Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Good Wednesday, Everyone.  Happy Halloween, Samhain, Dia de Los Muertos, etc.  Thankfully, the wind has died down and we spend a quiet night.  I don't think it caused any damage.  Just a bit unsettling, however.  I will go out a bit later when we have more light to see how the plants are doing but from the door (or upstairs window) I can see the tansy, mints, pineapple sage, cabbage, kale and mums.  They are all fine--at least from a distance.  Given what I am seeing on the news from the east coast--we are grateful that all we got was the wind on the very far edge.

Let's see what is on the 'net.

A thought after listening to some of the commentary on the TV concerning the preparedness of various governments (New Jersey, New York, NYC) to handle another storm like Sandy.  It reminds me of some of the discussions after 9/11 spearheaded by or former Vice President Dick Chaney.  He and his friends insisted that we had to prepare 100% for potential terrorist attacks even if those events had only a 1% or less chance of happening.  I thought that was a stupid proposal.  We lost about 3000 people in those attack--not trivial by any means but compared to a population of 300,000,000?  We shoved so much money into 'homeland' security that little towns away from any conceivable targets got armored personnel carriers, heavily armored and armed swat teams, and god only knows what all.  Was that well spent.  The news said that the New York Stock Exchange was last closed for one day in the mid 1980s and the last closure for two consecutive days was 1888.  Three days in the last 130 years.  I looked at the Wikipedia listing for the hurricane history of New York and found only 4 in the last 12 years that caused anything from heavy and widespread flooding in New York City itself.  The question that no one taxed VP Chaney with is how much preparedness is economically sensible.  We are economic beings and make such choices all the time.  Most sensible human beings will prepare for a mid-range of possibilities because that gives the most good for the investment.  I noticed a few of the pundits are asking now if perhaps we should prepare for a 'new' climatic and weather normal.  Maybe.  But anyone want to define what that 'new normal' is?  About five years ago we had such a cold summer that my tomatoes produced very little.  I seriously thought about buying some seeds for the ultra cool and short season tomatoes I saw in a catalog.  I didn't and, until this year, the traditional warm season varieties did very well.  This year it was so hot for so long that nothing was happy especially the tomatoes.  So which is normal?  I have no F$$$$$ idea.

And then there is this.  A short while back, our Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta, warned of a potential 'cyber Pearl Harbor.'  But getting any action appears unlikely any time soon.

The reports on CNBC say that the death toll (so far) from Sandy is 61.  That puts Sandy on top of the list of East Coast storms by number of casualties--just ahead of the 1938 monster storm which killed 60.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Good morning, All.  We have had very strong winds overnight.  I woke about 3am thanks to a heavy blast and couldn't get back to sleep.  I finally gave it up and got out of bed a little after 4.  I figure I can cat nap later.  Nothing on our patio has been affected.  I put a lot of my empty pots on the lower shelves of the mini-greenhouse so it had some weight to hold it.  And I put the hose reel right up against the front.  But the fence has done very nicely against an almost straight north wind.  Indiana Toll Road is closed to semis with the long double or triple trailers and to high profile vehicles.  The weather people are talking about 20-30ft waves on the lake.  They said that areas in eastern Indiana had sleet and snow.  Our temps will be too high for much of that.

We now have some light outside.  As I thought the patio is in good shape but we did see a strange sight.  Our heavy mat which usually rests in front of the door now is 3ft away under the stacked patio chairs as though we had set it there.  Trees that yesterday still had leaves have been stripped bare.  I decided Sunday that I wouldn't put our trash tote out because we didn't have much in it.  We don't generate a lot of trash.  Now, looking at the street in front and all of the totes upended by the winds (many of which were very full) I am glad.  I have no desire to chase our wheeled tote down the street.

The chairs just went flying.  I rushed out to shove them under the table on their sides.  The only thing keeping the table in its place is the planter set on it.  I took the opportunity to pick up a couple of items I really didn't want to sail away in the wind.  The picture of that tanker beached by the storm on the NJ coast simply amazes me.  Actually I am stunned by most of the pictures.  I moved the planter to the center of the table but was totally surprised when one of the gusts almost picked up the greenhouse.  We expect more wind through tomorrow.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Howdy, All.  The weather talk is all about Sandy which might become a real menace.  Sometime over Monday into Tuesday it should join with the system that has brought cooler temperatures, clouds, and a bit of rain here to become a real nasty.  Thankfully, most of the governments and utility companies are taking the situation seriously.  It was chilly last night and I almost got up and got my afghan.  The forecast is for cool enough that I got it back on the foot of my bed this morning.

Another Monday after a Sunday when I didn't see much to comment on.  I should note that doesn't mean I didn't read anything.  Sundays are usually light on the internet but my alerts always find things of interest.  Most, however, I have commented on before and have nothing new to say.  The news today is dominated by Superstorm Sandy.  Actually, Sandy has commanded the attention of the news for the last three days.  We are expecting high winds that may push lake waters on shore causing flooding.  We are on high enough ground far enough from the lake that flooding doesn't worry us.  High winds though are a bit more concerning.  Thankfully, we don't have much out on the patio that can be carried off or damaged.  I might bring in the bird feeders tonight even though they have been fairly well protected inside our fence.  We'll see.

