Monday, June 27, 2011

Why I have come to hate flying

Pipe this story plucked from the LATimes:
The Transportation Security Administration stood by its security officers Sunday after a Florida woman complained that her cancer-stricken, 95-year-old mother was patted down and forced to remove her adult diaper while going through security.

Read the whole sorry thing here.
I have always maintained that a consortium of the country's finest minds could likely find some reliable indicators of possible saboteurs by reviewing the characteristics of perpetrators from the past and write logarithms to select that group for special scrutiny. Lots of 95-year-old women suffering from cancer? Then give that dangerous demographic closer attention in inspection lines. Or maybe there is some other common characteristic of terrorists. Brown eyes? Males under 40? Certainly not Middle Eastern provenance? We all know that it's not allowed to declare the frank evidence of our eyes, to use good old Anglo-Saxon empiricism. There are places I'd love to go, but I stifle the urge because the TSA procedures make me so angry, and I'm sure a lot of other people feel the same way. This incident seems particularly egregious thuggery on the part of this nasty bunch of putative public servants.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Joys of ...

This pic arrived by e-mail with a short message: 'Are you ready for me?!!! I'm on my way!! :-)'

The Girl and spouse are in the Dominican Republic for a week of beach time. Bless 'em, they have it coming, as they are as hard-working a couple as you will ever encounter. We get a week of Lily Jane, Oscar the weenie dog, and brother Dawson, a nice kid of eleven who bubbles with little-boy enthusiasms and preferences. The Girl advised me to bolt for the Summer White House, but it's as yet not habitable, so I'm busy here cooing, cursing, and cooking. The Vatican has called asking for one of my knucklebones, post mortem, of course ... something about sainthood. 'Pappy is a saint.' Lily laughs like crazy when she hears that and then says, 'Nooooooo.'

Got your Saturday night gloom?

OK, I guess I'll just have to bring it.
Al Jazeera is a fine source of international news and cover stuff that is too imortant to get much attention from American sources, occupied with Anthony Weiner's goofiness and an election that's a year in the future. The big Japanese nuclear catastrophe appears forgotten in the face of these more current happenings, but it's still out there and will be for a long time.
"Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera.
Japan's 9.0 earthquake on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. It also led to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns that forced evacuations of those living within a 20km radius of the plant.

Read all that here and put Al Jazeera English in your news bookmarks.
Then on an immediate level of catastrophe, the bad news that we may be at peak coffee. This is really tragic.
In the face of strong demand, coffee inventories have fallen to their lowest levels on record. A decade ago, coffee-making countries had stored some 55.1 million 60-kilogram bags. Last year, stocks fell to 13 million bags. The industry’s supply-demand balance is so bleak, in fact, that a scientist rocked trade forums last year by warning that the world is veering toward “peak coffee” – the point at which producers can no longer increase production to meet the world’s rising taste for the drink.

Read it here in The Globe and Mail of Toronto.
Nobody will write a crying-in-your-beer song about Fukushima, but without coffee to get our hearts pumping in the morning, all civilization may grind to a somnolent halt.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Whole Foods parking lot

I know Whole Foods for more than thirty years and have watched them go from a funny-smelling, hippie-granola kind of store to a grotesquely overpriced and utterly yuppie upscale operation. Long time ago, I interviewed the founder for an article for an airline magazine. Often wished I'd taken the commission and bought Whole Foods stock; my retirement would be more secure. Kited from a friend's Facebook entry is this funny goof on Whole Foods hipsters.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Out of their natural habitat

Had a little exchange a bit back about people who wander out of their natural culture and embrace someone else's. Here is a wonderful example, Japanese surf music. There are some other clicks on the side that are worth investigating. Check out their 'Misirlou.' Pipe that drummer hamming ... drumming must be transnational.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Platonic food

Bacon is, of course, nature's most perfect food – fatty and salty and crunchy and easily eaten with the fingers. How can you beat that? My favorite salad has bacon on top, and the world's best meatloaf features bacon. Here's a paean to bacon. Go and make your house smell warm and welcoming.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A journey to the west

We just got back from an annual trip for my wife, more like a biennial trip for me, out to the Edwards Plateau. Ostensible reason is cemetery-cleaning, but she also went in search of ancestors in the Kimble Co courthouse in Junction.
We stayed in a cabin on Copperas Creek, happily near the ruins of a place where kin of hers lived way back before the Comanches were pacified completely. We saw the chimneys and the place they drew water up a bluff from a spring. Tough people. Wife tells a story that her forebear went off to San Antonio, and the wife and kids were left to get by on catfish from the creek and the meal at the bottom of the barrel. Tough folks. It was pretty cool.
That country is well toasted by the big dry we have going on. Hardly a blade of grass and the ribs sticking out on the deer. Cattle mostly sold off. The landlady said it's the driest she's seen in upward of fifty years. Copperas Creek's gone dry at the headwaters, though there is still water holding behind dams along the creek.
It's pretty spectacular country. From the porch we looked across the creek to steep cliffs. Right in the middle of the top cliff pic, you can see an exotic deer making its way along a trail about twenty feet up from the foot of the cliff.
A lot of wildlife and birds galore. One of the pix is of a painted bunting, a bird that looks like it was designed by Lily Jane with a large watercolor set. No cats, no people ... heaven.
The Girl showed up, bringing Lily Jane, and all had a fine time at the cemetery-cleaning and reunion. I will never have a membership card in the club out there [you pretty much have to have ridden in that yellow schoolbus with them to really fit in], but I do have a guest card, they are cordial, and the opportunities for ethnography are good.