Saturday, May 31, 2008

Entitled To Know has a little blog entry (5/31) about the high pressure tactics used by Medicare Advantage insurers and the first, feeble attempts to control them.  It burns me that the government, Bush Administration to be accurate, created a situation where these companies are paid 13% more to provide services that compete with Medicare which is paid for by our tax dollars.  And then we have to consider establishing rules and enforcement bureaus at additional expense to keep them abusing their potential clients?? When did we get government by scam artists and their shills?

This article in the LA Times comes via Ronni at Time Goes By.  It reflects something I have felt in my gut for a while.  I have read AARP Magazine and stories in other outlets about companies that retain or hire older people (55+) but wondered where they are.  As I looked at the lists of featured companies I noticed that  a large portion of the companies are in retail.  Most do not pay a living wage and, lets face reality here, minimum wage is not a living wage.  Most are not looking for full time jobs, no matter what the job ads say.  The article talks about flexibility in hours but the retail outlets around here want you to be flexible, not them.  As the article mentions these are low-skill jobs that don't require a lot of education.  But on the flip side, I have been told in interviews for these kinds of jobs that I am 'over-qualified.'  I have the same education background I had 10-15 years ago when the matter never came up.  My age is the only difference now.  Worse, I never really liked retail.  I did it as a standby, until something better came along.  But those better opportunities are coming less and less.

We all know that Joe Liberman is not really and Independent any more than he was a Democrat before he lost his bid to run for re-election on the Democratic ticket.  This op ed piece in the NY Times lambasting him for his efforts to pressure YouTube into removing  "hundreds of videos produced by Islamist terrorist organizations or their supporters" proves my point.  YouTube did review its sites for those that broke its rules on hate speech and removed 80.  I am disappointed that they did that much.  I wonder what criteria Senator Liberman used to determine which sites were produced by 'Islamist terrorist organizations or their supporters.'  The same, perhaps, that Michelle Malkin used to determine that Rachel Ray was sporting a kaffiyeh in the Dunkin' Donuts ad?  See the details of this ludicrous example of stupidity on by of by way of Daily Kos.  

Thank you again, Ronni, for this article in Science Daily!!!  I knew there had to be a good reason to be what I always wanted to be: a contrary, cantankerous, irritable old biddy.  

Friday, May 30, 2008

Here and here are a couple of sites that reflect some of my own thought of late.  We don't take any of the premium channels on cable (HBO, Showtime, etc) because we have found so very little of interest to justify the extra cost.  We haven't been to the movies since 'Return of the King' came out, partly from lack of interest and partly from cost.  The pleasure derived is simply not equal to the cost.  We don't go out to eat very much any more for the same reasons.  I think we actually eat better at home.  When we do eat out we usually bring half of it home because the portions are so large.  I also prefer a good book (i.e., a good read) to much of the visual entertainment on tv generally.  We generally divide that into three categories: seen it and liked it enough to buy the dvd; saw it once and it isn't worth a second viewing (if we even got through the first); and don't want to see it even once.  At one time I could not go into a fabric, craft, or book store without coming out with something new.   Now, more often than not I leave empty handed.  I recently bought a couple of books and wished, after reading them, I had not.  Though enjoyable they were not keepers.  I could have done without them. I buy only what I need to finish craft projects but most comes from my stash.  

Has anyone else had a sense of deja vu with the media reports coming out of Iraq?  How often have we heard this administration announce a new turning point in this disaster?  It reminds me of the old saying that there are 'lies, damned lies, and statistics;' or as my Dad used to say 'Figures don't lie, but liars do figure.'  We have been told that the surge is working but no one points out that al Sadr has maintained a cease fire during this surge.  Tom Englehardt points out that the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr city seems to be quieting down but then we have fired some 200+ missiles into the area.  Given the experts we have heard over the last six years and how wrong they have been, I find it amazing that anyone believes any of them on anything.

