Saturday, August 30, 2008

Don't Miss It

Adgitadiaries Republicans You'll thank me. FM

Friday, August 29, 2008

Desperate for the Female Vote

So now we've learned that Sarah Palin is McCain's choice for the VP nominee. She has been the Governor of Alaska for about a year and a half and before that the mayor of a town of about 9,000 people. She was beauty queen though. I have to say McSame couldn't be more obvious in his ploy to get some of the disaffected Hillary voters. It's a desperation pick and a very weak pick.

Really, John McCain's central and only argument in this campaign is that Barack Obama lacks the experience to be President of the United States. McSame, who is a cancer survivor and who turns 72 years old today picks a vice presidential nominee who has been governor of a small state for less than two years and prior to that was mayor of a town to be one heartbeat away from the Presidency. It just shows how shallow McSame really is. He doesn't really care about America just winning at all costs.

In spite of what you may think of Barack Obama's qualifications to be President, Sarah Palin is significantly less qualified, even hugely so. Talk about undermining the central theme of your campaign.

BTW, FAUX news says that Palin does have foreign policy experience since Alaska is next door to Russia.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some Speech

Well that was some speech. I think any doubts among Dems that Obama was not going to engage John McCain in the upcoming campaign were pretty well put to rest tonight. Obama pretty much covered all the bases and addressed every so called issue that the McCain campaign has been slinging out there. Bring it On!

Slow Food Nation's Declaration

In celebration of the start of Slow Food Nation, the Declaration for Healthy Food and Agriculture is now available on the web. I wholeheartedly endorse it. You should read it and if you agree endorse it as well.

Following is a draft version of the declaration, which was taken from their site before the official version was unveiled. It was written by people such as Michael Pollan, Mark Winne, and Alice Waters. Need I say more?
We, the undersigned, believe that a healthy food system is necessary to meet the urgent challenges of our time. Behind us stands a half-century of industrial food production, underwritten by cheap fossil fuels, abundant land and water resources, and a drive to maximize the global harvest of cheap calories. Ahead lie rising energy and food costs, a changing climate, declining water supplies, a growing population, and the paradox of widespread hunger and obesity.

These realities call for a radically different approach to food and agriculture. We believe that the food system must be reorganized on a foundation of health: for our communities, for people, for animals, and for the natural world. The quality of food, and not just its quantity, ought to guide our agriculture. The ways we grow, distribute, and prepare food should celebrate our various cultures and our shared humanity, providing not only sustenance, but justice, beauty and pleasure.

Governments have a duty to protect people from malnutrition, unsafe food, and exploitation, and to protect the land and water on which we depend from degradation. Individuals, producers, and organizations have a duty to create regional systems that can provide healthy food for their communities. We all have a duty to respect and honor the laborers of the land without whom we could not survive. The changes we call for here have begun, but the time has come to accelerate the transformation of our food and agriculture and make its benefits available to all.

We believe that the following twelve principles should frame food and agriculture policy, to ensure that it will contribute to the health and wealth of the nation and the world. A healthy food and agriculture policy:

1. Forms the foundation of secure and prosperous societies, healthy communities, and healthy people.

2. Provides access to affordable, nutritious food to everyone.

3. Prevents the exploitation of farmers, workers, and natural resources; the domination of genomes and markets; and the cruel treatment of animals, by any nation, corporation or individual.

4. Upholds the dignity, safety, and quality of life for all who work to feed us.

5. Commits resources to teach children the skills and knowledge essential to food production, preparation, nutrition, and enjoyment.

6. Protects the finite resources of productive soils, fresh water, and biological diversity.

7. Strives to remove fossil fuel from every link in the food chain and replace it with renewable resources and energy.

8. Originates from a biological rather than an industrial framework.

9. Fosters diversity in all its relevant forms: diversity of domestic and wild species; diversity of foods, flavors and traditions; diversity of ownership.

10. Requires a national dialog concerning technologies used in production, and allows regions to adopt their own respective guidelines on such matters.

11. Enforces transparency so that citizens know how their food is produced, where it comes from, and what it contains.

12. Promotes economic structures and supports programs to nurture the development of just and sustainable regional farm and food networks.

