Thursday, January 31, 2013

Good wet and warm Tuesday morning, All.  Did I say warm?  Well, on the news the temperature is listed as 59F.  In January!!!  Won't last long--the temperatures tomorrow will be falling through the day and won't get out of single digits on Thursday and Friday.  They also say that the entire area is under a flood watch because of the copious amounts of rain expected.

Here we are on an equally wet though not so warm Wednesday.  The temperatures are supposed to fall from the current mid 30s to the mid 20s by late this afternoon.  The rain should shift to snow.  Let's see if I find anything worth commenting on.

Please don't try to tell me that this can't happen here.  We also have shady corporate and governmental actors whose favorite sport is evading environmental law and social/criminal responsibility.  The only difference is their language and religion.

Hope you are all having a good Thursday.  Definitely not warm today.  Temperature is 18F with wind chills are in the single digits.  We did get a bit of snow--not nearly as much as the weather people had thought.

The NY Times posted this story and I hope it is just the tip of the iceberg.  If the number of applications to law schools are dropping it means that a lot of prospective law students are considering very carefully the old means of paying for their legal education (student loans) and deciding against.  I wonder if a similar pattern shows up in graduate schools.  My quick and dirty internet search yielded contradictory results.

I have followed this story for some time.  I have read several economic analyses of China which conclude that China will get old before it becomes wealthy because of the gender and age imbalances resulting from the One Child Policy.  To that I would add--China will become a polluted wasteland before its people enjoy the prosperity industrial development promised.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Good Monday to you all.  Well, the weather people have been right--we have rain today, so far, and the temperature is in the mid 40s.  Most of the snow we had has melted but we expect more over the coming weekend when the temperatures go back into the freezer.  I did get some of my records updated for the new seed varieties and have started my calendar.  See how things go.  I have never ended up in the fall with the garden I planned in the spring.

Just took a look at the gardens.  First time in about two weeks--before the nearly a week of 0 and sub-0 weather. Right now the tansy, pyrethrum, lavender, sage, oregano and marjoram are looking a bit sickly.  We'll see how they come back.  The good new is that the strawberries look fairly good.

Oh, yeah, Leigh.  Every now and then there is something positive on the news.  However, more often we find new problems--or rather a new head on some hydra-headed problem.  Plastic manufacturers have rushed to get the BPA out of the plastic after popular protests but I just found references to a substitute for BPA that may be even more toxic.  This article also provides some information on the topic.

Here is one for the 'what government isn't telling its citizens' file.  Our media didn't really cover the Fukushima nuclear disaster well (along with the earthquake and tsunami).  Evidently our government was far more worried that they let on.  I hope the rest of the Asahi Shimbun article is posted.  I found this installment on Fire Dog Lake.

This is one reason why I have a very dismal view of our prospects of getting a handle on our national budget.  Don't you just love the notion of taxpayers footing the bill (or most of the bill) for corporate misbehavior?  And let's not forget the tab for bailing out the too-big-to-fail banks which hasn't been fully repaid no matter what the media apologists have said.

Ah, it looks like James Kunstler wasn't impressed with the second Obama Inaugural.  I rather agree with him.

For some time a running joke here is that every time sales of some food go down a new study comes out about how healthy the stuff is for you.  Or every time some nutrition study (usually a preliminary study) which indicates that this, that, or the other food isn't healthy another study will surface in a couple of months to prove the opposite.  Well, this article on Grist gives an idea of how deeply food manufacturers have infiltrated the nutrition 'industry.'  We take any nutritional advice or study with a gigantic dose of skepticism.

The Netherlands will soon lose a queen and gain a king--for the first time since 1890.  Queen Beatrix will abdicate as of April 30 and her son will become king.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Good Saturday, Everyone.  We finally got enough snow to snap the record we had been setting--days without 1in of snow on the ground.  Barely.  The next few days are going to be odd because we have the chance for more snow, rain, freezing rain with temperature possibilities rising into the low 50s. and then into the deep freeze by the end of the week.  We are postponing any decision about until we see what actually comes our way.  Most of my seed orders have come in.  I have to take a look at them all and decide what gets started when.  The hibiscus and cranberry plants and the pineapple sage are on backorder.  All of the companies I deal with have been very good and prompt.

It is good to see someone finally looking at our political/economic system and uttering some truths.  The politicians can (and do) promise anything but whether any can be kept or kept for any span of time beyond the next election is something else altogether.  And we have seen all too often how reality takes a big bite out of any plans they do come up with.

