Sunday, September 30, 2012

Good Saturday, All.  Cool and sunny today.  I pulled the marigolds yesterday.  They were looking ragged and tired.  Most of the sites for the variegated marjoram say it is hardy to zone 4 (we're in zone 5) or to -30F.  I will test that this winter.  I hope to get some of the cleaning up in the shed done today.  The only herb I will get another cutting on is the stevia.  Areas to the east are expecting frosts over the week though we, thanks to the lake, are not supposed to go that low.

It is now Sunday--sunny and cool again.  Didn't see much to comment on yesterday.  I transplanted all of the variegated marjoram into the beds--even the one I had planned to overwinter inside.  I don't think I liked it inside.  The weather people forecast overnight lows for Friday and next Saturday at 36 and 31 respectively.  We may get frosts after all.  I may take the stevia this week as well as the patchouli and basil.  I still have some peppers on the plants. We'll see how they survive weather the week.

I debated whether to link to this story and finally decided I would.  I saw the initial story yesterday which focused on the casualties.  Today the headline focuses on the possible world wide shortage of---diapers.  Yes--I did say 'diapers.'  The chemical plant produced the largest quantity of a key ingredient used in making diapers.

This is another story I debated commenting on.  Most of those who come down on the side of free speech being an absolute, unassailable value forget the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in Schenck v United States--
he most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.
I would say the idiot who made Innocence of Muslims pushed into the area of creating a 'clear and present danger of bringing about the substantive  evils.'  And he forgot Jesus' words in Luke 6:31--"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  I don't think Jesus made any exceptions.  There was no asterisk leading to a passage which said that the Golden Rule didn't apply to non-believers.  In the end, I think the only way to pull the fangs of the repulsive snakes who spew their poison and hide behind the First Amendment is consider the benighted source and let it go.  I don't expect that to happen any time soon so I don't really have any satisfactory answer.

I wonder if this is what the European 'Troika' had in mind when they insisted on unending 'austerity.'  For anyone who doesn't remember from the Greek elections of the last summer, Golden Dawn is a neo-Nazi party and their tactics are very reminiscent of those employed by the original Nazis.

Janinsanfran has a comment that ties the just ended NFL referee strike and the blown call that had everyone going ballistic last week to the current labor wars that are erupting all over the country.  I can take it a bit farther.  "Cheap" has now been defined as 'getting our money's worth.'  Once upon a time we would pay for quality--now we want quality but we don't want to pay for it.  And along with that we have lost the ability to judge quality.  We don't even know what is worth paying for any more.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Good day, everyone, on this last Friday of September.  Hard to believe that this year is almost three-quarters over.  I don't think many will miss 2012 when it is over.  Another cool but clear day here with nothing much planned.  Let's see if there is anything interesting on the 'net.

I posted a link to a story on this Repthuglican consulting firm yesterday.  Evidently the heat in the kitchen has exceeded comfort tolerance for the Republican National Committee and they have 'severed ties' with Sproul's firm.  Where are the expressions of righteous outrage?  We saw that when Acorn was accused of similar actions.  I guess it isn't so outrageous if a Repthuglican engages in fraud.  Of course, Sproul puts it down to a few bad actors but I seem to remember that similar excuses were disdainfully dismissed when Acorn made the same claims.  If there is any justice, Sproul will be out of business just as Acorn is.

This sounds all too familiar and my skeptical antennae are quivering madly.  Didn't we have a housing crash just five years ago driven largely by similar shenanigans?

Matt Miller makes writes a large dose of sense on the mess that filibuster has become.  I agree that it would be a good question for the Presidential debates but perhaps a better one for the Senatorial candidates.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hope you all are having a good Thursday.  Clear and cool so far today.  We don't have any errands today so I can get a few things done outside.  It is clearly time to get the marigolds pulled.  They are looking very sad.  The mums haven't bloomed yet.  I wish they would.  I should start getting our shed cleaned up and reorganized.  But I don't think I have to hurry.  The current weather forecast shows a string of clear and cool days ahead.  Good weather for that kind of thing.  I think I saw a couple of spicy peppers that are ready to pick--I'll check them out a bit later.

I saw an intriguing headline on today.  I wasn't going to link but--what the heck?  Read it if you want.  What is intriguing, you ask?  The notion that Romney cites one of his policies as proof of his 'empathy' but he has spent a good bit of time this election season repudiating that same policy.  I am talking about the health care plan he enacted in Maine.  If that health care law proves his empathy what does his repudiation say?  Perhaps that he had that emotion surgically removed.

Every time I think our totally dysfunctional political system can't sink any lower I find a new example that shows the politicians can always find a new, lower level of partisan behavior.  I agree, Lois.  It seems that dirty tricks are the only strategy Repthuglicans really have this year.  They have no ideas that generate a wide voter appeal.  So their only option when their traditional strategy of fear mongering  doesn't provide enough of an edge to win is to prevent their opponents' partisans from voting by any means possible.

Talk about politics getting rough, this happened about two counties away from us.  I found the story by way of this Crooks & Liars piece.  I guess a final conclusion about whether the window of the Mobile, Alabama Democratic Headquarters was shot out or failed for some other obscure reason isn't yet in but--my skepticism antennae are quivering.

