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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Supreme stupidity

Get your words' worth
By Jen Sorenson

Click here for a new way to think about golden tongues.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Orion Nebula in Surrounding Dust 

What surrounds a hotbed of star formation? In the case of the Orion Nebula -- dust. The entire Orion field, located about 1600 light years away, is inundated with intricate and picturesque filaments of dust. 

Opaque to visible light, dust is created in the outer atmosphere of massive cool stars and expelled by a strong outer wind of particles.

The Trapezium and other forming star clusters are embedded in the nebula. The intricate filaments of dust surrounding M42 and M43 appear gray in the image below, while central glowing gas is highlighted in brown and blue.

Over the next few million years much of Orion's dust will be slowly destroyed by the very stars now being formed, or dispersed into the Galaxy.

Sunday - get out there and muck out the ponds!

Everybody's got the right to live

A Living Wage is an Equal Voice

By Luz Vega-Marquis 
ADWEEK animated GIFTake a look at your bills: What do you pay for food, housing, clothing, health care, utilities and transportation? How much would it take for your family to just get by? Could you make it on $15,000 a year? $21,000? What would your family have to do without to make ends meet?

What exactly does it take to make it in America?

The working poor are not fundamentally different, nor do they practice some kind of magical math that allows them to support their families on wages that would sink your own.

Brain changes associated with casual marijuana use in young adults

More 'joints' equal more damage
arnold schwarzenegger animated GIFThe size and shape of two brain regions involved in emotion and motivation may differ in young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week, according to a study published April 16 in The Journal of Neuroscience

The findings suggest that recreational marijuana use may lead to previously unidentified brain changes, and highlight the importance of research aimed at understanding the long-term effects of low to moderate marijuana use on the brain.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, with an estimated 18.9 million people reporting recent use, according to the most current analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Mental Health. 

Marijuana use is often associated with motivation, attention, learning, and memory impairments. 

Ryan’s Joke Is on Us

The Wisconsin Republican's budget scheme slashes job training, education, infrastructure repairs, medical research, public broadcasting, the arts, and pretty much anything else that regular people want and need.

My guess is that Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s highly touted budget guru, doesn’t have a very tight grip on the concept of irony.

Otherwise, why would he choose April Fools’ Day to release the latest version of what the GOP intends to do to federal programs (and to the people who count on them) if it takes total control of Congress? 

But there he was on April 1, declaring with a straight face that, “We [Republicans] believe that we owe it to the country to offer an alternative to the status quo. It’s just that simple.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Charlestown for sale

This time, it looks like it will LITERALLY be for sale, thanks to the CCA Party
By Will Collette
loop animated GIF
New plan to keep rowdies off of Charlestown Town Beach
On a party-line vote, the three CCA boys who control the Charlestown Town Council (Boss Tom Gentz, Dan Slattery and George Tremblay) voted to advance a proposal from several beachfront property owners to buy a five-foot by one-thousand-foot town-owned right of way to Charlestown Town Beach and the state beach at the Breachway. 

Council members Paula Andersen (D) and Lisa DiBello (I) voted NO.

By this vote, the plan to sell this town property to these private owners now goes before a Special May 5 Town Meeting on the upcoming year’s town budget as a potential warrant item to be placed before the voters in June. Under our Town Charter, the sale of town-owned real estate requires explicit voter approval.

Time Travel Questions

Astronomy Picture of the Day

At the Edge of NGC 2174 

This fantastic skyscape lies near the edge of NGC 2174 a star forming region about 6,400 light-years away in the nebula-rich constellation of Orion.

It follows mountainous clouds of gas and dust carved by winds and radiation from the region's newborn stars, now found scattered in open star clusters embedded around the center of NGC 2174, off the top of the frame.

Though star formation continues within these dusty cosmic clouds they will likely be dispersed by the energetic newborn stars within a few million years.

Recorded at infrared wavelengths by the Hubble Space Telescope, the interstellar scene spans about 6 light-years. The image celebrates the upcoming 24th anniversary of Hubble's launch onboard the space shuttle orbiter Discovery on April 24, 1990.

Ryan Bate of Charlestown is a finalist in PETA “Sexiest Vegan Next Door” contest

Energetic Fitness Expert Says Chucking Animal Products Was the Smartest Move He Ever Made

Charlestown, R.I. — PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door 2014 contest is down to the wire, and 30-year-old Charlestown resident Ryan Bate could take home the grand prize. That's because he has beaten out hundreds of other entrants from across the U.S. to become one of 10 male contestants to advance to the final round. Two lucky winners—one male and one female—will each receive a free vacation for two to Maui, Hawaii, courtesy of

"Going vegan can help make you feel better on the inside, look better on the outside, and save the lives of more than 100 animals a year," says PETA Special Projects Manager Alicia Woempner. "On average, vegans are fitter and trimmer than meat-eaters are, and that makes them sexier, too."

