Tuesday, September 20, 2022

New bike lane on Oakland Mills Road almost done


      The past few months have seen the addition of a new bike lane on Oakland Mills Rd.  This is probably the first of hopefully more lanes that make biking more available around Columbia.  Maybe Dobbin Rd and others can follow this example.  Sidewalks on Dobbin are long overdue on Dobbin too.  Here is a video of the new bike land from Ben Sussman. 


Saturday, September 10, 2022

If only Melania acted like this!

A police officer pulls over a speeding car. 
The officer says,' I clocked you at 80 miles per hour, sir.' 

The driver says,  'Gee, officer, I had it on cruise control at 60; perhaps your radar gun needs calibrating. ' 
Not looking up from her knitting the wife says:
 “Now don't be silly, dear -- you know that this car doesn't have cruise control.”

As the officer writes out the ticket, the driver looks over at his wife and growls,
'Can't you please keep your mouth shut for once !! ?
The wife smiles demurely and says,
“Well dear, you should be thankful your radar detector went off when it did or your speed would have been higher.”

As the officer makes out the second ticket for the illegal radar detector unit, the man glowers at his wife and says through clenched teeth,
“Woman, can't you keep your mouth shut?”

The officer frowns and says,
“And I notice that you're not wearing your seat belt, sir.
That's an automatic fine.”
The driver says,
“Yeah, well, you see, officer, I had it on, but I took it off when you pulled me over so that I could get my license out of my back pocket.

The wife says,
“Now, dear, you know very well that you didn't have your seat belt on.  You never wear your seat belt when you're driving.”

And as the police officer is writing out the third ticket, the driver turns to his wife and barks,

The officer looks over at the woman and asks,
“Does your husband always talk to you this way, Ma'am?”

(I love this part) 

“Only when he's been drinking.”

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Good times remembered


     Watching the unveiling of their White House portraits yesterday reminded me how lucky we were to have these two amazing people residing in the White House for 8 years.  I kept wondering who the unlucky President would be to have to host Donald and Melania for their portrait unveiling.  Will Trump's portrait be his mugshot?

Friday, August 26, 2022

The new way to cover up you are a bigot


   The right wing has developed many ways to cover up being a bigot.  Being part of the Moral Majority sounded more positive than being against civil rights and being "pro-family" sounded more positive than being against gay rights.   The Right would have you believe that being against taking down Confederate statues was not about slavery and racism but supporting "heritage." 

    The newest spin of this is being against "wokeness." This trend may have originated in the US but it seems to have been picked up in many other countries.  Just what is the right against?  Here is the definition of wokeness:

"state of being awareespecially of social problems such as racism and inequality.  Wokeness encompasses the need to search for more knowledgeunderstanding, and truth in order to challenge injustice."

    The next time you hear a politician speak against "wokeness" remember what they are really against.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Alan Kittleman for County Executive


    It seems strange for me, a committed liberal Democrat, to endorse a Republican for any office these days but in Howard County, we are lucky to have a quality person like Alan Kittleman.  Alan is a responsive elected official who is the type of official we are lucky to have in Howard County.  Get to know Alan.


Sunday, August 7, 2022

Something to think about the next time you fertilize your lawn


    That green lawn that you value so much has caused our local lakes to be unusable during the later summer months.  Centennial Lake has been closed to boaters for a couple of weeks because of an algae bloom.  Those things happen because of the fertilizer used on local lawns.


This type of thing doesn't just happen to our local lakes but also impact lakes as large as a Great Lake like Erie shown below.

   These are the dangerous impacts of algae blooms:

  • Direct exposure to algae. Harmful algal blooms sometimes create toxins that are detrimental to fish and other animals. ...
  • Dead zones and hypoxia. Nutrient pollution can create dead zones - areas in water with little or no oxygen - where aquatic life cannot survive. ...
  • Acid rain. ...
  • Air pollution.

Something to think about when you admire your green lawn.



