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.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Not as chilly as yesterday at this time by about 15F.  I hope it is clear and dry so I can get out do some more cleaning up in the gardens.  I could have yesterday but got an attack of the lazies.  See what happens today.

Found this at the Agonist.  Interesting but not really surprising.  Religion has always been a center around which people could organize their lives and identities.

Think this might be part of our problems?  I have thought for some time that our culture has gone so far in encouraging extreme individualism that a reaction in the opposite direction had to come.  When was the question.  And how far would the rebound go?

Another related item from Jesse's Cafe Americain.  HMM!  "Fiat culture" reminds me a bit of the little I have read in Daniel Boorstin's The Image.

And for a bit of a laugh see this from Can It Happen Here?

I guess I have an odd way of looking at things but the conclusions I draw from current events are somewhat...different.  Watching the ebola fracas I had a number of contrary thoughts.  First, it didn't scare me as much as it appears to scare so many of us--especially our political leaders.  I use "appears" because I am not sure how much is real fear concern on their part and how much is performance art.  I don't know and haven't had close contact with any one who is from or has been in any of the ebola hot spots or with anyone with such contact.  Chances of my getting ebola are about the same as my winning a lottery considering that I don't play.  Second, I wonder if Duncan would have been sent home with a dangerous fever and antibiotics (which are useless against a viral infection) if he had been white with good insurance instead of a black foreigner without.  It has been a somewhat sardonic joke for a long time now that the first operation a hospital does on an incoming patient is a "wallet-ectomy."  Third, very few of our hospitals would have fared any better than the Texas hospital did after the patient was admitted.  Part of the "unpreparedness" stems from, as only one commentator mentioned, the "just-in-time" business model which keeps limited "normal" supplies on hand depending on a continuous supply chain to get new supplies in a timely manner.  Ebola is hardly a "normal" occurrence in this country and that hospital quickly found both its personnel and medical supplies over-taxed.  But should our hospitals be prepared for such an unlikely event?  Four hospitals in this country have the kind of containment wards, equipment and trained personnel experts tell us is required.  All are heavily subsidized by the Federal government and the staff train frequently.  But how often are those facilities used?  Lastly, I wonder how contagious ebola really is considering that, so far, only two people, both nurses who treated Duncan, have contracted the disease of the 70+ (including family) who had varying levels of contact.  It appears to be spreading rapidly and widely in west Africa but the social and health structures over there are not what they are over here and that may be limiting the spread over here.  A lot of food for thought there.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


And it is chilly this morning--in the mid 30s.  We still don't have the heat on but the inside temperature didn't get below 68F.

On to what I am reading--

I found this by way of the Political Wire and include it only because it illustrates rather well a thought I had watching the (damned) political commercials this morning.  We, as conscientious voters, are supposed to research candidates to make rational choices in the voting booth.  Where do we go to find the information we need to make an informed decision?  Obviously not the the highly manicured and manipulated web pages the campaigns maintain.  Nor can we go to the political ads which are well crafted to present the candidates in a way to appeal to a wide segment of the voters while showing the opposition as the spawn of hell.  We can't depend on their previous votes (if any), or any bills introduced or sponsored (if any), or public pronouncements (all too many) because they have become amazingly adept at explaining those in a way that make black look white.  The one thing that does come through the ads and "debates" is a strong strain of hypocrisy--on all sides.  Sometimes I think our political scene is simply smoke and mirrors.

On that theme but switching to product ads, this article suggests we should be highly skeptical of "scientific" looking graphs and other graphics which provide an aura of authority but no real information.  Too often we accept the graphs or statistics without asking key questions.  What is the source of the information?  Who paid for the studies?  How relevant are the lab conditions to every day life?  How preliminary are the results?

Saturday, October 18, 2014


I actually did get a bit of work done outside yesterday.  Still too wet to sweep much but I cleared the strawberry tower and tried out a new arrangement for a tower next summer.  I think it will work nicely.

Spent a good bit of time downloading OS X Maverick yesterday and am still getting used to it.  Everything seems much slower.

A fair number of energy and environmental bloggers have been using the term for sometime.  The only question is when the "Anthropocene" began not whether we are in it.

I don't know what it is about the political idiots who think prohibiting some flights from west Africa will stop any new cases of ebola coming into the U.S.  They seem to be logically challenged.  I have heard that Duncan, the original ebola patient in Texas, flew in from Belgium.  We don't have any direct flights from the three main sites and expanding the zone to the few neighboring countries that do have such flights won't do what they claim they think it would--stop ebola over there.  A few years ago a man who had a drug resistant form of TB flew from the U.S. to make stops in several European countries before returning to the U.S. via Canada--all within less than two weeks.  That even though he had been told not to travel.  Globalization doesn't apply just to business and manufacturing.  It applies to all facets of our lives.

