Time zone battle back in spotlight

Backwards Clock

O Tempora! The problem here isn't Eastern vs. Central, the problem is daylights savings time. If we switched to Central Time (and kept DST) the problem would simply shift around the calendar. It might not be quite as obnoxious, but the net effect would be the same. It's simply an accident of geography that Indiana happens to fit in one of those places where fiddling with the clock is going to have weird side effects, which is precisely why we've been wrestling with time zones since the railroads forced them on the country over a century ago.

Eastern or Central - take your pick, it's almost irrelevant. Just stop springing forward and falling back before more fecal matter hits the whirling blades!

The Central Time Coalition favors having Central Standard Time in the winter and Central Daylight Time in the summer. That would put the state on the same time as Chicago.

(link) [Indianapolis Star]

18:49 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Covert Operations

Truth and Fiction - if the Koch brothers are libertarians, then I'm a woolly mammoth.

I was there in 1980, working on the Ed Clark campaign in Indiana. I met David Koch. Six weeks later I quit the Libertarian Party (of which I was one of the founding members here) and never went back. We called what we encountered the "Kochtopus" (coined by SEK3, IIRC). Sure they believed in property rights - theirs - and they treated the Libertarian Party as if it were their personal property, a mere vehicle for their personal enrichment (and ego).

I had no idea these were the folks behind the Tea Party movement - but with this knowledge I know for certain to stay as far away from from it as I can (as if I needed an extra nudge away from those raving wingnuts).

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests.

(link) [The New Yorker]

06:50 /Politics | 2 comments | permanent link

Small farms are the Vermont Way

says our friend Walter Jefferies of NoNAIS. They should be the Hoosier Way, too...

I believe in building small, scalable, sustainable systems that interlock to create a secure greater whole. This fractal approach is how nature gradually evolves robust, complex systems. It is a model from which we all can learn.

(link) [Burlington Free Press]

Update:See the comments for what the title should have been...

21:38 /Agriculture | 2 comments | permanent link

The State of the Free Market

These two tales highlight exactly how the State is the real controlling factor in the market, which isn't really free at all ...

Pay Up

Got a blog that makes no money? The city wants $300, thank you very much.

(link) [Philadelphia City paper]

Sour Taste

After a county inspector squeezed out a kid's lemonade business, so many Oregonians puckered up in disgust that the county chairman had to pour on a little sugar.

(link) [MSNBC]

21:34 /Politics | 2 comments | permanent link

Back Home Again

from Minnesota, where we were visiting a daughter and the grandkids. It was quite a trip, and included a couple of side adventures to other sheep producers, so I'll be blogging more about it. After I've slept for awhile ...

20:21 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Oracle's Java Suit Gives Jolt

I got tired of Java's failed "write once, run anywhere" promise years ago - and if this kind of legal wrangling heats up, maybe more developers will discover the joys of like I did.

Oracle Corp.'s legal action against Google Inc. reverberated through Silicon Valley, prompting fears that court battles over Java software may spread beyond cellphones to other tech sectors.

(link) [WSJ Online]

06:58 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Another Disaster From Hormones in Milk Production

Maybe consumers will finally end factory farming when they have to buy training bras for their two year olds ... of course, given the current state of "the market", that may be tough, because you can't know what you're buying:

Have you ever wondered why dairy products made from cows injected with the hormone aren't labeled? It's because Monsanto, the original manufacturer of BGH, has aggressively and successfully lobbied state governments in the past to make sure that no legislation is passed that would require such labeling.

As if that wasn't enough, Monsanto has also insistently sought to make it illegal for dairy products that are BGH-free to say so on their labels, unless the labels also included wording exonerating BGH. How does Monsanto justify such a ban? They say that allowing retailers to tell consumers that a dairy product is BGH-free shouldn't be allowed, even if it's true, because it unfairly stigmatizes BGH.

This goes way beyond our children entering puberty before they enter school - our farmers are barred from even voluntarily testing for mad cow disease:

USDA and beef industry have decided to fight to ban Creekstone’s testing because the beef producers fear that Creekstone having such a competitive advantage might result in other beef producers having to implement similar 100% testing programs. Their position is that randomly testing less than 1% of the cattle in the US is adequate, and no producer should be able to do its own testing to superior standards.

There's another industrial complex at work here, and it's every bit as dangerous as the military one. A truly free market would protect us from such madness, but the Agricultural Industrial Complex has enlisted the power of the State to stifle and subvert the market. Let's just hope they haven't irreparably damaged the human species in the process.

People are very upset about this, and for good reason. Female infants in China who have been fed formula have been growing breasts.

