Archive for October, 2013

Itty Bitty Book Review: _ College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be_

29 October 2013

Andrew Delbanco hooked me on page three of his College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be when he lists what he thinks a college education should give a graduate. Instead of the usual list of skills or prattle about job opportunities, Delbanco sets down a few habits of mind:

1. A skeptical discontent with the present, informed by a sense of the past.
2. The ability to make connections among seemingly disparate phenomena.
3. Appreciation of the natural world, enhanced by knowledge of science and the arts.
4. A willingness to imagine experience from perspectives other than one’s own.
5. A sense of ethical responsibility. (3)

That list remains a highlight for me, but Delbanco’s historical information about America’s most venerable and venerated colleges and universities provides good context for thinking about where we are today.

Still, even if I’d read no further than page three, I’d still recommend College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be. The ability to write that list tells me that at least one other person shares my view of what should result from a solid liberal education.



One Man, One Vote?

25 October 2013

An article from The Stranger, a Seattle weekly, graphically displays the America we live in. One man, one vote? Not if a powerful corporation is a person. In that case, it’s one corporation, millions of votes. Unfortunately, way too few actual people read or investigate much of anything.

“Just Look behind the Curtain”

From what I hear from those who still live in my birth state, 522 will most likely be voted down. If so, chalk one up for the Masters. As one of the comments under the article says, “Rich corporations hate for the Serfs to have choices.”

Free speech collides with fairness and democracy. To quote the lead character in an old, old sit com, “What a revolting development this is.”

Damn, I’m mad.


Eyeless in the Gulf

21 October 2013

Not a good day for news of the oceans–

“Gulf Ecosystem in Crisis Three Years After BP Spill”

Moby Ick

21 October 2013

Once again, all I have to do is post someone else’s words.

“The Ocean Is Broken”
by Greg Ray

How’s the Water?

21 October 2013

Most viral emails/posts don’t interest me, but when I read this one, I realized that THESE are the folks who believe climate change is a viciously untrue liberal plot. That is, these folks simply don’t get outside enough and/or when they do, they expect it to be just like the inside, more specifically, their inside.


1. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”

2. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”

3. “On my holiday to Goa in India , I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”

4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”

5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”

6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”

7. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”

8. “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”

9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”

10. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”

11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”

12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”

13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”

14. “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort’. We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.”

15. “There were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”

16. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”

17. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”

18. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”

19. “My fiance and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”

To avoid these folks and save gas, we vacation at home.


Life without Chocolate?

18 October 2013

Considering what’s likely to happen to the food supply in the next few decades, I’m quite glad to be in my last decades of existence for almost all the foods I love appear on various lists of endangered edibles.

A few tuna are still around, but the mercury keeps me from indulging. Also, according to everything I’m reading, commercial fishing will be history before mid-century, and I don’t want contribute to moving that date closer.

Almonds, another favorite of mine, requires bee pollination. With the bee decline, “almond pollinator” may well be a future occupation for people. Boy, that’ll bring down the price of almonds, won’t it?

From what I’m reading, the general view is that food of any kind will be in dwindling and/or insufficient supply given climate change, soil depletion, fertilizer supply, insufficient fresh water, pollinator loss, you name it.

And then this morning, I read “Ghost Food: An Art Exhibit Shows How We Might Eat after Global Warming.”

Peanuts and chocolate–two of my favorite food groups. Life without chocolate? I don’t think so.


A Few Good Men

15 October 2013

With so much to revile and rant about, finding acts of strength and courage stand out even more brightly.

Helmet cam shows Medal of Honor recipient’s compassion

Army Captain Will Swenson was recognized for his heroism in eastern Afghanistan where in 2009 he and his men were ambushed, and Army commanders refused to provide combat reinforcements. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

Bone Appetit! The Skinny on a Fast Food Treat

12 October 2013

Once upon a time, I used to love chicken nuggets. Then I did some research. As a result, I stopped eating them about ten years ago. Here’s why:

“Veins, Bones, and Skin? Turns Out Chicken Nuggets Are Much, Much Grosser Than You Feared”

In fact, I feel a small wave of nausea now whenever I think of them. This is the result of companies stretching for the last cent of profit.

Still love them? Oh well. Bone appetit!


See before You–Issa King! All Hail!

11 October 2013

Entitlements enrage many, especially many elected Republicans. Social Security. Obamacare. OBAMACARE!!

However, when the government shut down, a strange thing happened. Republicans started complaining about how they and their districts were affected adversely. The first I heard about was the outrage over the closing of military memorials. Then others started popping up. For example, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), already notorious for the farm bill King Amendment, is unhappy with the impact on him and his: “Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said on Wednesday that he didn’t see why EPA couldn’t just continue writing a biofuels standard that the Congressman supports. ‘I don’t know that a month delay, perhaps, at EPA is something that is going to push us back that far.’” Then there’s Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who wanted a law suit he’d filed to move forward despite the shutdown. His request was met with this: “Federal Judge Slaps down Darrell Issa over Request for Shutdown Exception.”

I guess the answer is that these folks DESERVE their entitlements. NEED special attention. Their actions certainly suggest they are entitled to their entitlements. However, others, the little people, the lesser people, the lazy and probably welfare-oriented, possibly even wrongly hued folks, do not? People without privilege do not deserve their entitlements? Could it be as simple as that? Doesn’t the blatancy of the actions of people like King and Issa suggest they are exceptional and DESERVE special consideration, treatment others simply do not DESERVE?

Were this not so infuriating, I’d be laughing at such painfully revealing actions.

Once again, I find myself thinking about the French Revolution. I wonder why.


Rejecting Factual Inaccuracies–What a Concept!

10 October 2013

Paul Thornton, the letters editor of the Los Angeles Times announced that letters from climate change deniers will no longer be published on the op-ed page. “Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published,” said Thornton. “Saying ‘there’s no sign humans have caused climate change’ is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.”

Here’s the full story:
“L.A. Times Cuts off Climate-change Deniers”

Now, other newspapers, cowboy up.