I brought in the last harvest of stevia and pulled the plants yesterday.  Six trays in the dehydrator.  Everything else still in the gardens look fairly good.  I was surprised to see some nice healthy new growth on the roses.  This has been a very nasty year for them.  I was thinking of simply taking them out.  Now, depending on how they survive the winter, I may simply move them into their own smaller pots.  The blueberries are also showing stress from the extreme heat of the summer and, for the last three weeks, cold and wet weather.  I may change their positions next spring.

For those following the fungal meningitis story, NBC reports that a second compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts has been closed by health officials for unsanitary conditions.

I take the polling data with a large dose of salt.  It doesn't matter who is ahead in which poll, I simply don't believe they are all that accurate.  My skepticism, it seems, is well founded.  The pollsters are having a hard time getting responses from today's voters.  Part of the problem involves the increasing numbers of voters who use cellphones exclusively.  Part of the problem also involves voters who simply refuse to answer the poll questions.

We just got back from our weekly shopping trip.  The wind is wicked already though we do have nice bright sun.

HuffingtonPost reminds us, with Hurricane Sandy looming, of one of Romney's policies that might be counterproductive should he be elected President: dissolving FEMA (and other emergency services) and sending the money back to the states or, even better in our predatory capitalists, to the private sector.

Jasmine Tea and Jiaozi has a post that sounds all to familiar over here.  Unfortunately, when "labor" becomes an abstract concept divorced from the individuals who provide it and when the individuals become replaceable cogs in the economic machine easily changed out without thought or concern, that situation becomes much more common.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Good Saturday, Everyone.  Cloudy and cool today.  Not much going on here so we are going to be lazy.  Supper is already cooking--a big pot of beans.  We'll have that with some buttermilk cornbread.  Comfort food for the cooler weather.  According to the e-mail from the Apple Store the new battery should come sometime today.

Considering how many stories like this one I have read over the last couple of weeks, I think we should be very thankful that we do have a secret ballot in this country.  I hope the employees of the various 'businessmen' who have given similar 'warnings' get thoroughly pissed off and vote exactly in the opposite direction.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Welcome, All, on this last Friday in October.  My how this month and year have raced by.  I know, I know--I say that all too often.  The temperatures have returned to more normal--meaning about 30 lower than they have been.  We had heavy rain for at least a bit last night.  We heard it pounding just as we went to bed.  The skies are still a bit overcast.  Only twelve days till this election cycle ends.  Thank goodness!!!

I think my skepticism about any corrections the Maricopa County elections officials (led by a Republican) would make to their "mistake" on the Spanish language portion of voter IDs is very justified.  The problem isn't just limited to a "few" ID cards.  Other Spanish language media also contain the same "mistaken" date for the November election.

So John McCain won't endorse Mourdock (Repthuglican candidate for the Indiana Senate seat) until Mourdock "apologizes" for his comments on rape.  I am sure you all know what those comments were so I won't reiterate that crap.  I am glad Sen. McCain would be so easily mollified by an "apology."  I am not.  They are too easily given and are, usually, not real apologies.  Just look at all of the "apologies" that merely apologize for the wording or for "offending" some unspecified someone--not for the sentiment expressed.  Update: I was right.  McCain is easily mollified.  Although I will give Mourdock credit for some backbone, I don't care to be ruled by his values and I don't want those values controlling my options.  Perhaps life created in rape is a "gift" from his god--but his god isn't mine.  Maha expresses my opinion perfectly.   Bennett at Time Goes By also expresses the outrage we should all be feeling at these Christianist assholes who think with some organ other than their brain.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hello, All.  Another day of warmer than normal temperatures but fall comes back with a vengeance starting tomorrow.  After a frustrating day with the computer yesterday everything is almost back to normal.  Suddenly my little MacBook decided to act up.  It froze and I couldn't get out of the program or site.  Or the cursor would act erratically.  I was afraid the whole thing was going out and I really did not want to even think about a new one.  After a whole lot of fumbling with trying to shut down and restart accompanied with much loud swearing and screaming I did what I should have done earlier on--used my nook to go on line and search out information on the problem.  Well, the problem seems to be easily and, relatively, cheaply remedied.  The battery was going out and swelling when it heated up--which explained why everything worked well from early morning to mid afternoon when the battery heated up.  The swollen battery put pressure on the track pad which prevented it from working properly.  So until the new battery arrives in the next couple or three days I am operating without a battery.

However, I was reminded, in spades, of how dependent I am on my electronic devices.  If I can't get my daily fix on the computer I am totally out of sorts for the day.  And I feel somewhat cut off from the world.  Long ago we stopped taking newspapers--they are mostly advertising and contain almost as little news as the broadcast news programs.  We get so much more information on line.  During my daily sessions I generally visit NBC, Al Jazeera, Deutche Weile, NHK, Asahi Shimbun, and a Greek English language news site.  And we usually spend about an hour or two watching to the BBC.

Here is another item for the "Dirty Tricks" file.  So far we have seen official letters sent out in Arizona and Ohio with 'mistaken' information for the election date.  Now we have some asshole sending out fake letters to voters in Florida questioning the recipient's eligibility to vote.  And the letters were sent from Seattle.

