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.

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.