Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sweet Lemons and Cold Weather

Politically speaking things just go along. As a liberal liberal I am not alone in feeling this way.
Hope for real health care reform is low. (People like me always try to find a sweet lemon somewhere. Though, I am having a hard time finding one.)
We got pretty much “Insurance Reform”-sort of. The insurance companies are getting more to cover and with little change on their part. And money flows like water still. Yes, I know previous conditions will supposedly go out the window. (Ah, that slice of sweet lemon, maybe.) That really is a great thing. I don't trust them though. I can't wait to see how insurance companies get around this one.

I will say I have a new appreciation for Sen. Reid. I didn't think he had it in him to push and shove and keep our Senators at it until he got some sort of agreement. As far as the deals cut. Most of them are not terribly consequential at least not in the long term. I may not like it but what interesting meetings and “discussions” were held for the past week. Of course now the two houses must come together and reconcile the bills. Just for learning sake I would love to hear the out of the public deals. This stuff would all be so interesting if it wasn't about the lives of people.

Now I wait to see if there are any real regulations for the investment banking industry. Doubtful.
Too Big to Fail will probably stay that way. However, they may find that the taxpayers won't be there for them anymore. Hey where are we supposed to get money to pay taxes anyway.

Let's see. What about the nation's borrowing, the government in our name. I agree there are times we just have to urge the economy by printing and borrowing but thanks to previous happenings, don't forget the previous administration, we were already in debt up to our eyeballs. Unemployment is high and not much happening to help. A December 26th article from the NY Times, you will not enjoy reading Recession Hovers as Winter Halts Construction Work. We are going through another dramatic change in the ways we can earn income-buggy whips anyone?
I was hopeful for a green economy but people are slow to move and Congress has to argue. More money flowing. Then, what about those who cannot restart. We are not all young and flexible. Will it take a generation or just a few years? Read the article in the Dec. 26th, NYTimes about the Earth-Friendly Elements we use. We just can't learn can we.

I get so much information from progressive groups but I don't get many answers. I get calls for, you ready, sign our petition and contribute. So many petitions I wonder if Congress pays attention to any of them anymore. Who gets the money contributed and why? Progressives need to pool their resources for a little while. That would make for a bigger lobby. But who will hold them together and for how long.

Here some slices of that sweet lemon. We can relax a little now about torturing people in our name; our civil rights at home are not in as much jeopardy; a few more people admit global warming; the present administration did take a little time to decide to send more troops into war; the President didn't say God told him to do send them. Oh, our V.P. hasn't shot anybody. The Republican party suddenly loves Medicare and seniors. The Republican party tried to hold up that awful defense spending-we shouldn't question the why of it. The Republican party that spent so much of our money is now worried about our spending. So see there are sweet lemons to be found.

Now there is the weather. We didn't get hit as badly as many. Most people made it through Christmas safely here. But, why is it there are certain folks who just can't stand staying home for more than a day? It is boring for many but the rest of us would like to relax for a short spell. No, not if you belong to a family of “macho” folks. Does this sound bright to you? Driving when you don't really need to do so; getting stuck so you have to have someone else come to your rescue. Or worse.

Oh, these are actually the kind of people that pay no heed to things like a health-care crisis until there is no such thing as health care except for the wealthy; let banks get too big too fail; depend on the mid-east for energy, destroy the planet; depend on other countries for loans, not countries that exactly care either. Why think ahead we are too busy thinking in the moment.

P.S. Now we are having tougher security at airports. Uh after the fact. Well, at least we try to learn. (sweet lemon)

Now, don't you wish I had stayed quiet.

Find the NY Times HERE.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trying to Stay Positive and See the Steps Taken

Why haven't I written lately?
Several reasons actually. I just felt I had nothing to contribute.

Seems as though we, my family, have been somewhat in turmoil since September here. Nothing really major as far as that goes but just one of those spells. You know the spells I'm sure. One thing after another until we get worn out and then the small problems become large problems.

The roof is now done. (that even had its funny moments as well as the frustrating moments. another post?) There is some much needed reorganization done. Not nearly enough but some. I'm so tired I forget the progress made sometimes.
Some have mentioned the hectic Christmas season as the reason. Not in this case just on-going stuff and the times in which we all have been living taking their toll.

I enjoy Christmas and feel it has actually helped me get through some of this mess. I love "fluffy" Christmas movies and, some days, Christmas music. I love to watch parents that got to sneak off to shop for their kids and each other. This year I noted that people are smiling quietly. They are not laughing aloud nor are they arguing with the little kids as noted in the past. It is more low key. I really expected the stress levels to be higher but I think the bad times have been going on long enough that people are just deciding better ways to shop. I'll bet the debt levels of many families won't soar as in the previous 7-8 years.

Politically, I got very disgusted when "we" decided to send so many to Afghanistan.
I was already frustrated with the typical junk in the health-care "debate". I don't even read the NY Times right now. I just peruse the front page. I am sure many others feel the same. I had several days of "I give up" thoughts and living in a fairly red state doesn't help any. I grew up in this state and then came back years later. I have watched the changes for many years now and wonder what really happened. This is not the state for which I had such pride.
No I don't want to move out of state; I would have to move across country-politically speaking.
Not so sure the others in the family would go for it.

Another time but fun to read Mark Twain, as always, makes you smile. The site generally keeps me engrossed. I end up searching and reading with amazement at the brilliance of Mr. Twain. Thus I get lost in time. I hope you take time to read a little. My gift to you today.

Anyway, those are a few of the reasons I was not able or in the mood to post a thing.

I hope all who read this are having a good season, whether it be religious or just a beautiful December. Peace and quiet are my wishes. May all our problems be problems we can resolve by taking it one baby step at a time. I, for one, will try to remember the small positive steps we take and try to see the beauty of the world around us all. I am already forgiving myself for not getting everything done. To me, the Christmas season is a beautiful time even if I don't have cards sent or even the tree "up".

Joy to you and yours,

The photo is of a little Carolina Wren at the feeder.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Protests at Home and Abroad?

Robert Reich's Blog post of November 17th: Obama, China, and Wishful Thinking About American Jobs is very interesting. You can find it here

He quoted Pres. Obama: “We cannot go back...”
“...we're taking out a bunch of credit-card debt of home equity loans, but we're not selling anything to them.” Dr. Reich is discussing here the wish that the many Chinese will become consumers of American goods and services.

He went on to describe one reason the Chinese government will not, cannot, let that happen. Why they are building more factories to produce more than they can consume. If they do not create more jobs for the poor that are heading for the factories, they face possible “massive disorder”.

Thus China wants American “know-how”. So in order to sell products in China, US companies must cut deals to make goods in China not in the US. He ends this blog post with the following:

Both societies are threatened by the disconnect between production and consumption. In China, the threat is civil unrest. In the U.S., it's a prolonged jobs and earnings recession that, when combined with widening inequality, could create political backlash.

Why is it that in the U.S. The fear is only of political backlash? Why isn't there more “civil unrest” here? Of course civil unrest here doesn't need to be the same as in China. We don't need to worry about deaths to the demonstrators. We don't need to worry about trials for the demonstrators. Well mostly we don't have to fear these reactions. Why?

There are many questions in that paragraph. Maybe you have some good answers? Here are a few of my thoughts.

Maybe we are getting older and lazier? Maybe we are too busy watching TV? Maybe we are just too depressed to march? Maybe we no longer feel we have any way to make changes- “Our government doesn't listen no matter what we do.” ? Maybe we don't have the money to make the trip to ...? Maybe we have so much going on, or not as the case may be, we are in a state of confusion? (Sometimes that is me) Too many groups asking you to email, write, call, or march about so many good causes?

As for the last Why: Maybe the government and the politicians have figured out that if you let people march in protest without a lot of push back they won't get much coverage and they will pack up and go back to their meager little lives after their little protests. Think about it.

