‘Autumn … … where every leaf is a flower’

October 19, 2014

autumn-camus-small

Drawing by Melissa Felder, creator of simonandfinn

Quotation by Albert Camus

My street and most of my neighborhood in Rochester, N.Y., is lined with trees.  They are a pleasure to look at, whatever the season, although my favorite is fall.  In the spring, they bud and blossom.  In the summer, they make a green canopy over the streets.  In the fall, they change color.  In the winter, they form a sparkling crystal lattice, or a stark black fractal pattern against the sky.

These trees did not appear all by themselves.  They did not plant themselves.  Somebody years ago took the trouble to plant the trees and create the beauty I now enjoy.   So many of the good things in my life are due to the foresight and work of other people whose names I do not know.

Could my coffee addiction be good for me?

October 18, 2014
caffeinechart

Double click to enlarge.

I started drinking coffee as a college student and, ever since then, I have been heavily addicted to caffeine.

I would stay up late at night studying and working on the college newspaper, but, being young and foolish, I took pride in being caffeinated and being able to go without sleep.

During my 40 years working on newspapers, I drank coffee throughout the day to stay alert.   After a couple of hours at my desk, I began to get sleepy and sluggish if I couldn’t get a cup of coffee out of the vending machine.  Having drunk all that coffee, I didn’t feel sleepy in the morning, and often stayed up until nearly midnight or beyond midnight.  And then, of course, I needed more coffee in the morning to become fully alert.

My nightmare of being shipwrecked or surviving an airplane crash in wilderness is that I would not be able to function without a cup of coffee.

When I retired, one of my goals was to kick the caffeine habit.  I cut back to one cup of coffee a day, but, without that one cup, I couldn’t function in the morning.  Now I drink two or three cups a day.

The other day I read an article about a study by a team at the Harvard School of Public Health that concluded that coffee is good for you, and that habitual coffee drinkers are a little bit more mentally alert than they would be otherwise.  Furthermore there are genetic differences among people in their need and tolerance for coffee, and most people drink the amount of coffee that is good for them.

Can this be right?  Can something to which you are addicted be good for you?

LINK

 Drinking Coffee, For Your Health by Andrew Gambone for The Atlantic.

Spanish proverbs

October 18, 2014

.

An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.

.

  Buy from desperate people and sell to newlyweds.

.

Communism is a cow of many: well-milked and badly fed.

.

How beautiful it is to do nothing and then rest afterward.

.

If I die, I forgive you. 

If I live, we shall see.

,

If you want to sleep well, buy the bed of a bankrupt.

.

Love is like war.

You begin when you like and leave off when you can.

.

Take what you want, God said to man, and pay for it.

.

Time and I against any two.

 .

Source: One Hundred Spanish Proverbs

Why we shouldn’t panic about Ebola (yet)

October 18, 2014

I almost never watch Fox News, but I think this is a sensible and factual report.

While I as an individual am not fearful of the Ebola virus, I believe that my government and the rest of the world’s governments need to take action against the spread of this virus, and to be prepared for the emergence of new mutant diseases that are immune to our drugs and treatments.

I think we Americans need to do better in making sure our hospitals are prepared for such emergencies.  I think we should help poor countries maintain good sanitation and public health services, rather than siding with banks and international organizations who demand that public services be sacrificed so debt could be collected.

If nothing is done, someday there will be reason for Americans to panic, but that day is not here.

Why a NYC restaurant’s service is so slow

October 18, 2014

Source: The Meta Picture

restaurantservice1B4Drestaurantservice2RP2

Read the rest of this entry »

The limited benefit of enriching the rich

October 17, 2014

trickledown

Hat tip to Avedon’s Sideshow

Fear of showing weakness is itself a weakness

October 17, 2014

armingsyrianrebels

Why is President Obama arming proxy armies in Syria to fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Assad government, despite warnings from his advisers that such policies have not worked in the past?