The local (Chicago) news this morning told viewers they should stock up on beef now while supplies are plentiful and prices moderate.  They have, finally, noticed that the drought forced a lot of cattlemen to send their stocks to slaughter early and the future supplies are expected to be tighter and more expensive.   We are as stocked up as can be given our limited space but not because of economics.  We like to have enough supplies to last at least a week with a bit to spare--in case we get a stretch of bad weather that keeps us housebound.  We have seen all too many of such incidents (elsewhere admittedly) over the last few years.

I read parts of this article to Mom and suggested that it might be a good idea of retire to this little Greek island where 'People Forget to Die.'

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Good Wednesday to you all.  Thirteen days till we get a break from the intense electioneering we have endured for the last two+ years.  We may get early sun today which would be a nice change.  Our fall weather feels like a mirror image of the spring conditions.  I wish we had receive part of the rain we have had over the last two weeks about two months ago.  My blueberry bushes aren't happy--too wet.  They are showing some distress.  I hope the buds I see on the stems bode well for the spring.  The roses aren't happy either but they haven't been all year.  I will take them out in the spring.  They haven't thrived no matter what I have done for them.

The South Bend Tribune published this article on a story I saw yesterday.  Western states have been dissatisfied for years over the amount of land within their borders that are under Federal control.  What struck me is the phrasing in this article: 'take back control' of the land.  Somebody doesn't know much history.  That land was never under state control to begin with.  It came into the U.S. before the states were formed.  I find it absolutely fascinating how the Republicans are all 'state's rights' till they aren't.

Another item for the 'Why industries (and companies) can't police themselves' file.  Unfortunately, all too often the profits gained from slip-shod practices, corner cutting, and haste outweigh the losses from a break down of safety.  In this case the losses include twenty-odd lives lost and about 300+ cases of serious illness.

From Crooks&Liars--first Arizona officials sent out bi-lingual information cards with the wrong date for the election in the Spanish action and now an Ohio GOP election board sent out mailings with the same "mistake"on the date and an additional "mistake" on the location of the polling places.  These "mistakes" raise my skepticism antennae.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Good Tuesday, All.  We did not watch the debate.  I am really tired of the whole mess.  "Undecided" is definitely not a word that describes us.  We decided after we saw the Repthuglican field.  None of them offered us any reason to vote for them and all too many reasons to vote against them.  I will see what the internet sites have on the debate.  However, I think Obama won with one comment the news showed this morning countering Romney's argument that our Navy is smaller than it was in 1917.  Obama noted that we also have fewer horses and bayonets also because the nature of the military has changed.  I sat there after the quip thinking about the various changes and listed several in my mind (decline of the battleship, rise of the submarine, rise of the aircraft carrier, and the reliance on nuclear missiles) before the subsequent commercial was over.  It left me with the impression that Romney is a damned good parrot--he accepts and repeats nice tidbits of information from his advisors without reflecting on them.  I am not voting for parrot in chief any more than chameleon in chief.

I saw something interesting on the Nightly Business Report (on our public TV station).  I noticed that many of the economic pundits have puzzled over the disappearance of the so-called retail investor--the small individual investor.  Some of the remarks have been absolutely disparaging of the small investors claiming they lack the stomach to stick out the downs of the markets while showing an undue enthusiasm for the ups.  One of the latest themes is that such investors got badly burned in the market bubbles over the last fifteen years and are now very shy about jumping back in.  But last night's commentator had a bit different take: if the small investor is shy about the markets, perhaps they have good reason.  He cited figures that show 20% of the CFOs of top companies confess that they 'cook' their books and engage in accounting manipulations that, though legal, also make it very difficult to accurately evaluate the company.  In such an opaque environment how can anyone make an intelligent decision to invest.

Tom Englehardt has a good take on Election 2012.  If American Politics has been 'super-sized' and is now suffering from obesity, I am suffering from indigestion.  We have a very old saying: we have the best politicians money can buy.  Well the neither part of that is true any more.  We don't have the best politicians and they can no longer be bought--only rented, and not for a very long term.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Good day, All.  Hope your weekend is going well.  Ours is nice and quiet.  Nothing going on weather-wise or in the gardens.  I have been thinking for a bit that I really should sit down and evaluate how the gardens did this year.  I have done some of that but not pulled everything together to get a coherent picture of the season.  It is so easy to be lazy.

We are celebrating!!  I just caught a movement out of the corner of my eye and looked out on the patio to see a couple of little birds landing on one of the bird feeders.  I was wondering if they would ever find it.  We plan to put up a couple of suet feeders when the weather gets colder.

As you can see I really didn't find much to comment on over the weekend.  We'll see what I find today.  We may watch the third debate but aren't enthusiastic about it.  We really haven't been enthusiastic about any of them.  I just wonder how simple-minded and limited the questions will be and how much verbiage the candidates will use to not answer them.

A story that hit the news last night and this morning has me scratching my head in perplexity.  Some conducted a 'man on the street' series of interviews asking whether Ann Romney or Michelle Obama won the 'First Ladies' Debate.'  I wonder how many of the respondents asked the interviewer whether there was such a debate--there wasn't.  The ones they showed tried to bluff their way through by choosing one or the other on some superficial ground (they liked the personality or look of their choice.)  How closely are these people following the election?  Is is just background noise with no significance?  Are they ashamed to admit they hadn't been paying attention?