With all these questions and the many answers, the vote becomes more important than ever. My idea is that maybe instead of dread and disgust with politicians and politics we should start to study them now.
Remember 2010 could get very interesting.
Don't forget Vote Smart. It is a good way to keep up to date and keep track.

Photo is an edited photo taken by my Baby Brother.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thank You Vets, but ...

It seems that Veteran's Day this year was more solemn than usual. I know I felt more than in previous years. Yes, we are still at war but we were at war previous Vet's Days; I don't recall the same feelings for myself (could be age) or the difference in the coverage. The celebrations, if you call it that, I saw were smaller and quieter.

Some research I am starting for my self is on the guilt of those who didn't actually go to war. I don't mean that in the usual way. I don't mean the ones like my dad who was turned down because of health. I mean those who were drafted or chose to enlist during war but stayed somewhere in the U.S. Instead of “shipping out”. Their work was important but not in the movie way.

In the case of my spouse, he asked to go to Vietnam when he enlisted but the military said no-he spent the whole 4 years in the U.S. We were talking about the guilt of enlistees that stayed states side. He said he didn't feel guilt because he tried to go, actually the dope tried to go more than once. He was angry when he didn't get to go. You may have guessed he was very young when he enlisted. He just wanted to get away from home and had a yen to be a world traveler and or a helicopter pilot. Now he will tell you he is glad the military gave him those tests and assigned him where they did.

We know now that the WWII vets that did “ship-out” just “sucked it up”, didn't usually talk about it, many came home to drink and become unruly, one of my uncles, some probably committed suicide. Only now are we understanding or trying to understand. Then too what about those who served and serve in Korea? I was engaged years ago to a guy who went to Korea when it was no longer called the Korean War. He was definitely changed by the experience. He wrote to me about how surprised he was that it was still a dangerous duty that people here did not realize. So you know many Korean Vets suffered and suffer in silence too.

However, are there other Vets that have self-recrimination because they did not get sent “over seas” but yet they felt relief? I am sure there are. Do they suffer quietly for years or even know why their lives are not quite the same? I'll bet they do have changes with which they need to deal. I just doubt too that anyone would help them understand their own version of war-changes-all. If the military is just beginning therapies for PTSD and more, they probably aren't even thinking about this one.

I just wonder.

I looked up some notes from (yes, I keep notes when I really like a Twain piece of wisdom) another Mark Twain favorite of mine I would like to share part of it with you. It is sometimes called the War Prayer. Please read it carefully and more than once. Put it aside for a while, let it nag at you, then read it again. You can find the whole thing here or here.

Here is a part of it from my notes. The speaker is a messenger from God to a small congregation after they prayed for victory over their enemy.

Ponder this-keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! Lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it. “You have heard your servant's prayer-the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it-that part which the pastor and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently...”

When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory-must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. ...

There is more but at least you have a good part of the point here.

Read the whole thing alone first if you can and think it over then share with someone.

This particular piece of writing, by one of my favorite authors, made me reconsider my views on any war at all. I still wonder if there really is such a thing as a just war. Part of me says yes while part of me says no. If all the “regular”, non-governmental people said no to war then what? But it would take ALL of the “governed-every person everywhere. So, that is a dream. For whatever reason or reasons, We humans must have a “leader” and many of us are easily led. I repeat-THAT IS A DREAM.

I can be grateful to the Veterans for what they did and what the soldiers are doing now but I now question the logic and the sense of those who decide to send people into the horrible “theater” of war. (It is not a theater, people are not pretending. People are really dying.)

Now how to get out once you are in?????

(The photo caption reads Just Say No. The bird is a female summer tanager)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Forget Congress for a Few Minutes, Read a Book

Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
- Mark Twain

After listening to the House “debate”( right-that was a debate?) health care Saturday, I just want to run away. I will say here that the lone Republican to vote for the house bill was a surprise. Representative Cao voted for his constituents' needs One in how many?

But instead of thinking about the rest of the representatives, let us pretend our Congress has a collective brain-I know that is a real stretch. So let us pretend that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Well, no let us pretend we don't even have that fear to fear for a few minutes. (That stretch is not quite as large as the stretch about Congress having a brain.)

There is a little, but large in terms of information, book entitled: The “Have-More” Plan for A Little Land-A Lot of Living by Ed and Carolyn Robinson,Macmillan Company, NY, 1947.

My spouse and I have owned this book for years now. Every so many years after one of our many moves, we would drag it out and read from it. Though the book was written in in the mid-forties it is full of useful information.

The preface starts with a short rehash of the family of 200 years prior. Writing about the total self- reliance of family, here is a quotation from first paragraph of the preface:

There was no unemployment but no real security either. A drought, a flood, even a potato bug could mean ruin. Life was almost all work-men and women were old at thirty-five. Approximately one out of three infants died before the end of its first year.
(The “Have-More” Plan page ix)

(This chart is a good reference showing infant mortality since 1950. It is the one I found that didn't have a political bent. This chart shows 6.9 infant deaths, under 1 year, per thousand for all races.)

The author goes on: "In the past fifty years the completely self-reliant family has become rare indeed..."

And further the author writes about finding the happy medium between being totally self-reliant and totally dependent on others:

We believe such a man will fare better on the average over the years than the man who depends entirely either on himself or on other men for all the necessities of life.

Now part of what I love about this book is that some things don't really change at all.
These quotations below as found on page 85 are great examples:

Evidence is beginning to appear showing that soil and freshness all affect the mineral and vitamin content of the food we eat... Steam-table restaurant fare has a fraction of the value of properly home-cooked foods....
...Out at Ohio State, experiments show that about 43 per cent of the “fresh” vegetables sold in stores have lost the biggest part of their vitamin content.

The book is full of charts, illustrations, and pictures. There are quotations of letters the Robinson family received after the first publication. $50 From a Single Nut Tree is one such letter about the usefulness of suburban pecan trees in GA. (see page 124)

On page 105, Chapter 13 begins the information about berries and grapes. On that very page the mulberry is mentioned as one of the “something a little different” choices. How about that. But, what is a “youngberry”? (I found a definition ) a trailing bramble of the southwestern US that is a hybrid of a blackberry and dewberry with large sweet dark purple fruits.

Here is a suggested fruit tree “Simplified Pest Control”... “good sulphur-lead arsenate mixture” I don't know about you but I think that sounds a little on the WOW side of pest control-lead...! I don't like any pesticide but I sure don't want to mix my own. (page 123) On the same page-I do love this why-didn't-I-just-use-my-head idea: ...the fruit that falls before picking time can be saved if you put hay or straw beneath the trees to prevent bruising.”

Though around here, I would watch for insects and molds living in and under the hay or straw. Some may not be welcome depending on where your trees are located.

How about the section on “How Much Time Does a Cow Take?” found on page 213. On the following two pages are charts about the costs and the returns from your “Jersey Cow”. (I hope you don't have high cholesterol.) The Robinson's consumed and sold the dairy products from their cow. If you want to know for them “...Total expenses for the year that included her milking and dry period amounted to $158.07.”(215)

The last chapter in this wonderful book is Earning Money in the Country with the last section being called “Ribbon Cities”.
What is a “ribbon city”? ...By that I mean that stretching out from practically every city and town are roads where the traffic goes on all day”
page 314 (Note the all day).

A personal note here on the "ribbons". Where me and mine live now, the traffic on our ribbon has grown tremendously in the past few years. We were so spoiled by the “peace and quiet” after moving here from Atlanta 18 or so years ago we now sound like the old grumps we are. (Everything is relative.) Our dogs go crazy as the “city bicyclists” use our road now. “Why the traffic is so bad now it is unsafe to cross that road to the mailbox.” (It always was. We live at the top of an blind hill. When the wind blows hard, which it often does, you can't hear the traffic either. What does that tell you about the awful traffic now-a-days?)

Back to the book.