Saturday, July 23, 2022

Sorry Dan, Maryland isn't crazy enough to elect you governor. We will go with Wes Moore


    So now we know that the Republican Party in Maryland is not really Larry Hogan's party but Donald Trump's.  Dan Cox might do well in Oklahoma or Mississippi but Maryland has too many educated voters.  Hogan must be disappointed that the Maryland Republicans have returned to a party that doesn't really expect to win anything in Maryland.  The party of Mac Mathias is long since dead and now seems to be fine with just being a party that only wants to complain about what the Maryland Democrats get to do in governing the State.

    The slow vote count in this election is thanks to Larry Hogan who vetoed a bill that would have allowed the mail-in votes to be counted as they came in instead of 2 days after election day.  Mail-in voting will become the most popular way to vote in Maryland and it shouldn't follow the old rules that were designed for the old system when it was absentee voting.  We should once again know who wins elections in Maryland on election night.  Maryland could join other states that only have mail-in voting and save the costs of having polling places.  Time to enter the 21st Century.


Recognize anyone in the attached video?

Friday, July 22, 2022

From the Columbia Patch

Help Color Community Murals At HoCo Library Branches This Summer

Different murals featuring Chesapeake Bay Watershed ecosystems have been designed at HoCo library branches. Help color them in this summer.

This Saturday at 11 a.m. will be a mural coloring session at the Elkridge library branch.
This Saturday at 11 a.m. will be a mural coloring session at the Elkridge library branch. (Renee Schiavone/Patch)

HOWARD COUNTY, MD — This summer, the Howard County Library System has been hosting a different mural featuring one of six different ecosystems found within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. All of the murals have been designed by HCLS Adult Art Curriculum Specialist Jereme Scott.

The community can help complete the community murals in a "color by number" format. This Saturday at 11 a.m. will be a coloring session at the Elkridge branch. More information can be found here: https://live-howardcounty.pant...

The branch murals are:

  • Glenwood Branch: Forests
  • Miller Branch: Rivers and streams
  • Savage Branch: Aquatic reefs and pilings
  • Elkridge Branch: Beaches and tidal flats
  • East Columbia Branch: Marshes and wetlands
  • Central Branch: Open and shallow waters

Not playing on a level playing field


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Latest Webb telescope pic

                I don't know about you but these pictures from Webb make me feel small.  And how stupid we are to not realize we are destroying our Earth with climate change.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Howard County has the 6th highest median income in the United States


     The median income in Howard County is over $124,000.  No wonder the cost of living here is so high. Our high quality of life comes at a price to live here.  If you look at the traffic coming into Howard County in the morning and the same heavy traffic going out of the County in the evening rush hour you can see that more people work here than live here.  Here is the link to the US News and World ranking.


Thursday, July 14, 2022

Help Howard County students in need of school supplies


Do you remember the excitement and tension of the first day of the school year?  If you were fortunate, you had a new school outfit and brand-new school supplies.  Now overlay a Covid-19 pandemic that has changed so much for the educational lives of HCPSS students while aggravating the pre-existing disparities and digital divides.


Prepare for Success, in formal partnership with the Howard County Public School System and the Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC), is now in its 22nd year.  PFS is facing its biggest challenge ever in terms of the number of students to be served.  Last year, donations enabled 3,500+ students to be served. This contrasts with 13,400 students – 22.5% of all HCPSS – who receive federally funded school meals and rely on support services like ours.


We hope the pandemic is receding in Howard County but is still making an impact for many.  Its emotional and economic scars on families and students may linger for years.  This year, more than ever, we all want students to return to the classroom Prepared for Success.


We are appealing to you as a past supporter.  How many students can you sponsor?  Despite inflation, we can do It for $25 a student with bulk purchasesAs always, 100% of your contribution will go to school supplies. All donations are tax-deductible.  The options for donating are: 


Donate Online through CAC.  CLICK HERE to be taken to the Community Action Council donor form.


Send a check payable to Community Action Council / PFS to:

     Community Action Council, 9820 Patuxent Woods Drive,                           Columbia, MD  21046 


Amazon Wish List.  This started at the height of the pandemic.  You can shop for and donate needed supplies with just a few clicks.  Our Amazon Wish List is available year-round.


