Saturday, May 2, 2015

Insecticides and the slug population

In the latest issue of Research/ Penn State, students at Penn State and the University of South Florida report that certain insecticides could make slugs toxic to the insects that eat them.  It turns out that slugs (mollusks) are not affected by neonicotinoids (read Roundup), but they become toxic to the beetles that feed on them.

According to John Tooker, associate professor of entomology at Penn State, “Slugs are among the most challenging pests faced by Mid-Atlantic no-till growers.  Our research reveals that neonicotinoids can indirectly increase slug damage to crops by poisoning insects that eat slugs.”

Do you ever get the feeling that insecticide, fungicide, and herbicide producers have no idea of what they are doing?  I’m pretty sure they don’t care, as long as they can make money selling their poisons.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bernie Sanders announces for President

I have levels of candidate support.  First are the candidates that I completely support without reservations.  As my friend Edie says, I’d take a bullet for them.  They would include candidates like Jerry Brown, Morris Udall, Barack Obama, and Patti Borger.

Then there are candidates that I support because they are so much better than their opponents, although they may have positions I don’t care for or they are flawed in some way.  That group would include Bill Clinton, and yes, Hillary Clinton.

Some candidates are truly awful, but I still would support them because their opponents are evil.  I can’t think of many examples, but when Edwards ran against Duke for governor of Louisiana, Duke was a KKK officer, while Edwards was just a crook.  The bumper stickers summed it up:  “Vote for the lizard, not the wizard.”

What to do about Sanders?  I think I’ll vote for him in the primary.  He understands the corruption money brings to politics, while Clinton rakes in huge amounts from large donors.  He is spontaneous while Clinton is scripted.  He is to the left; Clinton is to the center.  I know he can’t win, and I know that I will support Clinton in the general, but I want to vote for a candidate in the primary I really like.  Go Bernie.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

"The Mystery" by The Goddess Lakshmi

I know that some readers of this blog remember Rene Calvo, the owner of the internationally famous B&B known as the Harlem Flophouse.  Rene was a volunteer in Carbon County for both Obama campaigns, and he also filmed, edited, and composed the music for our award winning YouTube movie, “Tea Party Chickens.”  Another Calvo  film, starring Larry Daiell and entitled “Have you been to Hazelton lately,” was a harsh critique of former Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta.

Last summer Rene and his friend Lia stayed with us after hiking from New York to Little Gap on the Appalachian Trail.  He brings glamour into our rather mundane lives.

I might add that this blog would not exist if it weren’t for Rene Calvo.  What do I know from blogs?  Rene set it up and explained to me that if anonymous comments are allowed, people post obscene and vicious messages.  That’s is why you have to join to make a comment.

Rene’s band, The Goddess Lakshmi, is about to go on tour.  In conjunction with the tour, the group has released a video on YouTube entitled “The Mystery “ by The Goddess Lakshmi.  Check it out.  That wonderful guitar player is Rene Calvo.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Christine Donohue

Christine Donohue is running for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  She’s been given the highest rating by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and she would be a great addition to the Court.

She’s also a Carbon County native from Lansford.  Her father was a coal miner; her mother worked in the textile industry.  

How did a local girl from Lansford get the money to go to college and law school?  Her father was in the United Mine Workers; her mom in the ILGWU.  Union jobs, union pay, upward mobility.

Today the Morning Call ran an article entitled “Poll:  Most support workers’ right to unionize.”  Let’s hope so--countries that forbid workers from unionizing have a name.  They are called “dictatorships.”

The article noted that a majority of Republicans think the decline of unions has benefited workers.  These people do not inhabit the same world in which I live.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Crips and Bloods

In today’s Times a Baltimore Crips member said gangs had taken to the streets because “there is only so far that you can push people into a corner.  We’re frustrated and that’s why we’re out there in the streets.”

He went on to way that he and some “Bloods,” another gang, stood together to prevent black-owned stores from looting and vandalism.

He was proud of the way Crips and Bloods worked together.  He said they pointed rioters and looters toward Chinese and Arab-owned stores.

I think it is wonderful that Crips and Bloods can overcome their animosity, but I still can’t quite see that as progress.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Luann wins!

I’ve been on the losing side in quite a few elections.  I did vote for Bill Clinton twice and Obama twice, but among the presidential candidates I supported were Gene McCarthy, Dick Gregory, George McGovern, Mo Udall, Gary Hart, Walter Mondale, Teddy Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, Jerry Brown, Al Gore, and John Kerry. 

The Allentown Morning Call asked for a vote on which comic strip it should run.  One of the strips was “Luann.”  I’ve been following Luann’s life for years.  I know her, know her friends, know her dog. 

It is with pleasure that I’m reporting that Luann received 6,370 votes, Pickles, got 1,440, Non Sequitur 159, Wumo, 31, and F Minus, 26.  One of those Luann votes was Linda’s.  I got that one--Linda never reads the comics page, but I told her this was important to me.

That vote qualifies as a landslide.  It is also amazing to me that almost 8000 people thought it was worth sending in a paper ballot or going on-line to vote.  That may be a higher turnout than we will have in the May primary.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

GMO food

Mark Lynas has an article in today’s New York Times entitled “How I Got Converted to G.M.O. Food.”  The article makes the point, which I have seen before, that liberals who accept scientific evidence on global warming, refuse to accept that GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods are safe to eat.

I don’t think climate change and GMOs are necessary analogous, but I don’t have any problem with eating GMO foods.  I really don’t.

Nonetheless, I do object to GMO foods that are developed for a particular herbicide, like Roundup Ready soybeans and corn.  Those seeds are not developed to decrease hunger or increase corn yield, they are developed to make money for Monsanto or other chemical companies.  When farmers can be sued for saving and replanting GMO seeds, that is just wrong.

Secondly, I don’t see a problem with labeling GMO products.  It may be irrational, but some people might not want to eat GMO foods any more than they want eggs produced by chickens in tiny cages or pigs produced in gestation pens.  

The American agricultural industry (and it is an industry) has a lot to answer for--cruelty, laws that try to prevent publicity on questionable farm practices, antibiotics in feed, and attempts to drive out family farmers.  If people want to eat foods that come from crops that are not GMOs, give them that right.