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Jim Robbins is not giving thanks for the loss of some of our planet's smaller denizens.
On the first of November, when Mexicans celebrate a holiday called the Day of the Dead, some also celebrate the millions of monarch butterflies that, without fail, fly to the mountainous fir forests of central Mexico on that day. They are believed to be souls of the dead, returned.

This year, for or the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn’t come, at least not on the Day of the Dead. They began to straggle in a week later than usual, in record-low numbers. Last year’s low of 60 million now seems great compared with the fewer than three million that have shown up so far this year. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse.

“It does not look good,” said Lincoln P. Brower, a monarch expert at Sweet Briar College.

It is only the latest bad news about the dramatic decline of insect populations.

Another insect in serious trouble is the wild bee, which has thousands of species. Nicotine-based pesticides called neonicotinoids are implicated in their decline, but even if they were no longer used, experts say, bees, monarchs and many other species of insect would still be in serious trouble.

That’s because of another major factor that has not been widely recognized: the precipitous loss of native vegetation across the United States.

Many insects, such as the beautiful and familiar monarch, are completely dependent on a single native plant, a situation that puts them at shocking peril in a world of monospecies agriculture and lawns filled with stubbornly mowed (and fertilized and pesticided and herbicided and fetishized) grass.
Another major cause is farming with Roundup, a herbicide that kills virtually all plants except crops that are genetically modified to survive it.

As a result, millions of acres of native plants, especially milkweed, an important source of nectar for many species, and vital for monarch butterfly larvae, have been wiped out. One study showed that Iowa has lost almost 60 percent of its milkweed, and another found 90 percent was gone. “The agricultural landscape has been sterilized,” said Dr. Brower.

Frank Bruni pulls out his best "these kids today" (or is it "these parents today"?) in defense of Common Core education standards.

[Education Secretary Arne] Duncan, defending the Common Core at an education conference, identified some of its most impassioned opponents as “white suburban moms” who were suddenly learning that “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good.”

It was an impolitic bit of profiling. Gratuitous, too. But if you follow the fevered lamentations over the Common Core, look hard at some of the complaints from parents and teachers, and factor in the modern cult of self-esteem, you can guess what set Duncan off: a concern, wholly justified, that tougher instruction not be rejected simply because it makes children feel inadequate, and that the impulse to coddle kids not eclipse the imperative to challenge them.

The Common Core, a laudable set of guidelines that emphasize analytical thinking over rote memorization, has been adopted in more than 40 states. In instances its implementation has been flawed, and its accompanying emphasis on testing certainly warrants debate.

What’s not warranted is the welling hysteria: from right-wing alarmists, who hallucinate a federal takeover of education and the indoctrination of a next generation of government-loving liberals; from left-wing paranoiacs, who imagine some conspiracy to ultimately privatize education and create a new frontier of profits for money-mad plutocrats.

Bruni's initial anecdote in this piece is fairly pointless, and Arne Duncan's profile really is gratuitous, but--based on the single data point which is my wife's thirty year career in teaching--there does seem to be a continuing trend of parents demanding less and less of their children and expecting more and more of their school. The "why" of that trend would be worth exploring.

Maureen Dowd is also back in school, but studying a particular subject.

Even sitting in an M.I.T. classroom made me feel smarter.

But I was still struggling with the difference between meiosis and parthenogenesis.

Dr. David Page, the zippy evolutionary biologist teaching a class Wednesday called “Are Males Really Necessary?,” had helpfully laid out some props to illustrate gene swapping — bananas, apples and heads of lettuce arranged on a table covered with a flowery white tablecloth.

“Since only females can give birth, why is it of any advantage to the species to have a second sex?” he asked. “Why should nature bother with males?”

I'm sure that's a question that's occurred to many members of our own species, not all of them women.

Mary Lou Jepson isn't arguing in the abstract, she's describing an unwanted experiment that took place with her own body--and mind.

In my early 30s, for a few months, I altered my body chemistry and hormones so that I was closer to a man in his early 20s. I was blown away by how dramatically my thoughts changed. I was angry almost all the time, thought about sex constantly, and assumed I was the smartest person in the entire world. Over the years I had met guys rather like this.

I was not experimenting with hormone levels out of idle curiosity or in some kind of quirky science experiment. I was on hormone treatments because I’d had a tumor removed along with part of my pituitary gland, which makes key hormones the body needs to function.

Her thoughts on the how hormones and other chemicals define the essential "us" makes this well worth reading.  And there is a an important political dimension.
I spend an average of 10 hours a month nudging, charming, name-dropping, fulfilling requirements and at times getting angry to try to persuade a chain of people to let me get the neurochemicals that I need at whatever the price. I usually spend between $100 and $1,000 per month on these chemicals, depending on what health insurance I have had at the time. On occasion it has run $5,000 per month. Sometimes health insurance has covered all the cost except a standard co-pay, sometimes very little.