I found this post on Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism which seeks to understand why so many people decided to buy overpriced homes with toxic mortgages.  Simple answer: they followed the advice of self-help gurus often bankrolled by the mortgage industry.  Unfortunately, the situation doesn't end with  real estate.  How many who now are drowning under student loans sold to them with similar arguments?  And that is worse because the purveyors of that particular poison were trusted academic and career 'advisors' employed by school departments, colleges, universities, etc.  I just love the current notion that the poor bankers who peddled these loans to anyone with a pulse simply made mistakes while those of use who got the loans are feckless, immoral assholes out to game the system.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hello, again, on another wet morning.  It has been nice to get several days of rain--the kind we needed two months ago.  Only 18 days to normality--defined as airwaves clear of political ads.

Over this last week the mainstream media has made a big deal of Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta's warnings about a "Pearl Harbor" in cyberspace.  Actually, the media is, as usual, Johnny-come-lately to the issue.  I have been reading about the possibility since before the publicity broke over Stuxnet hitting the Iranian nuclear installations months ago.   Panetta urgently wants funds to beef up the military's cyberwar capacities--purely defensive of course. (sarcasm alert)  This article gives some indication of why I am skeptical.  I don't know which is more threatening.  Who do you fear the most--cyber criminals, government snoops, or corporate vultures?  Think carefully on that as you read this article.

Leigh at Five Acres & A Dream provided us with a good chuckle today.  If Riley is anything like any of the various cats who have, from time to time, owned me, I doubt that any human made rules will make any impression.

Here is another piece of Repthuglican crap, dished by Ann this time, that makes me shake my head in disbelief.  Equating Mormon missionary service with military service with the self-serving notion that there are 'different ways of serving' is simply beyond belief.  Serving your religion is not necessarily serving you country.  The last part doesn't reflect well on Mitt.  A perfect combination of expediency and cowardice.

Continuing on the theme of Repthuglican crap--a person, self-described (on LinkedIN) as a GPS Grassroots (aka Karl Rove) field director for the RNC, threw a folder of filled our voter registration forms from Virginia into a trash box in Harrisburg, PA.  He has been arrested but no one has explained what will happen now to those people in Virginia whose registration forms weren't properly filed.

Now we shift to crap of a different kind.  First the Catholic Church (still embroiled in pedophilia cases after more than 10 years of lawsuits and new revelations) then Penn State (with Sandusky newly convicted and sentenced for molesting boys over a couple of decades) and now the Boy Scouts of America (whose 'perversion files' have been revealed by a judge's order.)  The individual charges aren't surprising.  We have always had, now have, and always will have monsters among us.  What is disturbing is the lengths to which institutions and the people in charge of them will go to cover up the problem and protect the perpetrators.

Margaret and Helen are very good at calling spades 'spades,' or, in this case liars 'liars.'  And yes the topic is Mitt Romney.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Good Thursday, All.  We had a good rain throughout the night.  Started yesterday evening with a downpour that looked like a waterfall closeup.  We may get more today along with wind and cooler temperatures.

Something for the 'Why I won't vote for Romney' file:

  • E.J. Dionne's dissection of Romney's position as presented in his two debates.
  • Dana Milbank extends Glenn Kessler's comments I linked to yesterday.
  • Eugene Robinson another excellent dissection of Romney's positions and performance.
  • John Perr's discussion of the Romney/Ryan plans for Medicare/Medicaid.
  • Karoli at Crooks&Liars writing about the recent rash of employers blackmailing their employees to vote Repthuglican to save their jobs.  A tactic Mitt encouraged.
I am getting very tired of the endless campaign.  It is easier to simply link to interesting articles rather than give more commentary on the commentary.  Nineteen days, folks.  Then we might get a bit of a respite though I don't think it will be long.  I have seen speculations already on both 2014 and 2016.  Craptastic!!!

I guess someone couldn't count in Spanish.  But wait--that can't be the problem because they didn't spell out the eight (or ocho).  No they printed the number as an Arabic numeral.  Accidentally on purpose, perhaps?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Good morning after the debate to you all.  Yes, we did watch.  I expected that each side would claim at least some victory and that expectation was fulfilled as I watched the comments.  Republicans were happy and so were Democrats.  I was surprised when the reports came in that Obama dominated on time--46 minutes to Romney's 40.  At least three times I yelled at the TV for Romney to shut up and stop trying to 'win' points by steamrolling his opponent.  George Will thought the candidates managed to push their aggression to the point of rudeness but pulled back just before crossing the line.  I though Romney crossed that line several times.

Obama did a good job of reminding the audience of who was in charge when the economy collapsed and whose policies precipitated it. I liked the question asking Romney what the differences were between himself and George W. Bush.  The differences were superficial.  I caught a hint (not sure now from whom) that Romney was more liberal on social issues.  George, if I remember rightly, tried to defund Planned Parenthood, tried to restructure Social Security into a private account program, and tried to convert Medicare to a voucher program--all policies supported by the Romney/Ryan ticket.

