Saturday, June 30, 2012

Good Saturday to everyone.  Yesterday was something.  We didn't get to 90 because the rains came in. I described the afternoon thunderstorm on the blog.  Thanks for the good thoughts, Annie's Granny.  The garden came through very well.  Didn't lose any plants and no serious damage to any.  But I had an unsettled night as new storms rolled through.  For all that we only got, maybe, half an inch.  Welcome, yes; but not enough to dent our dry conditions.  The weather people predict the same for today.  Glad to see you back, Kay.  Hope you are keeping cool while working for the Obama campaign.  We change up our activities to avoid the heat as much as possible.  The only one really put out by the heat is Kuma because we keep him in.  He simply doesn't understand that it is for his own good.

Did everyone notice how the mainstream media have ballyhooed the legislation passed last week to extend the low interest rates on student loans and a 2-year highway program?  Here is an article which details what they didn't emphasize--the other burdens students will have to balance out the low interest rates.  No more grace period so new graduates (most without jobs) must start repaying immediately after graduation.  Graduate students have to pay the interest while still in school.  Fewer Pell grants for shorter time and students will find it more difficult to qualify at all.  What Government giveth with one hand it taketh away with the other.  The one thing that isn't discussed at all is the wisdom (or lack thereof) of incurring debt for education which may or (more likely) may not lead to a prosperous and secure future.  I don't think encouraging debt as an 'investment' as we have for the last forty or fifty years is a rational policy and it is even less rational in an era of insecurity and declining prosperity.

If our faux news media failed to fully inform us on the student loan bill, they have been very derelict on the issue of the Affordable Care Act.  Take a look at this from Crooks & Liars.  The only feature of the ACA that isn't popular with the poll respondents was the individual mandate.  But most didn't realize that those features were included.  And what was the only part of the act that was worried over constantly by the media and the conservative gasbags interviewed by our empty talking heads?  You guessed it--the mandate.  I think we are beginning to realize the truth of two only sayings: a democracy functions well only when there is an educated electorate and only when that electorate is well informed.  Our system of miss-education is destroying the first and our entertainment-masquerading-as-news media is doing a real job on the other.

And now for another 'Oh shit moment' from the nice folks at Grist.  Anyone, like us, who wants to know the source of their food is basically told to shut up because we can't be allowed to infringe on some company's right to sell us crap.

I have seen various stories about voting machines over the last several election cycles.  These machines are generally unreliable and are easily hacked/manipulated.  Now the Irish government is abandoning these same machines in a laudable fit of reasonableness.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hello on another soon-to-be hot Friday.  The temperature is not supposed to get as hot and humid as yesterday.  We did get to 100.  First time, they say, since 2005.  They say we may get some pop-up thunderstorms--emphasis on 'may.'  We did have thunder and lightning last night but from what I saw not much rain.  A little to the north and west of us they had small hail.  I have already been busy this morning.  Most of the plants on the fence had good levels of moisture but the tomato buckets and the large containers needed water.  All of my plants have come through this hot weather really well--even the corn.  I harvested patchouli, stevia, savory, peppermint, oregano, and Mexican tarragon and all is drying now in my dehydrator.  We got our first tomatoes yesterday--the Cherokee purple.  Beautiful and tasty.  We won't have any more for a while.

Oh, well.  I don't know whether to be happy or sad.  What I am is somewhat--uneasy.  We got sudden cloud cover that has dropped the temperatures from 85 an hour ago to 79 now.  The wind is kicking up to the point where I took the hummingbird feeder down and the cover off the greenhouse.  The trees are reeling in a drunken dance.  Saw the strangest cloud formations.  Thunder, lightning and rain--driving rain, sidewise rain--mixed with small hail. The sound of the hail on the glass--something like a rock hitting with force.  All I can do now is hope the plants aren't damaged badly.  The corn is waving in the wind.  Hope it stays upright.  Why am I uneasy?  The speed of the change.  I was used to drastic temperature and condition changes when I lived in Colorado but that is rare here in northwest Indiana.  I don't think I will have to water anything tomorrow.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Good very hot Thursday, Everyone.  The overnight temperature here on our patio dipped only to 70.  The time: now is 6:40am and the temperature has risen to 75.  We expect something near or over 100.  The news has been clamoring warning about the heat for several days.  We have already closed up and thoroughly pissed off Kuma who wants to be outside.  I have finished the watering.  This spring I added a good bit of vermiculite to my soil and that is paying off in water savings.  I only watered two of the plants on the fence, one tomato, and four of the large containers.  Last year I had to water every planter every day.  I have some plans for next season which should reduce the watering even more.  The corn so far is the major water hog but it is looking very good compared so some pictured in the news reports.  I should harvest some of the herbs but I think I will leave that for tomorrow morning.

I didn't really see much on the internet to comment on.  Yeah, the Supreme Court did  uphold the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate.  But that hasn't settled the matter.  Dear Mittens is promising to cancel  it on his first day in office which, I think, makes a damned good reason to make sure he doesn't get that first day in office.  The fires in Colorado continue to eat up everything in their paths and the high winds and higher temperatures only push them along.  That is more heartbreaking than other fires in other places because I lived nearby and loved the mountain forests.  JP Morgan's loss on their "London Whale's" trade may hit $9billion.  It must be nice to play the fool with someone else's money.  On that note I think I will close for today.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Good Wednesday to everyone.  It is still cool though we should have low 90s today.  We will see how long before we have to close up and put on the air.  We prefer not to use it if possible.  I just finished watering the plants but I have changed my pattern a bit.  I have a moisture probe and I decided to use it on everything.  Usually I just use it on the plants on the fence.  The major problem I have with containers is that the surface may be dry and it may even be dry for an inch below the surface but when you get down to where the roots are they may be very wet.  I only had to water 6 of the large pots/containers and two of the pots on the fence.  I have a couple of other chores outside but right now it is the easy part of the season.  A lot of flowers but not much to harvest.

I noticed an obituary this morning: Nora Ephron has died at age 71.  I remember the titles of many of her movies but I never saw any of them.  I remember her essays more.

The fire season out west is already one of the most disastrous on record.  Out our way it is very dry.  We got a good look as we drove around on a full day of errands yesterday.  The grass along the road sides and medians is brown with only small streaks of green.  The corn, in those fields that aren't being built on, is looking better than the corn featured in some of the news stories from Illinois.  The news has carried warnings in various areas canceling 4th of July fireworks shows, cautioning against (or banning outright) private fireworks.  The news last night said Chicago might be moved into a drought category officially as early as tomorrow.  We, here in northern Indiana, are classified as extremely dry and not far north of moderate drought.

