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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Political Harridans

I am not an admirer of S. Palin.   She strikes me as being a hopeless lightweight, who, however, has just enough smarts to have discovered that in the tragically upside-down Republican world, she can pass herself off as something more -- a quise that instantly disappears whenever she takes a step into the larger setting.   But in the current sorting out of the Republican aspirants to the Oval Office, I have to admit that in one sense she is performing a valuable service.   Just by being she throws a clear perspective on the other harridan in that contest, M. Bachmann, who has been taking advantage of that same atmosphere of black is white and up is down.

So far Palin hasn't officially thrown her hat in the ring, and instead she is playing a daring game of letting anticipation work for her, until in her judgment just the right moment arrives to make her announcement.   Meanwhile, in the absence of Palin, Bachmann has been doing a lot of grunt work that has given her a certain amount of credibility that would have been available to her only in a world of the insane.

Putting aside their physical attributes and Palin's warm look and Bachmann's near hysterical frigidity, Bachmann's thought processes suffer just as badly in comparison.   Palin is funny.  Palin is a comic, and she has high entertainment value, if you're willing to temporarily overlook certain things.  In contrast, there's nothing whatever funny and entertaining about M. Bachmann.  Instead everything she does and says is freighted with malevolence.

Consider the kind of stuff Palin said when J. McCain first brought her off the tundra.  So far Bachmann has come out with nothing to approach the charm of Palin's sincere and simple contention that from Alaska she could see Russia.   Instead you will find things like Bachmann's statement that the recent earthquake, followed by the floods of Hurricane Irene, were God's punishment to the U.S. Northeast for the liberal political leanings there.

So, was the terrible rainlessness that deeply conservative Texas has been suffering this year a sign of God's wrath, too?

Things got worse when, seeing that that remark went over like a lead balloon, Bachmann quickly tried to cover herself by saying that she had just been joking.  This is the standard lame excuse that adolescents use whenever someone calls them on some act that went awry, when in reality the culprits did intend just the sort of harm that they inflicted.   Therefore in so speaking Bachmann was not being Presidential; instead she was being juvenile -- and worse.

I think of Palin as being too disengenuous to pull something as diabolical as that out of her gluteus.   The devil may make fleeting appearances in her but doesn't find the soil in her as fertile as it does that of M. Bachmann.  This is what comes of the latter's habit of throwing professed Christianity at everything that moves.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Car Key Wouldn't Go In

Over a month ago we had an unusual and mystifying car experience.   In the 2002 Coupe de Ville Cadillac that my wife inherited from her mother a few years ago, something metallic was blocking the key from going in more than a quarter of an inch into the ignition switch, rendering that big and otherwise still sumptuous vehicle strangely inoperable.   This isn't nearly as common as is the failure of a car key to turn the switch once it is in.

I am still a complete stranger to this car, and I have never driven it -- from my previous life in the city Cadillacs have an ethos to which I am strongly  hostile -- so I was much shyer about fixing it than I would've been on the 22-year old Isuzu pickup that I drive -- on the probably bi-monthly occasions when I drive..   Still I tried several things to keep from doing the almost unthinkable, which was to have the car towed 10 miles to the nearest shop.

I had always heard that graphite powder was the thing to use on stuck locks instead of oil, so I tried that, but it didn't work.   Researching online led me to someone with a 2003 model of the same car who successfully used the old reliable WD-40, but that didn't work either.

Meanwhile online information also indicated that not being able to insert the key is most often due to one of those modern niceties of car manufacture that probably in the long run are more trouble than they're worth.  A lot of ignition switches now come with a tiny retractable door set a short distance down in the keyhole that close it off when the car isn't in operation, to keep out dust or as part of elaborate anti-theft schemes, such as are likely to be found on over-fancy cars like the Cadillac -- and maybe even on every other car that's sold these days.

That's all well and good, but sometimes those little protective doors get stuck in the closed position, and various means have to be used to force them open, and, as the existence of this great "improvement" is unknown by many car owners, it can be a big hassle if the door hangs up while the car is a long way from any shop or mechanic, which you would expect would usually be the case, though we were lucky and it happened right in our driveway, and since wife also has an older Saturn that she uses much more often, we were able to let the Cadillac just sit while for a time we waited to see if the Caddy would come to its senses over such a highly niggling matter, and every few days we would try the key again, but for some reason that didn't work.

