Monday, December 29, 2014

Good December 28th to you all.  Hope you had a nice holiday.  Ours was quiet and totally at home since my brother's family, with whom we were supposed to spend a bit of time Christmas Eve, were all down with the flu.

It has been quiet on the posting front also largely because I haven't really felt like commenting on much I have seen on-line.  The news hasn't really been new--the names may change a bit but the basic stories are the same.  And has anyone else noticed how little of it merits the time the programers devote to it?


To continue the thoughts from yesterday (it is now December 29)--I remarked a while ago that we reduced our cable subscription to simple basic though the representative tried very hard to induce us to go to a bigger package.  The change was the culmination of several years of increasing dissatisfaction with cable TV generally.  The provider wasn't the problem--the content was.  More often than not we simply couldn't find anything we wanted to watch.  After almost a decade of debating the situation as the we found our choices more and more restricted (not everyone loves the "reality" shows or Duck Dynasty) we cut back on cable.  If we had found an indoor antenna that would have functioned with our constraints, we would have cut it entirely.  The final straw came when we realized that even the news programming had shifted to more infotainment and less of what we considered real news.  We don't care what is going on with the Kardashians or which former child star is misbehaving or what new idiocy Justin Bieber is up to.

Ah, for a bit of relief from my grousing and grumbling an absolutely cute bit from the Archdruidess.

Yesterday Mom suddenly remarked that she just read an article which listed 75 TV shows that have been cancelled--and we haven't seen a single one of them.  Didn't want to see the ones we saw promoted.  We both chuckled a bit over that but it does go a long way toward explaining why we cut back so severely on cable.

OMG--gas prices here were down to $1.84/gal this morning.  Haven't seen prices that low for the last 8+ years.  We'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Does anyone else get the feeling that a lot of bloggers and others on the 'net are very glad to see the end of 2014 but don't feel any great enthusiasm for 2015?  I do feel that way to an extent.  The political deadlock was frustrating and annoying coupled with the unending campaigns.  Some of that was fueled by the (s)news media which simply has to hype the controversies and speculations.  And more of it was fueled by the gigantic egos and small brains of the politicians.  I would be more welcoming of the new year if I felt that anything would change on that front for the better--but I feel in my bones it won't.  The weather has been just as strange as ever and that is something else I don't see reverting to what had seemed normal for most of my life.  The economy is as absurdly surreal as it has been since well before the 2007 meltdown.  That is something else I don't expect to change for the better in the coming year.  Wall Street and the politicians do well and try to convince the rest of us that things are improving.  2015 just doesn't appear to offer anything to be enthusiastic about.  Hope I'm wrong; afraid I'm right.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy and blessed Solstice to all.  The sun will be making its return journey north toward spring.  Another seed catalog came in yesterday.  I only skimmed through it.  I will settle down with all of them, weed out the old versions and start making my list of seeds/plants I might like to try out this coming year.  I will make my final list early January.  Gardening never really stops--it just shifts gears from planning to planting to harvest to clean up.


I have been reading about the effects of deforestation for the last 30 years.  Here is one I find interesting because I have also been reading about the drought in Brazil, the drought followed by flooding in Thailand and other such weather anomalies over the last decade or so.

Every time I think I have seen the absolute limit of selfish insanity some idiot ups the ante.  Watching the TV news this morning and saw a report of asshole drivers who decided to evade the section of Lake Shore Drive (Chicago, for those who don't know) closed because of a fatal crash by crossing over to a parallel bike path.  One mental giant (sarcasm, big time) was running without his headlights and came close to hitting joggers already on the path.  Here is another interesting article on changing weather patterns.  In the Bible Christ asks (Mark 8:36) "what profiteth a man if he gains the whole world but loseth his should?"  I would amend it a bit to "what profits business if it extracts all possible resources but creates a world in which humans can't live."

Saturday, December 20, 2014

One of my favorite series of novels calls the winter "the dark months."  This year, so far, that has been an accurate description:  dismal, gray and with half the number of sunny days as normal.  We don't even have any snow to provide a bit of white to brighten up the landscape.  That pattern isn't going away any time soon.

The Atlantic has a nice article just in time form cold and flu season.  We recently (as of a few years ago) switched from name brands to generic over the counter drugs.  A couple of things drove the move.  First, the massive recall of Excedrin two years ago left us scrambling to replace it and we certainly weren't going to get on Ebay and pay $300 or so for a bottle as some desperate people did.  We checked out the ingredients and found a generic that had all the same ingredients in the same proportions and switched.  We didn't switch back after new stocks arrived some months later.  Second, we started looking more closely at all our over the counter meds when warnings started coming faster and more insistently about the dangers of overdose with those drugs.  When we started looking at the ingredients we suddenly saw how easily it would be to take more (often much more) than the recommended doses.  Think about it for a moment.  You have a headache so you take your usual headache drug.  But you also are running a bit of a temp so you take a dose of Tylenol.  Well, you headache med might just have Tylenol's active ingredient in it also.  Oh, I forgot--you also have a cough so you take some cough medicine also.  Guess what?  You may just have taken another dose of Tylenol because you cough medicine may also contain it under its generic name.  The article is a good read.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Well, the final push of Christmas shopping and the frantic exhortations to spend heroically has started.  The first news report this morning concerned one retailer who is going to be open for 100 straight hours beginning at 6am this morning through 6pm Christmas Eve.  As usual, we abstain from the annual ritual honoring the commercial gods.

The State Department has, evidently, decided not to release its volume of foreign relations history that covers the 1953 CIA lead coup in Iran for fear that it will upset delicate nuclear negotiations.  Since the Iranians are quite aware of our meddling in their affairs I wonder if there aren't some little known or unknown bombshells lingering in the dusty archives.  I don't think they have to worry about reactions over here.  Most Americans are terribly ignorant of their history and, given how little reaction the Senate report on CIA torture elicited, couldn't care less.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Glad to see this.  Our first thought: about damned time.  This crap has been going on for way too long.  Mom's second thought: who is tired of sneaking his Havana cigars into the country?  I can already hear the knee-jerk conservatives and Cuban-American community howling.  (Update: I won't link to the stories but evidently the news media is picking up on the dismay of both groups.)

Like the author at Crooks & Liars, I hope Wal-mart simply pays up but I don't think they are that smart.  Chiseling their workers has been a major tactic for padding their bottom line for years.  They simply don't get slapped often enough or consistently enough to stop.

I never had any intention of going to see The Interview.  Not possible now that Sony has pulled the movie it isn't an option.  The style of comedy is not one I appreciate.  Can It Happen Here? has a few cogent comments concerning Sony's stupidity in making the film in the first place and I concur.  I though the comments the stars made in their own interview on ABC which indicated surprise at the attack on the film exhibited a cultural blindness of colossal proportions.  They thought it all good fun.  They simply don't understand one of the major characteristics of the 'cult of personality' which holds sway in North Korea.  It is a religion and the personality at the pinnacle of the cult can't tolerate being the butt of a joke and especially one which postulates a plot to kill him.  Why did they think the Koreans would react with any better grace than some Muslims did to the Dutch cartoons featuring unflattering depictions of the Prophet?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We spend most of this wet, foggy morning out.  Only got back a little bit ago and have just started to slog through my e-mails and other items on the computer.

On this one I can only say--DAMN!!  We do not need another Bush in the White House.  I wish Mitt Romney would simply fade away also.  However, I have seen nothing, Democrat or Republican, I am willing to vote for in the next election cycle.  I may just leave that one blank since I don't have the choice of "None of the above."