I found this interesting little story by way of Newsfire from the BBC.  Every now and then I have thought about getting a little manual typewriter.  The urge gets a bit stronger whenever we have a brown- or black-out which makes my computer useless.  I feel a kinship with the woman who said that all she wants her machine to do is type.  I say something similar when I see the ads for the new smart phones.  I don't really want a phone that does much more than transmit my voice to whomever I want to speak and their voice back to me.  We don't think very often about the technology we are urged to buy.  Sometimes it is all to easy to be seduced into thinking about the problems it will supposedly solve and not about the problems it might cause or whether it fits well into our lives.  Over the years I have bought three different PDAs only to have them all end up in a drawer somewhere.  I found it faster and easier to use pen and paper than using the PDAs.  I also didn't have to worry about losing the information if batteries died or the machine otherwise malfunctioned.  A blogger I frequently read (but which one I can't remember at the moment) recently wrote that she had experienced a 'catastrophic' computer crash which had a paradoxical effect.  After the first panic and exasperation at what she had lost, she discovered a sense of freedom in that she had also lost a lot of 'junk' she didn't really need.  How much 'junk' do we keep on our computers simply because it is there?  Of course, I also have to remind myself of all the paper 'junk' that I had typed, printed, copied or otherwise accumulated during a long stint in academia.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thanks to Tiffany and Donna for their comments on my last post.  As I read them an image of a commercial I find particularly irritating came to mind: the Comcast commercials with variations on the 'more, more, more' theme.  And immediately after another image this time from the remake of 'Sabrina' starring Harrison Ford.  Sabrina asks Linus what photos he wants her to take of his beach house.  He tells her 'everything.' She tells him 'more isn't always better.  Sometimes it is just. . . more.'  We have been trained to think that more is automatically better; more features, more power, more education, more things.  When we discover that 'it just ain't so,' our world is shaken and we have to find a new measure by which to value ourselves and determine our level of success or failure.  

Marian at Elderwoman posted a piece on 'gabbling,'  that is the tendency callers have of speaking very fast and incoherently when leaving a message in voice mail on on answering machines.  It struck a chord with both of us here when I read it yesterday (5/23).  This morning I thought about it again as mom and I listened to the news while drinking our morning coffee.  At one point Mom looked confused and asked I she had heard the teaser for the upcoming story  correctly because what she heard did not make any sense.  The story was repeated  and she had mistaken the word used.  It sounded very similar to what she thought it was.  This has been happening to us both a lot over the last several years.  But this morning, perhaps because Marian's blog was still in the back of my mind, I noticed how fast the reader was speaking.  She zipped through the stories at light speed and often we were not sure what exactly she had just said.  But we also noticed that the fluff  pieces and the latest installment of the current scandal  were presented in detail at a MUCH slower piece.  A confirmation, as if any were needed, of where the mainstream media place their priorities. 

The news media hasn't given much coverage to the bill to grant more generous GI Bill education benefits for those serving in the post 9/11 era.  I did hear that the "Commander in Chief" opposes it as does the presumptive Republican candidate to succeed him.  What I couldn't believe was the reason: that more generous benefits would discourage military personnel from reenlisting. I thought I had heard wrong.  Evidently not.  Here is confirmation from the Salon by way of Americablog.

"Bush, McCain and the others who've opposed Webb's bill argue that the expanded provisions -- the government would pay tuition and expenses at a four-year public university for anyone who spent three years in the military after 9/11 -- will hurt the military's efforts to retain its troops. Bush has threatened to veto Webb's bill, and McCain introduced one of his own." (my emphasis)

Obama criticized both the threatened veto and the rational forcing McCain to claim that Obama was spouting off about things he knows nothing about and impugning his (McCain's) honor as a veteran when Obama hasn't served in the armed forces.  Well, as one who has served I am also bewildered.  Perhaps we should go back to the ancient Roman tradition: offer those who survived a thirty year term a plot of land as a retirement bonus and place it in an out of the way corner of the empire.  They used Germany and Gaul to settle their retired soldiers. We could use Afghanistan and Iraq.  Maybe we should take a page out of British history and send out impressment gangs to remove the undesirables littering our cities.  