It seems our military planners aren't satisfied to be training an Afghan army whose members have been responsible for a significant number of U.S. casualties when they turned their U.S. issued weapons on their supposed allies.  Now they are thinking of doing the same in Syria.  Oh, they aren't saying that.  They say they will train a force capable of confronting ISIS.  I guess that makes sense since we armed ISIS when the Iraqi army we trained and armed disintegrated leaving their weapons and equipment behind.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Good morning to any readers out there.  We should have dry conditions for most of the day.  We'll see.  Right now somewhat mild temps around 50F.

As for what I am reading today, I will start with this item.  I have seen several stories over the last few years on how much food is wasted and have wondered exactly where in the chain from farm field to dinner plate that the waste was occurring.  The article posted by Treehugger answers some of those questions.

So we will get the "Ebola czar" John McCain has been throwing a hissy fit about.  Excuse me--but where the hell is the Surgeon General?  You know--the person who is supposed to oversee our health services?  Oh, yes--the Repthuglicans who are now bitching so loudly have stonewalled on the nomination.  So now we have another official slotted into the hierarchy along with what ever support staff he needs draining what ever funds from wherever to deal with ebola specifically.  Talk about waste.

And then I found this on Can It Happen Here?  So the "Czar" has no medical expertise.  Obama, trapped between the extremely maladroit handling of the situation so far and fear-mongering, has hired a political operative to handle the spin.  Crap-tastic!!!

I guess the Koch's aren't satisfied with raping the environment; now they want to ravish the political process as well.  If you can't win honestly, win fraudulently.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Wet again with drizzle and maybe fog.  Can't see if we actually have fog here yet because it is still dark.

Once upon a time the U.S. was the only "superpower."  The hubristic cowboy administration of Bush the Younger called us the "hyper-power."  Unfortunately the concept is still alive in the Obama administration which claims we are the "indispensable" nation.  Whenever chaos erupts, whether from natural or man-made sources, the U.S. is the one country everyone in the world turns to to "do something."  Evidently I am not the only one who questions whether the any of the somethings we have done over the past 30 years or so have done any real good.  Englehardt's intro to Peter Van Buren's post on Tomdispatch supports my skepticism.  By the way, Van Buren outlines some likely results of the conflict in Syria and Iraq none of which can be construed as a victory for the "indispensable nation."

HMMM!!!  I can think of quite a number of our politicians who deserve this treatment.  Actually, it is kinder than what I really think some of them deserve--taring and feathering.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Wet again today and we have grocery shopping on the schedule so no outside work again.  At least the rain we have had so far has been relatively gentle with little wind.  The most severe of the weather has again bypassed us--thank the weather gods.

I saw a brief story on this on either Al Jazeera or the BBC.  Interesting way to map a desert.

I found this by way of Huffington Post.  Mom thinks that most people are disengaged from politics because they figure the politicos will do what they damned well please no matter what they think.  Well, I agree on that but I follow what is going on because I want to some (I hope) advance warning of how the bastards will fuck up my life.  I might have a chance of mitigating some of the harm they do.

This is scary.  I grow tomatoes every year.  Also have had oregano, various mints, and hibiscus all of which cops on a drug raid have "mistaken" for marijuana.

I think they can remove "probably" from the title of this article.  From the accounts so far the Texas hospital was definitely not ready for ebola.  But I suspect few other hospitals would have done much better.

This just might throw gasoline on the European Union.  It appears that the fractures in the Union are deepening.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


We had heavy fog until after 10am yesterday and spits of rain.  I worked on the inside plants.  All needed trimming and a bit of water.  I have three lavender of which one looks very good, one looks very sickly and one in between.  Both of the rosemary plants are looking very good.  Cut back the geraniums and hope they survive to go back into the gardens next spring.  The creeping thyme and lemon thyme are doing nicely.