...

Without the ability to fine-tune my hormones and neurochemicals I believe I would have been trapped as a near-imbecile, wheelchair-bound, in my mother’s basement for an abbreviated and miserable adult life.

But with this ability I have reached the top of my field. Still, the health care system hinders my access to the chemicals I need to live. I am far from alone in this situation. It’s time we changed the system.

Lawrence Jacobs describes an experiment in the political space.
Minnesota and Wisconsin share much more than bone-chilling winters: German and Northern European roots; farming; and, until recently, a populist progressive tradition stretching back a century to Wisconsin’s Fighting Bob La Follette and the birth of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

But in 2010 these cousin states diverged. By doing so they began a natural experiment that compares the agendas of modern progressivism and the new right. Wisconsin elected Republicans to majorities in the Legislature and selected a bold and vigorous Republican governor, Scott Walker. Minnesotans elected one of the most progressive candidates for governor in the country, Mark Dayton of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

...

Which side of the experiment — the new right or modern progressivism — has been most effective in increasing jobs and improving business opportunities, not to mention living conditions?

Should I make you wait for the results? Ehhh... no.
Obviously, firm answers will require more time and more data, but the first round of evidence gives the edge to Minnesota’s model of increased services, higher costs (mostly for the affluent) and reduced payments to entrenched interests like the insurers who cover the Medicaid population.

Three years into Mr. Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker promised to produce 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000. Wisconsin ranks 34th for job growth. Mr. Walker’s defenders blame the higher spending and taxes of his Democratic predecessor for these disappointments, but according to Forbes’s annual list of best states for business, Wisconsin continues to rank in the bottom half.

The results of this experiment should be repeated again and again... but then the right has never been swayed by silly things like facts and evidence.

The New York Times discusses another political experiment, one whose outcome has already been demonstrated again and again.

Ohio’s Republican-controlled Legislature is aiming to enact a Stand Your Ground gun law, despite pleas from urban government leaders that this would only compound the risks in inner-city neighborhoods where gun mayhem hits hardest. The measure, approved by the Ohio House and sent to the Senate, would eliminate the traditional requirement that a person prudently retreat in the face of danger before resorting to deadly force. It would make Ohio the latest of more than a score of other states following the foolhardy lead of Florida — where the first Stand Your Ground law has proved to be rife with risks to public safety and effective law enforcement.
Remember that thing about facts and evidence? Yeah.

Leonard Pitts provides a follow up lecture on that topic.

With George Zimmerman out on bail last week after his latest run-in with police, it seems an opportune time to discuss the second killing of Trayvon Martin.

The first, of course, has been discussed ad infinitum since Zimmerman shot the unarmed 17-year-old to death last year. But then Trayvon was killed again. The conservative noise machine engaged in a ritual execution of his character and worth, setting out with breathtaking indifference to facts and callous disregard for simple decency to murder the memory of a dead child.

Geraldo Rivera blamed him for his own death because he wore a hooded sweatshirt — in the rain, yet. Glenn Beck’s website suggested he might have been an arsonist, kidnapper or killer. Rush Limbaugh made jokes about “Trayvon Martin Luther King.”

...

One woman forwarded a chain email depicting a tough-looking, light-skinned African-American man with tattoos on his face. It was headlined: “The Real Trayvon Martin,” which it wasn’t. It was actually a then-32-year-old rapper who calls himself The Game. But the message was clear: Trayvon was a scary black man who deserved what he got.

I sent that woman an image of Trayvon from the Zimmerman trial. It shows him lying open-eyed and dead on the grass. “ This is the real Trayvon,” I wrote.

It was a waste of time. “They’re both pictures of Trayvon,” she insisted. So deeply, bizarrely invested was she in the idea of Trayvon as thug that she could not distinguish between a fair-skinned man with tattoos, and a brown boy with no visible markings. Literally, they all look alike to her.

And once again, a conservative movement which argues with airy assurance that American racism died long ago, disproves its thesis with its actions.

David Ignatius earns points as the only pundit at the WP not still cracking Obamacare jokes or proclaiming the death of the left.
If there’s a fog of war, there can also be a fog of peace — in which even the negotiators aren’t sure of the consequences of what they’ve done. Some of that murkiness surrounds the bargaining in Geneva to limit Iran’s nuclear program. There’s sharp disagreement among observers about the potential risks and benefits of this seeming breakthrough between Iran and the West after 34 years of hostility.

...

As the Iran deal has taken shape, a backstage brawl is developing with Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries crucially affected by the deal. The unrelenting attacks on the agreement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which are the culmination of four years of mistrust between him and President Obama, are rumbling the bedrock of the U.S.-Israeli relationship — a consequence neither country wants.