The answer, however, revealed that there aren't all that many differences.  The question from the woman who asked how the candidates would ensure that women got equal pay for equal work was illuminating.  Any woman who votes Republican after listening to the give and take on that one deserves to be lost in Mr. Romney's binder.  Romney would do nothing on the policy level.  For him the whole issue is private matter.  He proclaimed loudly (but not quite accurately) how he actively searched for qualified women to work in his cabinet when he was governor and then was kind enough to be flexible enough to allow talented women to adjust their working hours to their family obligations.  And that is where he thinks the effort should end.  Obama's response was a masterful explanation of how "women's" issues are really economic issues.  Romney would basically rely on the tender mercies of individual employers to be enlightened enough to make the same kind of effort he claims to have made.  That reminds me of the results of relying on the individual states and businesses to treat blacks equally.  We know how well that worked.

The Fact Checker at the Washington Post has an examination of Romney's claim that he will create 12 million new jobs in the first term if he is elected.  The claims don't hold water and provide another example of how 'math challenged' Romney really is.  Earns four 'Pinocchios' from Glenn Kessler.

Ah, well, now on to other things.

This is intriguing.  Evidently some veterans are finding sporadic anti-veteran sentiments on campus these days.  I noticed the first negative comment cited reflected a resentment at the taxpayer provided benefits--"Why should we pay for these guys to go to college?  Everybody who goes into the military is stupid--that's why they joined the military instead of going to college."  I think the economic resentment fueled the aspersions on intelligence.  The veterans have a decent chance of coming out with their degree and without the debt load most non-veteran students will face.  But I find the underlying sentiment more disturbing and infecting far more than veterans.  When the housing market, especially the sub-prime market, imploded a large number of very vocal pundits objected to any help for the threatened homeowners citing all the 'good' people who were 'responsible' about their borrowing who wouldn't get help and painting all the defaulting borrowers with the brush of fecklessness, irresponsibility, or even criminality.  We can see similar patterns throughout our (You're on your)own(ership) society.  Remember George II's phrase?

Another thought comes to my mind however: this seems very familiar.  Not the disparaging comments but something a bit deeper.  My father was a WWII veteran and used the GI Bill to go to a trade school. They paid his tuition, books and gave him a living stipend as well.  I used the GI Bill to go to college and get my first degree.  By that time the nation wasn't so grateful for veteran's services post-Vietnam.  I received a monthly stipend that was adequate only because I lived at home.  I noticed the post-9/11 benefits were more in line with the benefits my father got.  If we have that low grade resentment on campus what might it portend for the benefits the veterans will receive in the future?  Especially now that the second unnecessary, unsuccessful, and unpopular war is winding down?

I did notice yesterday that the Social Security Administration has put out the figure for next year's cost of living increase: 1.7%.  They say, of course, that inflation has been low and that a minimal raise is justified.  I say they evidently don't have to eat or fill up their gas tanks.  Mom just wondered how much of that raise (plus a bit) they will take back for Medicare.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Good day to you all on this day of the second Presidential 'debate.'  We will be watching--mainly to see if Obama wakes up.  I expect he will and I expect another triumph of style over substance.

Actually, Katrina vanden Heuvel has a slightly different take on Mitt Romney and a highly accurate one.  I agree.  Romney's campaign is deeply insulting.  He is a cipher with no ethical ballast.  He has no real fundamental philosophy.  What he has is a history of shifting positions none of them sincerely held.  He has something else as well: a hope that we will forget all of the contradictions and take him at his word; his word at the moment he utters what he thinks we want to hear.  And a hope that we will forget his word that indicates he supports something we don't want to hear or a policy that will royally screw us in the 47% he so disdains.

Interesting story this morning said a company has plans to build a plant in southern Illinois to harvest and process Asian carp.  The fish has been at the center of several legal actions between various states and Illinois over the last few years.  Michigan and other great lakes states fear the carp would invade the lakes and destroy native fish their sport fishing industries depend on.  I rather think they would also like to force Illinois to close the locks on the Illinois River because that would hit Chicago's role as a transportation hub forcing shippers to use other ports in other states--Illinois/Chicago takes a hit and they get a benefit.  However, I have often thought they should find commercial uses for the fish and exploit it as a resource--if you can't beat it, eat it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Good Monday to you all.  I will be so glad when the political silly season is over.  I was sick of the whole mishigas before the endless primary season was over.  My summation to date: it has been a clear triumph of style over substance.  But this little story reveals how little style is involved.  Thank you, Crooks&Liars, for the story.

As though we needed another reason not to vote for Mitt Romney.  Others have poked gigantic holes in his claims to be some kind of super-businessman but David Stockman dissects those claims mercilessly.  Given Stockman's Republican ties perhaps we should listen.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Good day to you on a cloudy, windy and, sporadically, rainy Sunday.  I am not complaining because we still need moisture.  The temperatures are moderate and seasonal so the tender plants still in the garden should be fine.  The mums are finally blooming--they do look pretty.

Words simply fail me on this one.  This bastard deserves considerably more punishment than he got.

I guess someone had to come up with this notion given our commercial culture.  I have been complaining for years about the 'holiday' creep' where Halloween goods appeared before the first day of school, Christmas goods before Halloween and Thanksgiving seemed to disappear entirely.  Happy OctoNovemCember, everyone.  (Bah Humbug.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Good Saturday morning to you all.  We are about mid-way through October.  Our neighbor already has some Halloween decorations up.  We don't decorate much beyond putting up seasonal door wreaths.  Right now the fall wreath is up which will be replaced sometime in December with a Christmas wreath which will be replaced in January with the winter.  I like seasonal change even if I feel, sometimes, that the seasons are turning way too fast.  I like the connection to nature in a world where we seem to try obsessively to eliminate nature.