A related piece in the news over the Memorial Day weekend that irritated me more than I can politely express was the plans to include on tax returns a check-off box for those who want to donate to a fund to help military families cope with the financial strain service imposes.  I am still so pissed off with this notion.  I saw the Lt. Governor of Illinois assuring everyone that military families did not want charity this was not charity.  Bull-f***ing-s**t.  Almost two generations ago critics of President Johnson's War on Poverty claimed that he declared a war and funded a skirmish.  Today, we have something similar.  We have a government that lavishly squanders billions on waste, corruption, inefficiency and cannot (will not??) provide adequate pay, health care or other needs.  That opposes expanded education benefits for veterans of THEIR war because that would encourage people to leave the service instead of re-enlisting.  But then I forgot that the men and women who serve are not related to the Bush or Cheney families.  Most do not own stock in Haliburton or Exxon.  They are from poor neighborhoods in cities, from small towns and rural areas where economic opportunities are sparse and military service offer a possibility of improving their prospects.  They are not the Republican constituency.  

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I found this article after I had posted my last bit, from the International Herald Tribune, which says 'voluntary simplicity' has reemerged.  Several other papers have also carried the article. Evidently a new generation is finding the truth behind the saying that 'what you own owns you.'  A couple of years ago I saw numerous sites on line dealing with this topic.  Maybe the time has come again.  Today I found this by way of Lattes and Life which got me to thinking about the following question: what do we really mean by 'frugal?'  Do we mean that we don't spend a lot of money?  Or do we question ourselves about what we spend our money on; whether we really need it, or if we get good value for our money?  When I worked in a party goods store I saw customers come in and grab lots of stuff with no idea of how much the items cost or how much they needed.  Often they came back trying to return the excess.  A little frugal thought would have saved them time and gas.  Some years ago I learned the hard way that Wal-Mart was not the place to buy fabric.  It did cost half what the cloth at a JoAnn's or the local quilt shop cost; but it was less than a quarter the quality.  Since I want the quilts I make to last, the frugal choice is not Wal-Mart.  Surely frugality isn't simply another money bottom line thing.

I have spent most of my adult life in the academic world (college/university) and over the last decade or so have become increasingly unhappy with it.  Twenty years ago I thought I would pursue a PhD in history and teach college or university classes.  I love research, writing and, at the time, teaching.  This article from Atlantic Monthly by way of Eric Alterman and his Altercation blog reflects so much of my experience and thinking on the subject of higher education.  Over the years I have had similar experiences with students who are either ill prepared for advanced study or have no interest beyond checking off another requirement in their march toward that so necessary degree.  At the same time I have looked at the listing of job ads and their requirements and wondered just what the degree really had to do with the job advertised.  I have seen relatives who are very well qualified by their work experience or who are exceptionally well certified in their fields forced to pursue degrees in order to keep or advance in their fields.  Those degrees did not help them do their work better.  It has merely drained their finances.  A college degree has become a part of the so-called American Dream along with the house in the suburbs, the spouse, the dog, the 2.1 (or however many) children.  We don't really question it and we should.  

The Caffeinated Librarian notes on one of her bullet points today (5/20, in case I don't get this posted today) that she is fed up with plastic bags.  I know how she feels because Mom and I have been talking for sometime about using the large stack of canvas bags I have acquired over the last three decades.  I started acquiring the bags when I was in Colorado and there was a big push along the front range to stop using paper and plastic bags.  My ex-husband and I used them for the very brief time we shopped at Aldis markets in Missouri because the Aldis charged for new bags.  He loved the low prices and I hated the quality.  In the end I did the shopping so I won and we got our groceries from other stores and I occasionally remembered to take in the canvas bags.  Here in our part of Indiana we get a lot of the Chicago news.  Evidently there is a move there to outlaw plastic bags.  It hasn't passed yet but the chances are good and often what goes in Chicago comes around to us.  We are becoming more environmentally conscious and will make the switch when we have to.  Why not sooner?  Well, we use the plastic grocery bags to line our small trash cans in the bathrooms and  we have three cats whose box MUST be sifted out every day.  We say our cats are full of s**t and what we get out of the box proves it.  Because we reuse the grocery bags we haven't had to buy new plastic trash bags which we think is a good thing overall.