In a follow-up to a bit I posted a couple of days ago on that 'voter registration' worker in colorado, I found this piece.  Evidently, selectively registering only Republicans isn't illegal--but what about misrepresenting yourself as an employee of the County Clerk's office?  And that story is only the tip of a very smelly iceberg.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Good day, everyone, on a foggy Wednesday.  The news this morning said Colorado had a significant snow in the high country.  It won't stay long because temperatures over the next few days are supposed to go into the 70s.  We had a bit of rain over night.  I transplanted the thyme yesterday and the last of the pineapple sage cuttings.  I didn't see a lot of root development on the thyme but, since it hasn't obviously died, I still have hopes for it.  That leaves the lavender and sage cuttings which are problematic.  We have a series of errands, again, today so I won't get anything done in the gardens.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Good Tuesday morning, Everyone.  A little warmer today than yesterday--low 50s as opposed to low 40s.  It looks a bit cloudy but I don't think the weather people predicted much, if any, rain for our area.  After the sun comes up, or the clouds move off, I will check on the plants still in the gardens.  The patchouli looked a bit unhappy with the cold.  I think several other plants need water and I still have a few cuttings to transplant.  I don't think any of my sage cuttings will make it.  The remaining two (of three) aren't all that healthy.  I am not sure about the lavender yet.

Richard Cohen asks a good question:  where are the 'brains' in the Republican party?  But then, thanks to our (s)news media the focus on personality and catchy, but meaningless, gotcha sound bites we have a election race largely devoid of serious discussion of ideas.  Perhaps we should rephrase the question:  where are America's brains?  But the Repthuglicans may not need brains if they can purge the voter rolls of people who usually support Democrats--Hispanics, Blacks, the elderly.  As Eugene Robinson notes that is the real purpose behind the stringent voter ID laws that have been pushed in several states since 2010.

Or perhaps they are hoping that no one will notice shit like this.  In case you can't hear the video well, the cute little b--- claims she is working for the county clerks office registering eligible voters but that she is only registering Romney voters.  Can you spell 'fraud,' 'misrepresentation,' and 'illegal?'

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hi, everyone.  It is early right now but I may not post this until late today.  We have errands planned that will keep us busy most of the morning and early afternoon.  I did get the herbs harvested and in the dryer but I won't get them in the jars until tomorrow.  I will have to run the dehydrator a bit more before I do.  We had frost warnings out for the entire area but, as far as I can see, we didn't get any.  I hope that holds for a good while more.  I still have kale and cabbage I would like to mature enough to harvest.  But this might be one of those years when we have early freezes.  Blast and damn!!  I still have spearmint, thyme and variegated marjoram to transplant.  The last will come in for the winter.  The thyme I know is hardy enough for the winter and the spearmint is supposed to be.  But the clean-up season is definitely here.

Every now and then I find a commentator who writes a piece that reflects some of what I have been thinking for a while.  Robert Samuelson does that in his op-ed for the Washington Post.  As with anything that is stretched to mean all things to all people, the notion of "the American Dream" is just about meaningless.  It really does need to be given a rest so we can get on with meaningful politics.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Good Saturday to you all and happy Autumnal Equinox.  Gray skies at the moment with possible rain on and off today.  If we see any sun today the shadow of the house should be just touching on the top of the fence.  It won't do that again until the Vernal Equinox in six months.  Didn't do anything yesterday other than read and probably will do the same today.

As you can see I didn't find much to write about yesterday.  And I didn't do anything other than read.  We have sun so far on this Sunday and the overnight temps went down to very low 40s.  They had frost warnings one county to the west of us.  It may be cool today but I really need to get the next harvest of mints drying and transplant the cuttings that have needed a new home for the last week.  As the highs today are forecast to get in the high 50s and no higher--I will definitely need a sweater.  I saw several peppers that are ready.  If we get a freeze I will take any that are left and put them in the freezer.

I shifted from the morning (s)news less than five minutes in.  That must be a record for me.  However, the stories have all been covered  far too much already.  The fire on Ann Romney's plane?  Third day for it.  The idiot who jumped into a tiger enclosure and got mauled?  Second day.  I forget the third and fourth stories on the list but they were either very forgettable repeats or fluff.  I put on music--for now.

Not much to write about today either.  I did get peppermint, orange mint, and sage cut and drying.  I will soon do the transplanting.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Good day on this cool and soon to be cloudy (possibly rainy) Friday.  Got seven trays of basil yesterday and stuffed a quart jar with the dried leaves.  That will probably be the last basil for this year. Next year I will put in only one plant.  I probably got more basil than we will use over the winter.  I used fresh for all of my stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce.  I try for sufficiency rather than excess--I plant what I hope will produce enough for the winter and spring.

This Firedoglake opinion piece is right on the money and needs no comment from me.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Good Thursday, Everyone.  Cool again but not as cool as yesterday and sunny again.  I got five trays of lemon balm and two of pineapple sage dried.  That is the last of the lemon balm for the season.  I pulled the plants and cleared that planter.  They were nearly root bound.  The cuttings I took a while back have rooted nicely and I will put them in one of the medium large pots for over winter and next summer.  I hope to cut and dry some more basil and other mints today.  I won't bother taking any other plants out until the frost kills them.  My mums should burst into blossom any day now.  Next year they will also go into their own medium large pot.  We still have the hummingbird feeder out but haven't seen the bird for almost two weeks--since the last really nasty line of thunderstorms went through--and the number of bees visiting have also fallen off.  You can definitely tell the season is changing.  Many of the trees are well on in their change of color, quite early.  And the color isn't very vibrant.  The season was too hot and too dry.

