Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cliven Bundy Is NOT A Patriot


By Ralph Maughan and Ken Cole
In the acrimonious case of Cliven Bundy, it is important that folks understand a bit about the history of the U.S. public lands.
Cliven Bundy, the rancher whose cattle were rounded up and then released by the BLM over the weekend, claims that his family has used the land in question since 1880 but the Nevada Constitution pre-dates this by 16 years. When Nevada became a state in 1864, its citizens gave up all claims to unappropriated federal land and codified this in the state’s Constitution. The Nevada Constitution states:
“Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States; …..”
If Bundy “owns the land then where is the deed?  Where are the records he paid property taxes?
It’s not his land.
Bundy also claims that it his “right” to graze these BLM public lands.  This is not the case. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 specifically states that the issuance of a grazing permit does not confer any right to graze or right to own the land. The Taylor Grazing Act is the granddaddy of the U.S. laws governing grazing on federal land. “Taylor” was a rancher and a congressman from Colorado, hardly someone to want government tyranny over ranching.
So far as consistent with the purposes and provisions of this subchapter, grazing privileges recognized and acknowledged shall be adequately safeguarded, but the creation of a grazing district or the issuance of a permit pursuant to the provisions of this subchapter shall not create any right, title, interest, or estate in or to the lands.
In Public Lands Council v. Babbitt the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the new grazing regulations promulgated by the Department of Interior under former Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt to conform to Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976(FLPMA) and found:
The words “so far as consistent with the purposes . . . of this subchapter” and the warning that “issuance of a permit” creates no “right, title, interest or estate” make clear that the ranchers’ interest in permit stability cannot be absolute; and that the Secretary is free reasonably to determine just how, and the extent to which, “grazing privileges” shall be safeguarded, in light of the Act’s basic purposes. Of course, those purposes include “stabiliz[ing] the livestock industry,” but they also include “stop[ping] injury to the public grazing lands by preventing overgrazing and soil deterioration,” and “provid[ing] for th[e] orderly use, improvement, and development” of the public range.
He has no “right” to graze it.
The federal courts have struck down every challenge Bundy has made about his claims, and has issued not one, but two, court orders to remove his trespass cattle. It’s not his land and he has no right to graze it.
The simple truth of the matter is that Bundy is a freeloading, welfare rancher who has an inflated sense of entitlement. It also appears that he and his supporters’ use of threats and intimidation likely violated several federal laws. Inasmuch as they used (such as pointed) weapons to cause the government back down, it can be considered an armed insurrection.
What about Bundy’s claim that his forebears bought the land he is now accused of trespass grazing upon?  This land was once Mexican land, and was won by the United States after the Mexican-American War. It is part of what is known as the “Mexican Cession.” All of Nevada, California, Arizona and most of New Mexico were part of the Cession. Much of this land was privatized under various grants and laws such as the Homestead Act and the Desert Lands Act, plus mining claims. Several million acres were granted to Nevada for state lands, but those lands that were not privatized have always been Mexican lands or United States lands owned by the U.S. government.
Before the Taylor Grazing Act, these government lands were called “the public domain.” They could be privatized, as mentioned, under the Homestead Act and such, but the acreage allowed per homesteader was limited to 160 acres. There were no 158,000 acre homestead privatizations and certainly no 750,000 acre privatizations. Livestock owners ran their livestock freely without a permit on the public domain. They didn’t even need a home base of property (a ranch). The result was disaster because the operator to find green grass and eat it first won out, promoting very bad grazing practices. That was the reason for Taylor Grazing Act — ranchers and others could see the public domain system led to disaster on the ground. Therefore, the more powerful ranchers with “base” private property received grazing permits. This got rid of the landless livestock operators.
Taylor Grazing was administered on the ground by the U.S. Grazing Service. Now, ranchers with grazing permits had to pay a grazing fee to use their permits. Bundy’s ancestors probably got one of these grazing permits, but they most certainly did not buy the land. That was not possible. The public domain was not for sale and ranchers generally did not want it. After all, if they owned it, they would owe local property tax.
In 1948 the Bureau of Land Management was created by executive order of President Truman to replace the Grazing Service. The Service had been defunded in a dispute between the House and the U.S. Senate. The BLM has since been affirmed by law rather than a mere executive order. It is supposed to manage the public lands for multiple uses and for sustained production (“yield”) of renewable resources such as grass. As before, you need a grazing permit for cattle, sheep, goats, or horses to legally graze. It is a privilege, not a right, and this has been firmly stated by the U.S. courts.
Hopefully, this explains why Bundy’s assertions are wrong. It is too bad that few citizens are taught public land law or history in high school or college. We think it is vital for everyone to know these things because these are in a real sense your lands, held in trust by the government. Yes we know the government often does a poor job. They did in Bundy’s case by letting this go for 20 years. He should have been gone before the year 2000.
End of story.
- – - – -