But there’s an intriguing upside: The Israeli-Saudi mutual dislike of the Iran nuclear deal, and their de facto alliance against it, may weirdly prove one of the “silver linings” of this negotiation. Indeed, if the Israelis become a protector and defender of the Sunni Muslim countries, that could have lasting security benefits for Israel and might even open the way for progress on the Palestinian issue — without the usual American mediation.

The Middle East has so many variables, you'd have a hard time making predictions with a room full of Einsteins.  But let's leave it on a hopeful note.

William Saletan goes into deepest, darkest territory--the minds of conspiracy theorists.

To believe that the US government planned or deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks, you'd have to posit that President Bush intentionally sacrificed 3,000 Americans. To believe that explosives, not planes, brought down the buildings, you'd have to imagine an operation large enough to plant the devices without anyone getting caught.

To insist that the truth remains hidden, you'd have to assume that everyone who has reviewed the attacks and the events leading up to them - the CIA, the Justice Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, scientific organisations, peer-reviewed journals, news organisations, the airlines, and local law enforcement agencies in three states - was incompetent, deceived or part of the cover-up.

And yet, as Slate's Jeremy Stahl points out, millions of Americans hold these beliefs. In a Zogby poll taken six years ago, only 64 per cent of US adults agreed that the attacks "caught US intelligence and military forces off guard". More than 30 per cent chose a different conclusion: that "certain elements in the US government knew the attacks were coming but consciously let them proceed for various political, military, and economic motives", or that these government elements "actively planned or assisted some aspects of the attacks".

How can this be? How can so many people, in the name of scepticism, promote so many absurdities?

The answer is that people who suspect conspiracies aren't really sceptics. Like the rest of us, they're selective doubters. They favour a world view, which they uncritically defend. But their worldview isn't about God, values, freedom, or equality. It's about the omnipotence of elites.

Yeah, of course that's what they want you to believe.
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Comment Preferences

  •  I Noticed This Loss In Cincinnati This Year (40+ / 0-)

    Early in the spring I had seen "The Flight of the Butterflies" at the Cincinnati Museum Center. It was a magnificent story.

    I told people I would never look at a Monarch Butterfly in the same way ever again. So I was on the lookout for them in late summer.

    I can count the sightings on one hand. I think I saw four. Two, I believe were in the backyard. The other sightings were around a pond in a park where I walk daily.

    The magnificent story of the Monarch is becoming a sad story. I hope it is not over.

    Dog Poop More Popular Than Congress! Alan Grayson

    by wild hair on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:19:59 AM PST

    •  My wife had noted the same (25+ / 0-)

      The butterfly bushes, which regularly attract hordes, instead brought in a trickle of which Eastern Black Swallowtails were the most common.  These butterflies feed on Queen Anne's Lace, which is a common roadside weed in this area.

      I wonder if that's what we're coming down to: those butterflies that get by on what we leave in the verge.

      •  A must read (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tofumagoo, leevank, wild hair

        on this subject IMO is Barbara Kingsolvers "Flight Behavior".

        If the Republicans ever find out that Barack Obama favors respiration, we'll be a one-party system inside two minutes. - Alan Lewis

        by MadRuth on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:35:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I will take this opportunity (7+ / 0-)

        to encourage anyone interested in the natural world to participate in The Daily Bucket. The rise of invasive species, and the corresponding decline of native ones, is a frequent topic of discussion.

        One of the more depressing aspects of my line of work is that I personally see forests that I've walked in become subdivisions, and I can observe the spread of invasive species from year to year.

        In Georgia, for instance, privet infests enormous areas and continues its relentless spread. A newer invasive is Bradford pear and the related callery pears; I see fields and roadsides covered with young thorny trees that weren't there ten years ago.

        I have two butterflyweeds in my yard; one blooms a bit later than the other. Both of them are virtually devoid of butterflies. My zinnias attract butterflies in late summer and fall, and I've taken to planting more of them even though they aren't native.

    •  I saw that film at the IMAX in the Milwaukee (11+ / 0-)

      Public Museum over the summer.  Truly a tremendous piece of work, and ironically sad that its release coincides with what may very well be the end of the line for the species.

      I grew up reading about the monarch discoveries in the newspaper.  Seeing them recreated on screen was special.

      The efforts to repeal Obamacare are the GOP Abort Obamacare Act. lynneinfla

      by litho on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:50:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Saw the same film at the Baltimore Science Ctr ... (22+ / 0-)

      a couple of weeks ago.  The auditorium was filled with middle school kids who excitedly were trying to "catch" the 3-D Monarch butterflies.  As we were leaving, I sadly told my wife that by the time those kids were able to buy a legal beer, the migratory Monarch butterflies would probably be extinct.

      I think I saw a total of 2 Monarchs during this year's fall migration here in Baltimore, and it wasn't many years ago that if you were outdoors during the fall migration season, you'd see at least 10 times that many in an hour.  They're going the way of the Passenger Pigeon and the Carolina Parakeet, and we're doing NOTHING about it.