Morford has a very good take on the whole notion of 'having-it-all.'  That seems to be a peculiarly American disease that is spreading worldwide.  It is especially widespread among the young, whose ambition and appetites have not yet encountered serious limits, and older adults who are emotionally unable to make serious choices.  As Morford says, let's define our terms starting with 'all.'

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Good Tuesday, Everyone.  We have another cool day today on tap before the heat comes back tomorrow through next week.  I don't have to water anything today according to the moisture meter so I will leave that for tomorrow morning.  I didn't see anything worth commenting on yesterday.  That has been a more frequent occurrence because the same old issues are roiling the political/economic scene and the same old idiots argue over the same old 'solutions'  like a pair of starving dogs over a meatless bone.  Lets see what I find today.

Well, this looks interesting.  This is the one fundamental philosophical argument in the health care debate and the author is absolutely right--no one wants to talk about it.  Certain things in life should be a matter of right and health care is one of them.  I would argue that access to quality education is another but that is a discussion for a different time.  Chait is absolutely correct--the Repthuglicans are desperate to hide their moral arguments and the consequences of the application of their so-called principles.  That is why I will not vote for any Repthuglican candidate for statewide or national office.

If the results of this poll are accurate Americans may finally be taking a more realistic view of exactly what the President can do to cure the economic problems the country faces.  We have always had a rather cynical view of campaign promises.  The ability of any candidate to fulfill his/her promises is limited.  And, given the role now of personal and corporate wealth, most of the candidates are going to be far more responsive to the demands of the privileged than they are to the demands of the 'Average' American.

I wondered when/if NATO would find an reason to get more involved in Syria.  This just might do it.  I notice that the broadcast mainstream media has largely ignored the incident and the print media has said very little.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Good Sunday to all of you out there.  They say we might get some scattered, fast-moving showers today but not enough rain to do anything for us.  The grass around the town shows larger portions of brown.  I just finished watering everything.  I just don't trust that Mother Nature will provide.  And I didn't have to water anything yesterday.  I should harvest and dry some more basil and savory.  The first Cherokee Purple tomatoes are, maybe, a week away from ripe.  I saw some new blossoms on the lemon squash--hope some nice squashes follow.

Glad you stopped by, Annie's Granny.  I do try to make the most of the space I have and, since it is all cement, I have to use containers.  One of the relatives was talking about doing containers a little while ago and was wondering how limited container gardening was with respect to the kinds of plants you can use.  I told her that you can plant anything so long as you have a container big enough for it.  My only rules: the plant has to be useful and interesting.  Last year I grew a couple of Vietnamese Multicolor Peppers.  They were absolutely beautiful and the peppers, which progressed through five color changes while maturing, were like sparkling little jewels.  But the peppers were smaller than I thought they would be and hotter that we liked--so I didn't plant them again.  A couple of years ago I tried the Table Queen acorn squash and a small melon (Tigger).  The squash was much too difficult to control and yielded too little.  But I haven't given up on squash--this year I have the Butterbush squash (shown yesterday) and lemon squash.  The little melon this year is the Vine Peach because we didn't like the flavor of the Tigger.  Sometimes my enthusiasm gets the better of me and I badly overcrowded the plants.  I did that last year with my tomatoes and several plants failed to produce.  I am still experimenting on where to put what plants.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Now that I have published the garden pictures and update let's see what I find on the net.

Well, the Sandusky trial is over with guilty verdicts on 45 of 48 counts.  I refused to comment while the investigation and trial were going on.  I believe such matters ought to be tried in the courts not the press. I am disgusted by the circus the news media makes of these cases.  This case never made the headlines and exhaustive coverage of the Sandusky case, maybe because the press is getting sated on clerical pedophilia and coverups.  But I am glad that one of the church officials who shuffled predator priests around and protected them from legal consequences are being held accountable.

 This makes an appropriate comment on our economic situation.

And this one on Europe.  Thank you, MSNBC for both.
Good Saturday to everyone.  I have new pictures for you all today.  The first two pictures were taken about ten days ago so the 'jungle' isn't as thick as it is in the later pictures.  This first one is the left side as I look out my back door.  We just added the shepherd's hook and the hummingbird feeder.  We have two more double shepherd's hooks ready to put in in the fall when I begin clearing them.
 And here is the right side.  It was our garbage pick-up day so the big blue wheeled tote was out on the curb.
 Aren't these flowers beautiful.  They are the blossoms of the Betterbush squash--a butternut variety.  A whole bunch of buds are ready to burst.  I have seen several small squash forming so I have some hopes.
 This shows the mums I got last year and overwintered in the beds.  I was surprised by the size of it and will have to trim it severely.  Last year it never got over 12 inches.  It is about twice that now.  The plant in front is a new acquisition--a pineapple sage.  We put added it to attract hummingbirds.
I commented in an earlier post on the effect of the dry conditions shown in a news segment--corn only a foot high.  Yes, that is my corn.  The container itself is about two feet and the fence behind is six feet.  So my plants are just about four feet tall.  I will soon have to move the plants on the fence because the corn will eventually top seven feet.  The other plants are tomatoes.
 Look closely and you can see (left to right) patchouli, stevia, and basil.  That is my second stand of corn in the back.
Another new herb--mexican tarragon.
 Another look close picture.  Stevia, oregano, and tansy.  And a caged tomato in the back.
And last, today, two small butternut squash.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Good morning, everyone.  We have wonderfully cooler weather with nice bright sun.  I have already harvested three trays of spearmint, and one each of peppermint, orange mint, and oregano.  They are drying now.  We got a bit of rain yesterday afternoon--not enough to change our 'extremely dry' to 'moderate drought' conditions.  We were watching a local news segment on the problems some Illinois farmers are experiencing.  Their corn stands a wonderful one foot high.  At this time, those stalks should be 3+ feet tall.  For a contrast all we had to do was look out at our gardens.  My two stands of corn are all at the expected height.  I haven't noticed any of the fields when we were out--so many of those are now being built on.  I have noticed an increase in the price of sweet corn.  We have some southern sweet corn in the stores and farm markets.

And talking about corn--I found this Rodale article by way of Natural News.  I have seen similar articles for the last 6 months or more.  Isn't Monsanto wonderful?? (SARCASM ALERT!!!!!)  As if that weren't enough--take a look at this one, also from Rodale.