Another sign the season is changing--we think more about soups, casseroles, chili, and beans.  Those are our cold weather standbys.  Yesterday Mom made up our first pot of chicken/noodle soup.  Yes, we make it up from scratch.  We got a cut up stewing hen a couple of months ago and that was our base.  Now we have a pot of soup in the fridge, and three pints of stock and three small packages of cooked chicken in the freezer for future meals.

Welcome back, Nicola.  It sounds like you will have some new beauties to show us next spring when the bulbs your husband is planting bloom. Mom and I are doing fairly well.  I hope for more normal temperatures and rainfall next year.  This year the heat just sapped my energy.  I didn't keep the gardens as well as I usually do and didn't take many pictures.

We saw a version of this story on the NHK news last night.  I have read about the efforts of chain retailers to break into the Indian market before and have always rooted for India's small retailers efforts to keep out the global chain stores.  I resent the notion that somehow allowing these behemoths to loot the local economy (wherever) is 'reform.'  Studies have shown that five years after a Wal-Mart goes into an area there are fewer jobs available, higher unemployment, lower taxes collected--none of which indicates a real economic boom.  Too bad that the ruling party in India has been seduced by the pie-in-the-sky promises of the mega-retailers.  Hopefully, popular protests will scotch the plans.

I love this story!!!  No comment needed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Good Wednesday, Everyone.  I have had no energy for the last week and so have done just about nothing.  I did get my bay tree reset in its same pot.  It really did need some fresh soil.  I also transplanted the pineapple sage putting one out in the gardens over winter and one inside on my shelf by the patio door.  So far the regular sage and the lavender have not formed roots.  I still have hopes for them but I may have to be content with the originals which are now in their winter places in one of the large containers.  I have yet to transplant the mints (orange, spear, pepper, and lemon balm).  But they all are doing well.  So are the kale and cabbage in spite of the high winds we have had since Monday night.  It was blowing so hard it woke me.  Thankfully, nothing in the gardens were damaged.  Let's see what I get done today.

I noticed that Mitt Romney had another attach of 'foot in mouth' disease.  Which he exacerbated by claiming that his comments were merely 'inelegant.'  Anybody else notice that his comments were only directed at individuals.  How about all of the corporate 'dead beats' who have their hands out for government largess??  They are supposed to be people, too.  What about their 'individual responsibility?'  I have read some very good rebuttals to Romney's comments.  This is one I can particularly relate to.  Her story is much like mine except I have never been rich and, touch wood, have never been run down by an SUV.  And I didn't go shopping just because George II told me to.  I guess I just don't have as much of a patriotic bent.

Now this could get real ugly.  I wondered often over the last few years what might happen if China flexed its muscles in the bond markets.  China isn't just Japan's main creditor--it is also the major creditor for the U.S. and the European Union.  Evidently, the conflict has entered a more active phase in cyberspace as well.

In an interesting move, that has received zero attention in the news media, Russia has kicked the U.S. Agency for International Development out of the country charging that the agency has interfered with Russia's elections.  I don't necessarily trust any pronouncements from Russia (or any other government--including our own) but we do have a long history of interfering in other countries in the name of 'democracy' and 'freedom' but with the aim of creating a 'friendly' government.  'Friendly' here means subservient and compliant--and we have been all to willing to suffer dictators and tyrants so long as they fell in with our purposes.

I seem to remember all kinds of promises about Medicare savings if new information technology (computerized records, etc) were implemented.  Evidently, it is all smoke and mirrors.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Good Saturday to you all.  Cool night last night.  The temperature on the patio was 50F.  We expect a mostly cool week.  Evidently our impression that leaves are turning early was not our imaginations running wild.  The South Bend TV news mentioned the same and said it was because of the prolonged higher than normal temps over this summer.  We are about five days away from autumnal equinox.  The shadow of the house on the back fence agrees--it is about a foot below the top.  I want to get my cuttings re-potted and the tender plants brought in.  The marjoram, rosemary and lemon verbena have joined the bay on a little table under a fluorescent lamp for the winter.  My cabbage and kale seedlings are doing very nicely.  We haven't seen either the hummingbird or the bees lately but we will keep the feeder up until it freezes.

Evidently, because of the violence at U.S. diplomatic building in Egypt and Libya, someone has asked how much our government is spending on aid to the two countries.  Actually, I think we ought to broaden the question and ask how much we are spending on foreign aid, of what kind and in what countries.  Perhaps we need a total reassessment of how we spend our money overseas and why.  I wonder how much of our largess is left over from the Cold War?  I imagine much of what we send to Egypt is exactly that and comes from the time when Nasser played the U.S. off against the old Soviet Union.  According to this Reuters article the foreign aid budget escaped any cuts in the latest continuing resolution the House passed and sent to the Senate for a vote next week.  This short piece on PBS says that 'only' 1% of the U.S. budge is devoted to foreign aid.  That may sound like a small amount and cutting it won't make a big dent in our deficit but maybe we should examine our aims in giving that aid and whether it is achieving those aims.