(link) [Huffington Post]

06:21 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

Farmers Lean to Truce on Animals’ Close Quarters

Not all farmers are factory farmers, and those of us who aren't are already doing things the right way. My concern here is twofold: first, HSUS is basically out to eliminate all animal agriculture. If you can pin down the animal rights folks, they'll admit it. And I wonder if the "give them an inch and they'll take a mile" principle might not be in operation here. On the other hand, Big Ag is very experienced politically, and can craft regulations and rules that can be bent and twisted to essentially void any good purpose.

Factory farming will only be finally eliminated when consumers demand it - and they'll only demand it if they're convinced it's better for them. That's why I give away a dozen eggs to new customers - one taste of a real egg and they'll never settle for factory eggs again.

Concessions by farmers in this state [Ohio] to sharply restrict the close confinement of hens, hogs and veal calves are the latest sign that so-called factory farming — a staple of modern agriculture that is seen by critics as inhumane and a threat to the environment and health — is on the verge of significant change.

(link) [New York Times]

22:11 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

Surgery and sightseeing on your boss' dime

I bet you can get some sweet deals on surgery in India...

Tina Follett and her husband Patrick are in Panama on a two-week all-expenses paid trip. But Tina isn't on vacation. She's there to get surgery.

(link) [CNN]

20:44 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

USDA Animal ID Meetings Redux

They're baaaaccckkk ...

The USDA failed to get support for their proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Last year they got a resounding “NO!!!!!” from the public and farmers both at the hearings and in Federal Registry comments. Yet, they keep trying to shove this dead horse down our throats…

(link) [NoNAIS]

22:08 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

Gathering Tools
Sickle Bar Mower

Well, we started buying tools for haymaking on our own this weekend - the photo above shows a 1910 McCormick-Deering No. 7 Sickle Bar Mower. It was originally designed to be pulled by horses, but somebody has put a tongue for a tractor on it - and painted it as a yard ornament. But it's still in fine mechanical condition, and should do quite nicely across our more or less level pastures. Believe it or not, parts are still made for this mower - it's quite popular with our Amish friends.

Next step is a tractor - we'll also need a rake and a baler. It's the latter that actually concerns me most - they're notoriously twitchy and tough to keep running, so we'll have to be very careful there.

We've been way too dependent on friends and neighbors to cut our hay - this has got to stop. Our pasture still isn't cut this year, and there's a lot of waste out there! Can't stand it! Freeman Dyson (the physicist) was right:

The most important invention of the last two thousand years was hay. In the classical world of Greece and Rome and in all earlier times, there was no hay. Civilization could exist only in warm climates where horses could stay alive through the winter by grazing. Without grass in winter you could not have horses, and without horses you could not have urban civilization. Some time during the so-called dark ages, some unknown genius invented hay, forests were turned into meadows, hay was reaped and stored, and civilization moved north over the Alps. So hay gave birth to Vienna and Paris and London and Berlin, and later to Moscow and New York.

Update: I (and Mr. Dyson) stand corrected.

06:54 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Monkeys hate flying squirrels, report monkey-annoyance experts

I wonder how one becomes a monkey-annoyance expert?

Japanese macaques will completely flip out when presented with flying squirrels, a new study in monkey-antagonism has found. The research could pave the way for advanced methods of enraging monkeys.

(link) [Christian Science Monitor]

via Dispatches from the Culture Wars

07:23 /Humor | 2 comments | permanent link

Market Data Firm Spots the Tracks of Bizarre Robot Traders

Fascinating stuff - be sure to read the comments, they're almost better than the article itself. I'm pretty convinced that all high frequency trading is a scam, but I can't puzzle out what these bots are up to...

Mysterious and possibly nefarious trading algorithms are operating every minute of every day in the nation's stock exchanges.

(link) [The Atlantic]

22:38 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Commodity ETFs: Toxic, deadly, evil

The next meltdown is already on the way ...

The warning screams at you: "Do Not Buy Commodity ETFs!" Yes, this Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover reads like National Enquirer or a flashing neon sign on the Vegas Strip.

(link) [Marketwatch]

20:32 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Feds admit storing checkpoint body scan images

Void Where Prohibited by Law"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Hrumpf. Guess that pesky Fourth Amendment is just one more bit that's void where prohibited by law...

For the last few years, federal agencies have defended body scanning by insisting that all images will be discarded as soon as they're viewed. The Transportation Security Administration claimed last summer, for instance, that "scanned images cannot be stored or recorded."

Now it turns out that some police agencies are storing the controversial images after all. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.

(link) [CNET]

20:23 /Politics | 1 comment | permanent link