Saturday, June 29, 2013

Gas Price Goes Up Monday

I'm reminded that Monday the price of gasoline will go up by 3.5 cents due to an increase in the state gas tax. Best buy your next tank of gas by Sunday.

The oil company profit per gallon varies between 7 to 25 cents. State and federal taxes take up around 70 cents per gallon. Despite that, I'm sure the greedy oil companies will be blamed for the price increase, assuming anybody notices.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Livestock Antibiotic Overuse

I rarely agree with Senator Dianne Feinstein on anything but you won't find me arguing against her effort to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock. I'm not so sure we need to make a literal federal case out of this...or maybe we do?

I've actually been thinking about this fairly often lately. It bothers me that animals are routinely given antibiotics as a prophylactic measure. This not only is believed to lead to diseases resistant to antibiotics, but I don't really like the idea of eating meats full of antibiotics.

I realize most science nowadays seems based on some sort of hysteria, but it seems common sense to me you don't use antibiotics unless really necessary and the bill in question still allows use of antibiotics to treat disease. I'd be interested in hearing arguments against Feisntein's proposal.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dems Who Voted For DOMA

Reason magazine has a list of the Democrats (still in office) who originally voted for the Defense Of Marriage Act. The shameless part is the statements made by some after it being declared unconstitutional. They act as if they never voted for it in the first place.

Monday, June 24, 2013

We Need A Dictator

The recent poll showing most Americans wouldn't mind having a dictator in charge of the country doesn't surprise me. Keep in mind that many a truth is said in jest.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Run, Eddie, Run!

Ed Snowden has reportedly left Hong Kong, or has he? Some say that might be a ruse. Hong Kong officials refused to give him up, supposedly not satisfied the U.S. request met guidelines of Hong Kong law:

"Since the documents provided by the U.S. government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR government has requested the U.S. government to provide additional information ... As the HKSAR government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong."

Hmmm...that almost sounds familiar. Well, not exactly, but that was kind of the runaround that the Afghan Taliban gave us when we asked them for Osama Bin Laden. When they balked at turning him over, we attacked. Shouldn't we attack Hong Kong then?

Last word I have is that he arrived in Russia and might be departing for another country. Here's your chance to show your stuff by correctly guessing where Snowden might finally end up:

Where will Ed Snowden eventually end up? free polls 
Run, Eddie, RUN!


Public Shaming

Reason magazine has an article on public shaming for punishment that got me to thinking. The writer thinks it's not consistent or predictable, thus unfair.

I'll agree for the most part. I've written here before I think it's wrong to publish names and photographs of drunk drivers when they haven't yet been convicted. I'm not sure it's fair to publish photographs even after conviction.

If nothing else, I'd like to think one gets caught and convicted for a crime, punishment is meted out and after the punishment those convicted can try to get their lives back together. That might be much more difficult if you have photos of you all over the internet.

In the case of men caught soliciting prostitution, that's an outrageous violation of privacy- pasting a guy's picture all over the papers for something that's the personal business of the guy and gal in question and shouldn't be illegal to begin with. Sadly, that seems to be one use of public shaming that's accepted by most.

One area where I might disagree with the writer is in regards public shaming for those that don't pay their bills, many of whom are simply dishonest people in the first place. Add to that those that regularly write checks without money to cover them. I'd love to see those deadbeats have their fifteen minutes (or more) of fame.

Sorry. I've just known too many of those types through the years. There's often no way to get back at them other than shame. While I agree public shaming can be excessive in many other cases, it seems totally appropriate for those that deliberately don't pay bills or otherwise try to rip people off.

Naturally, nobody else seems to even be considering shame as a way of dealing with such people, yet shaming those involved in prostitution is ok.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Snowden Petition Passes 100K Goal

That White House petition to pardon Ed Snowden has passed its goal of 100,000 signatures in just a couple weeks. Well done, all. Be interesting to see how the White House replies to it.

Keep spreading the link to the petition around. The more signatures the better.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Petition to Pardon Edward Snowden

Here's one of those White House petitions to pardon Ed Snowden, the guy who revealed details about the National Security Agency's domestic spying program. I signed it. They need 13,737 more signatures to reach their goal of 100,000.

Not sure how to explain why I'd sign that petition while I wouldn't sign a similar one for Bradley Manning, the guy who dumped all the secret files to Wikileaks. I suppose it's because Manning's action seemed more to me like thoughtless vandalism as opposed to Snowden's release of information Americans should have been made aware of.