I find this WSBT article interesting because it echoes a conversation we had over coffee this morning.  Our technology has far out paced our legal, labor, and other systems.  A piece I read yesterday indicated that the producer of the controversial film should have had a license from some California governmental office but didn't get one.  Evidently, he also evaded the SAG regulations.  But modern digital technologies allowed whoever it was to completely repurpose and dub in different dialog.  The producer was able to hide his true purpose even from those who worked on the film.  Mom said she saw a demonstrator holding a dvd of the film and wondered where he got it.  It may not have been the whole film.  The demonstrator may have downloaded and burned a disk.  It reminds me of how the Ayatollah Khomeini managed to get his message into Iran bypassing the Shah's security apparatus.  He recorded them on cassette tape that was reproduced in multiple copies that were either mailed or physically carried into Iran where more copies were made and replayed throughout the country.  Now-a-days we have YouTube and Facebook.

I saw this article yesterday.  It roused my 'skepticism' antennae but I couldn't exactly express why then. I think my problem with it is it's blanket coverage--'the U.S. has profound respect for people of other faiths.'  Like most over-broad statements it isn't true and never has been.  Many, perhaps even most, individuals in the U.S. respect other cultures and religions but a significant portion of our population don't.  I imagine the same can be said for Egyptians, Libyans, Yemenis, etc.  Unfortunately, it appears that it is the intolerant segments that are now driving the story.  Equally unfortunate--our drama driven faux news media loves to cover the drama with no real analysis or intelligent commentary.

Blisstree posted a rather thoughtful article on government oversight of the food chain.  The latest mandate from NYC banning mega-sized soft drinks bemused me.  As a couple of bloggers noted the 'diet' versions of the drinks are exempted in spite of the high levels of high fructose corn syrup.  I rather agree with the disgust for measures that treat consumers as incapable infants.  On the other hand, as the article says I applaud other efforts to control contaminants in our foods and hate the fact that the various agencies tasked with factory food inspections and other regulatory functions are woefully underfunded and undermanned.  I grow a good many of my own herbs and dry them.  I am often amazed when I find (infrequently, thank goodness) a sprig of herb that has a caterpillar or spider or piece of decaying leaf matter or dirt I missed on my first rinse and inspection.  That is on my own very small scale and slow paced operation.  I dread to think of what commercial producers miss in their very large scale and fast moving production lines.  On the one hand I don't much like government (at any level) telling me what I can and cannot buy.  On the other I don't much like how low are the standards governments set.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Good day to everyone out there.  Looks like a cool but sunny Friday coming up.  We didn't get much of the rain the weather people predicted so I have to water plants today.  I did take the day off yesterday.  But I hope to get a couple of things done later--we'll see.

Well, this had to come.  The producer of the 'finely textured beef' (a.k.a., pink slime) has filed a defamation suit against ABC, Diane Sawyer, and others over their coverage of the 'product.'  I hope this lawsuit goes the way of the one beef producers filed against Oprah Winfrey some years ago.  She won.  My problem was never with the company's right to make and sell it.  I didn't like the fact that they said 'trust us. It's safe.' And then relied on the FDA's approval of their process to make the case.  Point number one--In this matter, I think we should follow Reagan's famous quip: trust but verify.  Show me verifiable evidence.  And don't rely on the FDA whose approval cuts not ice in this quarter.  Furthermore, label the stuff so that consumers can make the choice themselves over whether to consume the product.  If the only way a company (are you listening, Monsanto?) can make and sell a product is to not tell consumers what they are getting, it deserves to go out of business and I don't care how many jobs are at stake.

I found this ahramonline opinion piece that makes a number of points I have been thinking in regard to the 'Innocence of Islam' fracas.  I have been wondering who benefits and to what end since it all began.  The evidence may be circumstantial but people have been convicted of murder on less circumstantial evidence.  This is a long piece and I admit I haven't read all of it.  But I certainly can see where the author comes from.

Just found this on Deutsche Welle.  Evidently the animosity over that stupid little film has bled over to any Western country.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Good day to you all on a cloudy Thursday.  The weather people say we will have cooler temps and rain today.  Instead of the 80s we will have 70s and a couple in the 60s.  I didn't do much yesterday in the garden: harvested a handful of peppers, trimmed back the oregano, installed the last shepherd's hook, and transplanted my lavender and sage into their winter positions.  I plan to take today off.

Evidently the mysteries concerning that incendiary 'film' grow.  I noted yesterday that the accounts of what happened were confusing and today that is even more so.  By last night's news, ABC national news reported that they tried to find the 'writer and director' but found nothing beyond the name.  Who the person is no one really knows.  I wonder who was interviewed (by phone) by NPR?  ABC couldn't find him.  The ABC reporter also tried to get some details about the supposed showing of the film which according to 'accounts' were 'sparsely attended' and found nothing--no documentation, no advertising.  They did track down some of the actors who said they thought they were working on a film about 'desert warriors' (original title: Desert Warrior) of two thousand years ago and nothing was mentioned about Mohammad.  And the dialog was changed and dubbed over the actors voices for the final cut.  And  there is no evidence for the full length film beyond the YouTube 'trailers.'  This ABC news story covers the story. Our assessment--the U.S. was set up.  The question now is--by whom?  And to what end?  Al Jazeera also has a good account.  I found it with a link in one of the stories about the spreading violence.  And here is the BBC's latest coverage.

