Saturday, February 8, 2020

February 8

Found this early this morning. For decades we have sent our garbage to developing countries. Now one of our territories is sending their waste to us. Another sign of our descent into banana republic status.

Reviewing the Boeing situation I thought of a parallel: Pharma. How often have we seen new drugs approved by the FDA, heavily advertised and then suddenly pulled because "after market" reports revealed consequential side effects? Quite often over the last 20 years. Industries of all kinds now consider customers to be guinea pigs. Companies make as much money as they until enough guinea pigs suffer spectacularly and then they pull the product--unless they can convince the regulators to decide that the worth of the product exceeds the worth of the guinea pigs.

Naked Capitalism posted this item today. Each time the current administration gets involved in anything I always ask who expects to profit to what extent and who will be hurt. But something else caught my attention: Greer's description of the so called experts reception of individuals describing their symptoms upon consuming MSG. Basically their testimonies were dismissed as imaginary, hysterical, not at all real. Politicians evidently have the same response to anyone claiming harm from projects and enterprises which benefits them or their true masters.

I live about 40 miles south of the time of Lake Michigan and have been seeing stories on our news outlets about the devastation the high lake water levels have caused this year. And the Illinois-Indiana shoreline isn't alone.

Australia is also experiencing flooding rains. On the one hand the rains is a welcome aid in extinguishing some of the wildfires. On the other, the fires came after a two-year drought which didn't help the ground absorb the massive amount of water On a similar note a blogger I follow who lives well south and east of us wrote about flooding that is worse than any they have seen in all the time she and her husband have lived on their property. They had to wade out through water topping their boots to get their buck goats to a drier area. They have never had the goat paddocks flood before.

Friday, February 7, 2020

February 7

We have in-and-out sun and on-and-off snow. Thankfully it isn't sub-zero cold. I have begun to take a look at my seeds and planning when to start them under the grow lights upstairs. Target date for starting that process is the second week of March.

Watching the Iowa situation and its failed app for delivering the vote tallies I suddenly had a semi-deja vu moment. It reminded me of the Boeing 737 Max failure: software no one tested thoroughly and inadequate training of the people who would be using it. At least Iowa wasn't a lethal failure. But in the back of my mind I can't help thinking that those failures are more significant and, evidently Ives Smith at Naked Capitalism thinks so also:
On one level, this is an illustration of America’s descent into banana republic status. Pundits and the media keep reinforcing American exceptionalist fantasies, our brand fumes of vaunted democracy, yet we can’t even run elections competently. Is is just the grifting, that introducing more tech creates more opportunities for vendor enrichment? Or is it yet more proof that a lot of people in charge really hate democracy and are at best indifferent to doing things right?

She labels the syndrome "elite incompetence." But it seems to permeate our society and economy. I suggest you read accounts of the problems with the F-35 which is the most complex and most expensive weapons system in history and doesn't adequately do any of the functions the military wanted it to do. Or the new Littoral Combat Ship line which has been a gold-plated problem from the beginning. Tom Englehardt recently posted a piece by William Astore which argues the Pentagon's real success is getting increasing funding in spite of a record of failure. I think he might be right. In the meantime our infrastructure is falling apart.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

February 6

We are still waiting for the results of the Iowa caucuses. Though we don't know who the "real" winner is we do know who lost: Joe Biden. When he announced his run he was one of four candidates I wished hadn't or hoped wouldn't entered the race. The others are Sanders, Steyer, and Bloomberg. I really wanted a new person to rise up in politics and I don't think "businessman" is a qualification for political office.

I think John Feffer had an interesting summation of this past week at Foreign Policy In Focus:
I can't even imagine how people around the world view the United States these days. 

This week, the Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump of the two charges of impeachment after failing to call any additional witnesses, including those that could clearly corroborate some of the disputed issues. 
The president delivered a State of the Union address that, in its brazen factlessness, would not have been out of place in Moscow circa 1975 or Cairo circa 2019. The president failed to shake the hand of the speaker of the House, and she in return tore up his speech at the conclusion of his remarks.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party didn't need Russia to hack the Iowa caucus vote because it was fully capable of screwing up the vote by itself. 