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

They Always Come In Threes

Plumbing- too cute! http://plumbingplus.net/Every time we have one plumbing issue, I know for sure, there will be two more. It never fails. So, when the water line burst a couple weeks back, I was worried. Number two showed up in less than a week. Our kitchen faucet bit the dust. That wasn't too bad. As a matter of fact I was quite happy that it finally went to hell. I've been wanting one of those new fancy high arched ones with the pull out sprayer. Of course I'd never go out and get one unless I needed one. And when the need arose, I was thrilled.

I was not too thrilled when our driveway washed out again. Our ground was completely saturated and then from early Wednesday morning through Friday afternoon, we had between 8" and 9" of rain. Our little driveway brook turned into a torrent barreling down the valley. It brought logs and limbs that clogged up our 4 foot drain pipe. Then the water was forced to the side and it cut out a good chunk of gravel and road bed.

I've been filling in the crater one wheelbarrow at a time. I just couldn't see spending $300 for a triaxle full of stone when we had free stone right there in the creek. It would certainly be quicker having it delivered, and my tired arms are trying to convince me to call. I don't think I'll listen to my arms just yet. I still have confidence in myself that I can get it done.

The spring creek was also a bit of a mess. Some St. Bernard size boulders tumbled into unwelcome spots and I had to slowly roll them back upstream. The lower level where the house water supply line is located was buried under muddy silt and gravel which had to be shoveled and scooped out. Then the downhill slope had to be reestablished. That all went quicker than I had thought.

Next step was downstream. A huge sycamore tree had fallen a couple years ago and landed right across the spring creek. It had never caused any trouble as there was a two foot clearance for the creek to pass. The extra hard rain brought debris that clogged that opening and the water was diverted out into the woods. It went a good 30 feet out into the woods before it took a southerly turn and started running parallel to the now dry creek bed.

I got on the back side of the log and slowly pulled out bits of debris and managed to get a trickle started. I was afraid to just start wildly yanking on it thinking that if it all broke loose at once, my poor ass would be washed away! Slowly, slowly, bit by bit it came out and as it did, the water level on the other side dropped and the creek was back where it belonged.

OK, I know that the flooding issue wasn't really a "plumbing" issue. But it had to do with water, so I counted it.

Wrong thing to do. Since I had been busy with shoveling and other outdoor "fun" activities, I had let my house tend to itself for a week or so. It did NOT do a very good job of tending to itself. So on Monday I decided it was time to do laundry, mop, clean, clean and clean. I stripped the bed sheets, threw them into wash and in just a few seconds I heard the sound change. It has that "sshhhhh" sound when it's filling up with water. That familiar sound was now like an electric motor grunting.... No water.

Checked the cistern - full to the cap. Ruled out water line leaks and air pressure tank problems. Only one thing left - well pump. Had to drive up north for one, but got it at half the cost here locally. And we learned a valuable lesson. Our well pump was installed laying on the cistern floor - vertically. The plumbing supply company said that was a big no-no. They are designed to hang vertically down in wells and if put in horizontally, the impeller would wear out. I guess the previous homeowner screwed that up too!

Now THAT was officially the THIRD plumbing problem. And I'm glad our run of water troubles is over!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stubborn, Cranky, Spunky

Those terms come to mind when I think of my Great Aunt Dorothy. We weren't as close as some of my other Great Aunts. She lived farther away. But when she was around, you knew it. Some of the stories I've packed in my memory of her might be enhanced to the point of tall tales. But I will hold on to those stories for the rest of my life.