Well, it seems we may have a little trade war developing between the U.S. and Mexico over---tomatoes!  The U.S. may scrap a sixteen-year-old agreement it hasn't adequately protected U.S. tomato growers.  Of course those who sell Mexican tomatoes are crying foul and insisting that the American consumers will pay (gasp!!) higher prices if the trade agreement is scrapped.  My take--higher prices are simply the consequence if consumers want out of season veggies.  What is really at stake are profits.  I can be a bit amused by the whole mess.  We don't buy fresh tomatoes out of season very often and most of the sauce, stewed and in season  tomatoes I grow myself.

We saw this story on our morning TV news.  My first reaction was 'when will they get potassium bromate out of our flour?'  You didn't know that was in flour?  Surprise.  I found out sometime ago.  For more info check this out.

This also appeared on our morning news.  Poor babies--were they not paying attention to the drought and heatwave last year?  We watched as eggs from a couple of our favorite egg producers disappeared as they lost tens of thousands of birds.  And we knew very well that the eggs were only the most obvious part of the situation.  Here is another link on the topic.  This one says that next year prices will be more 'normal;' but I say only if the temperatures and moisture are more normal.  And I ain't taking any bets on that either way.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Good cold and snowy Thursday to you all.  We may finally break the snowless streak today and tomorrow.  One thing about this cold snap--I will see exactly how hardy the plants I left on the patio really are.  We live in the upper hardiness zone 5 and everything out there is hardy to at least that level with many suited to level 3.  I got another seed order in the mail--the one from Totally Tomatoes for the small patio pepper and patio tomato.  The said the cranberry plant is backordered.  So far they have been very good and easy to deal with.  Burpee and Shumway sent e-mails to tell me those orders have been shipped.  Totally Tomatoes sent a couple of interesting samples as gifts.  I may try the purple cayenne.

Hey, Lois.  Good to see your comment.  We have cut back drastically on watching news on TV and have, at the same time, broadened our sources.  We constantly talk about the items we read or see through our internet reading or on BBC but which make no appearance on our TV news broadcasts.  If an informed (and educated) citizenry is fundamental to a functioning democracy (or democratic republic) we are well and truly F---ED.

Dennis Miller has some good points on another topic, inflation, which is another way in which ordinary people are screwed over and how the government statistics cover it up.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Good day to you all on this only marginally warmer Wednesday.  The temp on the patio was warmer this morning at 5:30am as it was yesterday when Mom checked it out at 9:30am.  In fact it is warmer than our high yesterday.

I sympathize, Lois.  I don't live in Illinois--rather Indiana about 50 miles east of Chicago.  Our asshole, Repthuglican ex-governor has retired (bless term limits!!) to become president or chancellor or some kind of high mucky muck at Purdue University.  Too bad political assholery isn't an indictable offense.  Unfortunately, the voters over here saw fit to put in a new Repthuglican who, I hope, won't be so thuggish.  Our weather has also been weird.  We still haven't had much snow.  In fact, many areas have yet to put 1 inch on the ground.  The cold snap of the last two days provided the coldest temperature of the last two years.  And we are still way above normal for temperatures for the entire season.  And two weeks ago we had almost a week of temperature 20+ degrees above normal.

Frustration with mainstream media #123:  Can anyone tell me why Beyonce's lip-synched rendition of the national anthem is important enough that the news broadcasts for two days now have spend considerable time on it?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Well, the weather people promised a very cold couple of days and this morning certainly qualifies.  The temperature on the morning news broadcast is 12F and expected to go lower.  Right now we are considering rescheduling a couple of appointments we have for today and tomorrow.  We'll see how the car does.


Good Tuesday, Everyone.  The inauguration dominated the news yesterday--actually the TV coverage overall.  We watched very little given our errands yesterday and then we ignored most of the rest.  TV has become background noise more than anything else.  Our expectations of colder temps have come through--low this morning so far is 1F (in Chicago but -1F closer to us) with a well below zero wind chill.  But we should get somewhat warmer for the next week.  Even our little birds that visit the feeders are staying in their nests more.  Can't blame them.

We just had a bit of a chuckle.  I read a headline on Ex-Illinois Governor set for halfway house after prison term.  Why the chuckle?  Illinois has two ex-governors in prison.  Pulled up the article to confirm that it is George Ryan who will exit prison for the halfway house after six years.  His allies are still trying to get his conviction overturned.