The students need and welcome your continued support.


Please feel free to contact us with any questions.


Roy and Susan Appletree, Co-Coordinators




Wednesday, July 13, 2022

When your political party becomes seditious


     Watching yesterday's January 6 hearing it was hard to not wonder what it would take for some of the "normal" people to start publically shouting about the movement to try and overthrow the government.  There is a time to break ranks and publically take the risk of losing your job to alert the country.

       It is not like we haven't seen politicians accept defeat when they might have had a case to question an election loss.  Richard Nixon in 1960 had grounds to contest the voting results in Chicago that caused him to lose Illinois and the election.   Al Gore could have not accepted that the Supreme Court on a 5-4 ruling stop the counting of votes in Florida that might have made him the winner of the 2000 election that he had more than 500,000 more votes than Bush.  Hillary Clinton could have felt robbed of an election where she won the popular vote by 5 million votes after losing 3 states by less than 80,000 votes.  She didn't start calling the election officials in those 3 states asking for them to "find the necessary votes" to overturn the election.  So it shows how dangerous the Republican Party has become when 147 Republican congresspersons voted against certifying an election that Biden won by 7 million votes and after Trump had sent a mob to the Capitol that day to "hang the Vice President."   The Confederate officials of the 1860s were no different than the Republican Party of the 2020s.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The Webb telescope releases its first picture


A nice diversion from politics today.  The Webb Telescope will release more pictures today.  I saw the telescope being built on a visit to the Goddard Space Center a few years ago.  Many of the more distant galaxies in orange are distorted by the gravitational pull of the bright ones in the center of the picture.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

The good old, old, old days


     When you listen to conservatives talk about the documents they feel should guide us in 2022 they frequently refer to the Bible written almost 2,000 years ago and the parts of the Constitution written over 200 years ago.  Any social progress like civil rights, women's rights, gay rights, or the right to an abortion should be viewed as a mistake that needs to be corrected.  Human wisdom to decide how we live ended hundreds or thousands of years ago.  Of course, the conservatives are not mentioning that people were stoned for hearsay, adultery, or were allowed to own slaves during these times of great wisdom.  Selective reasoning can be shown to be irrational. 

    The Supreme Court is supposed to rule on the law and precedence but seems to use states' rights when their politics oppose liberal federal action like abortion but use the opposite reasoning when they overrule liberal state actions like gun restrictions that they don't like.  Conservatives seem to have a problem when society moves in a direction they are not comfortable with and will use whatever lever they have to block that progress.  It may use gerrymandering, stacking the Supreme Court, giving conservative state legislatures supreme powers, the Electoral College, or the Senate filibuster.  All of these methods are designed to prevent democratic majority rule because conservatives are almost always in the minority.  They are not interested in reform but only in stopping reform and progress.  When conservatives are in control of Congress legislating stops except in a few areas like reducing taxes and disemboweling the federal government.  Unfortunately, we have seen how liberals trying to build majorities in a democratic country face an opposition that is only interested in power and control. Democracy is only for liberals.  If all else fails conservatives are not afraid to bring out the guns and attack Congress.  Conservatives have gotten to a place where they are accepting of corruption and immorality if it enhances their power.  Their continued support of Trump shows this reality.


Monday, June 27, 2022

Will the abortion pill make overturning Roe mute?


    The coming abortion fight will be in red states that will try to outlaw their residents from getting the abortion pill from a doctor in a blue state in a telemedical Zoom call.   At the time of the Roe ruling abortions were done in a doctor's office.  Now the abortion pill means that is no longer the case.  Now 54% of abortions are performed by a pill.  Look for that percentage to rapidly grow because of the ruling from the Supreme Court last week.  Will red states be able to make it illegal for a woman to receive the pill in the mail from an out-of-state doctor?  How will red states prosecute a doctor in another state who prescribes an abortion pill?  