Then there is the mystery of where all the money raised for charities goes.  This article might reveal some uncomfortable truths about the big business of charity.  I remember consumer advocated advising potential donors to look up stats on the charities to make sure they were legitimate and that most of the money raised went to charitable activities.  Haven't seen that lately.  But now it seems donors have to make sure that the channels through which they donate passes the money on to the charity.  Where do we get that info.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Good morning, Everyone.  Supposed to be in the high 80s with sun today.  The rest of the week through the weekend won't get out of the 70s which is fine with me.  I did get busy in the gardens yesterday.  Harvested and dried patchouli, tarragon, and stevia.  I pulled the tarragon plant and the savory.  I won't be planting those next year we don't use enough of them to devote the space to them.  I have begun moving the hardy plants into their winter positions starting with the pineapple sage and the tansy.  I found out when I moved the tansy that putting the plant in a smaller container in the bed would contain it.  Only if I don't put any drain holes in the containment pot.  I found little roots coming out of the small holes I put in with an ice pick.  I will just have to keep after the plants to prevent them from taking over.  My oregano and mints need to be cut and dried and all my cuttings should be transplanted soon.  Well, the cooler weather coming should be good for doing that work.

The news this morning carried accounts of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the murder of the U.S. Ambassador.  We saw pieces on both ABC morning news (local), ABC Good Morning, America, and CNN.  And I read this piece on Al Jazeera as well.  The only facts the accounts agree on is that the Ambassador is dead and that some film supposedly made in the U.S. has sparked the violence.  From all the accounts, except CNN's, one would get the impression that the mere fact that the film portrayed the Prophet Mohammad was enough to set off the crowds.  But the CNN account hints at something more, something definitely insulting:  a portrayal of the Prophet as a womanizer, pedophile, and homosexual.  I wonder how Christians would feel if Christ were so portrayed.  I noticed that the Al Jazeera account identifies the film's maker as an Israeli, who has now gone into hiding, while a 'violently anti-Muslim Christian' backer was distributing and showing the film.  The Israeli connection is interesting.

NPR posted this on the issue--a piece derived from a phone interview with the film maker.  My opinion--he is a piece of shit who deliberately produced an inflammatory bit of propaganda knowing the kind of reaction it would elicit.  I consider him a self-confessed murderer who unfortunately can't be prosecuted.  He is as guilty as the asshole who yells 'fire!' in a crowded theater and wonders why someone gets trampled to death.  By the way, he isn't (as he claims) 'fighting with ideas.'  He is spewing out ad hominem attacks--attacks on a person not on his ideas.

This NBC article on it is also interesting.  I wonder how many plots within plots are circulating about this pathetic little piece of political crap.  An obscure 2011 film gains sudden notariety after being dubbed into Egyptian Arabic for use by militant Egyptians for use against the Coptic minority in Egypt.  How many devious people are using it for what purposes?

This is interesting because our media is still reporting that GoDaddy was brought down by a denial of service attack possibly orchestrated by Anonymous (who has denied involvement).  The company says its problems were purely internal and technical not the result of hacking.

This sounds so familiar.  Damn, why can't we drive a stake into these vampires!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Good Tuesday, Everyone.  Looks like we will have sun again and slightly warmer temps--somewhere in the low 80s.  Thanks, Kay.  The gardens really are doing pretty well.  I think my dissatisfaction with the gardens is more related to my own energy (or lack) than how the plants are doing.  As the old saying goes my 'get up and go has got up and gone.'  Oh, yeah--Kunstler is good and writes so much more sense than so many in our lamestream media.  And the prices are really baffling--at least the gas prices.  We have gotten used to (if not at all happy about) rising grocery prices.  But we just finished the holiday and summer driving 'season,' the gulf was quiet now that Isaac was gone, and the recent fires/explosions at three refineries long enough past that the price increases already in place so why a sudden $.25-.30 increase?  Overnight?

We have already shifted away from the morning news.  More than half of the content isn't really news--the Chicago teachers' strike continues and the sound bites haven't changed, 9/11 memorials which I am ignoring, the presidential contest continues--so why waste our time.  Besides, they don't provide the information we really want--like why the gas has gone up so much.

I have thought for some time now that our economy is a bundle of 'Catch 22' conditions that no one can control; but, of course, no central banker or politician (read presidential candidate) dares express that notion.  One of the stories on the broadcast 'news' this morning concerned the 'drop' in consumer debt (read credit card debt) which indicates a drop in consumer demand--at a time when everyone says we need more demand to spur the economy.  But all the experts also say we all have too much debt at all levels--individual, company, and governmental (local, state, and national.)  How in the world do you lower consumer debt without lowering consumer demand in an economy where incomes have stagnated and jobs are disappearing?  This little article gives some flavor of the same kind of problem.  All of the 'solutions' the central bankers continue to rely on simply aren't working as they have in the past or as theory says they should.  Hey, fellas, think it might be time to think outside the old box?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Good day to you all on this (probably sunny--it is still early) cool Monday.  I did get my cabbage and kale plants in the large containers yesterday.  They seem to be settling in well.  I put hot caps over them--more to protect them from possible rain than anything else.  I have some more plants to move and some cuttings to put into permanent pots.  We'll see what I get done.

