Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday--March 27

Rainy today so probably won't get any outside gardening done. My seedlings are coming up nicely. We'll see how many actually make it to the garden.

Found this today at Salon (reprinted from Alternet). This makes me really miss real news reporting which I haven's seen in years. We did get the sensational stories about insurance companies jumping out of the exchanges or jacking up the premiums by hellacious percentages and I did see that traced the problem back to the failure of the federal government to pay the promised funds to backstop their losses but not one line about Marco Rubio and his Repthuglican sabotage.

Scientific American has an interesting explanation for why Trump's lies have no impact on his supporters: they are "blue lies" told about one group but strengthening his own group. The lie that illegal immigrants are "rapists" and violent "criminals" confirms what his base believes. It paints an "us vs. them" picture with us as the good guys ad them as the bad guys.

More often nowadays when we read stories about other countries we notice that, if we didn't know what country was the subject of the piece, we might thing the story applied to the U.S. This one is a case in point though I don't think anyone has studied the situation here in the same way. We have seen stories of 20-somethings moving back into their parents houses (if they had moved out in the first place). But I haven't seen any study which estimates how many years a 20-year-old would have to work to become economically independent. I hope it wouldn't be 18 years.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Saturday--March 25

The weather forecast indicates we are going into a warmer but wetter period. Gardening outside will be scattered efforts as the weather allows. I cleaned out the lavender and the tiered pot, swept out some of the leaves that finally thawed out, and poked the garden fork or shovel into the pots to see how much had thawed out. When we went grocery shopping the other day we drove by one of the garden centers to check out their progress on the outside sales area they set up each spring. Not much progress yet. Just the shrubs and rose bushes that can be started almost as soon as the ground thaws out. The local Ace Hardware store hasn't set up its hoop-house garden shop either. I need to start a list of the plants I need to get this year. Several of the herbs didn't do well and I will replace them with transplants: lavender, lemon basil, thyme.

Ah, at last some of the mainstream media outlets are facing the truth about our "Prevaricator in Chief." He is a world class liar who wouldn't know the truth if it bit him in his over large ass.

I love the second half of the first sentence in this article: A change in complexion leads to a change in perception.

Did anyone else get a feeling of deja vu during the latest GOP attempt to deal with the ACA? The GOP leadership is now suffering from the same tactics they so enthusiastically embraced over the last seven years. Throughout the Obama administration the divisions within the Repthuglican party worked to their advantage because what one faction could agree to another wouldn't which doomed what ever particular legislation they were dealing with. That didn't matter when the primary goal was to make sure Obama got as little done as possible. Now, however, the divisions within the party are working against them and the leadership hasn't found a formula that provides enough satisfaction to all sides while minimizing their dissatisfactions to get their promised legislation through. Let's see what happens to tax "reform" now that the tax savings they expected from Obamacare "repeal and replace" aren't coming.

Sunday--March 26

Found several of my cucumbers have sprouted and one other set of cells with I don't remember what planted. Luckily I have all that written down. It is much too wet to do any digging but I did get some of the extraneous pots out of the little greenhouse and into the trash during a lull. I have to sit down with my drawing of the garden layout and make a new one in light of the impromptu changes we decided on. I can't quibble too much since the my plans actually continue a trajectory I have been on for about three years now. Two years ago I started reducing the number of plants I put in. I had more than reached the capacity both of the space and my energy. That continued last year and I started thinking about the oldest of my containers which are showing their age and are increasingly fragile. I was just debating when to take them out and with what to replace them. Well, they come out this year are we aren't replacing them. Instead we will rearrange the remaining large pots. I had already planned for fewer plants again this year.

I have a suggestion for all the politicians gnashing their teeth over the failure to pass Trumpcare and replace Obamacare. Start referring to Obamacare by its official designation "Affordable Care Act." Soon everyone will forget that it was passed during the administration of the first black president. That is their primary aim, isn't it? To erase Obama.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday--March 24

Hoping that the temperature rises as expected into the 70s. I have a lot of outside work to get done with the planned reconfiguration and the retirement of three large containers. I saw marigold seedlings breaking through in the pots upstairs.

Yesterday Mom was reading a piece in which one interviewee asked why she and her (healthy) husband, who have taken good care of themselves, should have to pay to provide health insurance for others who couldn't be bothered to do the same. She obviously felt she and her spouse were being rewarded for living their "virtuous" lives with good health and others simply weren't being that "virtuous" and were receiving their just rewards for their "sins." My thoughts on those sentiments include: 1) you self-righteous bitch, 2) you are damned lucky not to have had an auto accident that left you needing expensive care or an accident at work requiring the same, or an unexpected serious illness that also required expensive care, 3) and you are a selfish bitch who like most of the Repthuglican party needs a brain transplant (because you can't think beyond your own comfortable circumstances and precious self) and a heart transplant (because yours--if you have one--missed the compassion function). Perhaps you think I am being unreasonably harsh and judgmental. However, her argument assumes that people who need help paying for medical care (or the insurance that provides some access to that care) have somehow caused their own circumstances of their own volition. And it assumes that all medical conditions can be prevented if only people lived rightly, ate properly, whatever. And it mistakes being damned lucky for being virtuous. As this article shows we don't know what causes two-thirds of cancers. I knew a family a long time ago whose father was stricken at a fairly early age by Parkinson's. They didn't know then that the condition is heritable and was present in his family because the relatives refused to talk about it because OMG it involved SEX. There was nothing they could have done to prevent the disease and no amount of right living would have helped. I remember a young girl from my junior high school days who had contracted polio before the vaccine because widely available often at a much reduced cost to those who couldn't afford the treatment on their own. No amount of right living or money would have saved those who came of age before the vaccine. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tuesday--March 21