     Although it might now be as effective as an abortion pill, the "morning-after" pill is another easy-to-get option that red states might try to outlaw.  Women today have options to end a pregnancy that didn't exist in 1973 when Roe was decided.  The battle moving forward will be fought on different grounds than in the past.  Red states will fight a losing battle like they always try to do.  This is where we are headed.


      There is hypocrisy when red-state officials talk about the options pregnant women have in their states to support them to bring a pregnancy to term.  Republicans' concern only applies to a fetus and being pro-life has always ended at birth.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Now we know how far Republicans want to take our County "back"


       Listening to Republicans for the past 40 years about "taking our County back," it was never clear how far they wanted to go back.  We might have thought that maybe they were talking about the 1950s before the current Civil Rights legislation and the changing non-white population decrease.  But with the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on legal abortions, we know that the time they were referring to was much, much earlier.  Justice Alito's opinion makes reference to a 17th Century justice, Sir Matthew Hale, who believed that life began when the first movement of a fetus was felt by the mother.  For conservative justices, the reality that social issues like abortion were not addressed in our Constitution means that they should not be protected today.  The founders of our country had no idea of what social issues would occur in the future and thought that the amendment process could be used to address those issues.  With our divided country today we might never be able to pass any constitutional amendment that requires two-thirds votes in Congress and three-fourths votes of the states.  The divisions between the red and blue states are moving our Country in two very different directions.  How we remain one united country given this reality remains unclear in the future.


     Justice Thomas remains an embarrassment to the Supreme Court.  His belief that judicial ethics should not apply to anyone who has a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court shows a high level of arrogance. As a justice who came to the Court under a cloud of sexual misconduct his selective reading of the law to fit his political beliefs shows the Court to be a highly politicized institution undeserving of respect.  If he desires our Country to be governed by the 18th-century beliefs of our founders he should realize that only a Supreme Court ruling in 1967 in the Loving v. Virginia allowed his interracial marriage to be legal or the numerous rulings that paved the way for a black person to serve on the Supreme Court. 

P.S. 1

  I don't have a date yet for the "March on Washington" to oppose the Supreme Court ruling but I predict it will be the largest march since the "Women's March" of 2017.  Maybe the largest march in history.  We may look at our divided country as a red or blue division but it is really a division between a religious country and a secular country.  Right now we have a Supreme Court that is trying to push our country in a minority religious direction. Those on the "Religious Right" may come to regret getting what they have fought for over the past 50 years.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Another reason to jettison the Southern states


    It shouldn't be a surprise that the Southern states are the biggest polluters in the US.  This region's use of coal and oil in energy production and their choice of vehicles means that they account for 40% of the pollution produced in the US.  Per capita pollution produced in California is just half what is produced in Texas.  It may be a simplistic example of this reality but waiting to be picked up at airports in California and Texas shows this clearly.  In California, you see few trucks and many Priuses and Teslas.  In Texas, you see many more trucks and large SUVs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Interesting population changes in Maryland over the past 50 years

    When we look at the changes in the population of Maryland over the past 50 years it is apparent that Baltimore City and Allegany County are the only two jurisdictions to lose population and the Washington suburbs and Central Maryland counties had large increases.  This reality has changed Maryland politics from Republican to Democrat.  In the 1970s many Republicans were moderate and liberal Republicans.  They have all mostly shifted to the Democrat Party.  Nowhere has this been more true than Howard County which was a conservative county in the 1960s and 70s but the development of Columbia has made the County "deep blue."  


