Monday, November 30, 2015


An interesting Psychology Today article which is somewhat terrifying in its implications for the future. That college age students lack resilience is only part of the problem. I wonder how large a proportion of the student population these fragile personalities are. But imagine a generation of leaders who break down when faced with problems for which there is no "correct" or "certain" solution? A generation who can't bounce back from a failure to find a successful path out of a quandary? And it isn't just college students. Think of the news stories, provided to give "comic" relief or "human" interest, of people who were not students calling the police for some trivial matter analogous to the mouse in the article? "Helicopter society"--a good description. But that means we have all, as a society, become less resilient, less resourceful, less independent.

What can you say when Satanists show more Christian charity, humility and compassion than so-called Christians?

And here is a repost of something William Edelen wrote about Christian Terrorism. Something to think about given the recent shootings in Colorado.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


An interesting discussion of "privacy" and how it has developed through history. And on the notion of privacy, the NSA is going to end its bulk surveillance program which is lauded as a victory for privacy. I guess they will simply be more sneaky about their data gathering.

I have heard the assertion that Trump "tells it like it is" repeated all too often and I wondered exactly what "it" is he is telling, what that "it" says about him and about us. I don't think any of it is good and this American Prospect post is right all the way. But lets go a bit further. Much of what he proposes, when he proposes anything and doesn't just emote, is unConstitutional. And yet so many of his supporters say they revere the Constitution. Their biggest complaint, one I didn't hear them raising during W.'s terms, is that Obama's actions are unConstitutional. They don't mind surveillance of Muslims, or proposals that they wear some kind of distinctive badge, or that Mosques be under heavy surveillance if not closed down all together--actions that would not be tolerated if applied to any other religious group in modern America. It seems to be a case of Constitutionally protected rights for me, not for thee. It isn't just that we don't respect the truth (as I noted last post) any more (as seen by the lies various candidates are getting a pass on) but we don't respect the very foundations of our laws.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. We spent part of ours with my brother and his family. Good meal and good company. Interestingly only one of the party planned to do any shopping later on the day or on Black Friday. I remember Thanksgiving Days past when more than half of those gathered spent a good part of the time planning their Black Friday excursions. Those had all the markings of major military assaults. We are staying put today nor are we buying anything on line. Nothing out there really tempts us even with the coupons for on-line shoppers.

Several of our relatives have gone in heavily for tattoos which makes this piece interesting. I didn't recognize the site so I looked a little further and found a couple of other articles from sources like Scientific American which confirms the information. I will let you do your own search if you are interested.

Now for something straight out of the Twilight Zone.

The City of Chicago and the Police Department actions in the McDonald killing get more despicable by the day.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving

I found this to tickle my funny bone this Thanksgiving morning.  The interesting things people are thankful for.

I have a few minor quibbles with Kathleen Parker's opinion piece in the Washington Post but, on the whole, I thoroughly agree.

Once upon a time we valued truth and honesty. Now--not so much.

How many people remember reading Fahrenheit 451? Evidently The Donald didn't bother reading it.

When I read that Rupert Murdock had bought National Geographic I knew what would happen--and it has. Crap!!!!

Damn good question!! I am not on board with the gun control argument but totally agree with the critique of the media for the hysteria of their reports--even when the words seem to be minimizing the fear they induce. Why to they think they have to reassure their viewers that every violent act isn't a part of a "terrorist" plot? Another illustration of what is wrong with our news media is this story. Our news comes out of Chicago and this has been the dominant segment for the last several days. The coverage of the court case to force the release of the video and the release itself rather faded into the background as the focus shifted to a potential explosion and riot that would (might) result from the release. All the accounts were peppered with pleas from political, police, and religious figures arguing, pleading for calm. I wonder what would have happened if the news readers had simply read the facts without going for the sensational emotion?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Warmer this morning than yesterday but still cold. The weather people say the temperatures should rise into the 50s by Thanksgiving Day when we should also see rain.  Should be warm enough to start melting some of the snow we got but not much. I hope for a bit of sun.