Why in the world anyone would believe that any industry can police itself is beyond me especially with the past and present fiasco of the financial industry.  But the story keeps being repeated as you can see here.  With the number of food poisonings and recalls, one would think we would not leave anything as important as food safety to a system that is concerned with profit above all.  But then our drug safety program isn't much better given that the FDA relies on studies conducted or contracted out by the pharmaceutical industry itself to make its judgements on effectiveness and safety.

It seems the Brits have the same kind fraudsters fiddling with their stats as we do over here.  I have always been amazed at how the cost of everything we buy on a daily or weekly or monthly basis have gone up by double digits while the inflation rate only goes up in the low single digits.

I absolutely adore Margaret and Helen.  They say exactly what I have been saying for sometime:  government is not business and the bottom line is not the major consideration for government.  And there are times where maximizing the bottom line shouldn't be the major consideration for business either.  Unfortunately, no-a-days it seems that nothing matters but the numbers.  As a good Catholic Paul Ryan should know better.  But they seem to have excised the story about the rich man and the camel getting through the needle's eye.

I have seen a couple of snippets on this issue.  We have, indeed, become a surveillance state and are becoming more so as time goes on.  Why aren't we up in arms?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hope you are having a pleasant Friday.  Clear and very cool so far but seasonal.  We have forgotten what seasonal weather really is.  I got a bit more of our shed cleaned up yesterday.  It looks far more organized and tidy than it has all summer.  A few more little chores to do but only draining and disconnecting the hose before we get a real freeze is pressing.

I thought this was rather interesting.  It reminded me of the legal tussles over employee rolodexes in the pre-Internet era but amped on steroids.  But I find the co-mingling of private and professional functions troubling.  Think of the number of stories of prospective employers demanding access to applicants' Facebook or other social media accounts.

The Noble Peace Prize goes to--the European Union.  It reminds me of the award given to President Obama in the first year of his term.  The committee gave the award to Obama more in hope that his election marked a new era in U.S. foreign policy and encouragement to him to make the hope come true.  This time they hope to encourage the nations of Europe to keep the Union together.  We'll see if that hope is realized unlike the hope placed on Obama.  For a more complete analysis of the award see Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism.

Though I do skim the latest polling results I don't place much confidence on any of them.  This post should indicate why.  You can make what ever case you want from these various polls.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Good morning, all.  Frosty but clear this morning with early temps at about 40F.  Supposed to reach the mid 60s by later this afternoon.  Still cleaning up the gardens for winter.  Other not much going on there.

We won't be watching the Vice-Presidential debates.  We really can't stand the sight of Ryan.  This election cycle has been hyped out of all proportion.  And most of the issues that concern people at my level aren't addressed.  I absolutely hate this endless cycle of electioneering.  I expect that the electioneering for the 2014 and 2016 elections will start before inauguration day in 2013.

I noticed a headline at announcing Romney now has a lead in three so-called swing states.  They are all citing Romney's enthusiasm and Obama's listlessness in the first debate as key.  I find it absolutely amazing that they aren't citing Obama's comment during the debate that there wasn't much difference between his position and Romney's on Social Security.  I wonder how many Social Security recipients, like me, wonder why we should vote for either one.  Obama has tried over the last week to back track on that or to explain it away but the suspicion still lingers that we are merely a bargaining chip in budget negotiations.

I just love the comment by Kodak that 'this action will pose challenges for retirees.'  No shit!  Another defrauding workers of their earned benefits.  And make no mistake.  The health care and pensions are deferred wages people worked for under contracts to which the company agreed.  They were happy enough to agree then because the payments were somewhere far down the road and they didn't have to pay as much in wages as they might--because workers got health benefits in lieu of wages.  Now the courts are letting such companies out of those contracts--contracts most never fully funded anyway.

This bit of ego simply blows my mind.  This jerk is one of the best reasons I see for voting for Obama.

Peter van Buren at Tomdispatch poses six questions that he is absolutely sure won't be asked much less answered.  I agree--they won't be asked and, if they were, won't be answered.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Good Wednesday to all.  I am planning a lazy day today.  We had a good rain last night.  The winds caused me a bit of concern but nothing amiss in the gardens.  I won't complain because we need more rain to recharge the soil followed by a good cover of snow.  What we get--well, who can tell?  I was going to harvest the stevia but I think I will put that off till tomorrow.  The plants are still doing very well--much better than the basil and patchouli.

I am pretty much ignoring the politics--as much as possible given that the ads seem to be drowning the airwaves.  We have found the BBC channel our cable company provides as a part of our low cost package.  What a difference from our own news--little drama and few commercials.  And little of the fluff I find so annoying on our lamestream media.  Let's see what I find on the internet.

Robert Reich hits a bull's eye with his latest post.  I have said before that if I were voting for chameleon in chief I would vote for Romney.  Since I am not I am extremely cautious of his sudden conversion to moderation.

Helen at Margaret and Helen does a lovely postmortem on the Presidential debate:  Romney lied but he did it with style so he gets the win.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Good Tuesday morning, Everyone.  Nice and sunny so far with temps in the 40s.  Supposed to get into the low to mid 60s.  The weather people can't quite decide on what they think Mother Nature will give us.  If you don't like the recent report wait for the next one.  Not much to do in the gardens today.  Just a bit of clean up and tidying.  The only garden bloggers ramping up are in the southern hemisphere now.  We have a bunch of errands today that will interrupt my reading and blogging.  Let's get started.

