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?

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