To the women readers, there is a “Letter to the Wives” from Carolyn Robinson found on page 11. Here are some sentences you might enjoy:

Out here on our wee farm my husband really needs me and I, in turn, could not get along without him.
(page 12) and on page 13,
“...One secret I have found is not trying to keep a spotless house-I have decided it's a waste of time....”
(She is assuming I keep a spotless house. I gave up years ago when “we” retired and our son came back. I still would like a spotless house if anyone wants to volunteer.)
A little further on the same page:...
”In fact, many duties are easier. Children require less attention and time while they are playing.”

That last part can be true but be careful if your “wee farm” is too close to the “ribbon” or you have a child that likes to roam far and wide in the blink of an eye. I taught mine how to pound and poke the trails in the wooded part of the hill with a walking stick so the snakes and other critters knew he was coming. “They don't want you any more than you want them.” I said. Turtles were fair game though when they came into the yard. Oh, but that is another tale.

So here you have it another book review of a great older book. I hope you can find a copy and read it for yourself even if you don't intend to have a “Have-More” Plan for A Little Land-A Lot of Living. Maybe you can find it through your library.

Now here is The Have-More Plan in today's world: Detroit

A couple of places you can purchase the book The "Have-More" Plan. and Or Google it and you will find many places to purchase the book.

The picture is from my oil of our "wee farm" facing our "ribbon".

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Addendum to Klinger Syndrome Post-Mark Twain on Religion

Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion -- several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven....The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.

- The Lowest Animal essay, 1897 (Mark Twain)
We despise all reverences and all the objects of reverence which are outside the pale of our own list of sacred things. And yet, with strange inconsistency, we are shocked when other people despise and defile the things which are holy to us.

- Following the Equator (ibid)

By the way can anyone remember exactly when to use ibid? Is it ok from the first note on or every other one? Now I find that in so using I am committing a grievous sin.

Mark Twain quotations

Friday, November 6, 2009

Corporal Klinger Syndrome? Or No Way Out!

After reading and watching the news about the Ft. Hood disaster, one picture being drawn of the shooter is of a psychiatrist that treated soldiers returning from these two stupid wars. A man who apparently was re-finding his religion. A doctor that heard such horror stories he feared his own deployment with more than the usual fear of soldiers being deployed. Think about it. Some of us can understand that picture. Of course another picture is of a religious terrorist or another-someone making a statement concerning the ills of society. The portrait is probably a mixture of all these. People are complicated.

Before I go on with this post I would like to say, for what it is worth, I am so sorry that this happened.

I am sorry that we live in a society where opening fire on groups of people is an answer to anything or for anyone. The families, the personnel at Ft. Hood, and many of our military, must be devastated. Our sympathies to all of them. This loss must feel just about as strange as when a parent losses a child-so wrong, so backwards, so out of the norm of death.

Without researching just think back through recent memory, it seems as though this type of suicide is becoming more common. I call it suicide because generally the shooter is killed or removed from living within this society of ours. There are various themes on this type of suicide. One type that comes to mind “death by cop”. Do we now add that to our law enforcement requirements? Does a law enforcement recruit have to be good at “death by cop”. The things we ask of the law enforcement agencies...

But back to the original thoughts on the shooter.
Maybe we should call it the Klinger syndrome. Do you remember MASH the movie and the TV show?
Corporal Max Klinger was the one who wore women's clothes trying to get out of the military by way of a section 8. We laughed at his attempts but did we pause to think how far these attempts could go. "I am going to live through this even if it kills me" (Corporal Klinger).

Do you wonder has this violent-take-others-with-you suicide been going on forever but not in public?
How many charges up San Juan Hill, that is just the one that popped into my head, have actually been a version of this NO WAY OUT mentality​?

The questions in my mind at this point concerning the shooter are many.

Why did the military decide the young high-school graduate would be educated as a psychiatrist in the first place? What did the recruiter tell the young Muslim American to get him to sign up? Or maybe he, like many others, just wanted the education. Had he felt he had to prove something to the rest of us, or himself, about Muslim Americans?

Actually, I doubt some of these reasons apply. This man apparently had been in the military for years. Too many years for his initial enlistment to be swayed by the Muslim reasoning mentioned here.

According to one story, report, this shooter was harassed because he is Muslim. Why did the military decide that a Muslim psychiatrist should be treating soldiers returning from combat where religion is in their face every day and many have radical Muslims trying to kill them and killing many of their “buddies”? Is it just not possible that any psychiatrist treating PT SD over and over might develop a version of the very disease he treats? How often did this psychiatrist get treatment or at least counseling?

We would hope that the military would periodically check the mental health of their mental health therapists. When this shooter sought a way out because of his religious beliefs, did the military have an analysis done? Or, did they just see the need for retention of all soldiers?

I know that hindsight is 20/20 but I still wonder about how this shooter in particular got missed. I realize too that it has to be difficult to get out of your “contract” with the military or most of the “volunteers” would leave. But I think there should be studies and thought about those who really should be allowed to break that contract.

For more on the story go to the NY Times articleshere

(I call the photo art here Wings of Peace.) The quotation from Corporal Klinger is here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Hardest Decision for Pres. Obama

Sometimes there are so many interesting things to write about I can't decide what to write at all. Under consideration lately are more on word play,and more on some of my old books. More on old-fashioned edibles such as mulberries. The war in Afghanistan nags at me constantly.

Lately too, I read and I think about the President making the terrible, the extremely hard, decision-to increase or not to increase troop levels. (Extremely hard if you have a brain and no voice from above telling you exactly what to do.)I appreciate him taking his time on this one. I appreciate the fact that President Obama has not just forged ahead quickly. Can you imagine trying to make this one? It will be a lose, lose for him. If he adds more troops, us lefties will be unhappy. If he doesn't, the right will certainly be in an uproar about his weaknesses.

Then it happened. I watched Bill Moyers' Journal again. You can watch or read it HERE. If you are not familiar with the program Mr. Moyers closes it with his "editorial" comments. Last evening he really got me and probably many other watchers. He discussed the decision President Obama is making about sending more troops to Afghanistan. When he said "let's bring back the draft...", I instantly recoiled.

Bring back the draft? I have a son who could be called; I have family members of all stripes that could be called. The Draft? How could he think such a thing? He probably doesn't have family members to worry about. I personally hate All war. Of all violent activity in which humans engage, it is the most Stupid. I understand the reactions to block a blow to self. The automatic throwing up of arms to block the blow coming at your face or once the blow has landed, the anger and the response to punch back. But war just seems to go on endlessly and after the first blows what does it serve? Not to mention the reasons for war change and who do you trust to tell you the truth. So I cannot ask for a draft for something so Ignorant.

Then it hit me. What Mr. Moyers said is truly correct. Thinking of those populations, People, in other countries being killed doesn't seem enough. Yes, we have been hiding behind others paying the priceS of war for the rest of us. Others go to war on our behalf for reasons other than the love of country we espouse, though there are those too. As was mentioned, there are those who go because there are no jobs here. There are those who go for promises of supporting family, getting health care for their families, education, "bonuses", citizenship, or even for food. I read there are some who go to belong to another type of gang, a sense of belonging. Whatever the reasons they go, they go and we are a grateful nation-sort of at least we have parades for them.

Mr. Moyers was making the point that if the draft came back the powers that be and those that like to editorialize about why we must "fix" Afghanistan would have more to answer for and to... We the people would feel more involved and demand more than words to answer for the expansions of war and the losses of our children and grandchildren.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some of the Blogs I Follow and Why.

Political blog posts at Southern Beale blog can be fun to read for some of us.
The last two concern local politicians and the Obama is out to get Fox News stuff.
Read them and have a little smile or maybe you will get angry.
Personally, I think we lefties should feel so sorry for Fox, poor things. Look up the meaning of Irony and you will see how they work. (See I am still hung up on words and word play) It must be hard to find ways to look at reality and write the opposite on every story or non-story day after weary day.
Also in one of the posts Southern Beale lists a few list-keepers all Repubs. I really had not thought of political party and McCarthyism in a while but there he is a Repub.
Really I am fairly positive that pols or their staffs have lists that build through the years but most are just memories in someone's head. Do some value their bad memories so much they write them down so they can drag them out and read them over and over while figuring ways to get even? We know of some that have done so. Are we electing children?