It looks like the 'water wars' are escalating.  And, since the drought hasn't ended by any means, I expect  more such skirmishes in the near future.

Mom just came back in from starting up the car so it can warm up.  She stopped to look at the thermometer (which she usually doesn't do) and commented that she thought it was broken.  I asked why and she said that it was reading -14F.  Well, it actually reads +14.  She read the bold line at 32 as though it were 0.  She laughed and said she has to clean her glasses.  But it is really cold when she stops to look at the temperature.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Good very chilly Sunday to you all.  Unusual weather and weather swings are becoming all too usual.  We did have high winds yesterday which greatly reduced the perceived temperature.  I will get a good idea of how hardy the plants still outside are with the coming overnight temps in the low single digets and daytime highs in the teens and low twenties.  Those are the lowest temperatures in nearly two years according to the local weather person this morning.

The garden and home show was a nice outing yesterday.  Much of the merchandise was eye candy--what we call 'nice but' items.  We enjoy looking but really don't want to buy.  We did find a very interesting bird feeder that our little friends might like a lot more that one of the tube feeders--which they don't really like at all. I also found some 'wild' flower seeds for sale and picked up the beard-tongue foxglove, agastache, wild monarda, prairie clover, and a fifth I don't remember off hand (and am too lazy at present to get up and take a look).  I put in the quotation marks because domesticated versions are available for all but one.  It is very easy to forget that once upon a time all of the plants we have in our gardens were once wild.  All of them attract either bees or butterflies or hummingbirds or all three.  And the dried leaves of three of the plants are supposed to be good in tea.  I do love multipurpose plants.

Glad you commented, Lois, and that you enjoy my gardening accounts.  On the gun issue--I don't own guns now but at one time I did.  I enjoyed target shooting and was once a member of a couple of gun clubs.  I haven't done any shooting in many years now--when shooting interfered with my graduate work I had to choose and shooting lost.  Everyone I know (then and now) who have guns treat them as tools that, like any other dangerous tool (knives, automobiles, and chainsaws for example) that must be properly maintained and used with due caution for their own safety and the safety of others.  There are idiots out there who shouldn't have a plastic knife, drive a car, or be allowed anywhere near a chainsaw.  And some people shouldn't have guns even if they want them.  (Update: sorry, Lois.  I accidentally rejected your comment from my e-mail account when I intended to post it.  Blast!!  For any who wonder what you wrote, here it is:Ah, I love reading about your garden. It is so cool :)

Gun control is a very hot issue. I do not know if we will ever find a solution. I do not and have never owned a gun. My father was shot down in cold blood, by a man he knew, in front of me. I was 3 years old and I remember it as clear as if it happened yesterday. So, my viewpoint is pretty clear but that is me. Other people have differant viewpoints and I can respect that. I may not agree but I do respect it.
take care)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Good Saturday to you all.  Sunny right now. Temps are supposed to go into the mid to high 40s--maybe even touch but with some high winds to go with it.  However, the next two days will be really frigid--maybe even sub 0F for the first time in about a year.  But at least we have good weather for the home and garden show today.  I might find something interesting to mention when we get back.  I opened the snail mail box yesterday to find the seeds from Baker Creek.  They are always very quick.  And my e-mail box had a message from Burpee saying they had shipped that order.  Oh, yeah, pre-gardening season is in full swing.  So far all of the outside plants (blueberries, roses, tansy, pyrethrum, sage, oregano, lavender, marjoram, and thyme) are all alive and well.  Of the inside plants I have for of the six left--bay, rosemary, lemon verbena.  The oregano and patchouli didn't make it.

Although I am not in favor of most of the crap proposals I have seen on 'gun control,' these are the kinds of assholes who definitely should not own, fire, or be in the same room with a gun.  Guns aren't what we need to control.  Our problem as a society is that we do not demand nearly enough 'self control' from people.

Rain Treaux provides very good comments on the issue from someone who appears self-controlled and responsible and who uses guns as intended--as tools to accomplish and necessary end.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Good Thursday, everyone.  Cool but a bit warmer for today and the next couple of days before the temperature tanks early next week.  We still expect little or no precipitation of any kind.  Our snow drought continues.  I was rather productive with needlework yesterday.  I finally got the last two little figures attached to Mom's Great-Grandmother's Jacket.  They have only been on my design board for about two years.  I also finished the embroidery on a table scarf.  My goodness!!  Blazing speed, here.  And, yeah, that is a jab at the champion procrastinator--me.


