Astronomical Quilt

Solar System quilt

I am a little late on the uptake for this one…well only about one hundred and thirty two (132) years late.

Ellen Harding Baker created this gorgeous and informative quilt in 1876 that she used as a visual aid for lectures on astronomy in West Branch, Moscow and Lone Tree.

The quilt is in the archive of the National Museum of American History.

From the NMAH website: “The maker, Sarah Ellen Harding, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1847, and married Marion Baker of Cedar County, Iowa, on October 10, 1867. They lived in Cedar County until 1878, then moved to Johnson County where Marion had a general merchandise business in Lone Tree.
Ellen had seven children before she died of tuberculosis in the spring of 1886.”

h/t Label-Free

September 16, 2008 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

Border Patrol? We don’t need no stinking border patrol!

Oops, did I forget to advertise the US Border Patrol Recruiting event in West Des Moines, IA yesterday?

Oh well, when the pay is “up to $50,000 dollars for the first year and up to $70,000 within three years of service” I’m sure they will find someone willing to become a glorified security guard.

Discrepancy alert: another news agency has reported that “Border Patrol recruits earn between $36,000 and $46,000 in their first year, with the potential of earning up to $70,000 per year within three years of service.”

If you are chosen to protect one of the US borders, you will have to move to Texas, Arizona, California, or New Mexico.


Interesting. Don’t we also have a border to the north? Isn’t the threat of a terrorist or biological weapon attack coming from Canada just as great as from the South?

Why aren’t any USBP agents being deployed to Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine?

July 11, 2008 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

Secret’s Out: Suppressed Report Says Biofuels Raise Food Prices

The Guardian obtained a leaked report from the World Bank that has pegged “biofuel” production as a bigger problem in raising food prices than previously thought.

The report estimates that higher energy and fertiliser prices accounted for an increase of only 15%, while biofuels have been responsible for a 75% jump over that period.

The World Bank report has been suppressed since its completion in April because insiders believe it would embarrass President Bush (can’t let that happen!).¬† The US government claims that producing fuel from plants has only raised food prices by 3 percent. I hope any ethanol defenders and comments on this blog¬† can explain why there is such a discrepancy.Charlie gets hungry

An estimated 100 million people have fallen below the poverty line because of rising global food prices.

Coincidentally, back in April, Senator Charlie “Chuck” Grassley labeled the whole ethanol/food debate “a big joke.”

Maybe I just don’t get his sense of humor?

July 6, 2008 at 6:43 pm 2 comments

Find the Flip-Flop: Obama on the 2nd Amendment

Months ago Barack Obama predicted the SCOTUS ruling on handguns which was handed down last week in a 5-4 decision.

Here he is in December 2007 at an event in Mt. Vernon, Iowa:


June 29, 2008 at 2:28 pm 2 comments

Imperfect Weather: Ethanol Industry to Stay Propped Up by Renewable Fuels Standard?

Michelle Perez, senior agriculture analyst with the Environmental Working Group in Washington claims “Our ethanol policy requires perfect weather, and not surprisingly, we aren’t getting it.”

Corn prices closed at $7.91 per bushel on June 13, 2008.

The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandates 9 billion gallons of ethanol production this year, boosted to 10.5 billion gallons in 2009 and increasing to 15 billion gallons by 2015.
Corn Chart

On June 30, the U.S.D.A. will release a corn crop assessment for 2008.

What do you think of the RFS?

Is corn ethanol all that? (more…)

June 27, 2008 at 4:21 pm 3 comments

Rafael Robinson Named as Suspect in Suppressed 1996 FBI Report

Someone asked me to post the FBI interview that was released last week by the Des Moines Police Department. This document is part of the open file on the murder investigation of Rafael Robinson.

It appears to be a key piece of evidence for David Flores.
FBI interview
The interview took place on May 22, 1996 between Calvin Tyrone Gaines and FBI Special Agent Terry Bohle. The DMPD received the report on August 1, 1996.

Gaines is the third person to come forward and state that Robinson was person who killed Phyllis Davis on April 12, 1996.

David Flores is serving a life sentence without parole in the Iowa State Penitentiary.

You can get a copy of this document from the clerk at the Polk County Courthouse.

June 18, 2008 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

12 Years Later, DM Police Give Up Report

The Des Moines Police Department acknowledged the existence of a key piece of evidence that may assist David Flores’ post-conviction suit against the state. Flores is serving life in prison for the 1996 murder of Phyllis Davis.

An FBI interview that the DMPD hadn’t disclosed was entered into the court records after today’s emergency meeting between Judge Don Nickerson, Flores’ attorney Mary Kennedy, and Assistant Polk County Attorney Joe Weeg. In the report, Calvin Gaines identifies Rafael Robinson as the shooter in the accidental drive-by shooting of Phyllis Davis.

Attorneys Discuss
(Weeg and Kennedy Discuss the FBI Report)

Although the FBI interview took place on May 22, 1996, it wasn’t until August 1, 1996, that the DMPD reported receiving the information. The FBI interview took place in the Polk County Jail between Calvin Tyrone Gaines and FBI Special Agent Terry Bohle (retired).

From the 1996 interview:

GAINES was shown a photograph of RAFAEL ROBINSON and he stated that was the individual in the Blazer involved in the shooting in which the woman was accidentally killed. GAINES said that the Iowa 90 CRIPS have a contract out on ROBINSON…

A bank executive, Phyllis Davis was driving home from work on April 12, 1996 when she was killed by a .22 caliber bullet.

Rafael Robinson’s murder remains unsolved.

During the hearing, Polk County Judge Don Nickerson said he felt “dismayed” and “queasy” when he opened the newspaper on Tuesday to see:

“what I discussed with counsel as early as yesterday morning on the front page … it makes me nervous when hours after I’ve talked to counsel, in attorney-client or judge-counsel confidentiality, I find what I’ve said … in the media the next day.”

Although he said he would not issue a gag order, Judge Nickerson asked the Flores family not to “try this matter in the press.”

Judge Nickerson

Afterwards, Anthony Flores, whose brother has been behind bars for 12 years, took issue with the judge’s lecture, saying, “They tried him in the press the first time, why shouldn’t it be the same way today?”

Anthony and Angel Flores
(Anthony and Angel Flores listen to Judge Nickerson)

June 17, 2008 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment

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