      The climate may have had something to do with this, but the biggest reason is apparent if you grew up in the rural Midwest, as I did during the 1950s and 1960s.  Back then, just about every farm was divided into fenced fields of 40 acres or so, and along each fencerow, there were a variety of species of weeds, including milkweed.  The fields had to be fenced, because most farmers had hogs that they put into the fields to glean the left-over grain after harvest.

      Now, the hogs are all kept in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and many of the fences have been eliminated.  The fencerows have been vastly reduced, and everything is sprayed with Roundup.  There is NOTHING other than crops (mostly corn and soybeans).

      I really think it's too late already to save the migratory Monarchs.  No matter how many people plant butterfly gardens that include milkweed, the Monarchs have to find them on the way north, when they're ready to mate and lay eggs.  That was easy for them back in the days of my youth, since it was essentially impossible to fly a mile or two, other than in the cities, and not be very close to milkweed plants.

      It's not just the Monarch butterflies that are suffering, although they'll likely be the first extinction caused by current farming practice.  When I was a kid, you could go to my late uncle's farm and get your limit on pheasants with a couple of hours of hunting.  The last time I was there during hunting season, perhaps 20 years ago, I took my shotgun.  He told me I could hunt if I wanted to, but he hadn't seen a pheasant in more than a year, and only one or two of them in the previous several years.

      We're paying a big price for industrial agriculture, and most people have no idea that we're doing it.  And unless the extinction of the migratory Monarch butterflies somehow costs money for the economy, nothing will probably be done about it.

      Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

      by leevank on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 05:33:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm glad the Urquharts didn't live to see this ... (9+ / 0-)

      year's migration.  After spending their lives trying to learn where the Monarchs wintered in order to protect that area, I can't imagine anything that would have been more painful for them that to realize what's happening because of what we're doing here -- and that most people don't seem to care about.

      Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

      by leevank on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 06:04:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt seriously that most people know (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leevank, Chi, wild hair, Senile Goat

        that Monarch butterflies are endangered and why, and certainly don't know what could be causing the situation and why it makes any difference anway.  Not many people know that bees are endangered nor the ramifications of such news beyond what they've heard in the media - stories of 30 seconds or so duration.  Is biology even taught in schools any more, and is it a required course?

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 09:33:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, it's taught and in most states, it's ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SueDe, wild hair

          a required course.  I'm not sure, though, how much of the typical course focuses on ecology and how much focuses on the organism or cellular level.  Quite a few large high schools now offer a course in environmental science, but it's not a required course anywhere that I know of.

          Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

          by leevank on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:20:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Same in Virginia and the general insect decline (7+ / 0-)

      is apparently hitting both birds and bats hard.

      On summer evenings when I'd sit in the grass by the Washington Monument to listen to one of the bands and full dark came the lights would be attracting clouds of insects, many moths, and the sky would begin filling with nighthawks. In the last years the lights have few insects and the nighthawks are largely gone from the city. Part of the nighthawk decline locally is a change in roofs so that roof nesting is now rare according to a survey on breeding birds of Maryland and D.C, but the decline in insects is even more obvious. Street and other lamps that only a few years ago attracted night insects attract few now.

      By the way, after the monument grounds were reconstructed with barriers and other changes the summer evening concerts by the military bands at Sylvan Theater have also mostly vanished. The historic old pavilion is also on the way out, but perhaps for the better if plans to restore tree canopy come about with native, insect friendly trees.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 06:13:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cheer up. (9+ / 0-)

        Last year our spring in the English West Country was so cold and rainy, and there were so many floods, that the farmers were unable to plant their spring rape crop. Turns out we had the best butterfly and bee season I've seen since 2006, when they started using neonic coated seeds. If the US banned Roundup and coated seeds for one season, the Monarchs would probably recover…as if the big ag business would let that happen.
        Tell me again why hating Monsanto, Sygenta, Bayer et al. is a sign of paranoia.

        "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

        by northsylvania on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:17:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's been years since I've seen a nighthawk (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pelagicray

        And they used to be extremely common.  Chimney swifts also seem to be in pretty steep decline.

        Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

        by leevank on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 09:28:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Monarchs... (6+ / 0-)

      Very few in my area of WI this year.

      I let the milkweed plants grow as much as possible. The purple flowers smell... a very beautiful fragrance. They grow tall too.

      As kid, 30 years ago, I remember the huge "balls" of the butterflies in the fields. I don't walk much today in those fields. Now they are scarred by homes & pavement.

      The butterflies would mass together in huge numbers. They were everywhere. Balled up in big trees. Oaks?

      It is a very distinct memory. I would lay in the tall grass (didn't have to worry about ticks then either..) and just watch 'em flutter.