The blueberries we bought at the city farm market Tuesday are now frozen in one cup lots in baggies.  Fourteen of them.  I wish one of the venders would get a supply of cranberries.  Next week we plan to start getting beets and other veggies we plan to can or freeze.  I already have the receipt for pickled beets marked.  Oh, well--time to see what is on the internet.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Good Thursday and first full day of summer.  We have a respite from the 90s for the next week.  I got everything watered already.  I can spend some time trimming and tying up plants.  I noticed some blossoms on my lemon squash so that should start producing.  I had to move some things around a bit--the mints were getting topped by some of the other plants.  We finished off the spring spinach the other day.  Had it steamed with onions and mushrooms.  This has been the best year for spinach so far.  We have had it in several salads and as the vegetable for two meals.  I will definitely plan for a fall crop.

I wish this part of Sec. of Defense Panetta's testimony before Congress had been splashed all over the news instead of the love-fest with Jamie Dimon.  The question is appropriate and the discussion revealing.  Not even the Democratic leadership was willing to exercise moral backbone and support a surtax to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan.  Hell!! I don't even remember when the proposal was made it was so well covered in our 'news' media.

I remember several election cycles ago when we noticed that the candidates running for office ran ads which never mentioned their party affiliation.  Started with the Repthuglicans and then the Damnocrats followed suit.  Now, according to this piece, many are even failing to mention the office they are running for--especially if they are incumbents.  This takes running from your record to a whole new level.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Good morning, all, and welcome to the day summer starts (sometime this evening.)  Given the temperatures we have seen lately one can be forgiven for thinking that the season began some time ago.   The weather people predict another high in the 90s before we get a nice string of 80s with a couple of 70s.  I started watering the plants on the fence.  I found a pineapple sage at the farm market yesterday that I need to transplant.  Otherwise I don't have much to do outside--thank goodness.  I do have a nice 5 lb box of blueberries I will rinse, put up in smaller packages, and freeze.  We were afraid we had missed the season.

Oh, but they tell us the economy is on the mend.

Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds cuts through the economic bullshit so nicely.  I heard the ecstatic reports yesterday that the housing market was rebounding nicely and wondered what very selective data led to that conclusion.  That is how I look at any such reports now-a-days--with a big dose of salt and crossed fingers.

Happy In Quilting posted some pictures of some utterly unbelievably inventive and beautiful quilts.  Take a look at some soul-soothing beauty.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Good Tuesday morning, Everyone.  Sunny and warm again moving on to hot later.  I only have watering and a few minor chores in the gardens.  Sometime soon I need to take more pictures of the developing jungle.  The heavy rain a few days ago that left us with a bit under 2 inches knocked off some of the blossoms of the cucumbers and tomatoes.  But they are blooming well so I have hopes that we will get a good harvest in spite of the heat and that brutal rain.  I think I have solved, at least partly, the problem of the heat that builds up in the mini-greenhouse.  I don't have any more shady place to put it and with the sun it gets now the temperature can hit 120F or a bit more.  Much too high to put anything in there.  I dug out the remains of a badly stained old sheet from which I cut awnings that I can put over seedlings early in the season if it gets too hot.  Draping it over the greenhouse reduces the temperature by 15-20 degrees.  Promising.

Yeah, Kay.  I hate spam, too. And I agree--it is here to stay.  All we can do is avoid it as much as possible.  Some good news on the spam front.  For the first time this morning I had only a couple of anonymous comments to dispose of instead of the 25-30 of the last couple of days.  I hope the double line of defense (Google plus Hotmail) will keep it that way.

This is an interesting article from Energy Bulletin that reflects thoughts that have been in the back of my mind for the last few years.  Welcome to the new Dark Ages.

I don't know why anyone would expect anything different.  Since the banks all had a hand in writing the legislation how could it not be anything but a 'full employment for mortgage bankers' program?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Good Monday, All.  Cool and soon to be sunny but the temps are supposed to reach the low to mid 90s. So I have a few garden chores this morning before we close up.  Spinach and beet greens to harvest, and some herbs to clip and dry.  The blasted potato beetles have shown up so I have to start spraying the marigolds which, for some odd reason, they like--a lot.  I won't have to water.  All of the small pots on the fence are nicely moist and, if they don't need water, the large containers don't either.

Hi, Leigh, and thanks for dropping by.  Oh, yes, our current system of higher ed is a full employment for academics program.  It hasn't done much for its 'customers.'  I haven't tried to put in word verification because I am one of those frustrated by the system.  I find the fonts hard to read even when the picture is clear.  Luckily the anonymous spam has tag lines that clearly indicate what they are and I can delete them without opening the message.  They are hoping that I will let them through and they will have a link on my blog to their site.  That is why I do moderate.  I also want to nip a problem that some bloggers I read have noticed in the past--abusive commenters.  I haven't had that problem, thankfully.  I just decided to try something else.  The comments come through my hotmail account for moderation.  Normally, I mark them as spam which takes me back to the blogger site to confirm and then I delete the comments.  I think I will try to label them as 'junk' on hotmail.  Maybe that will get more of them out.  Like you I hate the waste of my time.  I would much rather be visiting blogs and news sites I am really interested.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Good rainy Sunday, Everyone.  Yes!! I said 'rainy.'  We received pulses of thundershowers and rain starting late yesterday afternoon and continuing so far this morning.  The just under two inches we have had so far is very welcome though we are still in deficit for the year and the month.  A couple of downpours were so heavy and hard I watched praying 'No Hail.  Please! Please! Please! No Hail!!" And, THANKFULLY, no hail.  It is very wet so I won't be doing anything in the gardens.  And Kuma is totally bummed out.

Another indication that the politics this year are going to be interesting and frustrating.

The "progress" toward a the pervasive surveillance state continues.  I guess it all depends on how you define "progress."

This is monstrously unfair!!!!  A woman is set ablaze by her estranged partner, the father of her son, and now the state of Florida is charging her for the towing for her car and his and late fees, I guess because she didn't pay them fast enough.  Talk about an injustice system!!!