I am also a little ticked off.  I went through a Google alert for new blog postings for "crochet patterns" and found three that looked interesting until I clicked on them.  They were all hard core porn.  I checked what I had clicked on but nothing at all in the description or title would have tipped me off about what was really on the site.  I don't mind that there are porn sites on the net.  I don't want to visit them and I certainly don't want to be suckered into visiting such sites.  Another DAMN!!  Anyone else come across that kind of thing?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Oh, how strange the weather has been.  Yesterday and today the temperatures are more like early March.  Three weeks ago--like early January.  We saw a bit of sun that disappeared way too soon.  Not expecting much more today.

Had a nice e-mail that announced the new Jung seed catalog will soon be coming.  I already have the new Baker Creek, Totally Tomatoes, Seeds & Such, Pinetree and Vermont Bean catalogs.  Several more are yet to come.  I have so much fun looking through them and planning what will go in the gardens.  Also how the some of the containers will be arranged.  The largest ones will stay in their places but the five-gallon buckets and lager pots change each year.


Didn't see much I wanted to comment on yesterday.  Let's see what I find today.

Well, so much for promises any government agency makes.  And for any expectation of fairness.  Banks steal millions with full knowledge of what they are doing and get off keeping their ill-gotten gains but little people are dunned forever for "debts" they never knew about incurred by parents decades ago.  Rule of law??  Only important when our leaders want a club with which to beat perceived enemy governments.

I really wish our government would stop interfering in other countries.  We have done no good and a lot of harm from what I have seen.

Several bloggers noted that this is the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791.  HMMM--no celebration.  I wonder why.  Perhaps because most of it has been shredded in the last couple of decades.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Good Saturday to all.  Supposed to warm up today and tomorrow but not much sun expected.

David Kaiser always puts out thought provoking pieces on his History Unfolding blog.  There is indeed a "war" going on in American politics and I agree that there is no end in sight.  I read an article in the last couple of days which said that the last WWII veterans in Congress are retiring.  That is the generation Kaiser referred to as the cohort who were young adults when the Progressive "edifice of government and workers' rights" was established to be built on over the next 70 years.  That edifice has been chipped at for the last 30 years and now is under persistent assault from the Republican demolition teams.  Kaiser also links the process to a phenomenon I have seen for some time: the rise of unbridled individualism.  Individualism has always been valued in our culture but always restrained by communal values.  But those restraining values have weakened and almost disappeared.  We may well have a 40-year war to define what the next century or so will look like in America.  I am afraid it will look more like the worst of the 19th century than the 20th:  rampant individualism (especially for corporate "persons" and the financial elite) with few legal constraints and a broad mass of people with few legally protected rights and fewer opportunities for advancement.

For a good while now I have read, repeatedly, the phrase "rule of law"--most often contrasting the U.S. to China with exhortation that the Chinese government needs to establish such a legal regime.  This piece from Joe Firestone cross-posted at Naked Capitalism pretty well shows how that is merely the pot calling the kettle black.  We have a rule of law only so long as the authorities enforce the law and enforce it equally for all.  Certain sections of our society, economy, and politics take the law as "suggestions"--at least for them.  They can be certain that any laws they break will be punished lightly or not at all.  The rest of us can look forward to being beaten up, pepper sprayed, shot and maybe killed for minor or even imaginary infractions.  I will leave you to tie this into the last paragraph.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Good Thursday to everyone.  We have been and continue to be sandwiched between weather extremes on both coasts.  Thankfully, the worst of it has by-passed us.  We constantly comment on how strange the weather has been--world wide.

I can agree that we need a way to deal with  the mountains of trash in our land fills but redefining tires and hazardous waste as "renewable" is ridiculous.   The waste isn't from any renewable source therefore to call it renewable stretches the word beyond any reasonable meaning.

And now for Friday.  Looks like clear skies--at least for now.  I saw a very bright moon when I looked out this morning.  Update: clouds have moved in.  Blast!!

Let's hope this doesn't spread and doesn't last long.  Serfdom was such an efficient system the idiot dictator of Belarus wants to bring it back.  Well, you don't need brains to be a dictator--just a lot of men with guns and the will to use them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Our rain yesterday turned into a light snow overnight.  Not much but enough to cover the cars and the grass.  The pavements were all too warm for it to stick there.

Interesting but... .  There are times (more so as time goes on) when technology definitely raises my skeptical antennae.  This is one.  Not something I want or trust.

So the guy's attorney thinks he is being unfairly singled out??  Martha Stewart got prison time for perjury.  I think they got him on that and the fraud charges should be interesting also.  Anybody who oversees an operation that dumps toxins into the drinking water should be held accountable.  Especially since we haven't found a way to execute or imprison "corporate" persons.

The author of Another Old Woman has a take on vaccinations that I relate to.  Like her, I had all the "childhood" diseases way back when.  And at that time we had to have the smallpox vaccination as well.  I am one of the few people I know who has met someone who had polio--an eastern European refugee who was in my 8th grade class for one semester.  I often think that the real problem with vaccinations is their success.  When the consequences of contracting measles, mumps, chicken pox, and whooping cough were often severe and potentially fatal, parents lined up to get their kids vaccinated.  Now the alleged possibilities of the vaccines appear to be more frightening than diseases most of their parents have no experience with.

There is little John McCain says that I agree with.  My opinion of him, usually, is so far down in the basement that going lower is nearly impossible.  However, this is one issue on which I agree wholeheartedly.  I absolutely hate the very notion that agents of our country tortured people in my name.  I repudiate them and their actions.  A "stain on our honor" is an right on--or it would be if we truly had any honor.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Good day to you.  Some rain yesterday varying between moderate to misty.  Nothing froze though here but evidently it did on highways.  The morning commute was a total mess.  See how things go today.

The news media appears on the edge of hysteria on the anticipated release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture.  I am amused by the emphasis I have seen so far.  It is supposed to contain graphic descriptions and conclude that the torture continued, in some cases, well after all "useful" information had been "extracted."  Where the reporters and some of the more vocal politicians get hysterical is considering how they fear the release might "endanger" Americans overseas.  You can see some of that here.  But saying that the information might cause more agitation against America overseas is like saying that you are going to raise the level of the Pacific Ocean with an eyedropper of water.  I notice the TV media gives little to no time to two bits expected to be in the reports:  in at least three cases the "enhanced" interrogation techniques produced "no results" and the CIA lied repeatedly to the Congress, to the White House, and to the American people.  None of this is really new.  It has dribbled out bit by bit since shortly after 9/11.  At no point in all this time has anyone really spent any time questioning either the effectiveness or the morality of the whole process.

Somebody has one hell of a sense of humor.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Here we are at Monday again.  Rain and freezing rain coming in.  Didn't get here yesterday but is just in time for rush hour today.  Thankfully we don't have to go out.  We don't have anything we need so we are postponing our grocery shopping to sometime later in the week.

Oh, my--the TransAtlantic Trade treaty the Obama administration is negotiating (in secret) is getting some push back from Europeans who don't want their food safety standards modified to something more like the U.S. standards.  I don't blame them.  I don't want those standards either but our corporate-captured government has saddled us with them.  All we can do is try to avoid the worst of it.

Industrialization has some benefits but serious downsides as well.  Unfortunately, those who suffer the downsides rarely experience the benefits.  Didn't the first time around and won't this time.  Those who benefit are far away in clean(er) environments.

Another reason why I simply don't believe any of the hype of an improving economy--anywhere.

