Saturday, February 24, 2024

Some sun this morning after snow overnight. It is cold now and not expected to rise above 32F.

We watched the Chicago news this morning. As I have mentioned before Chicago is as close to local as we can get on TV. It is a relief from the repetition of the nationally oriented news we watch during the week. Then continued with the pre-game show for the Premier League soccer. The game should start shortly. At the same time I got the salmon patties made up and in the refrigerator ready to fry later. I am resting before fixing our breakfast.

The Hill has a long article about the latest looming budget deadline in D.C. The House is supposed to return, after a couple of weeks in their districts or somewhere, on Monday with the shutdown scheduled for March 1. I keep wondering why we are paying those guys a six figure salary for doing not much at all, except preening before cameras.

Responsible Statecraft posted this article this morning. The headline claims that Biden wants to put the U.S. on a "permanent war footing." After reading it I don't see the U.S. being put on a permanent war footing, rather just the defense industry. Worse I don't think the nebulous goals listed will do move us away from the system we have where the military is "getting less for more." And, in a continuation of George W.'s pronouncements after 9/11, that most of us should support his War on Terror by going shopping.

The New Eastern Outlook has an interesting analysis of our defense industry and expounds on some "fatal flaws" in the system as it is now organized. I haven't read much of this journal so I decided to look up more info. Wikipedia and other sources trace its ancestry back to a Soviet era academic institute specializing in Asia. They say that it is one major conduit for Russian misinformation and propaganda. I didn't see much in the article that got my skepticism antennae moving from normal to extreme. But it is a site to read carefully and skeptically.

Friday, February 23, 2024

February 23

 Sunny and cool so far. The rain yesterday ended mid-afternoon.

GZero has an interesting article that asks an important question: Russia is winning? Winning What? Our government has imposed a new round of sanctions but Russia's economy isn't as sensitive to sanctions as it was originally, and India and China are still very willing to buy the oil Russia sells them at bargain basement prices.

Heather Cox Richardson published a good overview of our current political turmoil. There are several things that make me crazy angry. One is a bunch of men deciding that I, or any other woman, isn't competent to make decisions about my life just because I MIGHT NOT MAKE THE DECISION THEY WANT ME TO MAKE. (I am not shouting here just emphasizing the injustice of the situation.) Second, I resent anyone, male or female, trying to saddle me with their religion based restrictions. I don't sing in their damned choirs. Third, I hate scientifically illiterate people thinking they should opine on science. I could go on but I won't.

By the way, I don't mind people deciding to live according to their religious beliefs and raising their children in those beliefs, but I draw the line with them imposing their beliefs on others. I don't think one parent in a school district should be able to restrict what every student in the school reads just to protect their precious offsprings delicate sensitivities. Expand that to IVF and abortion.

Joyce Vance has another piece on that idiotic ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court extending the legal protections given children to embryos.

One for the "OUCH" file. I have been watching this for a while. By the way, Milei has been described as Argentina's Trump.

OMG, how the hell did the idiot DeSantis appointed ?urgeon General get a medical degree? To send a letter to parents telling them to go ahead and send unvaccinated children to school as cases of measles are rising. Read all about it

February 22

 Rain today. I won't complain since the rain will help the soil in my containers fully defrost. That seems to be doing well. I noticed that, though we didn't have rain yesterday, I had small streams of water flowing slowly from the buckets.

Aurelien has a good, but long, post on his substack this morning. It reminds me of Daniel Boorstin's book THE IMAGE published in the 1960. It also reminds me of the new ad for (I think) Audi where the selling point seems to be the notion that you can choose, O Joy,  the configuration of lights in your headlights. Lovely image but how does that improve the performance of the car? Some years ago a book I read on the growth of advertising claimed that as a product became nearly universal in society the advertising became more about the aesthetics and less how the product worked.

Listening to the news this morning about the collapse of the newest base the Republicans in the House claim for their attempts to impeach Biden I was reminded of the Upton Sinclair quote: It is difficult to convince a man of something when his salary depends on him not understanding it. Rep. Jordan was asked about the arrest of the (newest) devastating witness and the document he provided to the FBI which was totally generated by Russian misinformation and the man's imagination. Jordan insisted that it did nothing to debunk the "facts." Unfortunately his facts aren't really facts; they are merely his own fevered imaginings. I think a corollary to Sinclair would read: A man will always believe what supports his ego, position, or salary even if false.

I found an interesting post that claimed 10 Israelis had been killed because of Israeli bombing in Gaza. I followed the link but the site is in Hebrew which I don't know. I tried to see if there was any mention in two Israeli media outlets and in Al Jazeera but found nothing recent which amount to 10 Israeli casualties of Israeli operations. Since I can't verify the claim I have put it in my mental "Maybe" file. The blogger claimed that it put a lie to the Netanyahu government's supposed concern for getting the hostages released. Well, I have always thought the two aims antithetical. I never believed that the "eliminate Hamas" aim was compatible with getting hostages out alive. I also wonder how many hostages are still alive. I wonder if the hostage exchange/pause talks have broken down because Hamas doesn't have all that many bargaining chips left.

 Ouch!!! The Edmonton Journal in Alberta, Canada reports the government has declared an early start to the 2024 fire season. They still have 54 fires (new and continued from last season) burning. The problem: low snow pack and very dry weather. Yesterday the Weather Channel reported that a large area of west Texas, Arizona, and southern Colorado was under fire warnings. Same problems.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

 Good morning on a sunny and fairly warm day. We had an errand and I didn't need my heavy sweater. (I avoid wearing my winter coat--just don't really like it but am too cheap to buy another.)