Our pursuit of healthy food and agriculture unites us as people and as communities, across geographic boundaries, and social and economic lines. We pledge our votes, our purchases, our creativity, and our energies to this urgent cause.

New Toys and Gardening

Home Despot sent me a 10% off coupon and I used it this morning to replace my old DeWalt cordless drill with a new 14.6 volt one. I also bought a hand held grinder and cut off tool to do some adjustments on the deck awning to accommodate the new awning which is just slightly smaller than the old, original one. Going to play with the new tools and get some chores done. Madam will be pleased and I will receive much praise for having the new awning up when she gets home and with luck there will be no mention of the $200 bucks I dropped at HD this morning.

The rain and now sun has stimulated the garden in a big way. The radishes need to be thinned and the peas need some support as they grew over an inch last night and at this rate will want something to grow on in a few days. Since I have no urgent work type work I will take this opportunity to get it all done. I found some neat plastic fencing at HD that will be perfect for the support and a bonus is it is green and made from recycled stuff. Cool!

Oh, and the DeWalt rep was in the store this morning and in addition to guiding me to best deal on the tools he gave me a nice set of assorted bits and drivers for buying some his tools. Nice!

Except for dropping a new roll of toilet paper in the toilet this morning everything is going well so far. And yes, I politely declined the proferred tube steak at the store entrance this morning.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Still Raining Off and On

But that's good! Some of the seeds I planted Saturday afternoon have found they like the constant water. The radishes are an inch high already...I think I actually can see them grow! The snow peas are just before popping out of the ground as are the sugar snaps. No sign of the carrots but they are awful tiny seeds.
Did a pretty good job at Whole Foods today on the mid week shopping. Locally grown apples and white peaches(gloriously sweet). Locally produced eggs and milk. No meat that meets my requirements available so it is veggie night tonight. A few tomatoes left and a couple of peppers from the garden so it may just be rabbit food. There is always pasta but I am trying to seriously limit my carbs right now. I kind of overdid the croissants and bread while in France and I need to get my blood sugar back in control.

Hillary Rocked

I couldn't stay awake to watch Hillary last night but I just finished watching her speech this morning. Absolutely perfect and exactly the speech she needed to give. I would have been happy to support her candidacy and the speech shows why. Now we need to do as she says and support Obama.

Update: I been thinking..yeah I know I shouldn't strain myself...but I have been asking myself what really did Hillary in. She and her crew, she could have done a better job with staff, made some serious gaffs but not enough I believe to sink her. I think if she had voted against the Authorization to Use Force in Iraq she would have been the Democratic nominee today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Choose The Positive

I feel the need to follow up on my screed below, It Ain’t Pretty. Some of the feedback, both in comments and email, has given me the impression that some may think the situation is hopeless and that we are all doomed regardless of our choices in the ballot box. While I was trying to be realistic and firmly believe everything I said in the post I am not giving up. On the contrary, I believe that the better we understand the position we and the rest of the world are in the more effectively we can make the changes needed to secure a better future for us all.

We can see the enemy and yes “enemy” is the correct word. The sad truth of the matter is best acknowledged by repeating the most famous of lines from Walt Kelly’s brilliant comic strip Pogo "we have met the enemy and he is us." Yes, we are the enemy but we are the saviors as well.

All of the problems and challenges we are facing are the result of our own failures as responsible participants in the dance of life and as such can be corrected by addressing our failures.
The good news is that we are already seeing the tide shift. More and more of us are taking to heart the knowledge that we are not just individuals “doing our own thing” but instead part of a greater whole. There is increased awareness that our individual small actions of waste are each contributing to the degradation of our environment. More and more of us are recycling, looking for local food and organic options at the market. More and more of us are seeing that the war, aggression, poverty, lack of health care and hunger affecting any of us is affecting us all. We are beginning to recognize that each of us is part of a larger world and that what affects one affects all. We are beginning to understand that the gospel of man’s dominion over nature is a lie and that man is directly and intimately connected to the world and that ignoring Gaia and our connection with her is done at our peril.

