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Monday, November 29, 2010


Now isn't this a revolting development? Documents released by Wikileaks uncover some rather awkward communiques between diplomats and their government contacts. You've heard the same news that I have, so I won't reiterate, but if this was really done in the name of war protest, all it does is huck gumballs into the the best avenue for averting war, namely diplomacy.

This speaks most unwelcome volumes about the security of such documents. Some puke just downloaded them and walked off a military installation with the goods in his pocket.

I believe officials who claim this could put people serving on our behalf overseas in danger. I fond nothing heroic or commendable about it at all. If the Army Private alleged to have been the source of this avalanche of documents is convicted, I hope they throw the book at him. Actually, I hope they hang him by his balls.

// posted by Ellen @  14:34   //Permalink// 
Saturday, November 27, 2010

Horse Sense Economics 101.10

I'm not smart enough to be a pessimist. What's wrong with all this theorizing and speculating is that there are no "ordinary Americans."


// posted by Ellen @  19:33   //Permalink// 
Thursday, November 25, 2010


For: jazz, pizza, tech, mousetraps, my kid, my grandkid, my daughter-in law, dance, romance, Louis Armstrong, jiaodzi, saffron, wireless, Belfast, Bolinas, New York, L.A., Roma, Beijing, Amsterdam, Elkins, Big Sur, Boston, passion, inspiration, nuthatches, cinema, photographs, string theory, seashells, prime rib, lobster, tidepools at low tide, hardbacks, e-books, seasons, seafood, black sticky rice, the typewriters I've used, gold chains, garnets, sunsets, Scotch rocks, Stevie Winwood, Stevie Wonder, Little Stevie, lingering longings, karma, Milky Way Midnight, meteor showers, kisses, wildflowers, kartuffle, kerfuffle, boots on the ground, fresh roadted coffee, firesides and you.

// posted by Ellen @  20:40   //Permalink// 
Monday, November 22, 2010

Shut UP Krugman, or at least get out of the abyss

47 years ago today I was working for a publisher in New York. I was at lunch. When I came back I heard someone in the elevator say "I thought this was a civilized country." I didn't think anything of it until I walked into my department. Everyone was in various degrees of shocked silence. They told me. We went home early and watched it all unfold on TV for 4 days. We were a country joined in mourning. We were a nation undivided. And I haven't forgotten that feeling.

Doomsaying must really be a good living these days. The JFK assassination was the low point of 20th century American history and we survived it. Through several recessions and an unprecedented terrorist attack on home soil. But Krugman today in the N.Y. Times, There Will Be Blood
gets up on his hind legs to proclaim this the purposefully bitter decline into utter ruin.

The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation — cooperation that won’t be forthcoming.


My sense is that most Americans still don’t understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do what’s necessary. But that was another country.

It’s hard to see how this situation is resolved without a major crisis of some kind.
Krugman is a bloviating swine following Glen Beck's level of chickenguts hysteria and trying to incite the same. It's not as if his column isn't worth reading or doesn't have some basis in fact. But he's opportunistically slinging overwrought pigshit. People read this crap and get depressed.

I watched the J. Craig Ventner piece in 60 Minutes last night. He's a bio-engineering scientist leading the research institute that mapped the human genome and more recently created a synthetic cell that reproduces itself, driven by a synthetic chromosome. They are programming cells, they'll be able to program organisms at some point. This is an amazing accomplishment that predicts molecules that feed on carbon dioxide and create fuel, that can combat disease, feed the world, all in time with research and development already in progress. (And he's a character: his dog's name is Darwin.) I'm just saying, there's so much to look forward to in the future because of this phenomenal work taking place in the present.

It's really time to dial back these cowardly and dread drenched recitations.

47 years ago today I was working for a publisher in New York. I was at lunch. When I came back I heard someone in the elevator say "I thought this was a civilized country." I didn't think anything of it until I walked into my department. Everyone was in various degrees of shocked silence. They told me. We went home early and watched it all unfold on TV for 4 days. We were a country joined in mourning. We were a nation undivided. And I haven't forgotten that feeling.

