Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday.

I am finally back on line.  Our internet and cable TV were both out for at least 3 hours this morning.  It was out when we got up about 5am and stayed that way until after 8am.  Nothing brings home how dependent we are on that technology when it suddenly isn't there.  We have an old fashioned radio/turntable/cassette player/CD player so we had radio this morning while Mom did her crosswords and I put about four rows on a crocheted scarf I am working on.  We have experienced more such outages this year than ever and we never get any explanation for them.  Makes me wonder.

Oh, well--service is out again.  I don't know for how long--could be minutes could be longer.

The services came back after about another 15 minutes.

It won't be long before we have to turn back our clocks yet again. Damn but I do hate that.  Evidently I am not the only one.  I hated it when I had to wear a watch and set my alarm.  Thankfully, I haven't had to do either for almost five years.  It is still a pain in the ass.

Life imitating art?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday.

From Treehugger.  I crochet but I guess the same would hold true.

Another from Treehugger.  I never had children and my siblings and I are of an age where cloth diapers were all our mother had.  But over the last couple of decades I have questioned the economics and convenience of much of our throw-away society.

"If they be like to die then let them die and reduce the surplus population." (Ebenezer Scrooge)  Evidently the British Department for Work and Pensions agree.  As would the private company running the Kansas Medicaid program thanks to conservative star Brownback.  Can't have those disabled useless eaters mucking up the profits.  And then there are our Repthuglican leaders who propose this on the sly while promising all those who got coverage under the ACA.  The only ones who make out under their plans are the insurance companies, the health care industry, and the 1% who can afford either to pay out of pocket or for comprehensive medical care.  And on that note, let the nickel-and-dimeing commence.

I saw the controversy over Wal-mart's "Fat Girl" costumes this morning.  There are reasons we don't shop there.  But this interesting item follows in a similar vein.  But Wal-mart isn't the only store we don't shop when looking for clothes because they simply don't carry anything we are interested in or that fit us well.  Neither of us are young (haven't been "girls" in a very long time) and our body shapes don't really fit the clothes available.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday.

Tom Englehardt has another interesting post written by Rory Fanning, once an Army ranger now a contentious objector.  I love the phrase "cheap praise and empty valorization."  I have thought that every time for the last decade every time I heard one of our idiot child politicians thank veterans for their "service."  Those thanks are worth their weight in gold.  I like the questions Fanning asks which are totally lacking in all of the gratitude ceremonies.  Among them what we should be thankful for.  For protecting our freedoms, as so often said?  No one has really connected how our freedoms over here are somehow protected over there.  And the notion that we either fight them over there so they won't bring the fight over here seems a bit thin also.

Just saw an interesting headline on Market Watch.  It asks which is more likely to kill you--ebola or your morning donut?   Well, I am the wrong person to ask that question since I am very unlikely to contract ebola and I don't indulge in donuts (or other pastries) very often.  Frankly both are a part of your hysterical response to health concerns.  We have seen a goodly number of these panics over the last thirty years driven my a news media covers all stories with a tone barely below full out scream of terror.  Little wonder I spend less and less time watching news.  Thankfully, I can get read the news and not get the over-the-top sound track.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday.

I don't know what I will do outside today.  Right now--just after sunrise--it looks somewhat gray and dismal.  Since nothing in the containers needs to be done right now I can easily postpone it.  I got the last of the tomatoes, which ripened nicely in the bowl on the counter, are now cooking down to sauce.  If I don't do any gardening I have plenty of dusting among the book shelves and have started another round of weeding out of books.  My interests have changed so my books are gradually changing to reflect that.

Ronni Bennet has a good post this morning:  Old People Want More From Life Than Safety.  It is a good extension of the discussion she started by reviewing Atul Gawanda's Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.  I had a question reading Ronni's post:  what do we want to be safe from?  It is a question that comes to mind not only reading posts like the one above but as I listen to the news on ebola, or "terrorism," or any of the other threats du jour.  And hovering in the background is the question of what should be the source of our safety.  Most of the news reports seem to feature people hysterically insisting somehow a government keep them safe by what ever means, often extraordinary, deemed necessary.  Often those means are applied in the face of threats that are, when examined rationally, vanishingly small.