      Now I notice the chem scars. The walks throughout the 'hoods. The sterile lawns. The whiffs from the trucks filled with chems for a green lawn. Urban chem tanks. I notice on these lawns the void of diversity. The Robins in the spring don't yank & pull out the worms. No Grackels(sp?) strut around looking for snacks. I saw a small toad actually take a path of concrete vs. the the green sterile lawn.

      I try to keep my K9 off the grass. On the walks, pain & weather permitting, we try & avoid what I call the spill zones. They are marked off sometimes by little white flags. How appropriate. I give up. I watched the parents let their kids play on the lawns. Is it my job to point out labels? Is it really safe? The lakes get these huge blooms of grasses in the summer now? Is it runoff?

      But the Monarchs were few this year. There was more green lush lawns than life... diversity.. in a chem city..

      It cannot be tested or filled in by a sentence with a corresponding bubble:

      It is in my very spirit to know that something is horribly wrong... Can't explain.. totally... but just feel it. It is part of my sadness..

  •  Danger Lurks in That Mickey Mouse Couch (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sillycarrot, TracieLynn, 417els

    is a post about a NIck Kristof column on a forthcoming HBO documentary on "flame retardants"  and some additional thoughts of my own

    I invite you to read this diary

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:45:54 AM PST

    •  endocrine disrupters. (0+ / 0-)

      how about all those dumps of flame retardants in wild forests that were or on fire? how long is that going to impact the ecosystem? where are those experts.

      i will read, thanks, but am not looking forward to it..

      •  Please do not confuse woodland fire retardants (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        417els

        with those used on household items. According to the Forest Service, the chemical dumped from planes onto wildfires contains 85% water, 10% fertilizer, 5% iron oxides and clay.

        The iron oxide gives the slurry its red color, to make it more visible to fire fighters.

        •  Thank you! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          foresterbob

          I wondered... thanks for the link. Kinda helpful. Sorry though... I don't trust anybody.

          I learn by being wrong. Is that so wrong. I'm certified in wrong.

          It's non-toxic but pets may be harmed? What about wild animals? I don't feel better.

          Like the story I got from the city?

          "But my tap water smells like bleach?"

          Oh.. it is okay.. just don't wash bright colors for the next few days.

          "But I drink this water?"

          You should be fine...

          I'm sure the red-clay from the sky is fine too... It's just that is the same color as the fire protection caulk... so... I am wrong.

          •  I said in another thread today... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sillycarrot, 417els

            Question everything. In this case, I doubt that the Forest Service is lying about the ingredients. The fire fighters would be raising hell if toxins were being dumped on and around them.

            I know of one hillside in northern Washington where a lot of the slurry was dumped a few years ago, to help control a wildfire. After the fire, there were big red streaks on the hill. Now the color is gone. And a majority of the trees survived.

            By the way, my yard is solid red clay. If the stuff is toxic, I'm in real trouble.

  •  Robbins' Monarch piece is excellent. (30+ / 0-)

    Thank you for including it today.  

    I was delighted to read that Florida did something right for a change:

    When the Florida Department of Transportation last year mowed down roadside wildflowers where monarch butterflies fed on their epic migratory journey, “there was a huge outcry,” said Eleanor Dietrich, a wildflower activist in Florida. So much so, transportation officials created a new policy that left critical insect habitat un-mowed.

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:48:07 AM PST

    •  Apparently this "something right" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Don midwest, leevank

      in Florida had nothing to do with money.  If it had, those wildflowers would have been mowed down without a second thought.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 06:15:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Plant if you can....... (28+ / 0-)

    If you can get out there and plant, please do so.  There are a lot of great projects taking place to help out species such as monarchs and bees.

    - If you have some of your own property, consider replacing some of your grass with a native plant garden. You'll waste less time and energy mowing, you'll be helping out native wildlife, and you'll have some great nature viewing on your own property.

    - Limit chemical use in and around your home. Hand pulling weeds from your property isn't glorious, but it is good exercise.

    - Put pressure on politicians (local, state, and national) to set aside more open space, discourage unnecessary development, and ban the use of those neonicotinoids.

    - See what volunteer opportunities exist in your community to participate in tree planting and native undergrowth restoration.

    - Get young people aware of these issues and outside working on them.  At 36 I'm far too often the "young guy" at some of the environmental events I attend. I'm lucky to work with young folks in environmental capacities, but we need to do more as a nation in terms of getting young people out there in nature learning and helping.

  •  Spledid Collection, Mark (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tb mare, freerad, foresterbob

    Thanks

  •  Stuff it, Bibi!!! (10+ / 0-)
    "What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement. It was a historic mistake," Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting
    http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/...
  •  Cult of Self Esteem? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FrugalWorld, sillycarrot

    Is that for real or is that a RW strawman?

    This child of the '60s and '70s was made to feel like damaged goods because he wasn't good at the almighty Sports and Spelling. Even the creative and atr talents that I had were mostly treated like not being "real talents that we encourage here."

    Because of that I didn't need any hormone treatment to act like an angry male in their 20s.

