GOP response to Obama's speech in Congress

At the time when Obama’s package was coming together, I looked high and low for an alternative. All the republicans could say was: Lower taxes. Here’s a speech now, which is hailed as the Republican Party’s response to the rescue package – why they voted no. It’s delivered by the Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

A word of warning – I haven’t counted (don’t have time), but I do believe he says “Americans can do anything” more than 20 times… The above Youtube video is only the first part of the speech. If you’re not completely nauseated when you’ve sat through that bit, jump to Youtube to see the other half.

Notice his interesting reference to Hurricane Katrina (he is from Louisiana, after all). Bureaucracy was why the help went haywire, he says. Hm. And then there’s the ever-present tax cuts. The Republicans cut taxes for eight years, consistently. Example: Those who made $1 million/year got a tax relief of $53,000. And those who made $20,000 a year got a $375 tax relief. When Bush came into office, it was with a $237 billion surplus. When he left, it was with a deficit hovering around $1 trillion.

Only after 10 minutes does governor Jindal acknowledge that the Republicans didn’t quite live up to all his blabber, when they were in office. But that’s HISTORY now, he says. Now the Republicans WILL cut bureaucracy and government. And they will work towards bi-partisanship, as long as the Democrats will cut bureaucracy and government. I wont comment on what he says about the American healthcare system. Listen to it yourself… Towards the end of the speech he says something else that sounded a bit strange to my ears. He said “Americans won the struggle for civil rights”. ‘Scuse me, but since it was a STRUGGLE and since no other nations were involved, it must have been some Americans who won over some other Americans?

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Anticipation

Tonight my friend Irina Lankova plays Beethoven’s 3rd piano concert at the Royal Holloway. I’m so excited and also nervous on her behalf.

While waiting to be picked up for an afternoon out with my sister-in-law before the concert, I checked Boing Boing. Should do that more often. Always some hilarious postings. Check this about Obamania in Japan and this about yet another corny American museum.

Not so funny is this post by historian and liberal blogger Igor Volsky about how misinformed you are if your only news source is Fox News.

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Procrastination

is another word I like a lot. My dear old Dad, bless him, has often said that the word procrastination defines him. I think that’s rather unfair, really. Except for the Mr. & Mrs. Perfect out there, we all do it! So there goes, Dad, I never bought it!

Although I in fact have been really efficient today I started the day procrastinating. While David took Dane to school, I browsed through the news over coffee and stumbled over a couple of odd pieces. I managed to control myself and NOT start blogging about them first thing, but to DO WHAT I HAD TO DO first. Which was homework for my last course of this my last semester of my BA in library- and information science. The course is about building large websites (=corporate portals) and is quite techie, which suits me just fine. But because academia is academia (can’t think of a better explanation, sorry!) most of the texts are 7-8 years old. Which is perfectly OK if your subject is ancient runes or hieroglyphs or even if it’s WWII. But I just find it very, very hard to believe that the best stuff available about the building of portals and content management was written 7-8 years ago!

However, it’s done and my conscience is clear! So now, off to the odd pieces. There was this good one about how to tackle a project and get it over with, quickly. I needed that one! And this sad article from Washington Post about how Bush has rewarded his cronies:

Less than two weeks before leaving office, Bush made sure the senior aides shared a new assignment, naming them to an obscure World Bank agency called the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

One of the Guardian blogs has a very thought provoking post about what to do with that Afghan fellow, who’s clearly guilty of something, but who’s been tortured so badly that he’s been reduced to a head-case? The post is by seasoned Guardian journalist Michael White.

Those of you who know me personally will probably know that I was always a fierce advocate of the MMR vaccine. A “scientist” published a paper linking the MMR vaccine to autism. It was just the one paper, but it had all the ingredients of A STORY in the press. And it became huge. Suddenly everybody knew a child with autism who’d had the MMR vaccine. The fact that ALL children back then had the vaccine, also children with autism didn’t get in the way of this scaremongering story. When it was revealed that the “scientist’s” data were falsified and that there is NO link WHATSOEVER between the MMR and autism, this wasn’t at all A STORY. So there was nothing, or almost nothing, about this in the media that people actually read or watch. Which led to a huge drop in children who’d had the MMR. And now we see the result. A veritable measles epidemic. Try reading about measles and think that if it hadn’t been for that “scientist”, but primarily if it hadn’t been for the media who never seem to take responsibility for anything, all these children and teens wouldn’t have to suffer the dreadful complications to measles. The illness would most likely have been extinct! Here’s the story from the Sunday Times.

Sunday morning I read an article (no, not an article, an excerpt from this book) that truly scared me. The writer James Lovelock states that we’re too late to save the planet, so all we can do – as Brits – is to save ourselves from the hungry hordes, fleeing their over-heated or flooded homes! It came much too close to the article about the honey-bee I read only a week previously. Have we really come to the brink of our own extinction? And why are we all sitting back doing next to nothing? Probably because it’s just too much for our brains to handle! What I found even more scary than the prospect of living on a diet of strictly local produce and not enough of it in 2030, was his suggestion that we need a “strong leader” like Churchill to guide us out of this mess – democracy is no good in such dire straits. I shiver to even write it!

On a less dire note, here are some recent tech news. Amazon has launched a new version of the Kindle. I still want one and I still can’t have one. There’s no news about when this lovely gadget will be available in Europe. It’s something to do with the difficulty of finding an agreement with our multiple phone companies. Hmfff. I want it soon, and so, I think, does my husband. Look here how many books I’ve bought inside the last 3-4 weeks. Admittedly some of them are for course work, but as you can see, not all of them!

