Saturday, December 20, 2014

One of my favorite series of novels calls the winter "the dark months."  This year, so far, that has been an accurate description:  dismal, gray and with half the number of sunny days as normal.  We don't even have any snow to provide a bit of white to brighten up the landscape.  That pattern isn't going away any time soon.

The Atlantic has a nice article just in time form cold and flu season.  We recently (as of a few years ago) switched from name brands to generic over the counter drugs.  A couple of things drove the move.  First, the massive recall of Excedrin two years ago left us scrambling to replace it and we certainly weren't going to get on Ebay and pay $300 or so for a bottle as some desperate people did.  We checked out the ingredients and found a generic that had all the same ingredients in the same proportions and switched.  We didn't switch back after new stocks arrived some months later.  Second, we started looking more closely at all our over the counter meds when warnings started coming faster and more insistently about the dangers of overdose with those drugs.  When we started looking at the ingredients we suddenly saw how easily it would be to take more (often much more) than the recommended doses.  Think about it for a moment.  You have a headache so you take your usual headache drug.  But you also are running a bit of a temp so you take a dose of Tylenol.  Well, you headache med might just have Tylenol's active ingredient in it also.  Oh, I forgot--you also have a cough so you take some cough medicine also.  Guess what?  You may just have taken another dose of Tylenol because you cough medicine may also contain it under its generic name.  The article is a good read.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Well, the final push of Christmas shopping and the frantic exhortations to spend heroically has started.  The first news report this morning concerned one retailer who is going to be open for 100 straight hours beginning at 6am this morning through 6pm Christmas Eve.  As usual, we abstain from the annual ritual honoring the commercial gods.

The State Department has, evidently, decided not to release its volume of foreign relations history that covers the 1953 CIA lead coup in Iran for fear that it will upset delicate nuclear negotiations.  Since the Iranians are quite aware of our meddling in their affairs I wonder if there aren't some little known or unknown bombshells lingering in the dusty archives.  I don't think they have to worry about reactions over here.  Most Americans are terribly ignorant of their history and, given how little reaction the Senate report on CIA torture elicited, couldn't care less.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Glad to see this.  Our first thought: about damned time.  This crap has been going on for way too long.  Mom's second thought: who is tired of sneaking his Havana cigars into the country?  I can already hear the knee-jerk conservatives and Cuban-American community howling.  (Update: I won't link to the stories but evidently the news media is picking up on the dismay of both groups.)

Like the author at Crooks & Liars, I hope Wal-mart simply pays up but I don't think they are that smart.  Chiseling their workers has been a major tactic for padding their bottom line for years.  They simply don't get slapped often enough or consistently enough to stop.

I never had any intention of going to see The Interview.  Not possible now that Sony has pulled the movie it isn't an option.  The style of comedy is not one I appreciate.  Can It Happen Here? has a few cogent comments concerning Sony's stupidity in making the film in the first place and I concur.  I though the comments the stars made in their own interview on ABC which indicated surprise at the attack on the film exhibited a cultural blindness of colossal proportions.  They thought it all good fun.  They simply don't understand one of the major characteristics of the 'cult of personality' which holds sway in North Korea.  It is a religion and the personality at the pinnacle of the cult can't tolerate being the butt of a joke and especially one which postulates a plot to kill him.  Why did they think the Koreans would react with any better grace than some Muslims did to the Dutch cartoons featuring unflattering depictions of the Prophet?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We spend most of this wet, foggy morning out.  Only got back a little bit ago and have just started to slog through my e-mails and other items on the computer.

On this one I can only say--DAMN!!  We do not need another Bush in the White House.  I wish Mitt Romney would simply fade away also.  However, I have seen nothing, Democrat or Republican, I am willing to vote for in the next election cycle.  I may just leave that one blank since I don't have the choice of "None of the above."