Happy Friday to you all.  Nothing of much interest on net yesterday.  Not exactly true.  I did read a good bit but nothing I wanted to comment on.

However, today may be a bit different.  I will start with this piece which illustrates something I absolutely hate about today's media.  What you may wonder would I find so distasteful.  Well, it is the notion that Paul Ryan's comments represent some kind of movement on the GOP side.  The only movement I see is not tying the debt ceiling increase to spending cuts NOW.  Rather they want to tie it to spending cuts in a few months.  This is not a clean increase in the debt ceiling.  They still are holding the economy hostage.  They just aren't going to blow it up immediately.  But you won't see that bit of honesty from the media.  By the way, I hear the same kind of stupid remarks from CNBC's talking heads.  I don't know how many more are going to take a big dose of enthusiasm/hope by hearing only the first half of Ryan's comments (short term extension of the debt ceiling) while ignoring the last half (to give more time for the Democrats to cave in and agree to tie long term debt ceiling increase to spending cuts).

And something from the local (Chicago) news:  politicos there are considering banning the sale of 'energy' drinks on health grounds.  I asked, on hearing the story, if Rahm Emmanuel is trying to become the Michael Bloomberg of the midwest.  Do we really need a new nanny on the block?  I have always thought the Red Bulls and 5 Hour Energy drinks are a ridiculous response to feeling tired and washed out.  And I never believed the hype the manufacturers put out.  And I don't buy the notion that unless you are actively doing something every moment of the day (and somehow that doesn't include finding time to eat healthy meals and sleep) and accomplishing several goals at the same time, you aren't really living.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Good Wednesday to you all and a cold Wednesday it is.  It does indeed feel like winter has finally arrived.

I agree, Kay, sometimes the future does look bleak.  I often ask myself if the apparent increase in heinous crimes is real or a result of massive media coverage of dramatic stories to garner ratings and/or better reporting of crimes to law enforcement.  I am not at all sure.  What concerns me more is the increased intransigence in among politicians, primarily those I call Repthuglicas.  More and more I get the feeling that there is no 'we' left in this country.  Instead each group sees its own problems as worthy of national attention and financial remediation but everyone else's is solely their own.  Think about that idiot Palazzo from Louisiana railing against the aid bills for Hurricane Sandy relief while milking the system for more Katrina relief.  Hypocrisy seems to be the modus operandi among politicians today.

Often now I find it is better for my moods and emotional health to not look too closely at the news but, instead, focus on things like needlework and my gardens.  I find that more productive and far more satisfying.

I have often argued in the past, in the face of the drive for 'privatization' that is so popular among our politicians and financial elites, that some services should not be left to the so-called free market.  Among those--medical care.  This Washington Post op-ed reinforces my notion.

BBC broadcast this morning had a snippet that Mom read to me yesterday:  two major supermarkets in UK and Ireland have been busted for selling ground beef that may be as much as 29% horse meat.  I know horse meat is legal in some European countries so major problem is the fraud of selling supposedly 100% beef that has a significant portion of horse meat mixed in.  This account posted on the BBC website adds more information but the story is still developing.  Evidently the contamination problem includes some contamination with pork as well and involves some prepared foods as well.  The BBC commentator asked a very pertinent question--how can a consumer trust that he is getting what the label says is in the package.  He also mentioned the problem for observant Jews and Muslims who are prohibited by religious law from consuming pork.

I always enjoy reading Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism--especially when she makes points I have thought about but does so more elegantly.  Her post today on Devolution is a good illustration.  I have often wondered at what point efficiency would cost more or cause more problems that it was worth.  And I have also wondered often about the diseconomies of scale--at what point would the system become so big and complex that it would collapse under its own weight.  I think ours has about reached both points.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Good morning on a more seasonal Sunday.  The temperatures are supposed to be more normal--highs in the high 20s or low 30s.  Also some very welcome precipitation.


Welcome to Monday, everyone.  The temperatures continue to be seasonal although it feels really cold after the mild beginning to the year.  I have my seed/plant lists ready so my major task today is to visit all of the web sites and place my orders.  I am sternly reminding my self not to jump the gun and start my plants too early--not before the March 1st.  My next task is to start planning where the various plants will go--not that they will necessarily stay where I initially put them.  I have a lot more cleaning up to do this year because I left the lower stalks and roots of some of the plants (tomatoes mostly) in the containers.  I often do that because by spring the roots have begun to rot and adds back some nutrients. Also the pineapple sage didn't survive but I have seeds on my list.