Sen. Tom Harkin's last gift to his financial cronies???  I am sure glad this pseudo-Democrat is retiring.  A Repthuglican did win his seat (Joni Ernst) but you know where those idiots are coming from and we know they aren't our friends.  Better the enemy you know than a stab in the back.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Good cloudy Sunday to you.  The weather people say we will have a "wintery" mix today and maybe tomorrow.

So there are seven states who have constitutional barriers to atheists.  And some Christians say they feel there is a "war" against them???

As if we needed another indication that our government has been co-opted by financial interests.  A few weeks ago the G20 formalized rules for so-called bail-ins where depositors take "hair cuts" before stockholders and holders of credit default swaps if a bank is insolvent.  Legislation is before congress which will allow struggling public employee pension plans to reduce payouts to current retirees.  Many of those plans are struggling because state legislatures and other political entities failed to make required contributions when they should have but the short-fall is to come out of the hides of retirees.  The only "property" rights protected anymore are those of big finance.  The rest of us are pretty well screwed.

When political issues divide powerful interests it makes some very strange bedfellows.

Ouch!!  It isn't even summer down under yet.

The post-antibiotic age has dawned.

Sounds like the GOP majority in the Montana legislature are channeling the Taliban, Islamic State, and Al Qaeda.  Perhaps they will insist on "virginity" tests for all unmarried women as at least one Muslim country has done for women on its police force.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Good Saturday everyone.  Weekends don't mean much to us since we are both retired.  No need to rush around and do all of the chores we neglected all week because we were working somewhere away from the house more hours than we were at home.  Of course since our society has moved to a nearly universal 24/7/365 commercial environment, especially, at this time of year, I guess weekends don't mean much to most people anymore.

Found this by way of a friend on Facebook.  I will be looking for the tags this spring.  I plant a number of plants that are both pollinator friendly and useful to us.  I would rather attract and feed the bees not plant something that might help kill them off.

David Kaiser has another good stroll down history lane--this time dealing with the Republican mantra that tax cuts on wealthy individuals and corporations would release a tsunami of economic activity that would generate more tax revenue than would be lost through the cuts.  It has never worked but now the Republicans hope to put people into the Congressional Budget Office who will adopt book-cooking formulas that will prove their point.

I agree with everything, point by point, with what John Beckett has written at Patheos.  I will add only that I don't see that the victims--meaning Rice, Brown, and Garner--did anything to deserve an execution.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Best wishes on this Friday morning to you all.  Gray and dismal so far with possible rain in the forecast.  The temperature isn't bad but it feels colder than the thermometer says.

Found this piece on Casey Research.  These guys think like I do on a lot of things--though not all.  My first question when I hear pundits talking is "how do you define your key terms?"  A major trait shared by both pundits of all stripes and politicians is their sloppy use of language--a kind of bait and switch that leaves their audience thinking they mean one thing when they mean something entirely different.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Good morning to you where ever you are.  Since nothing much is happening here I will see what is going on in our world today.

It looks like the looting of the middle class is accelerating.  And, as usual, it will hit those least able to respond flexibly to the losses that looting will cause.  I could hope that the congress might be sensible and bail out the pension funds just as they did the banks but I have long ago lost that hope.  Pension plans are worth just about as much as most insurance--which is about zero.

Another good post on Tomdispatch this morning penned by Tom Englehardt.  I have long argued that there are precious few differences between the two parties.  The Democrats are slightly more liberal on social issues while the Republicans are more right-wing, religious conservative.  Both seem to give only lip service to economic issues that will help the lower 90% of the economic food chain.  As Englehardt notes they are both part of a "war party" and vote the interests of the military/industrial complex, to use Eisenhower's phrase.

Gene Logsdon has another good take on herbicide resistant weeds and the chemical industry that aims to get rid of them.  You would think that they would take notice of the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria which, thanks to our misuse of the drugs, are now becoming resistant to multiple families of antibiotics.  But the powers that be in industrial agriculture don't question their tactics any more than the "war party" in Washington.

I have been reading stories about the controversy, in Europe especially, over Muslim women wearing their traditional veils.  It doesn't seem to matter what level of veiling the women practice but someone objects.  France has passed strict anti-veiling laws and other countries seem interested in following suit.  Today I came across this story and wondered if these women would face the same, often violent, reaction.  Especially if they decided to extend the tradition beyond church.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We woke to a dusting of snow this morning.  Last I saw the weather people hadn't predicted any great amount of it.  We seem to be between torrential rain on the west coast and heavy rain/freezing rain on the east.  Otherwise nothing much going on outside.  I got three more seed catalogs in the mail.  They are giving me some ideas for the next season.

The first story on the morning news reiterated one on last night's news: with the falling gas prices sales of SUVs are rising.  The best sellers appear to be the biggest ones and the most gas-thirsty.  I guess people think the low prices are going to last forever.  Some may be feeling richer because the money they would spend on gas can be used for something else, but how temporary will that situation b?  Since most people buy their cars on time, when conditions change they may find themselves saddled with the car payment and fewer resources to keep them up.  Although I will say we recently drove an SUV that we would consider buying if we needed the hauling capacity.  We took our new-to-us car in to have airbags serviced.  They weren't part of the recall but the service light was on and the car was still under the 90 warranty.  The dealer loaned us a new Escalade while the work was done and we were impressed.  It drove beautifully.  We loved the rear-view camera.  I quipped that if we were planning a great deal of traveling and needed a home-away-from-home we could live comfortably in while traveling, this would be it.  But we aren't traveling, we don't need its hauling or passenger capacity, and it is way beyond our financial capabilities.  Just had another thought--I wonder how significant the so-called is?  If an incident increases from 1 to 2 that is a 100% uptick.  But how significant is the increase?  One more SUV sale in a market of 1000 vehicle sales isn't all that big a deal.

I saw this on-line yesterday and the evening news had a brief mention that said the outage was caused by two aging cables that failed.  The power company managed to fix the problem in a few hours.  One report noted this was the second recent power outage and that such failures have been increasing in frequency and duration over the last several years.  Given the state of U.S. infrastructure (pretty much awful) and the fact that most governments are under severe financial stress (Detroit is in bankruptcy) I wonder how they are going to fund basic repairs without even considering the improvements pundits say we need.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Good morning on this last day of November.  Yesterday was as nice as the weather people predicted.  I got rose trimmed a bit but not wrapped.  The ground in the containers is as frozen as I thought it.  But it was warm enough that the ice in the bird bath melted. I was able to get it emptied partially dried.  The Baker Creek seed catalog came yesterday so I am busy going through it to see what I want to order.  I always look forward to the new catalogs.


As you can see I didn't have much to say yesterday and we are now in December.  Several of the bloggers I read asked where the time has gone a question I am asking more frequently as years pass in the blink of an eye.

Good points on our yearly "feeding" frenzy.  About a decade ago I wished my boss a happy birthday with the hope that he would "have enough.  Neither more nor less but enough."  He looks at me like I had insulted him.  Bill McKibben, I think, noted that through out most of human existence "more" and "better" were like twin birds perched so closely on a branch that a rock thrown at one would likely hit the other as well.  Now the two are so far apart that more doesn't always mean better and may actually mean worse.

To continue on a related theme: evidently sales weren't all retailers hoped they would be.  I wonder if people are like me and have no interest in this national contact sport or if people have less money than the pundits hoped.  Or both.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

This last Saturday in November should be a bit warmer before the next cold wave comes in.  I changed out our door wreath and we broke our usual rule of not going out or shopping on Black Friday.  We had to pick up our car which was in to get its airbags repaired.  It wasn't part of the recall and the units were not produced by the company that produced the airbags under recall.  We bought the new-to-us car only a week ago and thankfully the repairs were under their limited warrantee so it was replaced free of charge.  But while we were out we decided to pick up a couple of items to perk up the wreath.  The traffic was heavy but inside the store we finished up without any delay at all.  I put up seasonal wreaths not holiday wreaths and I put them together myself.