Now on another blog I follow, All The Things I Love, for a whole change of pace read the post on books
This post also has some beautiful photos to go with it. Anyone who knows me knows how much I appreciate books and the work that goes into each and every volume.
I am scan-reading two right now. (I generally find these days I scan rather than read whole books any more. Too much instant gratification other places, maybe.
But I still love books. They are fun to see, fun to handle, and even fun to hear.
Not only those senses are involved some books have odors,not just mold, but something inexplicable.)

I can relate to these two bloggers. They are very different in writing style and in subject matter covered. However they can both be of interest.

I am sorry to report that one of my followed bloggers had a mishap, actually sounds like more that just a mishap to me. Pat, of Pat's Poetry Musings, as you can read is "Out of Commission". Fell and messed up a typist's much needed shoulder and arm.
Get better soon.

Of course, I can always recommend you read Thomas' posts. Many varied interests and an inquiring mind he will stimulate your mind too. If you like cars, politics, candy, dogs, or just about anything; you will find something in Thomas' writings.

So here you are a partial list of blogs I follow with reasons why. Just wanted to write about a few so maybe people would find something new to enjoy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Can You Make a Difference? More on Word Play

While rereading parts of Dr. R. Reich's book, Locked in the Cabinet, I discovered a conversation Dr. Reich had with his wife, Clare, about living in Washington. (Washington here meaning the Federal Government Washington) Her take on Washington is not new.

Dr. Reich has his Page at Wikipedia if you are interested. Read the paragraph on this book there. Apparently he fictionalized some conversations.

Whether fictionalized or not her description of Washington is one to which many of us can relate.

It's always the same thing. Who's up? Who's down? Who's in? Who;s out?
It's a one-company town, Bob. Everyone works for the same company in
some way or other. Politicians, journalists, bureaucrats, lawyers, lobbyists.
And all that really counts is your rank in the company. Power, power, power!
No one cares about ideas, values, or even their families.

Robert B. Reich, Locked in the Cabinet, Alfred A. Knopf, NY,1997,Page 5

And while perusing a “blog of note”Meanderings in Hickville I came upon this: “Parks dedicated to liars should catch on in the states. Every politician will have their very own swing set. “ Under a picture in Italy of a park named for Pinocchio. Do Italians really love liars or just puppets that would be boys?

How many times have you heard politics or government described in similar terms. All my life I have heard people say things like: “they're all crooked”; or that voting is picking “the lessor of the evils”; or why should I “it won't make any difference”...

Now take a look at the N.Y. Timestoday. The front page, above the Internet fold, is stories of decisions being made in our names, or not, many of which are tied to money and money is, or buys, power. (Of course, I expect Dr. Krugman to write about money or banking or some parts of the economy.)

The article concerning the war in Afghanistan and the Taliban economy is well written but not really much new. What is striking are comments about how it is a bigger economy than was thought by a member of the House Representatives and that the decision to send more troops depends to some degree on Taliban economy. That decision is also dependent on whether there is an “legitimate” government of the country. The Karzai government is accused of fraud both in the election and in the governing of Afghanistan. The government is accused of ties to drug money, the same drug money the Taliban unofficially taxes.

Another article is on the lobbying of the climate change bill. The different energy groups are each trying to attack different parts of the bill. Hundreds of millions of dollars being spent. Who knows if these groups being split will help or hinder the passage of legislation but money is power.

There is an editorial concerning income tax evasion by the wealthy in various ways. This is one about the off-shore accounts and more on the Swiss Bank Accounts. It ends by saying maybe we can now get the wealthy to pay their taxes. (Dream on)

New arrests in hedge-fund scandals and again in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

There are two articles concerning us peons. One is really more about foreclosures causing stresses on the homeless shelters. The other is a slide show article on gardening and cleaning up a neighborhood in Flint, Michigan. In small ways people made a difference in one neighborhood.

Then read Dr. Reich's blog post on paying hush money and the health care reform. Big money therefore big power. No matter what people really wanted in the first place.

No wonder we all feel it is us versus them. Just look at the above articles as view of the spread of wealth. Maybe it is just life in a capitalistic society where money is power or the purchase thereof.

One big way for you to make a difference in the decisions made for you is if the “you” is a collective pronoun, sometimes replaced with “you guys” or “y'all”, not the singular pronoun. Then the “you” will become “we the people”. Nah, don't count on it. “We the people” will probably never totally agree with the “yous” of us. Yet opting out or “fence-sitting” is making a decision to allow others to decide for “YOU” the singular.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Another Post Script

Now a Post Script to the Cannibalizing post:
''Taking money from a program already in financial trouble is not responsible,'' LeMieux said. ''It's not fair to our seniors who paid into the program, and it's not fair to our children and grandchildren who will be burdened with massive debt obligations.'' Sen. George LeMieux of Florida as quoted in the NY Times here
The Senator is speaking of Medicare but also now worries about people being forced onto Medicaid.

These guys are good.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A post script to yesterday's post and...

Paul Krugmanhas a different take on what is wrong with education.

Maybe we need to examine ways for parents to make a bigger contribution to our local schools, too. Whether by running for the school boards or actually working in the classrooms, parents can push back.

Congratulations to our President on the Nobel Prize.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another Word That Bothers Me in Its Present Usage

While checking some of the blogs I follow this morning, I stopped to read the blog of Southern Beale The Business of Dehumanization
Just click on the link in Blogs I Follow or here
The blog post this time has much on our educational system in its present state. The word "product" popped into my head. I remember not too many years ago when some in the US began to speak of our students as products. I hated it then and I still do. You may want to read the post from the foundation-wallace and really think about it. I also remember about the same time schools started "working with" corporations and businesses to find out what kinds of "products" they needed.
In the Southern Beale post there is a lament about civics no longer being taught. True. Several of my many old books are on teaching civics. I mean real civics, things like how your government works and how a voter has a duty to be educated. In fact some of the books teach how it is a "civic duty" to be educated and follow the government activities so you can vote.
Also along the educational trail I saw a report somewhere about a great school. They were getting the "products" physically moving because they realized that obesity is a problem. Why they were even exercising and had recess.
Let me tell you this little tale. One of my nieces' schools decided to drop recess because they just couldn't afford to pay someone to be on the playground with the little "products". Folks this was before the Recession hit.
I also remember President Kennedy's physical fitness here

Back to the "corporate product" idea. My memory fails me. When did the big drive happen to turn out "products" for the use of corporate America? Hereis an interesting, very interesting, article on the state of the business of education. It is called The 500-Pound Gorilla. You will find paragraphs on a Business Task Force and how the needs of business must be used in the school curricula as a way to bolster the economy among other issues. I strongly recommend you read it.

With thanks to my spouse for the photo here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cannibalizing or Cannibalized, Which Is It?

As mentioned in a previous post, see the September 30th post While Watching the Senate.., the Republicans are now taking care of Seniors and Medicare. Interesting how the same words get used by the same party but in different contexts.

In an exchange and surprisingly adult conversation on ABC Sunday Morning, Sen. Schumer (D of NY) and Sen. Cornyn (R. of TX)discussed and agreed on much. Then it came. Sen. Cornyn must have realized he hadn't used any Republican talking points. Someone flipped a switch and the Seniors on Medicare became the victims of... are you ready...hold it comes; "cannibalization". here is the link watch all of it.

How do they do it with a straight face? One minute seniors are cannibalizing; the next minute they are being cannibalized. Law of the Jungle-eat or be eaten? Do you remember Judge Janice R. Brown? I do.