Can anyone else spell "bogus trumped up accusations designed to get the guy into U.S. hands and Guantanamo?"

Is this a real trade agreement and not a stealth take over of governments by the global financial/commercial interests? And how would such an agreement interact with the TPP, if The TPP ever gets implemented? Interesting how the TPP excludes China and this Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership excludes the U.S. Perhaps the countries involved in each should get together and come up with a deal that excludes both the U.S. and China.

Mother Jones dissects Hillary Clinton's definition of "middle class." And, yeah, she seems to have set a very high ceiling (a cathedral ceiling, actually) for her cut-off point--$250K.

Huge and pleasant surprise today: we filled up our gas tank for less than $2/gal. Haven't seen prices that low in ages.


The warming continues today and a large part of the snow is melting. Hopefully enough will melt so I can get the bird bath cleaned up and refilled. I didn't have to shovel off the salt-pitted ice yesterday because it melted. I think it got a bit warmer than the weather people thought.

The more  stories I read like this one the more I am convinced that we have a culture of corruption in our large national and global companies. Unfortunately, if they manage to get the TTP and TTIP in place they may get a free pass to continue their bad behavior.

Ah, someone else is asking the kind of questions I have asked on the proposal (nebulous as it is) to keep temperature rise at or below 2C: is it too little, too late. A decade ago, when I first began reading on the subject, I looked up when we passed the 350ppm threshold so often cited. Back in the mid 1980s, for any who are curious. The question now is how do we adapt to the world we are creating because I doubt we have either the political will or the technology to reverse the process or the time.

This was likely to happen.  It was simply a question of who would be involved and when. Now the question is: where will it go from here.

Rebecca Gordon posting at Tomdispatch has an utterly depressing piece aptly titled Home, Sweet Kleptocracy: Kabul in America.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


We finally got our internet connection back. Nothing else went out but that was a major bummer. I am always amazed at how much of our day revolves around the computers. Nothing feels right if they aren't working. On top of the snow we got a thick layer of ice. I spread salt, cleared the crusty four inches of snow off the trash tote and the bird feeder--sort of. I thawed out and cleaned the feeder (and the one we leave for the little ground squirrels) and refilled but couldn't get the dish in the bird bath out. It was frozen to the pedestal.

I would dearly love to see this followed through and implemented. That would take care of a good bit of the "air" pollution on the TV airwaves. The drug ads don't really provide the consumer with much useable information. I often wonder what kind of information doctors and pharmacists are getting.

I agree with Pope Francis that Christmas is a charade but for another reason. If Jesus were really the "reason for the season," then the Pope's critique focusing on a world filled with war and hate would make sense. But the merchants and money lenders have cast Christ out of Christmas. The holiday is so thoroughly commercialized that there is no meaning to it other than a spending orgy. And our society spends more readily on arms and war materials than on people. As for hate, take a nauseating listen to our political candidates.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


We woke to cars and roofs covered in snow. The ground itself is still too warm to accumulate much. Some areas of northern Illinois have had up to 10 inches. (Update: we have some light outside and the snow is sticking a bit on the grass. Not much on paved areas.) (Second update: we have had steady snow, sometimes heavy, all day. I think we got somewhere over five inches.)

I noticed this phenomenon some time ago. Some of the drugs cost more than I have made in income in the last 10 years together. What did people do before all the "wonder drugs" came out? And how often have we seen the drug ballyhooed on the outset only to find that the serious side effects were worse than the condition it supposedly alleviated? And how many "helper" drugs have been introduced over the last few years? You know the ones I mean--where the commercial asks if your dose of X drug doesn't seem to be working and suggests you "ask" your doctor about Y drug to take along with it. Makes me wonder just how effective X was in the first place.

The title of this one has it right. The a#@hole is a terrorist even if he hasn't been charged as one. Might it be because he is white? I notice no one mentioned his religious affiliation.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Leigh at 5 Acres and a Dream has a rant on the planned obsolescence that is the base of our economy. Things seem designed to fail and quickly. And all cost more to fix than buying new ones unless you are very handy and can find the parts. And, yes, the largest component is plastic.