I still have work outside but I will wait until tomorrow when the rain should be over.  At the same time I clean everything up I think about how the season went and start planning for next year.  I have to admit it has been a pretty good year even though I have felt somewhat discontented.  My moods may be a reaction to our very strange weather--a spring that hardly was, a nearly non-existent summer, and a too early fall.  I didn't plant as many tomatoes so the yield was what I wanted.  We supplemented with romas from the farm market.  For the second year I tried a tomato variety bred for container/patio growing.  But I wasn't much pleased with either one.  The plants are comfortably small for small spaces but the fruit was also.  I liked the Biltmore tomatoes really well--nice slicing size and good flavor.  Next year: more romas and standard tomato plants.  The peppers did well also.  We got enough large cornu di toro rosso to stuff and freeze for later.  We bought some really pretty green bells from the farm market and they are now stuffed and in the freezer.  We like that kind of quick meal.

The pole beans did fairly well and we supplemented what we got here with a several pounds from the market as well.  Next year--go back to the yardlong variety because it produces more in a smaller space.  Might also look at adding sugar snap peas as well.  Thinking about it now.  The squash and melons were disappointing but that is not unusual.  They simply don't like containers.  Each time I insist that I won't plant them again.  Next year I won't put them in.  That says nothing about the year after.

The stevia did very well as did the hyssop.  They will be in different areas next year.  Though the shiso did nicely and is a pretty plant I won't plant it again.  We don't use it and I have other plants I want to try.  Someone who does Japanese style cooking might find it interesting.  Another plant I won't be putting in next year is bee balm.  I have put it in two years and got no blossoms either year.  Again I have other plants in mind that do bloom and will attract the bees and hummingbirds I hoped would like the bee balm.  The bees love the borage and hyssop so I will continue both.  I was disappointed by the cypress vines which were not so lush as last year and didn't bloom as profusely.

The strawberries did beautifully though I don't think they liked the tower where I placed it.  The fruit was prone to mold before it ripened.  The plants in other places in the gardens did well enough that we had enough liven up our morning cereal.  The strawberries in the freezer we got at the supermarket when the "local" berries came in season.  "Local" as in within 100 miles.  The wonderberries did well but we prefer blueberries and get 10+ pounds when they come in locally (within 30 miles) and are on sale at the farm market.

I have often wished there was a stake that would finish off the financial vampires once and for all.  Unfortunately, they always seem to return to plague people.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Columbus Day and the beginning of a new week.  Our normal days don't change much with holidays of any kind and some, like Columbus Day, we notice only because we have no mail delivery and holiday themed obnoxious sales ads on TV.  And, of course, the parades celebrating a discovery only if looked at from a very parochial view point.  Al Jazeera had a piece on some attempts in some cities and states to move from Columbus Day to some form of "Native Americans' Day" to acknowledge that people were already here and they got the short end of the discovery stick.

The CDC has confirmed the tests on the nurse in Texas who is the first case of ebola transmitted inside the US.  Their spokesmen have basically blamed the nurse for breaking protocols without specifying how she broke which protocols.  A blame the victim, eh??  Other experts on various news shows have openly criticized the notion floated by some of our health agencies that any hospital with an isolation unit could effectively treat and isolate ebola patients.  The article on Nation I linked to yesterday made a brief comment that nagged at me and drove me to a Google search.  The author said the men could still transmit the ebola through their semen for as long as seven weeks after they no longer showed symptoms.  Well, I found the CDC site on ebola and the author was right which raises up some scary possibilities.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Another frosty morning.  I didn't get any garden work done yesterday.  Instead I had to drag stuff out of the shed so I could get to some of our winter auto supplies and at some garden tools I need inside over winter.  Then I had to pack it all in again.  In the process I found some water that shouldn't have been on the floor of the shed and traced the source.  Got a bit of a surprise.  We have a stock of de-icing salt in an old Tidy Cat tub and had a bit of salt in the original bag because it was (at the time) too much for the tub.  We didn't use as much salt last winter as we expected so we still had a a small amount in the bag and hadn't touched the salt in the tub.  I traced the water to the tub and found another puddle on the lid under the bag.  Inside the bag I found no salt at all.  We have had so much moisture this year that the salt absorbed the moisture to produce a brine solution.  I have never had that happen here before.  Thankfully the salt in the tub was fine and dry.

Well, the morning has mentioned a second (possible) case of ebola in Texas.  A health worker who treated the first ebola patient has a low grade fever and has tested positive on a preliminary test.  Only one story (and this isn't one of them) mentioned a second test to confirm the results of the first.  Evidently, from other stories on the disease, false positives on the initial test are not uncommon.  Actually I should correct my self just a bit--the story did say the test was "preliminary."  What bothers me is the hype and hysteria I see in the news and comments.  What ever happened to a bit of common sense in this country?  Meanwhile, the enterovirus currently spreading across the country has sickened far more people (most children) but it has disappeared from the news unless a new death is associated with it--as happened for the second time over the last couple of days.