I remember a similar situation to this one about twenty years ago.  It involved cuts in bus service. This time it is the airlines.  I saw numerous news stories on both the national and local news casts featuring small town residents without cars who depended on the bus service and were facing near total isolation.  Some could not even shop for groceries because the bus was their only means of transportation.  Just out of curiosity I wondered about what kind of bus service my town has now and found that it has none.  We cannot go to any of the surrounding towns or to major cities by ground transportation unless we have a car.  Surprisingly our small county airport lists flights to a wide variety of destinations.  We may be luckier than the towns mentioned in the article.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

According to the weather forecasts we can expect some truly spring-like weather--finally, maybe.  We had nice clear blue skies yesterday and the clouds have cleared away for a nice sunny morning today.  I hope the temperature gets to the 70s again and, if it does, my cats can go out on the patio today.  They have been more insistent on getting out lately.  Thankfully our landlords fenced all of the patios in their units a couple of years ago, so the monsters have gotten used to their little world outside.

Over the last week and a half I got my African violets transplanted.  They are recovering and spreading out nicely.  They are in blooming mode again and are covered in blossoms.  I also got my tomatoes sorted out.  I had planned to start some plants from seed back in February.  But for most of February we had ice, freezing rain, snow and freezing temperatures.  The shed where we keep our limited gardening supplies was inaccessible.  The blasted lock on the door was frozen and we couldn't even get the key in.  Instead, I started some seeds early last month and, when the garden shops put out their plants, we bought a very well grown plant to start us while ours come up.  I just repotted that one and the two strongest of our own.  We are so looking forward to our own vine ripened tomatoes this summer.

 I was at loose ends after finishing the little boy quilt for my nephew and his wife.  They e-mailed the birth announcement a few days ago.  Mother and baby are fine and doing well.  Next project--a wall quilt for my sister for her 50th birthday.  The idea for it is pretty well fixed in my mind and, if I can transfer pictures to cloth, will be a striking and unique piece.  I need to get busy on it if I am to have it done in time.

I want to thank Lynn for stopping by yesterday and commenting.  She made a couple of very good points.  It is difficult even for fairly well off people with sufficient income to make healthy eating choices.  And it is even more difficult if those people want to make healthy and environmentally responsible choices.  We did not buy any tomatoes over the winter.  They were transported a long distance from warmer areas, expensive and, we know from experience that the flavor has been bred out of them.  I suspect much of the nutrition as well.  Nor do we buy out of season fresh fruit.  We hear news stories frequently urging seniors especially to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet but rarely do the stories mention the cost.  Lynn mentioned the meals provided in the school lunch programs.  I haven't followed this topic very closely.  I do, however, remember when the Reagan administration tried to have catsup classified as a vegetable.  Couple that with the item on our local news last night, or within the last couple of days, asking for increased donation to the local food pantries.  The person interviewed noted that the school year is ending and many children will loose a significant portion of their daily nutrition when they no longer get the free lunch.  Researchers studying how many excess calories the average obese person consumes should take into consideration the choices available to that person and should remember that 'average' can be a very misleading description.

I have followed the stories over the last week centered on Bush's speech in Israel and Obama's response to it.  As Nikki Stern noted we have always talked to our enemies.  Mr. Bush seems to have forgotten the old saying "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."  He has alienated our friends as well as our enemies.  But I found something else on line that I didn't think to book mark and so can't link. Sorry.  During a segment of an interview program where 'experts' discussed the speech and the response, the interviewer took on one of the participants who likened Obama to Chamberlain.  Asked what Chamberlain DID that warranted the comparison he simply replied that he was an 'appeaser.'  When pressed to cite what it was Chamberlain did to merit that description all the fellow could do was fall back on the description of appeaser.  Even when the interviewer mentioned Munich the man couldn't get beyond the description to describe the deed.  
That segment illustrates why I so very rarely watch or listen to many talk shows.  They are merely shouting matches where whoever gets in the most words at the loudest volume thinks he has won.  It doesn't matter if his argument makes sense or has any evidence.  That aside this man totally failed to understand the question and failed to answer it.  He had been asked what Chamberlain did not how future generations judged his action.  He could not, apparently, tell the difference.  If he had written this on a history exam I had to grade he would have been given an F.  However, he is in good company in his historical ignorance.  His commander in chief, and his speech writers, knows as little.  Bush cited 'a Senator' who lamented just after Hitler marched into Poland that he could have changed things if he could only have talked to Hitler.  Bush failed to note that the Senator was Senator Borah, a Republican and a staunch isolationist.  He also failed to note, as did Borah at the time, that French and British diplomats, including Chamberlain, had tried to talk to Hitler and those efforts failed to deter Hitler.  For our President, on a selective basis, the words "talk" and "appeasement" have become synonymous--as long as he is talking about Democrats.