To err is human -- to screw up on this scale is American.
That last is my emphasis. As far as the Repthuglicans, except Mitt Romney who may merit the title of Republican, I think of a line from The Vampire Lestat where Akasha tells Lestat that the people she killed "believe in nothing. Now they are nothing." They obviously don't believe, along with their Dear Leader, that an oath that ends "so help me God." means anything. I hope their future includes political non-existence.

John Michael Greer is back after taking January off and, as usual, has an interesting take on where we are and where we are going. His comments on the "death of expertise" hits a few chords. A long time ago we stopped listening to dietary advice after noting who supported the studies on which the advice was based. Exercise? Well, we tried that and a) we didn't much like doing the exercise and b) wound up with several muscle and joint strains that made things very painful and difficult. Most of the time the advice simply doesn't fit into lives we aren't willing to change to suit the advice. We have also stopped listening to advertising. Most ads fall into what we call the "cute but..." category. Cute but we don't want the item. Cute but we have tried similar "new" things that haven't worked as promised. And we remember too many products that were heavily advertised and turned out to be harmful. And as far as the "elites" go--they seem just too far removed from my lived reality. Experts want to tell us, for our own good of course (sarcasm), how we should live. We want to make decisions for ourselves.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

February 5

Well, it's been a while. Since nothing much has changed so I haven't posted anything The last 48 hours hasn't changed much. The Senate is on course to extortion on the nation-state level using our tax dollars. HMMM--maybe we should start typing that as "senate" since they certainly don't deserve the dignity of an initial capital. Number 45 lied in almost every sentence, over stated all his dubious accomplishments, stage managed a "reset" of his re-election campaign masquerading as a "State of the Union," and Nancy Pelosi tore up her copy of his speech on camera. The last is, of course, getting the most coverage on the news media. Listening to the Repthuglican sycophants and toadies seem to think the office of President somehow erases the complete waste of human (sort of) flesh who occupies it. Sorry--it doesn't. I am also sorry the office has been tarnished by his occupation of it.

We still don't know who actually won in Iowa. I am not sure it matters since it is just the first of 50+ more contests before the convention. Margaret at Margaret and Helen has a perfect summary so I won't even try to amplify on it. Well, I will add one thing--the Iowa Democratic Party couldn't effectively organize an orgy in the local bordello.

So, instead I will sho some pictures of some of my own accomplishments.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

January 15

We have fog today which is lifting a bit now but a winter storm is coming that the weather people say will bring the coldest temperatures so far this season. We plan to stay home and vegetate. I just tossed the stevia because it bloomed and has lost the sweetness I grow it for, and the lemon grass because it is simply too big to grow in the small space we have available. We can't put it in the larger space because the cats try to eat it. For that same reason I can't put roses there. Who knew cats would chow down on roses??? My attempts to overwinter plants have had limited success with the rosemary being the most successful. I have three pots; one a three year old plant and two others started as cuttings last fall. I lost my oldest rosemary, 7 years old at the time it decided to give up the ghost last spring. It provided the cuttings for the oldest surviving rosemary.

We watched part of the debates last night.  It came on right after the Jeopardy "Greatest of All Time" championship tournament which was far more interesting and exciting. We stopped when that idiot of a moderator asked Sanders if he really told Elizabeth Warren a woman couldn't win the presidency and followed up asking her what she thought of the statement Sanders just denied making. The stupidity of asking a person about a statement another person allegedly made just after he denied making it is mind boggling. It was an attempt to manufacture a fight and, to both candidates' credit, they declined the bait.

It doesn't really matter is Sanders does or doesn't believe a woman can be elected president. I know enough people who agree with the negative. Several are family members. Time may (or may not) solve that problem if enough of those who don't think a female president can be elected  either die or change their minds.

Monday, January 13, 2020

January 13, 2020

Well, here we are mid January of a new year which feels so much like the old one we look at a calendar (or to our computers) to be convinced of the fact. Our weather veers madly from fall to winter to spring and back. The heavy rains over the weekend felt more like early April than January. Today is colder and we have frost, ice and the remnants of snow but not cold enough to make it feel like winter.

The political scene is equally chaotic. I don't follow polls and all I really know about the Democratic primary races is what turns up on the news reports. I said early on that I would vote for any Democrat over the miserable excuse for a human being who now occupies the White House. That intention was challenged a bit when Steyer and Bloomberg entered the lists. I firmly believe we do not need another billionaire as President. Running a country is not like running a business as the last three years should have demonstrated--in spades. However, with every atrocity #45 commits I have wavered and now will vote for any Democrat--even the billionaires.

