Sunday, January 19, 2020

Erasing History? or Creating a Myth

There has been quite a bit of discussion about the removal of Confederate memorials lately.  Many defenders of the “Southern Lost Cause” rue these removals as an affront to history.  I too am very concerned about monuments to our war veterans.  Specifically, I search in vain for the statues dedicated to the brave Monarchists that fought against George Washington during the illegal war of the Colonies against the God given absolute rights of King George.  People today laughingly call this the American Revolutionary War; oh, how some folks like to change names and the meaning of words.

A neighbor of mine, a local Virginian who reveres Confederate memorials, wrote a letter to our news paper wherein he called what most of us call the American Civil War: “the War in Defense of Virginia”.  Many southerners like to say this war was about “states rights”.  Let us be clear, it was fought to maintain the “rights” of white supremacists to own human beings in absolute bondage and deny those people any rights for them, their children, and descendents. 

There are no statues to the Tories that fought George Washington, for two reasons; their cause is now deemed to have been wrong, and they lost.  Even Robert E. Lee said that the Confederate battle flag should only be seen in museums.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Snail mail clickbait?

We give to a number of charities.  It’s enough of a burden to keep up with the legitimate causes which are all too often willing to dun you for more donations one week after you’ve given them money.  Not to mention the causes that have a magazine that will happily send you three concurrent copies rather than the three consecutive years that you intended.  

Then there’s the “survey” letters where they pretend to be soliciting your opinions.  Ha!  They are trying to echo-chamber your opinions and asking you for money to affirm them.  Then there are the incredibly weighted questions that cousin to your ignorance and bias.  So many “questions” sound like:  “Now that we know that moon landings cause hurricanes, are you in favor to defunding NASA?”  Republican Representatives use these a lot while trying to justify their attacks on straw men democratic policies and the mean, greedy policies that they propose which actually hurt their constituents.   

Then there is the snail mail “clickbait.”  No return address?

When the mail comes, if I see an envelope that has no indication of who has sent it to me; it goes into the trash unopened.  If you wish to be (mysteriously?) anonymous; I respect your anonymity; I choose to not see you.  

You’ve wasted your mailing$.    I don’t think I’ll play.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Oh! These most important first few primaries! Number Two

Oh my! Oh my! I hear the pundits talk about the political landscape. And most explicitly, the upcoming primary season; they talk about the important momentum following the early contests... Please indulge me as I laugh so hard that milk come out of my nose.
We are supposed to consider the results of the Iowa Caucus [Caustic?] where less than 0.3 % of the voters in the United States of America "vote" (the definition of "voting" being attending a tent carnival where you are given free food and entertainment) for one candidate or another, and it turns out to be almost 200 votes more than those folks who "chose" candidate #2 ? And then, the media will declaim that Candidate #1 was the "winner" because he/she garnered almost 02 % more "votes" than candidates #3 and #4 got combined??? Ah, but I digress.  The most important part of the whole thing is who can eat a corndog and not look stupid.
Next we're supposed to pay attention to Nevada (a beautiful state, I love to visit it). But please! At the risk of being considered to be an "*IST " of some kind of other... I'll say that Nevada is the state of miners, ranchers, casinos, waiters, gamblers, and whores. Most definitely the exact demographic of the American dream (all you folks from Nevada, feel free to flame me early and often. Ah! but what is a primary campaign if it's not an opportunity to spout unfounded generalizations about folks you hardly know?).  Then there's New Hampshire, another beautiful state; one that has a total population equal to about half that of a City like Saint Louis (you know where that is right)? The first polls to close have about ten voters…  And their opinions are really, really relevant to the future leadership of the federal government and appointments to the Supreme Court and all the wars we're fighting around the globe? Right? Yes, they are, but how much? How much?  Then there's South Carolina... I won't waste my time or yours repeating my opinion of the relevance of the opinions of the people of South Carolina about anything.  After all, Lindsey Graham.  See:

So here we are, trying to choose an opponent to run against the current resident of the White House.  But the system of choosing that opponent seems to be just a little nuts. If a better mix of the American demographic was represented, if a larger portion of the population got into the process a little earlier; it might be OK. As it is, it's crazy. If we allow a few zealots from the Bible Belt, organizers from Sin City, a tiny group of folks from one tiny state, and then, the really, really, out of touch fundamentalists from South Carolina to define the all important "momentum" of the all important first leg up of that process... Well, then we've really got a stupid system.

