Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday--

I didn't have anything to say about anything yesterday. So I just read other things. I also cleaned out a number of sites and blogs I am not going to follow any more. My interests change, or the blogger's interests or focuses change, our they (or I) have hit a rut and I need to shake things up a bit on my side. Some bloggers I have followed have become more commercial and I don't want to be bombarded with plugs for products.

This morning I found this interesting item. Facebook a digital graveyard?? Hmmmm! Yeah, I see the point but I think it needs expanding. The entire internet is a digital graveyard. I can't count the number of times I found a blog during a search and thought it might be interesting to follow only to discover that the blogger is no longer active. Whenever the aggregator I use suggests a new site for me I check first when the last post was published. Often I find the writer hasn't posted for a year--2 years--or more. When ever I check out a news story I check the publication date first of all because too often I have found the story isn't really all that new. Someone has just found it and linked to it as though it were. The whole internet is a digital graveyard not just social media.

We had snow flurries this morning but it hasn't accumulated. We have had no significant snow fall and it is the first weekend of December. The temperatures have been up and down but trending downward. The furnace has gone on more often but since we keep the temp inside at 68F it hasn't been working all that frequently. I left the plants in the tower, and the lavender and three mums in their various places. We'll se if they survive the winter. I just spent a bit of time making up some toilet paper roll starting pots which I will plant with lettuce and spinach to see how they will do inside. Be nice to get some greens over winter that are locally grown. I brought the blueberry in when that first cold snap froze the soil in the containers. I don't think it was damaged. Something else we will see about. I gave up on the one sickly rosemary but the two others I started from cuttings are doing well. The will need a new home soon. Getting much too big for their current location. I need to sit down with some drafting paper and map out the garden so I can plan where to put what. The catalogs have started coming in so planning the what is on tap as well.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Monday--

So the Rick Snyder's Attorney General in Michigan is arguing literacy is not a "right."

Perhaps, this is the best expression of Black Friday and the whole damned "holiday" season.

Is blatant narcissism and self-promotion an "ideology?"We are all looking for the "goat entrails" on which we can prognosticate what our Bully-elect will do (or not do). All of the signs and portends are confusing and contradictory. The only constancy he has shown is to himself.

Tuesday--

Andrew Bacevich has another good article at Tomdispatch. We have heard a lot of talk about the "swamp" in Washington which the Bully-elect has pledged to drain (though how he will do that when he has brought in the most rapacious gators to drain the environment that created them. But, as Bacevich points out, there is another swamp feeding into Washington: the swamp of war. They both have to be drained.

The Daily Kos has a post "should we be concerned by signs that democracy itself is in danger?" I have wondered throughout the election season as our Bully-elect claimed that the system was rigged or that fraud was somehow involved, and as stories came out that Russia was hacking the voting systems, or that various actors were implanting fake news to drive the vote which ever way they wanted. This system works only so long as we trust it. When enough of us don't trust it any more it will fail. I wonder how close we are to that situation.

Wednesday--

Since we have so over-used antibiotics that we have increasing numbers of bacterial strains showing not just resistance to a single antibiotic but often multiple antibiotics, scientists are reaching back in time to old remedies.

Thursday--

Welcome to December--almost at the end of a depressing year.

A suggestion for how to handle "toddler" Bully-elect.

Friday--

Infidel753 sums up the dilemma of our present election: minority rule. With Clinton having gained almost 2% more actual votes than the Bully-elect, his supporters are clutching at straws to shore up the legitimacy of his Electoral Collage win. For most of our 200+ years under the Constitution the process has worked fairly well. The Electoral College has differed from the popular vote only four times in the all that time. Unfortunately two of those times occurred since 2000. And, from a map I saw earlier showing county by county results, may reflect a growing divergence between lightly populated interior states and heavily populated states with large cities. Balancing out such interests has always been a problem which is why states are awarded Representatives on the basis of population while all states, regardless of population, have two Senators each. That system came under pressure when more northern states without slavery came into the Union than Southern states with slavery. For years the Senate could block any attempt by Northern interests to outlaw slavery through legislation from the House by defeating it is the Senate. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 kept the balance of power until 1854 by mandating that every free state be admitted with a slave state. I wonder what kind of compromise can paper over the disparity in today's world. We have always had to avoid both the tyranny of the majority and the tyranny of the minority.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Post-Thanksgiving Weekend--

