Friday, January 27, 2017

January 23-27 --


I wonder how long before the Repthuglicans move us back to the very early 20th century--if not the 19th. Perhaps we will go back to an age before Upton Sinclair (to paraphrase his comments on the reaction) hit the public in its stomach while aiming at its heart with The Jungle. I read somewhere a long while ago (and don't know if it is true or not) that Teddy Roosevelt couldn't finish his breakfast sausage after reading the book. We read labels here because we don't want salt and sugar laden pseudo-foods, or high fructose corn syrup, or unpronounceable preservatives designed to keep the product looking fresh forever (or till some poor schmuck buys the damned thing), or genetically modified ingredients. Evidently the corporatocracy's right to sell us crap Trump(s) our right to know what the hell they are selling us. Anyone else out there like drinking (relatively) clean water? Or breathing (relatively) clean air? For another take on the situation check out this Grist article. And we can't depend on the states to do the job the Federal government is abdicating as this article covering our Bully-in Chief's EPA nominee's testimony. He intends to review California's clean car regulations. Those boys love "state's rights"--until they don't. (And to be fair the Damnocrats are much the same.)

Tom Englehardt has a blistering review of the "Intelligence" Community's latest quadrennial report on future threats and trends. Frankly, we should demand our money back.

So one of the (s)news outlets is getting wise to our new administrations shenanigans. My question: what the hell took you so long? They have played you like a cheap piano (or a harp from hell to quote the Penguin--Batman reference for those who might not remember).

I am not sorry to see this. But it was dead in the water anyway. Vietnam and Malaysia refused to ratify it, and the Philippines and Japan were having second thoughts. The deal was too big, too complex and too driven by business interests at the expense of national populations and national sovereignty.


It is time for something cute!! So cat-tastic!!


Errands today so I don't know how much I will feel like commenting on. I baked bread yesterday and you can see the result above. But I ended up with two beautiful loaves of lavender walnut bread. I used a new recipe and it is a keeper. That is a tasty bread.

Oh, Ripley, where the hell are you??

I don't know where the Archdruidess gets these but here is another bull's eye? I hope someone somewhere knows some centaurs to do the job.

Ah, down the not so good memory lane with the Archdruidess.

This is the second literary reference connecting the incoming administration and dystopian fiction. The first referred to Melania Trump as Ofdonald. Those who have read The Handmaid's Tale will get the point.

John Feffer has a disturbing projection of where the Trump administration is going. Sadly it is an international expansion of what I have thought the domestic developments would be. Just after the election I said that Trump would fulfill some of the desires of his supporters who wanted to attack the gains women and minorities have made over the last 70 or so years, would follow a practice of Business Uber Alles, and would do nothing significant for those in the (once) working class and (no longer) middle classes. Trump's cabinet nominees reinforce my assessment.


I saw a couple of stories on this yesterday. Orwell's novel 1984 is on the best seller lists again reaching #1 on Amazon. Appropriate considering we are in the age of Trump's Alternative Facts.


 A long and interesting piece from William Astore at Tomdispatch.

For such a (self proclaimed) smart guy, Trump can be damned dumb. Mom and I eviscerated his claim that he would force Mexico to pay for his wall by slapping a 20% import duty on its goods coming into the U.S.  Americablog does and even better job than we did.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Weekend January 21-22--


An interesting question came up in our conversations this morning: How many voters voted for down ballot candidates but not for a Presidential candidate. The Oracle of Google has provided at least a partial answer. In fourteen states the down ballot candidates out polled the presidential candidates significantly. Wyoming would have been the fifteenth if the "none of the above" category (which is allowed in that state) had been included with those who didn't vote for president but did vote category.