I just spend a large amount of time cleaning out my e-mail in-box.  And I am pissed.  More than three-quarters of the entries were anonymous comments on this blog.  And all of them were for some kind of porn.  And all of them had embedded links to their site.  I know I have said before that I have a delete key and I know how to use.  But I really resent these assholes who insist on trying piggy-back on my blog.  I posted a long time ago that I wouldn't allow any comments that were either anonymous or contained links, especially porn or sales links.  I have allowed only one exception to that rule because the person had no links and specifically commented on the blog of that day.  I noticed a couple of bloggers I read have had similar problems.  They have tried using both moderation and word verification but still have problems with cluttered in-boxes of spam.  I wish the slime bags would crawl back under their rocks and leave the rest of us alone.  End of rant!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Good Saturday, Everyone.  The weather people say hot, with a chance of showers today through tonight and a tad bit cooler tomorrow.  But the predictions for this week is still hot over all.  The gardens are doing well so far--except for the roses.  Unfortunately I put them in a spot they didn't like much so they now are looking a bit sad and thin.  I have since moved them to a different spot and just sprinkled some fertilizer around them.  In the fall I plan to replant them into one of the large containers, permanently ( I hope.)  We found a way to anchor a light shepherd's hook in the largest containers.  The single hook we have in now is doing very nicely as a spot for the hummingbird feeder.  It actually attracted a little female Wednesday morning.  I am looking for a vine that attracts hummingbirds to plant on the trellis that anchors the hook.  We got two more double hooks that I will put in in the fall as I start cleaning out the beds and I plan to put the blueberries at the base of one and the roses around the other. We plan to put a small bird feeder off one hook and some small hanging pots off the other three.  The squash, tomatoes, one of the peppers, cucumbers, and strawberries are blooming nicely.  On to the internet.....

I agree, Kay.  I wish we could do something about the idiocy that seems to pervade our economic/political system.  Unfortunately, I remember an old saying that insists that any system that hopes to be 'idiot' proof underestimates the amazing ability of idiots to get around such systems.

I saw an interesting segment on the Nightly Business Report last night.  They have an ongoing series featuring young entrepreneurs in unusual pursuits.  The story last night featured two sets of partners who have gone into artisan foods: specialty popsicles and hand made cheese.  All four left more typical careers in finance and law.  They said that the economics are chancy but the satisfaction is much higher.  Makes you wonder about our fixation with college education, doesn't it?

The damage tally from those freak hailstorms that hit Texas keeps going up.  This story is the latest I have seen--$2billion.  I was a bit curious because I seem to remember a report last year that 2011 had the most $1billion damage events due to weather.  This site says that there have been 134 such occurrences since 1980.  Fourteen of those came in 2011.  Think Progress gives even more details.

I mentioned a few days ago the leak of parts of the draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty.  Susie Madrak has some commentary on it today at Crooks & Liars.  She makes an interesting point which should be broadened to encompass most aspects of Presidential power in economic and political affairs: whoever is President is is irrelevant because other, more powerful, interests are involved.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Good morning, Everyone.  We are supposed to start a week (or more) of 90+ weather today.  The weather people are wavering between whether we will or will not get any rain at all over that time.  I am already well into watering the gardens before it gets too warm for outside work.  We are still in the mid 60s so I have time yet.  We are waiting to see if we will have to put the air on.  As dry as it is, we might not.  Lets see what is on the web today.

I thought this was interesting.  An enterprising youngster takes pictures of her school lunches and blogs her ratings of them with the approval of both her school and the kitchen staff.  She uses the blog to raise  money for a food charity.  I would have had to use the past tense because the local city council banned her from taking any more pictures basically shutting down her blog.  Supposedly, they claimed, the kitchen staff was stressed out with worry for their jobs because of some negative reactions to stories in the media--yeah, the kitchen staff that had been so supportive earlier.  Well, the reaction to the ban produced a reversal and she can now blog again

Another interesting story (sorry, I can't find it again to link.  I think it was on MarketWatch.) from this morning indicates that law schools are cutting the size of their incoming class.  Why? you wonder.  Because something a bit over 10% of their  latest graduating class are unemployed and 66% are employed in positions that really require JDs.  The most interesting question asked in this story was whether the overproduction of lawyers wouldn't be a good thing leading to lower prices for legal services.  And the answer was one we had discussed here with respect to the medical profession.  Given the fact that law school costs somewhere around $50k per year on top of the costs of a bachelor's degree (which most law schools require now), the graduates really need a high income to pay off the costs of their education.  And as schools cut the sizes of their new classes the costs of law school will likely increase as the schools try to protect their cash flow. (Update: I just found this article on MSNBC that gives some more of the details.) As I listened to the story (it was on video) I recalled a similar measure taken by the Ohio University system (I think it was Ohio) about fifteen years ago in response to the same dismal employment picture for History PhDs.  Every PhD program in the state except one were cut and the number of master's degree programs were pared back severely.  The peculiarly funny aspect of these stories is that higher education has been and is touted as the way to get good jobs especially during economic hard times.  Maybe we should be much more skeptical of the received wisdom we have all accepted so unquestioningly.

I have noticed the comfort the political/economic talking heads have taken in the various polls in Greece which show that the majority of Greeks want to stay in the Eurozone with the Euro.  I have wondered how many of the respondents might have agreed with the sentiment with a very large 'but...' tacked on.  I saw a short video (and again I can't find it to link) interview with a Greek couple who were in exactly that position.  They would rather keep the euro but they have seen a 40% cut in their income and feel that the projected 10 years or more of hard times under the austerity imposed by the conditions of the bailout.  Leaving the euro would be hard also but perhaps for a much shorter time.  This story reinforces that.  Barter networks are growing in an economy which is tanking and money is scarce.

Natural News posted an article on a version of the VW Passat that gets 70+ mpg (diesel) under normal driving conditions but that isn't available in the US even though it is actually built here.  Given the number of stories I have seen over the last couple of years of efforts to find a way to shift from a per/gallon tax to a per/mile tax because of the bite electric and moderately efficient vehicles is taking out of highway revenue, I am not surprised at Natural News concluding that the reason the Passat Bluemotion isn't available is the potential for decreasing revenue further.  Popular Mechanics lists 10 other models that get great mileage and, they say, are fun to drive but not available over here

I have written about the insane job market before.  Susie Madrak on Crooks & Liars has found confirmation of much that was only a gut instinct for me.  Employers demand an insane level of skill/experience while offering low wages for jobs they really don't want to fill with US workers in the first place.  I said that when we were talking about the fad for 'multi-tasking.'  I said then that was simply a way to roll three or more job descriptions into one and offer the pay for the least of them.  What a racket!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Good Thursday to you all.  Sunny again today and the forecast temperature should be in the mid-80s.  And the weather people have changed the forecast (again) so we might be missing these temperatures for the next week when we are supposed to have mid-90s.  The gardening will be early morning for the next week or so.  After I finished scrubbing the wall and washing the patio down, my get-up-and-go got up and went elsewhere.  We'll see what I can get done today.

