Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday--March 24

Hoping that the temperature rises as expected into the 70s. I have a lot of outside work to get done with the planned reconfiguration and the retirement of three large containers. I saw marigold seedlings breaking through in the pots upstairs.

Yesterday Mom was reading a piece in which one interviewee asked why she and her (healthy) husband, who have taken good care of themselves, should have to pay to provide health insurance for others who couldn't be bothered to do the same. She obviously felt she and her spouse were being rewarded for living their "virtuous" lives with good health and others simply weren't being that "virtuous" and were receiving their just rewards for their "sins." My thoughts on those sentiments include: 1) you self-righteous bitch, 2) you are damned lucky not to have had an auto accident that left you needing expensive care or an accident at work requiring the same, or an unexpected serious illness that also required expensive care, 3) and you are a selfish bitch who like most of the Repthuglican party needs a brain transplant (because you can't think beyond your own comfortable circumstances and precious self) and a heart transplant (because yours--if you have one--missed the compassion function). Perhaps you think I am being unreasonably harsh and judgmental. However, her argument assumes that people who need help paying for medical care (or the insurance that provides some access to that care) have somehow caused their own circumstances of their own volition. And it assumes that all medical conditions can be prevented if only people lived rightly, ate properly, whatever. And it mistakes being damned lucky for being virtuous. As this article shows we don't know what causes two-thirds of cancers. I knew a family a long time ago whose father was stricken at a fairly early age by Parkinson's. They didn't know then that the condition is heritable and was present in his family because the relatives refused to talk about it because OMG it involved SEX. There was nothing they could have done to prevent the disease and no amount of right living would have helped. I remember a young girl from my junior high school days who had contracted polio before the vaccine because widely available often at a much reduced cost to those who couldn't afford the treatment on their own. No amount of right living or money would have saved those who came of age before the vaccine. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tuesday--March 21

Started seeds for the Chicago pickling and the Dragon's egg cucumbers, Mitoyo eggplant, Oxheart and Roselle tomatoes, Strawberry Blonde marigolds. I unplugged the heating mat under the starting tray. I think it is warm enough up there that it isn't needed now. I threw some lemon basil seeds into the pots where the first plants failed just to see what will happen. The little tomatoes, eggplants and peppers I want to keep inside are doing well--so far.

Wednesday--March 22

Thursday--March 23

Didn't see much to comment on yesterday. It turned cold again though no snow or rain. The weather people say the temps should start up again. Most of my thoughts were on modifications to the gardens I hadn't contemplated making. We have three containers that need to be changed out. They are deteriorating from the extremes of temperature and from the summer sun. I had intended to let them go another year or two but Mom wants them out this year. We won't replace them but will instead rearrange the other pots. I can't start on that right away because the recent stretch of cold temps froze them again--solid. I hope they thaw quickly with the rise in temps.

The more I hear about Gorsuch the less I like the idea of him occupying a seat on the Supreme Court. Take a look at this article and this one. The first shows an extreme lack of common courtesy toward a female lawmaker and the second shows the absurdity of "textualism."

John Feffer has a good article on why the Tangerine's administration wants to increase the Pentagon's budget by $54billion--to start another war...somewhere. What intrigued me to the point of sending me to a Google search was the comment that the $54billion was more than the military budgets of all but five countries. Let that sink in--the proposed increase, if it were a country's military budget, would rank it as sixth in the world. I had to check it out and found this list.

And then we have the Tangerine's eldest three kids and their families vacationing in Aspen on the taxpayer dime and pissing off the locals (and other self-funded vacationers). Parasitic presidency indeed. These guys give leeches a bad name. For more on this sorry state of affairs see this story.

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20--Happy Equinox

We woke to heavy rain, lightening, and thunder. I wonder how wet it will be today. We should have some warm days coming up and, if it is dry, I might get some clean up outside accomplished. My plant starts are a mixed bag. About half of the Thai basil and only one of the lemon basil have survived so far. I got three small lavender of which two are still going. The little tomatoes are doing very well with most of the peppers and eggplants a bit behind them in growth. I should start the some of the outside plants soon. I have been somewhat lazy on the planting schedule.

I haven't been nearly so lazy on the needlework. I finished a crocheted placemat and started another. The afghan is building nicely. I haven't picked up the cross-stitched dresser scarf for a while though I thought about doing some over the weekend and then got busy with the crochet work.