Nimue Brown has a nice little piece on clutter. I have read pieces over the last couple of years about the "de-cluttering" movement (I guess you could call it.) Nimue is right that the philosophy is underpinned by a simple sounding assumption: we all have too much stuff. Sometimes that is true--sometimes not so much. I have gone through periods of de-cluttering. When I realized that I wasn't going to go back to science related course work I got rid of most of the advanced material I had held onto for almost a decade. I kept a (very) few basic books though I am more likely these days to Google a specific question than seek an answer in a book. When I realized that I wasn't going to go back to academic history I purged my library once again keeping a few favorites. But the clutter remains. I have needlework projects in every stage of development from barely a thought in the recesses of my brain, to just started, to halfway done, to almost done, to finally finished. Some I haven't picked up in a decade but will--someday soon...maybe. I finally got the floss stash pretty well organized and I don't add as much stuff to the stash as I once did. But the needlework keeps me sane in our insane world as do the books I have kept and still buy at a much slower rate than I used to. I think I would hate a thoroughly organized and de-cluttered space. It would be suffocating.

I notice the so-called "main"stream media didn't carry any of this in their sound bites. All those who voted for him hoping he would get us out of our various (and largely unsuccessful) wars of choice may regret their votes. His "America First" slogan doesn't preclude more wars of choice for any spurious reason his fevered simulacrum of a brain comes up with at any given time.

Friday, January 20, 2017

January 16-20--


I think I started last week's post with "first Monday of the month." Ahhh, senior moments. It was actually the second Monday and this is the third. I won't complain about how fast the time is going by. So let's see what is interesting this third week of 2017--and, no, the inauguration is NOT interesting. I can't make any big statement about not watching it because I haven't watched any in the past.


We had fog move in yesterday afternoon and evening followed by heavy rain intermittently late last night. At least the freezing rain missed us. I was glad not to share what the states west and south of us got.

Margaret and Helen has some very good points and echo a sentiment I have had ever since election day: I am an American and Trump was elected to the Presidency but he isn't my president and he doesn't either reflect me or speak for me. As for paying respect to the office I am reminded of an episode from my miss-spent youth when I was in Navy boot camp. One of the instructors heard a recruit (not me, in case you were thinking so) say that some officer or other she had the misfortune of meeting was not worthy of respect and she saluted the uniform not the person. The instructor threatened to hang up an officer's uniform and force everyone to salute it if that was how we felt. Though I didn't say it I agreed with my fellow recruit. Some officers weren't worth a bucked of warm...spit. However, others redeemed the position and were worthy of a salute. The Donald is not worthy and one can respect the office while having no use for the piece of crap who occupies it--for now. Some bloggers have promised they are going to wear black not just for inauguration day but for the whole of his term--in mourning.


All of the seeds I ordered for this year are in. The Burpee order came yesterday. I will start the Patio Baby eggplant in the next couple of days. I will keep it under the grow lights upstairs. I also bought seeds for the Mitoyo eggplant but that I won't start until the end of March for planting outside. I am still waiting for the bare-root strawberries but those won't be shipped till the end of April. I noticed some nice fresh green on strawberries in the outside tower. I hope it survives. Same for the mums which are showing some green--not nearly as much as the strawberries.


John Michael Greer has another interesting post on the Archdruid Report. I don't like our (for another 24 hours) Bully-elect and didn't vote for him. I didn't much like Hillary Clinton but did vote for her only because I thought Trump so totally unacceptable. I am not really surprised at any of his proposed cabinet appointees, and I think the only difference between those and those Clinton would have appointed would have been superficial. We have a lot of problems that affect all people of whatever identity and I doubt that Trump's policies will help many of those (especially given the people with whom he has surrounded himself) will come up with solutions that will benefit more than the elites. I hope they manage to prove me wrong. And I would add that the politics of the past, whether of identity or of class, have failed us. We need a politics that gets us both greater social/political equality and more economic equality.


David Kaiser has a historical parallel to Trump that most people wouldn't consider. Given where Kaiser Wilhelm II led his nation let's hope the parallel stops at an odious personality. I hope this isn't an indication of what is to come. A vision of the Red Square parades of the Soviet era and of Pyongyang's muscle flexing parades came to my mind on reading the headline. Larry Sabato provides an some historical context for what seems to our modern minds a strained transition from Obama to Trump. The phrase that permeated the second Battlestar Galactica comes to mind: All this has happened before and it will happen again.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Jan 9-13--


I found this on Facebook after finishing the couple of games I play to wake up in the morning. A case of laugh or scream.