Saturday--

Started planning for next spring's gardens. I have a long list of seeds I have on hand but most are way past their optimal dates and others don't do well in my space. Now that I have got the list I will consider each and decide what to get rid of and what to keep. I also need to map out the gardens so I can record where I put what. Why not use plant stakes, you ask? Well, I have yet to find a stake or a pen to label them with that will stand up to the heat and sun. I have said before that that little patio is an oven in the summer and a freezer in the winter. Winter gardening is totally out since my containers freeze solid until May. Summer gardening is a challenge since spring plants bolt readily and the variable temps can chill hot weather plants. Fall planting is a crap shoot since we may bet snow as early as October. This year we haven't had snow yet. Highly unusual.

David Kaiser's post today reflects conversations we have had here over the last year. We don't like much of what we see on the Republican side for policy and see no one on the Democratic side worth supporting.

Found this by way of Ronni at Time Goes By. We are, indeed, expendable and I wonder how long before which ones of us will be thrown under the bus.

Sunday--

It looks like we may get the worst of all options: a narcissistic bully and a religious culture warrior. I was glad when the Bully-in-Chief-elect nominated Pence because at least he wouldn't be governor of my state again. My second thought: oh, shit--what if they win. At the time I was only considering the possibility of a religious zealot a heart beat away from the Presidency. It looks like The Bully is going to run his businesses and let the Vice-Bully run the country.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Another Monday--

Just had a couple of thoughts about things I read over the weekend. First, our President-elect promises he will take only $1 per year as salary. The old saying goes "you get what you pay for" so how much do you think 0.27 cents a day will buy you? Oh, and maybe we should get that in writing before it goes the way of most of his charitable donations. Second, David Kaiser's account of his interview with Stephen Bannon is somewhat disquieting especially where he describes Bannon trying to get him to say that the next "fourth turning" crisis will result in a major war because the last three have done so. If the Strauss and Howe hypothesis is correct, we are somewhere toward the middle of that kind of crisis, then we are facing another war on the level of the other three. At least that is the apparent direction of the question. That smacks of a "god wills it" attitude or an almost Marxian faith in an inevitable historical trajectory. Perhaps he should remember Elizabeth I's attitude toward war: I do not like wars. Their outcomes are uncertain.

Tuesday--

Ugo Bardi has a good piece on the real meaning of that wonderful "bonanza" of oil in West Texas that was ballyhooed earlier this year. I learned long ago to take any such pronouncements with a large grain of salt. When they had the fracas over the estimated reserves in the wildlife reserve in northernmost Alaska I looked up the then current oil consumption in the U.S. and discovered that great bounty was only--wait for it--three months worth of consumption. If we could get out every last drop. Which we can't.

As soon as I read the headline I wondered if the writer would make the connection with Nixon's notion that something can't be illegal if a president does it.

Wednesday--

This is so terribly familiar and almost all of it applies. I have forced myself to get rid of books I have read and will not read again (I think). And usually because I have moved to a smaller place and absolutely have to have room. Or I find my interests have changed.

From The Pagan and the Pen a good piece on our so-called news media and how we are manipulated.
This election season we pretty much stopped watching the news and we questioned a lot more of the news we did see. I always try to read anything with my skeptical antennae on high alert. And I did notice early on a certain polarization: each side believed fervently in any stories of evil spread about the opposing candidate and nothing bad about their own. And they spread those stories far and wide as though they were absolute truth. Post-truth era indeed.

Just finished our new winter wreath. I don't do holidays--just seasons. Each time I rebuild one it lasts about three years before the colors fade and the flower petals or butterfly/bird wings tatter.

Thursday--Happy Thanksgiving--

Hecate Demeter posted an interesting piece that dovetails nicely with something I thought yesterday when the news media announced that the President-elect is going to nominate Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador and Betsy deVos as Secretary of Education. They seem almost reasonable compared to the people rumors claimed he would nominate: Bolton and Carson respectively. They aren't really. Haley is the current governor of South Carolina serving her first term. Diplomatic experience: none. Becky deVos is a wealthy donor and supports charter schools in which she is invested. Result: more public money going into private pockets. And since the President-elect isn't separating himself from his businesses why should she? Oh, yes--the window has definitely moved.