So, yes our country and our world is currently being ravaged in the ever increasing search for growth at all costs. Our lives are slowly being poisoned by the global corporations in search of short term profit, the legacy be damned and yes our leadership and our government is very nearly wholly owned by these same corporate masters. But, again the good news is that we are becoming aware of exactly how we are being used and abused by these global hegemonies and it is much to their chagrin that we are. We are coming to realize that we are letting them lead us to ruin and we are beginning to look and find ways to cheat them of their dominion. We let them lead us this far down the road to doom but we do not have to continue to blindly follow. Each of us has dozens of chances each day to strike out on a different path. Each of us has the ability to say no every time we are asked to take a step down the path to our own destruction. You can say no to war. You can say no to continued dependence on oil. You can say no to continued subsidies to giant agribusiness. You can say no to the refusal to address national healthcare. You can say no to every item in your grocery that is full of High Fructose Corn Syrup and the hundreds of other manufactured poisons that we are being told is food. You can say no to the beef, pork and chicken in the grocery that has been tortured and poisoned so that you can have cheap and unhealthy meat.

The giant corporations that are killing us and imprisoning us with our dependence on unhealthy food, useless products, clothes made with slave labor in some foreign country by our brothers and sisters and tying us to them with a dependence on cheap energy live by your dollar and nothing else. Deprive them of their source of power and we will win the battle for our future and free ourselves in the process.

We have been fed a giant lie and we have bought it completely. It is a lie that we can continue to grow, continue to consume with abandon and not pay a price. Our planet can sustain us all but not at an ever increasing pace of consumption and waste. We have to find the balance and it will demand from each of us some sacrifice. It will not, however, demand us to sacrifice peace, our humanity, or our place in the universe. We can live within the limits the universe sets on us but we do have to make the choice to do so.

So the last word is vote. Not only at the ballot box but in every choice you make each day. Choose to say no the status quo. Choose to say yes to change for the better. Choose the positive. Finally, remember always that if it wasn’t food when your Grand Mother was a little girl then there is a good chance it is not food today.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What's Left of Fay

What's left of Fay is making a big impression in these parts. It is currently raining buckets and we are under a tornado and flash flood warning. I can ignore the flood warning as I am at the highest place in the county but I'm going to keep my ear out for the sirens just in case. I don't have to go out it in it and I won't. There are some very wet squirrels, birds and bunnies cruising the back yard right now.

Special Request

I am relaying a special request from the Department of Homeland Security.

To all Terrorists and Potential Terrorists;

Due to recent problems with our Terrorists database which surely had your name in it, probably. We are pleased to announce that one of our highly paid consultants has managed to get a copy of MS Access running on our system. We are asking each of you to please re-register at your earliest convenience.

Thank you,
Your DHS Data Team.

It Ain't Pretty

Here we are on the first day of the Democratic National Convention where we Democrats will anoint Barack Hussein Obama as our candidate for President. It’s as good a day as any and maybe even better than most to remind ourselves of one very fundamental thing. America is now a totalitarian state and the elections are an illusion.

If you don’t believe me try looking around you and really seeing what the American dream has become. Look beyond the “shiny” stuff, the glitzy cars and Iphones. Look beyond the fundamentally meaningless commercial "circle-jerk". Look beyond all the energy and lives being wasted and dedicated to making the almighty profit and producing nothing of lasting value. Look beyond every shelf in your grocery store and the chemical and poison laden bottles and boxes there that our corporate owners tell us is our food. Look beyond the millions and millions of pounds of landfill that we import daily from across the globe. Ask yourself which God we truly honor in this country and you will see that is the economy. Not the economy defined as a successful and happy people. Not the economy defined as a healthy people. Not the economy defined as a people with a secure future but the economy defined by our corporate masters as one of profit and growth at all costs. Pause and ask yourself why it is necessary for our corporate owned state to increasingly police us and spy on us. Ask yourself why it is necessary for Americans to represent 25 percent of the world’s prison population while we only represent 6 percent of the earth’s population.

As I said above and how I truly wish it were not so, the elections are an illusion. The corporate trusts and the government which they own dearly love elections. Elections give us all the illusion that we have a choice. Elections make “We the People” think we actually have some say in how we live and what our future holds. Elections give the rubes an illusion of control over their lives. Elections keep us deflected for a while and away from actually looking at the sorry state we are in. Look at the reality and know that if elections truly mattered and we really had some choice how things would be. We would have a fair comprehensive national health care plan. We would not be spending huge sums on a military larger than the rest of the worlds combined. We surely wouldn’t be at war. We would surely have healthy and wholesome food for ourselves and our children. We would surely be looking at a positive future for our children instead of one dying in our own poisons. The hard reality is that America is already a second class nation, no health care, no real guarantee of a future any different than a continuing and increasingly difficult struggle with one another for a decent job and/or enough money so as not to starve and keep some semblance of roof over our heads. Except for a very small percentage of wealthy Americans there is no future of comfort, freedom or security.