Well, the seed orders have been placed. Haven't ordered much this year because I still have a lot of seeds from the last two years. Had to replace some favorites like the Roselle cherry tomato, the yardlong beans, and the Dragon's Egg cucumber. The there are new varieties I want to try: a couple of eggplants (one for the outside gardens and a patio variety for inside, the Chicago pickling cucumber, the Chianti sunflower and the Strawberry Blonde marigold.

It seems to have become a "tradition" over the last few years. We go into the Holiday sales season with enthusiastic predictions of how the economy is picking up, how shoppers are buying everything in sight and the retailers expect a banner year. Then comes January and the story abruptly changes. Perhaps the on-line part of the retail economy did well but the brick-and-mortar side definitely hasn't.


Helen at Margaret and Helen has a good comment on the man-child President-elect. Once upon a long time ago when I was a grad student in Zoology we joked about the "fragile egos" in our field--the researchers who bristled at any criticism of their work and whose arguments descended quickly to ad hominem attacks. A little less than half of the Americans who voted (and all of those who didn't vote) have saddled us with an example par excellence of the "fragile ego."

We have said much the same thing just not so eloquently. For decades the panacea for the jobless has been "retraining." But what happens when the jobless complete the training and there aren't any jobs? Training doesn't create jobs. What happens when the number of jobs created don't match the number of the jobless? And worse most of the training requires the jobless to take out loans to cover the costs which puts them deeper in a hole whether they actually land a job or not. The author is right: we are all low skilled now.

Wind and rain today. We had light snow early last night but it was gone before we woke--the temperature had risen. Most of the next ten days are above freezing with only one at or near.

This is disturbing. We will never take our computers to Best Buy again. We did so only once but they didn't need to examine the computer to tell they couldn't help us with our problem. What is on my computer would probably confuse the hell out of any one else but it is my computer and my business and none of anyone else's.


We had some vicious winds late yesterday and overnight. Some folks in the region had power outages though not here. The rain has washed a lot of the snow away leaving only the remains of the mountains formed by the snow removal crews plowing the streets and a parking areas. The winds were strong enough to move the gate we have blocked open several inches. I moved a heavier weight over to combat the wind. We block the gate each winter because the ground shifts with the freeze and thaw cycles and at time it can become impossible to open the gate if it is closed or to close and latch it if it was open. Better to leave it open than risk damage or being trapped in case of an emergency.

There are two kinds of blogs and news stories I have almost stopped reading: so-called Republican/conservative sites where the authors can see no good about any so-called Democratic/liberal and so-called Democratic/liberal sites where the authors cann see no good about Republican/conservatives. This article makes some interesting points on that issue. I especially like the author's recognition of her own tendency toward bias and her comments remind me to be equally vigilant on the front. I don't like Trump and I didn't vote for him but I can see some areas where he might be able to do something I would think worthwhile. We'll see. For those who wonder--I didn't like Clinton either and wouldn't have celebrated if she had won.

Reading this article about Monica Crowley, one of Trump's picks for his staff, and plagiarism I had a moment of deja vu. Scroll down to where the author does a side by side comparison of her work and some of her sources and see how much is highlighted. Once upon a long time ago when I was teaching history at a small college I assigned a term paper. While grading the papers I had the sudden recognition that I had read the material before and went looking for it in the pile of papers I had already graded--and I found it. Another student had used the same on line sources and had lifted the exact same passages to make the exact same arguments. I highlighted the passages and flunked both students on their term papers which reduced their grade from A to C rather quickly. I didn't flunk them for the course because there was some question of how well acquainted students at that level would be (even with the materials I had given them) on the rules of citations. There is no excuse for Crowley as a Ph.D candidate. And I truly resent the Trump team's dismissal of blatant dishonesty as partisan sniping. Another example of how apt the Oxford English Dictionary editor's listing of "post-truth" among its new words is for the modern era. The facts simply don't matter.