Friday--

I found this item and I can't even express the mixture of emotions I feel. I am not really surprised since I have been reading wingnuts on the extreme right openly proposing the end of child labor laws for the last couple of years. They may have whispered the ideas to like-minded compatriots on the sly but recently they have been openly and loudly advocating them. And, unfortunately, they are finding an audience that takes them seriously. Madame Secretary-nominate deVos has never lived at a time in this country when children weren't protected by Child Labor Laws. She is 9 years younger than I am and I never lived at a time when those laws weren't in place. The other emotions involve a very sick feeling I experienced when I realized the Ronald Reagan really wanted to turn back the clock to the pre-Depression era and erase all of the gains organized labor had made.

Another entry for the "post-truth" file. I try to look at the stories I read through very skeptical lenses. There are stories that are from (usually) trusted sources that appear (mostly) factual which can be accepted as (largely) accurate. The bias or slant I can ignore and make up my own mind about. Then there are the stories I find on sites I (almost always) check before making up my mind about how much to trust the information. If I don't find another (more trusted) source to back up the story, I simply don't trust them. Then there are the articles so over the top I dismiss them outright. I was amazed at how many of those stories turned up on certain sites I have followed for information not related to politics, social trends, religion etc. So long as the article said something bad about Clinton the were all over those sites. Obviously some people are reading with a different set of lenses.

I wasn't sure if it was really a word--but, it is and it fits the new administration perfectly: kakistocracy.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Weekend Edition--

Saturday--

What I am reading

  • David Kaiser's latest Time article. I have had The Fourth Turning on my e-reader for some time. This reminds me I really should finish it. Also need to get cracking on Daniel Boorstin's The Image which he wrote in the late 1960s but seems relevant to what is happening now.
  • "The Enemy Is Not Death; The Enemy is Needless Suffering"--good take on medical practice as it is now and as it should be. Some years ago I read an article about an elderly man who opted for expensive, experimental, and painful treatment when cancer that had been in remission came back. He was a Holocaust survivor and, having survived against long odds and in brutal conditions, was willing to grasp at any straw to keep living. I was in my 30s when I read the piece and one would think I would have agreed. I did--for him. He thought the process worth while. For me--not. Those kinds of decisions involve the delicate balancing of beliefs and values.
  • Oxford Dictionaries has chosen its word-of-the-year: post-truth. I remember answering a student's question on how people in the past could act or think the way they did in the face of contradictory facts. I forget the exact era of history we were studying at that point. However, I tried to point out that sometimes belief trumps triumphs over facts. If you believe 1) witches are real, 2) they are always malevolent, 3) they are a danger to society, and 4) your religion condemns them, you might just act on that belief.
  • Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History and Harvesting Color. I read a couple of chapters at a time. Don't read anything much at one sitting any more and may put it down for a week or more.
Sunday--
What I am doing
  • I started on the winter wreath yesterday. After getting the foliage and flowers trimmed--a difficult task because of the wire cores. Everything is arranged and today I will wire the pieces down.
  • Continuing to make progress on the shawl. Did another two rows and will do more today.
What I am reading

Friday, November 18, 2016

Monday--

Goodness--November is half over already!!

Tom Engelhardt asks a good question: Has the American "experiment" run its course?" And I think we have gone into the gates of hell and just haven't yet noticed the change in the scenery.

A good piece at the Times of Israel. I have heard and read repeated claims that # (my shorthand for "he whom I will not name") "tells it like it is." To that I have asked "what is he saying to whom and when? An what does he say when he isn't talking to that person or group but to another with a different agenda? And what is the "is" you think he is telling?" I never did get any good, clear answers. Unfortunately, # has uncorked the genie of bigotry which will not be bottled up again very soon. Of, course the cork was always a bit loose on that bottle.

My sentiments exactly. It really pisses me off to hear Repthuglicans who obstructed everything Obama tried to do from the beginning now demanding we give # a "chance" to succeed. Hypocrites!!

Damn!! I go on Facebook mainly to play a couple of games. Today one of those games totally eliminated my presence and started me back at level 1. LEVEL 1!!! I had been at 86. I am almost at the point to cancelling my account.

