Thursday, January 31, 2008

Let Them East Dirt

I dropped by Hot Air and was just clicking on the headlines to see what was going on. I usually run over the list and open whatever seems like it might be interesting in a new tab. I'll get 4 to 10 tabs open, then I start opening tabs and reading the story. Not interested, close the tab and go to the next one.

Often (usually) after the second article, I have no idea what's coming up, so I have no idea what lead me to pick a particular article. (I had to go back and look)

The lead to this one was "Haiti: It's come to this". I dove in figuring it was just going to be something else, don't know what, but not what I ran into.

Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt

Rising Food Costs Force Haiti's Poor to Resort to Eating Dirt

Right then I had a very good idea of what the story was about.

[all emphisis mine]

It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

I've heard of people who eat dirt all over the world, but it's usually for some benefit, real or perceived, in addition to their regular diet, like:

The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium.


But in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.

How can it be that those basic staples of nutrition, corn, rice and wheat are in short supply? When all else failed these commodities have always been the fall back to save people.

Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher oil prices, needed for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well.

First, the price of oil.

I'm sure if you've had to sign invoices for a business or flown on a plane lately you've notice that surcharge on the bill for fuel. That's a companies way of saying "If it weren't for the cost of gas, you could reduce the cost of this item/delivery by this amount".

There is only so much oil available in the world at any one time (a post on this sometime in the future). With limited availability some countries get what they want, and some get shortchanged. If this were a Marxist world, then the "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!" would be a consideration, but the real world works on capitalism. The person who is willing to pay the most, gets the goods. So the price goes up by who's willing to pay what in order to insure they get what they need.

Right now the big demands for oil come from China, the U.S.A. and India. The problem that comes from this is that the Kyoto Accords put restrictions on ONLY the United States ability to produce goods, while allowing the other two countries to do whatever they want. Yeah, they'll have to comply sometime in the be negotiated later.

While the U.S. is not a signatory to the protocol, we have taken steps toward trying to comply...without just turning the power off. Americans do like clean air and water, and if you've live through the massive improvements that I've seen over my lifetime, you'd know that we've accomplished incredible feats of cleaning up past mistakes and oversites and making sure they don't occur again. Then restricting ourselves from taking a lessoned learned and applying it to future development (ANWR, Gulf Coast, Kalifornia Offshore).

Hope you were able to bear with me through that part, because now I'll deal with the highlighted part of the quote: Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well.

As much as the Global Wormering crowd wants to believe that government intervention will cure the wrongs in the world, this is what happens when somebody who has little knowledge of how the world works writes a regulation to correct a problem.

The U.S. (and Brazil) have grabbed onto the biofuel gambit. The government is now subsidizing farmers to produce corn for biofuel and now there isn't enough corn production to feed everyone cheaply.

Why don't we " the Breadbasket of the World" just shuffle the corn from biofuel to food....they're different strains of corn! The corn we grow for food is different from the corn for biofuels, a cow wouldn't eat biofuel corn.

Back to the original story.

The global price hikes, together with floods and crop damage from the 2007 hurricane season, prompted the U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency to declare states of emergency in Haiti and several other Caribbean countries. Caribbean leaders held an emergency summit in December to discuss cutting food taxes and creating large regional farms to reduce dependence on imports.

Now, by trying to do our best to reduce pollution (or doing nothing if you're a real leftie) who do you think the Useless Nitwits are going to call on to provide the food needed to correct this problem...3...2...1.

At the market in the La Saline slum, two cups of rice now sell for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.

Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared to food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day and a tiny elite controls the economy.

Well I guess there is a good side to this. A dirt cookie only cost 5 cents. Me, I wouldn't pay more than...5 cents, just so I could taste one...

A reporter sampling a cookie found that it had a smooth consistency and sucked all the moisture out of the mouth as soon as it touched the tongue. For hours, an unpleasant taste of dirt lingered.

Okay, maybe not.

Assessments of the health effects are mixed. Dirt can contain deadly parasites or toxins, but can also strengthen the immunity of fetuses in the womb to certain diseases, said Gerald N. Callahan, an immunology professor at Colorado State University who has studied geophagy, the scientific name for dirt-eating.

Haitian doctors say depending on the cookies for sustenance risks malnutrition.

"Trust me, if I see someone eating those cookies, I will discourage it," said Dr. Gabriel Thimothee, executive director of Haiti's health ministry.

I would think the major factor here is if you're eating it as addition to a normal diet, or eating it to survive.