We finished yesterday with fog, high winds and heavy rain. A lot of thunder and lightening this morning.

Here is a long post from John Mauldin featuring an article by Howard Marks. He makes some very good points on our post-truth/post-fact world, about politics and economics, about forecasters and about expert opinion.


Another nail in the coffin of Monsanto's BT crops. I had read for some time that pests are developing resistance and have actually been doing so for the last quarter century. I didn't know that Monsanto had "stacked" several BT genes (the producers of the "CRY proteins") into their GMO crops. I am not surprised. We seem to be ruled by the notion "if one is good more is better." Take a look at the number of "helper" drugs being advertised. If your anti-depressant isn't working the way you think it should, try adding X or Y to it to help it along. But, to get back to the BT problem, the situation is a parallel to the antibiotic resistance increasingly popping up in medicine. As we increase the number of BT genes (or antibiotics) in use at the same time organism resistant to all of them will crop up. As Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park noted "Nature finds a way."

Hmmmm? Rex Tillerson says "We'll adapt" to climate change. Well, yes--because the industry Tillerson is so representative of has been instrumental in creating conditions to which we must adapt. I noted some time ago that the earth exceeded the 350ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, which scientists thought was the limit to prevent the average global temperature rise, in 1985. Last year the level was over 400ppm all year. But when ever someone like Tillerson says that "we'll adapt" I ask "adapt how?" and "what you mean "we," white man?" I suspect Tillerson's notion of "adapt" wouldn't be anything close to mine or anyone else not part of the 0.001%.

Ahhhh! The Baker Creek order just arrived. It included some of my old reliables like Dragon's Egg cucumber, stevia (the sweetie star variety this time), and Roselle tomatoes. I also ordered the Chicago Pickling cucumber, purslane, oxheart tomatoes, Mitoyo eggplant and balloon flowers to try out. They sent me a couple of freebees I look forward to trying--some purple carrots and a black tomato. I think I will adjust my plans by reducing the Oxheart to one container and putting the other space in the black variety. This morning I transplanted four of the spinach that are doing well into my small tower garden. I started them in the toilet paper roll cells I fashioned so I didn't have to take them out of a pot to put them in place. Just plopped the whole thing--roll, plant, soil and all into place. They have retained shape and integrity better than the paper I had done before. I might try the paper pots again with more layers.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Monday--The first Monday of a new year

Well, the holidays are over and we hardly noticed. We don't do much for any holiday anymore beyond dinner with family. We do give small gifts on Christmas but don't make much fuss about it. We don't decorate so there is nothing to take down and put away for a year.

We do hope this new year will be better than the last. I am not sure why 2016 seemed such a downer of a year but I felt like something was sapping my energy and enthusiasm, and my mood was definitely gloomy. I am feeling more vital and far less dismal. I think things started to change when we stopped watching so much TV. No more endlessly repeated commercials urging us to support one or the other wretched political candidate, no more endlessly repeated commercials urging us to buy things we didn't need or want, no more "news" that ranged from the trivial (about which we didn't care) to the tragic (about which we could do nothing) and all of which, in sum, meant zip to us.

An interesting notion from John Beckett. I wonder what monsters we will meet in 2017 and in what guise.

James Kunstler lets it all loose with his 2017 forecast and provided me with a new word for my vocabulary: farkakta. This is a long read you might like to take in bite sized pieces.


Oh, the political games continue as Jonathan Chait notes in the NY Magazine. The Repthuglicans have been in political heaven for the last two years. They could gripe, moan, pontificate, try repeatedly to repeal Obamacare promising they would repeal it and replace it with something better, something Republican/Conservative. Now they have to deliver, and their empty rhetoric and cold hearts are becoming apparent.

Patrick Watson has a good Connecting the Dots column at Mauldin Economics today. Yeah, I agree with him: Trump and "profound" are rarely contained in the same sentence. However, I think that the only reason the Trump quote is profound is that it is coming from a President-elect. Most of our political class are globalist and hyper-individualist therefore someone about to enter the Oval Office talking about local connections and community seems heretical and profound.