I do like this one. For much too long the Supremes have, from my point of view, prioritized the powers of the government and the privileges of the corporations over the rights and welfare of ordinary citizens. I was stunned to see the part of the article which said the decision was unanimous.

Is there anything sane about the Tangerine's administration? This is just another example of the insanity.

Friday, March 17, 2017

March 13-17--

Monday--

This was a sickening story to find first off. Somebody needs heart to improve his sense of compassion and brain transplant so he can figure out that most people can't afford out of pocket medical bills upwards of $2k per month. Mom and I looked at each other and asked if either of us gets $2k a month. We barely make that together. I would like to see this SOB staked out on a fire ant hill. Evidently, according to a later story, did apologize for his insensitivity but the apology doesn't really make me think better of him since he attributed his initial response to a "knee-jerk reaction." I think that should be edited to read "jerk reaction." Though the story came from the middle of last year, I reminds me too much of a recent one in which some asshole politician (whose name I can't remember, unfortunately) claimed poor people could afford their health insurance if they just made smarter financial decisions--like buying insurance instead of that new smart phone. Like all that many poor people have the ready cash for either!!!

Peter Turchin has a good article that parallels our thinking here--most of the dietary advice of the half-century is pseudo-scientific bunk.

I have seen this coming for the last three decades. I remember a colleague in a history department nearly that long ago who gave up a teaching assisstantship because she got fed up with "slacker" students who didn't want to do any work to get the grade they wanted. They refused to read the material and couldn't (or wouldn't) write a cogent and coherent paper or test. I remember students who wailed and railed because I refused to give them multiple guess tests and insisted they write essays. I remember a Doonesbury cartoon showing a professor who told his class that once upon a time he assigned six books, some hefty, and gradually scaled down the list till he was only assigning three very short pieces. And a student protested "Whoa--Three???" I remember students who were concerned with getting their grades up to a "D" because "D for Diploma." And one who was upset when I helped her pull her grade up from a D to a B because I didn't gift her with an A--and her father contacted a state politician who contacted the president of the university who contacted a Dean who contacted the head of my department who contacted my advisor who contacted me. Thankfully, they had my back--that time.

Amen, sister!! Technology can be good or bad and too often we adopt something without thinking about it. Before our last computers died we had rejected a system update--the so called improvements were not enough of an improvement to justify the cost. When we needed new phones we deliberately refused to go for any smart phone and the ones we have many more features we simply don't use.

Tuesday--

"The Parasitic Presidency"???? Perfectly descriptive.

Wednesday--

Has anyone else noticed how strangely quiet the mainstream media has been about the debt ceiling? It reappeared today and with it the government's ability to borrow supposedly evaporated. I have seen very little about the situation even in the economic press. Perhaps because we have a white president and no rabid GOP senators calling for a shutdown of the government as a blackmail strategy. A government of hypocrites with a parasite as president makes all the difference.

As I have said often before, technology is wonderful--till it isn't. The author of the article in the link reflects much of my experience. We have traded ersatz convenience for real annoyances and paid a premium for the exchange.

Thursday--

Friday--

I saw a headline that said Trump's budget director claimed that "Meals On Wheels" doesn't "work" and that we can't continue to spend money on programs that don't work. This piece by Slate expands on that. There are two parts of the argument he tries (and fails) to make. First, he claims the Community Development Block Grants, of which the Meals On Wheels program is a part, doesn't work. And, second, he claims that Meals On Wheels, specifically, doesn't work. Please note he claims that neither the block grants nor Meals On Wheels work but provides no proof to back up his claims. Merely stating something doesn't prove that thing. I can say "Unicorns exist and they are awesome" but my saying so proves neither their existence nor their awesomeness. On what criteria does he base his assessment? He doesn't say. I also find it interesting that the Trump administration wants to convert Medicaid and educational funds to block grants that the states "can use as they choose" but here is claiming that a different block grant that the some states have chosen to use to fund programs like Meals On Wheels aren't working and, therefore, should't be funded. This isn't really a matter of choice on any level. It is solely based on the fact that the Trump administration wants to spend money elsewhere--like on a useless 12th aircraft carrier or a border wall the Tangerine promised Mexico would pay for.

An interesting piece. Makes me wonder how many of the "benefits" companies provided were actually paid for by government tax policies, i.e., by all of us who had to pay more in taxes to cover them. Reminds me of the indignant response when, here in Indiana, Obama told  business leaders that "they didn't build that," referring to the road by which their goods left for the markets where they were sold. He was quite right. They didn't build it--at least not by themselves. And given the propensity for governments to give "tax breaks" and build infrastructure to entice businesses to their area, perhaps they didn't build it themselves at all.