Since it will be warm(er) today I hope to trim the rose back a bit and get the frame for its winter mulch and cover set up.  I am not sure how I will do it because the ground in the containers seemed to be getting quite frozen.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Good morning on this day after Thanksgiving.  We spent yesterday with family as I said we would.  We came home feeling as stuffed as the turkey had been and spent the evening dozing in front of the TV.  Unlike so many of our countrymen we won't be shopping.

On a day when so many of the herd are stampeding to the stores to engage in the annual spending frenzy a friend sent me an e-mail with a link to this story.

Becoming Minimalist has a good take on the holiday.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Good morning, all.  Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We will be with my brother and his family for dinner.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chalk one up for the self-fulfilling prophecy.  After weeks during which the news media, politicians and police spokespeople emphasized the potential for violence after the grand jury decision in Ferguson, the violence has come.  Is it any surprise?

Dana Millbank echoes my thoughts on Obama's foreign policy pretty well.  Obama does seem to be morphing into an imitation of GW Bush.  I was skeptical of how well Obama would extricate us from our Middle East wars.  Inertia isn't just a matter for physics--it is evident in societies as well.  Trajectories are very hard to change.  The problem is that the underlying premises behind our actions haven't changed.  Our policies are still based on the assumptions that the area is somehow critical to our national interests and that we have the right to remake those societies into something resembling our own.  If the assumptions are wrong, the conclusions are also.

I don't know about any one else but this item is not likely to do anything for us.  We don't eat out much any more and when we do we aren't any more likely to look at the calorie counts than we are the prices.  And if the results of the rules requiring fast food restaurants to post calorie counts are any indication, few of us will change our normal behavior and opt for lower calorie items.  We are certainly not among those who consume one-third of their calories away from home.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Good Monday morning to all.  I don't know what I will find to comment on today.  We pretty much shut down the TV yesterday after our local news.  I really don't want to hear about "All Ferguson, all the time."  Nor did we what any of the fluff that dominates the so-called news.

An excellent piece by Andrew Bacevich at Tomdispatch this morning.  Unfortunately, most of the political idiots in Washington probably aren't listening so sometime soon reality will rise up and bite us in the ass.

I am a skeptic on most technology.  On the one hand, it can be very convenient.  On the other, it can fail and sometimes the consequences of that failure is dire.  Ronni Bennett has an interesting piece on "Elder Surveillance For Their Own Good."  All of the devices out there are peddled to us as for our "good" in some fashion or another.  Depends on how you define good.  What strikes me in Ronni's piece is the persistent effort to substitute increasingly scarce and expensive human contact with some form of robotic and/or electronic care.  I find that a dismal and depressing prospect.

As my Dad always said: figures don't lie, but liars figure.  Or as others have noted: there are lies, damned lies, statistics and government statistics (in increasing order of untruth.)

Fear + stupidity = tragedy.  If you buy a damn tool, of any kind, damned well learn to use it and use it properly.

We do like Pope Francis here.  Too bad there are so many other aspects of his faith that make it unpalatable.  I love that phrase: God always forgives, the earth does not.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Thanksgiving is next Thursday and the commercial "silly season" is following fast on the political silly season, a.k.a. midterm elections.  Over the years, as commerce has reduced holidays to shopping frenzies and most, if not all, meaning to them has been lost, I have felt more and more disconnected from them.  If we didn't, usually, spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, and (sometimes) Easter with my brother and his family, the holidays would barely register on our consciousness.  I like this piece by John Beckett at Patheos on the Thanksgiving Arms Race.  I have said, all too often, that the yearly yammering by Christian pundits bemoaning a "war on Christmas" reveals a war already lost.  For all their screeching about people saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" or other faiths insisting that their sacred days also be recognized with their symbols on public spaces.  The real war killed the soul of Christmas and replaced it with a "golden calf."  But few have said a word about that.  After all, who wants to piss off his sponsor?

Another episode in The Obscenity of Modern Employment.  If they can't build a robot to do the job, they will try to make humans over into robots.

We see a lot of products whose manufacturers claim they are "natural."  We take that labeling with a ton of salt because when we read the labels (and we do read the labels) we know there is no way that crap is natural.  Well, General Mills has agreed to a settlement of a lawsuit on its use of "100% Natural" which will strip the term from some of its products that include more than 0.9% of ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and others of that ilk, or GMOs.

Gee, I didn't know Moses was "the first American."  And I have a MA in History.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Beautiful day today.  Cold but sunny which is always a plus.  Whatever snow the weather people predicted failed to materialize.  That is usually a good thing.  We seem to be between systems that gave lake effect east and north of us as well as south.

Two places we rarely shop any more are Kmart and Walmart. Our drift away from what were once mainstays in our shopping lives came gradually because they just don't meet our needs any more.  They simply don't carry what we want or they want far too much for their shoddy goods.  We came to the conclusion a good while ago that spending a bit more for something that will last is better than spending less for something that won't.  Though we are far less disenchanted with Kmart, this item adds a further inducement not to shop there.  Our commercial culture has pretty much destroyed any notion of holidays for ordinary workers.  We simply refuse to shop on holidays.  We make sure we have whatever we need well before.  If we forget anything, we simply do without.  Participating in such exploitation simply nauseates me.  I refuse.


The weather people say today should be like yesterday: a beautiful sunny but cold day.  We'll see.

Now this is an interesting post on the American electorate.  The notion that "we want what we want" and "by we I mean you and I" explains the phenomenon of overwhelming expressed disapproval of elected officials generally but those same officials being re-elected--over and over and over.  We say we want to throw the bums out but our bums are ok.

Since none of the major networks carried Obama's immigration speech last night, preferring to protect their bottom line during the November sweeps by broadcasting their regular popular (in some quarters) programs, we couldn't watch it even if we had intended to.  I will be honest we had not planned to watch it figuring that we could get more out of a transcript and/or the commentary on line.  We figured correctly.  Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism has done a nice job of dissecting the speech and finds it sadly wanting in substance.  A lo of political flash, no practical bang.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


It is a bit warmer this morning.  Actually in the low, very low, 20s.  The weather report on the morning news said that all fifty states had below freezing low temperatures.  "All FIFTY???  Even HAWAII???"  I found this at the same time the news reader was talking about the extent of the arctic freeze.  I remarked that it seems a bit odd to think that 2014 will be, barring something unforeseen, the warmest year, globally, since records were started in the late 19th century.  We experienced the coolest summer I can remember--much below normal temps.  But the West of the country baked under relentless heat and drought.  The hot areas more than compensated for the cold ones.

Now this is an interesting idea.

As a person once owned by cats I can attest that everything the Archdruidess says is absolutely true.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I am not a great fan of either Anonymous or the KKK but in this skirmish I cheer for Anonymous.  Score so far: Anonymous 2, KKK 0.  Crooks & Liars has this account making me think the score should be more like 3 or 4 to zip in favor of Anonymous.

From the Adventures and Musings of an Arch Druidess.  Great jump rope that.


Cold. Cold.  COLD!!!  The TV news says 11F.  Whatever site Mom was on said 9F here.  And the wind chill takes that down to sub-zero.  But we didn't get the snow that is falling, and has been, overnight east of us.