Marie Noel, 40, sells the cookies in a market to provide for her seven children. Her family also eats them.

"I'm hoping one day I'll have enough food to eat, so I can stop eating these," she said. "I know it's not good for me."

I'm not going to make a judgment on Marie. I can feel for these people and she's just selling what their tradition has taught them to do in hard times, but I can make a judgment on the agencies whose major concern two decades ago was famine, and cannot look far enough ahead to see that as the population of the planet grows you cannot remove the sources of food from the equation.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You Say Your Taxes Aren't High Enough?

I proposed this same idea in a post long ago, but it was before I could label them. I looked, but couldn't find it so you'll just have to take my word.

If you feel you aren't paying enough in taxes, you are free to write a check to the IRS for any additional amount you feel you owe over what's calculated on your 1040 form.

Huckabee even set up a "Tax Me More Fund" in Arkansas. How'd that work you ask?

From "States Ask For 'Volunteer' Taxes"
...a fund established by Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in November 2001.

Huckabee's "Tax Me More Fund" was a response to legislators who insisted that tax increases or other measures were needed to offset $142 million in budget cuts. To date, it has taken in between $2,000 and $3,000, according to his spokesman, Jim Harris. [emphasis mine]

Holy cow!!! Do you realize that over 15 months (the article was written in April 2003)that works out to a whopping $200.00 a month in extra revenue for the state. Wonder what they did with this windfall?


"Either put up the money, write the check and let us see you're serious, or quit telling me Arkansans want their taxes raised," Huckabee said. "Because, I'm convinced that Arkansans would say today, 'My taxes are high enough.'"

Maybe people really feel they are being taxed enough, or at least they are, just maybe you aren't.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Finally! A Slow Dry Night

After putting up with constant rain, cold and equipment not behaving for the last few nights, it's been real quiet. I got to read the blogs and news sites and got bored. So I started casting around and found an old forgotten link to the "testing" site OkCupid.

Here's a couple of tests I took:

On Personal Freedom

Your Score: Let freedom ring!

You scored

You feel that "only i know what is best for me", or you feel that people should be limited in rare situations but generally free to do whatever they want, so long as it will not hurt other people or affect others personal freedom. Laws and regulations should only be used on people who want to limit others personal freedom.

Am I a Cowboy, Ninja, Pirate or Knight

Your Score: a Cowboy

You scored 6 Honor, 6 Justice, 9 Adventure, and 2 Individuality!

Well pardner, the thing that drives you is a sense of adventure. You're willing to play by the rules, but only so long as you've got open territory to cover and new frontiers to explore. You don't need much and you don't ask much.

Strap on your six gun and wear your Stetson proud. I think you'll do just fine

I tried to be honest with my answers, but these tests are user written and just for fun. It was something to keep me awake besides playing Spider Solitaire.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Of Course It'll Never Happen Here

You want Government controlled "Free" Health Care? Let's take a gander across the pond and see what the British are doing to keep costs down.

Don't treat the old and unhealthy, say doctors

By Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:09am GMT 28/01/2008

Doctors are calling for NHS treatment to be withheld from patients who are too old or who lead unhealthy lives.

Smokers, heavy drinkers, the obese and the elderly should be barred from receiving some operations, according to doctors, with most saying the health service cannot afford to provide free care to everyone.

Doing something the government doesn't approve of like be overweight, or G-d forbid, get old, don't bother going to the hospital, cause your on their no fly list.

About one in 10 hospitals already deny some surgery to obese patients and smokers, with restrictions most common in hospitals battling debt.

How can they be in debt? Isn't this health care FREE? Silly me, I always thought that free meant there was no cost have to remember that the British citizen pays incredibly steep taxes, so now the gov't has taken your money and turned around and decided that they just aren't going to spend your money on you.

They are are free to pay to have the operation...BUT...they've already paid for the operation once through their taxes and now they get to pay for it again.

Among the survey of 870 family and hospital doctors, almost 60 per cent said the NHS could not provide full healthcare to everyone and that some individuals should pay for services. [emphasis- mine]

Maybe this is part of their problem. Doctors, who should be fairly highly educated, believe that the care is given for free. Where the hell do they think the money for their salaries, supplies and equipment come from? Bloody idiots!

Gordon Brown promised this month that a new NHS constitution would set out people's "responsibilities" as well as their rights, a move interpreted as meaning restric­tions on patients who bring health problems on themselves. The only sanction threatened so far, however, is to send patients to the bottom of the waiting list if they miss appointments.

The survey found that medical professionals wanted to go much further in denying care to patients who do not look after their bodies.

