The 2003 Blackout

INTERESTING STUFF – 17 August 2013


On Thursday, John Oliver finished his summer gig filling in as host of The Daily Show while Jon Stewart directed a movie in the Middle East. There will be a two week hiatus and then the program returns with Stewart in the host chair and Oliver back to being a second banana.

And what a shame that is. To take nothing at all away from Jon Stewart who is brilliant, Oliver's star went supernova during his two-month stint. Of course, he had all the same writers as Stewart (including himself) but he is his own comic person with his own comic take and delivery and I was glued to the program every night - I didn't miss an episode.

The funniest, best piece, for me, was last Monday's comparison of Australian and U.S. election campaigns. It is off the charts funny, one for the record books that should be framed and kept forever. Here it is:


I had begun collecting the links to the batshit craziest things that pop out of the demented Congressionals' mouths when they arrive home for the summer but it got away from me – there are too many to track.

Then I got lucky and found this cartoon. I don't have copyright permission to post this and I shouldn't so it may disappear, but I couldn't resist.

Tea party loons


This video arrived a day too late for me to include in the Social Security anniversary post on Wednesday. (Liberal and progressive organizations are too often a few steps behind their Republican counterparts in advance planning.)

But it is full of important survey information that you'll want to know when Congress returns from its summer recess and the “entitlement” hawks start trying to cut the program again.


From my friend Jim Stone who said in his email that he found this strangely soothing to hear. Or was it, strangely relaxing that he said? Either way I felt similarly when I watched it.

You may be wondering what The Cup Song is. Me too, so I looked it up. You can find out here.


I may have mentioned that I don't read climate change and other environment disaster stories. I can't do it. They scare the crap out of me and they make me weep for all of us and our little, blue planet.

Then John Starbuck of For a Dancer sent this story about a small town in Texas called Barnhart where fracking for oil is sucking all the water from the land. This time I read it most of the way through:

"'The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes,' [Beverly McGuire ] said, blinking back tears. 'I went: “dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind."

“Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted...

“In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.”

Did you read that last part - "by the end of the year"? And no one is doing anything about it. I feel utterly helpless and totally frightened for us all. The rest of the story is here.


Although it is probably too late to matter, this is the kind of environmental and power decisions our country and the world should be racing to make:

In a related story, solar panels are being installed on the White House this week. Read about it here.


Late night TV host Craig Ferguson's explanation of, in his words, “why everything sucks” isn't as fresh as he appears to believe and it won't be new to you. People our age have known this forever.

But it can't hurt to repeat it now and then and bring everyone else up to speed. (Hat tip to Norma Hall).


This “histomap” of history was created by John B. Sparks in 1931 but don't let that date put you off. The map takes the long, long view of the broad strokes of history so not much is missing without the 80 years since it was published.


That is just a small piece the map. There is a zoomable version here. It's worth spending some time with and you can get more information on the history of the histomap here.


They were born on 15 July and the Atlanta zoo shot a little bit of video every day for nearly the first month. With a hat tip to Tamar of Only Connect, take a look at the cuteness:

If that's not enough for you, ZooAtlanta has installed a pandacam so you can watch at any time.

Not to be outdone, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China has also installed a 24/7 pandacam. So if one set of pandas is sleeping or off doing baby panda things elsewhere when you want to check in, the ones on the other side of world are probably awake.

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.


OMG! Ferguson's clip is priceless. Wonderful. Only comedy & comedians can make a point so vividly........they are truly our modern historians! Thanks for another great w/end start! Dee

Another great Saturday offering. The Ferguson piece goes straight to my friend the gerontology professor. Thanks.

Craig Ferguson's one of my favorites(and he's spot on about the young).

The cup song reminde me of a concert devoted to percussive groups from all over Africa. It's very old relevant today as ever.

There will be future wars over water.

This is currently becoming a very serious problem in parts of our country. Out west, they irrigated desert lands and made them fertile. Now those farmers are running out of water. They are going to try to divert water from other areas of the country, just watch. It's going to get ugly.

I was thoroughly prepared to not watch The Daily Show while Jon Stewart was gone, but John Oliver has been great! I wonder if they have enough writers and material to give him his own show. He's certainly shown he has what it takes.

Where oh where was this Histomap when I was in school, struggling to correlate the development of nations and civilizations around the world. See how insignificant the US is in the overall scheme of things, and yet we're so arrogant. I'm afraid it will be our undoing.

Amen to Old Pete about coming water wars -- we're in the skirmish stage in California and have been for a long time, but unless we rapidly achieve more efficiency, this will heat up.

That's a wonderful video re solar paneling the roads. I too am scared almost to immobility by global warming -- but I actually trust the ingenuity of the species to deal with it. Our creativity got us into this mess and could enable us to escape. It's our inability to curb our greed and to organize the political forces to share more equitably that worries me.

Love Craig Ferguson always. Old Pete is correct about the water business. I am boycotting Nestle since CEO Peter Brabeck announced that no one has a right to access to water. Here's one site about that. What has happened to Barnhart Texas is a grievous wrong. It makes me sadder than I can say.

Absolutely marvelous stuff today. I sang along with everyone's versions of the cup song, and I winced at the loons. Yes, tho we live high on a point of land above the mean high tide line, we cannot get flood insurance because of global warming. I've delighted in the Panda's history. Thank you for these. I will now go take a shower using my shower chair, use my walker to get back to my computer, and do all my exercises before lunch.

Would like to have watched the Oliver video but it's not available outside the US so I couldn't. Enjoyed the rest though, specially the song.And the histomap took me back forty years. We used to have a paper version of that map blu-tacked on to a wall in our house when my kids were young - back in the pre-Internet days - and it was a really useful learning tool.

I really enjoyed today's post. John Oliver is great, the cartoon priceless and the cup song had me tapping my toes. It reminded me of table top dancing with your hands.

Of course, everyone loves Pandas. They are so cute and make you go Ahhhh!

It's such a pain that some U.S. videos, like The Daily Show today, can't be seen in other countries. I've occasionally run into the problem in reverse.

The web is global. This shouldn't happen.

I think the idea of solar blacktop for roads, parking lots and highways is fabulous! I'm sure the petroleum companies would not be happy about it however.

i thought that oliver deteriorated during his stint in the big chair. he went from being a character, to being a caricature of himself.

and as for the fracking story? just keep on pulling that right wing lever on election day, texas!

We don't have water shortages, we have surpluses of people.

I can't view the video here which is a bummer especially as we're coming up to an Australian federal election.

Same here, I've tried on a few sites to view the Daily Show video - as I'm an Australian wondered if it was only us who were banned from watching it, but maybe not. Oh well, out with the VPN :-) At the moment though, as an Australian, I'm cringing with embarrassment followed closely by feelings of frustration, anger and despair.

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