I didn't see much I wanted to comment on yesterday.  The politics and economics are still what they have been for so long--a total mess.

The pictures with this article stunned me though the statistics didn't.  I told Mom over coffee this morning that I am hoping for a record setting snow pack this year and a cool spring.  Unusual for me--I don't really like snow.  Anyone else noticing how much more frequently the terms 'global warming' or 'climate change' have crept into the lamestream media this year?  Day late and dollar short.

Another good commentary from James Kunstler.  I have thought for some time that our two party system is pretty much obsolete.  Actually, it isn't necessarily the system that is obsolete but rather the parties themselves.  Neither party has any real answers for our problems.  All they are concerned with is perpetuating their power.

We just came back from doing our errands and got a very nasty surprise.  We drove by several gas stations with prices of $3.88-3.89 per gallon.  We decided to stop at the station we normally patronize but were shocked to find the price has just bumped up to $4.10.  We scratched our heads and decided to wait a few days.  I thought the price was supposed to go down.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hi, Everybody.   Beautifully cool and sunny this morning.  We have already done some cleaning and are now taking a break.  I want to bring my variegated marjoram and rosemary inside now.  The temperature last night went down to mid-50s and they expect lower over the next week.  I haven't found pots I like to put them in over the winter.  I have some peppers to harvest and am kicking myself because I left about six of them too long.  It has been a strange year for the gardens and a strangely unsatisfying one.  On that last, I am not sure why I feel so dissatisfied.  I got a surprisingly good yield out of my tiny patches.  I will have to think about that a bit.  Let's see what is on the 'net.

NBC News posted this assessment of the employment situation this morning.  It is surprisingly accurate and John Schoen says something that few economic reporters (and no politicians) will say out loud: the government can't control job growth no matter who is in the White House.  And I suspect that even if   the economy picks up we will be talking about another 'jobless recovery.'  I don't really expect any real recovery any times soon.  The number crunchers may give us good news but the numbers won't really mean much.  Note that the job creation numbers for the last two months were revised down by 41k.  Also take a look at the number of manufacturing jobs, government jobs, and temporary jobs lost.  Does anyone besides me remember earlier this year when all the pundits were ecstatic over the increasing numbers of temporary jobs because, they assured us, that meant that employers would soon have to hire permanent, full time workers?  Didn't happen.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hope you all are having a nice Friday.  We expect rain today so we will continue our house cleaning.  We have to take a trunkful of useful (for someone else) items to Goodwill and will do our grocery shopping today since the rain will keep our doors and windows closed.  Mom wants to scrub down the front doors inside and out--but not if it is raining.

I didn't find much of interest on the internet--in between our serious cleaning and rearrangement of the kitchen.  Let's see what I find today.

I agree, Kay.  Things do seem to be increasingly crazy--politically, socially, economically.  I only hope Todd Akin has committed political suicide.  Unfortunately, I seem to remember that he has recently received some help from Mike Huckabee who has described the contest in Missouri in almost apocalyptic and definitely Biblical terms.  I wish those invertebrates would crawl back under their rocks and leave the rest of us alone.

I love the term 'gottcha economy.'  I think it describes what we have and it is not what we deserve.  If there isn't a special place in hell for people like this and this, there should be.  These people (and the Mitt Romney's of the world) are the ones with the real sense of entitlement--not those of us who expect promises made to us over our lifetimes should be honored.

Yesterday I read a very accurate description of Romney--'ambitious sociopath only interested in his own benefit.'  If I find the blog I will provide a link.  This Rolling Stone article supports that assessment.  Does Romney have any real achievements?  Besides amassing a whole lot of money he wouldn't have had without government bailouts?

Well, I guess we know where some of the oil went that mysteriously disappeared after the BP Deepwater Horizon spill.

Having just taken a trunk load of 'stuff' to Goodwill, I can definitely relate to Charles Hugh Smith's post today.  We aren't interested in acquiring more stuff.  We have been in de-acquisition mode for the last 12 years.  Both of us shed a lot of stuff when we moved in together.  As time has gone on we have reassessed what we have (will we use it, how soon, how often, does it do what we want it to do) and getting rid of what no longer suits our life.  We have acquired some new stuff--dehydrator, a water bath canner, a large stock pot, TV, blu-ray player, convection/microwave.  Things we use almost daily or at least seasonally.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Good Wednesday to you all.  Cloudy today after a night of thunderstorms and heavy rain.  Yesterday was hot.  We touched 90 again.  I think the weather people said we need only one more such day to tie the record for the most 90s in a year.  We may get that today.  We are busy house cleaning and rearranging.  We took Kuma to the vet yesterday afternoon.  He went nicely and quietly like the gentleman he has always been.  Now on to other things before I start bawling---again.

