Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gaza July 6 vs. July 25

al-Atatra neighborhood
Beit Hanoun

Nuseirat refugee camp
Central Gaza City
Central Gaza City
Beit Lahia

Sunday, December 22, 2013

early girl - monsanto labeling act (Facebook 11/23/13)

November 23, 2013 at 10:23pm
Visiting in Sebastopol last September, I stopped at the Farmer's Market.  Like the one in Arcata, it's a big community event, with food, entertainment, and mostly organic produce.  I came away with some great tomatoes - fine flavor, great appearance and texture.  They were 'Early Girl,' perhaps the most popular variety on display.

But hey, isn't Early Girl a hybrid?  No seed saving - you have to buy new seed every year.  So who currently owns the patent?  Monsanto?  Well, that's food for thought, isn't it?

I like these tomatoes very much.  But I do not like Monsanto.  So let's try some speculation (satire)...

A lot of people would like to know if they are buying products made or sold by Monsanto.  I'm not saying that there is anything BAD about Monsanto, but that people should have the RIGHT TO KNOW so they can make their OWN DECISIONS.   After all, the government requires the contents of MATTRESSES be labeled.  So that's why I support the Monsanto Labeling Act - to make sure that every relevant product and piece of produce is properly labeled... 

               "MONSANTO RELATED"

That's reasonable, don't you think?  I can't see how the growers at the Farmers Market could object.

For political newbies, the text in italics very closely mimics an argument recently used to try to convince non-organic food buyers to support mandatory GMO labeling.

cold feet on GMO (Facebook 11/6/13)

November 6, 2013 at 3:08am

a manifesto of sorts...

In 2012 I voted in favor of CA Prop. 37, which would have required labeling of products containing GMO's.  I have since changed my mind, not because of the arguments of the ag or food industries, but entirely because of positions taken by people in the anti-GMO movement.

1 - One can be anti-Monsanto, anti-seed monopoly, and pesticide-skeptical without being anti-GMO. Most of the arguments used against GMO's as a whole are unsupported by conventional science.  It has been a turn-off to see how readily people in the anti-GMO movement tout rumors, misinformation, and dodgy science.

2- GMO labeling doesn't serve MY labeling needs. I'm opposed specifically to pesticide-resistant crops.  But GMO labeling lumps them all together, as if we should regard them as equally harmful.  Sorry, but a lot of us disagree on that lumping.

3 - GMO products are easily avoided. For those who wish to avoid some or all, that goal can easily be achieved simply by buying organic.

4 - "Scarlet letter" vs. positive labeling. Since there is every incentive for manufacturers who wish to cater to the anti-GMO market to voluntarily label their products GMO-free, I am getting the impression that the main function of mandatory GMO labeling is to elevate their sectarian beliefs about "harmful" food to the same status as a government warning label.  Note that Jewish and Muslim groups use "approved" labels (kosher or halal) - they don't force "disapproved" labels on prohibited foods.

5 - Who reads labels? I suppose people with critical allergic reactions. I read labels frequently, especially for package weight, to anticipate how much sugar is in a product, and to check for adulterants.  Products are already required to show all sorts of potentially useful info.  But here's the kicker: I can't recall seeing anyone besides myself reading labels.  And suddenly, labeling becomes important enough to be worth an expensive election battle.  Hey, let's get real!   

[LL]  Some recent events helped gel my thoughts on the matter. 522, the WA labeling initiative was one factor. But more important was the environmental struggle in Hawaii, against the chemical-agriculture giants. I noticed that in at least two locations, some pesticide activists seemed to be resisting being co-opted by the GMO people. I had seen hardly any such push-back on FB, where anti-GMO posts are generally accepted and shared verbatim, w/o any critical response. 

One such comment from Kauai: 'Some ... have mistakenly labeled our struggle an "anti-GMO" movement, reducing our activism to mere opposition to a technology. ... Within the global movement that we are a part of, there are people who do not believe we should be influencing life at the fundamental level that GMO technology does. There are also a lot of people in the movement who are not strictly opposed to the science of genetic engineering itself. In regards to GMOs, what is being opposed is the direction and control of that science, and the resulting social and ecological devastation of how it is being used.

SuBaRuBlues - or any brand of older car (Facebook 9/15/13)

SuBaRuBlues - retrospective, re. any brand of older car

September 15, 2013 at 10:04pm

Today's cars last much longer than they used to, but - sure - there can be serious issues buying a high mileage vehicle.

Takeaway-1: Blue Book price does not reflect inherent defects.