The Daily Mail has this article on the most deadly epidemics in history.  As the commenter who linked to the article noted: ebola doesn't even come close to the worst cases.  The "big four" (small pox, measles, Spanish flu and bubonic plague between them killed more than 750 million.  The Nation also has a nice article on the current outbreak of ebola.  Points to take away from the article: 1) the widespread belief in the medical community that we have "defeated" infectious diseases (we haven't),  2) the belief at WHO that this ebola outbreak was just like all the others (it wasn't and isn't) which led to 3) a slow response to warnings from the front lines that the disease was spreading uncontrollably.

And now for something different--simply because it is beautiful.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Cool today.  Starting off in the high 30s with projected highs should be in the mid to high 50s.  My get-up-an-go did come home yesterday.  I have stevia and lemon balm in the dehydrator to be ground later.  I emptied my long planter for the season.  Usually I don't do that until spring when I add compost and fertilizer to it but I plan to move it to a new place next spring.  All the empty pots are stored in the shed now and I took the cover off the mini-greenhouse for the season.  I hoped that I could extend the useful life of the plastic by using it spring through fall and not subjecting it to freezing in the winter.  I don't think that will work.  The metal frame got hot enough that the plastic softened and stuck to the frame.  I got it off but found weak spots.  Next spring I plan to wrap the frame where the top comes in contact withe cover with cloth to, hopefully, prevent that.

Another sign of the changing seasons--frost on the rooftops.  I really am not ready for it--but I guess it is coming anyway.

Yet another example of why I won't vote for any Republican in the coming election.  I don't particularly like many of the Democrats but I loath Republicans blackmailers

And then we have the congenitally stupid.  They have taken old "Tailgunner" Joe's tactic and put it on steroids.  If you lie big enough, loud enough and long enough, some idiots out there will believe you.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Anyone surprised by this should remember that Germany had a social security system fifty-odd years before we enacted it.  And anythings similar would go against our society's habit of monetizing everything and forcing those who can't pay outright to put themselves into hock forever to provide profits to the finance and (mis)education industries.


Lazy day yesterday.  Didn't do anything on the patio and didn't feel like commenting on anything.  Let's see if my get-up-and-go has come back home.

As usual, I follow a bit of the news on ebola but I have noticed a tinge of hysteria in quite a number of sites (news and other.)  I am amazed at the level of strident concern because we have far more urgent threats that are already present in this country.  This is one of those more urgent problems.  Unfortunately, I have a feeling that some of us have recognized the problem too late to do anything about it.  We already have strains of disease causing bacteria that are resistant to all antibiotics.  They aren't going anywhere.  The rest of us are either denying any need to change our business as usual procedures or have an almost religious faith that science will save us yet again.  On that religious faith--what ever science comes up with bacteria will adapt to.  Perhaps we need to think outside the science box.

I have been following, in my usual casual way, the stories about Greenberg's suit agains the government claiming that he was robbed when the government bailed out AIG, the company he was running at the time.  I think this piece on the Agonist describes the situation very nicely.

Oh, yeah--the pink drill bits are a real cute touch.  They make a lot of money on fracking with chemicals that are known carcinogens and then try to buy forgiveness by donating a small amount to finding a cure for the cancers their process helps cause.  I thought the pink drill bits were a joke but it is right there on their web site bold as brass.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I just stepped outside for a moment to see what I could of the lunar eclipse.  The pictures the news/weather have shown are farm more spectacular.  At the moment the moon still has a very bright, thin crescent of light.  I can't see the red hue the pictures are showing.  Might if I had a telescope.

Tom Englehardt posted this piece of good common sense--which says nothing good about the common sense of our political leaders and their "intelligence" officers.  Yeah, those quotations marks indicate extreme skepticism and sarcasm.  It also says nothing good about our society at large which seems to go unthinkingly spastic at the least sign of a least sign of a "threat."

I hope this causes one hell of a row.  Unfortunately, as long as profits are the sole judge of what is right and wrong, this will be the norm not the exception.  And please don't tell me that the oil and natural gas companies care a damn about jobs.  They only include that in their advertising to short circuit criticism and as an unstated blackmail.  The threat has always been: if you hold us in anyway accountable for what we do, we will start to cut jobs and raise prices.  So far that has worked in conjunction with pay off our politicians to let them off.