With that little door in mind, I kept trying to work up to the idea of putting the key that quarter-inch or so into the switch and then giving the top of it a whack or two with a tackhammer, but again I refrained, for fear of damaging the switch enough that it would really result in the car having to be towed.   So I settled for seeing whether I could force a jeweler's screwdriver past the obstruction, and I did manage to get it in a millimeter or so farther, but then the screwdriver kept getting stuck, and it was hard to pull it back out.

Somewhere in all the collections of tools that I have scattered in several outbuildings, I have a dental pick that would've been better than the screwdriver and was less likely to mess something up, but I couldn't find it, before a very competent local mechanic came to take a look, after finally managing to fit it into his busy schedule.   He saw no way to fix the switch short of replacing it, so he ordered another one, and that took several more days to arrive and cost $55.   But the new switch came with no tumblers built in, and to get a locksmith to put them in meant removing the old lock first, and that required nevertheless somehow getting the key in just a little farther.

The mechanic had a pick similar to the one I have somewhere, and, finding that he could push it in a good deal deeper than the key, he then tried the key again, and voila!   Suddenly it would go in and out numerous times without jamming, and the car was suddenly fixed, just like that.

As glad as I am that that was all it took, I can't help kicking myself for being on the right track but being too leery of that big car to carry my ideas through.   But maybe also my little efforts with the graphite and the oil may have loosened up the obstruction enough to make it possible for the mechanic to push it aside and make it stay there, or at least open and shut the way it is supposed to, assuming it is a little dust door and not just a loose piece of metal.

But all in all, especially since the car was here at home and we were able to just let it sit for about a month before the solution dropped out of the sky, as I kept thinking it was morally obliged to do, such was the nature of the thing, the problem didn't actually cost us much in terms of anything, and we're supposed to get the money back for that unused switch, too.



Friday, August 26, 2011

Sinister Love: C. Rice and Her Admirers

Mo Gadhafi, the former Libyan dictator who is now on the desperate run, must have left his comfortable lodgings in his Tripoli compound in a terrible hurry.   How else to explain at least two absolutely essential possessions that under less trying circumstances he would never have left behind.   One was a very distinctive military officer's cap, in which he seemed to like to pose when he was not playing his several other roles.   But even more important was a photograph album,  probably compiled by all the best security agencies in the world and filled with pictures of GW Bush's close friend, confidante, handholder, adviser, and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

Well, like Ymelda Marcos, the wife of another late dictator, and her shoes, Dafi probably has lots more caps where that one came from.   And as for the album, there are the memories. . . .

Apparently all the pictures were of a quite respectable nature, but the sheer number and concentration of them showed that his interest in the lady went considerably beyond a mere casual interest -- as if he hadn't made that already stunningly clear when, in 2007, when the Bushies decided to make friends with him after many years of contention between the U.S. and Libya, and just one year before Rice became the first such American official in half a century to visit Libya and she had dinner with him, he went into a big rave with this:

"I support my darling black African woman.   . . .I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders. ... Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. ... I love her very much. I admire her, and I'm proud of her, because she's a black woman of African origin."

Behind that, if there if there had ever been any doubts about Gadhafi's prevailing state of mind....

I mean, as women go, C. Rice does have a presentable enough appearance, and a picture of her taken when she was in her early 20's has always stuck in my mind, because it showed that she has especially noteworthy legs.  But that was never noticed or said aloud about her.   That was because C. Rice is not really a woman.  Instead she is something else of an extremely ghastly nature.   She is the epitome of a sinister nether-wing intellect, and in her case that trumps everything else about her, badly.

The fact that her toxic mentality exerted such a powerful hold on both G.W. Bush and on Gadhafi is therefore a monumentally bad reflection on both men.   I can't begin to think what the fact that she attracted two ragtags such as those two says about her.  I do suspect that she was perfectly well aware that her hero and benefactor was not too swift, as shown by a picture showing her squeezing her face into a prune on a South American trip, when Bush wondered aloud whether there were any Rainbows in Brazil.