Not sure if Manning's information was all that damaging to the country. I'm pretty sure Snowden's wasn't, with the exception of making some in government look bad. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't believe Snowden damaged U.S. intelligence gathering capability. It was no surprise to me that domestic phone records were being collected. I'm sure it wasn't a surprise to any terrorists, either.

America's Worst Charities

Here's a list of the 50 worst American charities. The defining criteria being those that spent more than they should have on fundraising.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Almost Summer Garden Update

Spent some time this last winter clearing out not just the morning glory that had been taking over the vegetable garden area, but also arum, another perennial that had established itself in the area through my neglect. I know I didn't get it all but thought I could give the veggie garden another try. Here's where it's at now:

The bed in the front center of the picture is fava beans I planted over a month ago. They're doing pretty well. What you can't really see in there is the potatoes.

One potato kept popping up in that bed over the years. I pretty much let it go but dug it up this year to see what it looked like. One big potato and a bunch of smaller ones so I scattered them around and put them back in the ground. Now they're all growing. I'm gonna turn that into a full time potato bed after the fava beans are done.

This bed is off to the left of the above bed. I started some bush beans a few weeks ago. You can see them at the top of the bed. Snails got some of them already. About time to put a trellis up to support what's left of them.

That wide wet row below the beans is where I just planted turnips a week or so ago. They're just popping out of the ground now.

Lots of grass below that row still, despite having been turned over at least twice. I may turn it over again and plant something else later, or I may not. We'll see how things go.

This is on the far side of the fava beans in the first picture. Bush peas I started quite a while back are getting peas on them now. Doesn't look like a whole lot, though. I don't know if we'll be able to make an actual meal out of them. We'll probably just add them to something else, depending on how many peas we get.

That clump of green all by itself to the right is my zucchini. It's doing ok but way behind in growth. Had snails attack my starts early on. Then it just wouldn't grow while in the starter pot. Maybe the potting soil? Once I put it in the ground it took off at a good pace. I've never had such a hard time getting a zuke started.

On the far side of that last bed is another bed with bush peas on the left. They were started 2 or 3 weeks after the other row. You can barely see them but there's a row of onions to the right of the peas. Only half of them survived the snails and the cats laying on them.

To the right of that, under the water wand, is a week old bed of beets. They haven't sprouted yet. Not sure whether to call some of these rows or beds. They're maybe four inches wide at the bottom and I spread the seeds all over so they don't grow in a single line. Never tried it quite that way before. I figure it's a good compromise between row planting and planting a whole bed.

Hard to see but this is broccoli. Only five plants this year. Had a hard time getting them started and my best one died right after I put it in the ground. I actually have a head forming on one now which is a bit of a surprise. I was thinking they might "button" with it being so warm this year. Buttoning means they don't develop good heads.

If the rest get decent heads, the next question is whether they'll go to flower right away, which is known as bolting. That's what they do later in the summer when it's usually this warm. The heads form and almost get yellow flowers the same day. We'll see. I'm not expecting much from them.

There's also a small bed of beets between the two broccoli in the upper bed. Leaf miners are damaging the leaves but I've been using Neem oil. Hard to say how much it's helping but the miner damage might be being held in check.

In the far back corner I started a couple rows of carrots, something I haven't grown often if only because I've never done well with them. These Red Cored Chatenay sprouted real quick and seem to be doing well. The proof will be when they come out of the ground. Usually my carrots are small, not shaped very well and not real tasty.

That's a volunteer fava bean plant behind them from the beans I grew over the winter. I'll probably save the seed from it to grow more.

With the area we gained when the neighbors put in their lame fence, we decided we had room for some more artichokes. Connie started some from seed last fall. I believe we have eight good survivors now. One died after planting. Not sure what the problem was with that. These seem to be doing ok and a couple even have a single small artichoke now. This variety has purple artichokes. Not my choice but no big deal if they good for eating

Off to the left of the new fence is the area we used to have a large compost bin. The bin has since fallen apart. The area also became overgrown with morning glory and arum. I spent hours clearing the area out and have at least part of it mostly cleaned up, but I have to keep going back and pulling up more baddies.

Despite my herculean effort, all it takes is one little piece of morning glory root to start a new plant. They're still popping up but are easy to remove with everything else out of the way. You can see the back part is still overgrown. If I can keep this one area clear I'll plant here again. Maybe more artichokes? Of course, Stinker the cat likes it just the way it is.

Eventually, I'll have to start clearing out the area beyond. Believe it or not, that can actually be fun at times.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Our Unemployed Future

I actually agree- at least in part- with left wing economist Paul Krugman for a change. One of his commentaries is featured in the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat this morning. He writes about what happens when good jobs disappear and how nowadays it's just as likely that higher educated workers will lose their jobs as the less educated.