I remember she said that today's seniors were cannibals and wanted all the free stuff they could get. quote here Now I am sure we were aware she was speaking figuratively but my point is the use of the word cannibalize. Judge Brown has a very interesting history both life story and words spoken. More about the 2004 appointments and the arguments here
and see for a speech listing more of the Judges statements

Why did Sen. Cornyn use that particular word? Did someone in the Repub. party do a poll back in 2000 to see if it got significant reaction? Did they decide that seniors did react in disgust so let's use it again but to another advantage?
One more way to scare seniors away from health care reform?

Who knows. I do know I reacted in both cases. I really got incensed when the Judge used it and Sunday I was first surprised then angered by the way it was brought out of mothballs.

By the way if you want some real laughs about words and the way they are used and the way things change check out Pres. G.W. Bush's acceptance speech at the 2004 Republican

Of particular interest to me:
...This changed world can be a time of great opportunity for all Americans to earn a better living, support your family, and have a rewarding career. And government must take your side....

Thanks to our policies, homeownership in America is at an all-time high. Tonight we set a new goal: seven million more affordable home in the next 10 years so more American families will be able to open the door and say welcome to my home.

(Laughter here is allowed. Are we talking about tents? Actually the homes did get more affordable, or rather the "loans" did.)

Sorry, back to the speech:

...Because we acted to defend our country, the murderous regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are history...

"Mission Accomplished"

So yes, Politicians play with words. But, me thinks the Repubs. are the best at it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Interesting Take on Defense Spending

More research on Defense as a share of the budget produced this interesting take...
World Military Spending,, Last updated: Sunday, September 13, 2009

">from the Global Issues site

Furthermore, “national defense” category of federal spending is typically just over half of the United States discretionary budget (the money the President/Administration and Congress have direct control over, and must decide and act to spend each year. This is different to mandatory spending, the money that is spent in compliance with existing laws, such as social security benefits, medicare, paying the interest on the national debt and so on). For recent years here is how military, education and health budgets (the top 3) have fared: links to Pres. Bush's 2009 Budget.
The Pie Chart at the top of this post came from this group. The link here will take you to a table as well.

When asking the question why the group's budget analysis is different, the answers are:

Taken from . They are the Friends Committee on National Legislation, A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest.

Who knew? Here is part of their description:
Who We Are
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) fields the largest team of registered peace lobbyists in Washington, DC. Founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), FCNL staff and volunteers work with a nationwide network of tens of thousands of people from many different races, religions, and cultures to advocate social and economic justice, peace, and good government. FCNL is nonpartisan.
FCNL is also the oldest registered ecumenical lobby in Washington, DC. The organization's legislative priorities and policies are set by a General Committee made up of some 220 Quakers from around the country. FCNL's multi-issue advocacy connects historic Quaker testimonies on peace, equality, simplicity, and truth with peace and social justice issues which the United States government is or should be addressing. 
FCNL is a nonpartisan 501(c)4 public interest lobby. It is neither a political action committee (PAC) nor a special interest lobby. The FCNL Education Fund is a parallel 501(c)3 organization that supports the research, analysis and education for which FCNL is known and respected.

Hopefully, you will have time to look at their numbers and their explanations of the differences among budget analysis'. It is very interesting. I had read some of Mr. Shah's,site, articles before. He is nothing if not thorough. He will make you question and give you much more to research.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

While Watching the Senate on Cspan-2 one day...

While watching two Republican Senators on the floor of the Senate I just shake my head.
They are holding what is called a colloquy on the health care issues. A colloquy is a discussion. In the Senate, one Senator has the floor and is holding it, another Senator asks for a colloquy with the first and away they go. A colloquy is used while waiting on someone else to come to the floor or when the two involved have a scripted conversation and one has the floor time assigned to him or her.

These two just brought up a "fact". Seniors are against the health care bill thus far by 2 to 1 because they will lose some coverage under Medicare. These two, Republicans remember, are for the Seniors. Isn't the Republican party the one that not too many years ago was yelling about Seniors cannibalizing their children and grandchildren? Wasn't this the party that was wanting to do away with, fought against forever, Medicare? Isn't this the party that has had Medicare on their hit list since its inception?

But then there is this: These two are saying because the bill and the President want to cut the government subsidies to Medicare Advantage companies that is cutting Medicare. HUH? Please read this article from the Washington Posthere We, the taxpayers are subsidizing these companies.
Free enterprise? Capitalism at its finest? I think not? Government helping big business? I think.

My take on other articles I could find along with a little history of the Medicare Advantage program is that it started off saving then as with all these ideas to promote "outsourcing" the government to private contractors it now costs more than the government version. That too, is one of my concerns about a so-called "trigger" option for health care. The private sector insurers will keep costs down only as long as they have to do so.

Yes, and the two Senators want to put the bill up on the internet for 72 hours for the public to review and then 2 or so weeks for the public to comment back to them.
Isn't this the party that for the last 8 years did away with most of the Sunshine Law? Besides that little "fact", I really hope you will think about trying to read one of these bills. I often say I don't know how the Congresspeople do it. How does the staff for them do it? How does anyone do it? Well in the case of the Congresspeople they expect the staff to do it for them and fill them in on the fine print. The staff knows what the Congressperson, or the Party, wants to find or not find so that is what they get in their reports. Well, maybe not all staffers do it but my guess is most do-if they want the job for long.

More later, I must go check out the Senate,Circus Maximus, so-called debate now.
Later today I believe they will be debating Defense Spending.

Just found this

Monday, September 28, 2009

Researching the Defense Budget is Tough

Promises made are sometimes extremely difficult to keep. I am still trying to research defense spending and budgets. I do mean budgets.
Every time I start and restart the research I forget to read the Energy Department information too.
I get reminded that the nuclear weapons requests are not found in the defense budget. Those parts of the requests fall under the Department of Energy. Now if you just look at the table of contents for Volume 1 you will see even more separations. There are the defense sections, the non-proliferation sections, the naval reactors sections to name a few.
Why is this under the Dept. of Energy budget requests? I have my theories but I am sure they are inaccurate. I am sure that it is just because the nuclear part is energy. I am sure it has nothing to do with making the defense budget appear smaller.
Just as I am sure that the reason the war supplemental requests are not included in the defense budget is because they can't know from one year to the next what they will need. (especially when you have no plan).
I will keep trying.
I just wanted to let the readers know I am researching the costs of defense and the costs of health care.
It will just take longer than I thought.

Post Script here: here

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More on Mulberries and a Quick look at Their Food Values

Just thought I would write a quick post so I don't forget how. I note that in my older, statinized, stage; I have lost some short term memory.

When I check to see if the blog is getting any action, one thing stands out.
I must keep writing about mulberries. Right now a part of the world is getting to eat mulberries. So they are trying to find more about the fruit, berries.
Are they making a comeback in areas that are economically suffering? Partly so.
Is it because some of us are getting older and thinking back? Partly.
Is it because the seasons are different in different parts of the world? Partly.

Maybe I will take a little time to do a little more research on the prolific berry producer. I have some recipes that are old using mulberries to replace blackberries.
That makes sense.

I do know that mulberry trees can sprout up all over the place when you allow one tree in the area. Not all the neighbors are thrilled either. The berries can leave a nice mess. The birds and wild critters that eat the berries leave a nice mess. Farmers around here like clean pastures and fence lines. Mulberry trees here can be about as prolific as the cedar or even lilacs in the fence rows. I do often wonder why we don't try to cultivate the mulberry tree as an orchard tree. Or maybe the scientific community can figure out a way to control the rapid spread of the tree.
(I also wonder though why the fence rows are getting cleaned out again. Trees were planted in fence rows to prevent soil loss during the dust bowl days.)

Of course, like many things scientific, you may not want them messing with another part of nature. Their record is not always that great. Fertilizer and weed control run-off into water supplies anyone?

But that could be another blog post yet.