// posted by Ellen @  20:25   //Permalink// 
Friday, November 19, 2010

Horse Sense Economics 101.9

Predatory lending? Absurd. If someone doesn't know enough to read and understand loan papers, they have no business owning a house.


// posted by Ellen @  17:05   //Permalink// 

Horse Sense Economics 101.8

Seasonal wisdom:

If you're eating a pomegranate and you can't get nekkid, wear a red top.

Such a short, exquisite season.
Bon appetit.

Our love was like the water
That splashes on a stone
Our love is like our music
Its here, and then its gone

-- Rolling Stones, No Expectations


// posted by Ellen @  09:06   //Permalink// 
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Horse Sense Economics 101.7

Never allow your paid subscriptions or membership to ANYTHING to continue on "Auto Renew!" When your term runs out they will most likely contact you with a substantially reduced price.

(The only exception I'd make is insurance, but it never hurts to call your broker just before the renewal date and ask if there's a better deal available.)

If you subscribe or are a member of anything, online or otherwise, that requires annual payment, go to that web site and disable automatic renewal. If you can't do that easily, as I couldn't with a software product I used to use, call their support number and make them do it. I used to get dinged for all sorts of things I didn't really want to continue until I finally got serious about controlling it. When I had to go on a recession budget, it really made a difference. Not to mention relief on the irritation factor front.


// posted by Ellen @  17:32   //Permalink// 
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WARNING! Don't order fish in restaurants

So, one of my pet outrages is in the news tonight. On NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams delivered an NBC special investigation on imported seafood. Seafood imported from Asia and Indonesia has tested tainted with banned chemicals that you can't taste and they don't cook out. If you ate it over time, it could cause anemia or cancer or other serious conditions not determined. They showed a Vietnamese fish farm into which raw sewage flowed, the fish pumped full of antibiotics to counteract it.

Here is a link to the video of Fishy Business on NBC Nightly News

I live in an area full of fishers and lobstermen so there's plenty of fresh catch around. Yet when I was bopping down Main Street early one sunny Saturday morning I saw a box of Haddock marked Product of China delivered to a restaurant in our picture perfect little New England downtown. WTF??

80% of Shrimp, Catfish, Crabmeat and Tilapia are imported. The FDA inspects only 2% of it.

Grocery stores are required to identify the origin of fish and seafood, but restaurants are not. So it was really demoralizing to see one of the best restos in town hastily pulling a box of frozen Chinese haddock inside.

I demand, require, insist that our food be safe. It's a common practice to let tainted imported food into the country because everyone makes so much money on it. The trade group for imported food says it's only publicized as a "trade issue." Well, ya-a-a... There's something wrong with the model that a product from 8-10 thousand miles away can be sold more cheaply than it can be produced and distributed domestically. The overseas suppliers knowingly rely on unsafe practices. Why do we put up with this? And the restaurants know this and they use the imported fish anyway because it's cheaper. Can you imagine what's in those fish sticks and sandwiches in fast food dives?

First line of defense. Before ordering fish or seafood in a resto, ask the waiter about it's origin. If you don't get a good answer or any answer at all, don't order it and tell them why. Don't buy seafood in the market if it's point of origin is Asia or Indonesia. And tell the management why.

I'm not a label reader. I'm an omnivore. I love fish and seafood and eat a lot of it. But it pays to be picky.

// posted by Ellen @  19:48   //Permalink// 
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Refudiate that

The American version of the Oxford English Dictionary has declared Sarah Palin's Twitter word mashup refudiate not only a word but a Word of the Year.

I'm loving this. Not only did I instantly <3 the word, but I intensely disliked the way all the lefterati jumped all over her for not using proper English, as if they couldn't find anything ideological to criticize with dignity. She really knows how to run lefties apoplectic and I guiltily enjoy that. If they can't come up with anything better than that to get all Internetty over, then I think they got a lot of 'splaining to do.

// posted by Ellen @  15:28   //Permalink// 

Horse Sense Economics 101.6

Enjoy the view that doesn't change whether your are solvent or struggling.

Today @yokoono tweeted: "Think of a beautiful thing you don't own. See if you could still appreciate its beauty."

