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 03:15 PM PDT

Alaska Releasing Palin's E-Mails

by loblolly

In response to a freedom of information request, the State of Alaska is releasing some 24,000 pages of Sarah Palin's e-mails sent from mostly private accounts while she was Governor.  News organizations  are asking for help from the public in sorting through them for the most interesting parts.

Poll

What will you consume/imbibe while reading Palin's e-mails?

22%16 votes
12%9 votes
35%25 votes
27%19 votes

| 70 votes | Vote | Results

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I thought I  knew how to protect my personal information. I guard my  credit cards, driver's license, etc, and make sure I  shred anything with personal information before I toss it in the trash. I never give our personal information on-line unless it is a trusted, secure website. It never occurred to me that the State of Texas would post my personal information on a public website, but that is what has happened to me and 3.2 million others, as a result of the incompetence of our Republican State Comptroller, Susan Combs.

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Thu Apr 14, 2011 at 10:50 AM PDT

Small Worlds: Leafcutter Ants

by loblolly

I've always been fascinated with small worlds. Many living creatures go about their lives almost unnoticed, but it is amazing what you can learn when you take a closer look. Leafcutter ants, perhaps the first farmers,  live in a complex society engaged in growing  fungus in underground tunnels. Scientists are studying them as a means of monitoring the effects of climate change on biodiversity of species, and to learn new ways to get energy from inedible plant materials.

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Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 09:47 AM PDT

The Butterflies are Back!

by loblolly

This past week, I've seen several Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies.  Every year these lovely butterflies with their irridescent blue lower wings entertain us by visiting our butterfly garden in large numbers during the summer months. It got me to wondering though, where will they get nectar this time of the year, since there are still very few wildflowers blooming? Are the butterflies emerging too early, perhaps fooled by warming temperatures? What about their caterpillars? Will they be able to find food plants in early March? Join me to learn more, including some fascinating interactions of these butterflies with the plants their larvae feed on.

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Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 11:55 AM PST

Window on Seasonal Change

by loblolly

One of the things I like about living in Texas is watching the changing cast of birds visiting my bird feeders with the change of seasons. Central Texas is right on one of the four North American migratory bird flyways, where migrating birds join together to form great "bird rivers" in the sky, passing over the same geographic locations at about the same time each year. Every year we can look forward to greeting some old friends, as well as getting acquainted with some new ones. There is a vicarious pleasure in imagining the distant lands visited by these tiny travelers.

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Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 11:54 AM PST

Bachman Against Breastfeeding?

by loblolly

Michelle Bachman gets her facts wrong again. By now we should be used to this. Bachman opposes anything that the Obama administration proposes, but promoting breastfeeding?

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Discussions about lax gun control laws got me to wondering what Texas state legislators are up to. The Texas legislature meets every two years, and the next session begins  today. Now that the Republicans control both houses of the legislature, they can pass just about anything they want to, and gun control laws are sure to be on the agenda, once they get through dealing with our $28 billion dollar deficit, and redistricting.  To give an example of the kind of craziness that might be considered here, in the previous session, there was an attempt to pass  a bill to allow holders of a Texas concealed weapons permit on college campuses. MInd you, this is the state where in 1966, Charles Whitman shot 17 students from the top of the University of Texas tower.

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