Hi, Kay.  Glad you stopped by.  We have shifted a lot of our cleaning to white vinegar over the last few years.  It works well and is less toxic than so many commercial products.  We have even replaced the hair rinses that we have found less satisfactory over the years with a vinegar/water mix (right now 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water).  We use washcloths dampened with vinegar instead of dryer sheets.  And it is absolutely wonderful for hard water stains.  The chemical industry used to say 'Better living through chemistry.'  We say 'not always.'  I agree with you on Ezra Klein, the job market, and the liars who are accomplished at 'figuring.'

Jill Klausen has a perfect assessment of what the Repthuglicans really mean when they talk about simpler, smaller, and 'more efficient' government.  And I could take her comments a step further.  They are busy writing as many of us as possible out of the American polity.  Corporations are.  The billionaire are.  But we, by their vicious political alchemy, are not.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Good Wednesday to you all.  Another cool and sunny day.  Been productive outside.  Yesterday I got two trays of basil and four of spearmint dried.  I should harvest some orange mint and lavender blossoms sometime today.  Right now I need a rest--I just washed down a patch of our wall outside that has been growing some green mold.  Straight white vinegar did a really good job.  All that is left are a couple of spots I couldn't reach.  Then I washed down that half of the patio.  All of my tomatoes are blooming well and I found a couple of little green Romas.  I am watching the strawberries because they are blooming nicely and I have several berries forming.  I think the plants are enjoying the cooler weather.  On a not too pleasant note, the weather forecaster mentioned this morning that he expected the Chicago area to be declared in drought by tomorrow.  We are way down, as I have mentioned before, on the rain.  At least I don't have to water anything till tomorrow.  The nice thing about container gardening is that you can apply the water in smaller amounts in smaller spaces.

It looks to be a campaign season pitting the clueless against the ignorant--at least that is what the news stories are portraying.  The Romney people and their lackeys have claimed Obama is 'out of touch' because he dared to suggest that the 'private sector is fine' when every one knows that the recession is continuing.  Obama's camp came back to 'clarify' the matter--the private sector is creating jobs (anemically) while the public sector is cutting left, right, and center.  But let's not give Romney any marks for being any more cognizant of the realities of our economy.  Take at look at this Huffington Post story concerning Romney on who pays for police, firefighters, and teachers.  And how much money is involved.

There is an old saying about someone who 'can't win for losing.'  I laughed when I saw this snippet from Reuters.  I don't know how many times when gas prices were rising into the stratosphere I saw ecstatic reports of rising retail sales and wondered how much of that was due to gas prices rather than a real increase in commercial activity.  Quite often as I remember.

Ezra Klein has a good Wonkbook piece today.  Professional licensing comes up in our conversations regularly.  Mom has considerable experience with the process as a retired LPN.  The required exams, licensing, renewals of license, continuing education courses and other related costs (like overnight stays in Indianapolis because that was where the exams and many of the courses were held) took a large chunk out of her yearly income.  That was to merely stay as an LPN an option which has been nearly phased out in this state.  Now would-be nurses have to go through a two-year pre-nursing course, be accepted into the program, spend another 4 years getting the educational requirements, pass the exam just to enter the field.  I can agree with Klein--there are some occupations for which one would definitely like to see licensing requirements.  But is there any real rationale to them?  And do they really guarantee knowledge and competence?  I guess the answer is 'No' on both counts.

This piece raised my blood pressure a notch or two.  We have been so badly screwed over by the various 'free'-trade agreements that I look at any new ones with a mixture of cynicism and extreme paranoia.  This one, if it goes through, would basically provide foreign companies with a path to extraterritoriality--that is, they would have a way to become exempt from our financial, regulatory, and environmental laws.  And it is being negotiated by an allegedly Democrat administration under an allegedly Democrat President.  I think we are well and truly screwed who ever wins the election in the fall.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Good Tuesday, All.  Blessedly cool today.  We can open the doors and windows and let Kuma stay outside as long as he likes.  The last two days he hasn't been so eager.  I have some herbs I need to harvest and dry.  I have a few other chores to do in the gardens and some watering.  Our respite from the heat will be brief--the 90s are due to return by Friday and continue through Monday.  We didn't get any rain out of the last little front and don't expect any for the next week.  If the pattern continues, the weather people say we will have one of the driest Junes on record to match the driest May we just finished up.

I also loved my advisor's take on the weather, Kay.  I'm thinking that more workers need to take that hard nosed attitude.  I remember when I was still looking for a new job and I rejected a suggestion from my nephew that I apply for jobs in Chicago or areas of Indiana closer to Illinois.  He suggested several I had seen on line.  I told him that what those employers wanted to pay wouldn't even cover my gas to and from the job much less rent, food, etc.  His attitude--at least it's a job and it might lead to something better.  I couldn't make him understand that, as I have said before, there are times when something is indistinguishable from nothing.  Nor could he understand that my calculation of the cost/benefits of taking such jobs were the same calculations employers made in hiring.  Why it was fine for them and not for me I don't understand.

I think we need a new way to deal with countries we don't like.  Sanctions didn't really work in Libya, or Iraq.  Those who think they did are cherry picking their facts.

We saw a snippet on this report this morning and scratched our heads in bewilderment.  The FBI says the statistics say violent crime is down yet again.  The Chicago Superintendent of Police said the same while announcing a new initiative to combat the recent rash of shootings and assaults.  Another statistic that is massaged, perhaps?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Good sunny Monday to you all.  The say we may get some hit or miss showers later and over night.  I hope so because everything, other than my containers and pots, is very dry.  Our temperatures outside did hit the low 90s yesterday forcing us to put the air on.  Even the cat didn't want to be outside.

The news last night presented a snippet of an interview Chicago Mayor Emanuel gave with Fareed Zakaria that irritated me.  He said rather baldly what most dealing with pension plans of one kind or another have only glided over.  Workers cannot, he insisted, continue to trust the promises made in the past.  In other words, simply because a string of politicians have scammed the pension plans by deferring their portions or by borrowing the money to make those payments, workers should accept the fact that part of the compensation promised for their work won't be forthcoming.  They should accept being defrauded.  The workers fulfilled their part of the bargain but our politicians aren't willing to follow through.  How many more 'promises' out there will our politicians renege on because they have so mismanaged our public affairs that the money has disappeared?