He brings up the subject of technology vs. jobs:

 "The McKinsey Global Institute recently released a report on a dozen major new technologies that it considers likely to be “disruptive.” Even a quick scan of the report's list suggests that some of the victims of disruption will be workers who are currently considered highly skilled, and who invested a lot of time and money in acquiring those skills. For example, the report suggests that we're going to be seeing a lot of “automation of knowledge work,” with software doing things that used to require college graduates. Advanced robotics could further diminish employment in manufacturing, but it could also replace some medical professionals."

I think robotics and technology is going to have a devastating effect on employment and even sooner than many expect. Maybe not so much in my lifetime, but surely in 20 or 30 years I foresee major problems as robots start manufacturing robots and technology takes over more and more human job functions.

I'm sure there might be some menial jobs that might be safe but even ones that come to mind will likely be hit hard by science and technology. Lawn guys, for instance; We already have automated lawn mowing machines that mow lawns non- stop using solar power. Eventually, one guy could have a few smart mowers that could have him doing the work of five conventional lawn guys.

And eventually someone will develop a computer that controls the smart mowers to mow lawns without any human input.

Never mind hybridizing and gene splicing that will develop lawns that need minimal, if any, mowing. There will be few jobs that are safe as we'll see artificial intelligence doing the bulk of the work in even developing technology.

Eventually, most will be out of work with no alternatives. Krugman's socialist dream won't likely be the utopia he sees it, but it may be the only alternative in a world where few real jobs for people exist. How else would we survive?

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Can't go too long without making a post, so this is it for today. A somewhat depressing video, imo, but one of my favorite songs sung by a hottie.

The band is Concrete Blond and the singer/bassist is Johnette Napolitano.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Freddy, circa 1974/75

Here's a picture of me and my dog Nika in Eureka back around 1975ish. I was probably 19 or 20 at the time and living at 502 West Del Norte Street, Apt#1. The worst place I ever lived. That house was torn down long ago and low income housing sits there today.

Picture was taken after I cut my hair and shaved off my beard and mustache. Hopefully Jim, the guy that sent me this, can find one of me in full hippie regalia.

And what about those weenie arms and no chest? Can't believe I let myself go like that. No more of that with me.

Some things never change, though. I dressed like a bum then, just as I do to this day.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Next 10 CA Cities To Go Down?

USA Today made predictions on which California cities will be the next to declare bankruptcy. No Humboldt County cities in the top ten, yet. The cities listed are:
  • Atwater
  • Azusa
  • Compton
  • Fresno
  • Hercules
  • Mammoth Lakes*
  • Monrovia
  • Oakland
  • San Jose
  • Vernon
Here's USA Today's explanation of why. Stephen Frank says, if your city is not on the list—it will be. I can't help but believe it if for no other reason they seemed to have left out two others that are already heading for trouble.

Rohnert Park has just declared a fiscal crisis because of public employee pension and health care costs eating up their general fund. That problem is likely to get worse.

The City of Sacramento's city council seems to have gone out of their way to add their city to the list. The budget they just passed all but guarantees significant deficits in the future.

Which city, if any, in Humboldt County will be the first to go on the list?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

ATF Sting On Craigslist?

I've noticed a lot of ads selling guns and gun stuff in the Craiglist Sporting Goods classifieds. Some are selling or trying to buy AR-15 rifles or parts. Saw one similar to this ad the other day. I'm not sure if it was by the same guy but same type of wording. In the one from the other day the guy said he was interested in buying guns or empty brass for various rifles.

I have some gun stuff I've been wanting to get rid of. I sent the guy an e-mail saying I had a bunch of empty shotgun hulls, shotgun wads and even 25 pounds of #6 lead shot he could have for free. You'd think he'd at least want the lead shot. Nope. He never replied. That seems strange as if he was willing to buy a bunch of stuff you'd think he'd certainly take it for free.

Makes me wonder if some of these gun and gun parts ads are some sort of law enforcement sting operation? Post an ad. Find out what the guy has and, if it seems as if it might be illegal, set up a meet.

If it was a sting, wouldn't they at least reply to e-mails and say they're not interested to give themselves an air of legitimacy? Either that, or the guy thought I was a spammer so ignored me?

Addendum: Interesting that I just checked the link to the ad I mentioned and that ad has been flagged for removal. That had shouldn't be illegal as he was offering non- working gun parts.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Partisanship vs. Spying

It comes as no surprise to me that Republican approval of NSA's broad based spying has declined with a Democrat in the White House. Nor is it any surprise that Democrat approval has increased with their man in charge. I notice this sort of thing all the time.