Garbage in, garbage out,   A Priori Errors are impossible to correct later on....
And really; because someone ran a good campaign and got lots of donation$; that ensures that they will govern wisely?  Really?  Gordon Sondland is a competent ambassador because he gave DonDon a million buck$?        Right.

Monday, September 2, 2019

And is a better word

 I keep hearing people pose the following kinds of questions:

Is Trump stupid or ignorant?

Is he just irrational or in the throes of dementia?

Does he say stupid things on purpose, or does he just not know the difference?

Is he racist, or calculating?

Is he gas-lighting, or serious until he gets caught?  Does he make jokes or can’t he tell the difference?

Is he cruel, or does he mistakenly think cruelty serves his purposes?

My question is:

Why do we think we have to use

“OR” rather than “AND”?

Insert “and” into these questions; it is always the better word.

You can spend your time trying to determine a rational reason why Jeffery Dahmer ate people; I’ll not try to apply rational logic to Donald Trump.

There is no there, there.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

More Appalachian Living

Bimbo, Bambi, and Clueless.  These are the names of this year’s lovely spotted fawns that gambol about in our “meadow”.  The meadow is a ¼ acre area that I keep clear for my septic system.  It isn’t a lawn.

We live on a tract of land that borders the George Washington National Forest and our part might kindly described as “Scruffy Appalachian Forest”.  Our land may be scruffy, but Chris and I are hardly Snuffy Smiff and Loweezy.  We actually get up from snozzin’ by the stump and plant ornamentals and flowers to brighten our view.  Still, we grow almost all our vegetables in a fenced garden and we don’t do much “cityfied” stuff like shop in town and eat in restaurants.  In addition to our vegetables, me and my brother (when he was alive) killed, butchered, and ate quite a number of deer from this home place.  Often, they were harvested from within 200 feet of the house and garden.

Back in the 1990’s, there was a terrible over population of white tailed deer in our area.  They ate a browse line in the forest and in those inevitable bad years when the acorns didn’t fall, they ate just about everything they could reach.  Horticulturalists will tell you that deer don’t eat peonies, euonymus, and myrtle.  Forget that.

Well, the number of deer hunters has dropped by about 50% over the last few years and the deer are coming back gangbusters.  And now that I’ve not been hunting, it’s summer and I’m busy, the three fawns are eating everything and I can’t even get their attention.  I yell, wave my arms, tell them I’ll eat them, run at them (well, “run” is a relative term for me at this point).  But they just walk off a few paces, turn and look at me like I’m demented.  I can’t get them to care about my agenda at all.

Well the zucchinis are way, way ahead of me and so every day a few monsters end up on the compost pile.  They get eaten every night (we have a game cam).  So I guess that it’s all my fault.

Forget truth, beauty, justice and love; happiness comes from having someone to blame.  And if you can rationally and honestly, blame yourself; you should always be ecstatic.  I’m so happy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Chef Tell, tell me how

Chef Tell, a Swiss chef on TV years ago taught Chris and I some wonderful recipes.  He used to say: "Very zimple, very eazy.".  I've come up with number of recipes myself that are very simple and very easy, 

right up to a point.  

Our favorite Tell was his quick potato pancake recipe:

one pound raw potato
one egg
some onion, oil, salt, pepper, 
baking power and 1 oz. flour.
Grind in the food processor and fry.

Now, I'll give you one:

One and half pound chicken breast stips
pounded with tenderizer.  Black pepper.
one oz. vinegar, butter, soy sauce, and honey
Steam till white; flip and fry open
till the rue is caramelized.

Super eazy!  But if you purchase American chicken, it 
comes in a styrofoam tray, covered with a plastic sheet
and nestled on top of a Tampax like pad of acetate fiber on 
another sheet of plastic.  China no longer takes anything
but the purest of plastic waste for recycling.  We are all
now throwing millions of tons of stuff into the landfills
that we used to (at least think) were be reused.

I have no idea of what to do with this packaging!
All the plastic is non-recyclable, and the acetate fiber
becomes infused with chicken blood and body fluids.