Started seeds for the Chicago pickling and the Dragon's egg cucumbers, Mitoyo eggplant, Oxheart and Roselle tomatoes, Strawberry Blonde marigolds. I unplugged the heating mat under the starting tray. I think it is warm enough up there that it isn't needed now. I threw some lemon basil seeds into the pots where the first plants failed just to see what will happen. The little tomatoes, eggplants and peppers I want to keep inside are doing well--so far.

Wednesday--March 22

Thursday--March 23

Didn't see much to comment on yesterday. It turned cold again though no snow or rain. The weather people say the temps should start up again. Most of my thoughts were on modifications to the gardens I hadn't contemplated making. We have three containers that need to be changed out. They are deteriorating from the extremes of temperature and from the summer sun. I had intended to let them go another year or two but Mom wants them out this year. We won't replace them but will instead rearrange the other pots. I can't start on that right away because the recent stretch of cold temps froze them again--solid. I hope they thaw quickly with the rise in temps.

The more I hear about Gorsuch the less I like the idea of him occupying a seat on the Supreme Court. Take a look at this article and this one. The first shows an extreme lack of common courtesy toward a female lawmaker and the second shows the absurdity of "textualism."

John Feffer has a good article on why the Tangerine's administration wants to increase the Pentagon's budget by $54billion--to start another war...somewhere. What intrigued me to the point of sending me to a Google search was the comment that the $54billion was more than the military budgets of all but five countries. Let that sink in--the proposed increase, if it were a country's military budget, would rank it as sixth in the world. I had to check it out and found this list.

And then we have the Tangerine's eldest three kids and their families vacationing in Aspen on the taxpayer dime and pissing off the locals (and other self-funded vacationers). Parasitic presidency indeed. These guys give leeches a bad name. For more on this sorry state of affairs see this story.

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20--Happy Equinox

We woke to heavy rain, lightening, and thunder. I wonder how wet it will be today. We should have some warm days coming up and, if it is dry, I might get some clean up outside accomplished. My plant starts are a mixed bag. About half of the Thai basil and only one of the lemon basil have survived so far. I got three small lavender of which two are still going. The little tomatoes are doing very well with most of the peppers and eggplants a bit behind them in growth. I should start the some of the outside plants soon. I have been somewhat lazy on the planting schedule.

I haven't been nearly so lazy on the needlework. I finished a crocheted placemat and started another. The afghan is building nicely. I haven't picked up the cross-stitched dresser scarf for a while though I thought about doing some over the weekend and then got busy with the crochet work.

I do like this one. For much too long the Supremes have, from my point of view, prioritized the powers of the government and the privileges of the corporations over the rights and welfare of ordinary citizens. I was stunned to see the part of the article which said the decision was unanimous.

Is there anything sane about the Tangerine's administration? This is just another example of the insanity.

Friday, March 17, 2017

March 13-17--

Monday--

This was a sickening story to find first off. Somebody needs heart to improve his sense of compassion and brain transplant so he can figure out that most people can't afford out of pocket medical bills upwards of $2k per month. Mom and I looked at each other and asked if either of us gets $2k a month. We barely make that together. I would like to see this SOB staked out on a fire ant hill. Evidently, according to a later story, did apologize for his insensitivity but the apology doesn't really make me think better of him since he attributed his initial response to a "knee-jerk reaction." I think that should be edited to read "jerk reaction." Though the story came from the middle of last year, I reminds me too much of a recent one in which some asshole politician (whose name I can't remember, unfortunately) claimed poor people could afford their health insurance if they just made smarter financial decisions--like buying insurance instead of that new smart phone. Like all that many poor people have the ready cash for either!!!

Peter Turchin has a good article that parallels our thinking here--most of the dietary advice of the half-century is pseudo-scientific bunk.