It is now Tuesday.  I didn't see much I wanted to link to or comment on.  The news coverage on any given issue is pretty much predictable and I have already commented to the point of nausea on much of it.  We have cut down the amount of time we watch news.  It is more infuriating than enlightening.

I did get my plant/seed orders in yesterday.  New this year: pilgrim cranberry, wonderberry, Heartthrob hibiscus, chamomile, crystal apple cucumber, Amish Paste tomato, Super Sauce Tomato, Patio hybrid FASt tomato, Mohawk patio hybrid pepper, Heatwave II tomato, cypress vine, and bergamot (monarda/bee balm).  I just realized this morning I forgot to order some scarlet runner bean seeds but I can get them locally.  I haven't yet written down were I will put everything but I have plenty of time.

Good to hear from you, Kay.  I so agree that parts of this society has gone totally bonkers.  Unfortunately, I don't see sanity returning any time soon.  Too many of those in power got there by pandering to the insanity of their constituents.  And they all seem to have a self-righteous notion that they are somehow doing God's will whether the majority like it or not.  I keep thinking of the old saying that 'those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad.'  Doesn't bode well.

This little item appeared in my inbox this morning:
Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: 80 million. That’s the number of separate payments the Treasury Department makes per month. If you’re trying to understand why prioritization — in which the federal government should pick and choose which bills to pay first — may not even be possible, that number is essential. It’s not clear that it’s legal for the Treasury to pick and choose between those payments. It’s not clear that we can rewire our computer systems quickly enough to choose between those payments. And note that the one time America did temporarily default it was due to a…computer glitch.
I didn't link because I couldn't find it on the Washington Post site but it is from Ezra Klein's Wonkbook.  I find it interesting in light of proposals for dealing with the debt limit (again) by selectively defaulting on some obligations but not others.  Last time I was totally pissed that some elected assholes thought it would be legitimate to not pay my social security (or medicare, medicaid, military salaries, what have you) but thoroughly kosher to pay interest payments to China (and other governments) on the Treasury bonds they hold.

And the President mentioned that same consequence in his press conference yesterday.  I saw most of that and was totally annoyed by the reporters who hammered away at Obama's insistence that the debt ceiling be raised in a clean bill and that the Repthuglicans end their pattern of hostage taking.  For any Repthuglicans out there: I agree with him.  There is another old saying that comes to mind: you don't take hostages you aren't willing to kill.  I deeply resent the Repthuglican notion that I am expendable.

Robert Reich has a good assessment of the situation: Obama is counting on the Repthuglican's being more sane than they appear.  This is basically a MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) policy and has a serious flaw:  these guys may actually think it is worthwhile to "destroy the village to save it."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Good Saturday to you all.  I decided to be lazy yesterday and didn't do much.  I may not do much today either. We'll see.

At times I am absolutely dumbfounded by the kind of idiocy I read about.  I found this originally on but followed it to the source because I couldn't quite believe it.  Well here it is from the Chicago Tribune.  Why in the world a parent would get so bent out of shape because some kindergartners made a mistake or two in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance that they would use inappropriate language and behave so threateningly that school officials would call for police, I have no Idea.  Has this country gone permanently insane??

David Kaisrer at History Unfolding has some interesting comments on a topic that illuminates another aspect of our cultural insanity: integrity.  We have lost our integrity at the same time we have lost any sense of proportion and any manners or simple courtesy we ever had.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hello, again, everyone.  We are expecting another warm day today.  We would be talking about a 'January thaw'--if we had had a real freeze.  I think we have had only one or two days with highs below freezing.  The newest record, being extended as I write, is the number of days without snow of one-half inch or more.  The weather people are calling it a 'snow drought.'  I had a slight case of deja vu yesterday.  The weather person said that the temperatures so far this winter have been so far above normal that the temperatures for the rest of the winter would have to be almost 6F below normal for us to record a normal winter.  Last year they said almost the same thing in almost the same words.  Hope that doesn't mean the summer will be as brutal.