Gadhafi's statement is revealing in another way.  He has a "Rainbow Thing."

I think I remember reading that in his earlier days he was reviled by his enemies among his fellow Arabs because they believed that he had unacceptable Rainbow ("black") blood running through him.   And then there was also his tendency to align Libya with the sub-Saharan countries to the south, and also to make a lot of use of Rainbow workers and mercenaries.  And now today, the rebels who seem to have deposed of him for good are being charged with being racist in their treatment of these people, by, among things, keeping a great many of those workers in prison camps, because they are seen as being his loyal supporters, no matter what they might say.

But Gadhafi has always been bad company, and maybe that is being finally recognized by those nationals from the south of the desert, as well as by Ms Rice herself.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Destiny of the Dictators

As of now, most things in Libya are matters of speculation, because Gadhafi has gone to ground and can't be found, though the consensus seems to be that he is still in Libya and even in Tripoli.

When he does come up for air, Gaddy's first order of business should be to clarify the spelling of his name.  It seems to be at the mercy of anyone who happens so much as to mention him, and there's no doubt that the different ways must by now be in the hundreds.  The upside, though, is that none of those supercilious spelling czars can come stomping down on you hard for mispelling it.   And think of all the completely defeated spellcheckers in the world!

Angry Arab probably has the longest and most bizarre-looking version -- Qadhdhafi -- but as he is death on anybody who doesn't speak Arabic, he probably thinks his spelling is the only correct one.   I think, though, that he would catch short shrift with it in the western world, especially in the raucous, impatient  country in which he neverthless has unaccountably set up shop in apparent preference to anywhere in the Arab world: the U.S.

Meanwhile you have to wonder what people like Gadhafi and Assad of Syria are thinking.  Especially Assad.  For a while now he has been meeting the numerous protests of his countrymen by trying to mow them all down with gunfire.   The number of dead at his hands must be up in the thousands by now, yet the protestors still turn out every day in large numbers.  With all that blood on his hands and with no one in the outside world to approve of his actions, how can Assad think this can have any kind of a good ending for him, even if he should prevail and the protests finally subside?   What kind of a country would he be left with?   And has he been watching the outcome of his neighbor despot in Libya?
       The rebels have overrun Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli, and he has done what at least two other dictators of his stripe also did, though they did their thing on an even larger scale.   He has gone undeground, and now the hunt is on, and history says that most likely he will be pulled up into the air soon enough, like any ordinary bedraggled, scraggly mole.   In so doing he is following the example of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and of Germany's Adolph Shickelgruber -- not an illustrious pair for him to be following, either in their careers or in their endings -- and if he doesn't know that, someone should tell him.

You may remember that Saddam was pulled out of a hole in the ground out in the countryside and soon thereafter was hung.   And before that Gruber offed himself with cynaide pills, following which his underlings doused and burned his remains with many gallons of valuable gasoline, and the Russians never revealed what they did with whatever they found of him.

You would think that instead, if he followed his true god to the end, Gadhafi would come up out of there, shake himself off, and say, "Here I am, y'all, and the name if you don't mind is spelled such-and-such."   He has all the credentials he needs for that kind of quirkness and cheekiness, and it would at least be the honorable thing to do, and he might even live long enough to go to the wonderful country of Holland, there to spout off what he thought he was doing.   That would be far preferable to what he is doing now, which is sounding like that Iraqi minister who, in one of those two ventures when the U.S. rolled up Saddam, kept idiotically proclaiming the imminent crushing of those Mark Twain Christians, though they were the ones who were actually holding all four aces in the deck.


Ghost Earthquakes

It seems weird to me that it's been only a day since the earthquake.  Could that have been one of its "ghost" effects -- that it severely dislocated a part of my already impaired time continuum?

Today I made another tour of my house, checking out the windows.   I put in a lot of windows, of many shapes and sizes, and it amazes me that that severe shaking of the house between the pair of gigantic, invisible hands didn't cause a crack in any of them.  Maybe it's the fact that none of the panes are precisely cut and tightly puttied in like regular windows but are instead sitting a little loosely in their frames, wherein the space has grown even larger over the years because of the green oak slowly drying and shrinking farther away from the glass.   And in fact all of my homemade house is probably like that -- its various parts sitting loosely on and within each other.