Every Subaru built in a particular set of years was due for head gasket failure after 100,000 miles or so.  Used car buyers rarely anticipated the problem - and the replacement cost was not factored into the sale.  The actual cost, after repairs, could easily be 150% of the selling price. 

Takeaway-2: Change engine oil seals before they leak.

A year or so after the head gaskets were replaced, my Subaru got "totaled" because of a sudden, massive oil leak (not even preceded by a tell-tale drip).  The oil seals should have been replaced along with the head gaskets.  If you need head gasket work on a high-mileage car, make sure the mechanic recommends also replacing the seals - otherwise consider replacing mechanics!

Likewise, if the car is over 100K, have those seals replaced with the next timing belt change, along with the belt tensioners.  And when the clutch or auto-transmission gets removed for service, that is an appropriate time to change the rear-main seal. 

Is the M running? (Facebook 1/26/13)

January 26, 2013 at 9:53pm

"Is the M running?" That is the question of the moment, Friday night at Essex Street, the ancient underground portal to Williamsburg.  The service change board shows no scheduled issues for the M, but at least two J's have already gone by.  A woman uses her phone to check the MTA website - nothing there.  A guy yells across two tracks to the station agent, and I catch the first three words of the reply: "Where ya going?". Ooh, that's a bad sign.  "What he say?"  "Says he just came on duty."

We know it's going to be freezing, but the consensus among our ad hoc group is that we take the next J to Myrtle Avenue, an elevated station, where the M line branches off.

The platform at Myrtle Ave. is packed with people waiting on the middle track for an M.  What's up? The J conductor mumbles something about "broken rail," and then slides out sideways into the darkness.  A guy says to me, "Did you hear him?  What's THAT supposed to mean?"  I respond, "Can't be too bad.  These people seem to know what's going  on."  Then I notice the inch of snow on the rails.  There hasn't been a train in hours, WTF? I gotta go check with the station agent.

Below, the heated waiting area is packed with "ladies-and-gentlemen," and churning with impatience.  A woman blurts out, in broken Chinese immigrant English, that the station agents are looking into the situation.  Yeah, I can see them on the phones.  Just then, we hear "thump-THUMP, thump-THUMP," and through a gap in the structure, we see a train creeping in on the middle track.  "POW," it releases its air.  Explanation no longer required.  Check the clock.  We've been waiting so long, they've started running the late night shuttle. Everyone files upstairs to wait in the warm train.  The 45 minute trip is turning into 2 hours - but after the shuttle pulls out, most of them will be home in 15 minutes.

payoff (Facebook 3/4/13)


March 4, 2013 at 10:06pm

He got into his car and found a sticky flier blocking the view.  It was from the nearby Payday Loan.  He got out and peeled it off.  In hand, he proceeded across the lot, through the door, and to the person behind the counter.  He reached across and stuck it on the screen of her monitor - relieved to discover an alternative to planting it on her eyeglasses.  He didn't wait for a response.  As he walked out, he heard her say, wryly, "Good Morning".
[comment] The Payday Loan in Uniontown has since given up, and been replaced by a Cheaper Cigarettes.

ENTITY - the movie (Facebook 1/6/13)

January 6, 2013 at 9:52pm

prologue... (a Facebook dialog)

ES: "The Arab freedom revolutions are the real threat to the Zionist Entity, not Hezbollah's missiles, not Iran's nuclear weapon"
NY: Whats an "Entity"?
LL: ...It's like a "thingie," only bigger.
KAB: I'm getting flashbacks of the 80s movie 'The Thing'.
NY: Great movie!
ES: It's kind of a non-entity, actually. ... think there'll be a sequel called, "The Entity"?



Two billion years ago, the Earth was their home. Now they've come to reclaim their birthright.

Because of the roughly similar history, the Aliens solemnly appoint Israel as their emissary to the Earthlings. But will the Chosen Ones be able to convince the rest of the planet to surrender?

The Aliens think so, however, the Israelis increasingly find themselves uncomfortable with this role. When their moral dilemma reaches a climax, they decisively reject their own special status, turn the tables on the Aliens, save the World, and are gratefully welcomed back into the Community of Nations.

The Israelis - and the rest of the World - learn that the entire planet is indeed the true homeland for all its peoples.

The End.

[image source: http://media.salon.com/2009/11/larry_david_from_hbos_curb_your_enthusiasm_and_the_spaceship_from_abcs_v.jpg]
image credit: http://media.salon.com/2009/11/larry_david_from_hbos_curb_your_enthusiasm_and_the_spaceship_from_abcs_v.jpg