Friday, February 24, 2012

Happy Friday to y'all.  Our weather people are calling this a 'fickle Friday.'  And they are right!!  When we woke up it was raining but that switched to heavy wet snow about half an hours ago.  They say we should get even more thanks to lake effect.  Oh, yes, Kay!  Batten down the hatches because it looks like it is coming your way.  Knowing that winter is only about two-thirds done has kept me from going full throttle on seed starting.  That is still in the planning and preparation stage.

The teaser headline for this article caught my attention: 'Does BPA-free=safe?'  My first thought: depends on what has replaced it.  The article hasn't said what manufacturers are using in place of the BPA.  I think the actions of France and any other countries to ban BPA that comes in contact with food will do far more than any of the petitions to or law suits against the EPA.  Manufacturers have to change if they don't want to lose markets to India and China, who have already changed.  The question of course is 'what are they using in place of BPA and what are its unintended effects?'

Every year over here, during high summer and deep winter, our local news broadcasts carry appeals for neighbors to check on their elderly or otherwise vulnerable neighbors.  And every year they also carry one or two stories about someone who has died but whose deaths weren't discovered for days or even weeks.  Evidently we aren't alone in this.  The Japanese call it 'kudokushi,' or 'lonely death.'  But that story led me to this one from 2010 about 'missing centenarians.'  Two of the cases cited in the article may have involved fraud where families kept the deaths quiet to continue receiving pension or other payments.  But I wonder--how many are simply people who have outlived their families or have not close contact with friends and family.  Given our atomized and individualized modern world that is not at all unlikely.

And this story, also from Japan, is all too familiar.  And the losses involved make MF Global seem moderate.  I think a phrase from War Games sums up the state of investing and finance today: the only rational move is not to play.

Most of the studies I have read on the decline of the Classical Maya claimed that the society succumbed to severe drought of many years duration.  Evidently, new information indicates that the drought may not have been as severe as originally thought.  But the key to the article is the indication that the drought, though only 25-40%, combined with evaporation to cause a water crisis.  That corresponds with what I have read of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.  Expansion of agriculture removed the original grass cover which allowed moisture to evaporate at a faster rate which then combined with a severe drought to create the Dust Bowl.  Essentially the drought was largely man-made which also parallels what I have read of the Mayan case.

I don't know which part of this story is more insane.  Is it the part where a crowd waiting to buy a newly release Nike shoe becomes unruly requiring heavily armed and armored riot police to restore order?  Or is it the fact that all those idiots are willing to part with $220 for a pair of shoes?

One could say that everyone talks about the tax code (like the weather) but nobody does anything about it.  Ezra Klein gives a good account of why and of the intricacies of tax reform here.  The big difference: one really can't do anything about the weather but our representatives could do something about the tax code if they weren't so busy trying to appear to do something without really doing it which might piss off their contributors.  I seem to suffer from your hopeless condition, Kay.  I want our representatives to act like responsible adults.

I checked out that Daily Mail story about erasing search history on Google, Nicola.  I found it interesting both in what was included and what wasn't.  I also was surprised to see one search that I made from my Nook not from my computer.  I am glad to see the option there but I don't know how helpful it is to me.  I don't know how much it would help Google's marketing to know that I searched 'neem oil' and 'greece negative income' yesterday.  I haven't seen any gardening ads so far.  And I find it very easy to ignore ads for the most part unless they are particularly annoying.  I also don't really care who know what terms I have searched.  I imagine such knowledge would thoroughly confuse them.

Natural News had this item this morning and link to the BBC story here.  So scientists want to develop vaccines against food borne illnesses like salmonella and e. coli.  This strategy fits in with our cultural worship of high tech solutions.  I have two problems with this whole notion.  First, the food poisoning problem can be more easily and cheaply contained by insisting on better sanitation and humane treatment of our livestock, better inspection and serious penalties for companies that violate health and safety standards, and by teaching people to properly handle food again.  But then of course the drug companies would not get a nice windfall from developing the vaccines and the food industry would have to spend more money to comply with what would normally be considered common sense sanitation and safety rules.  The second problem comes from the British scientists trying to treat diabetes, cancer, and 'degenerative diseases' as though they were the same as measles and HIV.  The causative agents are not the same.  And then there is the problem of unintended consequences.

Then there is this little bit of insanity.  The Obama Administration proposes a budget that will eliminate the only agency that monitors fruits and vegetables for pathogens saving the government $5million each year and untold losses for the growers who have been suffering when their contaminated products are recalled.

1 comment:

Kay Dennison said...

The s-n-o-w hasn't arrived yet but something is blowing in -- I'm not gonna worry. I'll just hang tough and make cocoa.