Since my last post I've read that there was damage in at least two places in my hometown of Washington D.C., both of which rate high only on the symbolic list.   As is obvious -- and unless they've done something disagreeable since I stopped living there about 35 years ago -- the Washington Monument is, at about 555 feet, by far the tallest structure in D.C., and some cracks have been found at the very tip of that massive, granite obelisk.

The National Cathedral, a Catholic place of devotions, could very well be D.C.'s second tallest edifice, and the quake is reported as having caused "significant" damage there.  I'm not surprised.   The construction on that church seemed to be as never-ending and going on for about as long as the Israelis and the Palestinians have been at each other's throats.  Maybe longer, maybe for as much as 100 years, and I'm not sure that they even finished it, and I think a lot of the unfinished work had to do with the statuary and the other decorative bricabrac inside, and maybe they still didn't have enough time to sufficiently fasten all that stuff in place.

Somebody also proposed that earthquakes are more serious in California than they are on the East Coast because the Earth's crust is older and more solid on the East Coast than it is out west.   I'm wondering if that's the cause of what I regard as the ghostly nature of these three quakes that I've experienced here so far.   They all have manifested themselves in various physical sensations such as induced queasiness and especially in noise and not at all in the damage that should have resulted but didn't.   Maybe here the entire crust moves in one piece instead of breaking up into smaller sections, and that would account for all the noise and very little damage but with the perpetrators of those alarming sounds never anywhere to be seen.


More on the Quake, Leading into Other Things

Wife was in the county seat, 14 miles north of here, doing some campaign drudge work with envelopes, addresses, and that kind of stuff, when the quake yesterday shook the building.   The ramrod lady instantly told her workers to vacate the premises, an ancient brick structure, and thus exactly duplicating what they did at the massive granite FBI headquarters in D.C., 160 miles northeast of here.

Without being prompted, wife had exactly the same impression as K. and I, of the way it had sounded, of a big truck lolopping down the street.

It is being called the "Virginia Quake" because the epicenter turned out to be scarcely more than 65 miles northeast of our house, a supposedly shallow 3.7 miles under a place called "Mineral," through which I think I used to take shortcuts when I was commuting back and forth from D.C. while nailing together my house here.   But the tremor was felt from far south of here to all the way up into New England, as well as on out into the Midwest, though the totally negligible effects -- a few losses of cellphone capability and that's all -- were exactly the same all over as it was here.

Long and painful experience with the kind caused me to lose no time in wondering how all the anti-Obamarers were going to blame the earthquake on him, and finally decided that, because so many of those people are quasi-religious and therefore are not expected to make any sense, they would whisper to each other something like, "See?   This is what happens when they let a kneegah become the U.S. President.   It made God angry."

This isn't far-fetched at all, for today in hardly no time reading online, I chanced upon a statement by someone who indeed found it extremely amusing and clever to say that it was proper and fitting that it happened in the Obama era, because by extending over such a large area, the quake spread out its effects instead of concentrating it -- a variation of the frequent charge that he is a Socialist.   I forgot who said it, though I think it was someone named "Thoreau."   Not of course the Walden Pond Henry guy, or the French painter of the peaceable animals.   I think they both would have had far more cool. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quake Here

Less than an hour ago I was sitting here at my computer reading about one or another of the many serious things happening in the world when right here in my most immediate world, something suddenly started giving my little home-made "green oak" house a good shaking, accompanined by a loud booming noise, as if an impossibly huge vehicle had suddenly started rolling down the road straight in this direction.   And this commotion lasted a long time, for almost 20 seconds I would say.   I jumped up and hurried to the kitchen, though I didn't run -- having turned 80 less than a month ago, I do not instinctively run anywhere anymore -- but by the time I got there, it was all over. . . .

The latest earthquake here.

I made a quick tour of the house and of the workshop, but I could see absolutely nothing amiss, and though both places are filled with things that could've fallen off shelves, there was none of that.

