Monday, September 20, 2010

Good Monday morning to you all. I gave the blog a rest over the weekend. We had a few other things going on and that took precedence. The garden is, as I said before, winding down. We plan to take the last of the Brandywine and Big Rainbow tomatoes while they are still green and fry them up. I will leave the few remaining Fresh Salsa on the vine to ripen and, if the don't before a frost comes along, I will look up a green tomato recipe that we can use them in. I don't know if I will get out into the garden containers today because the sky looks somewhat threatening right now. I hope so because I have to repot one of the stevia and take cuttings to try rooting some new plants. And I should pot the cuttings from the basil--they rooted very easily in water.

Chris Cillizzia at the Washington Post has this article that reflects what is in my mind on the politics of today. I like the headline that HuffingtonPost had for its link: "A pox on both your houses." The recent polls show that the majority of the electorate don't much like either party so it is little wonder that the so-called Tea Party is making a splash. However, the Tea Party doesn't have an answer for me--I don't much like them either. And anyone who thinks they will get their act together and form a coherent party is likely to be disappointed. Right now they are attracting everyone who is dissatisfied with the major parties for any and every reason. That is why you can see the racist signs that the alleged leadership disavows and the signs from Social Security recipients demanding that the bureaucrats keep their 'government hands off my medicare.' If the Tea Party does solidify around a consistent and coherent set of principles it will lose half of its current support. Which half is the question.

Dr. David Katz at HuffingtonPost also has an article that reflects a topic much on our minds here: food, nutrition, and calories. We are not calorie counters here. Nor are we on the locavore or foodie bandwagon. We do like to get our foods as locally as possible and from as many different sources as possible. And we have moved to preparing as much of our meals at home from scratch. Katz is totally right on the notion that calories tell only part of the story on food.

Discovery News had this article this morning by Michael Reilly that intrigued me. Unfortunately for the author I can think of at least two examples that contradict the rosy picture he presents. Privatization of a public resource may or may not be good for the resource base or the people who depend on it. About two years ago the City of Chicago 'privatized' their parking meters and have had nothing but trouble since. The company was slow to upgrade the meters but very quick to raise the parking rates. Many of the new meters, when they were finally installed, broke down soon after. Chicago politicians, including Mayor Daily, have been criticized for accepting flawed low-ball valuations and then accepting too little for the resource. So far no one has benefited from this privatization which has tripled (and in some cases quadrupled) rates, upset established parking arrangements, and inconvenienced commuters and shoppers. Then there is the example of the system the Federal government has in place for selling permits to western cattlemen to graze animals on public land. Many ranchers have overgrazed the public land and did little to restore or replenish it. For many the permits have become a sort of quasi-private property that can be sold, bequeathed, or put up as collateral. This system is not very different from what Reilly describes in his article and it is far too early to tell if the anticipated benefits will actually materialize.

Our nightly news last night had a story that seems to reflect so much of what is wrong with our economy. According to the report, the last factory in this that makes incandescent light bulbs is closing. I identified part of the problem as I listened to the promos--the incandescent bulbs are being replaced in many American homes by fluorescent bulbs that last longer and use less energy. I was not at all surprised when the reporter confirmed my suspicion. I was only mildly surprised to hear that the switch from incandescent to fluorescent has been accelerated by legislation. I was much more surprised to learn that there is not one factory making the fluorescent bulbs in this country. So, on the one hand, we save energy; but, on the other, we lose jobs. I am not sure we are really gaining anything.

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