We started looking for salmon labeled "wild caught" and "Alaskan." This provides another reason to continue and to insist on accurate labels. Unfortunately, the agribusiness industry is trying very hard to eliminate labeling. Their interest is in profits which means they need to sell their product however they can do it. Health and environmental costs are no consideration because someone else will pay them.

So, BP was largely responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill but has tried to get courts to reduce the penalties and damages they had to pay. Now they may be able to claim a large part of those costs as "business expenses" and get a huge write off on their taxes. That is nauseating and just proves that what they had to pay in recompense for their short sighted fixation on profits negligence is simply a "cost of doing business." Yeah, it is good to be the king a big business.

As our politicians bluster about allowing Syrian refugees into the country because they might be terrorists this little fact is totally ignored. Europe hasn't been kind to its Muslim residents who often are third, fourth, or even fifth generation citizens--a legacy of the colonial past. And here is another bit of conveniently forgotten truth--most of our terrorists in this country are white males. Why aren't they called terrorists?

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Our media has covered Paris in nauseating detail, most of it for dramatic effect and very little truly informative. Every so often someone, in the blogosphere because the media pundits are pretty much clueless, has an interesting take and tries to put the carnage into some kind of meaningful context. Today Tom Englehardt has done a good job on that score. All my adult life I have heard it said that "America needs an enemy." I don't know who said it first but it appears that we have found the perfect enemy in "terrorism." It can't be tied to specific and identifiable people in specific and identifiable territories. Anyone anywhere can be a "terrorist" so the treat is eternal. Given Englehardt's observations perhaps we should come to the same conclusion the computer did in War Games: the only winning move is to not play.

And here is an illustration of Englehardt's point about the elimination of the gray areas. This is Us vs. Them at its most black and white.

Morford has a good post about America's real religion as opposed to the fake religiosity of our Repthuglican candidates who think we should close mosques or admit only Christian refugees. It is a religion I left a long time ago.

So "the religion of consumption has proven unfulfilling." Evidently, people are still buying but not the things that drive the profits of the big retailers. We aren't buying "stuff" but are buying the big ticket items and "experiences." We aren't buying those either.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Wet today with gusty winds. We got all our errands done yesterday before the rain and winds came on. Today we will hibernate and probably for the next several days as well. Thankfully, though we do have snow predicted for later in the week it won't be anything like the blizzard in Colorado.

I said in my last post that we had twisted the definition of "terrorist" to cover a disparate multitude--basically anyone the powers-that-be find troublesome.  Case in point this story from Saudi Arabia. Anyone who calls into question any aspect of the status quo is by definition a "terrorist."

It seems the old saying is true: the more things change the more they remain the same.  Another case in point. I am totally sickened by the attitudes/ravings of so many of the political contenders.

I constantly shake my head over the stupidity and viciousness of people. People like whoever threatens a bookshop that is named for an ancient Egyptian goddess.  Isis existed long before the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria became an acronym.

Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana and wanna be candidate for President, just raised the intellectual level of the Repthuglican field slightly--by dropping out. I hope it never becomes his "time."

I would say that someone had given Ben Carson a brain transplant from Sarah Palin--except Sarah never had a brain to transplant. Looks like Ben doesn't really either. How the hell did he get through med school?

Monday, November 16, 2015


I think Pope Francis has best described the Paris attacks--"a piece" of a "piecemeal Third World War."


I noticed that the evening TV news covered the Pope's remarks focusing on his condemnation but ignoring the part linked above.  I have noticed another phenomenon that hasn't received any attention by the media: the terrorists have successfully shifted the focus from their terrorism to our  "war on Islam." No matter how our leaders insist that we aren't fighting Islam the appearance now is that we are. And some over here help solidify that impression. "Terrorism" here is almost always applied exclusively to actions by Muslims. Just as the term "hate crime" is almost always applied to white violence against blacks. Our media's use of those terms erases the fact that Christians can commit acts of terrorism or that blacks can commit violence because they hate.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


The wind has been high all night, as predicted.  They say the temps will not get out of the 40s.  Mom said we had rain just about the time we went to bed last night which was also expected.  I got everything likely to blow around in the shed or tied to something not likely to blow away.