Mom had heard a snippet about this some time ago.  I hadn't seen anything at all.  Bottom line: no one knows how the LSD got in the beef.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Lazy Sunday.  I have watered my rosemary plants and fertilized them.  They are doing quite nicely inside.  I put a few more stitches on a shawl/scarf.  We'll see if I get anything else done.

I found this item with a prediction of the kind you sincerely hope won't come true but fear it is all too possible.  I have seen a number of articles over the last couple of years concerning cancellations of fishing seasons and one where boats came back in with no fish--at all.  I linked to a few of those in earlier posts.

Found this "Pocket Paradigm" on Undernews.  What a load of s$#t we are constantly fed by the self-help gurus and other such.  Worse is that so many of us believe it.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Oh, it is CHI-I-I-I-I-LY this morning.  Only 20F.  We expect snow--a bit more than the flurries we had every now and then over the last week.

I have become very skeptical of medicine as practiced today.  I am always amused by stories like this AARP piece on the "10 medical tests you should avoid."  I laughed at the last entry: the yearly physical.

So Russia might blame the U.S. for its drug abuse problem.  Russia is unhappy because our troop withdrawal is also cutting funds to "fight" the opium production in Afghanistan and they are the nearest market for the product.  In truth the multi-billion dollar effort was marginally effective and were efforts to shift farmers to other crops.  Those other crops never provided the income opium poppies did and, being good capitalists, the farmers followed the money. Hitting the production of the arrangement hasn't worked in Afghanistan.  On this side of the world, South and Central American countries are unhappy because the U.S. is the market for the drugs produced in their territories and they feel that the U.S. should address the demand side of the equation instead of demanding they disrupt their societies/economies by crushing the production side.  Perhaps we need some out-of-the-box thinking.

This little piece on education "reform" raises an interesting point.  We keep hearing from our politicians and pundits how important education and yet teachers, overwhelmingly women, get very little respect and very much blame for whatever ills those politicians and pundits.

I have been reading about the drought in Brazil for some time now.  Evidently it is getting somewhere beyond serious.  However, I remember a Scientific American piece I read about 30 years ago each time I read another installment in the continuing Brazilian drought saga.  The Amazon rain forest is connected to the Northwest cold climate rainforest in this country.  Moisture streams between the two carried by the wind currents and they feed off each other.  The drought in the west this year extended over Washington and Oregon as well as California.

Amazing how religious freedom for some means religious repression for others.

Friday, November 14, 2014


Again we have cold temps and chance of snow flurries.  I am not complaining because areas south and east of us got slammed with 6+ inches of snow.  As usual for a first significant snowfall, everyone had to relearn how to drive in it.

I always enjoy reading David Kaiser's posts.  The one I linked to had me humming that line from Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth:  nobody's right if everybody's wrong.

This just about sums up the Repthuglicans and their election victory.

We should all give the Roberts Supreme Court a big "thank you."  I guess it all depends on how you define "the people."

March Matron has some really cute video snippets of animal antics.  Love the bunny!!

Interesting observations on the direction of the labor "market" in this country.  Doesn't sound all that pleasant.

I saw a headline that made me curious.  It said more than half of U.S. cities are too expensive for most people to live in.  I wondered if the article was referring to general cost of living or something more specific.  It was indeed more specific:  what it costs to buy a home.  I wonder how rentals are in those cities and other costs like food, transportation, and utilities.  Is city living any more affordable if you aren't trying to buy housing?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

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An interesting piece from The Contrary Farmer.  He makes an good point in saying that our so-called experts can say anything about Neolithic peoples because no one really knows anything about how they lived.  That is what makes me giggle every time someone talks about the Paleo-diet.  I have often thought "ADHD" was simply psychobabble for "high-spirited kids who are bored shitless in school."  Frankly, I sympathize with the kids.  And the Farmer makes a second good point: not only are the "experts" ignorant of Neolithic life--the don't know much about many aspects of modern life either.

Been hearing about this for a bit now.  The source of the bug, we are told, is Russia and government backed hackers.  Now, over the last couple of days, this story has popped up, though not much in our own media.  We may be too late to prevent Cold War 2.0.  And we can't forget that Russia isn't our only problem.

We woke this morning to snow flurries.  They have passed and now we have bright sun though I don't think it will make things any warmer.  In spite of the cold I stepped out on the patio to bring in the bird feeder and the water dish I leave on the birdbath for the little feathered pests.  Both are filled and back in place.  A more substantial and, possibly, sticking snow is due over the weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I love days when I read something and say "I didn't know that."  This article is one of those somethings.  It makes sense that some of the channel islands would have once spoke French but that they managed to not only retain the French but have their own dialect of French is fascinating.

We did our weekly errands this morning and were surprised to see empty shelves where a some items we wanted normally are.  We don't often see that because we don't go in for fancy or highly processed foods.  But both grocery chains were out of the brand of yogurt we buy and the brand of butter they advertised on sale had already sold out.  The dairy manager told us their supplier failed to deliver their full order of the butter--to any of the local stores.  We have remarked fairly often over the last year and a bit that the stores have fewer items and/or more empty spots on their shelves.  Makes me wonder what is going on.


I had a couple of odd thoughts on this story.  It is a shame that the children were subjected to such rude treatment.  However, I wonder if the fault isn't with the higher management of the company and not with the individual managers.  For this kind of incident to happen in two geographically separated stores makes me think that the store managers and their staffs are subjected to considerable pressure from the top to maintain both sales and sales per customer levels.  That thought makes be wonder exactly how good sales have been and how good they expect them to be.  Indications are: not very.


Only in the mid 20s this morning and the weather people say the cold weather, which feels more like early January, for the next two weeks.  We had rain as the snow stayed well north of us.  They predict flurries for Sunday.

So far we are very happy with our new TV arrangement.  When we didn't find an antenna that gave us acceptable reception we cut our cable back to very basic.  The hardest part was convincing Comcast that we really did want less service--they kept trying to move us into a bigger package for a nice low, introductory price.  What it was about paying too much and getting too little didn't register we don't know.  Finally, they did what we wanted.  So we get our local channels and a couple of the shopping channels which we would gladly do without.  We signed up for Netflix.  Now we listen to Pandora during the afternoon, watch Jeopardy and news on cable, and then go to Netflix in the evening.  We especially enjoy the lack of commercials--and look forward to reducing our overall bill by about a third.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Welcome to the "internet of things" and the tyranny of unintended consequences.

From the Agonist, just about the best summation of the recent mid-term elections.  And it doesn't bode well for future elections.

I read Jenna Woginrich on her blog and her Facebook posts.  I thoroughly enjoy those posts and this Huffington Post article says a lot of sense.  I have thought for some time that the major problem with this society is that too many people have been reduced to indistinguishable parts labeled "worker" and "consumer," and the first exists solely to fund the second.  The worker doesn't know any way to live but work his ass off to exchange his earnings (often inadequate) for the consumer product he needs (or wants).  That he might better secure some of his own sustenance by making some of it himself has become an alien concept.

Druid Life continues on that theme.  And makes a good point: anything we make for ourselves rather than exchanging money earned at some "job" doesn't contribute to the GDP--it isn't exchanged for money in the market.  It becomes economically invisible.  Oh, yeah--the "hobbies" are definitely subversive.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Anyone remember Gordon Lightfoot's Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?  Especially the line about the "Witch of November came stealin' "?  I was reminded of it over the last while as we have been hit with nasty, strong and cold winds from the lake.  I did a bit of Googling and discovered the phrase has a longer history and traditionally refers to the cold, high winds coming out of the north.  We have been plagued by those winds all year giving us a delayed spring, a summer that didn't merit the name, and now a fall that is turning wintery quickly.  The Witch isn't stealing--she has been stomping through leaving us wondering what the hell is happening.  It is chilly here and about to get cold with a chance of snow over the next week.