I am also a little ticked off.  I went through a Google alert for new blog postings for "crochet patterns" and found three that looked interesting until I clicked on them.  They were all hard core porn.  I checked what I had clicked on but nothing at all in the description or title would have tipped me off about what was really on the site.  I don't mind that there are porn sites on the net.  I don't want to visit them and I certainly don't want to be suckered into visiting such sites.  Another DAMN!!  Anyone else come across that kind of thing?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Oh, how strange the weather has been.  Yesterday and today the temperatures are more like early March.  Three weeks ago--like early January.  We saw a bit of sun that disappeared way too soon.  Not expecting much more today.

Had a nice e-mail that announced the new Jung seed catalog will soon be coming.  I already have the new Baker Creek, Totally Tomatoes, Seeds & Such, Pinetree and Vermont Bean catalogs.  Several more are yet to come.  I have so much fun looking through them and planning what will go in the gardens.  Also how the some of the containers will be arranged.  The largest ones will stay in their places but the five-gallon buckets and lager pots change each year.

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Didn't see much I wanted to comment on yesterday.  Let's see what I find today.

Well, so much for promises any government agency makes.  And for any expectation of fairness.  Banks steal millions with full knowledge of what they are doing and get off keeping their ill-gotten gains but little people are dunned forever for "debts" they never knew about incurred by parents decades ago.  Rule of law??  Only important when our leaders want a club with which to beat perceived enemy governments.

I really wish our government would stop interfering in other countries.  We have done no good and a lot of harm from what I have seen.

Several bloggers noted that this is the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791.  HMMM--no celebration.  I wonder why.  Perhaps because most of it has been shredded in the last couple of decades.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Good Saturday to all.  Supposed to warm up today and tomorrow but not much sun expected.

David Kaiser always puts out thought provoking pieces on his History Unfolding blog.  There is indeed a "war" going on in American politics and I agree that there is no end in sight.  I read an article in the last couple of days which said that the last WWII veterans in Congress are retiring.  That is the generation Kaiser referred to as the cohort who were young adults when the Progressive "edifice of government and workers' rights" was established to be built on over the next 70 years.  That edifice has been chipped at for the last 30 years and now is under persistent assault from the Republican demolition teams.  Kaiser also links the process to a phenomenon I have seen for some time: the rise of unbridled individualism.  Individualism has always been valued in our culture but always restrained by communal values.  But those restraining values have weakened and almost disappeared.  We may well have a 40-year war to define what the next century or so will look like in America.  I am afraid it will look more like the worst of the 19th century than the 20th:  rampant individualism (especially for corporate "persons" and the financial elite) with few legal constraints and a broad mass of people with few legally protected rights and fewer opportunities for advancement.

For a good while now I have read, repeatedly, the phrase "rule of law"--most often contrasting the U.S. to China with exhortation that the Chinese government needs to establish such a legal regime.  This piece from Joe Firestone cross-posted at Naked Capitalism pretty well shows how that is merely the pot calling the kettle black.  We have a rule of law only so long as the authorities enforce the law and enforce it equally for all.  Certain sections of our society, economy, and politics take the law as "suggestions"--at least for them.  They can be certain that any laws they break will be punished lightly or not at all.  The rest of us can look forward to being beaten up, pepper sprayed, shot and maybe killed for minor or even imaginary infractions.  I will leave you to tie this into the last paragraph.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Good Thursday to everyone.  We have been and continue to be sandwiched between weather extremes on both coasts.  Thankfully, the worst of it has by-passed us.  We constantly comment on how strange the weather has been--world wide.

I can agree that we need a way to deal with  the mountains of trash in our land fills but redefining tires and hazardous waste as "renewable" is ridiculous.   The waste isn't from any renewable source therefore to call it renewable stretches the word beyond any reasonable meaning.

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And now for Friday.  Looks like clear skies--at least for now.  I saw a very bright moon when I looked out this morning.  Update: clouds have moved in.  Blast!!

Let's hope this doesn't spread and doesn't last long.  Serfdom was such an efficient system the idiot dictator of Belarus wants to bring it back.  Well, you don't need brains to be a dictator--just a lot of men with guns and the will to use them.