Tuesday--

I have spent much of the last couple of days cleaning out more of the gardens. The cold temps over the last few nights (above freezing but still below 40F) left the remaining plants looking bedraggled. I have some more to take out on the east side today and then I want to lay down newspaper on top to make sure the soil stays in the pots during heavy rains. As I progress with the clean up I think about what I want to do next year and what I will put where. The catalogs are trickling in. We stepped outside late last night to check out that "super moon." It was pretty!

Found this at Americablog and it certainly expresses some of my sentiments since November 8.

Wednesday--

I have pretty much tuned out most of the post-election analyses and speculations about what # will do. We won't know that until whatever happens happens. I am also ignoring Facebook most of the time. I still play the jigsaw and check up on friends (real friends I have known for thirty years) but otherwise I am stay off it. I got a bit of crocheting one on a long languishing project--not the troublesome doily but I will get back to that next. I have most of the materials for the winter wreath but need to get a grapevine form because I HATE the wire frame of the old wreath. Sometimes I need to replace just a few of the flowers or foliage but other times I need to replace almost all of it. This is one of the latter times. I got the last of the tender plants pulled, swept the patio and drained the hose which has been stashed in the shed for the winter. I do get a lot more done since all that time I used to spend on Facebook has been liberated for other things.

A nice giggle from the Archdruidess. Just reflecting our reality.

Although I have tuned out of most post-election discussions, there are good writers I still follow those like Nike Turse at Tomdispatch (and of course Englehardt who wrote the intro).

Thursday--

An interesting piece from the Washington Post on a study of another climate change casualty: kelp forests. What is interesting you ask? Well, first, the warming didn't have to be particularly large to drive the change. And, second, the destruction of the kelp wasn't even the direct result of temperature changes in the area but on the migration of herbivorous tropical fish into an area where they normally weren't found.

Well, the people at Dragon City fixed the problem and I am back playing at my level 87 stage. But I am still going to cut back on the gaming--just not go on other games as much.

Friday--

Goodness--another week gone.

Echidne has posted about the recent stories about fake news stories that were especially evident on Facebook during the latter days of the election. I have a number of thoughts on and related to the subject. I have been very cautious about trusting what I find on the web for a long time now. Certain cites I subject to extreme scrutiny before I take anything written there as at all possible. All of them have a particular axe to grind and cut the story to fit their agenda. Even what used to be trusted sites cannot be taken at face value any more because they aren't vetting their sources much--if at all. Several stories from Russia Today which were later proven false found their way onto both news sites and social media. Once upon a time historians considered anything written in the New York Times (and a few other "newspapers of record") to be thoroughly trustworthy and could be cited without further fact checking. I wonder if they have changed that. In a highly polarized political climate where each side believes no good about people or views on the other side and no bad about their own false stories supporting the one and vilifying the other spread rapidly and widely with no regard for the truth.

John Michael Greer has written thoughtfully about the attitudes of working class white and black voters in his small town. The post I have linked is one of several this season. The funny thing is that I voted for many of the same reasons but for Clinton. I didn't see a thin-skinned egoist who has a habit of seeking some kind of vengeance on anyone who disagrees with him or he feels insulted by would be an improvement over Clinton in the foreign policy arena. And the people he is considering for various State Department posts bolsters that view. I doubted that # would be better for the economy (at least at my level of the economy) than Clinton and feared he might be much worse. That view is also being bolstered by recent developments on Medicare and Social Security. And I saw a world of difference between a self-confessed pussy grabber and a woman who is married to an adulterer. In four years when we are in the middle of a new presidential election we will all be thinking of Sarah Palin's 2012 question to voters "how's that hopey, changey thing doing for ya?" I doubt seriously that the voters who went for # will get the change they are hoping for.

As for the promise on jobs, I think this might be what we will get instead.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Monday--

One more day and our election fever will break.

If this guy was running for president, even on a Republican ticket, he would have my vote. Amen, brother!!!

Tuesday--

Election Day. By the end of the day I will be either disgruntled or totally disgusted: disgruntled if Clinton wins or totally disgusted if Trump wins.