Jesse's Cafe Américaine has a sarcastically humorous piece with a on-point cartoon about our current economic "recovery."  This one is also good.  The economy now resembles a casino more than anything else--and we aren't the "House."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thursday.

I saw frost on our grass when I put the trash tote out yesterday.  We have seen heavy frost on the roofs for the last couple of weeks.  We never felt summer but we are definitely feeling autumn.  We haven't turned on the heat yet but that won't be long coming.  Inside temps this morning: 67F.  I pulled the cypress vine, stevia and lemon balm yesterday.  Hyssop, a bunch of petunias and the rose are all I have left out there and of those the rose will be the only plant I will leave out there over the winter.  The season of the seed catalogs has started.  I got the e-mail notice from Baker Creek a few days ago that their new catalog was coming soon.  I immediately ordered one.  Time to start planning for next season.

We are about two weeks away from election day.  I remarked a couple of days ago that I would be glad when it was passed because the political ads, which have become increasingly hysterical and brutal, would disappear from the airwaves.  Unfortunately, I don't think they will for long as I expect the 2016 silly season will begin earlier than ever.  My disgust with the political ads bleeds over into the commercial ads which seem to take up more of the air time than ever.  We seem to spend as much time seeing the annoying ads as we do the programming.  Another reason why we are closer than ever to pulling the plug on TV.

For a bit of humor on the subject of fad diets check out Gene Logsdon at the Contrary Farmer.  We always take dietary advice with a heavy grain of salt.  When Mom's doctor gave her a handout on low cholesterol diet we picked it apart with bouts of near hysterical laughter.  The sample weeks worth of meals were so totally unrealistic, expensive, and wasteful.  By the way, the heavy grain of salt on the dietary advice, doesn't pass our lips, is far more than we ingest in our food.  We have cut that drastically which does far more good for us that the doctor recommended diet.

The more I read about our, supposed, plans in Syria and surrounding countries the more skeptical I become of our foreign policy, if we really have a policy.  This only fuels my skepticism.  I wrote, rather sarcastically, about a deja vu feeling I had because our efforts at "training" various "armies" over the last two decades have produced decidedly counter-productive results.  Now, we are proposing that we recruit a force, which has to be not-Assad and not-Free Syrian Army and anti-IS, whose sole purpose is to defend territory from IS but not to take it back from IS.  This is not just a "flawed" strategy but a self-defeating one.  But perhaps the situation reveals just how tenuous our situation is and how few real allies we have.  We are trying very hard not to piss off any of the antagonistic parties involved over there.

Friday.

Yesterday my brother treated us to dinner out in honor of Mom's birthday.  It was a nice afternoon out so I didn't get much more written than what you see above.  Then we had an annoying interruption of cable TV and internet service in the late afternoon so I didn't publish the post.  Oh, well--I guess I will just continue here for today.

The news this morning announced a new ebola case--in New York City now.  I plan to not comment on the situation.  I am not overly tolerant of hysteria so I will only skim the news in print and dry to ignore the news on TV.  Or I will pay more attention to BBC and Al Jazeera.  The tone of the stories between BBC and Good Morning America were striking--the first calm while the other was strident.  I can do without the carnival barker hyping the situation.

I got to this article by way of Some Assembly Required.  I don't normally visit the Men's Journal.  However, this item makes a lot of good sense to me: our nutritional advice for the last half century has been wrong.  See my comments on the article about fad diets.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday.

We plan to be out for a good part of this morning so I don't know how far I will get with my reading on-line today.  See what happens.

We have heard the reports about Apple Pay and how it is supposed to change our lives by allowing us to load all of our credit card data on smart phones, iPhones in particular, and then pay with a "swipe" of the phone instead of a swipe of a card.  I love the slant this article takes, especially in the headline. Our first thought was that the Apple Pay system was designed to obscure how much one is spending by taking all thought out of the process.  Lucky for us we don't have iPhones and don't want them.  And, with all of the hacking that has been going on, we are shifting back to cash for a lot of our purchases.