I know, right now they are talking about smoking, drinking, obesity...and getting old, but what happens when they start deciding your diet may have led in part to your problem. Maybe you were 5 miles/hour (8.046 719 999 995 kilometer/hour)when you had the accident with that lorry. If you hadn't been speeding, perhaps you wouldn't have crashed, you're responsible, we're short of funds this month..."No health care for you!!" /Soup Nazi

Responding to the survey's findings on the treatment of the elderly, Dr Calland, of the BMA, said: "If a patient of 90 needs a hip operation they should get one. Yes, they might peg out any time, but it's not our job to play God."

There is some sanity remaining there, but remember, in the end, the government controls the purse strings.

As a bonus feture today, I will include a couple of stories from our cousins in the Great White North:

And because I'm in a generous mood, another article on British Health care:
British Flee Socialized Health Care To Get Good Care Elsewhere

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Military = Porn

Yes, I am going to question their patriotism!

Berkeley wants to treat military recruitment offices like porn shops

What is it about this place? The only country in the world that will put up with their shit...only because our MILITARY stands tall to protect their right to pull off this kind of anti-American BS, and let the city still stand.

I'll tell you what, L.A. can give up some of it's import/export shipping to San Fransisco and Oakland, we'll expand our Navy facilities. Then you won't have to be offended by their presence.

Just don't be surprised when all gov't assistance for natural or "other" occurrences has to be routed through Hawaii...if that socialist hellhole hasn't closed Pearl.

The S. Carolina Primary

Gotta love it.

Obama 55%

Clinton 27%

Oh yeah, that other guy 18%

Bet there were some ashtrays flying around Shillary's HQ last night and Bill's hied is butt down to Floriduh pronto to do some campaigning fund raising and get out of range.

Bill's contribution to the The Great Cankled Ones ® race has backfired on them time and again. Not only has his hits on Obama been seen as what they are, racist, but he comes out diminished. He is an ex-president and suppose to be an elder statesman and only tangentially involved in the election. For him to come out and heap glowing praise on his wife would be understandable, but for him to be the attack dog, dropping little innuendos, not to mention outright lies about their opponent makes him look like the political hack I've known him to be since he took office.

That the PC crap has jumped up and bit the Dems in the butt is giving me unfathomable pleasure. If Shillery attacks Obama, it's racist, if Obama attacks Shillery, he's picking on a girl. Mwahahah!!!

The Clintoon camp is scared. They're scrambling for any delegate they can get, hence: Clintons try to change delegate rules; lefties outraged.
Via Michelle Malkin

Having “won” a considerable number of delegates solely because no one else contested the races, all of a sudden she is struck by the manifest unfairness of not seating the delegates — and just in time for a) a bounce in the Florida poll for sticking up for them, and b) Obama to have no chance to contest the Florida race!

Not to mention, but I will: Is the right right on the Clintons?
From the L.A. Slimes

But the conservatives might have had a point about the Clintons' character. Bill's affair with Monica Lewinsky jeopardized the whole progressive project for momentary pleasure. The Clintons gleefully triangulated the Democrats in Congress to boost his approval rating. They do seem to have a feeling of entitlement to power.
[emphasis mine]

This could be fun going into Super Tuesday.
Are the two camps gooing to play nice, or pull out the knives?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

Is Fred Dead?

Most likely.

It all seems to have gone so wrong at every step. I understood his waiting to announce, but then he did...and nothing. It was around a month later that anything about his campaign started to leak out, even I was starting to wonder if he was really running.

I knew his positions and was ready to jump on, but word never got out. Combination of him not pushing hard enough at the git go, the MSM ignoring him...both...we'll never know.

He would make a great Veep, the guy that can go out as the surrogate for the President and state clearly what our positions are and I believe whoever he was giving the message to would believe what he was being told.

However, word is he's not interested in being VP.

He may run for Governor of Tennessee in 2010. Their gain, our loss.

Depending on how the outlook here in Kalifornia shapes up over the next 10 days for the GOP, if someone I can live with has a huge lead, I may still vote for Fred (he's on the ballot) just to point out my disappointment with the ones left in the race.

If it's close between Romney and McCain, I'll vote Romney. If either of them have a certifiably safe margin, I'll stick in my protest vote.

If McCain could convince Thompson to be VP, I think I could vote for that, it would be a sign that McCain has a clue, and I have my doubts that McCain could physically run for a second term and if things started to get back in order, we could have another 8 years with Fred.

But I dream.

