Good morning on this cloudy, rainy Thursday. Yesterday was beautiful except for the strong winds. We felt like we should have lead weights to keep us on the ground. The parking area and street were obstacle courses with the wind driven, wheeled garbage totes rolling down the pavement. But the temperature hit mid 60s. The national news last night said that 2012 has seen the warmest winter in a century. Two-thirds of the country was either above or much above normal for the season. Makes you wonder what the summer will be like.
I just saw an ad from a bank (I have already forgotten which one) that amused me. It showed a woman looking at merchandise on-line and every time she puts something in her 'basket' the tally shows how much her choice 'saves' her. At the end she has 'saved' $280. Then there is a knock on the door and on top of the package propped up on the door frame asks 'do you want a better way to save?' Under the line on the computer showing how much she 'saved' is another flashing line showing she spent $580. She cancels the purchase and closes her computer. Perfect. I don't know how many adds I have seen on TV that tough buying X, Y, or Z and 'saving' megabucks or fantastic percentages of the price. I always look at it and remark that I will save 100% because I won't be buying at all.
The mainstream media has finally found the 'pink slime' issue I have mentioned a couple of time in previous posts. Recently, McDonald's and other fast food chains agreed to eliminate it which means they were using it until the issue became too hot for them. Now the issue has shifted to grocery chains. ABC news conducted a study and found 'pink slime' in 70% of the ground beef on their shelves. They don't have to label it as an ingredient because an under secretary in the FDA over ruled the agency scientists saying 'it's pink so it's meat.' She left the FDA soon after was appointed to the board of directors for the company making the crap. When we first heard about the 'additive' we made a simple decision: our ground beef comes from our local meat market which grinds their own or we grind it ourselves.
I keep hearing various talking heads saying that the economy has turned around but I see far too many stories that make me wonder what they are smoking. Stories like this one from Kentucky where the state budget may eliminate any cost of living increases for state and local government retirees. Or this and this from California where school districts are laying off significant numbers of teachers to try to close their budget gaps while the State contributes to the uncertainty because it is depending on passing tax increases. Or this from Maryland where the governor has proposed a 'doomsday' budget with drastic cuts to close a $1.1billion deficit unless the legislature acts to raise revenue. I could go on but I think you get the point. But then the good news on this morning's report: consumers are going deeper in debt to buy new stuff.
Lynn Parramore, posting on Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism, thinks somewhat like I do: there is a good bit of crowing from those who got bailed out and their fiscal position has eased but at the expense of almost everyone else.
Well, Apple has announced the 'New iPad' which will be on sale soon (I forget when exactly). The tech reporters talked about it last night. Besides all of the new features they were also considering what the decision to continue making and selling the iPad2 at a greatly reduced price would have on the Nook, Kindle and other e-readers. The reporter said something that reflects my own experience: some users want devices that have a single dedicated function. I have had my Nook for about a year and I am not at all tempted to go over to the iPad. I can read my books, magazines, newspapers on the device. I can look up what I want on-line because it has web access. I can even take a break and play a couple of rounds of a game. And I am an Apple user from a long way back (like Apple II days.) We are the same way about our phones as I have indicated on several blogs over the years. The drive to make these devices all inclusive and multifunctional drives us nuts.
Herschelian at Jasmine Tea and Jaozi posted this item on a subject about which I have been reading the occasional article from time to time: the drastic gender imbalance in a number of countries. Boiled down the problem is too many boys and not enough girls. And it is widespread across Asia and north Africa, and parts of eastern Europe as well. As indicated the problem isn't simply rooted in China's one child policy (which, according to some stories I have read, the government has modified significantly) because no other country has any similar policy in place. Modern medical technology has opened another Pandora's Box.