Bate went vegan seven years ago after watching PETA's hard-hitting video "Meet Your Meat" and says it's the most rewarding decision he has ever made. His wife, Danielle, is also vegan, and the two are expecting their first child in May. The Bates have three dogs and a cat, all of whom were rescued and have been spayed or neutered.

Milking Public Education

I’m growing leery of the role corporations are playing in charter-dominated school systems.

The building stood facing me, the windows staring ahead like hundreds of scrutinizing eyes. It was larger than I thought it would be.

I looked around as I dug my hands into my pockets, struggling to retain heat. Across the street was a public housing development that appeared to be shut down: broken doors, smashed windows, an overall sense of abandonment. To the left was a park, buried under feet of snow.

Poetic Justice Strikes the CEO of ExxonMobil

Some of the biggest supporters of fracking don't want it in their backyards.

fail animated GIFRex Tillerson is mad. Fracking mad.

The 61-year old farmer from Bartonville, Texas is another victim of the fracking boom that has invaded people’s homes and lives nationwide, from upstate New York to Southern California. 

Millions of Americans have experienced numerous side effects from this massively destructive drilling process, including polluted air, contaminated water, depleted aquifers, multiple health problems, and even an inexplicable epidemic of earthquakes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

More than symbolism needed

How Earth Day is Just Like New Years’ Eve
plant animated GIF

I’m not eager to spoil the party of Earth Day. For the environmentalist crowd, a group to which I pledge my philosophical, if not always explicit, allegiance, Earth Day is a time for celebration and renewal. But there’s something in “Earth Day” that seems a little like New Years’ Eve, at least to me. Which is to say a disappointment.

Even for me the connection is a little tenuous if I think about it too much. But, in that they are over-hyped abstractions, focusing attention, if only for a brief moment, on the natural cycles of time and nature, New Years’ Eve is just like Earth Day. It is a moment we vow to do better, but real change continues to hauntingly elude the full  promise of progress, resilience and – dare I say it – sustainability.

The Joy of Retirement

Dubya’s clearing brush and painting “happy little trees”

Click here for the wit and wisdom of W.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Along the Western Veil 

Delicate in appearance, these filaments of shocked, glowing gas, draped in planet Earth's sky toward the constellation of Cygnus, make up the western part of the Veil Nebula.

The Veil Nebula itself is a large supernova remnant, an expanding cloud born of the death explosion of a massive star. Light from the original supernova explosion likely reached Earth over 5,000 years ago.

Blasted out in the cataclysmic event, the interstellar shock wave plows through space sweeping up and exciting interstellar material.

The glowing filaments are really more like long ripples in a sheet seen almost edge on, remarkably well separated into atomic hydrogen (red) and oxygen (blue-green) gas.

Also known as the Cygnus Loop, the Veil Nebula now spans nearly 3 degrees or about 6 times the diameter of the full Moon. While that translates to over 70 light-years at its estimated distance of 1,500 light-years, this wide image of the western portion spans about half that distance.

Brighter parts of the western Veil are recognized as separate nebulae, including The Witch's Broom (NGC 6960) along the top of this view and Pickering's Triangle (NGC 6979) below and right of center.

Earth Day in free verse with BONUS VIDEO

Earth Day 2014

I have still never seen…

A bison throw a cigarette butt out a car window
A flock of geese blow the top off a mountain
A seal cause an oil spill
A hippo drive a Hummer
A lemur leave the faucet dripping
A raccoon go out for the evening and leave all the lights in the house on
A bobcat fight legislation to lower smokestack emissions
A songbird sing "Drill Baby, Drill"

Is it a jellyfish or a condom?

Drink Up!

Strange is good. Innovations that start out as weird can eventually become major game changers. The “Ooho” water container may be one of those game changing ideas.

At first glance the “Ooho” water container looks like a clear jellyfish after it accidentally washes upon shore, not necessarily something you want to put in your mouth. But if you consider the implications of a disposable water container that does not rely on plastics, you might want to try and give it a sip.

The “Ooho” was designed by London design students Rodrigo García González , Pierre Paslier, and Guillaume Couche, who wanted to come up with a more eco-friendly way to drink water. Every year millions of water bottles are used and are thrown out instead of recycled, filling up our landfills and refusing to degrade. “Ooho” is not only biodegradable but it is also edible.