As I wrote that paragraph I had a flash back to a conversation I had with my then academic advisor some decades ago.  He described his negotiations with the Dean and other university officials when he was considering their job offer.  One gushed about the weather and how wonderful it was: blue skies, sunny days and outdoor sports year round.  My advisor said he looked them in the eye and asked if they would compensate him for the blizzards, hail, cloudy days, and rain.  They decided to get serious about the 'bread-and-butter' issues like salary, health care, and pension.  He should be retired now and I hope he is enjoying his all of his retirement benefits without the possibility that the pension is considered as much of a promise as blue skies, sunny days and outdoor sports year round.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Good Sunday to you all and  I hope you are enjoying the weekend.  Ours has been very warm and sunny.  We haven't had to put the air on yet.  Though the temperatures have been hot the humidity has been low.  I didn't see much to comment about during my trip through the internet yesterday.  Let's see what I find today.

I noticed on the news last night and this morning that Spain has asked for the bailout that anyone with an ounce of awareness has expected for quite some time.  The timing is perfect--on the weekend when the makers are closed.  It is also interesting in light of Obama's press conference on Friday which focused on Europe as the possible bump in the road for the U.S. economy.  Preparing for the news, maybe?

The GMA morning reports today included a report on the new 'prank' called 'swatting.'  Some morally/emotionally/intellectually deficient asshole decides to hack into someone's internet connection and calls 911 claiming a violent crime is in progress which brings the local swat team out.  The story this morning was the second I have seen lately.  I was a bit disgusted with the first one because the victim featured was a conservative talk show host/blogger who claimed he was targeted because he is a conservative voice.  A quick and dirty internet search reveals that he is blowing smoke on the motivation. This nastiness has been going on for at least the last five years and the above mentioned assholes have more often targeted random victims they didn't know.  Contrary to the idiot conservative blogger the political link is bogus.  However, that aside, I hope whoever is involved in this asinine and dangerous activity is caught and imprisoned for a long, long time.  This story, from 2009, gives some interesting details.  The incident that leads off the story occurred in 2007.

I remember when, more years ago than I care to remember, students I knew regularly took No-Doz and other over-the-counter pills to pull all-nighters.  Some may have taken other drugs but I couldn't testify to that.  I did take No-Doz a couple of times but found that I could pull a 36+ hour stint with out the help.  Now-a-days it seems the kids have taken things up a notch.

I used to live in Ft. Collins, Colorado.  I can't remember any time during the 20 years I lived there that the Poudre River dried up.  It has been a favorite for white water rafting and kayaking.  Not this year.  And they have a nasty wildfire not yet controlled burning nearby.  For an interesting contrast, compare the picture at the top of the column with those at the end.

Ah--someone else thinks that AARP's poll on Social Security and Medicare is more than a little bogus. Susie Madrak at Crooks & Liars hit all the criticisms I had and adds a few more.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hello on this sunny and soon to be hot Saturday.  I am in the process of watering all the plants.  In a bit I will be getting a bunch of onions in the dehydrator.  We picked up a large bag a little while ago thinking we had fewer at home than we really did.  So it is time to slice and dry some.  Otherwise, not much going on.  Let's see what is in the air today.

Update on the gardens:  after I watered all the plants I keep on the fence I was just looking out over the developing jungle and was shocked.  I saw some splotches on my dragon's tongue beans and thought "Oh, damn.  What has gotten to my plants?"  Well, it was five nicely developed bean pods!!  Surprise!!  It was only a very few days ago that I found the first tiny green pod.  Suddenly I have  beans!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Good day to you all on this sunny and predicted to be warm Friday.  I didn't see anything I wanted to comment on yesterday.  The gardens are doing well though I have to change my watering patterns to morning.  Everything is so dry and, with the temperatures going up, morning is the best time.  And the rains that have actually arrived as predicted have been less than needed.  I saw the first dragon's tongue bean pod on my plants--it is very pretty with its pink splotches.  The dragon's egg cucumbers are blooming profusely as are the tomatoes.  Let's see what I find on-line this morning.

Welcome visitor who commented as Anonymous.  Though disappointing, the results in Wisconsin were not unexpected--at least not by me.  I figured it could go either way.  I am glad that, at least at this time, the election has shifted the balance in the Wisconsin senate by one vote toward the Democrats.  The only reason Walker was able to do what he did was because he had majorities in both houses of their legislature. The shift in power away from organized labor also isn't really surprising either.  I found this NYT article noting that union membership (private and public) have fallen to historic lows.  At the height of membership only about one-third of workers in private industry were union members (mid-1950s).  Now only 11%.  Public sector unions have shadowed the growth and decline in members shown by the private industry unions.  During the heyday of unionism the economy was in the first stages of the post WWII boom and, in a rapidly growing economy, companies were far more willing to meet union demands on wages and benefits.  And government was far more supportive of unions and companies far more tolerant.  Both attitudes have shifted since the 1980s.  The traditional unions, centered in manufacturing, were always far more successful in organizing skilled, male labor--a category which has been in decline with the shift away from manufacturing and toward a service economy where the labor force includes large numbers of women and unskilled workers.  I have seen reports that say Scott Walker's tactic in breaking the public unions (and let's be honest--he was breaking them) was to divide and conquer.  It was a perfect strategy for these times.  He was able to tap into the resentment of blue collar workers who had lost jobs or, if they still had jobs, wages and benefits.  He redirected their anger toward public workers who he presented as living high with intact benefits and overgenerous wages.  Take a look at the story about the election results in Southern California which basically stripped public workers in two cities of wages and benefits.  Similar story.  I think you are exactly right about looking to something other unions for the future.  Unfortunately, I think we also have to look to something other than government at the state and federal levels also.  A brief news segment this morning featured a clip of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel saying much the same.  I just don't think the institutions have been created (or re-created) yet.

Howard Gold has posted an interesting article on Market Watch this morning.  The constant mantra in the Repthuglican party has been 'make the Bush tax cuts permanent and release the job creators.'  Basically it is a restatement of the supply-side Reaganomics.  I have read summaries of studies for a very long time now that say the claimed results--more jobs and paradoxically increased tax receipts from significant tax cuts--simply don't measure up.

I have no intention of seeing The Dictator--it is a form of comedy that doesn't appeal to me.  But this post has an interesting clip and transcript from it that reveals a nice touch of political satire.