Then, a short while later, one of wife's cousins from Atlanta called, to see if we were all right.   He had just seen a newscast, and he said our earthquake here in Virginia had been measured as a 6.0.

I called my neighbor, K., the potter across the road.   He said he was in his studio, making pots, and the quake gave everything a good shaking, the same as here in my house.   He ran outside, and there he could see the ground moving.   But again he saw nothing fallen, amongst all the pots in his shop or elsewhere.  But he had exactly the same impression of the sound of it that I had -- of a very large truck thundering down the road.

This is the third small quake we've had here in the last 10 years or so.   I was outside for the first one, and experienced it as some invisible force that suddenly and briefly whooshed through the big trees overhead, while the second manifested itself entirely in a noise as if a house or some other building had suddenly been the victim of a gigantic explosion, just a few hundred yards away.   I kept looking to see a big plume of smoke mounting into the sky over the trees, but naturally saw nothing.
It's odd that I had just finished reading online about a big earthquake that hit Colorado today or yesterday.   I was surprised, as I never associate any place in the Rockies with quakes, but that was in large part how all those huge mountains got there in the first place, isn' it?

I wonder if these several tremors are pre-shocks leading up to something big here, later today or some time in the next 10,000 years?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Eating Libyan Crow

Nothing -- aside from any hurricanes that should happen to form in the North Atlantic -- is more interesting than events today in Libya, with the regards to the situation on the ground there and the situation in the current U.S. political scene, where it looks as if very soon quite a few people will have to start eating large portions of crow.   In fact, I think they already have for a while now, though it's amazing and greatly entertaining to watch their attempts not to appear to be doing so.   And I include in that also someone who was almost as rabid about it as any Repub and should've easily known better, the sometimes badly over-reaching Angry Arab.

A few months ago, following the example set by other Arabs in overthrowing their longtime rulers of Tunisia and Egypt, people in Libya decided that they, too, had had enough of their likewise intolerable longtime tyrant, a veritable wreck of a man named M. Gadhafi, and they took up arms against him.   But it turned out that all that weaponry that Gadhafi had been buying with all that oil money was not for use at all against the neighboring Egyptians or the Algerians, or against the Americans, the Israelis, the British, the German Nazis, Stalin's Russians, the armies of Napoleon, the Mamelukes, the Turks, the Romans, the Assyrians, the Scythians, the Neanderthals, or anyone else at all.   Instead those weapons had been intended for use in putting  down with maximum prejudice any locals who should threaten what Gadhafi saw as his inborn right to lord it over the Libyans in any way that he pleased and for as long as he pleased, deep into his idiocy and his growing senility.

And he was well on his way to slaughtering all those opponents, together with a good chunk of Libya's other citizenry, when various members of NATO thought it the honorable thing to step in and give the rebels a hand, almost entirely by operations from the air.

The British and the French were the main parties interested in doing this, but President Obama helped them to get the operation off to a good start by putting various U.S. military capabilities at their disposal, short, however, of any ground troops.

No matter.  It had already become so fashionable to use every opportunity to trash the relatively innocuous and often subtle Obama (yes, hard as it may be for many to picture, even with a generous dose of African blood running through his arteries a man can still be subtle), some people almost instantly started calling the NATO venture "Obama's War."   Among other things, the Right Wing jumped at the chance to use this effort to take some of the heat off the onus of GW Bush's hideous invasion and  occupation of Iraq, though there was absolutely no comparison between the two events.  Obama kept the U.S. involvement at an absolute minimum, compared to what he could have used and to what Bush had used in Iraq.   In fact, the operation was only a few days old when Obama quietly stepped back and turned the spearheading of it entirely over to NATO, and thereafter, the news media, much as they would have liked to keep Obama lashed to Libya by his necktie, the interest of truth that couldn't be hidden or denied forced them to speak of Libya as being a NATO concern, and Obama's connection was hardly mentioned at all, except occasionally to repeat some Republican claim about how dearly the Libyan commitment was costing the U.S., though, as such things go, that cost was peanuts.