And so here we are and with our illusion of the big "debate" between Obama and McCain. More simply it is really an emotional drama of "good guy" versus "bad guy" hidden in a plethora of fundamentally non-issues like taxes, half-assed healthcare, whether we should stop the insanity of war, whether we should stop poisoning ourselves and on and on. The real issues are global and ecological and not local to our own little part of the universe. However the capitalists who sponsor both the candidates don’t want the discussion to deal with the truth. Having an open debate about the disappearance of our fundamental resources or the fact that our extravagantly wasteful American lifestyle must dramatically change if we are to survive will hurt profits. Goddess forbid that the notion of an inexhaustible world of resources and constant "economic growth" is ever challenged by the reality of survival of the species.

So yeah, I will cast my vote for Obama and Biden. But as I do so I will do so with the knowledge that in the current state of affairs and in spite of Obama’s best efforts or intentions that, sooner or later, the American and maybe even the world economy will collapse completely. I’m going with Obama because I think he is less likely to attack some other nation just for the hell of it and on the whole I think he is the smarter of the two. I am, however, not fooled into believing that there are two or more political parties from which to choose. There is only one party and that is the party of big business just wearing multiple masks. Look behind the masks and you will find big agriculture, big chemical, big coal, big oil, big defense, big finance or big something else.

For lack of a better way of saying it, We Americans are in for a “Come to Jesus Moment”. We are on the brink, be it years or decades, from serious social and financial collapse. The millions of homes currently in foreclosure are a symptom. The soaring national debt is a symptom. The millions of Americans without health care is a symptom. The lack of available nutritious food is a symptom. The increasing demand for more oil and cheaper oil is a symptom and there are hundreds more. The fact that millions of us are actually paying more for water than gasoline is a symptom. Most Americans cannot believe that this can happen and a terrible level of disaster will be required before most will come to the realization that something is deeply wrong with their nation and in many ways the world as it is. We are probably a decade or more away from this collapse but it will happen. There is no way the current level of growth and resource depletion can continue. Don’t expect any of the candidates to seriously address these issues in the coming months because to do so is political suicide. All we can do is vote and hope and continue to push for meaningful change in our own individual ways.

Don’t forget to vote!

Update: I should really mention that some of this is or has been triggered by recent posts by Joe Bageant heterodyned with Michael Pollan and others.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rains Here

Finally getting some serious rain from TS Fay. Real frog strangler going on right now at 830p and enough to block part of the satellite TV signal. Few showers today but nothing to right home about but this one is going strong. The Sugar Snap(mangetout) peas, Snow Peas, carrots and radishes I planted yesterday are enjoying a nice drink and this will surely wake them and get them going. I can just see them now...snuggling down in the soil and soaking up the water and thinking "show time!".

Nice Sunday meal today with the daughter and son-in-law. Just as I threatened, along with the Poulet Rouge I served fried green tomatoes. Believe it or not SIL had never eaten any and he claims to be a southern boy. Never mind, he is anointed now and has added FGT to his repertoire. Daughter still won't eat them but if you heat a vegetable it is verbotten in her book. The rest of the menu consisted of butter peas and buttermilk cornbread with deep dish apple pie and ice cream for dessert. BTW the red chicken was very nice and well worth the trouble to acquire. Yes, there was less breast meat than on an industrial chicken but the thighs were bigger and the legs as well. Most of all it tasted remarkedly like chicken!

Can't believe its another Monday tomorrow...if I don't see you before breakfast, help yourself to a croissant. ( excuse the serving dish it was a bit primitive in the farmhouse)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weekend Rambles

Just a light sprinkle early this morning from Fay. Sure would like to relieve some you Redneck Riviera of some of that rain. We need it in the worst way. Doesn't look like there will be enough rain or whatever to keep me out of the garden today. Been overcast and windy for the last two days and I keep expecting something only to be disappointed.