Monday, June 13, 2022

One mental health issue is the cause of mass shootings


  This morning we hear of the possible compromise on new gun legislation that seems to be a win for Republicans who want to frame the problem with mass shootings as a mental health issue.  Republicans realize that doing nothing after the recent mass shootings might hurt them in November so they throw out the usual weak solutions that will not have an impact on mass shootings and hope the electorate will see them as not tone-deaf to the recent shootings.  Conservatives and gun-rights supporters have always wanted to see the solution to mass killings with semi-automatic guns as being related to mental health services.  I agree but probably not with the same mental health problem.  The mental health problem that I see is one of gun fetish.  The need to accumulate massive amounts of guns beyond any possible need for protection is a sign of an irrational attachment to guns that shows an overcompensation for some other personal inadequacy.  Half of the guns owned in America today are owned by just 3% of gun owners.  These gun owners are identified as owning between 8 and 140 guns.  The need to have a personal arsenal that could equip a small armed division is a sign of something that indicates a serious mental issue.  The other reality in this gun culture is that this mental illness seems to be related to the inadequacy of male mental health development.  The period of time for males from 18-21 seems to be a dangerous time for some males to be able to buy that AR-15.  I am not sure how any screening program will screen out all those potential mass shooters short of banning the sale of those weapons to the general population.  The only proven reality to stop mass shootings is the banning of assault weapons and not mental health programs. 



Saturday, June 11, 2022

United State of Canada

   The United States of Canada will have no Second Amendment, Electoral College, Senate Filibuster, or Trump-dominated Republican Party.  Sounds like a good deal.  We would have to go to the Caribbean instead or Florida to get warmer Winter weather.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

When a major political party stops believing in democracy


      As we wait to hear the January 6th Committee lay out their case for how Trump tried to negate Biden's election victory, we are also remembering the Watergate Committee's 50th anniversary this week.  Is it a coincidence that both these occurrences involved Republican presidents? Could these events have happened with Democrat administrations?  Why did the Republicans of the 1970s recognize that what Nixon did was so wrong that he couldn't continue being the leader of the Republican Party?  Why has that changed to the 2020s when Trump can continue to be the dominant force in Republican politics? Do the Republicans today have less adherence to our democratic ideals than the Democrats?  Why do many Republicans like to talk about our Country not being a democracy but a Republic as if a Republic didn't have democratic qualities?  Hasn't the Republican Party begun to resemble an authoritarian party where you can only accept the results of an election if you win?

    The signs of the Republican Party having authoritarian qualities have been apparent for many years.  The change can be traced back to the time in the 1970s when the authoritarian segregationist southerners switched from the Democrat Party to the Republican Party.  Nixon's "Southern Strategy" pushed out the liberal members of the Republican Party and started the trend of each party being more one-dimensional in their political ideology that we see today.  The Republican Party has been more blatant in its belief that the means justify the ends.  Their use of the filibuster and their unwillingness to correct the undemocratic aspects of the Electoral College are just 2 of their undemocratic positions.  Nothing more authoritarian recently is shown than McConnell's refusal to give Obama a chance to appoint a Supreme Court judge using a flimsy excuse of the electoral having a say in who could make the selection and then ignoring it when Trump was up for re-election.  Do you really think the Democrats would have tried to pull that off?

     All of this gets us back to January 6th.  Can you imagine the Democrats in Congress supporting an attempt by a Democrat president to do what Trump did on January 6, 2021?  While you can find times when the Democrats use their leverage to accomplish their political goals, they still seem unwilling to violate the democratic norms that have governed our Country in our history.  One example of this is with the Supreme Court.  As much as they feel that the Republicans have used unfair tactics to control the Court the Democrats would have a hard time getting enough support to expand the Court to correct the imbalance that presently exists.  They also can't get enough support to modify the filibuster rule because they still have some conservative members.

     The future of politics in the US right now is uncertain with one of our political parties being so untied to the democratic norms that have defined our politics of the past.  The Liz Chaneys of the Republican Party are being eliminated because they don't adhere to the authoritarian tendencies of a political party ruled by an authoritarian leader.  They haven't gotten to the place that Putin has by poisoning his opposition but the new revelation that Trump was "OK" with the mob hanging Vice President Pense gets a little too close to that level of authoritarianism. 


    Even though it might now be seen as a sign of Republican authoritarianism the way the two political parties handle incidents of sexual misconduct is another sign of how the Republican party has lost its moral compass that you would expect from a political party in a democratic country.  The tolerance that the Republicans have had for their official sexual misconduct reflects their transformation into an authoritarian party that places adherence to their party above moral misconduct.