How the hell would this asshole know what is or isn't a living wage?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I didn't do much in the gardens except clear one planter of strawberries.  I am never as enthusiastic about clearing up in the fall as I am about planting in the spring.  Why clear out the strawberries since they should come back in the spring?  Well, the operational word is "should."  Only a few of the plants I put in last year survived the brutal winter we had and only three of those survived the very cool spring.  I haven't had much luck with any kind of perennial in my containers except for my oldest rosemary which is doing very nicely in its pot and which I bring in every winter.  It is now four years old.  The surviving rose will determine whether I plant any more perennials and try to overwinter them outside.  If it survives this coming winter I will think about trying others.

The BBC posted this today.  The first question we had reading it was "Why were these kids given so many courses of antibiotics before their second birthday?"  It was the same question we had about the antibiotics given to Duncan (the Texas Ebola patient) when Ebola is a viral disease.  Antibiotics work against bacterial infections.  Were the antibiotics really necessary for the children's conditions or were the palliatives for anxious parents?  The second thought we had was a story we read a while back about the effect of artificial sweeteners on gut bacteria and the correlation with obesity.  (And, yes, I do remember that  correlation does not equal causation.)  Either way recent research indicates that healthy gut bacteria (and a healthy mix of bacterias) are necessary for overall health--including healthy weight.

Another BBC post that surprised us at first and then didn't on second thought.  That so many 3-year-old children would have so many fillings and/or missing teeth startling.  But then we thought about how much added sugar is in our foods (and we are well past age 3) and how sugary drinks have become ubiquitous, especially for children, and we weren't very surprised after all.

I had wondered when I saw the news stories that Sir John Franklin's ship lost on his last arctic exploration (looking for the elusive Northwest Passage) had been found: "Which one?"  After all he had two--HMS Terror and HMS Erebus.  Yeah, I know--picky of me.  Well, the discovery was of the Erebus.  The Terror has yet to be found.

Walter Pincus asks how many Americans knew before our government got involved in the mess in Iraq that the country had just experienced a four-year drought.  I, for one, did because I choose to follow meteorological conditions around the world.  Curious about a remark about Assad which identified him as an Alawite I looked it up and was amazed to discover how many different Islamic sects there are in Syria.  And that didn't take into account the Druze, Christians and other minorities, some of which I knew of, though not necessarily knew beyond the name, and many I didn't know at all. Pincus makes some good observations of where that abysmal ignorance has led us--and it isn't a good place.

Second good decision from the Supreme Court.  I only hope it carries over to the challenges to carbon emissions.

Monday, October 6, 2014


I took advantage of the sun yesterday to collect the last of the tomatoes and peppers, and clear out the plants.  The green tomatoes are on the kitchen counter now--hopefully ripening.  Considering how cold it was I thought that was enough.  I won't get any more stevia--the cold hit it hard.  But I will get an other cutting of lemon balm before I clean out that container.  If it is dry today I will get some more of the gardens cleared.

Pepe Escobar's post on Tomdispatch this morning provides a lot of food for thought on geopolitical/economic issues.  It brings up a lot of interesting questions concern the future of NATO, the future of the EU and the position of the U.S. on the world stage.  Not much of it bodes well for us.

This doesn't surprise me much but I am glad to see it.

Wouldn't you think that an agency assigned the task of eradicating and suppressing marijuana cultivation would be able to distinguish between it and legal plants?  Reminds me of a story I read a couple of years ago of a woman who stepped out of her door to find all her potted plants cut down, taken away and a note reading "Ha!  Ha! I got your weed."  She pinned up a reply: "Enjoy smoking my tomato leaves, you little cretin."  I agree with the author of the linked story: what a waste of manpower and money.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Very cool this morning.  News weather report says 41F here.  Should get into the 50s later.  At leas we should not get any more rain so I will see what the low temps and wind has done outside today.

If I had an account with JP Morgan/Chase, I would close it.  It isn't that the bank was hacked.  Every bank is vulnerable.  Every government agency at every level is vulnerable.  That I accept as a reality of modern life.  I can't accept the caviler attitude toward customers.  And this story should give you some food for serious thought.  Consider also how many stories over the last decade have noted possible government connections behind other hacks.

Our local news had a brief story about a rare albino hummingbird caught on video by a home owner in Louisiana.  It was gorgeous.  I found these pictures of a similar bird sighting in Maine.  Enjoy!

