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.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday.

And it is chilly this morning--in the mid 30s.  We still don't have the heat on but the inside temperature didn't get below 68F.

On to what I am reading--

I found this by way of the Political Wire and include it only because it illustrates rather well a thought I had watching the (damned) political commercials this morning.  We, as conscientious voters, are supposed to research candidates to make rational choices in the voting booth.  Where do we go to find the information we need to make an informed decision?  Obviously not the the highly manicured and manipulated web pages the campaigns maintain.  Nor can we go to the political ads which are well crafted to present the candidates in a way to appeal to a wide segment of the voters while showing the opposition as the spawn of hell.  We can't depend on their previous votes (if any), or any bills introduced or sponsored (if any), or public pronouncements (all too many) because they have become amazingly adept at explaining those in a way that make black look white.  The one thing that does come through the ads and "debates" is a strong strain of hypocrisy--on all sides.  Sometimes I think our political scene is simply smoke and mirrors.

On that theme but switching to product ads, this article suggests we should be highly skeptical of "scientific" looking graphs and other graphics which provide an aura of authority but no real information.  Too often we accept the graphs or statistics without asking key questions.  What is the source of the information?  Who paid for the studies?  How relevant are the lab conditions to every day life?  How preliminary are the results?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday.

I actually did get a bit of work done outside yesterday.  Still too wet to sweep much but I cleared the strawberry tower and tried out a new arrangement for a tower next summer.  I think it will work nicely.

Spent a good bit of time downloading OS X Maverick yesterday and am still getting used to it.  Everything seems much slower.

A fair number of energy and environmental bloggers have been using the term for sometime.  The only question is when the "Anthropocene" began not whether we are in it.

I don't know what it is about the political idiots who think prohibiting some flights from west Africa will stop any new cases of ebola coming into the U.S.  They seem to be logically challenged.  I have heard that Duncan, the original ebola patient in Texas, flew in from Belgium.  We don't have any direct flights from the three main sites and expanding the zone to the few neighboring countries that do have such flights won't do what they claim they think it would--stop ebola over there.  A few years ago a man who had a drug resistant form of TB flew from the U.S. to make stops in several European countries before returning to the U.S. via Canada--all within less than two weeks.  That even though he had been told not to travel.  Globalization doesn't apply just to business and manufacturing.  It applies to all facets of our lives.

It seems our military planners aren't satisfied to be training an Afghan army whose members have been responsible for a significant number of U.S. casualties when they turned their U.S. issued weapons on their supposed allies.  Now they are thinking of doing the same in Syria.  Oh, they aren't saying that.  They say they will train a force capable of confronting ISIS.  I guess that makes sense since we armed ISIS when the Iraqi army we trained and armed disintegrated leaving their weapons and equipment behind.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday.

Good morning to any readers out there.  We should have dry conditions for most of the day.  We'll see.  Right now somewhat mild temps around 50F.

As for what I am reading today, I will start with this item.  I have seen several stories over the last few years on how much food is wasted and have wondered exactly where in the chain from farm field to dinner plate that the waste was occurring.  The article posted by Treehugger answers some of those questions.

So we will get the "Ebola czar" John McCain has been throwing a hissy fit about.  Excuse me--but where the hell is the Surgeon General?  You know--the person who is supposed to oversee our health services?  Oh, yes--the Repthuglicans who are now bitching so loudly have stonewalled on the nomination.  So now we have another official slotted into the hierarchy along with what ever support staff he needs draining what ever funds from wherever to deal with ebola specifically.  Talk about waste.

And then I found this on Can It Happen Here?  So the "Czar" has no medical expertise.  Obama, trapped between the extremely maladroit handling of the situation so far and fear-mongering, has hired a political operative to handle the spin.  Crap-tastic!!!

I guess the Koch's aren't satisfied with raping the environment; now they want to ravish the political process as well.  If you can't win honestly, win fraudulently.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday.

Wet again with drizzle and maybe fog.  Can't see if we actually have fog here yet because it is still dark.