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 05:33:14 AM PST

    •  There is a grain of truth to it, I'm afraid. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude, leevank

      It refers to a basket of policies though not all of them were put into effect in the same places.

      There should never be a reason for an educator to tear down a child's self esteem but you do not build healthy self esteem by shielding the student from every potential failure. Use the failure as a tool to teach the child to overcome it.

      Having said that, though, it is clear that the RW has turned some well-intentioned but misguided liberal policies into a sack of lies which they are using to bludgeon the public education system.

      Please do not be alarmed. We are about to engage... the nozzle.

      by Terrapin on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:30:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Question? (0+ / 0-)

        What would you consider to be misguided liberial policies?

        Which is kind of weirdly funny, because most of my teachers were from my parents' and grandparents' generation, which were the ones with a MacCarthy-ish streak going through them.

        "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

        by Stude Dude on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:42:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There have been several scattered about ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leevank, Stude Dude

          ... but one of them was the social advancement policy where students who did not pass the grade were advanced to the next grade so as to avoid the stigma of being held back. The experiments with no testing or grades. That one has been a favorite of Doonesbury for over a decade now.

          Again, I am not trying to argue that the RW nonsense is accurate. I am proud of this nation's public schools and myself and my family attend them. I am just saying that the is a small grain of truth to the desert of RW lies. I have no idea what your experience was but it sounds like you had a terrible time and I am not advocating for anything like that - or anything at all. This is all just my $0.02.

          Please do not be alarmed. We are about to engage... the nozzle.

          by Terrapin on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:08:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  ... (4+ / 0-)
    “...their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were..."
    Bumper sticker I saw yesterday

    My dog can lick your honor student

    "If you pour some music on whatever's wrong, it'll sure help out." Levon Helm

    by BOHICA on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 05:38:14 AM PST

  •  Iran, Pakistan Nukes and Afghanistan (6+ / 0-)


    Blast from the past {released hours before any Iran deal}:

    Pakistan's Illegal Nuclear Procurement Exposed in 1987

    Arrest of Arshed Pervez Sparked Reagan Administration Debate over Sanctions

    Newly Declassified Documents Show Illegal Network Had Islamabad's "Approval, Protection, and Funding

    Reagan White House Chose Afghan War over Nonproliferation Enforcement

    note: U.S. walked away from promises to the Afghan people, 1st abandonment, to help rebuild after that long Afghan/Soviet war! 2nd Abandonment came quickly after 9/11 with cheers for the drum beats at Iraq and ramped up threats at Iran. And Iran, not surprisingly, thus ramped up their Nuke program, whether for domestic use or the threats from the U.S. and especially Israel!!

    22 November 2013 - Reagan administration, according to recently declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) director Kenneth Adelman wanted to crack down on the Pakistani nuclear program by cutting military and economic aid; Adelman argued that failure to do so "would be seen as 'business as usual,'" taking the pressure off Pakistan "at the very time we should be trying to increase pressure on them to stop ... illegal procurement activities in the US." By contrast, the State Department took a contrary view because U.S. aid to Pakistan supported the mujahidin in Afghanistan: "We are particularly concerned about weakening the President's hand in discussions with the Soviets on Afghanistan, which [are] at a critical stage. read more>>>>

    "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    by jimstaro on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 05:39:07 AM PST

  •  about the 9/11 CT thing (8+ / 0-)

    I am not generally prone to conspiracy theory, and don't subscribe to it here. However, if I was asked whether the attacks caught US intelligence off-guard, I would answer "no" -- because of the CIA briefing (August 6, 2001, as I recall) warning that al-Qaeda was trying hard to use airplanes as missiles against US targets, combined with the previous attempt to blow up the WTC.

    I'm not sure how I would answer whether the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal looked at that, and before 9/11 rubbed their hands, and said "You know, that would allow us to invade Iraq, so just let 'er roll." I think not -- I think that more likely happened in the first hour after the attacks -- but I could be underestimating their coniving.

    That's a long long way from "the US government planned and executed the attacks." But it means that people who believe some version of US government incompetence and/or passive non-resistance in the matter are not insane. Unlike the birthers, there is actually some hard evidence to support what they/we are saying.

    •  And while most conspiracy theories are fantasy (6+ / 0-)

      (anyone can concoct a multitude of tales, but there's only one objective reality), there are real conspiracies in the world. Smedley Butler really did break up a plot to overthrow FDR. The CIA really did deal in cocaine trafficking to fund the Contras (something that Saletan dismisses), and they really did orchestrate the overthrow of Iran's President Mossadeq and the Shah's takeover.