Some of these Republicans must be drinking from the same source.  This isn't the first story about a Republican "businessman" and political candidate defrauding the government on Medicare, Medicaid and/or food stamps.  Do a quick Google search on "Republicans accused of Medicaid fraud" and peruse the entries.  I also did a similar search substituting Democrats for Republicans and got a very different result.  Makes you think a bit.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Wet this morning.  We had some very heavy rain last night and the weather people say the rain will continue through the morning and, after a pause for the afternoon, will pick up again in the evening.  Nothing much going in the gardens.  I still have a few tomatoes and peppers ripening but nothing that should be harvested quite yet.  The plants I brought in are doing very nicely.  I put a lavender, 3 creeping thyme, and 3 plugs of gold leaf lemon thyme in the tower that has a nice place by the patio door.  Evidently they are getting enough light because they are thriving.  The jury is still out on the two scented geraniums.  They are still putting out some new growth and trying to bloom.  Some time soon I need to trim them back but not just yet.  I have another two lavender in individual pots under my grow light.  Both seem to be adjusting and I need to trim them back a bit.  The two rosemary are thriving.  I was surprised to find a couple of new side shoots coming up on my eucalyptus.  It may decide to survive after all.


If we had any doubts that fall has arrived (and we didn't) those doubts would be erased by this morning's temperatures--39F.  The daytime temperatures won't get out of the 60s over the next week. The weather report shows some snow a bit northwest of Chicago.  It is too warm for anything to stick but that, according to the weather person, is the earliest ever.  Update:  I have a four letter "s" word which is not snow on the tip of my tongue because we are getting light and wet snow at the moment.  Damn!!  I had planned to harvest all of the stevia but I don't think it will do all that well with the cold and snow.

David Kaiser posted an excellent dissection of President Obama's U.N. speech which most of our news media failed to cover beyond a mere mention.

Did you know that we ended slavery "voluntarily?"  I guess it all depends on how you define "voluntary."  If you include a vicious Civil War as part of the concept perhaps you can say we voluntarily ended the slavery.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Welcome to October.  And it does feel like it.  Our temperature topped out about 60 yesterday.  Supposed to be a bit warmer today which will be nice for checking out what is left in the gardens and clearing a bit more.

Tom Englehardt is always interesting.  I love the term "subprime intelligence."  Way, way back in 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution erupted in Iran and our government was caught flat footed, I was stunned when I heard a report that our Iranian embassy had fewer than a dozen employees who spoke Farsi, the national language.  I wondered then how we expected to really know anything about the country when so few of our people were linguistically or culturally knowledgeable.  Collecting all that "metadata" sounds like a good idea until you ask how the analysts will filter that amorphous mass and make sense of it.  Especially, when a significant part is in languages we don't know and from cultures we don't understand.  Data is nice but it needs a mind that can make sense of it and those minds need a base of information from which to view that data.  And a modicum of common sense which seems to be in equally short supply.


We have been watching the fall colors develop for the last two weeks and a bit.  The change is quickening and I expect that it will go faster over the next week.  Our weather people predict overnight lows in the 30s and 40s. Supposed to be a bit wet today so I won't be doing much in what is left of the gardens.

Watching and listening to the news stories about the Secret Service snafu with respect to the White House intruder I have a bit of a sense of deja vu.  It isn't so much that this particular situation has occurred before but that, once again, the government agency comes off like Keystone Cops who can't do much right.  I have had that feeling more frequently since the disgraceful failings of FEMA (under "Brownie" whom Bush the Younger praised to high heaven for pitiful performance) during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Over the last half-dozen years I can honestly say that the only government that has performed well has been our local city government.  What a waste of money and manpower.

Actually my mood concerning politics this mid-term election season can be summed up by what I said to a canvasser who came by last night.  I have no intention of voting for any Republican above the city level.  Our Republican mayor has done a very good job and I don't give a damn that he is Republican.  But that doesn't mean I like the Democrats much.  Though I dislike much about Democratic Party policies, I thorough LOATH the Republicans, especially in this state where they have a supermajority and pass policies (whatever the merit or lack of merit) simply because the PARTY wants them running roughshod over everyone else.  For what I think of national politics, see the above paragraph.

I am so glad to see this.  I never believed, from what little I read of the case, that the idiot "felt" threatened.  He was frustrated because the kid didn't obey when he demanded the music be turned down.

This Grist article has a lot of good sense.  I agree with the author on the point that labeling of GMO isn't the be-all, end-all of concerns over our food and labeling won't fix the other concerns.  We want to know what is in our food and where it comes from.  Labeling is the only way we get that information.