I have seen this coming for the last three decades. I remember a colleague in a history department nearly that long ago who gave up a teaching assisstantship because she got fed up with "slacker" students who didn't want to do any work to get the grade they wanted. They refused to read the material and couldn't (or wouldn't) write a cogent and coherent paper or test. I remember students who wailed and railed because I refused to give them multiple guess tests and insisted they write essays. I remember a Doonesbury cartoon showing a professor who told his class that once upon a time he assigned six books, some hefty, and gradually scaled down the list till he was only assigning three very short pieces. And a student protested "Whoa--Three???" I remember students who were concerned with getting their grades up to a "D" because "D for Diploma." And one who was upset when I helped her pull her grade up from a D to a B because I didn't gift her with an A--and her father contacted a state politician who contacted the president of the university who contacted a Dean who contacted the head of my department who contacted my advisor who contacted me. Thankfully, they had my back--that time.

Amen, sister!! Technology can be good or bad and too often we adopt something without thinking about it. Before our last computers died we had rejected a system update--the so called improvements were not enough of an improvement to justify the cost. When we needed new phones we deliberately refused to go for any smart phone and the ones we have many more features we simply don't use.

Tuesday--

"The Parasitic Presidency"???? Perfectly descriptive.

Wednesday--

Has anyone else noticed how strangely quiet the mainstream media has been about the debt ceiling? It reappeared today and with it the government's ability to borrow supposedly evaporated. I have seen very little about the situation even in the economic press. Perhaps because we have a white president and no rabid GOP senators calling for a shutdown of the government as a blackmail strategy. A government of hypocrites with a parasite as president makes all the difference.

As I have said often before, technology is wonderful--till it isn't. The author of the article in the link reflects much of my experience. We have traded ersatz convenience for real annoyances and paid a premium for the exchange.

Thursday--

Friday--

I saw a headline that said Trump's budget director claimed that "Meals On Wheels" doesn't "work" and that we can't continue to spend money on programs that don't work. This piece by Slate expands on that. There are two parts of the argument he tries (and fails) to make. First, he claims the Community Development Block Grants, of which the Meals On Wheels program is a part, doesn't work. And, second, he claims that Meals On Wheels, specifically, doesn't work. Please note he claims that neither the block grants nor Meals On Wheels work but provides no proof to back up his claims. Merely stating something doesn't prove that thing. I can say "Unicorns exist and they are awesome" but my saying so proves neither their existence nor their awesomeness. On what criteria does he base his assessment? He doesn't say. I also find it interesting that the Trump administration wants to convert Medicaid and educational funds to block grants that the states "can use as they choose" but here is claiming that a different block grant that the some states have chosen to use to fund programs like Meals On Wheels aren't working and, therefore, should't be funded. This isn't really a matter of choice on any level. It is solely based on the fact that the Trump administration wants to spend money elsewhere--like on a useless 12th aircraft carrier or a border wall the Tangerine promised Mexico would pay for.

An interesting piece. Makes me wonder how many of the "benefits" companies provided were actually paid for by government tax policies, i.e., by all of us who had to pay more in taxes to cover them. Reminds me of the indignant response when, here in Indiana, Obama told  business leaders that "they didn't build that," referring to the road by which their goods left for the markets where they were sold. He was quite right. They didn't build it--at least not by themselves. And given the propensity for governments to give "tax breaks" and build infrastructure to entice businesses to their area, perhaps they didn't build it themselves at all.

Jon Aravosis is suitably sarcastic on this one. Back when Bush II was giving the horse shit about "compassionate conservatism" I said it was an oxymoron. I didn't see anything compassionate about Repthuglican conservatism. I guess I just didn't ask the right question: compassion for whom? Compassion for the poor, the elderly and others who depend on the service the program provides or the well-heeled, well-fed, well-housed who have to some how scratch up the tax money for the service? Frankly, I didn't know that "Fuck you" was synonymous with compassion. I think Robert Reich describes the situation better: unnecessary cruelty. And the Rude Pundit calls it mundane savagery.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Weekend Musings--

Saturday, Mar. 11--

Found this Scientific American article almost first off.  CNBC also carried a story on the bill which would allow employers to require, as part of their "wellness" programs, employee undergo genetic testing or pay much higher premiums for health insurance--and that the company have access to the results. We haven't had any good experiences with the "wellness" provisions of the ACA to date. Most of that comes through Mom's insurance which she gets as the widow of a deceased employee covered by a union contract. Her doctors spent more time asking the questions on the "wellness" questionnaire than actually talking to her. The insurance program included as a benefit membership in the Y but the program never worked for us. Mom injured herself on one of the machines and had to rest for a couple of weeks to recover and another program was supposedly low impact but was too much for her (and for me as well though I lasted a bit longer.) We tried hard to see the benefit from the programs--so hard I think we "saw" benefit that wasn't really there. I have almost never had health insurance through an employer and the rare times I did I never needed it. James Clapper recently came out and proclaimed in an interview that we don't really have privacy any more given the government's ability to snoop into our lives. If the Repthuglicans (and it was they who voted by party line for the bill) our rights to medical privacy will also disappear.

Sunday--

Well, here it is again--the time to switch our clocks. Although I am now retired and now longer have to live by the clock, the change still disrupts my system. I will take at least a week for my sleep rhythms to get back in sync with the clock.

Check out this from The Nation.