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.