We have heard a lot about "fake news" of late but I ask, as I always do, for the definition of "fake news." Right now it seems to be what ever whoever is writing (or speaking, or pontificating) doesn't like. I doesn't necessarily mean "false." Yesterday we were treated to the mainstream media enthusing about Ford deciding not to build a new plant in Mexico and "instead" bring back production to Detroit with something like 700 jobs on the line. The Chairman of Ford indicated it was the company's vote of confidence in the incoming Trump administration. Today Mom was reading a follow-up. The company is still moving the small car assembly to Mexico but won't build a new plant for the operation. They will expand assembly of cross-over and SUVs in Detroit which will employ those 700 people but that move has been in the works for a while. Smoke and Mirrors, people. The first story was pretty much "fake" in the sense of being false. Trump and the incoming administration had little to do with what is actually going to happen. Instead of spending $1.6billion on a new plant in Mexico, Ford will spend $700million on the Detroit plant. The 700 jobs Trump's election supposedly saved--were planned anyway. The company gives credit to Trump (bolstering an already inflated ego), piling up credits on their side to get something from the new administration later, and makes it appear that Trump's strategies (such as they are) are already working to Make America Great Again.

For a longish but interesting treatment of the issue check out Brooke Borel's piece at FiveThirtyEight. Perhaps, the problem isn't defining "fake news" but in defining what is "news." I don't know how many times we have watched a segment of a news broadcast and asked "that's news????" It clearly didn't fit our (unspoken) definition but cleared the editor's different (and, perhaps, equally unspoken) definition.

That story Mom read this morning about Ford also noted that our Bully-elect tweeted that he would considering imposing a tariff on GM's Mexican assembled cars. My first reaction was "What about NAFTA???" Can he do that without violating a trade treaty Well the answer may be "yes, and no."


Nothing much to talk about today. Bitterly cold but sunny after a cloudy and flurried start.


Even colder today than yesterday though the weather people promise a warm up is coming.

A number of the economically inclined bloggers I read talk about two basic divisions in American society. What was once the middle class has bifurcated into those who are unprotected and quickly joining the lower classes (already unprotected) and the protected that serve the interests of the top 1% of the economic pyramid and are to some extent protected from economic pain. A good many of those protected groups were political/civil servants. Evidently, not any more. A couple of writers noted that the "spoils system" seems to be making a come back after more than a hundred years in hibernation--and with a vengeance.

It might be colder that (insert your favorite comparison) but my thoughts and daydreams are of a blooming garden. Some things are pretty firm: tomatoes--only two varieties and plants limited to 4 of the slicer/canner and 2 of the cherry; beans--2 varieties--yardlong and Gold Marie; strawberries--25 bare roots; a small eggplant I will keep inside under the grow lights; lavender--more plants than last year; marigolds--still checking on the variety; borage, stevia, peppermint, spearmint, basil, sage, thyme, hyssop, Moldavian balm, lemon balm--still deciding where to put them. So many plants; so little space.

Buzzfeed had this post this morning. My definition of "American food" is definitely different. We have very few of those items on our pantry shelves. I counted six: French's mustard, catsup, peanut butter, olive oil, pumpkin pie filling and A1. We get real maple syrup from a local producer and honey from a local beekeeper.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sunday--Happy New Year--

Jenna Woginreich's article in the Guardian rings a bell. When we needed new phones we deliberately went with "dumb" phones--not the old hard wired kind but not the high tech mobiles. It works well for us for emergencies and for the infrequent times we need to communicate with family or others--or they with us. Our car does have OnStar but we never activated it. We rarely (as in almost never) put on the radio and we check where we are going, if we haven't been there before, with a Google search for directions. Technology can be nice and convenient but so much of it is intrusive and not so convenient.

An interesting article by Dorthe Nors: On the Invisibility of Middle-Aged Women. And then there are the rare women who, finally, become visible in old age.