You know how it is when a younger person (5 - 50 years old) says or does something that we find rude or otherwise unpolite? Well, when a 97 year old tiny woman with a shaky voice does it... it's called spunky. She was the queen of spunk!

A few years ago she had to go to the hospital to have a deep cut treated. (How she got the cut is a whole other story!) While there, they hooked her up and checked her heart. They might have done other tests, I only got the short version. But anyway, the doctor said that she had a serious heart issue, she was too far gone to have the surgery, and she would probably be dead in 3 months. After three months had passed, she returned to the doctor, gave him quite a scolding telling him he didn't know shit from shinola, then told him she wasn't going to pay his bill since he didn't know what he was talking about. Never mind that Medicaid was footing the bill, she had to say her piece.

She always did. A few months ago she decided that she had had enough of idiots and fools and the only way to escape them was to die. And so she did just that.

It's sad to know she is gone. But it was her decision and it was her time. Aunt Dorothy, with all your faults, you are still an inspiration to this old hermit...and you will be missed.

What In Tarnation?

I love to find out the origins of words, and this one popped up in conversation the other day. I found this explanation at an Appalachian History website.

What in tarnation?

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 14, 2010

“Tarnation!” reads the title at the bottom of the Aug 1922 National Sportsman cover.

“What in tarnation?” is one of a wide variety of euphemistic expressions of surprise, bewilderment or anger that arose in 18th and 19th century America. Perhaps due to our Puritan legacy, Americans were, during this period, especially creative in devising oaths that allowed us to express strong emotions while still skirting blasphemy.

Such inventions as “heck,” “drat,” “darn,” “gosh,” “jiminy,” “gee-whiz” and “goldarn” were all devised to disguise exclamations that would have been considered shocking in polite society. “Sam Hill,” for example, is simply an early 19th century euphemism for “hell” (and while there have been many people named Sam Hill throughout history, the expression does not come from the name of any particular Sam Hill).

“Tarnation,” which dates back to the late 18th century, is an interesting example of this generation of euphemisms because it’s actually two euphemisms rolled into one word. The root of “tarnation” is “darnation,” a euphemistic modification of the word “damnation,” which at that time was considered unfit for polite conversation. “Darnation” became “tarnation” by being associated in popular speech with “tarnal,” an aphetic, or clipped, form of “eternal.”

It may seem odd that “eternal” would ever have been considered a curse word, but to speak of “the Eternal” at that time was often to invoke a religious context (God, Heaven, etc.), and thus to label something or someone “eternal” in a disparaging sense (“You eternal villain!”) was considered a mild oath. Shakespeare, for example, used “eternal” in this way in at least two of his plays.

So at some point someone, probably in a moment of exasperation, mixed “darnation” with “tarnal,” and we ended up with “tarnation.”

Source: www.word-detective.com/050404.html

Oil Pulling Or Pulling Your Leg

A few years ago some customers questioned me about "oil pulling" to detoxify their bodies. I told them it sounded like garbage. I then read up on it and although it can clean between your teeth and remove unwanted particles, I still believe it is garbage. Then I forgot about it. Until last week when a minor flood of people started talking about it again. Apparently a few celebrities have been promoting it and new websites have popped up extolling the virtues of this practice. They are claiming it cures everything from osteoarthritis to hormone imbalances to detoxifying your body of stored "toxins".

Most people would automatically discount such claims as outrageous. But evidently there are some that believe this line of crap. Come on people, think about it! If swishing oil in your mouth could pull toxins out of your body, then that means that the oil is somehow being absorbed into your body through your skin, then floating around searching for those mysterious toxins, latching onto them, then somehow making the journey back to your mouth and finding its way out. Does that sound plausible? Why don't we all swish our entire bodies in tubs of oil. Wouldn't that be more effective? 