The first of the new seed catalogs came in. I usually get my orders in by early January so I have to really start evaluating what I did this year and what I want to do next year.

Wednesday--

Well, I am totally disgusted. I had hoped not to see much of Trump's face again but woke to the news that he had won. Though disgusted, I am not really surprised. I have had nagging voices in the back of my mind ever since the nominations were set. Those voices kept reminding me of what a large part of the Democratic party supported Sanders far more enthusiastically than Clinton's supporters supported her, how the Trump supporters were voicing legitimate grievances (however viciously or loathsomely they did so), that statistics have been wrong before and might well be wrong again, that I really disagreed with much of Clinton's business as usual with minor tweaks agenda at the same time I was turned off by Trump's lies, bravado, scapegoating, and crudeness. Welcome to "Survivor: America!"

Thomas Friedman wrote an interesting piece for the NY Times on Trump's election. "Homeless In America" sums up the feeling quite well and he is describing psychological and spiritual homelessness not physical. That is something I have been feeling more strongly over the last few years.

Thursday--

Another interesting take the election two days past: "It can't happen here (but it just did."

I have seen a couple of comments blaming third party voters for the Trump win. I won't link because I am sure you have seen similar accusations in your readings. But I have to ask a different question: what about the two main party candidates induced those voters to go third party? The same question should be asked concerning those who didn't vote for either Trump or Clinton but did vote--for the down ballot candidates. And about those who simply didn't vote at all because the over all numbers in the presidential race were down significantly (especially on the Democratic side) compared to 2012.

Now this is an interesting idea given the fact that twice in the last 20 years the candidate who eventually "won" the electoral college did not win the popular vote. It would side step the usual route which would require a Constitutional amendment which would take 3/4 of the House and Senate plus the approval of 3/4 of the states to take effect. I can see two possible flies in that ointment: a candidate who, like Donald Trump, who would win if the electors were awarded under the current system would likely sue and "faithless" electors who decide not to follow the rules.

Post-truth election? Oh--yes--indeed!!! The truth simply did not matter. Facts did not matter. Most of our principles didn't matter.

Friday--Veteran's Day--

I am still working out what I think about the election and its consequences. I have no idea what will happen but the portends aren't favorable--at least to me they aren't. I said some time ago that I followed politics to get a handle on what those bastards in power might do that would impact me and how it would impact me. The feminist phrase that come out of the late 1960s and 1970s that "the personal is political" is absolutely true. Can I, as a woman, expect anything good from a man who thinks of women as so much meat to be grabbed by any man who has the balls to do so and talks about his daughter as a "piece of ass?" I think not. Could I, if I were a business person, expect anything good from a man who thinks it good business to agree to buy goods or services at a set price and then decides, after receiving said goods and services, that he wants to "renegotiate" the deal? Again, I don't think so. I put that word in quotes because refusing to pay what you agreed to pay and then "offering" pennies on the dollar isn't renegotiation. It is fraud and theft. In the one case, being judged solely on my gender and limited by those judgements in everything I do or say, is deeply personal. But so is the second case since it directly impinges on whether I can sustain my business, my family, and my life. Now put the two together and the situation gets doubly personal.

Neal Gabler posted an interesting piece on Moyers & Company that reflects much of my last paragraph and extends it. He also wrote something that "I have been thinking" and on issues that transcend the political. We have to refocus our attention on the personal/local level. We don't have jobs that provide living wages? Well, as Dmitri Orlov once wrote there is always work. Work is what we do to sustain ourselves. Work is cooking dinner from scratch, raising some of our food in what ever space we have to stretch the inadequate amount of money our jobs provide--if we have a job at all. Are we worried about climate change and despairing because our political leaders can't see the urgency? Well, we can always make changes in our own lives and try to influence our local communities to take action. Are we concerned about sustainability and using resources sparingly in a world "consumed" by consumerism which encourages mindless consumption? Again, the better option would be to disengage with that culture and change our own lives. We need to do what Candide did at the end of Voltaire's novel: tend our gardens. That doesn't mean bad things won't happen because there are always assholes out there ready to tear down or appropriate what others build. And assholes who make use of the assets we built as a community while thinking that everything they have they got all by themselves so they don't have to contribute. But the "tend our gardens" strategy means we are a bit less dependent upon them.