Evidently we aren't alone in thinking that cash might be a better option.

Love this take on the ebola "crisis" from the Agonist.

Wednesday.

At least our politics has not descended to this kind of viciousness.  Yet.

So the Governor of Hong Kong opined that something as democratic as an open nominating process would give the poor too much power.  My first thought: gods, what an idiot.  There are some things a politician in a putative democracy shouldn't say out loud even if he thinks them.  My second thought: how does his sentiment differ from that expressed by some idiot billionaire a few weeks ago that he should have as many votes as he has dollars--one dollar, one vote.  Interesting isn't it how the Communist version of democracy seems to resemble the "democracy" of an American capitalist oligarch?

Oh, yeah--the coverage of the ebola story is more than a bit over the top.

I have long thought that university sports tail have been wagging the university dogs.  I remember one semester I was teaching an intro U.S. history course and a request from on high came down for me to "reconsider" the failing grad one of the athletes had earned so he could play in a bowl game.  I refused but noted that he did play in that game--I watched to find out.  Perhaps another instructor raised a grade enough to balance the F.  This fraud shows why our universities should stop being the farm teams for professional football and basketball.

At last.  It has taken far too long but four of George Bush's Blackwater cowboys have been convicted of murder/manslaughter and/or other charges.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday.

Not as chilly as yesterday at this time by about 15F.  I hope it is clear and dry so I can get out do some more cleaning up in the gardens.  I could have yesterday but got an attack of the lazies.  See what happens today.

Found this at the Agonist.  Interesting but not really surprising.  Religion has always been a center around which people could organize their lives and identities.

Think this might be part of our problems?  I have thought for some time that our culture has gone so far in encouraging extreme individualism that a reaction in the opposite direction had to come.  When was the question.  And how far would the rebound go?

Another related item from Jesse's Cafe Americain.  HMM!  "Fiat culture" reminds me a bit of the little I have read in Daniel Boorstin's The Image.

And for a bit of a laugh see this from Can It Happen Here?

I guess I have an odd way of looking at things but the conclusions I draw from current events are somewhat...different.  Watching the ebola fracas I had a number of contrary thoughts.  First, it didn't scare me as much as it appears to scare so many of us--especially our political leaders.  I use "appears" because I am not sure how much is real fear concern on their part and how much is performance art.  I don't know and haven't had close contact with any one who is from or has been in any of the ebola hot spots or with anyone with such contact.  Chances of my getting ebola are about the same as my winning a lottery considering that I don't play.  Second, I wonder if Duncan would have been sent home with a dangerous fever and antibiotics (which are useless against a viral infection) if he had been white with good insurance instead of a black foreigner without.  It has been a somewhat sardonic joke for a long time now that the first operation a hospital does on an incoming patient is a "wallet-ectomy."  Third, very few of our hospitals would have fared any better than the Texas hospital did after the patient was admitted.  Part of the "unpreparedness" stems from, as only one commentator mentioned, the "just-in-time" business model which keeps limited "normal" supplies on hand depending on a continuous supply chain to get new supplies in a timely manner.  Ebola is hardly a "normal" occurrence in this country and that hospital quickly found both its personnel and medical supplies over-taxed.  But should our hospitals be prepared for such an unlikely event?  Four hospitals in this country have the kind of containment wards, equipment and trained personnel experts tell us is required.  All are heavily subsidized by the Federal government and the staff train frequently.  But how often are those facilities used?  Lastly, I wonder how contagious ebola really is considering that, so far, only two people, both nurses who treated Duncan, have contracted the disease of the 70+ (including family) who had varying levels of contact.  It appears to be spreading rapidly and widely in west Africa but the social and health structures over there are not what they are over here and that may be limiting the spread over here.  A lot of food for thought there.