I don't watch much of George Carlin but I think this is right on target. Thank you, History Mike.  Makes you wonder what dear Mr. Bush really meant when hoped to privatize Social Security and establish an 'ownership' society.  Just what would the majority of us own?? 

Friday, May 16, 2008

I have to admit that I have been a news/information junkie most of my life.  I spent much of my sophomore through senior years in high school participating on the speech and debate team and specializing in extemporaneous speaking at the local meets.  For those who aren't familiar with this specialty the speakers had half an hour create a 10-15 minute speech on a randomly assigned question concerning current events using relevant news reports, newspapers and magazine articles.  We were allowed a three-by-five card with no more than 50 words as a memory aid.  As a result, I acquired an ingrained habit of reading and viewing multiple sources of news and information on a daily basis which has continued to the present.  However, I have become increasingly unhappy with the news that is readily available.  Too often I am presented with boring attempts at titillation rather information, opacity instead of enlightenment, and questionable statements, assumptions and prejudices presented as fact.  Or the news media totally miss stories that I find meaningful and interesting.  It has taken a few days but finally I did find some interesting bits.

Thanks to Ronni at Time Goes By for continuing her coverage of the 'thought crime bill.'  

Hey, Hey, Democrats take a look at this link on Changing Places.  Does anyone else think it is about time we got out of the habit of smearing those with whom we disagree with Nazi era tar?  For anyone who would like to go directly to the Guardian site here is the link.   However the court cases and the history books finally decide the issue I am sure there is one conclusion that will never be written:  for some people profits are the only consideration.   

On the TV news this morning one report mentioned that the United Nations has reported that economic growth world wide has slowed considerably and may be headed for a recession.  ( I just found this link on The news reader said that the report blamed the U.S. mortgage mess and banking problems.  I don't doubt that that is partly to blame but I would guess that financial speculation on the commodities market also had a good bit to do with the economic downturn.  (The CNN story lists that as a major contributor so my guess seems on target.)  One report last night claimed that speculation has raised the price of oil by at least $25 per barrel.   Ditto my conclusion of the last paragraph.

I read these kind of stories and, after swearing profusely, just shake my head.  If those of us who are 'obese' simply cut our calorie intake by the estimated 18% over 'average' would those calories go the the poor around the world.  I rather think not.  It would probably rot because the poor cannot afford to buy it.  By the way, are those calories consumed as part of fast food or take out meals?  We have had intermittent reports in the U.S. that many of the poor here are obese and many of are obese because poor neighborhoods in U.S. cities are 'food deserts' with no food sources other than fast food outlets and convenience stores which feature a lot of cheap food high in fat, salt and calories but devoid of other nutrients.  Go elsewhere for your food?  Try that when your only transportation is a bus.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Well, I am glad someone found a good use for the economic stimulus check.  I really have to read The Onion more often.  This one was a good giggle.

I found this interesting little article.  It came by way of my Google alerts.  It is the only one I have seen since I set up the alerts (not so very long ago) which talks about 'sustainability' or 'steady state economics.'  The author touches on themes I have been thinking about for sometime.  When our Idiot-In-Chief Bush talked about energy independence in the 2007 State of the Union speech, I observed  three problems when  he advocated cellulosic ethanol:  first, the industry would not go with switch grass or other such sources when corn was a better ethanol source; second, the price of corn would go through the roof when corn for energy competed with corn for animal feed, corn for human consumption, and corn for the production of biodegradable plastics (and what ever other industrial products corn is used for); third, it merely substituted ethanol for part of the oil we consume daily and does nothing to actually reduce the demand for fuel.  But that is par for the course.  No one has made any proposals which actually reduce demand.  This article doesn't really either.  The author notes at the end that he is pessimistic because people of wealth and power don't want to give up either.  Unfortunately, people with little wealth or power want both.  And if they can't get the real thing they will settle for the appearance of wealth and power with out the substance.  Changing that dynamic is key.  Without it there is no possibility of achieving a steady state economy.  For another look at the problem look at this article.  