The gardening catalog season has begun.  I received the first--the 2016 Pinetree catalog a couple of days ago.  Right now the notions for next year have been simmering since I started taking plants out and getting the beds covered for the winter.  I need to sit down and think about how things worked out this year and evaluate the plants I had.

This is a story that has reappeared regularly over the years since the melamine poisoning episode in 2008.  The twist this time is the phenomenon is being driven by predatory marketing claims that infant formula, especially foreign produced and imported by what ever means, can turn a baby into an infant Einstein.

Slate has a post about an interesting case before the Supreme Court originating from Florida.  When can the government freeze assets owned by a person who has not yet been convicted of a crime and is, therefore, entitled to the use of those assets? I would like to see something similar with the whole issue of "civil forfeiture."

I, like one of the people quoted in this story, have never shopped on Black Friday.  I have been stuck on the other side of the counter all too often and don't miss it one tiny bit.  The sooner the phenomenon ends the better in my opinion.  What is replacing it is only a bit less annoying because we aren't seeing as much of it--incessant ads from Halloween on.  Our TV is off for the most part nowadays.  And we are watching less and less of the news which has improved our moods tremendously.

Tom Englehardt has another good article about the corruption that is a dominant feature of the "American Way of War."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Another start of another week.  The frost cleared off the roofs, at least on the south sides.  The cars and north roof slopes will take a bit longer.  I moved all the bird and critter feed inside so I can reach it easily.  Our shed door often freezes shut during winter.  I need to take out the snow shovels soon as well.



Didn't see much to comment on over the last two days.  Been cleaning up a bit in the gardens and putting some things away because we are supposed to get high winds overnight with rain into tomorrow.  Didn't want the old plastic patio chairs I use as plant stands to go flying so I stacked them and brought them inside the fence. Cleaned up the bird feeder and filled it with fresh food.  A couple of days ago I saw a couple of robins visiting the feeder and the birdbath. I also got a bit rearranged in the sewing/storage/planting room (a.k.a., small bedroom sans bed). I have a lot more to do up there.

Interesting what you can find in birds nests--especially in an old structure where generations of birds have nested for centuries.

I have seen more stories about architects and others trying to incorporate living plants into their plans. Here is an ambitious example. This is the third structure the designers have proposed.  The other two are in construction in Italy. However, I do have a lot of questions about the practicality of the notion some of which the critic cited in the article brings up.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Heavy frost overnight.  Though it hasn't felt particularly warm we are three weeks past our normal first killing frost date which indicates we haven't been particularly cold either.  Next week is more of the same just no 70s in the forecast.  Plenty of 50s and 60s with lows in the 30s and 40--and one possible dip into the high 20s.

So on to what I am reading.

Found this item early on.  It sparked our usual conversation about our situation and what we would do under what circumstance.  We are lucky.  Mom has good insurance thanks to her late husband's long employment with and retirement from the steel mills.  I have no health concerns so far.  But it does piss me off that we, the American public, were sold a pig in a poke scammed with the Affordable Care Act (which is neither affordable nor reliable care when you need it). Instead we were saddled with a system rigged to provide maximum profits for the insurance companies and minimum service for their captive customers.

For years Mom and I have been amused by the juxtaposition of headlines which screamed, alternately, that the consumers weren't spending (horror of horrors) and that savers were not saving enough. From Lambert Strether's remarks leading into this piece by Don Quijones the powers-that-be aren't too worried about savers not saving anymore. Instead they worry about "withholding consumption." I agree with the assessment that we are giving up our privacy and anonymity for the illusion of convenience.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


We have one more day of unseasonably warm weather though the sun the weather people promised has not appeared.  I am puttering around on the patio.  For some reason our patio is wet though we haven't had any rain.  That side of the house simply isn't drying out.  Even so I got the leaves swept up and spread then on one of the containers before covering with newspapers weighted with pieces of wood.

