July 19, 2013

Gratuitous book and film plug

Image by way of wikipedia.

A while back, I read a strange, dreamlike post-modern novel that interlaced several related stories over a period of time stretching from the mid 1800s to centuries in the future. If that rings any bells, the Gentle Reader is already thinking of British author David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas.

When I  heard a couple of years ago that someone was making a movie version I didn't think it could be done. I was wrong. The film was as dreamlike as the book. Different of course as it 's a different medium. But I'd say the filmmakers did it right.

There is a kind of Mahayana Buddhist tone to the whole that that is more explicit in the film than the book about how cause and effect ripple out through time with never ending consequences. Two other themes are love and rebellion, which aren't bad.

For what it's worth, I'd recommend both. But both take work. I think I'm going to wind up revisiting both.

ATTEMPTED SABOTAGE. Here's a good Gazette editorial on the Affordable Care Act.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, if you live in WV, click here to learn more about how to help thousands of uninsured state residents sign up for health care next year.

FOOD STAMPS. Here's a story about the latest attack on this program and what it could mean for people in West Virginia, where around 1 in 5 rely on them.


July 17, 2013

Just who's a bird brain?

Since I began spending time with birds here at Goat Rope Farm, I've been struck by how smart, emotional, and parental they can be. The more I see, the more the term bird brain doesn't seem to fit. However, recent research suggests that the label might well apply to all of us.

AFFORDABLE CARE FOR REAL. There's been quite a bit of noise on the right about how the Affordable Care Act will make health care unaffordable for many Americans. Not that reality matters much to that crowd, but it looks like individual health premiums in New York might fall by 50 percent next year as the reforms kick in.

CLIMATE CHANGE is expensive.



July 16, 2013


As thousands of Boy Scouts converge on West Virginia, some conspiracy theorists apparently believe that the WV National Guard is part of an evil plot to expand government power. Some of these folks also believe that the government was behind the Boston Marathon bombings. I think the idea is that the Guard or some other conspirator would do something bad that would create a state of emergency that could be exploited.

I guess one advantage of making such predictions is that if they don't happen you can claim credit for stopping them.

LESS WHACKED BUT STILL BAD. Here's a look at some bad economic ideas that are damaging the country.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, the city of Charleston WV is on the verge of getting more farmer-friendly with a new urban agriculture ordinance. 


July 15, 2013

The real hunger games

I took a few days off last week and Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games was one of the books I finished. The book's heroine, after all, is a fellow hillbilly and her home, District 12 would include what is now West Virginia.

It looks like House Republicans in DC want to play it for real. As Paul Krugman notes, they eliminated all funding for SNAP or food stamps from their version of the Farm Bill. Krugman gets in some zingers:

To fully appreciate what just went down, listen to the rhetoric conservatives often use to justify eliminating safety-net programs. It goes something like this: “You’re personally free to help the poor. But the government has no right to take people’s money” — frequently, at this point, they add the words “at the point of a gun” — “and force them to give it to the poor.”
It is, however, apparently perfectly O.K. to take people’s money at the point of a gun and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.

FUTURE FUND. The buzz continues.

HOW COME NOTHING THIS COOL HAPPENS TO ME? A friend sent me a link to an interesting story last week. It seems that a 19 foot python fell from the ceiling of a charity-run thrift shop in Australia.


July 14, 2013

North Dakota dreaming

West Virginia legislators often get lots of flack for going on junkets to interesting places on the public nickel. However, when the destination is North Dakota, the flack factor seems to disappear.

That state in fact is going to be the destination of state lawmakers, where, among other things, they will study North Dakota's Legacy Fund, a permanent trust fund created from the revenue collected from industries extracting natural resources.

This will probably ring a bell with regular readers. For some time, I've been working with allies to drum up support for something similar here, where we tend to call it a Future Fund. As I mentioned in an earlier post, a political shakeup in the WV House may have helped move that issue along.

In the meantime, here's a view from North Dakota.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, here's President Obama's statement on the George Zimmerman verdict.

GREEN SHOOTS. Here's an encouraging story on the local food  movement in WV.