      So, especially with government and corporate secrecy, it's folly to disregard out of hand credible questions about the official versions of events (ahem, Iranian plot against Saudis in the US), while of course it's folly to give credence to every remotely physically possible tale.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:09:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not CT. It was an overt strategic decision (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snazzzybird

      of Bush that he was going to kick some ass in the Middle East as soon as he had an excuse, and that Iraq was the first on the wish list, as it sits between Iran and Syria/Lebanon, for one thing, and has oil, for another.
      It was pretty blatant, and it's a fact that Cheney worked overtime on the torture of al Zubaydah and others to manufacture an excuse for war, over and above the WMD claim.
      911 was unintended consequences. Trutherism is CT.

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:56:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Right Does Not "Experiment." (5+ / 0-)

    We're far enough along to realize they don't care about facts. We need to put that together with their behavior when in power.

    They're about taking over and ruling.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 05:55:52 AM PST

  •  Seen on Twitter (12+ / 0-)

    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

    by skohayes on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 06:23:33 AM PST

  •  I keep telling GF I can't mow the lawn (4+ / 0-)

    because I'm saving the earth, damn it!

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 06:29:29 AM PST

  •  Am I a conspiracy theorist? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    newliberl

    I honestly don't know the answer to that question.

    Was the entire security apparatus of the US blindsided by 9/11? Clearly it was. Were the towers brought down by explosives? Only in the sense that both planes were aerial bombs.

    But, did "certain elements of the government" - including Bush and Cheney - "know the attacks were coming and deliberately let them happen"? Given all the hair-on-fire warnings they ignored, given their eagerness for an excuse, any excuse, to start a war in Iraq, I had to wonder from the beginning.

    But what made me a maybe-depending-on-your-definition conspiracy theorist was the footage in Fahrenheit 911 of Dubya in that Florida classroom when the news was brought to him. That deer in the headlights look. It might simply have meant that he suddenly realized he was totally out of his depth. But I've always been inclined to think it meant, "I was waiting for a hijacking, maybe a downed plane somewhere. Just enough to launch my war on. Nobody told me to expect THIS."

    Where that leaves me on the spectrum from gullible conventional wisdom to full blown Alex Jones nuttery, I really don't know. I guess my saving grace is that I know perfectly well my theory is only a best guess, and it could be wrong.

    Sigh. It's probably wrong even to post this comment. It could open a completely unproductive thread. If you want to hide rec me, believe me, I'll understand. But I imagine I have company here, out on my short limb.

    •  Yes.... Yes you are. But... (0+ / 0-)

      ... I do not mean that in the "shut up you vile scum!" sort of way. I mean it in the "I understand how our brains are designed to seek causality where there may not be any" sort of way.

      Bush and Cheney 'allowed' it to happen through smug hubris and staggering incompetence. They did not pull back the velvet rope and hand out airplane seat assignments to the hijackers. Nor did they 'know' that attacks were coming any more than we know that some inbred, racist douchebag is going to take a pot shot at the first black president. IOW, sure, they'd love to do it but we don't know anything about who or what or where or when.

      We all have dark moments of the soul when we allow our lesser selves to dream up the motives of our enemies and connect dots with malice that are, in reality, only connected by incompetence. Those moments are best kept to ourselves and not spread on public message boards. A post such as yours is not bankable but if you were to try to move others to these unsupportable beliefs then it would deserve a HideRate.

      Please do not be alarmed. We are about to engage... the nozzle.

      by Terrapin on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:56:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Only a fool admits no doubt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SueDe

      I think you're wrong, but not wrong to doubt.

      quis custodiet ipsos custodes -- Juvenal VI, 347-8

      by golem on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:33:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I call it the "Reservoir Dogs" theory. (0+ / 0-)

      If you recall the film, an undercover cop infiltrates a gang of robbers planning a jewelry heist, with orders to let their plot develop so as to allow LAPD to catch them in the act.
      But it goes horribly wrong.

      The W Admin. knew that something was up, and were thrown a "curve" with the deliberate crashing of the aircraft.

  •  The opening to that anti-CT rank (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner, shenderson

    is weak, weak, weak:

    To believe that the US government planned or deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks, you'd have to posit that President Bush intentionally sacrificed 3,000 Americans.
    Heck, he'd do that before breakfast and twice on Sunday.

    That's a small, small number of Americans sacrificed compared to the toll enacted by many other RW policies . . .

  •  Tithonia: My place is dedicated to bio-diversity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davehouck, foresterbob

    and I use a minimum of organic insecticides and no herbicides. I had a bank of tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) about 20 ft long  and attracted quite a few monarchs and bumblebees. Fennel is also great for the swallowtail caterpillar, and native passionflower for gulf fritillary Our cenizo blooms repeatedly and attracts thousands of honey bees, although it smells similar to stinkfoot.
    Sesame has a great little bloom, few pests and loves heat.

    I'm in Texas but I'm hoping for a devastating Scott Walker defeat that will have disastrous consequences down-ballot and eviscerate (yes, that) the WI gop going into 2016.

    I'm most afraid that John Kasich is going to successfully etch-a-sketch as a "nice guy that really cares about poor people".