Our government protects us so well!! And, yes, that is sarcasm.


We got rain overnight--much needed so I won't complain.  I cleaned up the little greenhouse and shifted some things around.  I brought the sidewalk salt inside so it will be available when needed. We have plenty and we use it sparingly but when we need it we do need it. Our patio can become a very slick skating rink and neither of us wants to fall. I know I swept up leaves yesterday but you can't tell it. The wind has blown down a lot more.


The temperatures, as the weather people promised, has turned colder.  Actually it is seasonally appropriate but we were spoiled by unseasonably warm temperatures for the last week.  I should sweep up the latest batch of leaves, put them on a couple more containers and cover with newspapers for the winter.  I will mix the whole mess of leaves and newspapers into the top of the soil next spring.  I need to find the plastic I have somewhere in the shed so I can tent the hyssop and lemon bee balm.  I hope they will come back next spring but I have seed if they don't.

I haven't had many comments on news because I really don't see much new in the news.  We have turned it off earlier and earlier because a) the stories don't interest us, b) they are repeated to the point of nausea, or c) they aren't really "stories" but just one or two sentence of uninformative verbiage. Has anyone else noticed how little real content is in our news any more? "Breaking" news broke two or more days ago and the report has nothing new to add. The stories focus on the emotional and dramatic not necessarily on accurate information. I am both bored and annoyed with the media.

Found on Business Insider.  The map sees oddly familiar.  It resembles those I have seen for poverty, states that refused to expand Medicaid, high unemployment levels and other such problems. Maybe FAT isn't the only new normal out there.

I heard the announcement that Northrup Grumman had been awarded the contract for the new stealth bomber--which hasn't even been fully developed yet. Reuters covers it in far more depth and I am simply dumfounded. I shouldn't be. I should be inured to the bureaucratic morass that passes for government in Washington. I have said often enough that there are some aspects of life that shouldn't be governed by the profit motive but we should have some level of accountability, some measure of efficacy. And we don't. Of course, what we often have are for profit companies that milk (and bilk) the treasury to fatten their profits.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Cleaned out the last three planters so the gardens are totally in winter mode.  Still have to finish cleaning up but we should have good weather for that.  Now to start filling in the plans for next year. The new seed catalogs should be starting to arrive soon.

Does this surprise anyone?  Why would we think that Porsche would be honest about their emission software when the parent company, VW, cheated as easily as we breathe? Cheating seems to be the strategy du jour.

I hope the Obama administration puts a stake in this vampire and ends the uncertainty.  Although the article focuses on the political climate, which has turned unfavorable, I wonder if TransCanada isn't also considering the economic climate--prices in the $40-50/barrel aren't exactly profitable.  Perhaps their execs are hoping that both the political and economic circumstances might improve in two years.

This study calls into question several bits of employment advice I have heard over my lifetime. The "any port in a storm" advice--take anything to just keep some income coming in--doesn't hold for middle aged workers. That leads to short term, limited gains and long term losses.  Especially if the worker is "overqualified" for the position. And the same goes for the notion that you can take a low level job and work into something better either at the company you already work for or at another. Those intro jobs ("burger flipping") don't have any career ladder leading upward and the bridge to better jobs at another company may have been washed out by our current economic conditions. I wonder how the results might change if the authors had included a 20-something category.

Monday, November 2, 2015


Well, I did get some clearing done outside yesterday and plan more today.  I took out the mandevilla and the pot tower with the strawberries, spearmint, and peppermint.  I still have two window box style planters and one five-gallon bucket to clear.  The bucket has hyssop so I will cut it back to the soil, water it well, and mulch and cover it for the winter.  Hyssop is a hardy annual so I will find out how hardy it is.  I have seeds just in case.  I also plan to mulch and cover the lemon bee balm since it is trying to come back from the roots.  If it comes back next spring I will be happy and if it doesn't I have those seeds also.