Something else to ponder in light of the above is this from Michael Klare on  Klare makes the connections clear between the status of the United States as a superpower and the abundance of cheap oil.  The key here is 'cheap.'  It doesn't matter how much oil is available, if it is no longer cheap our standard operating assumptions and procedures will have to change.  And if the recent past is any indication availability may be more of a problem than ordinary Americans realize.  Yes they are finding new deposits.  However, a couple of years ago, when the Bush administration was pushing hard for new drilling in the Alaskan wilderness areas, I looked at the projected figures for the estimated oil in that area and looked up our daily consumption of oil and found that it represented a little over three years of consumption.  If we took every barrel out.  Recently (and I wish I still had the link) I read a blog which listed the newly discovered deposits and yearly consumption for key years through the last half century.  Before about 1970 (please forgive me if I am a little off here, I am working from memory) the oil discovered each year exceeded the yearly consumption.  Since then, the yearly consumption has  exceeded the new discoveries.  And the global demand is only increasing. 

Monday, May 5, 2008

I really do wish that the idiots in our Federal government would quit mucking around with the Social Security Administration.  They have underfunded it for years.  Now they want to give SSA the responsibility for administering the Employee Verification program at the cost of $1 billion for just the first year.  At a time when the time lag for processing disability claims is approaching three years??  When large numbers of baby boom workers will begin claiming retirement benefits??  I rather doubt that the legislatures are going to provide adequate funds even if we didn't have a president who would rather eliminate SSA entirely and loves to veto such legislation.  But then this asinine proposal makes sense from his point of view.  He couldn't destroy it by privatizing it and converting it into a poverty program.  Instead, he can do what he did to FEMA--strangle it and make it so incompetent we will be glad to get rid of it.  I can hardly wait for the self-righteous moron to leave.  I just hope we don't have McCain, as Obama said, completing 'George Bush's third term.' 

You know the food situation is getting bad when Europe's central bankers take note.  I just wish these guys wouldn't continue tooting the free market horn.  The people most in need of help are those who can least afford the price increase.  Oh, I forgot.  Their concern is with inflation, not starvation.  The situation in south Asia has Thailand proposing an OPEC-style carted to help control the supply and price of rice and the U.N. warning that desperately needed food aid will be very inadequate and very expensive.  I read a later article that said that Thailand has withdrawn the proposal for a rice cartel because of objections from the Philippines and other major players. I hope this isn't the wave of the future.  However, some economists I have heard say that we are at the beginning of what may, if historical precedents are any guide, a two- to three-year increase. 

If the American middle class is feeling like the lone ranger when it comes to the recent price hikes all they have to do is look at other countries to find that our misery has plenty of company.

According to This Week in Congress at, the Justice Department has proposed that it be allowed to collect DNA samples from anyone ARRESTED for a federal crime.  Last I heard the traditional presumption that one is innocent till proven guilty had not been stricken from our judicial theory.  I don't mind the idea of collecting DNA from those convicted of violent federal crimes.  I seriously do mind the notion of collecting DNA from anyone merely on arrest.  Besides, what would that do for solving the worst crimes.  Murder, rape, arson are all prosecuted under state laws not the federal unless they occur on federal land or involve federal officials.  Me thinks this is merely a way of pushing a national database on all citizens. When will they propose that some agency collect DNA samples of all children at birth?

Last fall I read about the cyber-attacks against Estonia which at the time Estonia blamed on Russia.  This little article indicates just how difficult such attacks are for anyone to trace.  The Times of India has accused hackers working for the Chinese government of attacking Indian on-line assets.  I wonder if this is another wave of the future.  How can you separate cyber-criminals from cyber-terrorists from cyber-spies?  And how can you deal with the problem.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Randomly bouncing around the net.

I recently found a little site called Newsfire.  It allows you to download a free program which alerts you when news sites you follow have updates.  Some of what is below is what I found using the program.  It should be interesting when I finally work through it.

Here is an interesting notion.   The Malaysian government seems to think that protect women from being duped into smuggling drugs while they travel abroad.  So it wants to institute laws which require women to get written permission from employers or families to travel abroad.  At least women's groups are putting up a fight.