Reason's Mike Riggs has the details.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Feds Coming To The Rescue Over Eggs?

The Los Angeles Times reports a measure has been introduced in congress to prohibit California from enforcing a recently passed law that shuts off the flow of less expensive eggs into the state. That law being the result of Prop 2, the ballot initiative from a few years ago that required chickens to be raised in larger cages.

State legislators, knowing the California egg industry might collapse if people switched to less expensive out of state eggs, passed the law so Californians might have no choice but to buy California eggs.

I would have preferred a lawsuit filed against California by private entities, but this federal law will do, if passed. That's what the federal government is supposed to do, ideally, isn't it ? Protect our rights?

Our newly elected congressman, sleazebag Jared Huffman, was the sponsor of the California bill restricting import of eggs. Naturally, he's not happy. He calls it, " of the most overreaching acts of federal government.".

Nope.  Not at all. When a state tries to deprive its citizens of less expensive food, I should hope the feds would step in.

Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.) has it right: "The people of California have an absolute right to tell their producers in California how they're going to raise agricultural products...But that does not mean that they can ... without challenge by the Congress, say that no other product from any state can come in unless it complies with those regulations."

Yep. If the idiots in this state want to pass a law raising the price of locally grown eggs and put their egg industry in peril, that's fine, but they should have to stew in their own juices over that decision.

They should not be able to restrict the supply of foodstuffs from outside the state in an attempt to protect their ill advised vote. This is food we're talking about, after all. Not even North Korea restricts the types of food that comes into their country.

Some of the comments to the L.A. Times from those who think the state has the right to shut off the borders to food from other states are appalling. It's convinced me even more that we should be in a shooting war over this.

Friday, June 07, 2013

It's Yellow Jacket Season

I ran into my first yellow jacket nest in a while yesterday. Back when I first started doing yard work it seemed I ran into one nest a year for the first five years or so. I'd usually have no warning. I'd be working and all of the sudden start getting stung. After taking off running I'd come back and only then see the nest.

Sometimes you can't really see the nests as the wasps often nest underground. As far as I'm concerned their nests are one of the most hideous things around. Like something out of a horror movie. Ick!

The one I ran into yesterday was in a hedge I was working on near Eureka High School. Just by chance I'd decided to use the hedge trimmer extension on my Stihl brushcutter. That allowed me to stand back a ways from the area being cut.

If I'd been using my regular hedge trimmer, I would have been standing with my face almost right at the nest when the wasps came swarming out of it. As it was, I saw them swarm from a distance and was able to move away before they came after me. Saved by a random choice.

Probably my worst experience was 10 or so years ago. I was standing on a bed of ivy in Myrtletown while trimming it. I was under a tree and felt something over my left eye. Saw something there, too, but thought it was just a branch. Nope. Once that wasp over my left eye stung me I knew what was happening. I ran to the sidewalk real quick and there were yellow jackets all over my pants.

I got stung a few times in the face and arms. I'd dropped my string trimmer on the ivy over the nest and had to drag it away with a rake. What really got me was the owner came home just as I was getting my string trimmer back. I told her about the nest and she didn't even ask if I was ok. That kinda irked me. As if she thought it was my job to get attacked by a horde of yellow jackets.

At that place yesterday, the first thing the gal that owned the house asked was if I was ok. How nice!

I've heard that yellow jackets won't bite or sting if you leave them alone and don't make fast movements or loud noises. I'm not so sure about that. Some years ago I was laying on a towel out in my back yard sunbathing and a yellow jacket came up and stung me on the foot for no reason whatsoever. I was just laying there. It turned out their nest was ten or so feet away, in the ground with ivy covering it. You can be sure I showed that nest no mercy.

The first time I recall running into yellow jackets was up on Lord Ellis Summit just after I'd moved up here in the mid- 70s. We'd gone to visit someone that lived in a dome up there. We went walking down a trail and came to a viewpoint of sorts where you could get a real good look of Redwood Valley(?). My dog was on the edge of the drop off and all of the sudden she yelped and took off running back down the trail. That's when we noticed yellow jackets all over our pants. She'd been standing on a nest.

We took off running down the trail. I didn't get stung. I'm not sure if the person I was with did, but Nika, my dog, had them all over her. She'd found an abandoned car and curled up inside to hide. I coaxed her out and found yellow jackets had went through her heavy fur and were in bunches all over her skin still stinging her. I took a couple small branches and smashed the yellow jackets between them. We went back to the dome and Nika seemed none the worse but she must have been hurting.