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:32:09 AM PST

  •  Here at Downtown Farm ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, leevank, BusyinCA

    ... our 3.5 acre organic farm in Colfax, CA in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada, we began  planting milkweed in 2006 and saw our first Monarch in 2008. We didn't realize at the time that a predatory black wasp times its arrival to coincide with the hatch of Monarch caterpillars and we lost what few hatched out that year. Since then we've captured the caterpillars as they appear and raised them in a large terrarium so that they can mature and enter chrysalis unmolested. It's an incredibly slow process, however, and since 2009 we've managed to raise and release a scant dozen Monarchs, although this year was our best yet with a release of four, and we saw three waves of Monarch visits beginning in May. If I knew how to upload some photos here I would, but ... We're using Eastern Milkweed because it produces a more lush plant with large pink and white blooms that come alive with thousands of pollinators in the spring. We also advise people who want to plant milkweed to be sure to put it somewhere a bit out of the way because our experience is that once its established it tends to run like bamboo and take over a much larger space than you may have intended. What we thought would be a few plants fairly quickly turned into a Milkweed hedge, adding another maintenance item to be managed in our Monarch revival scheme.

  •  Re Monarch Butterfly food sources (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, leevank, shenderson, 417els

    IIRC they can consume a variety of nectars as adults.

    But they lay eggs only on milkweed, and it is only milkweed the caterpillars consume.

    So the best way to help them is to keep a patch of milkweed in a corner of your yard.

    "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

    by nosleep4u on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:05:31 AM PST

  •  I'm making several of this diaries checklists.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, Stude Dude

    Being in WI... a "being" still...

    I had a talk with an older woman, in 50's 'ish, about the state of our state.

    It was a short talk. After I introduced her to my dog in the car... while she was at work.

    She was a hardcore progressive democrat. Everything she was so passioned about... so was I. I told her that anymore that she had to say there was a good chance I might agree with everything.

    She always voted D. Even if it pained.

    There is a "spirit" among the peoples of WI. Makes me wonder what really happened in the fucking recall.

    If you couldn't tell... WI is setting a precedent for a possible vision for our future politics... we must unite & push these unqualified... errr people.. Out Of Office.

  •  Crop Yield = (0+ / 0-)

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


    A mirror is facial recognition hardware. Your narcissism is the software.

    by glb3 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:37:30 AM PST

    •  That's why in Europe we are moving... (0+ / 0-)

      from crop subsidies to paying farmers to leave hedgerows in place, leave wild vegetation around the edges of fields (so-called beetle banks), leave wildflower meadows and the like. It makes sense. If you want them to be custodians of the environment, give them an incetive to be that.

  •  Doing Our Part (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the autonomist, 417els

    We live in Northern San Diego County.  While I am retired from a long career in Silicon Valley, I now find myself as an Avocado Rancher.
    It wasn't on purpose.  We were looking to return to Southern California.  I was born in what is now called Watts.  And I love warm weather and am very uncomfortable (whiny) when the temperature goes below 70 degrees.
    The house we found in Bonsall sits on top of a small mountain and is surrounded by about 350 of our Avocado trees.  As I knew nothing about raising avocados, I figured we would just let the trees go fallow and maybe plant a vineyard later.
    Then my grove manager, who is a naturalist, educated me on the benefits of growing avocados.  First, it is not a profitable occupation.  Most years we barely break even or have a small surplus.
    So why keep on doing it?  Here is where my bleeding heart Liberalism comes in.  The trees clean the air.
    Link

    Avocado trees and roots provide numerous benefits to the environment such as reduction of soil erosion and storm run off and also the improvement of water quality. The biggest benefit, however, is the improvement of our air quality. Avocado trees and orchards absorb carbon dioxide and air pollutants as well as produce a tremendous amount of oxygen per year. One avocado tree can produce around 260 pounds of oxygen per year. Two developed/mature avocado trees can provide the amount of oxygen required by a family of four to breathe for one year's time or remove the amount of carbon dioxide a single car produces in over four years time. That's over 50,000 miles of driving!

    That did it for me.  We will continue to spend money to water and tend the trees.  And we will do it pesticide free and using only natural solutions to our pest problems.

    This summer after seeing an email notice from our Organic Nursery supplier, we planted 4 Milkweed plants.  This is in addition to our 8 Mexican Red Bird of Paradise plants.  We have saved about 100 seed from the Bird of Paradise and will try to grow them this spring from seed.  Both of those plants are beneficial to the Monarch butterfly which we see back here every year.

    I found out something when I looked up the link for the Bird of Paradise.  The word "Mexican" is not part of its name. a Mexican BOP is a different plant all together from the ones I have.  That explains why my Yellow Mexican BOP doesn't look at all like my "Red".

    "If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve; if impeached, I will not leave" -Anon

    by Graebeard on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:47:40 AM PST

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