December 31, 2008


Imaginitive drawing of the long since destroyed temple of Zeus at Olympia. Image courtesy of wikipedia.

El Cabrero has been so busy slacking and blogging about books for the last several days that current events and snarky comments about the same have been sadly neglected.

One more book for the road though: Tom Stone's Zeus: A Journey Through Greece in the Footsteps of a God was a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of the Hairy Thunderer and the whole Olympian family and this book scratched that itch.

(It's a bit ironic that many people have seen some kind of moral progress in the triumph of monotheistic religions over polytheism. At times I must admit that the evidence for this seems underwhelming...)

Anyhow, aside from the usual news fare of carnage and collapse, here are some items that caught my eye in the last week or so:

RECORD FINE FOR MINE FATALITY. From the Dec. 24 Charleston Gazette, Aracoma Coal Co., a subsidiary of Massey Energy, admitted criminal safety violations in a fire in which two miners, Don Bragg and Ellery Hatfield, died in 2006. The company pleaded guilty to 10 criminal charges, including one felony. The company must pay a record $2.5 million in criminal fines and an additional $1.7 million in civil fines.

WAL-MART COUGHS IT UP FOR WORKERS' UNPAID WAGES. Far be it from me to take joy in the misfortunes of others, but this is freakin' awesome!

SIGNS OF THE TIMES, PART ONE. Last week, an AP story reported that a growing number of Americans have been giving up their cats and dogs as the economy tanks. Yesterday's Gazette reported that both pets and farm animals have been abandoned at an increasing rate in West Virginia.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES, PART TWO. On a little less grim note, more people are using repair shops to fix old items rather than buy new ones as money gets tighter.

One thing that struck me on a trip to Mexico last summer was the vast number of businesses there that fix up all the things that people here just throw away. It was another reminder of how wasteful we are.

DEMOGRAPHIC ODDITY. At a time when adults in industrialized countries have grown taller, the average height of African-American women has been declining, beginning with those born in the 1960s. The effect is most pronounced in women with low and median incomes, while those with higher incomes have actually grown taller.

ONE MORE THING. Happy New Year and don't drink and drive!



Unknown said...

Happy and blessed New year, El Cabrero! I have been reading your grand words via email for much too long without dropping by to comment and say “thanks.”

El Cabrero said...

And the same to you, Nick! Here's hoping for better days ahead.