Jon Aravosis is suitably sarcastic on this one. Back when Bush II was giving the horse shit about "compassionate conservatism" I said it was an oxymoron. I didn't see anything compassionate about Repthuglican conservatism. I guess I just didn't ask the right question: compassion for whom? Compassion for the poor, the elderly and others who depend on the service the program provides or the well-heeled, well-fed, well-housed who have to some how scratch up the tax money for the service? Frankly, I didn't know that "Fuck you" was synonymous with compassion. I think Robert Reich describes the situation better: unnecessary cruelty. And the Rude Pundit calls it mundane savagery.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Weekend Musings--

Saturday, Mar. 11--

Found this Scientific American article almost first off.  CNBC also carried a story on the bill which would allow employers to require, as part of their "wellness" programs, employee undergo genetic testing or pay much higher premiums for health insurance--and that the company have access to the results. We haven't had any good experiences with the "wellness" provisions of the ACA to date. Most of that comes through Mom's insurance which she gets as the widow of a deceased employee covered by a union contract. Her doctors spent more time asking the questions on the "wellness" questionnaire than actually talking to her. The insurance program included as a benefit membership in the Y but the program never worked for us. Mom injured herself on one of the machines and had to rest for a couple of weeks to recover and another program was supposedly low impact but was too much for her (and for me as well though I lasted a bit longer.) We tried hard to see the benefit from the programs--so hard I think we "saw" benefit that wasn't really there. I have almost never had health insurance through an employer and the rare times I did I never needed it. James Clapper recently came out and proclaimed in an interview that we don't really have privacy any more given the government's ability to snoop into our lives. If the Repthuglicans (and it was they who voted by party line for the bill) our rights to medical privacy will also disappear.

Sunday--

Well, here it is again--the time to switch our clocks. Although I am now retired and now longer have to live by the clock, the change still disrupts my system. I will take at least a week for my sleep rhythms to get back in sync with the clock.

Check out this from The Nation.

Friday, March 10, 2017

March 6-10--

Monday--

Good weekend. I spent a good bit of time on a scrap afghan and consolidated all my orphan yarn of the right weight to use in the project. I decided to learn a new stitch, the Catherine Wheel, which is looking quite good so far. I am about one-third finished with the new place mat using some yarn I found on sale. And I made progress on a stamped cross-stitch table scarf that has been languishing for weeks now. Most of the seedlings I started are doing well. I pulled the one sickly tomato plant but I have two more thriving plants. I need to transplant the eggplant and peppers. Those are all very small varieties and will remain inside. Mom noted that she is almost out of basil. This year I have four varieties already started (Thai, sweet, lemon and lime). so we should be good on that after they are big enough to harvest from. I rearranged plants so I have room to start the outside plants in about two weeks.

I was wondering when someone would ask this question: are we facing a water "affordability" problem? The article focuses on urban populations but I have read of problems in rural and small towns as well as aquifers and other sources of water dry up.

Tuesday--

The Rude Pundit had an article that doesn't incorporate his usual lewd level of rudeness. I haven't--yet-- approached his level of hatred for the Tangerine playing at being president. And my feelings of disgust/distain/nausea are more generalized. Trump is where he is thanks to trends in our society and economy that have accumulated over the last forty years, thanks to idiots who wanted to "take back their country" by robbing me of mine. thanks to Americans who live in the "land of the free and home of the brave" but are enslaved by fear and at home with their cowardice, thanks to those who need scapegoats for their own feelings of outraged entitlement.

Wednesday--

Thursday--

Well, if what Mom read this morning is right, the Repthuglicans passed their bastardized replacement for the ACA out of committee last night. Par for the course, they did it in the dead of the night. Let's see if they can get it through the house. Looking up the news I found that the actual measure passed out of the Ways and Means committee involved revoking the mandate that everyone have insurance or pay a penalty. That eliminates the money flow to the insurance industry and the penalties the government relied on to fund other parts of the ACA. Death by a thousand cuts???

Just moved my outside pot tower to its new home. I wanted easier access to all parts of it and it wasn't easy rotating the pots. It is now on the stool where one of our bird feeding plates was. I found two cells of chives thriving and several possible survivors among the strawberries. I didn't do much outside because the temperature is still a bit cool but I was nice to be looking at things outside again. Maybe I will start the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants for the outside gardens.

