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.

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