Thursday, February 6, 2014

Good day to you all. Miscellaneous contrariness.

The snow has stopped for now.  This winter has now moved into the third place in the snowiest winters list.  To break the record another 30+ inches would have to fall--not a likely event.  As it stands, we have nearly double the normal snow for the year with half of winter is yet to come.  Oh, well, we are snug and have no plans to go anywhere.

I guess the problem with arose because they were changing the home page.  I don't really like it.  It is a busy mess.

This blogger has the perfect attitude towards winter weather:  stay in and do needlework.  Lovely pictures of both the snow covered landscape outside and the products of her efforts indoors.

The ABC news last night had a story that irritated me.  It concerned Subway's announcement that they were reformulating their bread recipes to remove a chemical that had generated a lot of signatures on a petition demanding they do just that.  Diane Sawyer went through the (very short piece) without saying which chemical Subway was removing.  Our local news readers did the same this morning.  Well, I looked up an article on line to find out what was going on.  The chemical is azodicarbonamide and you can find a bit more info here.  I suspect the reporters had a hard time pronouncing the word.  We did which confirmed our little rule for looking at food labels: if it contains chemicals we cannot pronounce, we don't buy.

I wasn't going to link to this story but I simply can't resist.  As usual I have a definitely contrary take on it.  The poll, according to the story, indicates that some 75% of Americans want the government to take a larger roll in food safety "oversight."  I see a few problems with the notion.  First, how much is in our food because the government allows it to be added?  See the comments above on Subway.  And once something is allowed how difficult is it for government agencies to get it removed after evidence shows a correlation with adverse health effects?  (Note I use the word "correlation."  Most of the statistics that arise out of scientific studies show correlation not causation.)  Third, in an era when we have a rising chorus demanding greater "austerity" in government, where is the money going to come from?  How much do we want to spend overseeing food production?  And at what points in the production process do we concentrate our efforts?  We have had foods contaminated at the grower (the melons last summer), in storage before processing (a spice processor in California shut down because of rodent and insect contamination in its warehouses), in the manufacturing (several episodes of "foreign substances" like plastic or metal from the production line),  or even later (episodes of product tampering).  And that doesn't by any means exhaust the possible ways in which food might become unsafe.  My contrary notion: we need to be more proactive in our food choices and rely less on someone else to ensure what we eat is safe.

For the last few years the articles I have read on climate change have been divided into two camps: those who want action to halt and roll back the changes underway and those who advocate "adaptation" to the changes.  This article seems to indicate that U.S. policy may be coming down on the adapter's side.  On this topic I am as contrary as ever--maybe more so.  I have long questioned if, by the time enough of us recognize a problem, we really don't have the time to nudge this ship into a different course.  Also, I don't have much faith in "our" ability to do much because so many of "us" have a vested interest in things as they are even if we know they will change whether we want them to or not.  I suspect the so-called climate hubs are nothing more than a very ineffective bandaid.

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