Which one should I start reading first? Dont say Jakob Nielsen, please!
Which one should I start reading first? Don't say Jakob Nielsen, please!

Here’s a funny one – I bet my oldest son will like it. It’s about bragging of your World of Warcraft skills in your resumé… I would say it depends on the job, really, if it’s a good idea or not!

Speaking of games, here’s an odd piece. I don’t play myself, so the thought hadn’t even occurred to me. But of course – in games that are so life-like there would have to be pregnancies. And it’s fun to read how they go about the deliveries etc. Thanks to Torill for the pointer.

Oh me, dinner is served, says husband. That’s so nice, I have to go! Sorry for this messy, messy post…

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So so sad and so so frightening

I used to grow these in my garden (echinacea) and they attracted scores of bees and butterflies.
I used to grow these in my garden (echinacea) and they attracted scores of bees and butterflies.

Just read in yesterday’s Times about the plight of the (bumble)bee. I’ve read about the trouble of the bee population diminishing rapidly before, but this article, in such a conservative paper, really spells it out so there’s no misunderstanding it: If nothing is done – and maybe even if something IS done – the bee and the bumble bee will be extinct in Britain 8 years from now. Eight years! In evolutionary terms that in the blink of an eye!

If there was ever a really good and totally tangible reason to buy organic products, this is one. For more reasons than one: To reduce pollution with fertilizers etc. To encourage the exchange of crops from one year to the next. To encourage the re-entry of clover, which is apparently the most important crop to attract honey bees.

So come on now, all you out there. Buy organic! Not just baby food, but everything you can lay your hands on.  It’s not always easy and I myself could do much better. I also realise that for some people it’s not an option for economic reasons. But I know that a lot of my readers could easily afford it if they so chose! Quite a lot of the foodstuffs that we can’t get in the organic versions in the supermarkets, we could buy online if we could be bothered. And here in England we can buy lots of lovely organic stuff at the farmers’ markets. But if we at least start by buying the food basics organically, it’s a start. So organic fruit, veg, bread and flour. And organic chickens, veal, beef and lamb.

And you garden lovers out there! You’ll be first to suffer, because a certain species of bees, specialising in fertilization of so-called deep-throated flowers like foxgloves, irises, red clover etc. are almost already extinct and their southern European brothers, which are being imported to take their place, don’t have long tongues and thus can’t fertilize the above mentioned flowers. So throw your fertilizers in the bin and get out there and do your bit for the bee!

Take out the time and read the article if you think I’m exaggerating!

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Life as a busy bee and a crippling cold

have kept me from blogging. No running away from the busy bee, but must extend working day at other end! On Sunday I read a very thought provoking article in The Sunday Times, which they’ve been kind enough to publish online. It’s by another of the paper’s excellent writers, Bryan Apleyard and it’s about the possibility of actually proving the existence of an afterlife!

I guess that when someone close to you die or is close to dying, and when you yourself feel mortality creeping up on you, these things become important. I don’t particularly want to “go to Heaven”, but am no fan of the idea of just disappearing without a trace. I always wonder what atheists tell their children when someone close dies? “Your best friend got run over by a car and now he’s nothing.” It may be that I’m just a coward, but I could never say that!

Something along these lines is also this TED talk by a neuro scientist. You’ll have to bear with her absolutely horrible accent and just listen to what she actually says and the humour with which she says it. 

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Ministry of Food

Last night, before I settled down to watch the vice-presidential debate, I watched the first of a new series of programmes with Jamie Oliver. I don’t know if it’s become less trendy to like Jamie Oliver, but I actually like him more and more. His life could be easy – very easy. But he’s chosen to rant (his own expression) and thus to make enemies, because lots of people hate ranting. (I do a bit of ranting myself, so know what he’s talking about). He rants about food obviously. But his concern is a country where people have forgotten how to cook. They don’t know what real food tastes like and they certainly don’t know how to shop for it, prepare it, even eat it!

He visited a couple of single mums on welfare. One of them had her children eating out of Styrofoam boxes on the kitchen floor – who needs a dining table, when there are no real meals? – her 4-year old daughter had never tasted a home cooked meal in her life. Jamie took a look in her fridge. The vegetable drawers were filled to the brim with – chocolate bars! And there was not a trace of any vegetables, any fruit, any kind of real food in the house.

That’s what he’s determined to change. He wants all of us who can cook to take it upon us to teach other people to cook. He’s even put it into a system. Read about it on his Ministry of Food homepage.

I want to teach some people to cook. I want to take part in this. I’m often surprised at what people have – and maybe even more at what they have not – in their fridges and kitchen cupboards. And at what’s considered “a meal”. When Dane tells me what some of the other children have in their lunch boxes, I’m genuinely shocked. It’s cheese dippers, white sandwich bread with square slices of “ham”, so-called yoghurt (15-25% sugar), rarely fruit and certainly no veg.

I know it’s quite unlikely that any of my readers 1) can’t cook 2) want to learn 3) live near here. But – if that were the case, please drop me a line and we’ll set up a date for a cookery class with a nice meal at the tail end.

If you live far away or just can’t be bothered to have me as a teacher, but still want to improve your cooking skills, I can only once more recommend the excellent Videojug, where you can learn to cook a wide variety of lovely meals. Bring you laptop into the kitchen – and cook!

Btw. what kind of food do you think Sarah Palin cooks for her family?

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