Forward, not backward

perfectloops animated GIFWe have had several thought-provoking conversations recently about a new and surprising description of women's status in America. 

According to the latest Shriver Report, A Woman's Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, a study by journalist Maria Shriver and the Washington think tank Center for American Progress, American women are at risk of "backsliding" from their achievements in rights and opportunities over the past half-century.

The reason, the report says, is that policymakers have ignored a "seismic shift" in American family life: Three-quarters of all moms are in the U.S. labor force, which is now half women -- and half of them are their families' primary breadwinners. This is especially true for women of color. Yet like women around the world, U.S. women still aren't equal in the workplace.

Women earn less than men doing the same work, and mothers earn much less. Mothers face so much wage and hiring discrimination that many hide their childrens photos, while proud new dads often get raises. It's no accident that fewer than 5 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day – does anyone in Charlestown care anymore?

April 22, another day on the calendar
By Will Collette
Earth Day 1970

I have a sentimental attachment to Earth Day. Cathy and I first met when we were both volunteers at the long-gone Ecology Action for Rhode Island. Ecology Action was founded in the first blush of the new wave of environmentalism that led to the celebration of the first Earth Day in 1970

Forty-four years ago, wow, has it really been that long?

In 1970, Earth Day was a big deal and was marked with mass rallies across North America that raised issues large and small, global and local, and had a pretty sharp message about corporate polluters. 

Lots of national groups, regional coalitions and local grassroots organizations grew out of that event and carried enough momentum to push Congress to enact landmark legislation such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Over time, the Earth Day event was inevitably co-opted and used by corporate polluters to “greenwash” their public image while continue to rape the planet. Earth Day became a nice, warm-and-fuzzy day where well-intentioned people could say they were environmentalists by spending a few hours picking up trash. 

It’s only a matter of time before Earth Day starts to resemble other holidays where you are encouraged to send greeting cards (on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, of course) and are deluged with car dealer holiday sale TV ads (only these will push hybrids and all-electrics).

Nonetheless, I see Earth Day 1970 as the birthday of the modern environmental movement that, among other things, did indeed launch many grassroots groups who fought local environmental problems such as toxic waste dumps, giant garbage facilities, chemical plants, coal mines, factory farming and fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants. I spent 20 years in Washington working with groups like that.

Invasion of the gray people

Tyranny of the collectivists
By Jen Sorenson

Why worry? Click here.

ARLSRI Companion Animal of the Week

Meet Nancy

Hi, I am Nancy... A petite black cat who wants to bring you good luck.  I'd rather be with friendly human companions as opposed to other cats. 

Have no fear, I keep my living space very neat and clean, you won't have to worry about me making a mess.  Instead of keeping a nice clean cage I'd rather have a forever home to share with you. 

You'll fall for my sweet little voice which matches my demeanor.  Forget all the things you've heard about black cats, I am a petite sweet lady and I am ready to help make your household even happier!

Class act: Clay Pell and Michelle Kwan

Clay Pell shows selfless support for mental health

Clay & Michelle at the Shelter Harbor Inn, April 13 (photo by Will Collette)
Clay Pell showed true depth of character this weekend in support of National Alliance on Mental Illness RI (NAMI RI).

On Saturday night, at the Rosario Society in Providence, close to 200 people packed the hall to support NAMI RI at the non-profit, community-based mental health support organization’s first annual “Pasta Gala” fundraiser. 

As NAMI RI’s newly recruited, pro-bono government relations coordinator and communications consultant, I did my best to spread the word and, with a fantastic collaborative effort amongst members of the Board, the event hall was overbooked. And thank goodness for that. NAMI RI was recently written out of the Governor’s FY 15 budget proposal. Without the funding from BHDDH, this vital education, outreach, counseling and crisis response organization would not be able to survive.

The event was well publicized through social media, press release, letters and emails of invitation and word of mouth. It was packed. Senator Frank Ciccone, a stalwart ally from the beginning, was in attendance. Candidate for General Treasurer, Seth Magaziner, was there too. 

April 27 - be there if you dare (or care)


Three minute pass by Space Station over Charlestown tonight

"Mostly clear" tonight with chance of late ground fog
By Will Collette
space animated GIF

The International Space Station will pass overhead tonight at 8:43 PM and arc over us for three  minutes. It will start in the northwest, then will make a high arc up to 62 degrees over the horizon before disappearing in the east-southeast three minutes later.

The National Weather Service calls for "mostly clear" sky with ground fog developing later - hopefully after the pass is complete, and a low temp of around 40 degrees (click here).

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