Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy Friday to you all.  Cold and wet today.  The temps fell to about 40F overnight.  I took a quick and shivering trip out to look at the plants.  The high winds damaged my cypress vine seedlings but I hope they come back.  The little Mohawk peppers aren't happy but we'll see what they do.  I moved the lavender and rosemary inside late yesterday and will keep them inside until the temps get back up  to the more normal range.

The hummingbirds have returned.  We saw our first one at the feeder this morning.

So, we have another bridge collapse.  I have seen stories about our pitiful infrastructure for years now and nothing ever gets done.  No deaths, as far as I have heard in this incident.  Luckily given this:
The 1,112-foot steel truss bridge, built in 1955, was described by the Washington State Department of Transportation, after an inspection in August 2010, as "somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is."
Maybe the report should have said "somewhat less than minimum adequacy."  But, wtf, it lasted another two years.  They say an oversize truck triggered the collapse.

Watching the BBC this morning I saw an interesting story.  We have heard frequently over the last few years about the increased incidence of anti-biotic resistant bacteria, pesticide resistant insects, and herbicide resistant weeds.  Now they have found cockroaches that avoid glucose which for the last dozen or so years has been incorporated into poison bait.

Anybody remember that very hopeful study a while back where researchers found that a drug approved for treating skin cancer appeared to cure Alzheimer's-like symptoms in mice?  Well, three other teams of scientists were unable to replicate those results.  That is why I take any science, especially medical, reports in the mainstream media with a LARGE dose of salt.

Here is a thought experiment for you.  Imagine if the same conditions afflicted Chicago, Cleveland, or Los Angeles.

The IRS so-called scandal continues.  What has gotten lost in this idiocy is that the organizations targeted for scrutiny were applying for tax exempt status which requires they not engage directly in politics.  They are trying to claim they engage in 'educational' activities.  My bullshit antennae are quivering.  This argument is a cousin of the controversy in Chicago over the massive break churches and charities get on their water bills (like they pay nothing)--even though water bills for everyone else have been hiked.  I think both problems can be easily solved.  No tax exempt status for any organizations.  Instead allow such organizations to receive deductions from their taxes based on how much they engage in behaviors we want to encourage.  Churches that run schools or soup kitchens or food pantries can deduct the expenses from their taxes.  Tea Party groups that engage in real educational activities (not politics masquerading as education) and can prove it the same way business and individual tax payers have to, with documents, can do the same.  I don't see the value to the country as a whole in blanket tax exemptions.

I have heard the Mexican trade groups are unhappy and have appealed to the World Trade Organization to force the U.S. to stop country of origin labeling.  So the Canadians are threatening the same.  Unfortunately the U.S. consumer may be on the losing side of the argument if our government gets its way and pushes the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the new free trade agreement with the EU because country of origin labels are a target in both.  I for one don't mind a 'free' market that brings goods in from other countries but I resent the notion that such a 'free' market should not include the consumers making an informed free choice of what to buy.  And 'informed' means the consumer knows where the product came from.

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