The mouthbreathers have appeared in the neighborhood as I say two McSame signs in yards this morning on my walk. Didn't notice them yesterday. Don't these people know that these signs for McAncient are just like putting up a sign in the yard that says "I'm stupid and proud of it!"?

Got up early this morning and went to Whole Foods to try and score a Poulet Rouge Fermier. They only get a few each Friday from the grower and they go quickly. Lucked out this morning as I got one of the remaining three. You can check out the link above but they are a heritage breed from France and are grown in as close to a "free-range" environment as you are likely to find unless you grow your own or your neighbor does. From what I have been able to ascertain these folks get as close as is possible in today's industrial food business to getting it right. The chickens sure do taste a lot better than even the premium "Rosie" chickens now showing up in the markets.

Going to pull up all the tomatoes and put in my fall garden this weekend. There are still a few green tomatoes hanging on but not enough to worry about and besides one has to have at least one batch of Fried Green Tomatoes in a summer. Maybe with the red chicken tomorrow.

Started the other book I bought for the trip yesterday...Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, I have read his previous The Power of Now and thought it worthwhile. My only argument with him is that he makes tackling your ego sound like some kind of simple intellectual excercise instead of the lifelong experience it actually is. Nevermind...if it gets people thinking about the subject of overcoming our ego's and actually moving in that direction I have no problem with it. The reality is that he is making me refocus and that is something I need with the world in the state it is in. It seems everything out there is trying to reinforce the false, ego driven state. This can't hurt.

Hope all you folks in the Florida panhandle have your pants rolled up and your storm kits stocked. Be safe.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Incompetence Cubed

Not only are we drowning in misguided and ineffective attempts at national security but the tools the idiots in charge are using are making the failures more rapidly reachable. Contractors, who are obviously completely incompetent, are making millions of dollars on a completely useless database system. Read this from the Wall Street Journal and if doesn't make you cry or laugh then I worry. Here are a few choice bits....

The government's main terrorist-watch-list system is hobbled by technology challenges, and the $500 million program designed to upgrade it is on the verge of collapse, according to a preliminary congressional investigation.

The database, which includes an estimated 400,000 people and as many as 1 million names, has been criticized for flagging ordinary Americans. Now, the congressional report finds that the system has problems identifying true potential terrorists, as well.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of "potentially vital" messages from the Central Intelligence Agency have not been included in the database, known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, congressional investigators found.
The current system "has been crippled by technical flaws" and the system designed to replace it, dubbed Railhead, "if actually deployed, will leave our country more vulnerable than the existing yet flawed system today," Rep. Miller wrote.

Railhead was supposed to be completed by year's end but has been delayed. Nearly half of the 72 so-called "action items" for the program were delayed as of June, congressional investigators found.

In recent weeks, the government has fired most of the 862 private contractors from dozens of companies working on the Railhead project, and only a skeleton crew remains, one congressional aide said. The two leading contractors on the program are Boeing Co. and SRI International. Calls to officials of Boeing and SRI were not immediately returned.

862 private contractors doing database development and not one of them capable of doing a web search on search engines? None of them have ever heard of Google? This kind of information is not very hard to find. Jeebus how much money has been paid for this cock-up?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back to Work

Today is my first day back to work. Only 208 mail messages in my inbox this morning but fortunately most can be read quickly and deleted and require no direct action otherwise. Still a little bit jet lagged but bouncing back pretty quickly. I did have a dentist visit this morning for the semi annual cleaning and check but that's done so I can't avoid actually working any longer.

Read a really good book on the long plane flights each way "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. A very interesting book on how our food gets to market and some of the alternatives. Some good thinking and writing on vegetarianism, our own responsibility for how our food is grown, processed and handled and some really depressing discussion on how most of the meat in the U.S. is raised and brought to market. It really confirms my decisions to stop buying meat that is not locally and humanely raised. If I can't get it then I won't buy it and will become vastly more of a vegetarian than I have been. I did the vegetarian thing for a while back in the seventies when I was heavy into the Zen thing and while I am not going to stop eating meat all together it sure looks that it will be rather diminished. The thing is I like meat(especially pork) but I really am having more and more trouble accepting how it is being produced in the U.S. One of the great things about most of Europe is that they haven't varied from the more traditional ways of raising beef and pork and except for the big Danish pork producers, most beef in Europe (that is not from the U.S.) is raised on pasture. The same goes for chickens and you can definitely tasted the difference.