I found this CNN Money article in a link on Chris Martensen's Blog.  It summarizes a recent CBO report comparing the likely results of two possible courses of action on the economy.  In one case the House and Senate leave the laws presently in force alone--no change in the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, no change in the sequestration spending cuts, etc. In the second case the tax cuts are extended or made permanent, the spending cuts are rescinded, etc.  It seems to me that if the Repthuglicans really thought the deficit was the most important problem and dealing with it was a real priority, leaving things alone would do more to curing the deficit than any tax cuts for the 1%.  Either plan will mean continued recession so there isn't much to choose from there.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Good sunny Wednesday morning to you all.  We should have temps in the mid 70s today and tomorrow before the temperature goes up to the 80s again.  I finally got off my butt yesterday and dried two trays each of lemon balm, stevia, and basil.  I also got all the plants on fence watered yesterday.  I was surprised by how dry some of the plants got.  With the cooler temperatures I thought they would be moist yet.  Several definitely were not.  But I got to them in time.  I have several projects in mind for today: watering everything else, moving the shepherds hook and hummingbird feeder (we would really like to see any bird that might come by and we can't now), transplant the lemon verbena and a small oregano, move the large oregano and replace it with the marigold in the place it will reside, raise the soil levels in several of the pots and fertilize everything.  I often read gardeners' blogs and many recommend diagramming out where everything will go.  That never seems to work for me.  I always have to move something--often several somethings.

Well, all the news pundits are dissecting the recall election results from Wisconsin as though they were ancient augurs and oracles examining the entrails of a sacrificed sheep.  The question they all are asking the 'gods' of the polls is what the results mean for the Presidential race in the fall.  Ezra Klein has some interesting thoughts on that here.  When coupled with this story from southern California it shows a far more significant result: organized labor is continuing its long slide from its height of power in the middle of the last century.  The question I would really like to ask is: where will the power centers be in the future and where will the balance be.  I sincerely hope there will be a power that can balance the corporations and the billionaires.  And I hope it will be on my side of the issues.  Right now not many figures out there are speaking my language for me.

Welcome, Prairie Cat.  Glad you stopped by.  I know where you are coming from.  I remember telling one of the people manning the phones at the Student Loan offices that the loans I amassed were the worst 'investment' I had ever made.  And it is one of which I can't get out from under thanks to the sweetheart gift our legislators provided for the lenders making it non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.  I hope your new job) lead to better opportunities in the future.  I saw a brief mention on the news this morning that the Obama Administration is drawing up some new guidelines for schools in dealing with students and for counseling them on student debt.  They want the schools to be up front on repayment costs, on the proportion of borrowers who are in default and to provide other relevant information.  But I somehow doubt that the information will be presented in a meaningful manner.  They won't ask the potential borrower to think about what would happen if--if the jobs in their field disappeared (that happened to me twice), or if the pay scale isn't what they expected (also happened to me), or if the information they are relying on to make their decisions isn't reliable (also a part of my past experience).  But, to be brutally honest, I don't know that the answers to those questions would have made a difference in my decisions.  After all, the path to my career goals led through that degree and, at the time, I don't think I had the experience or the imagination to think outside the channel I was in.

I found this item from Natural News shortly after I finished my comment to Prairie Cat and I think it is the flip side of the problems we discussed.  Natural News recently got burned (as you can read on their site) by an 'expert' whose doctorate was bogus.  On the one side we have people with legitimate degrees which they (we) got by spending a lot of good money (often thanks to loans) for the privilege of attending classes that we worked hard to succeed in and which aren't now worth nearly what we had thought they would be when we started.  But on the other side we have people who spend neither the money nor the effort to get the credentials they use to get good jobs.  And then we see people who work hard in a profession, get legitimate and demanding credentials (not degrees) from legitimate professional organizations but have difficulty getting a new job in their field because they don't have a totally extraneous bachelor's degrees that some idiot human resources director seems to require.  I grew up at a time when education was respected, valued and encouraged.  There was no such thing as 'over educated.'  For the last ten years of my working-at-a-job life I was 'overeducated, underemployed and over the hill.'  Education has become another industry that is geared to pushing as much 'product' through the pipeline at as big a profit to the institutions engaged in the industry as possible.  I have talked about the fallacy of the industrial model of production before.  The only difference is that widgets don't have to eat, or pay rent, or repay loans.  A widget can sit on the shelf until the market improves.  Can the 50% of 2011 graduates who are either unemployed or underemployed do the same?

To shift gears--sad day in science fiction.  Ray Bradbury has died at age 91.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Good morning, Everyone.  Nice sunny day with temps in the mid 70s predicted.  I really do need to get off my butt and get a couple of chores done in the garden.  Mom had a medical appointment yesterday and we went out to breakfast after since she had some blood tests scheduled for which she had to fast.  Today we have our grocery shopping to do so we will be going by our supermarket and the city farmers' market a bit later.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Annie's Granny.  Though I don't often comment, I drop by to read your blog every day.

I have seen a couple of other stories on the new Bay bridge in San Francisco including one on last nights national news.  This one on MSNBC is a bit more specific and it doesn't present a pretty picture of the mindset of politicians (and perhaps most of the rest of us.)  The thought that comes to my mind is 'Penny wise, pound foolish.'  The politicians decided to manipulate the process to escape the 'Buy American' requirements for the Federal funds and hire a Chinese firm that had presented the lowest bid for the suspension part of the bridge.  As it turns out the Chinese low-balled the bid.  The project is now over budget to the point where the cost is nearly what the American company (one that had fabricated the steel parts of the original bridge eighty years ago) had bid and it is a year over due.  Isn't it wonderful how the politicians gave jobs, work and boat-loads of money to a Chinese firm that could have gone to Americans and saved virtually no money.  Really smart economics there. (Sarcasm alert!!!)

Here is a story that should put a smile on your faces.

Given the fact that 50% of last year's college grads were unemployed given the last reports I heard and a similar or greater percentage of this year's grads may be joining them, I have to shake my head at this article.  I wonder how many of the lucky 50% from last year found jobs that pay enough for them to make full payments on their student loans.  The last statistics I saw on the amount grads owe on student loans the tally was around $25k for a four year degree.  Is it really worth between $8k and $10k per year for a 4 year degree that will likely not pay your enough to live on and pay off the debt?  I rarely see that question asked in any article telling us how necessary it is to have a college degree to get a job. Why, you wonder, do I assume that the graduate will have loan debt?  Because Congress has been very busy cutting the funding for grants and scholarships so unless students have savings or parents who can foot the bill they will have loans.

Another installment in the file of awesome vertical gardens.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Good Monday to you all.  Cool and sunny for the moment--we may get some rain later.  I didn't do anything I had planned to do yesterday.  My get-up-and-go got up and went before I got started.  Oh, well.  I'll see what I get done today.