At least I got the last of the clearing done in the gardens thanking the petunias for their beauty this summer and the hyssop for feeding the bees as I pulled the plants.  I emptied the last of the long planters and put it in the shed.  I plan to move it to a new area next season.  The rose remains but it is much too early to cut it back and mulch it for the winter--at least, I hope it is too early.  I hope it will survive the winter in its container.  If it doesn't I will stick with annuals or perennials that will be planted as annuals.

With friends like these---the disaster can't be far behind.  These guys are on the same page as our government officials in distorting language to the point where words have no meaning.  What does "democracy" mean when dealing with autocratic monarchies and military dictatorships?  And what does"terrorism" mean when it covers people who simply disagree with you?


Isn't it fascinating how this keeps expanding.  The numbers have gone from 100 to "a couple hundred" to 350 to 1000 and now to 1500.  Of course they aren't counted as "boots on the ground" since they are simply advisors, trainers, whatever.  Like they don't have boots and their footwear isn't on Iraqi soil.  Don't you love semantics.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I am taking a wait and see attitude toward the recent election.  Just because the Repthuglicans had an excellent (from their point of view) result doesn't mean they can do anything with it.  I was amused by one little snippet:  The Repthuglican majority in the House is the largest since Herbert Hoover's administration.  Does anyone remember that Hoover was president from 1929 to 1933?  Anyone remember what happened in 1929?

Another amusing comment on the TV news this morning:  Wall Street is evidently happy with the election results because stocks are back in record territory.  Why do I find that amusing?  All the info I have read on economic history indicates the economy does better under Democrats: better asset value growth, better profits for business, more jobs created in the economy.

Another intriguing bit--Obama said that 60% of our voting age population didn't vote.  This US News piece seems to confirm that.  I wonder why so many don't vote.  Laziness for some, I am sure but surely not most.  I saw a bit of a report on problems in Chicago with long lines and one voter who simply couldn't hold out for the 7 hours it took at his polling place.  The last voter in that precinct left around 2am Wednesday.  A few interviewees felt their votes don't really count.  Much of that I am sure comes from having been on the losing side.  I wish one of the political/sociological academic types would look into that.

HuffingtonPost has this interesting summary that goes beyond which contestant won where.

And for the joke of the day.  Enjoy.  We did.  I am still smiling.

Think there might be a connection?  I believe the 48% cited is a bit high.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I don't have anything to say about the elections right now.  The pundits are still digesting the results--those that are in.  Several races won't be decided just yet.  I will let it simmer for a while.

But this is an interesting development in Man's war against bacteria.  Most of us should know that we have a world now of resistant bacteria thanks to our over-use, mis-use and abuse of antibiotics over the last 70 years.  Many strains of disease causing bugs are resistant to multiple antibiotics and a few are resistant to almost all antibiotics.  The problem with antibiotics is that, no matter how well or conservatively used, bacteria will develop resistance.  A couple of Swiss researchers have found a way to combat bacteria that doesn't lead to resistance.

Fabius Maximus has a good summary of the ebola crisis, which is a crisis in west Africa--not so much in western countries.  I am always amazed at how easily some of us panic and how little some of us think critically about anything--terrorism, disease, whatever.

I have been reading about this possibility for a while now.  Not many now can remember the polio epidemics of the last century.  Anyone my age were too young and anyone older got the vaccine.  I was remarking not long ago that part of the problem with vaccines is their success.  I remember having measles, mumps and chicken pox.  My youngest siblings were vaccinated.  I remember my father talking about his baby sister who died of pneumonia long, long ago.  That is outside my memory.  Now many of those diseases are making a return.  Part of the problem is people are now more afraid of the possible side effects of the vaccinations than they are of the diseases themselves.  But if the viruses are evolving a way around vaccination they may become the problem they once were.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


I would say Good Election Day but that is yet to be determined.  We will be going out a bit later to vote, get some medical needs attended to, and run an errand or two.  Our day is starting out wet but fairly mild--only 55F.

Well, we're back errands done and voting finished.  Not that we are entirely happy with the latter.  I did something I have never done since I came of age to vote.  I voted a straight Democratic ticket.  Let me be clear--I don't much like the Democrats but I absolutely loath the Repthuglicans.  I once believed that government split between the parties was best and ensured a more balanced and reasonable policy.  No more.  What we need are reasonable people who will honestly debate the issues and, in the end, choose a compromise.  I haven't seen much reasonableness, damned little honesty, and no willingness to compromise.  What I have seen are plenty of zealous assholes who don't mind burning down the church so long as every possible apostate dies in the conflagration no matter how many believers also die.  This little piece speculates on an possibility I heartily endorse--maybe both major parties should go extinct.

Tom Englehardt has another good summation of our present and, likely, near future.  Goes a long way to explaining why my political mood is very sour.

Saw headline a bit ago that is nagging at me.  I wonder how true it will be and for what areas.  Sorry I didn't write down the site.  It read:  Most Americans Will Exercise Their Constitutional Right--to not vote.  It nagged at me because our polling place was quite busy this morning.  More than we usually found it in years past.

On our travels this morning we saw an interesting sight:  All our gas stations are showing gas for $2.97-2.99/gal.  Good Huh?!  Not really.  Last week it was running $2.79 and in that time WTC oil was losing $4/bl.  What gives?

Ah--some sentiments on this Election Day I can sympathize with.  Thankfully, the TV has been off today since we went out to vote right after the early news and the crockery is out of reach.

Adding to my disgruntled mood:  retailers already have Christmas goods out and I saw the first ads with an underlying Christmas theme.  They didn't explicitly mention that holiday but the color themes and other visual elements of the ads were definitely not Thanksgiving.  Damn!!  They must be desperate.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Only one more day and this election season will be over.  Well, the voting will be.  Pundits think some close and hotly contested races won't actually be settled until early next year.  At least the ads will be gone.

I thought this Buzz Feed piece was amusing.  Target is selling Orina sandals and now trying to rename them because "orina" is Spanish for "urine."  It reminds me of the Chevrolet campaign to sell its Nova in Latin America which fizzled badly.  Nobody realized that "nova" in Spanish translates to "don't go."  No one wants a car that doesn't go.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Cold today to start--only 28F.  Or there about since that is the temp at Chicago O'Hara airport.  Over here it might be more--or less.  That miserable weather we had on Friday pretty well finished the garden.  Time to clear out the petunias and hyssop.  If the patio is dry enough I need to sweep up the leaves and get them into the compost bin.

Of course, we have been up since about 3:30 because of the time change.  Have I said before how much I HATE these time changes.  Yeah, I guess I have--at least twice a year since I started this blog about seven years ago.

I didn't read all of this article by Lambert Strether and cross posted at Naked Capitalism.  Yeah, I am sick of this election and wish I could ignore most of the non-information in the news about it.  I didn't realize how many vulture venture capitalists are running for gubernatorial office where they would control the appointments to pension boards.  Bruce Rauner I know of because we live near the Indiana/Illinois border and get news from Chicago.  I have checked out the anti-Rauner ads and noticed something interesting.  As bad as the ads are the stories in the newspapers (ironically the same newspapers that have all endorsed Rauner) are actually worse.  Ever since Ben Bernanke told Congress that Social Security funds were in the cross-hairs because "that is where the money is" we have thought that the finance industry and their bought Congress-critters would go after that and pension funds because those were the biggest pots not yet thoroughly looted.  I loved Strether's notion of "honest graft" and laughed as he cited Tammany Hall of late 1800s infamy.  We had been thinking much the same thing not long ago.