Gene Logsdon at The Contrary Farmer has some interesting things to say about a growing problem in agriculture.  No, it's not the drought.  Rather it is herbicide resistant (especially Round Up resistant) weeds, especially pig weed.  I don't know why otherwise smart scientist don't understand that plants are as adaptable as insect or animal pests.

My first thought reading this Nick Turse piese in Tomdispatch was:  have these boys learned nothing from VietNam????  And, IM(not so)HO, we have accomplished about as much in Afghanistan and Iraq as we did in VietNam

So Todd Akin thinks women's bodies have a way of shutting down a pregnancy if the rape is 'legitimate?'  No further comment necessary except to say at least one rapist got what he deserved.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Good Tuesday, everyone.  We have clouds and rain today.  Not much, therefore, to do in the gardens.  We do have our errands to run.  Let's see what I find on the 'net.

I saw this story on the news last night.  I wondered, with my usual skepticism, on what criteria the study would be comparing 'organic' to non-organic foods.  The headlines give the impression that scientists have 'proven' that there is no difference between them and certainly none that justifies the extra cost of organics.  My skepticism was well justified.  The study indicates that there is no difference between organic and non-organic when simple nutrition is considered.  They provide the same level of nutrients.  However, I have to question that.  I have seen reports that the vegetable varieties most commonly planted commercially today, selected for a number of traits none of which involved nutritional value, don't provide the same level of nutrients that older varieties provided.  I noticed the picture with the article showed an heirloom tomato in a Whole Foods store.  I suspect that the heirloom varieties would definitely show a higher level of nutrients as well as a much better flavor (also a trait not high on the selection list for commercial varieties.)  But the stories did indicate, well buried in the body of the report, that organics usually beat non-organically grown foods with respect to lower levels of pesticides and antibiotics consumers receive.  Also, this study was a 'study of studies.'  Not a new research protocol that attempted to get fresh data.  A key sentence comes about mid-way in the text and notes that many researchers did not specify exactly what defined 'organic'  for their particular research.  For us, this 'news' isn't news.  We try to buy local foods that have the least possible amounts of herbicides, pesticides, and antibiotics (or other drugs) as possible.  And we try to eliminate as many GMO products as possible.

Heather at Crooks&Liars picks up on some interesting comments from Dean Baker on the Repthuglican theme of 'are you better off now than you were four years ago.'  He is absolutely right that the question is basically meaningless.  Obama came in after the Wall Street Meltdown, after the auto industry had been put on the critical list, after Lehman Bros. imploded and AIG revealed itself to be a major threat to the entire world's financial system, and after housing took its spectacular nose dive. That happened during Bush II's tenure and did anyone else notice who wasn't at the RNC convention? And if those lazy reporters want to ask me if I am better off now than four years ago,  they probably wouldn't publish my answer.  Yes!! I am better off. But not for anything either Bush or Obama has done.  Two and a half years ago, after two years unemployed without any benefits, I went on Social Security.  That almost doubled our household income.  We went from barely scraping by and wondering what else we could cut to a bit comfortable.  And, in case any one has forgotten, the program was established during FDR's presidency and it is people like Ryan who want to 'reform' it out of existence.  And I don't really believe they won't change it for those of use who already are receiving it.  And I would rather vote for the fireman than for the party of the arsonist.

This piece by Ian Welsh, from Naked Capitalism, contains some very astute observations about the state of the economy.  Translation (though one isn't needed): we're all pretty----screwed.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Good Labor Day Monday, Everyone.  It will be warm today and tomorrow (88 and 90+) so I will leave any gardening until Wednesday.  I did check on the seedlings and cuttings in the mini-greenhouse.  They all look good.  It feels like summer and all are waring with each other for supremacy.  We have a couple of days of summer conditions followed by a couple of definitely fall-like conditions.  Kuma is still with us but all he seems to be thinking about is finding a nice dark place to hide.  We have cleared a small place he seems to be content with--at least he hasn't gone looking for another.  I put him over by his water bowl but he totally ignored it.  We look in on him every now and then to see how he is doing.

Since I am not going to be occupied outside I will do some long neglected chores inside.  Yesterday I got all but one bookshelf dusted and a bag of books ready for donating.  I have three on my chair-side shelf to read before I decide whether to keep or donate them.  I am finding a number of books that are old friends whom I have carried along with me for the last forty years but really don't want to revisit.  It is time to find them a good home elsewhere.  And I have to get back to cleaning up our storage/craft room--a chore I have let languish over the spring and summer.  And I have to spend some time with my  garden notes to bring them up-to-date.  Let's see how much I get done and how much of interest I find on the 'net today.  By the way, I am treating the DNC convention as I did the RNC--trying mightily to ignore the whole thing.

Ah!!  Capitalism at work.  Isn't it wonderful how profits can be made?  Remember the Chinese themselves described their economy as "capitalism with a Chinese face." (SARCASM ALTERT!!!)