""Oil pulling" is the somewhat unusual term for the practice of swishing a type of unrefined plant oil (e.g., coconut, sesame, sunflower, olive, palm) around in one's mouth. This activity is touted, when practiced thoroughly (be sure to coat your teeth and gums!) and regularly as having a variety of oral hygiene benefits, such as whitening teeth, strengthening gums, and eliminating plaque. It is also claimed to have other medical benefits, such as pain relief, the prevention (or even the lessening) of ailments such as cancer and heart disease, and the purging of toxins from the body. (The term "oil pulling" refers to the notion that the activity "pulls" toxins from one's system and/or "pulls" them out through the teeth or mouth when the practitioner spits out the oil solution.)

The history behind oil pulling, as described at Skeptoid, is that:

The idea of rinsing one's mouth with oil is thought to have originated the in the ancient Ayurvedic Indian natural medicine text Charaka Samhita, where "oil gargling" was described as a natural remedy for oral diseases. It was unknown in the western world until the 1990's, when, as the story goes, a doctor named F. Karach gave a presentation to the All-Ukrainian Association for Oncology and Bacteriology on how he used it to cure his own blood cancer. Incidentally, I found no biographical information on Dr. Karach, and I’m not convinced he's even a real person.

Regardless, it didn't break into mainstream alternative circles until a naturopath and nutritionist named Bruce Fife started evangelizing it in his 2008 book Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing. Fife's breathless descriptions of the incredible things that swishing with coconut oil could do, done as part of his role as president of the Coconut Research Center (which is apparently a thing), worked wonders.

Oil pulling took off like a granola rocket in the natural cures crowd. There are now countless websites and blogs devoted to the benefits of this ancient Indian treatment, full of before and after pictures, tips and flowery testimonials from people who say it's drastically improved their health. Oil pulling is said to treat chronic pain, insomnia, cavities, allergies, thrombosis, diabetes, asthma, bad breath, gingivitis, digestive issues, meningitis, low energy, heart disease, kidney disease, "toxic bodily waste," PMS, leukemia and even AIDS. Oil pulling, it would seem, is truly a life-changing medical miracle."

That said, all the supporting evidence behind the supposed medical benefits of oil pulling is of the anecdotal variety ("This really works! Try it."), the same sort of testimonials one sees attached to a variety of dubious health nostrums. Scientific research documenting that oil pulling really works — and how it works — is lacking. The topic has been the subject of a mere handful of clinical studies, primarily small ones performed in India that focused on oral hygiene and suggested, at best, a possible connection with minor improvements in gum health. But even that much benefit may simply be the residual effect of regularly rinsing one's gums with water (or any other fluid), not necessarily the results of specifically using a particular type of oil for that purpose. (The fact that several quite different types of oil are all proffered by various sources as the one "proper" substance to use in oil pulling therapies argues against the idea that some property specific to the type of oil used is actually producing the claimed effects.)

There's certainly no real evidence that oil pulling can prevent or ameliorate the effects of various diseases, "correct hormone imbalances," "reduce inflammation of arthritis," "support normal kidney function," "help reduce insomnia" or produce any of the other variety of beneficial medical effects claimed of it, nor is there even any sensible scientific explanation for how simply swishing oil around in one's mouth could accomplish any of those things.

Moreover, the endless stream of products and therapies touting detoxification benefits have been the bane of real medical science for many years. In any reasonably healthy person, the liver and kidneys already perform an efficient job of filtering out and excreting wastes and other substances potentially harmful to the body — herbal colon cleanses, foot pads, cupping therapy and the like don't improve on that or serve any function other than parting the gullible from their money.

That said, there's no real harm to oil pulling: Its benefits may be unproven, and it may perform no better a job of promoting oral hygiene than ordinary dental rinse or mouthwash will, but it also doesn't produce any known detrimental effects, so all one really risks in undertaking it is the cost of the oil.

Read more at http://www.snopes.com/medical/homecure/oilpulling.asp#rHLHzhzdqG1XgbA0.99

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Karma Finds Kevin Trudeau

I'm glad this bag of human excrement is getting what he deserves. Well, he deserves much more time than he is getting, but it's better than nothing.