It Never Rains Here

Great Googilly Moogilly, it is raining like a mutha out here. I can't remember the last time it rained this hard for this long. Normally I don't mind driving in the rain, but coming home this morning was the second most scariest drive I've had in the last twenty years.

The scariest was driving from Flagstaff Az. to Phoenix in a monsoon where it was like someone had aimed a fire hose at my windshield and you have to guess whether to keep your speed and pray the car (somewhere)in front of you keeps their speed, or slow down and pray the car (somewhere)behind you slows down too.

This morning was the second, only because I got off at 5 A.M. and traffic was really light. Hitting that lake on the freeway in the dark didn't help. I drive a F-150 Supercab long bed P/U, a vehicle that is not known for it's ability to handle hydroplaning with ease. As those of you who have driven P/U's know, with the lack of weight over the rear end, anything that happens usually will cause your ass end to try to get in front. I had the same problem with my '65 Mustang (the lift kit didn't help). Luckily I was only going 55 and no one was close so I just let the truck coast through it without major corrections and she stayed pretty straight, so it just had a pucker factor of 6 out of 10.

The rest of the drive home was low speed and only minor harrowing, although the wife started calling my cell to have me pick up something on the way home. On a good day with no traffic and on cruise control I may answer the phone, today I took the phone as tossed it in the passenger seat so the vibrate wouldn't distract me.

Surprisingly, work wasn't bad. Even though it rained hard most of the night, the site was able to keep up with the extra water, so I was wet and cold most of the shift, at least I wasn't having to come up with "innovative" ways to dispose of the rain water.

Our satellite dish was another matter. Every time the rain would start pouring, I lost the damn signal. I missed the end of two programs due to losing contact with the satellite. I wouldn't mind if it happened during the middle of the program, as I miss a lot of those normally on a shift. With TV now-a-days, if you get the beginning a bit of the middle and the end, you can fill in the pieces, but to see most of an hour program and miss the last ten've missed the whole program.

Luckily I've got cable at home, so as I write, I can watch the program again and get the answer to why all that crap happened.

I ain't leaving the house till this quits or I have to go back to work tonight.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Just Got Back From OZ

I haven't been around a while, not that too many are going to notice. I'm on day shift and that is backwards from what I'm comfortable with, so I've been cranky and tired. I did write a looong post a few days ago and I was in a really foul mood about work and life. I was about 7/8ths of the way through a total pityfest, when I got on the phone with my Mom and brother, who I hadn't talked to in three weeks.

Seems my Mom decided to sign up with Vonage for the phone, but being she's not the most techno savvy person, didn't realize you have to have a broadband line (or any computer line) to get the service. Vonage transfered her phone number to their service, so they had no phone at all.

When I got off the phone with them, my anger at life had dissipated, so that post is sitting in drafts, probably never to be published.

The reference to OZ in today's title goes back to about four days ago, the Santa Ana (actually Santana or devil)winds came blowing through my valley. Gust of 60 to 70+ mph, enough that even though I've have pretty good weather striping on my front door, it whistles like crazy. I was lucky this year, it usually peels the rolled roofing off the flat part of my garage during one of these wind storms, to bad my neighbors down the street weren't so lucky.

Typically, these people had just gutted, renovated and added to their house less than 2 years ago. It was an almost two year project.

HT to my boy for letting me borrow his digital camera for the pic.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Outside The Box

I know it's an overused expression, but this is taking one unrelated thing and applying the principle to something else. To go from the Tacoma Narrows bridge disaster to thinking how to harness that energy and produce inexpensive power is mind boggling.

Third World Power: First Look

Aeroelastic Flutter, the power source of the near future? No blades to take out migrating birds like the current wind generators. Looks like you could stack a few, so a small footprint. Simple design, so basic maintenance could be done easily.

If I had any money, I'd find out what company is working to develope this and invest.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Open Primaries

This is why I am vehemently opposed to Open Primaries:

Kos advocates election mischief in Michigan
By Michelle Malkin • January 11, 2008 12:08 PM

Markos Moulitsas, mainstream Newsweek columnist, tells his minions at the Daily Kos to muck up the Michigan primary: “Let’s have some fun in Michigan.”

...we want Romney in, because the more Republican candidates we have fighting it out, trashing each other with negative ads and spending tons of money, the better it is for us. We want Mitt to stay in the race, and to do that, we need him to win in Michigan.

They tried to foist Open Primaries on the people her in Kalifornia back in '96. Thankfully the U.S. Supreme Court shot it down because it violated a political party's First Amendment right of association.