The experience of the last week of living in the farming country of Normandy surrounded by farms growing food, including beef, pork and chicken in the traditional ways sort of produced some kind of synergy with respect to my thinking. The other thing that Pollan points out very clearly in his book is that the new "industrialized organic industry" (think Whole Foods) are very carefully decieving us about how the organic and naturally produced food we buy is really produced. The marketing image created by these new giant organic producers is that of happy cows in pastures producing our organic milk when in truth a large percentage of the organic milk in the U.S. is produced by cows in big concrete feed lots eating organic hay and silage and most never see a green pasture. The same with "Free Range" eggs and chicken. Sure for a couple of weeks of their short lives the chickens have access to a small yard but invariably ignore it as it has no food and water. The free range chickens are raised just like all the other broiler chickens, they only difference is their organic food and no antibiotics. Looking forward to finding and reading Pollan's other book on food "In Defense of Food" which apparently was on the NYT bestseller list for a while.

The garden suffered mightily while we were gone. The neighbor picked some tomatoes and peppers but no one watered and most of the plants are on their last legs. If the weather permits I think it will be all gone this weekend and I will start the fall garden of peas, carrots and radishes and a little bit later some Mesculun. I think I am also going to try and resurrect my BIG garden this fall and do the real deal next spring. While the tiny raised bed is easy to care for and allows for some intensive gardening you just can't plant enough to really do anything with like can or freeze. I also really miss seeing the nice long rows of beans, mountains of squash and cukes and all the rest of the stuff and if I am going to be reducing the amount of animal protein in my diet then I had better get some vegetables in the ground.

Well, I had better tackle all the email now and actually get some work done. We're supposed to get some of the rain from Fay this afternoon and tomorrow which will be nice.

We'll chat some more later.

Update: Almost forgot the picture. This is how you can buy your meat in the UK and Europe. The village has a market day or two a week and local folks sell local stuff. This is the the stall where I bought some of the fabulous English smoked bacon for the required "bacon sarnies" and where I bought some great local pork sausage for the BBQ after the wedding. This is on the Thursday market day in Bishop's Stortford but you will find some other bloke selling similar wares at every village market day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

While I Catch Up

I have a mountain of mail to go through this morning but I got a good nights sleep so I am ready. I know there are some impending bills that need to be paid and the bank accounts need to be updated. There is also the two weeks worth of email to go through. So while I get caught up with life you can enjoy a picture or two taken in the streets of old Le Mans. The first is a street corner corner known as "Le Pilier Rouge" and the other is just across the way. I got a bunch of them.


You can click on the picture if you want a closer look.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back In the USA

I'm back! Good trip. Got to see a lot of France that I have never seen. Everyone is exhausted and I will post a bit more in the morning when I am actually lucid. The picture is of the little farmhouse/bungalow where we have been staying for the last phone, TV, Internet, English paper. Surrounded by fields and cows. Very restful.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

All Hitched

The happy couple are on their way to Portugal for the honeymoon. The day after BBQ was nice though it rained all day off and on and wouldn't you know this morning is clear and sunny and warm. That's English weather. Tomorrow we are off to France and another adventure. I hope it is not too much like camping. The English idea of a proper shower leaves a lot to be desired and don't get me started on toilets. You would think that the nation that invented the indoor flush toilet could have done a better job of perfecting same but...
Tonight we are going to Jamie Oliver's Dad's pub here in Bishop's Stortford so that will be fun and at least I will be getting my required pub visit in while I am here.
Tomorrow I go "Internetless" until I am back in the States the 19th, at least as far as I know. See you in a week or so.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Safe and Sound

Here safe and sound. Surprise, it's raining. Friday is the big wedding day and everybody is running around on errands of all sorts. The only job for me was dinner last night (vegan minestrone) which kept me out of everyone's way. It sure is nice to be in a town where you can take a quick walk around the corner and get what you need for dinner. If it weren't for the church in the way I could see Sainsbury's from the kitchen window. We're just one street off the high street and up the hill so it is very convenient. It is also quite nice to be able to all of your shopping in one store as both wine and liquor are sold in the grocery. Lovely.
Thanks for all the good travel wishes. We'll see you later.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Quiet Around Here

It's going to be quiet around here for a few weeks while Madam and I go to a wedding in the UK and then take a little holiday in Saint Mars du Desert in France. A friend has a house there and it won't cost anything but food and wine and sharing the petrol cost with some friends. Can't beat the price.