Getting back to mulberries, it would be interesting research to investigate their food value. After a quick search, I found many things from natural food sites as well as much from Japan and India. The leaves are used too for the silkworm.

Here is a short, quick, list of the nutrients in a sort-of order for high count.
The sites normally list them as eaten raw.
Vitamin C
Vitamin K
minerals besides iron;
Riboflavin, Potassium, Magnesium

There is even a little protein. (maybe that is from the "worms" with which my dad scared us.)

However remember most of the calories come from sugars.

So there you are: the mulberry is good for you unless you have to watch your sugars.

PS. Don't ask me why sometimes I get paragraphs where I don't want them when writing these posts but they appear.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Taking a little time off from the postings.

Well, the time has come to get the prints printed, decisions made, the matting figured out and the frames on the great ones for the Unplaza Art Fair in KC, MO.
So I may not take time to post here much.
In the meantime I have more research to do anyway. I am researching a CBO report on costs and growth of health care costs as well as on the military budget.
So here are my wishes for you all to have a great next two weeks or so.
And... May we all see a government use its heads for a change on just anything.
I know, as I say to the President when he speaks, Me thinks you are a dreamer.
Take Care all and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Good Old Days Hints-No Mulberries This Time

As I wait for President Obama's speech tomorrow evening, I thought I might write something a little different, a book review.

You may have noticed in my “profile” for the blog one of my favorite books is How to Do Things a compendium of all kinds of things from The Farm Journal, 1919, Wilmer Atkinson Company, PA.
It is such an interesting and useful, still, book. By using a little creativity and common sense you can modernize many of the devices and recipes as well as the formulas found in the book.

I also love old, really old, cookbooks. These cookbooks are full of so much more than recipes. Many of them are like taking Home Economics, and Home Health Care courses. Then too I have a few old texts of all kinds; US history, Missouri History and Civics, English grammar and writing. You name it and either my spouse or I probably have an old book on it.

From the How to Do Things book, I built some little portable gates of scraps of lumber and chicken wire. I want to keep our two dogs in the front or back yard sometimes while allowing the riding mower to be used all around the house with little impediment. I noted my spouse has a bailing twine collection he keeps in a modern-day version of the “Cocoanut Twine Holder” found on page 518 in the House Furnishings Handy Devices section. In these days of recession and recycling, maybe you like this suggestion:

Bailing Old Paper
By using a good-sized box with a slot cut in the bottom you can bale your
waste paper. Arrange a cord and a lining of old cloth or very tough paper
as shown in the cut.
(there is a little pen and ink drawing here)

Pack the paper down hard,
fold the lining over the top and tie securely. Turn the box over push through
the slot and your bale will slip out ready to weigh and sell.
(in our case, to recycle)

I can remember seeing this next hint where I grew up though these days I doubt it would be allowed and with good reason. The “bos” that lived in the vacant lot at the end of our street used it on their shipping crate houses. Please do not try this one though I don't want to see your house go up in smoke.
Some friends of ours bought an old farm house that had plaster and lath walls with large areas of the plaster gone. Upon investigation they found, benefit for me, the walls full of paper and old books.

Paper Walls for Warmth
Almost every home has at hand the means of making farm buildings
warm. Tack on coat after coat of old newspapers.. Then board, shingle, or clap-board
directly over them. Air simply cannot pass through successive layers of paper.
If desired red building paper can be put over the newspapers in the manner
shown in the cut,
(another little drawing found as illustration)
so if water gets through the boarding, it will be carried down
to the ground by the resin sized paper.

(See we just can't let newspapers go by the wayside. They can be useful)

There is a section called Babies and Children. The one that is fun is the section Games and Entertaining. Within the section are these divisions; Indoor Games, Outdoor Games, church and School Entertainments, Home Parties, and Special Occasions.
If we tried more of the simple but active Indoor Games, we might not be so unhealthy. Here is one for you.

Chinese Table
The players sit in a circle and each one takes the name of an article used at
the tea-table, such as tea, sugar, cream, cake, bread, etc. The one called “tea”begins.
He rises,, turns around and around in his place, saying: “I turn tea; who turns sugar?”
Sugar turns, saying: I turn sugar; who turns milk?” And so on, till everyone
in the circle is turning. They must continue turning till the leader claps his hands
and calls out: “Clear the table,” when all sit down in their chairs again.

(I think they could have more accurately named that game, English Tea)

I think many would enjoy the book as much as I. It has many simple ideas as I quoted here but it also has many not so simple ideas for various problems found around the farm or the home. The Foreword gives a little history of the Farm Journal along with some great old photos. Then there is the Free Information Service with coupons for subscribers to fill in and attach to letters asking for information.
They apparently even answered legal questions. “All of this service is free, except that inquiries of the Law Department, requiring immediate answer, must be accompanied with remittance of one dollar.”

You know it might be fun to just have a forum or blog of nothing but information, suggestions, or book reviews of little known books over the age of 50. Please leave a comment if you have something similar to How to Do Things in the way of old books. Give us a review of yours if you like.

Look what I found on line! and Amazon has the book for sale. Just how great is that.

The photo at the top should be called How Not to Do Things. My husband is the photographer. Link to his photos is on my blog list. Show Me Photography

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Supreme Court Revisits Corporations as Persons

The Supreme Court will be hearing a very important case the 9th this month. They are going to revisit an old case. Why? Because The Right wants them to do so? No, because Roberts and Scalia want to do so.

At issue is whether the court should overrule a 1990 decision, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which upheld restrictions on corporate spending to support or oppose political candidates. Re-arguments in the Supreme Court are rare, and the justices’ decision to call for one here may have been prompted by lingering questions about just how far campaign finance laws, including McCain-Feingold, may go in regulating campaign spending by corporations.

Supreme Court to Revisit ‘Hillary’ Documentary by Adam Liptak, August 29, 2009

The words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals;
( ).

I found this on, in a case from 1886 Santa Clara County V Southern Pacific Railroad Company corporations Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite announced:
"The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."

Now I know that there is a term "Legal Person" supposedly different than "natural person". But, I believe we have seen the lines blurring. I feel corporations, the boards, will keep attempting to blur those lines as it suits them to do so for personal gain,and personal political agendas, whether for profit or because they know they are more capable than the peon classes. Such as Insurance companies deciding what care you should receive, when you should receive it, and where you should receive it. (Oh but isn't that what the claim is against government run health care?)
Basically remember the first amendment is the free speech, religion, press, petition the government, and assembly amendment. The fifth amendment is, among other things, due process, double jeopardy, and compensation for properties seized for the public good.
According to other sources I read in the last few days, before this case The John Marshall Court had previously declared a corporation was a person. Since the Court likes to use precedent, when it suits a particular Court, maybe this is one precedent that needs revisited or thrown out. I believe it was really to do with business across state lines as well as state charters and taxation.
There are arguments that state the Court did not actually say the part about corporations being “persons” that the Court reporter actually inserted in a head note the part about corporations are persons therefore equal under the law to persons.
Since then Corporations have often sought their “persons” rights in various cases. The attempts result from some financial, profit, motive. In the case of a licensing issue in VA. And a N.Y. Insurance company, Paul vs. VA, the State Supreme Court basically said Insurance did not fall Interstate Commerce so often used by Congress to legislate. I believe that lasted until 1944. Insurance companies prefer to be under federal regs that lets them sell from and in state to state without meeting the state requirements imposed. How interesting is that? One moment corporate America is yelling about too much Federal regulation yet, when it suits them they want to be under Federal regulation. States rights or no states rights which shall it be? Strong, “invasive” Federal Government or States Rights?
Now I wonder when a corporation will also get the “right to keep and bare arms” as in the second Amendment. How would that play out? As individuals already have the “right to carry” would the corporation now buy the weapons. How will they apply for permits? Who will be the one checked? Or will all of the Corporation and its stockholders and employees have to apply? What if an employee would not normally get a permit? I wonder too why a corporation as a person cannot have its own religion and therefore a tax-exempt status. By the way did you know that some corporations and universities now own patents to some of your genes. Yep they really do.
Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.
Title 35 section 101.
Will we change the way corporations are taxed? As a person shouldn't they be taxed as individuals as well as a separate person. Believe it or not there are discussions about the very taxation problems.

