Thursday, July 28, 2011

On Restoring the Health of a Wisconsin Lake

Rice Lake Chronotype
Rice Lake, Wisconsin

Dear Editor

I read with great interest your recent story on attempts to restore the health of Rice Lake; a most noble effort and long overdue.

The lake restoration plan seems to rely strongly on the removal of tons of aquatic vegetation without getting at the root cause of the profusion of aquatic vegetation - runoff from agricultural fields and residential lawns in the lake's watershed. This issue is not new. The lake was choked with aquatic vegetation in 1969 - the year I graduated from Rice Lake High School.

There is a simple but obvious reason all of those aquatic plants are growing in profusion. They are being fed by tremendous loads of fertilizers, from nitrogen sprayed on fields to cow manure spread on the fields to fertilizers applied to someone's rose garden on East Stout Street. Until nutrient enriched runoff is reduced or eliminated in the watershed, all the grants in the world and all the weed cutting machines in northern Wisconsin wont help make the lake "healthy."

Craig Faanes

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Scientific Name for Tea Bag Anarchists

This evening while doing my 14 mile bicycle ride I gave considerable thought regarding the need to come up with a functional scientific epithet for the Tea Bag Anarchy wing of the Republican Party. After all they are animals and with luck they will soon be endangered (and with no recovery effort they'll go extinct).

As I pedaled I decided that it would be inappropriate to put anything in the name like "moron" or "idiot" because those words, although being highly descriptive and completely correct, would be offensive to morons and idiots everywhere. I also decided to avoid any "obvious" swear words like "dumbfuckii".

After considerable thought I finally decided that the proper genus and species for the Tea Baggers should be "Teabaggus dipshitti". Its pretty all encompassing, isn't outwardly too offensive (even though tea baggers are outwardly offensive) and just generally hits the nail on the head.

My only real dilemma was when it came to deciding on the location for the type specimen - the location where the species was first described. Even though they got their start in the pocket of the Koch Brothers and were accepted with open arms on the Fox Fiction Channel I knew I had to be more specific. As much as I tried to find a non-offensive word to describe it, I failed because only one location is really correct - Dumbfuckistan, United States.

Given that Tea Baggers are at least partially mammalian I guess the best place to publish this description of a new species would be in the Journal of Mammalogy. If not there then the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. There or in Mad Magazine but I don't think Mad Magazine is published any longer.

I'm sure others will have other ideas on an appropriate genus and species name for tea baggers but as far as I'm concerned this says it all.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Erroneous Reporting

This morning the Associated Press posted a "news" story on in which they referred to the hyena's at the Transportation Security Administration as "officers." Nothing could be further from the truth so I felt compelled to write to the Associated Press to correct them. The letter was sent to That letter follows:

Dear Associated Press

In this news story posted this morning on news, the Associated Press (that would be you) states that "officers" of the Transportation Security Administration confiscated a number of knives from a passenger at BWI airport.

What is misleading is that the word "officer" implies police authority and police power. If your writer had looked into this he/she would have discovered that TSA employees have no police power. None of them have completed the Federal law enforcement training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Georgia, or have they completed any other Federal law enforcement training.

The TSA clowns we see at the nation's airports are glorified baggage handlers who have a badge as part of their uniform. I have asked any number of TSA employees, from Honolulu to Boston, about their lack of training yet they continue to carry a badge, and I've been told "Its part of the uniform." If TSA employees had any police authority (arrest authority) why is it that they always have to contact an actual police officer if there is an issue involving police action? In 2006 I wrote to my then-Congressman in the suburbs of Washington DC and asked why it was that Federal employees at TSA were allowed to parade around with a badge on their shirts when I (at the time) would have been fired had I done that in my agency. The Congressman wrote back that the badge was there to send a message to the traveling public.

So, Associated Press, I suggest you start a trend by 1) correcting the error in this story, and 2) begin to educate the public that the badge on a TSA employee shirt is an ornament with no more power than if Ronald McDonald was wearing it. OK?