We had some scathing comments this morning on the news coverage of Obama's intention (as speculated now) to name his Chief of Staff as the new Secretary of Treasury.  I have mentioned before that we watch a Japanese English-language report most evenings and last night that story was included. The U.S. stations have focused on Jacob Lew's loopy signature.  This story is par for the course.  The NHK news at least focused somewhat on the man behind the signature--which wasn't mentioned.  But no one has said what about the current White House Chief of Staff qualifies him to be the new Treasury Secretary.  Can our broadcast news get any more insubstantial?  At least the Washington Post still has some sense of what is important and gives some indication of the man's background and qualifications.

Here is one for the 'Oh, what a f-----g crock of s--t' file.  I don't think any more comment is necessary.

We watched a bit of the BBC broadcast this morning and I noticed a story similar to some stories that have appeared on our news broadcasts over the last couple of years: food waste.  The shocking estimate from agricultural experts is that, worldwide, some 50% of all foods grown are wasted. The figures I last read from the U.S. claimed 40% wastage.  I always read these kinds of figures with a big grain of salt.  For one, I am not sure if they count the loss from fields plowed under because the farmer can't sell the crop for enough to cover his expenses.  We saw that with strawberry farmers in Florida when the price of strawberries suddenly dropped.  They were criticized for plowing under the crop when the food banks were having trouble keeping food stocked in the face of increasing demand only to find out that food safety laws prevented them from donating the crop to the food banks.  How about the utter waste in meat recalls, or the spinach recall, or the melon recall because of bacterial contamination?  Most of the stories ended up in the same place: the end human consumer.  I forget which of the manufacturers of plastic wrap/boxes/bags had a series of commercials showing a shopper ordering two steaks and telling the butcher to wrap only one because the second was going to be thrown away, or showing full plates of food being tossed in the garbage, and other such themes.  My own guess (and it is only a guess) is that most of the food 'wasted' never makes it to the consumer to begin with.  But that is never brought out.  That would criticize our industrial model of food production and we can't have that, can we?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hope you are having a good Wednesday.  Let's see what is out there in 'net land.

I noticed a couple of years ago that a number of needlework sites were touting the virtues of yarns made from bamboo fibers.  I got to see and touch a some at a local yarn shop and it was wonderfully soft.  Too expensive for me and I didn't have any crochet projects in mind so I didn't buy any.  But I was definitely intrigued.  A couple of days ago Mom saw a story on fines levied against several major retailers for selling products advertised as made from bamboo but which were really rayon.  Here is another story I found this morning.  Bamboo fiber is attractive for environmental reasons and has been touted as a green alternative.  However, this site has some interesting information on that issue.

I noted yesterday (and some of our mainstream media has picked up the story) that Australia's weather service has issued a new color code on their maps for temperatures exceeding 130F.  Well, this little story by way of DutchNews confirms the notion that 2013 has picked up where 2012 left off weather wise.  Our weather people say we might hit low 50s tomorrow and will get to the mid 40s today.  Our low last night exceed the normal high for this date.

Just spent a bit of time poking around in the gardens.  So far the winter hasn't been harsh enough to kill off the kale and cabbage I left out there.  The tansy and pyrethrum are showing crisp green as are the lavender and sage.  Looks like they will come back well.  So do the German thyme cuttings I rooted last fall.  I didn't dig under the remaining snow to look at the variegated marjoram and oregano so I can't report on them.  Over the last week I lost the last of the patchouli cuttings.  They just wilted away. A bit of a disappointment because they had looked so strong.  I really do need to get off my duff and get my seed orders in.  And I have to remind myself of last year when we had those almost summer highs in March and then a cruelly cold April.  Don't be hasty as Treebeard said so frequently in the Two Towers.

Several news stories concerned this piece of assholery.  One of the experts interviewed on one news broadcast noted that the only reason the shareholders have anything at all is because the government took 92% of the company.  They claim the terms were 'onerous'.  Compared to what?? Going belly up?

Gene Logsdon has a cute post today on the cost of water.  He's right.  They (whoever they are) probably do call it progress.

And here is an amusing little piece from Switzerland.  Now if only we could get relief from student loan debts within our lifetimes I would say progress has been made.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Good Tuesday to you all.  I was lazy yesterday.  We did our errands and that was about all either of us wanted to do.  And I didn't see much worth commenting about.  Let's see what is our there today.

Here is an amusing entry in the 'Corporations-As-Persons' file.