Arguments for and Against Corporations as Persons

According to proponents, in a capitalistic society the government is not a regulator of corporations but has a duty to protect the rights of corporations. They may also argue that forming a corporation is an inalienable right. On the one hand the corporation is made up of individuals with the rights of the individuals. (Opponents argue that the corporation gets rights of an individual and the individual has rights thus now the individuals involved are no longer individuals but get the rights of two people.) On the other hand it is argued that the investors are only liable to the extent of their investment. That the stockholders should not be held responsible for decisions they do not make but that are made for them by the boards, CEO, managers, and employees. That is awfully close to saying the voters should not be held responsible for the decisions made for them by their elected officials. If that were true, the voter should pay no more than the initial investment. The voters are held responsible for paying the bills and paying for the wars decided for them in an ongoing fashion. The soldier is certainly held responsible by the use of his or her very life. Now I begin to see how some could use these arguments as a way to avoid paying taxes.
Other proponents of corporations as “legal persons” do say that the corporation is only entitled to parts of the 1st and 5th amendments. They only mention the right to speak on Commercial Matters, the right to privacy of trade secrets and internal corporate decisions, the right to be paid for government confiscated properties, and the right to do business without undue regulation. Who decides? Judges and lawyers. Let us hope they are fair and uninfluenced. If that is true then why the revisit to a case from the 90's.
Other proponents of corporations and their place in a capitalistic society believe that in regulations come stagnation. That regulation is the block to creativity and drive in the business sector. Yet I am sure of stories of large corporations buying small businesses that would offer competition only to keep the new ideas from seeing further light of day. I give you the purchase and dismantling of public transportation systems by a certain auto-manufacturer by any means. Now many urban areas are struggling to come up with the funding and the votes to build systems that is pretty much an expanded versions of the same system again. I think corporations themselves often times stifle creativity and drive.
When speaking or writing against corporations as “persons” one is reminded that a corporation is given infinite life, reside in more than one country, and though officers may, corporations cannot go to jail. Also it is argued that corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution. Some corporations use their rights to deny rights to others. (Insurance companies?)
So much to learn so much to take in and understand. I believe I will put these issues on my “keep researching” list for future reference. I have a feeling by the time I begin to get the full scope, pros and cons, everything or nothing will change. Depending on what corporations want. Sorry, I really feel our capitalistic society has gone a little far.
If you know of some great or not so great information on campaign reform or corporations as persons let us all in on it. Though I doubt anything will be done especially under the Robert's Court.
And this my friends is why I voted for a Democrat-The Supreme Court. We are stuck with Bush appointees for years, Chief Justice Roberts is only 54. Justices stay pretty much for life but hopefully keeping a few not-so-liberal-liberals on the court will help. Sotamayor, to me, is another of Obama's pragmatisms. If this President gets to appoint another Justice, I hope he puts a “lefty” up but then he has been warned by the Right that he will not get far with that. The Right will control whether they are in the majority or the minority.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Frugality and Printing Your Own Photos

I am in the process of writing a blog post on Corporations as legal persons but the research goes on still. Also a tough one to understand. So while working on the Corporation post and working on printing photos for my spouse I thought I would write about printing those photos.

You would think there would be nothing to printing photos these days wouldn't you. Well, not if you lived in our house. First there is the two different printers for different sizes problem. My mind has times when it is hard to shift gears so to speak. The two printers require different color calculations, different routines for just pushing their buttons, pun intended, and the way they interact with the computer software used to edit the photos is really different.

The old Epson 2200 is great for the larger prints just by the mere fact it will handle the paper. But, it doesn't like all photo papers. It has it's own color quirks as well. It is a little interesting when printing on glossy white paper. And though by changing black cartridges you get less of the funny black look, I call it mapping or pooling up. (there is a technical name, but it slips my mind at this time and I am trying to hurry to get to the printing). Then there is what you see on the display is not always what you get when printed colors. Yes you can buy calibration software but we are frugal so I have figure it out.
I do then I use the other printer for a while so I have to get my brain to shift gears again. When I do get this pea-brain working, I get some pretty good prints and a few bad prints. We are frugal about using paper and ink too. So when I do a “miss” print, it is costly as far as we are concerned. Sometimes we both are frugal to the point of being silly but that is us and our finances.

The other day I printed the same photo on the same paper on both the Epson and the HP. Neither I nor the photographer were thrilled with either one. So yours truly decided to get with it and figure both of them out. So away I went with the little HP.

The HP Deskjet D4360 is a little more controllable for me. The software for it is more to my style of thinking. But it takes work and brain power too. Yesterday morning I spent hours reprinting the same photo over and over until I got pretty close to matching what my eyes and my brain perceived as the display colors and shading. Do you know how guilty I felt using that photo paper and that ink? Now I have it where I want it and I wrote copious notes so when I get back to it I can remind my fading memory of the settings. The problem with this little printer is the limitation of print size. Only up to legal size paper.

I have been through this type of thing over and over with the different home printers we have owned. It is not something I just want to do. But eventually I get tired of near miss prints and do it. Now, let us talk about displays, computers, and lighting. We have two computers we use for photo processing so you know as well as I that each has its own display quirks and its own software quirks. I kid you not.
Like most machines they are individuals. Then there is the lighting in the different rooms and the lighting of the different displays. Of course the access to the different ports for the memory chips of the cameras or the memory “dongles” we carry from one to another is on the front of one computer and the side of the other. I could go on for hours here.

Now let us consider the eyes of the beholders. One of us has an astigmatism; the other does not. One wants more color; the other does not. One prefers a rectangular print in the portrait positioning;the other prefers landscape. One prefers square prints; the other does not with few exceptions. One is a pixel worker; the other is not. One is frugal to the extreme and takes great pride in it; the other is frugal but believes there comes a point... And on these preferences go. It gets lively.

Then we buy frames and mats on sale or here and there. Now the prints have to be made to fit the sales. I told you we are frugal. You really should be around as all this happens. It is hard work. But your brain gets exercise and you learn to get along or take a break.

So there are times when I think I would just love to throw in the towel. Once in a great while I do for an hour or two. But overall I learn and I flex the brain. And in the end we get some agreement and some pretty fair prints.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I grew up with my dad always telling me that as long as Ted Kennedy was around, everything was safe,” she said as she waited in line at the library to sign a condolence book.

With the death of Senator E. Kennedy, I, like some others, recall growing up. No, not just since I became politically aware. I mean childhood. A time when I was innocent and happy. Happy partly because I felt cared-for. I didn't have to think about health care, my parents did. I didn't have to think about feeding people, my parents did. I didn't have to think about the jobless rate, my parents did. I didn't have to think much about education, my parents did. All I had to think about was doing the chores they required of me and doing the work of children, play. I hope you are getting the point here.

Perhaps many of us, at this time, are in a quandary. We are like many teens. We want the protection of someone else to take our causes on their shoulders yet we want our independence. I call it the “push-me-pull-you” state. Perhaps we feel we are inadequate to take on the tasks at hand. For a short time we are back in Maslow's Safety Needs level, but we struggle to get back to the Self Actualization level. Or if you prefer the Growth Level of Alderfer.

Whatever the reasons, I am torn between looking backwards to the happy days of childhood and looking at the present of the hill here. The apple trees we planted that now produce fruit for the picking, the many flower gardens planted, and the natural areas are the here and now. Then my thoughts fly outward to the rest of the world and contemplate the future for those of the next generations. Sometimes knowing, as I do think of the future, much of that future will be the same past, it cannot be avoided. Future generations will have to go through their stages, or levels also. But, can those of us, my generation, now leave those of the next generations at the least the first 3 levels? The first 3 levels are physiological, safety, and belonging. Maybe not to the individual scale of life but maybe for the larger scale. Maybe we can leave the opportunity to achieve at least those first 3 levels on Maslow's scale.