I have been somewhat disgruntled by the 'manic-depressive' attitude of the press over just about everything.  Last Friday the pundits were in the depths of despair over the jobs report and the 250+ point decline in the Dow.  Me--I was remembering the fantastic job growth during the winter and the utterly dismal job losses at the tail end of Bush II and beginning of Obama and wondered what the fuss was all about.  I am equally disgruntled with the translation of economic data of uncertain duration into the political situation giving rise to heated discussions of how bad or good it is for which candidate.  Ezra Klein makes some similar comments on his Wonkbook this morning.  I will not that it is fascinating how the Repthuglicans focused on 'moral' or 'social' issues when the economy looked like it was recovering and how they have now shifted to economic issues.  They think they smell blood in the water (sharks that they are) but I, for one, remember that it was Bush/Repthuglican policies (with the approval some Damnocrats and their financial industry masters) that got us into this position and the extremely nebulous non-policies Romney has spouted foreshadow more of those same policies.

This article on an Australian report critical of fragility of long food supply lines in times of disaster and crisis reflects some similar articles I have seen on this side of the ocean.  I thought the two points concerning relying on the willingness of the food industry when their profits might be concerned and on the effectiveness and efficiency of their military, both questionable, interesting.  I wonder if they looked at Hurricane Katrina for any information.

Susie Madrak on Crooks & Liars put up this piece on a new book which blames hardline Republicans for the gridlock of the recent past.  Interestingly, the authors are conservatives who have been regulars on the Sunday talk shows but have had only one appearance to discuss their book.  I wonder if the authors have been read out of the conservative ranks.

This idea is being resurrected.  I think it will come.  After all we do have to repair roads and bridges and relying on sales taxes has become problematic with lower consumption.  Shifting from a per gallon tax to a per mile driven tax makes a lot of sense today. Combine driving less with hybrid or electric vehicles and you get lower gasoline taxes which crimps the state budget.  The question is how you make sure the only data collected is how many miles are driven not where they occurred.

I read a snippet of an article this last weekend that some experts predict that this year's presidential election will consume $2billion alone.  That doesn't cover the other elections on tap this year.  I thought at the time that the very notion of that amount of money (one-eightth of the U.S. GDP) was a totally obscene amount.  And I wondered what the donors would expect in the way of pay back.  Ronni Bennett has a post this morning that gives some answers.  As the King in the Wizard of Id comic strip once said 'Remember the Golden Rule: He who has the gold rules.'

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Good morning on this sunny Saturday.  We had drizzle and spotty rain all day yesterday.  The sun finally popped out about two hours before it was due to set.  Didn't do more that check things yesterday and take note of some trimming that needs doing.  I thin I already reported that the pepper seedling is blooming as is the oldest of my cucumbers.  The corn is growing rapidly and the three plants I needed to move to make room for Mom's shepherd's crook (for the hummingbird feeder Sister gave her at Christmas).  I need to get the new stands of lettuce and spinach started.  The rain and cold delayed those plans a couple of days.  And today is the opening day for our city farm market.  We have adjusted our grocery shopping days to coincide with the days it is open.

It is now a sunny Sunday.  There wasn't much to comment on yesterday.  We did go to the city farmers' market and absolutely love what the city has done on that downtown park.  They had eight or ten early season vendors most of whom say the will be here all summer.  So we are planning what we would like to buy on a weekly basis.  I don't have much planned for the day in the garden.  Need to mix some soil to raise the levels in some of the pots and plant a new round of spinach and lettuce.  I know I said yesterday I should do it but I got lazy.  I also need to start harvesting some of the stevia and more of lemon balm.  Right now I don't have a lot to do except trim, fertilize and water (when needed.)

Let's see if I find anything to comment on tripping through the internet.

I always enjoy seeing stories like this one.  Sometimes living in a world where we go to a store that sells mass produced goods made by machines makes me a bit uneasy.  There is something very satisfying about making something you need with your own hands.

GMA this morning has a story this morning on a new use for a class of Alzheimer's drug: treating shopaholics.  We had several reactions to the story.  First, oh, hell, another damned pill in a society that has a major pill problem.  Second, in a country obsessed with an economy that runs on consumption they want to curb consumption???  Last, in a country where material possessions are a means of displaying status and achieving emotional satisfaction what will replace shopping for things as a national past time??  Remember when they advocated the use of methadone to treat heroin addiction?  They found the methadone simply replaced the heroin without curing the addiction.

I think this article shows some promise for the future.  Most often our response to nature is to try to dominate it, to force nature to bend to our will or wishful thinking.  Working with nature is somewhat alien to human beings generally and to Americans especially.

I remember the paradox highlighted during the long struggle that culminated in the landmark case against the tobacco companies:  the Federal government subsidized the tobacco industry while at the same time trying to discourage individual smokers.  This article shows that the pattern has continued.  I wonder if high fructose corn syrup would be so competitive with sugar if corn production wasn't so well subsidized?

I figured we have had a dry spring.  This confirms my suspicion.  I learned a new term in my reading yesterday: flash drought.  I found this piece which explains the phrase.  Some areas that had unseasonably high temperatures (90+) and dry conditions may be hurting even if they do get rain later.  The cool and wet conditions some crops need to get going weren't there.

Hypocrisy alert!  Another in the Repthuglican philosophy of "ok if your rights are violated but leave mine alone."

Perhaps if Mitt Romney wants to make Solyndra a campaign issue, the Democrats should make an issue of the Konarka Technologies bankruptcy an issue since Romney funneled government funds to its solar operations.  Another nice bit of hypocrisy!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Welcome to June, Everyone.  Cold, cloudy, and rainy this morning.  I think we got, maybe, three-quarters of an inch from yesterday through last night.  I am not complaining.  We needed the rain and could use more.  Besides posting the pictures of the garden yesterday I also moved the pyrethrum plants I had sharing the pot with the vine peaches and the marigolds that were in with the Butterbush squash.  But that was all I did.  I was chilled to the bone after I finished.  Let's see what I find on the internet.

For some time I have seen various stories about our developing 'surveillance' nation.  There was one story about a car rental company that used the GPS tracking system to monitor how their customers drove and assessed penalties for those who exceeded the speed limits.  More and more cities are putting in more and more traffic and other surveillance cameras.  Chicago Mayor Emanuel has caught flack twice in the past years for plans to install a lot more cameras.  This Matt Stoller piece carried by Naked Capitalism promises that the ante is going to be seriously upped with the entry of more for-profit companies who see a whole new series of markets for surveillance.  If you aren't scared out of your minds, you should be.

It seems that metal thieves are setting their sights a bit lower now-a-days--at least in Chicago.  They have gone from air conditioning units and manhole covers to mail box covers.