I don't know if this is daredevilry or idiocy--certainly not something I would dream (or hallucinate) about trying.  I thought the picture of the peppers showed bhut jolokia and I was right although the story labeled them as naga.  I looked it up and the peppers are also known as naga bhut jolokia and ghost pepper among other names.  Last I heard it is the second hottest pepper with the Trinidad scorpion being recently crowned the hottest.  I noticed several of the seed companies carry the seeds of both but I won't grow them.  Every few years I will plant a cayenne but only when we run out of our chili mix.

I love reading Dmitri Orlov's blog.  He always has an interesting take on things that make me take a long moment and think it though.  This one is particularly good in light of the latest Russia/U.S. diplomatic fracas over alleged Russian "human rights violators" and American prospective parents of Russian orphans.

Undernews posted this piece which I put in the 'Oh, S--T' file.  Hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hope you all are having a good Sunday.  We did get a tiny bit of snow yesterday but all precipitation for the next week should be in liquid form.  But still we don't expect enough moisture to relieve the dry conditions.

Yesterday I saw a news report on the Hurricane Sandy relief legislation of which a small portion of just under $10 billion was passed after Speaker John Boehner tried to adjourn the House without voting on anything and ran into a firestorm of protest from various representatives from the affected area.  The report featured a Texas Rep who voted against on the grounds that the Feds shouldn't be involved in helping with local disasters.  So somehow the droughts and wildfires that afflicted Texans this year are national problems deserving of national relief while the Hurricane is purely local and don't.  Susie Madrak noted the same hypocritical failing in a Colorado Representative who vote against the Sandy relief package and introduced a bill to restrict the President's authority to issue disaster proclamations (prerequisite for Federal assistance) only a couple of months after requesting additional FEMA funds to deal with the aftermath of one of the Colorado wildfires.  A lead character in one of my favorite Sci-fi novels told a small group with him after a world wide mega-disaster that they needed to decide what to do and whether there was a 'we' to do it.  These Repthuglicans have decided that whatever there is to do there is no we--unless, of course, they and their constituents are the receiving end of the effort.  As the old quip goes: they name streets for these guys.  (One Way for those who have forgotten.)

After listening to Mom as she read the latest reports from her health insurance programs--all detailing increases--I am not at all surprised at this story.  Somehow no one ever discusses the increases in health insurance costs as a cause of our outsized health care expenses.  The insurance companies always deflect the attention to things like 'outrageous' malpractice judgements or 'over usage' of health care services or the increase of expensive end-of-life care or whatever.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Good day to you all on a nice sunny Saturday.  It may not last--they say we might get light snow (a trace to a couple tenths of an inch) followed by light freezing rain later.  Unfortunately, it won't be enough to break our very dry conditions.  The Drought Monitor still has us in moderate drought.  I haven't checked the gardens in a while.  The last couple of light snows have left a layer of crusty, icy snow on them.  Because the patio area is in deep shade from autumn equinox to spring equinox so it doesn't get warm enough to melt it all.  Even though we are going to have temps in the high 30s and low 40s (F) over the next week.

Glad you stopped by, Lois.  Most of the stories I saw about alternative currencies didn't involve changing U.S. currency.  There isn't (as far as I know) any efforts to change that.  Most of the alternate media of exchange are local.  See this Wikipedia listing of various local communities that have or have had local currencies.  You can follow the links to read about the specific communities.  Often the communities established the local currencies to facilitate barter in areas that had a serious economic downturn just as the Greek communities have done.  However, several states are also looking at or already have established their own currencies, often convertible to gold and silver (which the U.S. paper dollar isn't and hasn't been since the 1970s), because of concerns over the actions of the Federal Reserve and the U.S. debt.  See this CNN article from last February for more info.  It is an interesting topic and doesn't usually make it into the mainstream media.

Actually, Gerda Lerner was the mother of Women's History.  We forget that not all that very long ago most historians were white men who wrote history assuming that the history they experienced reflected the experiences of everyone.  Not many make that assumption any more.  The Women's Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, etc., changed that.  Everyone may experience the big events of the time but the experiences differ and since the late 1960s and early 1970s  historians have had to recognize that fact--some more willingly than others.

I followed the economic news on the retail sales season just concluded with a feeling of skeptical disbelief.  All of the pundits enthused about the vigorous Christmas season and how it would show how nicely the economy was recovering.  Well, I wondered about that and this article shows why.  Some sectors of the economy are recovering but it isn't my sector.  And, since there is a lot more of my kind of people in this country than there is of those doing well, I would say the recovery is somewhat illusory.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Good First Friday of a new year to you all.  Cold this morning with heavy frost on the roofs but clear skies.  The official temperatures are in the low double digits though our thermometer reads about 22F.  Next week may give us temps in the 40s.  We'll see.