Saying you're sorry is a lot cheaper than good management from the beginning.  "The company, the largest oilsands operation in the world, says it will learn from what happened, will improve its practices and will meet the public's expectations for "responsible development.""  Sorry to be a skeptic but I think they will not improve in any meaningful way.  More likely they will hunker down until the flap goes away and then go back to business as usual. This was an entirely foreseeable problem.  We have coal companies that want to lop the top off mountains while filling nearby valleys with the rubble and think that is acceptable behavior.  We have gold mining companies who want to get at veins of gold while polluting precious water resources and devastating the landscape.  I could go on but it would be more of the same: companies for whom environmental and human devastation are costs others will bear while they reap the profit.

But then there is this story I really didn't want to read but did anyway.  We have had stories for several years about the sea lions and their competition with humans for the salmon.  They aren't that different from the stories of third world farmers slaughtering endangered animals that compete with them for land and resources.  Unfortunately, we can't seem to find a balance.  I noticed several weeks ago that western states are planning to authorize hunting of wolves now that they are no longer on the endangered list.  And our Federal government still wants to allow oil exploration in the Alaskan refuges.  

Globalization in action.  Seems we have heard this song and dance before.  Over on this side of the pond we have seen ridiculous competition between states and cities trying to induce business to locate (or, more likely, relocate) by giving tax waivers and other financial inducements.  I have yet to see where this strategy has yielded positive results.  Companies have only one loyalty--the bottom line.  They are American or British or French or whatever in name only.  They should be taxed on ALL their income and, if they move overseas to cut labor costs, their products should have high import duties applied to them.  

I wonder how much of Wal-mart's clothing comes from Bangladesh.  We had better hope that no cyclone hits the country any time soon since the rice harvest is underway.  But how many of us spend a similar proportion of our incomes on food?  Not yet, anyway.  I do applaud the manufacturers move to subsidize their lowest paid workers food bill.  But I don't expect they will really foot the bill.

Given that this is an election season and our potential candidates are all pushing healthcare reform perhaps they should read this.  But then we have heard for a long time now that we pay more for less over here.  And we know that the biggest obstacle to any reform will be the medical and medical insurance industries.  

I wonder if there is something in the air or water.  Not too long ago several Chicago schools were shut down for several days because of threats in a washroom.  Similar threats had been found at Northern Illinois University before the shooting there.  It seems to me there are a lot of unhappy people looking for their few moments of fame (or infamy.)

I found this little thing which opens questions in my mind.  The story clearly slants toward the notion that this was a deliberate attempt to discourage voters by making them question whether they were in fact registered to vote.  However, it reminds me of all those credit card offers I receive in the mail that promise me that they have 'pre-qualified' me for a card.  It is a bunch of hooey and I know it.  Once some years ago, when I was still in the mode of believing that somehow my self worth was tied up with being 'credit worthy,' I did respond to the offer only to be told that I did not qualify for the offer.  These jackasses just go down some directory and mail out the offers to everyone they find.  They don't waste the time or money to check whether the person is in fact qualified or even if they still live at that address.  It smacks to me of stupidity and carelessness but that isn't how the opposition, which has a big stake in this, will spin the situation.  But another question is why target unmarried women?  It also reminds me too much of the telemarketing strategies which led to the 'no-call' list.  Unfortunately, political groups are exempt. 

This cute little story came from the Daily Mail.  It seems that the local police in Britain are getting just as sneaky as those over on this side of the pond.  A number of years ago, when my former husband and I were traveling through Kansas on the interstate, we were curious about a 'farmer' on a tractor who seemed to be more interested in the traffic than plowing his field.  Luckily my husband's lead foot was a little light on the gas pedal that day.  A couple of miles down the road we passed several cars that had blown by us at considerable over the speed limit.  They had been stopped by other Highway Patrol officers who had been tipped off by the farmer who had photographed them, complete with license plates, and radioed a heads up to his buddies.  The furor over the speed trap made local news as far away as Denver.

Over the weekend, when Hillary Clinton said that no one criticized the Bear Sterns/JP Morgan shotgun wedding financed with a very large chunk of public money (dowry??), I was very surprised.  As I mentioned to my mother who was also watching the news,  Most of the political blogs I read made exactly the same comments.  I am so glad that several contributers on  TPM Cafe are calling her on that bit of self-serving drivel.

I think I will leave this post here for now.  I expect to have more fun with this later.