There is something about the assumption under the argument in this article that pisses me off.  The argument seems to be that a retiree, who may have qualified for three different pensions, should choose only one. Or should refuse a pension if they are still working.  My once-upon-a-time father-in-law retired from the Navy after 20+ years, qualifying him for a military pension he couldn't take until he turned 62, he then earned a teaching degree and taught for another 25 years, qualifying him for a state pension, and because he also contributed to Social Security and had his required time in he also qualified for Social Security.  Why the hell should someone who has earned those pensions forego any of them?  And if he had been disabled shouldn't he get that two?  I saw a pair of dueling ads out of Illinois where one ad lambasted the incumbent for taking a pension while she earned a nice fat salary as a state employee and the incumbent's ad insisted she had refused the pension.  I don't know what kind of linguistic legerdemain which campaign was using to make their assertions but both arguments rest on the same assumption--if she was qualified for the pension but still worked she should refuse one or the other.  I don't see the validity in the double dipping charge nor do I see any particular virtue in her refusing to take her pension.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Happy Halloween to those who celebrate that holiday.  I prefer to think of it as Samhain.  That has less of a commercial taint.  And it has a bit more of the flavor of the change of seasons.  We'll feel that today.  The temperatures right now are in the low 40s but will fall over the day.  We had rain overnight and may get slushy snow before the day is our.  That may be driven by high winds.  Poor kids trick-or-treating this afternoon.

For years technology, especially It or computer tech, has been peddled as a panacea that will make life easier, more efficient and more productive.  The health care industry has been the latest to fall under the spell of the magic technology and the Federal government has been the head cheerleader on the project to reap the fantastic savings and efficiencies.  As usual in such cases the the promise is well mixed with frustration and the results haven't lived up to the promise.  We belong to a seniors' group that meets for breakfast and a talk on medical topics each month.  The group is hosted by the major local hospital so, naturally, the hospital and services are highlighted but the info is good.  We have had a couple of talks that touched on records and each time several members complained about lost records, inaccurate records, difficulty accessing records, and having to answer the same questions every time the see a doctor the answer which then have to be input into the records system.  It seems that the ease, efficiency, accuracy, and productivity have been over promised and under delivered.

I saw a report last night about a vote in Alaska on legalizing recreational marijuana use which might, if passed, take away the local options that have been available.  The account claimed that laws on marijuana use are quite liberal and much of the regulation is left to local communities some of which control it more strictly.  Evidently, the election has attracted a lot of outside money and personnel which the locals are not happy about.  My reaction: get used to it.  After all out of state money and activists entered the efforts against gay marriage in California and a lot of corporate money (read Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta) was applied to the votes on labeling GMOs in Washington and other states.  We have seen former NYC mayor Bloomberg inserting himself and his money into Illinois elections.  The line between local and national has been blurred for some time now.  The Founding Fathers may have set up a system of divided powers and responsibilities between Federal and state governments but I doubt they ever foresaw a time when the population would reach the 312 million it is now or a time when communication between distant parts of the country could take place at the speed of light or a time when people could travel from ocean to ocean in hours instead of months.


Welcome to November and Dia de los Muertos.  Yesterday was nasty: rain, rain/snow mix, sleet and high winds--really high winds.  As a result we had no kids coming around trick-or-treating.  Oh, well--we will freeze most of the candy.  We woke to inside temps in the low 60s so we put the heat on for the first time.  We keep the setting at 68.  Doesn't sound like much of a difference but we can feel it.  I brought out my favorite heavy shawl and we put our heavier blankets on the beds.

We spent most of the last two days trying to find an indoor antenna we could use here.  Our ultimate goal was to disconnect completely from Comcast.  We have debated the cable service for the last six years or so as the charges went up and the satisfaction went down.  Two factors fueled our debates: how happy we were with the programming and how satisfied we were with Comcast's customer service.  Most of the channels we used to enjoy have been taken over by the "reality show" craze which neither of us like at all.  And the customer service should really have been called customer disservice. We finally decided to change.  Our first choice was to cancel cable entirely, install the antenna to get our local channels for news, and sign up for Netflix.  Well we tried three different successively stronger antennas but none really worked well.  We are simply too far away from the transmission towers.  So we shifted to plan B: change our service to simple basic, which cut our bill by about 60%,  and sign up for Netflix.  The conversation Mom had with the company rep ran true to form:  the woman couldn't seem to understand the simple instruction to change to simple basic and leave our computer service as is.  The process took a good 20 minutes as she tried to get us to take one of their limited-time specials which wouldn't really address the major complaint: too much for too little.  And, of course, she pushed their Voice service which we have repeatedly told them we don't want.

And having just written the above paragraph what do I find?  This piece on "throttling," a word that has been in the tech news just lately.  Another case of companies behaving badly.

I love this cartoon posted on Bob Cesca's blog.

I have read several sociological/political writings whose authors have posited the notion that the U.S. is entering a new Dark Age.  With news stories like this one, I would say we are already there.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


A news story which is not covered in any of the mainstream media anywhere.  Capitalism has come to mean private interests reap the rewards of risk but shifts the costs of failure onto the public.

I think Empathy Deficit Disorder is a fair description although I rather like the description I used when talking to a political canvasser: hard-hearted, selfish bastards. What is worse some of them are incredibly ignorant.  What about "tested negative" do they not understand?

I saw this this morning on BBC.  They may be tired of the president who should be stepping down after his second term but is trying to amend the Constitution to allow another term but they are really tired of no jobs and no hope.  But that doesn't come through on the NBC account.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I am finally back on line.  Our internet and cable TV were both out for at least 3 hours this morning.  It was out when we got up about 5am and stayed that way until after 8am.  Nothing brings home how dependent we are on that technology when it suddenly isn't there.  We have an old fashioned radio/turntable/cassette player/CD player so we had radio this morning while Mom did her crosswords and I put about four rows on a crocheted scarf I am working on.  We have experienced more such outages this year than ever and we never get any explanation for them.  Makes me wonder.

Oh, well--service is out again.  I don't know for how long--could be minutes could be longer.

The services came back after about another 15 minutes.

It won't be long before we have to turn back our clocks yet again. Damn but I do hate that.  Evidently I am not the only one.  I hated it when I had to wear a watch and set my alarm.  Thankfully, I haven't had to do either for almost five years.  It is still a pain in the ass.

Life imitating art?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


From Treehugger.  I crochet but I guess the same would hold true.

Another from Treehugger.  I never had children and my siblings and I are of an age where cloth diapers were all our mother had.  But over the last couple of decades I have questioned the economics and convenience of much of our throw-away society.

"If they be like to die then let them die and reduce the surplus population." (Ebenezer Scrooge)  Evidently the British Department for Work and Pensions agree.  As would the private company running the Kansas Medicaid program thanks to conservative star Brownback.  Can't have those disabled useless eaters mucking up the profits.  And then there are our Repthuglican leaders who propose this on the sly while promising all those who got coverage under the ACA.  The only ones who make out under their plans are the insurance companies, the health care industry, and the 1% who can afford either to pay out of pocket or for comprehensive medical care.  And on that note, let the nickel-and-dimeing commence.