Now it looks as if from the bad guys' point of view, the worst is about to happen.   The Libyan rebels, with not one American sergeant among them, has managed, with NATO's several thousand air sorties of various kinds, to drive all the way across Libya, and now they have entered Gadhafi's ultimate redoubt, the capital city of Tripoli, and, according to various reports, they already control most of that city, and it looks as if his time in the saddle is now down to just a few days if not mere hours.

And now it also looks as if Obama has something here that he can definitely claim as a victory, modest as his contributions were, and his detractors are faced with the difficult problem of figuring how to take that away from him.

In an opinion piece yesterday the highly conservative Wall Street Journal showed just how the Nasties propose to do that, short of ignoring this development entirely or by dismissing it as being of no consequence at all.  (You may not be able to read the article to which I have just  linked, if you don't subscribe to the WSJ.   I don't, but yesterday I saw more than just the first paragraph or so, though I am sure this is the same article.)   Anyway, the WSJ lauded the imminent triumph of the rebels, as it also did the NATO contribution, along with the U.S. involvement.  But they tempered their praise by regretting that it had taken so long for the rebels to prevail, and the Journal said that it would have been better if more resources had been put into the operation by NATO from the start.  

I avoid reading the WSJ, for the same reason that I would not go near a pack of howling wild dogs, but I would bet that in the past that publication has been among those who attacked Obama on the grounds of the U.S. costs that were going into the effort.   

Meanwhile, in the article the term, "the U.S.," is always used, but nowhere is the name of B. Obama mentioned.   --It can never be conceded to the slightest degree that he picked the right horse, or in this case the right course of action to take, and all on his own to boot, for among the howls of outrage against him on Libya was the charge that he stepped in without getting the prior approval of the U.S. Congress or anyone else, though I had always thought, good for him.  That would've been akin to getting the Mafia's approval.  And after all, how was it that in attacking Obama over Libya, his detractors seemed to fail to notice that they were once more coming down on the side of the Worm, in this case a bloodthirsty wastrel named Gadhafi.

So these guys -- and gals -- should always watch out before they head for Obama's jugular like rabid vampire bats.   As likely as not, he may be seeing the Worm that is invisible to their hate-clouded eyes.


Purely Piling on B. Obama

Recently it's been painful for me to write anything to post here, the reason being that the biggest ongoing story these days is the concerted attempt to discredit President B. Obama for any reason that can possibly be dredged up, and in particular the way that so many so -called "Progressives" are increasingly following the Republican lead in trashing him at every opportunity, so much so that I am no longer able to see much difference between the two groups.  And this is despite the fact that, much as it might've been expected, I didn't vote for Obama in the primaries, though I did do so in the general election.

This piling on became clear to me almost from the day that Obama was sworn in,  at a site called "Common Dreams."   Once upon a time Common Dreams had been a truly progressive site, but as soon as Obama became President he came under severe fire from the authors and the commenters there.   It quickly grew so vicious and constant that I had to stop reading Common Dreams.   Still, once in a while I would check back to see if the barrages against him had eased up any, but there was never any such luck.

Recently there was an article in Common Dreams that was typical of this unfortunate bag in which so many supposed Progressives now -- if they but knew -- find themselves hanging by their tongues.   It is titled "The Bad Deal", and was written by someone named James Galbraith.   Though the article is mostly about the recent agreement made on extending the debt ceiling, Galbraith devotes the first few paragraphs to his proposition that the Europeans are now also following the U.S. Republican lead in trashing Obama,  and Galbraith seems to be gleeful about stating this.   He sounds almost as delighted as were the great majority of the numerous commenters who rushed to throw their two cents onto the offal pile that begins and fatally discolors what is probably otherwise a quite credible discussion of the debt situation.

This has all been seen before.   In Obama's case it is caused mainly by badly concealed skin color bigotry, but in Bill Clinton's time the same thing happened, and it was caused by the common cause that the hatred of the Republicans for anything even remotely worthwhile coincides with the contempt that certain Progressives feel whenever the Democrats don't quite do all the things that they want to see done and with the desired speed.   Plus it also involves the frustration that these Progressives feel at how remote the chances are of forming a third party that has any chance of furthering their goals.