I have seen articles similar to this at infrequent intervals over the last year or two as the Greek situation ebbed and surged--in the news at least.  An interesting thought struck me--will a time come when the Euro is so irrelevant to the lives of the Greek masses that remaining in the Eurozone confers no advantages at all?  And if that time comes will the majority of Greeks vote to remain in the Eurozone as they have recently?  And, in case you think that the story about far off Greece has no relevance over here, I have seen a few articles about local areas in the U.S. adopting their own local currency in parallel with and convertible to dollars.

Wouldn't it have been nice if our news media had put out stories like this one before the fiscal cliff legislation was passed?  It is amazing how often the interests of ordinary citizens gives cover for governmental gifts to industries and corporations.

During my long sojourn in academia two people provided much of the foundation for my studies.  Elwood Jensen pioneered the study of steroid hormone receptors.  He was my advisor's PhD advisor and I met him briefly at a conference just before I started the Master's program.  And the news this morning announced the death of Gerda Lerner the founding mother of women's history.  Almost everything I read in women's history was written either by her, by one of her students, or cited her work.  I never met her.  I don't often see news stories that have any direct relationship to my own life.  This has been an odd week.

Check this op-ed for an excellent and accurate assessment of our various political cliffs--fiscal, debt ceiling, and sequester.  Our political clowns 'solved' the first by kicking most of the can down the road postponing its effects for two months.  (I am trying to cut out some cliches here).  Though we have 'technically' bumped up against the debt ceiling Treasury can avoid default with accounting tricks for the next two months so that 'crisis' will go critical at the same time as the sequester.  I wonder how soon the show will begin--again.

I wondered why the oft repeated notion that the fiscal cliff is a 'good compromise' because nobody is happy with it set my teeth on edge.  Jon Walker (no relation) at Firedoglake explains the fallacy of that old notion.  A more accurate definition of a 'good compromise' is one with which no one is entirely happy but which gives each side something of substance to be happy about.  By that standard the fiscal cliff compromise was not a good deal but then I notice that most of the standards by which politicians judge their efforts have been set abysmally low.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Good Wednesday to you all.  Hope your holidays were happy and cheerful.  I, for one, am glad they are over though you wouldn't know it from the advertising.  The auto dealers are especially annoying.  We have received, on average, four such mailers for the last month.  Neither of us are in the market for a new (or new to us) car.  I prefer to acknowledge the change of the seasons and all I do for that is change the wreath on the door.

The news readers were enthusiastic and gleeful that the House managed to pass the Senate fiscal cliff bill.  Evidently they expect the markets to react with grateful exuberance and post a big gain.  The fact that two other continuing 'crises' (sequester and debt limit) have to be dealt with by March 1 was mentioned only in passing.  Unfortunately, many of the same actors are returning and we haven't had much constructive action from them in the past.  I wonder if the 113th Congress will rival the 112 for intransigent obstruction.  However, it seems that the 'middle class' isn't the only beneficiary of the legislation.  A number of corporations and industries also get to keep some of their favorite tax breaks.  Oh, I forgot--corporations are people too so I guess it makes sense to throw these guys a loaf--too big to be considered a crumb.  For more on the preserved corporate welfare see Matt Stoller at Naked Capitalism.

And this story struck a nerve.  Isn't it interesting how many loopholes are built into some of our best intentioned laws?  I don't think a glitch was involved--it was a feature, and a very lucrative one.

Maha noticed that at the same time we got an inadequate fiscal cliff bill the House also deep-sixed the Hurricane Sandy relief bill.  I love her comment: If we lived in a Dickens novel, the GOP would send Tiny Tim to the workhouse without his crutch.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year, everyone.  In case you wondered, I don't make resolutions and haven't for many years.  Too easy to make grandiose promises that are all too easy to break as soon as they are made.  I haven't seen much to comment on this morning so far.  The Senate managed to get some kind of mini-deal on the fiscal conundrum.  Now let's see if the House can do the same.  The news broadcast this morning commented that Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted against thinking that a no vote would help him three years from now when the next Presidential primaries.  They expect Paul Ryan to do the same for the same reason.  Guess what, boys? You have just lost any chance you had of getting my vote next time around.