Stray thought: reading this piece by Bill Astore I remember a bit I read in a book on the history of Rome. It recounted the transition from Republic to Empire and said that Augustus managed it by neatly gathering all the strings of power into his own hands while maintaining the illusion that the institutions of the Republic were still effective. The Senate still met but had less and less power as time went on. There were still Tribunes but they were subservient to Augustus. The various priesthoods answered to Augustus who held the supreme priesthood. And the power of ordinary citizens to affect policy, never really strong, was canceled out.

Interesting article on CNN today on the reestablishment of volunteer, corporate armies. Evidently 16 major companies and several minor ones are "recruiting" volunteers from among their employees who do their regular work while also participating in the security forces. These armies appear to function like our National Guard does. I am not at all sure how voluntary the recruitment is.

I love this post by Crooks&Liars. I am no fan of Margery Taylor Green and absolutely do not see why her constituents keep voting for her.

In case any one really thought Navalny died of some unspecified natural cause, this should raise suspicions. There was a debate during the pandemic about how to count the Covid deaths. Did someone die OF Covid or WITH Covid? If a person with diabetes or heart problems (or whatever) who contracted Covid die of the underlying condition or of Covid? I never could see why the distinction was so important. Did Navalny die of an underlying natural cause or from that cause (or no cause) complicated by harsh treatment (a.k.a., torture). I don't think the distinction mattered to Putin who has rewarded the chief torturer with a promotion.

Ouch!!! The drought in Europe is continuing adding to the problems that are propelling farmers to drive their tractors and trucks to protest at various capitals.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

February 20

 The temperature yesterday warmed up nicely. Today might follow that pattern. It is sunny and just a bit after sunrise. We had a couple of errands yesterday. Mom had to get her blood work done to prepare for her appointment with her doctor next week. Then all of a sudden my computer wasn't charging. It took a while going through all of the components from the wall plug through to the computer to find what part was to blame. I had to replace the chord--again. I did that a week ago last weekend when that cord failed. At least everything is working again. We got started late and hadn't had breakfast so we decided to go to our favorite restaurant for breakfast which turned into a lunch instead. That restaurant has always been busy but yesterday it was crazy. The poor waitresses needed roller skates.

We don't go out to eat much any more. Since everything reopened after the pandemic most of our old favorites had drastically changed their menus eliminating our favorites and drastically raised prices. Too little enjoyment for the money. The one we went to yesterday has kept the same menu and hasn't raised prices outrageously.

England is experiencing a surge in measles cases that goes along with increasing vaccine skepticism. The Guardian reports that measles isn't the only once controlled disease making a comeback. Cases of Ricketts, scurvy, and scabies have also increased lately.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Sunny and frosty this morning.

Happy Presidents' Day. Interesting poll of historians rated Biden as the 14th most effective president in our history--and Trump as the least effective. And the morning news/commentary show presented a comedy sketch where the host mentioned that Biden and Trump are the oldest candidates for the Presidency--breaking a record they set FOUR YEARS AGO.

I heard another segment that finally mentioned the growth of an international anti-globalist movement that appears to be gaining strength. They mentioned the failure of the Arab Spring movement that has resulted in the entrenchment of even more authoritarian governments. They said that some of the people whose hopes have withered wish the Spring had never happened. The rise of European leaders who also reject the globalist movement and espouse various nationalisms. As they mentioned those I mused that the real birth of anti-globalism was the failure of NAFTA to provide the benefits promised. Less than a minute after I expressed that thought one of the moderators said the same and then commented on the U.K.'s exit from the EU. The process of globalization has enriched a few massively, stunted the economic progress of the many, hollowed out the industrial capacity of advanced countries as the CEOs of various companies in various industries moved operations to countries with lower wages, lax labor laws, and more dictatorial governments. America First marches along with India First (Hindu nationalism), Hungary First (Orban), AfD and other German nationalist groups, the recently defeated similar party in Poland, and Putin's rebuilding a Russian Nationalism based on going back to very traditional practices.

Maha at Mahablog has a good article taking off for the news that a Trump supporter has established a OMG GoFundMe page for poor, poor Donald to pay the judgement he just received. Grifting has been raised to a high art and not just by Trump. As P.T. Barnum is supposed to have said: there's a sucker borne every minute." (Like so many such sayings Barnum may not have said it but that doesn't make it any less true.) Bill Astore makes the same point here.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

February 18

 Sunny day with cloudless sky. We still have some snow from the previous fall. Nothing much planned for the day. I baked a couple of frozen turnovers for breakfast and plan on fried rice for supper. I didn't do any needlework yesterday and won't pick it up today. My hands were hurting so it was time for a couple aspirin and a rest.

Found this by way of Naked Capitalism which isn't really surprising. I don't think anyone was prepared for a drawn out conflict in Ukraine. Everything about the conflict has violated expectations. First, we thought that Ukraine would fall in days; it didn't happen. Then people thought the Russians would come back and use their manpower and superior army to take over in a slightly longer time frame--weeks maybe; didn't happen. The we saw a Russian military that was a total s**tshow which would have to retire back to the Donbas if not exit Ukraine entirely; didn't happen. Over the last few months the lines have solidified as the Russians have found new suppliers and Ukraine finds that their allies are quickly facing difficulties, politically and industrially, producing and providing materiel. Many are returning to the positions they started in: Ukraine is at a serious disadvantage and probably won't win. The European willingness to keep the Ukrainians who fled the early stages of the war was borne out of the early enthusiasm for a plucky underdog who was over performing against the Russian juggernaught. They were not prepared for an open ended commitment. And they see our own disfunction and have to wonder if we will continue to provide the kind of aid Ukraine needs. We are squabbling over a $65billion package while they have already promised $54billion. Add to that the economic problems in Europe and the UK has slipped into recession.