Getting rid of the nests isn't too hard if they're out in the open. There are Wasp and Hornet sprays available at any number of stores. Spraying the nests at night when the wasps are sleeping is fairly easy and safe, assuming the nest is out in the open. I killed the wasps nesting in the ivy in my back yard by spraying the entrance repeatedly.

I've heard of people also just going out at night and smashing the nests which seems to work. I've seen a few smashed nests I assumed got that treatment. Saw a huge nest way up in a tree on Humboldt Hill years ago. Came by the place weeks later and it was in pieces on the ground. I was guessing as far up the tree as it was someone must have taken a shotgun and blasted it. Good idea.

The best way is to have the bees captured and used for medicine. I've read about this guy every now and then in the local papers. I guess he comes up here in June, assuming he has enough requests for wasp removal to make it worth his while. He captures them, stores them in dry ice and sells them to a lab that extracts their stinger poison to use in anti- toxins.

That's what we're going to try to do with the nest I ran into yesterday, if we can find the guy's phone number.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

97% of Scientists Agree....?

There was an opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee yesterday claiming the science regarding global warming was settled so a carbon tax was necessary- the claim also being thrown out that 97% of scientists agree man is causing global warming

The comments mostly disagreed, as did mine. One commentator posted a link to a technically oriented blog which, among other things, deals with climate change. One of those bloggers claims to have sent letters to some the scientists mentioned in the "97%" study. Three have returned answers so far. They disagree with their studies being classified as "endorsing AGW". Their explanations are included.

Wonder what the rest of the 97% might say?

Addendum: I just noticed that blog has a post on the new ice age scare from back in the 70s. A long list of related literature is included.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Fallability of Eyewitnesses

If this account in the Sacramento Bee is factual, it sure brings out how fallible eyewitness testimony can be.

Five prison guards were fired after an investigation over the beating of a handcuffed inmate. Three witnesses testified they saw the prisoner on the ground being kicked and beaten. The problem is physical evidence- including a statement from the prisoner himself- doesn't corroborate the witness testimony.

What little physical injury there was to the inmate isn't consistent with a brutal beating. The inmate himself seems to have said he wasn't beaten. The guards have been re- hired. So why did the witnesses insist they saw a brutal beating?

I'm not sure what was going on in their minds but I might have wrote here before that two people can watch the same incident and come to different conclusions. They can literally see different things happening. This has to be one of the more extreme examples of that.

Yahoo Mail Changes?

According to this news item Yahoo Mail changed as of Monday. If you don't upgrade to the new version, you'll eventually have to give up Yahoo Mail.

I don't see any change in my Yahoo Mail. Nor do I see any request to upgrade. Has anybody else's changed?

Funny that I switched to Gmail some time ago because of Yahoo's threats of an upgrade. Assuming it has been upgraded, I can't see any difference from the old version.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Who Is Taking Up Space In Jail?

There's been some recent discussion over at the Lost Coast Outpost regarding prison realignment and the release of recently arrested suspects from the county jail. The concern being that those released are then free to go back to the street and continue criminal activity.

One commentator suggested, as many of us have at one time or another, that if we just ended the drug war we should have plenty of space. I'm wondering how true that is? I suggested those in jail for "victimless crimes" might be already being released to make room for those deemed more a danger to society.

If that's true, that might make the ending the drug war= more jail space argument moot since our jail seems to still be full. This recent posting on the LCO got me to thinking about that, keeping in mind the suspect has only been arrested and not convicted of a crime. The guy gets arrested in possession of a stolen car and is booked and immediately released from jail.

I'm wondering what the composition of inmates in the jail was when this guy was booked in? Were there any drug or prostitution suspects being held while a suspected auto thief was released? It might make for some interesting reading to see who is being kept in the jail, who is released and the powers- that- be's thinking as to who stays and who goes.
Overcrowding in the jail really isn't something new. Seems to me it's happened off and on for decades. I recall one case from back during Terry Farmer's tenure as district attorney.

There was a repeat car thief in the area that kept getting arrested. He'd get caught, taken to jail, then immediately be released. This happened over and over again. Within hours of being released, he'd steal another car. It even made the Times- Standard.

Eventually, the powers- that- be talked to the judge that kept releasing him and he was finally held pending trial. That put at least a temporary end to his mischief.

I suspect with the influx of inmates to the jail from prisons, there's even less room available now so it would be interesting to see who is being released vs. who is staying at the jail nowadays. And are victimless crime suspects being held while suspected car thieves or burglars are released?