This is an interesting development.  I have seen stories about a new station in Egypt run by women that only employs veiled women, some in niqab (full face veil) rather than the hijab as shown in the picture. But this is Egyptian state TV which was 'unofficially' prohibited from putting veiled women before the cameras.  If I find a new story on that station I will put in a link.  (Ah!  found a link.) I find it interesting how often women's religious dress becomes a political statement.  I remember the 1970s when the chador in Iran became a symbol of resistance to the Shah's regime because the state had forbidden women to wear it in government buildings and schools up through university.  The women who took up the chador weren't necessarily religiously conservative; they were, however, definitely anti-Pahlavi. On the other hand, I also remember reading an account of a politically active Egyptian woman who, returning after Nasser took over, dramatically dropped her veil in the Mediterranean--a symbol of the freedom she expected to enjoy.  The irony, of course, is that Iranian women have had no choice since the Shah was overthrown--they must wear the chador or face persecution by the religious police.  I hope Egyptian women will fare better with their revolution.  Right now the results are mixed and chaotic.

We have seen some (little!!) coverage of the possible consequences of the drought over here.  Mainly on the escalating food prices.  Al Jazeera asks a very good related question: how much of the higher prices are the result of speculation.

Well, someone is finally asking a serious question about all of the digital stuff we buy--who gets it when we die?  We buy virtual things now-a-days.  Things that are intangible.  But unlike all of the tangible things we accumulate, which may go to someone of our choosing before or after death, the virtual 'things' are another matter.  Do we actually 'own' something; or, are we merely 'renting?'

Kunstler has a really good rant this morning on Clusterfuck Nation.  I have thought for sometime that both parties were in a fantasy bubble just hoping that nobody had a pin.  That is why, though I will vote in the fall, I don't have any hope that real change will come.  If you remember, I voted for Obama but not with any enthusiasm--rather with a very skeptical notion that not much would change but he and Biden were the least obnoxious candidates.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Good day to you all on this first day of September.  The year is now two-thirds over.  Where has the time gone?  It seems like only a day ago or so that I was starting the seeds for the garden.  Now I am planning what plants to take out, which ones to move where for the coming winter, and where to put the cabbage and kale for the fall.  We had a bit of rain last night as the leading edges of Isaac moved in. That is the pattern for the entire weekend.  All of the cuttings and seedlings are doing well.  Indoor work and errands today.

I can now wish you a good second day of September.  I didn't find anything to comment on yesterday and my attention has been focused for the last week on Kuma.  Most of you may remember that he is the last of the three cats I brought here with me.  Two years ago the oldest two died at age 19 (they were litter mates).  Kuma, now 17, has been declining for the last several months and the decline has accelerated over the last weeks.  We have had a couple of discussions about whether to take him to the vet to be put to sleep; but, so far, have decided against it.  He hasn't eaten since sometime yesterday.  And I found him wedged back into a narrow space between the planters.  I don't know if he didn't want to get out or simply didn't have the strength to get out.  Same thing this morning.  We found him in the space between the fridge and wall tangled up in the mop and broom.  How long he had been there we don't know. He got in there sometime overnight.  Now we think that, if he makes it to Tuesday, it is time to say good-bye.

We will spend another day inside thanks to the remains of Isaac.  We are getting some much needed rain.  But throughout this hurricane I have had some dismal thoughts about our infrastructure.  When the news reporters were telling us that the rebuilt levees around New Orleans had held at the same time nearby communities were flooded, I wondered if there was a connection.  After all, the water has to go somewhere.  Then the authorities called a mandatory evacuation not because of Isaac but because a dam might break.  Now, this morning, they are evacuating because a weak lock might fail.  I wonder if the governments involved will scrape up the money to bring the levees outside New Orleans, the dam, and the lock up to some condition that will protect the residents.  My guess--once the news focus is elsewhere they will quietly ignore the problems.

As if we needed another drought-related housing problem!!  I have some questions that aren't answered in the article.  Given how expensive the repairs are how are people paying for them?  Do they have good enough credit scores to get loans and are banks giving such loans?  Do the homeowners have a mortgage and are they underwater?  What happens if they can't afford the repairs?

I love Susie Madrak's commentaries on Crooks&Liars.  She has another good one and a nice quote from Matt Taibbi that sums up one of my reasons for not supporting the Mitt & Paul show the Repthuglicans have put on.  She is absolutely right in her comments about the root cause of our economic woes.  All of us who grew up in a society that indoctrinated us into the cult of 'more is always better,'  'cheap is good,' and 'unlimited growth is normal,' have contributed to the problem.  Some of us have begun to break the mental shackles that keep this fantasy going.  Unfortunately,  they aren't in the Repthuglican party.  All those boys (and girls) promise is to restore those fantasies.

And then there is this piece from Crooks&Liars that is a hilarious 'biopic' on Mitt Romney narrated by Leonard Nimoy.  My own take--Mr. Spock is far more coherent that Dirty Harry.  And, frankly, more trustworthy.

I notice that the local morning news today reported a story I saw on my computer yesterday.  Deutsche Welle has the same story here.  Mom and I had the same reaction: only took you bastards fifty years--too little, way too late.  I really believe that the thalidomide story is a major argument against fast tracking drug approvals.  Yes, I know the other side.  How many people suffer from conditions that a developmental drug might relieve if only the damned FDA would get off its ass, etc., etc.  But the only reason the U.S. didn't have more children suffer from birth defects thanks to thalidomide was because the FDA hadn't approved it.