This is a remarkable observation from an enormously wealthy woman. And the true meaning of "the best things in life are free."

If this is not a habit for you, give it a try. Start with that sunset or star-filled sky and possess that feeling that relaxes your facial muscles into a smile and moves through your body. You could be standing in a bombed out junkyard (literally, figuratively and spiritually) and be set aglow with a sunset. Especially one that comes through polluted skies. (I remember that from living in Los Angeles.)

You'd be surprised how easy it is to transfer that experience to a material item you admire and covet. Let go of the covet, and let the admiration fill you with wonder. It's not just a recipe for a free thrill, it's something you can take away to feel completely and substantially enriched.

Get inspired. It's not difficult. And it's priceless.


// posted by Ellen @  12:35   //Permalink// 
Monday, November 15, 2010

Horse Sense Economics 101.5

Play the consumer card.

I keep reading that the economy won't recover until the American consumer decides to start spending again.

Fellow consumer: make your voice heard. If bankers can hold the economy hostage, so can you. Don't start spending until something you want is put into effect. For me, it'll be guaranteeing the safety of food and dry goods - staff up, regulate, inspect, enforce, and penalize violations heavily to fund it all.

I've been following this issue for years. It's convenient, politically expedient and profitable to neglect safety and settle for acceptable loss. Until it becomes unacceptable.


// posted by Ellen @  09:10   //Permalink// 
Sunday, November 14, 2010

Horse Sense Economics 101.4

"Tough times can be fertile ground for new ideas"

--Bill Whitaker, CBS Evening News, the tagline to a really good story that featured bamboo as a less expensive alternative to cotton fiber.


// posted by Ellen @  18:42   //Permalink// 

Finally calling newspinionators out

I was so heartened to see the evergreen sagacity of Ted Koppel pile on to the gathering storm over newspinion. In a column for the Washington Post, Olbermann, O'Reilly and the death of real news he sums up the current glut of infotrash quite nicely:
...I can appreciate the financial logic of drowning television viewers in a flood of opinions designed to confirm their own biases, the trend is not good for the republic. It is, though, the natural outcome of a growing sense of national entitlement. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's oft-quoted observation that "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts," seems almost quaint in an environment that flaunts opinions as though they were facts.
And I might add that not only is bias a regrettable selling point of the workday evening's ration of newsflap, it's most egregious feature is grandstanding.

Koppel, in his column, traces the (d)evolution of this sorry state of affairs concerning the fourth estate. It's worth a read and lots of thought.

Jon Stewart may have started the foodfight, inasmuch as it's coming to public debate, with his silly rally in Washington DC. While it was a romp, he made an reasoned speech denouncing inflammable, biased ranting on both sides of the wingnut spectrum, taking the courageous stand that leftie/progressives are also wingnuts not just the right.

Rachel Maddow is a snarky partisan on her own MSNBC show but demonstrates, when she's on Meet the Press, that she has the chops of a real (reasoned, revelatory) journalist. She had Stewart on her show to debate his point that newspinionators posing as journalists are exacerbating the political divide at this tenuous interlude in American History. He was ill. He should have stayed home. He was almost incoherent, which is too frackin' bad because his point is essential if we are to process the current infobabble into a productive narrative.

// posted by Ellen @  12:32   //Permalink// 
Saturday, November 13, 2010

Horse Sense Economics 101.3

"Dry Clean Only" is hardly ever imperative. If the garment only has one layer (e.g., sweater, unstructured jacket, scarf) you can hand wash it in peace.

Bonus track:
You can make your own pizza, too.


// posted by Ellen @  15:34   //Permalink// 

Horse Sense Economics 101.2

A handkerchief costs about as much as a box of tissues, is more pleasant to use, won't fuzz up the wash if you forget to take it out of your pocket and lasts 100 times as long.


// posted by Ellen @  13:47   //Permalink// 

Horse Sense Economics 101.1

Some squash are harder to peel than others. That's just life.

You get through it. Unless you give up.


// posted by Ellen @  13:23   //Permalink// 
Ellen says hey
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.

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