I call this process of shooting one's self in their calf muscles the "Bartcop Syndrome."   During the GWBush regime, while he was strongly against the Repubs, the proprietor of the longtime and highly entertaining weblog, Bartcop, spent more time castigating the Democrats -- whom you would think he would have seen as being his natural allies -- than he did the Republicans.  In fact sometimes it was hard not to think that he was actually a closet Repub, because of the abundance of pictures he would run of GW Bush, much more than of Clinton or anyone else.   Showing boatloads of pictures of someone is a sure sign of strong respect, isn't it?   And a quick look at Bartcop's site nowadays shows that, while he doesn't appreciate the current Repub "heroes" nearly as much as he did Bush, at least graphically, he still hasn't escaped his old follies, as demonstrated by the numerous shots he now likes to take at Obama.

I think I know the reason for this barely hidden Progressive admiration for the Repubs.   Not so deep in their hearts they would like to see Progressives being just like Repubs when it comes to unrelenting nastiness and unending aggressiveness.

These mistaken souls don't see the numerous Rocks of Stupidity and Insanities upon which those supposedly admirable traits have washed up and shipwrecked the Repubs, as is so clearly shown by their present crop of dummies who inexplicably see themselves as excellent candidates to be the next U.S. President, though they are mainly much better prospects for taking long hikes on the Planet Uranus.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Stink Bugs Are Coming -- Back!

This is the fourth year that the Japanese Beetles have not yet shown up, and for that I am eternally grateful, though I keep wishing I knew the reasons why.   Having seen the fight that has always been necessary to wage against them, during all my now large number of adult years, I had thought that they were immortal and that nothing could be done to keep them from coming back every year.   But something did.

But then, last year, a new invasive insect species suddenly showed up in large numbers -- another import from Asia, the brown marmorated stink bug.   They differ from the Japanese Beetles in that they are a very plain, undistinctive brown, and their armor plates don't come in nearly the dazzling array of bright metallic colors worn by the Beetles.  The stink bugs also differ in that they don't restrict themselves to the outside, though last year they did do great damage to fruit crops, causing a loss of 37 million in apples alone.    They also like to invade homes and another other available buildings where they can find humans to aggravate with their loud and active buzzings and their "don't touch me or your nose will feel the pain" ethic   And in contrast to the two or three months of the Beetles at their worst, the stink bugs hang around for pretty much half the year, mainly in the cold months,  and they live up to their name, giving out a very distinct bad smell whenever they're squeezed, and sometimes when they';re not. 
       We didn't know they existed until they showed up in our house and my workshop last year, as they did everywhere else around here and often in much larger infestations than we had, so that we've heard tales of people returning home to find their doors covered with large splotches of the things, just waiting to get in.   And they definitely took away from the quality of life -- dropping down from above at the most unexpected times and then stupidly staring up and waiting for you to grab it and terminate it, after which there would always be others to replace them, many others, though thankfully not all at one time.

I've read that they entered the U.S. in a shipment of some kind to Allentown, Pennsylvania, another result of that worst year in my living memory, 2001, and they've been expanding their range ever since, and now they're well-established all over the Mid-Atlantic and reaching out for more.

We haven't seen any for four or five months, but now an article in the Washington Post assures us that the stink bugs have just been hibernating, in our homes and shops, and that, come late September, they'll be back again, and in much larger force than last year.

Before we moved here to rural Virginia about 35 years ago, people in D.C. had a good time warning us about the bears that would "eat us up."   But I hadn't been here long before I noticed that the field mice were doing us much more damage than any of the rarely seen though admittedly still present bears.   But the insects put both the bears and the mice to shame, and if it's not one, then it's many others.

Such is the natural world in which it is so much our pleasure to live. 

Update, 21 August.   Today my wife saw the first stinkbug of the season, one and one only, sitting on a freshly washed sheet that she had hung  out to dry.   I am disappointed, as the article that I mentioned gave the impression that we still had several weeks to go.   Oh, well.   Given the many vagaries of the insect world,  maybe we won't be seeing as much of them this year, also regardless of what the article says.  Hoping is all we can do when it comes to those little rascals.