We're still stuck with a "Modified Closed Primary System" where if you are registered as unaffiliated ("decline to state") you can request a party ballot, otherwise you get a nonpartisan ballot, containing only the names of all candidates for nonpartisan offices and measures to be voted upon at the primary election.

Living on the LEFT coast, I saw nothing but disaster with an Open Primary. The Dems have to much of a lock here, so for them to cross over and vote for the worst Republican candidate wouldn't be to much of a gamble. All they do is dilute my vote.

If you want to vote for a Republican candidate, re-register, it isn't hard. If you like someone so much to vote against your party, maybe you're in the wrong party.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Damn, where'd the days go?

Since before Christmas most of my work days have been 12 hours +, and I'm just tired. Get off work, go home, eat something, go to bed, get up and go back to work. The damn dogs have starting to bark at me when I come home and I have to convince them I really do live here.

Two guys used vacation time back-to-back and then, when I thought life would return to normal, our Foreman decided to show us he can still do the work and slips and wrenches his knee. Now, he'll be off for over a week.

When I managed my old company I use to do 16 hour days, seven days a week and didn't think much about it (for the first two years). Same problem now, the boss(es) shuffled any of our positive income into some other part of the company and then when things go wrong with us, there's no money to fix our problem. Back then it was a challenge because I believed if I worked harder and longer, I could pull us through. I was younger then.

Now...I'm just an Operator, I want the company to make money, but I keep getting more responsibility dumped on me to fix problems, jury rig this, scavenge that...just don't spend any money...especially on what needs to be dealt with.

Some who know me, know my home life is not ideal right now, so with work, I'm living 24 hours of hell, but enough of this pity post!

I think my next post will be the promised follow up on one of my pets. I know you'll love to hear how I got my cat Tessa.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Good Times

Aah, the Sixties. I know that it's one of those times that people really love or hate. Myself, I have to love it. Being the Sixties really didn't start till about half way through the decade and kinda bleed into the first few years of the '70's, these were my Jr. and Sr. High School years.

I was never a hippie, hell my hairs longer now than at any time during that period. I grew up just on the tail end of what was happening, always a year or two behind the curve. This put me in a position to see what was going on, but I never got caught up in any of it. I got to hear the ideals of my generation, which sounded great, but I also got to see what happened when these ideals were put into practice. Human nature and reality have this nasty habit of getting in the way of Utopia.

I watched a lot of people screw up their lives pretty bad back then. Some recovered, some didn't, and some are still going along.

Why this nostalgia? I'm off work (long change)and it's raining like hell, so I'm not going outside. That's left a lot of time to sleep, which I did, and I found myself wide awake at 3:30 this morning. There wasn't much on TV until a Paul McCartney concert came on. Every song brought back a memory, most of them pretty good. It made me think back to my first concert, 1968, Hollywood Bowl. It wasn't the Beatles, they'd quit touring by then, but I had worked my Aunt and Uncle's little truck farm up outside of Eureka over the summer and had earned a little cash, so I bought a really cool fringed leather vest, a shocking pink striped shirt, yellow bell bottoms and had enough left over for the $5.50 ticket to see Iron Butterfly.

This is the line up I got to see (in order of there appearance):
John Mayall, I knew of him, but wasn't really into his music at the time.

Lee Michaels, I knew nothing of him before the concert, but I think this was actually my favorite part. This was real Power Rock, just a Hammond B3 organ and a drummer...really loud. Because it was so new, unexpected and overpowering it really hit me.

Then the headliner: Iron Butterfly. Of course I love them. The video here is a Top 40's version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (if it's over 2 1/2 minutes, no radio play)and the Iron Butterfly Theme.

Would I want to go back? No. There were plenty of rough and scary things happening then, and I remember them as well as the good times. They were what they were and the 60's came and went as all periods do.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


No...That's not me. I had a very sedate New Years. I was up and actually saw the second hand sweep across midnight, but I was at work. I spent the moment inside the office (with a metal roof) so as to avoid any idiot firing his gun in celebration and starting my year off badly.

For the fifth year I've had to cover Christmas Day (12 hour shift this year)and graveyard shift for New Years. Christmas sucks, but New Years I don't mind. Prior to this job, I don't think I stayed up for midnight for over 5 years.

New Years, an arbitrary point in time that designates another cycle around the sun and means that in another few months I'm designated another year older. It seems there are too many of these points going by and at too fast of a rate now-a-days.

To all my friends here I wish you a Happy New Year. May this year be one you will look back on fondly.