There is no good way to dispose of this poultry packaging.
Leave it out in the sun and it nevers dries.  Raccoons will
find it and spread it all over the place.  It stinks with that 
disgusting cadaverine death smell.  I can't compost it; I don't 
have garbage pick up so I'm supposed to keep it somewhere
for a month between trips to the dump (and who thinks that the
landfill is a good place for something like this)?

I mentioned this problem in the past: 

 Our American demand for convenience is a huge part of the problem of sustainability for planet Earth.  We all have to take responsibility, and we have to vote with our wallets in order to force sustainable practices from our suppliers.  Waste is huge.

I can't imagine why I can't buy chicken in a better package.  Not 
visually attractive enough?  OH! God! I saw some blood!?

Next time I'll give you the "Mother Bolgiano's Beans" recipe.

I had a couple of guys propose marriage to me based on it, 
and that was way back before acceptance of LGBT as an OK thing.

Very zimple very eazy.  Just Tell me what to do with the"waste".

Monday, July 22, 2019

32 19 80

On this afternoon, July 22, 2019, I've hand killed and counted 32 Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica), 19 bean beetle larvae and adults (Epilachna varivestis) and 80 squash bugs, mostly eggs and early instars (Anasa spp.).  There are a few things that I take some pride in and this karma destroying talent is one of them. 

Earlier in the year I had my white potatoes popping up.  Flea beetles (Alticini which is a part of the subfamily Galerucinae), are much much smaller and much more difficult to smush, still I tallied 2692 confirmed kills during the months of April, May and early June.  You have to be quick and you have to feel them between your fingers as you roll and smush them.  If you open to look, they're gone.  When the summer heat picks up and the white potatoes go down, I always plant my sweet potatoes in the same row.  I'll have to dig it all up so why not?  So I stop "harvesting" flea beetles in June.

The Japanese beetles attack my raspberries, filberts and primroses (which are volunteers which I only have because they attract lots of beetles and thus as I kill the beetles, protect the good stuff).  Japanese beetles are really easy to "hand pick".  I have a yogurt container with soapy water in it and if you just hold the container beneath the critters, you can easily brush them into the water.  They don't fly well and their strategy to escape danger is to let go and fall straight down. They drown.

The bean beetles come in at least three kinds (genera? families? - there are way too many beetles).  The joke at the expense of the creationists is that God was way too fond of beetles.  Terry Pratchett imagines a God of creation who when stressed, runs off and makes another beetle to calm his nerves.  Creating the universe is a very stressful enterprise.  Anyway, the good news about the bean beetle larvae is that they are very bright yellow and fairly easy to see (if you have a strong back and can bend down and look for them on the undersides of the bean leaves where 95% of them hide out).  Big bean beetles and larvae (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) and little bean beetle larvae; you don't have to pick them, you just smush them between two fingers.

The squash bugs are true bugs (bug is a scientific term for Hemipteran insects).  The larvae are very small black to gray creatures that don't move too fast and are easily smushable.  The eggs are a bright shiny amber in nicely arranged honeycomb patches, about 20 to 30 eggs per deposit.  I don't try to crush these, they're fairly hard so I usually just tear out the thumb sized patch of leaf they're on and drop it into my soapy water.  Zucchini squash have huge leaves and don't miss a torn hole or two.

I've always been a counter.  I recall the character in the book; The Hawkline Monster by Richard Brautigan.  He always counted.  I can't shovel snow or plant beans, or walk down the stairs without counting.  Plus, I count each and every adult, larva, and egg I remove from my plants.  I track those numbers.  If you don't know what is going on, you don't know whether or not you're staying ahead of reproduction by the plant eaters.

I have toyed with a metric that measures the impact of organisms that I kill.  I've used the number 20 for any "double decker" pair that I smush in the act of coitus,  10 for a single adult (50:50 that it is a female with fertilized eggs), and one for larvae and eggs.  I believe that this system is valid, but counting three or four species with three categories and holding the numbers in my head confuses me when it's hot in the garden.  Plus I've not been successful in learning the number of eggs laid by flea beetle females.

My tally up to today:

2695 flea beetles
1170 Japanese beetles
425 bean beetles
152 squash bugs

Tomorrow is another day.