We saw this story on the TV news.  Is anyone really surprised.  In the tit-for-tat world of international politics something like this was totally expected.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Good very cold Monday to you all.  "Very cold," of course, is a relative term.  It will get colder later but compared to what has been-it is COLD.  I really am not ready for cold weather.  I am not ready for the blank spots in my garden.  Oh well, the seasons change and our patterns have to change also.  I did put the heat on this morning when we woke.  The inside temperature was 65.  That is about our comfort limit.  And we had frost on our bedroom window and on the roofs.

I mentioned yesterday an article I had read a few days before about French honey bees producing blue and green honey.  According to this Grist article, bees have done that before.  Evidently bees aren't very discriminating--if it is sweet, they will eat it.

I just finished gathering all of the peppers and cutting down those plants.  I will leave the roots until I get things going in the spring.  Not bad--four pint baggies of the spicy (jalapeno style) peppers, one of very small bullnose, and three of lipstick.  All in the freezer now.  I dumped large pots of orange mint and peppermint--too many roots to bother trying to salvage the dirt.  Also pulled the basil (thoroughly done) and the patchouli (not as bad but it clearly did not like the cold.)  I also transplanted the spearmint cuttings into a pot for the winter (outside) but was disappointed that the lavender and sage hadn't rooted at all.  By books say sage is best propagated by splitting so I will see about that next spring.  The gardens aren't quite bare.  I still have tansy, pyrethrum, sage, lavender, variegated marjoram, oregano, pineapple sage, blueberry, roses, and mums.  See how they survive the winter.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Good day on this decidedly chilly Saturday.  The patio thermometer read 38F and the sun hasn't come up just yet so that will probably go lower.  We are going to make sure the bedroom window is fully closed and the storm/thermal window is lowered and get the plastic over it and the living room window.     Part of our yearly winter prep.  It was cool enough last night that we were both tempted to bring out the extra blankets we keep on the beds during the winters.  We brought them out this morning when we made up the beds.  (The weather person had a 34 on his map for us so the temp has gone down a bit.)  I  think I should take the remainder of the peppers and pull those plants.  I read a couple of blogs yesterday whose authors rushed to get the last of their summer plants in before their frosts--they are up in Montana and Idaho so they already have measurable snow.

Good Sunday morning, All.  Another cool morning--not as cool as yesterday.  About 45F.  We haven't turned on the heat yet.  It wouldn't do much good anyway.  We keep the winter temperatures inside at 68.  This morning the thermostat read 66.  I don't think it will get much colder overnight for at least the next week.  The patchouli isn't very happy with the cold but the cuttings inside are doing very well so far.  I did take down the hummingbird feeder--we haven't seen the lady hummingbird for about three weeks.  Nor have we seen any of the bees that used to buzz around the feeder in large numbers.  Talking about bees--I just remembered a quirky story I saw over the week (sorry but I don't have the link) which described bees suddenly and mysteriously producing bright blue and green honey.  They finally traced the source to a company that used waste colored sugars they got from a M&M plant.  Now that they have put their stock in storage areas the bees can't get into the honey has gone back to its normal color.

Just brought out my wrist warmers, gloves and knit hood/scarf.  May not need the gloves and hood yet but I know where they are and can get at them easily.  I am wearing the wrist warmers now and my ancient shawl (one I crocheted some 30+ years ago).  Haven't done that since early April.

Something else I haven't done for a while--brewed up a pot of hot tea.  That is a cold weather beverage.  We didn't do much tea over the summer.  Oddly, I preferred iced water with a splash of lemon this year.  But this first pot of hot tea is pretty good.  I used two bags of green tea with half a tablespoon each of lemon balm and spearmint with a teaspoon of stevia.  I grew all the herbs in the garden.

I followed the link Yves Smith provided to read this interesting article.  I wonder how many more independence movements the economic down turn will precipitate.  We haven't heard much about others (like the Catalonian movement in Spain) on our (s)news media.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hope you all have a nice first Friday in October.  Partly cloudy here today with temperatures starting out in the mid 40s (F) and we won't get out of the 50s.  We had a bit of rain overnight though the pavements have already dried.  If I hadn't heard the rain, I wouldn't have known.  I got four very pretty lipstick peppers and a spicy pepper in yesterday--they simply aren't ripening very fast now that the temperatures are lower and the shadows of the house put the gardens in shade.  The plants only get a bit of more intense light from the brief reflections off the white fence.  The basil is looking a bit bedraggled and thin.  I should pull it soon.

So Romney now says his '47 percent' comments were 'just plain wrong.'  That's nice; but, I would be far more impressed if he hadn't, when the video first came our, described it as 'inelegant.'  Or if his running mate hadn't doubled down in support of it.  The Chameleon strikes again.