I think he is following in the footsteps of American presidents for the past 50 years, who have waged war and sponsored covert operations not to protect the American people and not in all cases to further the interests of U.S.-based corporations, but to avoid the appearance of seeming week.

Take the Vietnam Conflict.  Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson are now known to have had misgivings about military intervention in Vietnam.  What they feared was the effect on American prestige of suffering a defeat, and the effect on their own popularity of having “lost” a country to Communism.

When Richard M. Nixon was became President in 1969, he inherited the Vietnam War, he was not responsible for the hopeless situation, yet he kept on fighting nevertheless.  What was wanted, according to Henry Kissinger, was to save the USA and the Nixon administration from humiliation by having a “decent interval” between the withdrawal of the last American troops and the triumph of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese.

Our country would have been better off if Presidents Kennedy and Johnson had never committed the United States to defending South Vietnam, or if President Nixon had wound up the war quickly.  Our nation would not have been so divided, our military would not have been demoralized and our leaders would not have been preoccupied for the next 40 years with wiping out the humiliation of that defeat.

Or take the 35-year cold war waged by the United States against Iran.  I see no inherent conflict of interest between the governments of Iran and the United States.  In fact, Iran and the USA share common enemies in Al Qaeda and its successor, the Islamic State (ISIS).  But for the United States to reconcile with Iran would seem weak, after the humiliation suffered by the taking of U.S. embassy personnel as hostages by Iranian radicals in 1979.  It is that, more than any public interest or business interest, that prevents the United States from seeking peace with Iran.

Read the rest of this entry »

The cougar, the bear cub and the grizzly

October 17, 2014

The bear cub, the adult grizzly and the cougar are actors in a feature-length film, The Bear, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and released in 1988.  The cub befriends the grizzly, and the grizzly protects the orphaned cub as they face non-human and human predators.  I never heard of this movie until I came across this YouTube clip on Flixxy.com.

I’d worry less about the Ebola virus …

October 16, 2014

… … if American hospitals were run by MDs instead of MBAs.

The billions nobody bothered to keep track of

October 16, 2014

Between $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills, earmarked for Iraq reconstruction, reportedly turned up in a bunker in Lebanon, along with $200 million in Iraqi gold.

bagdad-money-palette-300x200

“Bricks” of cash in Baghdad

Stuart Bowen, a special inspector general appointed by President Bush to keep track of waste and corruption in Iraq, reported that he has been unable to persuade anybody in either the U.S. or Iraqi governments to check it out.  The U.S. embassy in Beirut denied him permission to go to Lebanon to look for himself.

The stacks of money are part of $12 billion to $14 billion in shrink-wrapped “bricks” of currency, provided by the Federal Reserve Bank.  The money was flown to Iraq on wooden pallets, to be handed out as needed. An additional $5 billion was sent via electronic transfer.

Bowen said most of the money was probably spent for legitimate purposes, but $6.6 billion is unaccounted for.  This is a staggering amount.

Notice the $2 billion margin for error in the estimate of what was sent.  That, too, is a staggering amount.

Why the lack of interest in what become of the money?

One possible explanation is that the U.S. government and the Iraqi government have a very good idea of who got the money, and don’t want it made known to the public.

Another is that they don’t know, and don’t want the public to be reminded that they don’t know.

 LINKS

Billions set aside for post-Saddam Iraq turned up in Lebanese bunker by Rory Carroll for The Guardian.

$1.6 billion in Iraqi cash seized in Lebanon by Ahmed Hussein for Iraqi News.  A good article with an inaccurate headline. The money was never seized and nobody knows whether it is still there.

Special Report: The Pentagon’s doctored ledgers conceal epic waste by Scot J. Paltrow for Reuters.  The bigger picture is that it’s simpler for the Defense Department to order new stuff than keep track of what they’ve got.  Hat tip for this link to Peter Van Buren.  He also had a post on the Lebanon bunker, but for some reason I can’t link to the post.  I’ll add the link when and if I can.

Previous post

“The biggest theft of funds in national history”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 595 other followers