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.