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.

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