Once upon a time the U.S. was the only "superpower."  The hubristic cowboy administration of Bush the Younger called us the "hyper-power."  Unfortunately the concept is still alive in the Obama administration which claims we are the "indispensable" nation.  Whenever chaos erupts, whether from natural or man-made sources, the U.S. is the one country everyone in the world turns to to "do something."  Evidently I am not the only one who questions whether the any of the somethings we have done over the past 30 years or so have done any real good.  Englehardt's intro to Peter Van Buren's post on Tomdispatch supports my skepticism.  By the way, Van Buren outlines some likely results of the conflict in Syria and Iraq none of which can be construed as a victory for the "indispensable nation."

HMMM!!!  I can think of quite a number of our politicians who deserve this treatment.  Actually, it is kinder than what I really think some of them deserve--taring and feathering.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday.

Wet again today and we have grocery shopping on the schedule so no outside work again.  At least the rain we have had so far has been relatively gentle with little wind.  The most severe of the weather has again bypassed us--thank the weather gods.

I saw a brief story on this on either Al Jazeera or the BBC.  Interesting way to map a desert.

I found this by way of Huffington Post.  Mom thinks that most people are disengaged from politics because they figure the politicos will do what they damned well please no matter what they think.  Well, I agree on that but I follow what is going on because I want to some (I hope) advance warning of how the bastards will fuck up my life.  I might have a chance of mitigating some of the harm they do.

This is scary.  I grow tomatoes every year.  Also have had oregano, various mints, and hibiscus all of which cops on a drug raid have "mistaken" for marijuana.

I think they can remove "probably" from the title of this article.  From the accounts so far the Texas hospital was definitely not ready for ebola.  But I suspect few other hospitals would have done much better.

This just might throw gasoline on the European Union.  It appears that the fractures in the Union are deepening.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday.

We had heavy fog until after 10am yesterday and spits of rain.  I worked on the inside plants.  All needed trimming and a bit of water.  I have three lavender of which one looks very good, one looks very sickly and one in between.  Both of the rosemary plants are looking very good.  Cut back the geraniums and hope they survive to go back into the gardens next spring.  The creeping thyme and lemon thyme are doing nicely.

I still have work outside but I will wait until tomorrow when the rain should be over.  At the same time I clean everything up I think about how the season went and start planning for next year.  I have to admit it has been a pretty good year even though I have felt somewhat discontented.  My moods may be a reaction to our very strange weather--a spring that hardly was, a nearly non-existent summer, and a too early fall.  I didn't plant as many tomatoes so the yield was what I wanted.  We supplemented with romas from the farm market.  For the second year I tried a tomato variety bred for container/patio growing.  But I wasn't much pleased with either one.  The plants are comfortably small for small spaces but the fruit was also.  I liked the Biltmore tomatoes really well--nice slicing size and good flavor.  Next year: more romas and standard tomato plants.  The peppers did well also.  We got enough large cornu di toro rosso to stuff and freeze for later.  We bought some really pretty green bells from the farm market and they are now stuffed and in the freezer.  We like that kind of quick meal.

The pole beans did fairly well and we supplemented what we got here with a several pounds from the market as well.  Next year--go back to the yardlong variety because it produces more in a smaller space.  Might also look at adding sugar snap peas as well.  Thinking about it now.  The squash and melons were disappointing but that is not unusual.  They simply don't like containers.  Each time I insist that I won't plant them again.  Next year I won't put them in.  That says nothing about the year after.

The stevia did very well as did the hyssop.  They will be in different areas next year.  Though the shiso did nicely and is a pretty plant I won't plant it again.  We don't use it and I have other plants I want to try.  Someone who does Japanese style cooking might find it interesting.  Another plant I won't be putting in next year is bee balm.  I have put it in two years and got no blossoms either year.  Again I have other plants in mind that do bloom and will attract the bees and hummingbirds I hoped would like the bee balm.  The bees love the borage and hyssop so I will continue both.  I was disappointed by the cypress vines which were not so lush as last year and didn't bloom as profusely.

The strawberries did beautifully though I don't think they liked the tower where I placed it.  The fruit was prone to mold before it ripened.  The plants in other places in the gardens did well enough that we had enough liven up our morning cereal.  The strawberries in the freezer we got at the supermarket when the "local" berries came in season.  "Local" as in within 100 miles.  The wonderberries did well but we prefer blueberries and get 10+ pounds when they come in locally (within 30 miles) and are on sale at the farm market.

I have often wished there was a stake that would finish off the financial vampires once and for all.  Unfortunately, they always seem to return to plague people.