Friday--

An interesting fall-out from the late election: the Mexican sugar chamber can't find anyone to negotiate with in the U.S. Commerce Department because Trump (or his Secretary of Commerce) hasn't filled the relevant staff positions. The sugar chamber has, as a consequence, cancelled sugar exports to the U.S. Evidently, from this Reuters story, the story is far more convoluted.

I am glad to see someone actually has the guts to call out the Repthuglicans on their heartlessness. They don't have any mercy in them.

Just put the patio sized peppers and eggplants into their individual pots to join the tomatoes which are doing nicely. I also transplanted the rosemary I started from cuttings last fall into a larger pot and put it in the window with the plant I took the cuttings from. I also got all of the basils (Thai, sweet, lemon, lime) into individual pots or into cells of the tiered planter. We'll see if all of them like their new homes.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Feb. 27--Mar. 3---

Monday--

Another story from the Twilight Zone that is now the United States. Henry Rousso put the matter very succinctly: "the United States is no longer quite the United States."

Someone who, unlike Trump, really tells it like it is: evangelical christianity is the American Taliban.

I really like this article. Some time ago, when I cleaned out my closet, I got rid of most (if not all) skirts and dresses. I hope never to wear one again. I haven't bought a pair of panty hose in years. Again something I hope to never wear again. I have come to the point of hating bras because they all chafe, pinch, or bind--or all three at once. And we never, never, never have enough pockets.

Hummmm?? "Financial Toxicity" is a good term but not just in cancer treatment. All of medical care and medications are too expensive for a growing number of our citizens. Just the way the medical industry likes it.

More support for the course we started on a few years ago. We cut back both salt and sugars some years ago and shifted to cane sugar (when we use it because beet sugar is usually from GMO beets) at the same time we shifted to full-fat dairy where we can. We found cottage cheese and milk which fit that category but getting the yogurt we like in the whole milk variety is difficult. We absolutely refuse to buy the 0% fat cheese, milk or yogurt. We also shifted from margarine to butter and occasionally use lard in cooking. We believed for some time that the "expert's" dietary advice was off base and ignored most of it.

Tuesday--

I have decided that any bread recipe I see which gives instructions for mixer, hand mixing, and bread machine in the same paragraph I will ignore. I used a recipe for sourdough that did just that and though the bread came out nicely the dough was a pain in the ass to work with. I am old school on most of my cooking and everything is done by hand. On a humorous note on bread making: I wondered, having just printed off two pumpernickel recipes and using one recently, just what constituted "pumpernickel." So I looked it up and discovered it was simply a bread made with a higher proportion of rye than regular rye breads. I can be made with either rye meal (course grown whole grain) or rye flour (finer milled). The humor comes in with the derivation of the name which according to the source I found comes from two German words: pumpern meaning "to break wind"(a.k.a., fart) and nickel meaning "a devil or demon". They say the course rye meal does roil the digestive system. Mom laughed when I read that remembering when people referred to political gasbags as "pumpernickels".

Wednesday--

Thunderstorms last night but thankfully no hail or tornadoes. The temperatures should drop over the next couple of days. I have to remind myself this is still only March 1. Meteorological spring might start today but the equinox (astronomical spring) is yet three weeks away.

I was going to label this "More on the fake food front," but that isn't totally accurate. Instead it should be "More on the food bait-and-switch fraud," Takes the "tastes like chicken" meme to a whole different level.

Thursday--

We got snow flurries driven sideways by very strong winds. The snow didn't accumulate and the wind has calmed for now.

This is hilarious!! Leaks have been plaguing the Tangerine's administration since the beginning. His current spokes-shill recently demanded all his subordinates hand in their official and personal phones for inspection in an effort to find the leak. Evidently, two private security firms have identified what they think is the source--the Tangerine's own unsecured Android device.

Friday--

I have always been skeptical about the charter school fad and the voucher rage in education enthusiastically promoted by the newest (and least qualified) Secretary of Education, Betsy De Vos. This article provides support for my skepticism--to date the performance hasn't lived up to the promise.

Damn!! Another GMO to look out for.

Ah, Crabby Old Lady is back at Time Goes By and she is right on the money with her critique of the internet today. It is a rare day when all the frustrations mentioned don't have us swearing half a dozen times (or more). I have recently fantasized about taking days off with no computer exposure at all but then I need to look up some crochet stitch or other information.