This should be good news for both Obama and the stock markets.  It is nice that the unemployment rate has improved (from 8.2 to 7.8 percent) but the 114k jobs doesn't keep up with population.  I will be reading several economic bloggers who do a very good job of dissecting the nicely massaged government numbers.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Good Thursday, Everyone.  Cool and sunny today, so far.  We did get rain over night.  Not much, I think; but enough that I will wait to do any outside chores till it dries out a bit.  I have spent the last half hour tending to my inside plants--the bay, rosemary, lemon verbena, patchouli cuttings, oregano, and Christmas cactus.  They all seem to be doing well though I am thankful the cactus can take a bit of neglect--it was way too dry.  I think I need to transplant it soon.  We expect temps in the 50s with overnight in the 30s for the next few days.  I have to take the stevia soon--maybe tomorrow.

I set my expectations for the Presidential debate considerably lower than the news talking heads and pundits but I have to say I set them too high.  I was totally unimpressed.  It was nice to see some animation from Romney but I simply did not believe his new-found empathy.  It was so out of character for him.  And I didn't see the specificity the pundits are purring about.  He was only specific about what he said Obama's programs entailed.  And Romney's Medicare statements boiled down to the notion that Obamacare was his idea to begin with and he can do it better so we have to destroy the program to save it.  Interesting that he comes out with that after months of using Obamacare to "prove" that Obama learned socialism at Marx's knee.  On Obama's performance--'lackluster,' 'listless,' 'uninspired,' and 'unconvincing' about covers it.  I will see how the 'net dissects it.

The best dissection of the "debate," comes from Margaret and Helen.  I can't follow which iteration of Romney is showing up at any given time either.  As I said before, if I were voting for chameleon in chief, Romney would by my chosen lizard.

These guys should really read their Bibles a bit better.  'Biblical' families?  I have looked at a couple of sites where various quotes support the notion of monogamy but to say the Bible comes clearly on the side of monogamy requires either editing out other possible quotes or interpreting the passage far more strictly than normal.  As so often has been noted, one can prove (or disprove) anything by what passages you select (or don't select).

I found Miller's Money Forever by way of Casey's Research.  His comments on newspapers, candidates saying anything to get elected, government (on all levels), and political parties strikes a chord here.  If he really wants to form a Cynic's Party with a platform of "I'll believe it when I see it,'  I am ready to sign up.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hello, All, on this wet Wednesday.  We got a bit of rain last night and it is still cloudy.  But not nearly enough to really ease the dry conditions any further.  My mums look like they are finally ready to bloom.  I hope so.

I am so ready for this (choose your own expletive) election.  The airwaves are covered with competing ads simply smothering the sensibilities.  They are thoroughly annoying.  Especially one made and paid for by the Chamber of Commerce.  It shows a pathetic woman business owner demanding 'certainty' citing the terrible possibility of having to pay more taxes if Obama wins.  This message is repeated, nauseously, by the talking heads on CNBC and other such networks.  "Yo, all you little unemployed non-entities out there!! You want jobs?? Well, we can't give you jobs until we are no longer troubled by any taxes or regulations.  We must have CERTAINTY!!  And, if we don't get it, kiss you asses good bye because we won't be hiring."  My answer:  You pathetic wusses!  NOBODY has certainty.  You want something no one has ever had and are unwilling to provide to you workers.

Dana Milbank has a good op-ed piece on what he expects from tonight's Presidential debates--verbal junk food and no substance.  Harold Meyerson discusses some substantive questions he would like to see posed in the debates.  I'm not holding my breath.  I love Meyerson's description of Simpson-Bowles: 'how much pain are you willing to inflict on the American people to get a balanced budget?'

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Good morning, All.  Cool and clear again today.  The weather people predict a slight possibility of very, very light rain tonight--maybe.  I have to check the containers but, since the temperatures cooled off and the sun no longer hits the patio, I haven't had to water much.  Sometime this week I will detach the hose, drain it, and wind it back up for the winter.  I can handle what ever my outside plants need with my large watering can.  I saw a couple of lipstick peppers that are nearly ready to pick.  I doubt I will get many more.  I did notice that the forecast this morning had no low temperatures below 35.  So not much chance of frost either.

I barely caught a news snippet about northern lights appearing in northern Illinois yesterday.  The weather person said he had some pictures that he posted on his blog with the caution that the lights weren't that spectacular.  These pictures were posted on this morning.  Aurora borealis this far south is unusual.

Then there was the longer segment on another developing serious problem on America's lakes--heavy growth of toxic blue-green algae.  The story did relate the choking bloom of algae to the heavy use of agricultural chemicals.  I have been reading a number of stories like this one which casts serious doubt on the long term benefits of using GMO crops.  The problem: the generation of herbicide resistant weeds and pesticide resistant insect pests.  The major justification for developing GMO plants has been to reduce the amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer.  On that criteria the project has failed.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Good Monday and first day of October.  They say that the weather will feel like October.  Not much planned in the garden today.  Yesterday I transferred a pineapple sage to the main beds.  I had intended to keep it over winter in the house but it didn't seem very happy inside.  Other than that, I plan to continue cleaning the shed and reorganizing the gardening supplies and tools.

Well, the first Presidential debate is scheduled for Wednesday.  We will watch--though our expectations are incredibly low for the whole thing.  Evidently Mattea Kramer at tomdispatch has similar expectations.  And he is absolutely right--the most pressing matters will not be addressed with any kind of meaningful attention.  Instead our media is focused on who will present the most 'Presidential' image and who will commit the fewest gaffes or throw the best 'zingers.'