Isn't it interesting how the situation in the Middle East has gyrated between extremes. 1) Rockets fired by some Iran aligned militia (we think) kills an American contractor and a couple of Iraqis; 2) we retaliate by firing rockets as a militia base killing 25-30 "fighters" (depending on the source of the info); 3) for two days irate Shia crowds (supposedly members of Iranian linked militias) demonstrate at the American Embassy, set fire to a guard post, actually climb the wall before being driven back by tear gas; 4) a U.S. drone murders a high ranking member of the Iranian government/military (and it was murder however you want to pretty it up with euphemisms) which reconciles opponents of the Iraqi and the Iranian governments who had been demonstrating just a week before;  5) the Iranians fire off around two dozen rockets after giving warning they are going to do so resulting in no casualties (though their own media claimed 80 dead in the first reports); and then 6) shoot down a civilian air liner while still on alert expecting an American retaliation but not closing their airspace; followed by 7) lying for three days about the incident which has now led to renewed demonstrations against the government; oh, and 8) led to renewed demonstrations against Iranian and American influence in Iraq. Anyone else suffering from extreme vertigo and ready to upchuck all over? And the rally sad thing about all this mess is that situation is no closer to resolution than it was before the above chain of events occurred. Can you spell "futility?"

Ah well, I have other things to focus on. Several needlework projects on the hoop or hook and all my seed orders are in and it is time to figure out when to start what and where to put it when it is time. I have no tomatoes or peppers even as free gifts from the seed companies for my orders so I have no temptation to just put in the odd plant. I have some givens for the garden: lavender, basil, stevia, peppermint, spearmint, chives. Those always go in. This year I have a number of dye plants to try: woad, indigo, madder, Hopi black dye sunflowers. Otherwise, I have flowers: other sunflowers, blue butterfly pea, hibiscus, marigold. I have said before that the gardens I plan in the spring are never the ones I get in the fall. We'll see what happens.

Monday, December 2, 2019

December 2

December already. Another year almost gone. We have a sheen of snow on roofs and grass but the pavement seems to be too warm for any to stick. At least, for now anyway, we missed the heavy snows other areas have been getting. The very high winds of a week ago hardly even inconvenienced us. We could, and did, choose not go out and decided not to put out trash tote for pick up. Only one small bag in it and I didn't want to risk having to chase it down as the wind rolled it down the street. Last year we caught the amusing, for us, sight of three or four in a line wheeling down the street propelled by the wind. We didn't put ours out that day either.

In the blogs this morning--David Kaiser had this very cogent and accurate assessment of the comparisons of #45 and Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson. The current occupant of the White House doesn't compare very well in either case. Unfortunately, #45's election also doesn't say much good about where our country is today. A worse indicator, however, was a poll I saw today which indicates that Republicans rated #45 above Lincoln. The only saving grace was that among Americans generally Lincoln is still favored.

William Astore also has a good blog at TomDispatch on our endless wars. Another dismal reflection on where we are today.

Ronni Bennett's post today conjures up some unpleasant memories. A couple of years ago CVS took over Aetna (my mother's insurance company) and the price of her medication more than tripled soon after open enrollment ended. She tried to cancel that insurance which came because of her deceased husband's job but the company insisted that she stay with them until the next enrollment period until she noticed that they could drop her if she didn't pay the premium. Note the company got paid by Medicare to provide the insurance and collected a premium from her as well. She refused to pay and after stringing the matter out for about three months (to continue collecting from Medicare I guess) they finally cancelled the insurance. Her doctor helped her find a low cost provider for that medication. Mom keeps a tab of the insurance premiums she isn't paying, and the co-pay (which she also doesn't have to pay) and has found that those savings more than pays for the doctors' visits (both her medical and her eye doctor) and her lower drug costs. Both her doctors were very happy to accept cash. The biggest criticism of the "Medicare for all" plans has been what would happen to those who are happy with their insurance and want to keep it. The critics pit that group against those who can't get insurance at all. But few are talking about those who pay through the nose for inferior service and have a hard time getting out of it.