I saw the controversy over Wal-mart's "Fat Girl" costumes this morning.  There are reasons we don't shop there.  But this interesting item follows in a similar vein.  But Wal-mart isn't the only store we don't shop when looking for clothes because they simply don't carry anything we are interested in or that fit us well.  Neither of us are young (haven't been "girls" in a very long time) and our body shapes don't really fit the clothes available.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Tom Englehardt has another interesting post written by Rory Fanning, once an Army ranger now a contentious objector.  I love the phrase "cheap praise and empty valorization."  I have thought that every time for the last decade every time I heard one of our idiot child politicians thank veterans for their "service."  Those thanks are worth their weight in gold.  I like the questions Fanning asks which are totally lacking in all of the gratitude ceremonies.  Among them what we should be thankful for.  For protecting our freedoms, as so often said?  No one has really connected how our freedoms over here are somehow protected over there.  And the notion that we either fight them over there so they won't bring the fight over here seems a bit thin also.

Just saw an interesting headline on Market Watch.  It asks which is more likely to kill you--ebola or your morning donut?   Well, I am the wrong person to ask that question since I am very unlikely to contract ebola and I don't indulge in donuts (or other pastries) very often.  Frankly both are a part of your hysterical response to health concerns.  We have seen a goodly number of these panics over the last thirty years driven my a news media covers all stories with a tone barely below full out scream of terror.  Little wonder I spend less and less time watching news.  Thankfully, I can get read the news and not get the over-the-top sound track.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I don't know what I will do outside today.  Right now--just after sunrise--it looks somewhat gray and dismal.  Since nothing in the containers needs to be done right now I can easily postpone it.  I got the last of the tomatoes, which ripened nicely in the bowl on the counter, are now cooking down to sauce.  If I don't do any gardening I have plenty of dusting among the book shelves and have started another round of weeding out of books.  My interests have changed so my books are gradually changing to reflect that.

Ronni Bennet has a good post this morning:  Old People Want More From Life Than Safety.  It is a good extension of the discussion she started by reviewing Atul Gawanda's Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.  I had a question reading Ronni's post:  what do we want to be safe from?  It is a question that comes to mind not only reading posts like the one above but as I listen to the news on ebola, or "terrorism," or any of the other threats du jour.  And hovering in the background is the question of what should be the source of our safety.  Most of the news reports seem to feature people hysterically insisting somehow a government keep them safe by what ever means, often extraordinary, deemed necessary.  Often those means are applied in the face of threats that are, when examined rationally, vanishingly small.

Jesse's Cafe Américaine has a sarcastically humorous piece with a on-point cartoon about our current economic "recovery."  This one is also good.  The economy now resembles a casino more than anything else--and we aren't the "House."

Friday, October 24, 2014


I saw frost on our grass when I put the trash tote out yesterday.  We have seen heavy frost on the roofs for the last couple of weeks.  We never felt summer but we are definitely feeling autumn.  We haven't turned on the heat yet but that won't be long coming.  Inside temps this morning: 67F.  I pulled the cypress vine, stevia and lemon balm yesterday.  Hyssop, a bunch of petunias and the rose are all I have left out there and of those the rose will be the only plant I will leave out there over the winter.  The season of the seed catalogs has started.  I got the e-mail notice from Baker Creek a few days ago that their new catalog was coming soon.  I immediately ordered one.  Time to start planning for next season.

We are about two weeks away from election day.  I remarked a couple of days ago that I would be glad when it was passed because the political ads, which have become increasingly hysterical and brutal, would disappear from the airwaves.  Unfortunately, I don't think they will for long as I expect the 2016 silly season will begin earlier than ever.  My disgust with the political ads bleeds over into the commercial ads which seem to take up more of the air time than ever.  We seem to spend as much time seeing the annoying ads as we do the programming.  Another reason why we are closer than ever to pulling the plug on TV.

For a bit of humor on the subject of fad diets check out Gene Logsdon at the Contrary Farmer.  We always take dietary advice with a heavy grain of salt.  When Mom's doctor gave her a handout on low cholesterol diet we picked it apart with bouts of near hysterical laughter.  The sample weeks worth of meals were so totally unrealistic, expensive, and wasteful.  By the way, the heavy grain of salt on the dietary advice, doesn't pass our lips, is far more than we ingest in our food.  We have cut that drastically which does far more good for us that the doctor recommended diet.

The more I read about our, supposed, plans in Syria and surrounding countries the more skeptical I become of our foreign policy, if we really have a policy.  This only fuels my skepticism.  I wrote, rather sarcastically, about a deja vu feeling I had because our efforts at "training" various "armies" over the last two decades have produced decidedly counter-productive results.  Now, we are proposing that we recruit a force, which has to be not-Assad and not-Free Syrian Army and anti-IS, whose sole purpose is to defend territory from IS but not to take it back from IS.  This is not just a "flawed" strategy but a self-defeating one.  But perhaps the situation reveals just how tenuous our situation is and how few real allies we have.  We are trying very hard not to piss off any of the antagonistic parties involved over there.


Yesterday my brother treated us to dinner out in honor of Mom's birthday.  It was a nice afternoon out so I didn't get much more written than what you see above.  Then we had an annoying interruption of cable TV and internet service in the late afternoon so I didn't publish the post.  Oh, well--I guess I will just continue here for today.

The news this morning announced a new ebola case--in New York City now.  I plan to not comment on the situation.  I am not overly tolerant of hysteria so I will only skim the news in print and dry to ignore the news on TV.  Or I will pay more attention to BBC and Al Jazeera.  The tone of the stories between BBC and Good Morning America were striking--the first calm while the other was strident.  I can do without the carnival barker hyping the situation.

I got to this article by way of Some Assembly Required.  I don't normally visit the Men's Journal.  However, this item makes a lot of good sense to me: our nutritional advice for the last half century has been wrong.  See my comments on the article about fad diets.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


We plan to be out for a good part of this morning so I don't know how far I will get with my reading on-line today.  See what happens.

We have heard the reports about Apple Pay and how it is supposed to change our lives by allowing us to load all of our credit card data on smart phones, iPhones in particular, and then pay with a "swipe" of the phone instead of a swipe of a card.  I love the slant this article takes, especially in the headline. Our first thought was that the Apple Pay system was designed to obscure how much one is spending by taking all thought out of the process.  Lucky for us we don't have iPhones and don't want them.  And, with all of the hacking that has been going on, we are shifting back to cash for a lot of our purchases.

Evidently we aren't alone in thinking that cash might be a better option.

Love this take on the ebola "crisis" from the Agonist.


At least our politics has not descended to this kind of viciousness.  Yet.

So the Governor of Hong Kong opined that something as democratic as an open nominating process would give the poor too much power.  My first thought: gods, what an idiot.  There are some things a politician in a putative democracy shouldn't say out loud even if he thinks them.  My second thought: how does his sentiment differ from that expressed by some idiot billionaire a few weeks ago that he should have as many votes as he has dollars--one dollar, one vote.  Interesting isn't it how the Communist version of democracy seems to resemble the "democracy" of an American capitalist oligarch?

Oh, yeah--the coverage of the ebola story is more than a bit over the top.

I have long thought that university sports tail have been wagging the university dogs.  I remember one semester I was teaching an intro U.S. history course and a request from on high came down for me to "reconsider" the failing grad one of the athletes had earned so he could play in a bowl game.  I refused but noted that he did play in that game--I watched to find out.  Perhaps another instructor raised a grade enough to balance the F.  This fraud shows why our universities should stop being the farm teams for professional football and basketball.

At last.  It has taken far too long but four of George Bush's Blackwater cowboys have been convicted of murder/manslaughter and/or other charges.