So good-byes to the Senator and stories to tell for a few days then on to being the ones that keep trying.

The Challenges Are There

Wishing for past childhood blissful ignorance,
Wishing to stay in pleasant present ignorance,
Just leave me alone.

Offer me no challenges.

Knowing I cannot stay,
Knowing there is more,
You will not leave me alone.

The challenges are there.

Some I caused,
Some you caused,
Does it matter?
I will not leave you alone.

The challenges are there.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ted Kennedy: Family Senator, Patriarch, Dead at 77 - ABC News

A final lesson that's never been more relevant: "Generations of aides recall Kennedy telling them the biggest mistake of his career was turning down a deal that President Richard M. Nixon offered for universal health care. It seemed not generous enough at the time. Having missed the opportunity then, Kennedy spent the rest of his career hoping for an elusive second chance,"

Ted Kennedy: Family Senator, Patriarch, Dead at 77 - ABC News

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I add this as a post script to the July 13th blog post Health Care Plans again.

On Senator Edward Kennedy and Other Things

Sad moment for us liberals sure needed him for pushing the health care. now what will we get stuck with.

The above quotation is from a family member upon reading about Sen. Kennedy's death. Maybe he should have said; sad moment for all who are below the poverty level, without health care, those of us who, for many reasons need a champion.

Sen. Kennedy was human. No doubt about that. But politically, he was a champion for those in need.
During the coverage of the Senator yesterday someone said the Senator quoted from the new testament. “But of everyone to whom much as been given, much will be required;...”( Luke 12: 48) to explain his political causes.

I am sure we will be thoroughly exploring the life of this man, the terrible and the wonderful for the next few days. To some of us the Senator's death is the end of an era. I was just taking note of politics and government when his elder brother was elected President. I cannot say whether it was the speeches of the man or my age that was responsible for the change in my attitude. And I will say Senator Kennedy was not the best example of a champion, in his personal life, until we both got older. I believe when he decided to stay in the Senate he may have been much disappointed in himself for not being able to live up to the perceived heights of his older brothers nor what he knew to be the requirements of his father. But with time and with settling down he became the champion needed.

There will be many who will keep reminding us of the Senator's failures and his awful behaviors, but that is to be expected. The far right blogs will attack on many levels. I used to say we need both extremes for balance and Senator Kennedy was one side of the political teeter-totter while Senator John Warner was perhaps the other. (I didn't agree with Senator Warner's policies but I enjoyed watching him give speeches on the floor of the Senate.)

Senator Warner, retired, was an old style legislator. These two Senators knew how to give great floor speeches, perhaps in different styles, but both knew how without attacking the opposition on a personal level. Both knew how to work behind the scenes. Both knew how to compromise and wait. My concern now is that we are left with a Senate that at least in public is at odds with itself and the most of the Senators are using the same argumentative, nasty, style that some of us do when “discussing” important issues.

The fulcrum of the teeter-totter Senate now appears to be moved. Many so-called centrists are moving to the so-called center just to say they are above the fray, making them somehow superior.

My hope is that as a few more Senators get comfortable with themselves and their constituents, they will become the great legislators we don't now have. And, the center will really be the center. The balance will return at least to the Senate. We need the right and we need the left to take turns and therefore, keep us balanced but we need great orators and legislators who do their jobs because they really believe in what they are doing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Good Article on Why the Status Quo Must Go.

Dying for affordable healthcare — the uninsured speak

In a week of claim and counter-claim about the merits of healthcare provision in the US and UK, Ed Pilkington travelled to Quindaro, Kansas, to see how the poorest survive

Here is another reason the status quo must go. Guardian

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Health Care, The Status Quo Needs to Go.

Here is a personal story for you about health insurance coverage.
This is not one of those terrible stories but this is one of the more common ones that goes on everyday for people who have health insurance.

I must give you a little medical background first. My husband had an allergic reaction about 30 years ago. He is a frugal man and a person who tries to avoid hospitals at all costs. But after turning blue and other good things like that, he finally allowed someone to drive him to an emergency room-no ambulances for him either. Anyway he got there just in time. They gave him one of the “your heart is stopping shots”, you know, straight into the heart. Then he spent quite a while in ICU. So that is the early part of the tale. We never found out what caused it. He got the carry-these-pills-with-you-at-all times, take-one-and-call-an-ambulance-if-it-happens-again sermons as he was leaving. He did keep the pills with him for quite a while.

One evening recently he woke up with itching and burning, spreading fast, huge blisters forming etc. The pills would be no good after 30 years even if we did still have them. So, we go to emergency. You know this only happens when the Dr.'s office is closed. He got treated in short order. This time we were quicker the heavy doses of medicines worked and he didn't have to stay. Given another set of don't-take-a chance instructions again, we left. Things are fine thus far and we feel getting there more quickly this time saved a lot of fun for him and money too. We also are pretty sure this was a true emergency so that argument shouldn't come up.

So now last week we got the usual notices from the insurance company, Cigna, that they had received the bills and guess what-not paying one red cent. We have high deductible, $5000 family, but family does not include our son because he is 24 even though he is back in school full time, so family in our case is 2. We have high-patient-pays-about-everything-all-the-time deductible, but-we-will-negotiate- for-you insurance. Kind aren't they. The more they can negotiate for me the lower the chances I will ever see the $2500 deductible. Duh.

So I just sent the med center over $800 and the Dr's part will be over $300 when that bill comes. (I do not begrudge our med clinic, a good one, nor the ER Dr. one cent.)

We are retired and not quite old enough for Medicare. We are not wealthy. But we feel we are in fair financial shape. Yes, we saved and we invested for 30 some odd years. But $1100 to $1200 is a tad more than pocket change to us. Guess what. Once we reach the $2500 per person deductible they will start to pay 80% maybe. We always figure we will just pay most of any medical bills, so what do you do? We are not terribly unhealthy so just figure we will pay it and lump it.

In a short time we will be Medicare people. Guess what else. My husband worked for a company that had retiree insurance, one big reason he stayed with them when he didn't want to do so and when they were trying to figure out how to get him out. He hung in there because we knew we needed the insurance. They called it then, “the golden handcuffs”. Now when I say retiree insurance I don't mean it is all paid for; we pay some, and the company pays some. We were informed, several years ago, that when we hit Medicare we will no longer have much coverage, just call it basically gone, from the company insurance. We will no longer have the opportunity to get the drug coverage, we will no longer have dental insurance. The company does not pay for dental they get us a good deal and we pay that ourselves. And on it goes. The options we have had through the last 5 years have slowly disappeared anyway.

We have been a thorn in the side for quite awhile anyway. We live in small, rural area, with a great county med clinic and a good doctor but we cost the insurance company more because we can't be forced into an HMO-too far away.

Now I want you to know my family and I are lucky, well maybe not just luck, but some is luck. We are lucky that our health is fair-to-middlin; we are lucky we have any insurance still. We know these things. We are better off than most of the people we know.

What started me thinking about all this? The Med. Clinic just called because they realized we had a large bill and wanted to know if we needed help or wanted to set up a payment plan. I thanked the lady and said no. I told her we didn't figure on much ever from insurance we just keep hanging on to the insurance for the big catastrophes. Well, the catastrophes that the insurance company won't drop us over. I told the nice lady that called that these things are partly why the insurance company can figure I will do what I can, in my little way, to get “HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM”.

Now that I told you this little story go to a PBS station find the Bill Moyer's Journal, kind of a rerun but needed, on why we need “health care reform”. It will definitely remind you of why as President Obama says, maintaining the status quo is not an option.

link to PBS is; here.

Washington Week in Review was just excellent this week also here is the link to that show. here