From Slate:

Kevin Trudeau: Quackery Promoter Jailed for Contempt

Kevin Trudeau
Kevin Trudeau, late-night informecial king, was found in contempt of court for not paying a $37 million fine.
Writing about critical thinking and skeptical topics can be a thankless job, but sometimes a story comes along that makes it a lot easier: As reported in theWashington Post and the Chicago Tribune, Kevin Trudeau — a man who’s done jail time for fraud, a man who got rich making multiple false claims, someone who sold “coral calcium” claiming that it can cure cancer, and has been found in contempt of court for not paying a whopping $37 million fine laid on him   — has again been found guilty of contempt of court, this time for “lying about the contents of his weight loss book in infomercials that aired seven years ago.
The difference between this time and all the others? He may be facing a lengthy sentence in federal prison.
You know Trudeau, even if the name is not familiar. He’s made and starred in countless late-night infomercials where he touts a series of “self-help” books dealing with money-making schemes, weight-loss programs, and natural “cures” (yes, writing about him means using lots of quotation marks). He promises to reveal the things “They Don’t Want You to Know About”, a clever marketing strategy that makes it seem as if The Powers That Be are suppressing information you need to get rich and healthy.
But his antics have dumped him in hot water many times, starting way back. The FTC filed a lawsuit against him in 1998, saying he made false and misleading claims in his ads about various “natural” cures. A court order forbade him from making such claims again in the future. In 2003 the FTC charged him with violating this ruling after he started promoting his ridiculous coral calcium cancer cure.
After this it gets complicated, with multiple courtroom visits, charges of misleading advertising, and fines levied. In 2004 he was ordered not to make infomercials about his products. He got around that by selling the books about the products, not the products themselves. However, he was also ordered not to “misrepresent the content” of the books.
And that is what this most recent court case was about. After a week-long trial, a jury took only 45 minutes to find that he did indeed lie about his books, violating the court order. Basically, he said a weight loss plan he was touting used easy techniques, but in fact they were anything but, including “prescription injections of a hormone found only in pregnant women, a month of colon hydrotherapy and a 500-calorie-per-day diet regimen.”
The jury found him guilty of contempt of court. As the Tribune reports,
But this time Trudeau could face years in prison. With no maximum sentence for contempt of court in federal statutes, he faces anywhere from probation to life in prison when [U.S. District Judge] Guzman sentences him in February.
I’ll note that this contempt case is different from the other contempt case, where he was fined $37 million based on what customers paid in response to the misleading claims. At this point, there has been some legal back-and-forth, but in the end the $37 million fine has been upheld. He still has not paid that fine (he claims he has no money, a claim the federal regulators find, um, implausible).
Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death from the Skies! Follow him on Twitter.
If you listen to his radio show, you’ll hear him talking repeatedly about the government constantly trying to suppress the truth, with nefarious figures involved in a vast conspiracy to keep people sick, so more money can be made by corporations. He also claims to be a victim of this conspiracy himself, with the government trying to keep him from telling people what’s really going on (which, his lawyers intimated, is why he was on trial).
I’ll note that he also claims to get information from a secret group called The Brotherhood, who approached him because of his “vibrational DNA”, which I swear makes even less sense when you hear him talking about it himself (at the 22:55 mark). Of course, since they’re a secret group, he cannot reveal the identities of the people in it or much else about it. Convenient.
I have to admit to a powerful sense of schadenfreude; Trudeau’s been avoiding any sort of real punishment for years. Remember, through his books, radio show, and infomercials, he sold quack cures aimed at people who were sick. I have very, very little sympathy for him.
Look. Skepticism and critical thinking are tiring. They’re exhausting. The battles against pseudoscience, against the attacks on reality, against the erosion of the ability to make rational decisions…they never end. There is always more nonsense out there, more outrageous claims that fly in the face of reality. And what’s worse is how often it’s the same thing again and again.Homeopathy“alt-med cures”magic wands that find bombsgarbage medical adviceantivaxxers, and on and on.
So yes, it’s an uphill climb, and one of probably infinite length. But that doesn’t mean we should give up. Our best weapons against nonsense are critical thinking and our loud voices. And sometimes, as it should, the law helps as well.
Tip o’ the gavel to Steve Cuno.