With the DHS now taking laptops without probable cause and searching them who knows what I have decided not to take mine this time. I will just do without for a couple of weeks. I have my BlackBerry(and I am having 2nd thoughts about it) and can post in an emergency or something but otherwise I'm going cold turkey.

You guys place nice while I am gone. We are supposed to be back the 19th so we'll see you then.

Update: BTW help yourself to anything you find in the garden. Some nice bell peppers are almost ready and of course there are plenty of tomatoes. Shame to have them go to waste.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Obama Makes Another Misstep

Obama has modified his stance on offshore drilling:

Barack Obama said Friday that he would be willing to compromise on his position against offshore oil drilling if it were part of a more overarching strategy to lower energy costs.

“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,” Obama told The Palm Beach Post early into a two-day swing through Florida.

“If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage – I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done,” Obama said.

I know that there are people who are suffering because of high gas prices. It is not hurting me as a percentage of my income as hard as it is hitting millions of people in the U.S. right now and not nearly as hard as it has hit people in the Europe and the U.K. for years. I want to see the price of gas come down as much as the next guy when it is my turn at the pump but the reality is that we need to recognize that it is a finite resource and it is going to run out some day. They aren't making any more! Not only is it a finite resource but it is a dirty one and we are choking on it and will soon be roasting ourselves because of it.

Here is the thing...I don’t want to see gas prices come down because we’re drilling and finding more. We in the United States are finally getting a taste of what it’s been like in Europe and the rest of the world for a long time. The result of the high gas prices in Europe is cleaner cities, abundant and affordable public transportation and far less dependence on foreign oil.
My problem with this is that I think democrats should be solidly be on the side of finding alternative energy. Rising gas prices have made a difference. I’ve noticed a lot more people riding MARTA in Atlanta – a LOT more. I’d be willing to bet many of these people were like me, before I made a commitment to figuring out the system and how to make it work. Pain works.

There will never be improvements made in mass transit, no one will ever start investing in wind energy, and no one will be pushing for plug-in hybrids or electric cars if gas remains cheap and by European standards $4.00 gas is cheap, cheap. Now with gas at $4.00, we’re starting to seriously talk about alternative energy sources. We’ve even got T. Boone Pickens, a big-time oil guy, completely investing himself in it. Yeah, I know he thinks he’ll make a fortune off it but I really don’t care as long as we all get to benefit. If he’s the one who makes it happen, then I’ll pay him instead of some Arab sheik . We cannot drill our way out of this mess and the sooner we bite the bullet and start on the path to alternative energy the better.

Again, I would like to see the price of oil come down, but NOT because we’re drilling an pumping more of it. I want to see it come down because we don’t need it and we let that nasty old law of supply and demand kick in.

Obama’s new position is wrong. We Democrats need to stand up and insist that we turn our backs on foreign oil and end our dependence. There should be no compromise. Drilling for oil along our coasts at great expense, environmental risk and marginal reward still 20 or more years down the road is insane at best and stupid at worst. Drilling for more oil is a false god that will lead us away from the true path which is finding non-polluting and renewable energy resources.

Your Papers Citizen

It's only a matter of time before it's "Your papers citizen?". Steve at YDD has the dope but let's just say the Department of Hopeless Insecurity has just lowered the bar one more time. Here is a snip but you really need to read the whole thing at Steve's.

Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.
The policies state that officers may "detain" laptops "for a reasonable period of time" to "review and analyze information." This may take place "absent individualized suspicion."
The policies apply to any and everything that can store digital or analog information such as flash drives, IPods, cell phones, BlackBerry's you name it. Notice they have just brushed aside "probable cause" and "unreasonable search" with nary a sniffle for our lost rights.

Madam and I are heading across the pond on Tuesday and this little jewel made me decide to leave the laptop at home. The Fallenmonk will go dark for a couple of weeks unless someone wants to volunteer to play in my sandbox while I am away.