Found this this morning.  We have never reached the average household spending on any holiday for years.  We haven't any children of any age and even before I officially retired the costs on our limited budgets were getting too much and (to be brutally honest) the pleasure of seasons too little to continue the patterns.  We decided this year that we wouldn't buy and pass out candy.  It has become impossible to predict how much we would need and we really don't want to keep any on hand.  This year we had no trick-or-treaters because the weather was cold and wet.  We don't really celebrate any holidays anymore especially when "celebration" is defined as spending massive sums we don't have.

It seems some of our iconic brand companies have suddenly discovered that the disappearance of the middle class is impacting their bottom line.  I wonder what their pay scales for the line workers are like.  How many of their employees can qualify as "middle class?"  I also wonder how many consumers are like us and read the labels.  Too many of the products our brand name companies make have too much salt, sugar, high fructose corn syrup and unpronounceable chemicals.  The disappearing middle class may not be their only problem.

Another story to file in the "sounded good at the time but it doesn't work in the real world" file.  From my point of view the whole mucking around with education over the last decade and a half has been more about siphoning off as much public money (tax money, folks) as possible into private pockets and relieving the public (i.e., political) institution of the responsibility of administering the system than about actually educating children for whatever role they will play in adult society.  And this story reinforces that opinion.

Although I frequently criticize our educational system--see above--I do believe that children should be educated.  This is a story that leaves me ambivalent.  Why, you wonder?  Well, am not sure the state is doing all that good a job largely because we, as a society, have no clear notion of which children should receive how much education and for what and by whom.  The charter schools cherry pick the best and brag about their, often cooked, results.  The public schools have, apparently, become dumping grounds for the charter school rejects.  And for years the test scores have been dismal and getting worse.  The Texas parents may have decided that educating children isn't necessary because Jesus coming but the effect is hardly worse that the most benevolent efforts of our so-called education system.  Why penalize the parents when the school system gets a pass.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Cold, windy and drying out yesterday.  Should be a bit warmer with some sun today.  We got a tease of sunshine yesterday but then the dismal gray moved back in.  Got a couple more rows on the cap yesterday.  It is an interesting experiment and looks pretty good so far.

I saw stories yesterday that China has ended the "one child policy."  Now couples can have two.  That the government hopes will still keep their population growth in check while addressing some demographic problems created as a result of limiting families to one child: the decrease of working age people, the problem of only child couples caring for two sets of elderly parents, and the fact that they have far too many young men for the number of young women.  However, the new policy won't have any significant effect for twenty years and the demographic problems are evident now.  And I have read some stories in which young, urban Chinese expressed no interest in having more than one child, or, in some cases, any at all.  They face the same problems we have over here: the expense of child care.

This is more than a bit pathetic.  It is nice that NBC wants to negotiate "in good faith" with the RNC but that assumes that the RNC and the various campaigns/candidates will also negotiate "in good faith.'  Would someone please define the terms "negotiate" and "in good faith."  So far they have complained about CNN, Fox and MSNBC.  None of those are flaming liberal media organizations.   Maybe they would like the moderators kowtowing abjectly to each of them, kissing their asses and apologizing if the weather wasn't exactly to their liking.


We actually did get some sun yesterday which was nice but we are back in the cloudy and wet today.
Hope you all have a fun Halloween or a blessed Samhain or what ever holiday you celebrate and that your weather is pleasant for it.


Welcome to November.  And to the change of time--something you all know I wish our powers-that-be would discontinue.  I spent most of yesterday finishing the new cap and tending the plants under the lights upstairs.  I cut back the larger lemon verbena and the leaves are nearly dry and ready to grind.  So far the two lemon verbena plants I added this year are doing very well and have lasted far longer than any others I have had.  I may try wintergreen and bay laurel again.

This is exactly why Big Ag doesn't want GMO labeling.  We have shifted to honey and cane sugar. So far sugar cane hasn't been invaded by the GMO companies while GMO sugar beets represent 95% of the beet crop.  We also look for any of the artificial sweeteners in anything we buy and choose items which don't contain things like high fructose corn syrup.  GMOs may or may not carry negative health impacts but I believe we should stick with simpler and less processed foods starting with the seeds.