Monday, September 26, 2011

Why NOT To Eat Bread

One of the facts of 21st century life that helped make me an ex-restaurant owner was having to deal with the preponderance of ridiculous food fads and media driven prohibitions that are out there. It got to where I wanted to shoot the radio or TV every time another “food-borne-illness” report came out. When tomatoes killed a guy in Texas, suddenly every sandwich in the restaurant was going out with “no tomatoes” (which didn’t really bother me much, since fresh tomatoes grown outside of their normal season are gross and tasteless.) A salmonella-in-spinach scare torpedoed sales of the most popular vegetarian offering of my concession business for over a year; though we make the filling with frozen spinach (which is blanched), and the things are cooked in a 400° oven for twenty minutes to boot, you couldn’t talk folks out of their paranoia.

In the waning days of my term as a restaurant owner, the food fad that drove me absolutely crazy—and not only persists but is picking up steam—is the anti-gluten craze. Yes, I understand that the inability to digest gluten was found to be a problem for a subset of people with painful digestive malfunctions that had eluded diagnosis until celiac disease was recognized as the cause. But in the past few years, everyone with any kind of digestive complaint seems to have hit upon gluten as the source of their problems. Gluten has become the dietary devil. The demand for gluten-free this and gluten-free that borders on hysteria.

Bread has been around for something like 30,000 years, folks. Bread and bread-like products were independently developed by hundreds of cultures once human beings figured out they liked grain and it wouldn’t poison them. A food crop with a rich history, one whose cultivation symbolized the transition of mankind from hunter/gatherers to farmers, has suddenly been labeled poison by a hysterical portion of our pop-culture. Just goes to prove the kind of havoc that a lot of people with a little information can wreak.

Of course, I really don’t care if you choose to eliminate gluten from your diet. Knock yourself out, if that’s what you think is going to solve all your health problems. Because of the mysterious connection between our minds and bodies (which is the thing upon which we should really be concentrating if we want to advance our ability to heal sickness), merely believing in a particular health regimen can make it work. Like people who bury potatoes in their back yards to make their warts go away.

But, here’s the problem engendered by our fanatically entitled society: once I’ve decided that something is bad for me, I demand that the entire market place tie itself in knots to pander to my issues. If I’m going gluten-free, the whole world needs to figure out how to make it easy for me. Subway had better cough up gluten-free bread. Pizza Hut had best figure out how to make gluten-free pizza dough. Oh and, by the way, I don’t want to have to PAY more for any of this stuff…

But I digress. The whole reason I began this piece is because a couple of days ago, I had an experience that provided me with a sort of epiphany about America’s bread issues. When I left to go on vacation back in August, I decided I would take with me some extra bread I had left over from the restaurant to feed to the birds on the beach. So I grabbed it out of the freezer, tossed it in a box and threw it into the back of the pick-up. That was a month ago.

Last Friday, I suddenly remembered that I had neglected to unpack the back of the truck when I got home. There was nothing but a bunch of tools, tarps, and camping supplies back there—things that I don’t use when I’m not camping. But…oh no. There WAS that box of bread. Ewwww.

With distinct trepidation, I opened up the back of the canopy and crawled into the truck to retrieve what I was sure was going to be a mass of smelly, powdery green stuff, unrecognizable as bread. What I found was undoubtedly worse than that. Not only was the bread not moldy, it was almost pristine. It wasn’t even stale. I probably could have unwrapped a couple of slices and made a perfectly passable sandwich. It scared the hell out of me.

So I submit to the gluten-fearing American public: It’s probably not the wheat that’s screwing up your health. It’s what we’re doing to it before we eat it that makes it poisonous. And unless you consume nothing but what you have grown, prepared and cooked yourself, you are not saving yourself from anything.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Serious health problems appear to be developing in areas near natural gas fields There have been reports of problems for years, but they were in states like Colorado where the population is still fairly low. Now they're drilling in places like Pennsylvania and near Fort Worth, Texas. The science is lagging behind. The companies claim that the materials they use for fracking are proprietary and won't reveal them. Their message appears to be until you can prove we're causing the problem "frack you."

The article is far to long to post, please follow the link and spread the word. Time to dig out my copies of Ecotopia, Ecotopia Emerging, and the Monkey Wrench Gang.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


What is it with these ultra conservatives? Once of our greatest protections is our independent judiciary. Protecting even those idiot ultra conservatives. We went to direct election of senators because using the legislatures to select senators was turning into free for alls in the states.

Rick Perry has many ideas about how to change the American government’s founding document. From ending lifetime tenure for federal judges to completely scrapping two whole amendments, the Constitution would see a major overhaul if the Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate had his druthers.

Perry laid out these proposed innovations to the founding document in his book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington. He has occasionally mentioned them on the campaign trail. Several of his ideas fall within the realm of mainstream conservative thinking today, but, as you will see, there are also a few surprises.

1. Abolish lifetime tenure for federal judges by amending Article III, Section I of the Constitution.

The nation’s framers established a federal court system whereby judges with “good behavior” would be secure in their job for life. Perry believes that provision is ready for an overhaul.

“The Judges,” reads Article III, “both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”

Perry makes it no secret that he believes the judges on the bench over the past century have acted beyond their constitutional bounds. The problem, Perry reasons, is that members of the judiciary are “unaccountable” to the people, and their lifetime tenure gives them free license to act however they want. In his book, the governor speaks highly of plans to limit their tenure and offers proposals about how to accomplish it.

“‘[W]e should take steps to restrict the unlimited power of the courts to rule over us with no accountability,” he writes in Fed Up! ”There are a number of ideas about how to do this . . . . One such reform would be to institute term limits on what are now lifetime appointments for federal judges, particularly those on the Supreme Court or the circuit courts, which have so much power. One proposal, for example, would have judges roll off every two years based on seniority.”

2. Congress should have the power to override Supreme Court decisions with a two-thirds vote.

Ending lifetime tenure for federal justices isn’t the only way Perry has proposed suppressing the power of the courts. His book excoriates at length what he sees as overreach from the judicial branch. (The title of Chapter Six is “Nine Unelected Judges Tell Us How to Live.”)

Giving Congress the ability to veto their decisions would be another way to take the Court down a notch, Perry says.

“[A]llow Congress to override the Supreme Court with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate, which risks increased politicization of judicial decisions, but also has the benefit of letting the people stop the Court from unilaterally deciding policy,” he writes.

3. Scrap the federal income tax by repealing the Sixteenth Amendment.

The Sixteenth Amendment gives Congress the “power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” It should be abolished immediately, Perry says.

Calling the Sixteenth Amendment “the great milestone on the road to serfdom,” Perry’s writes that it provides a virtually blank check to the federal government to use for projects with little or no consultation from the states.

4. End the direct election of senators by repealing the Seventeenth Amendment.

Overturning this amendment would restore the original language of the Constitution, which gave state legislators the power to appoint the members of the Senate.

Ratified during the Progressive Era in 1913 , the same year as the Sixteenth Amendment, the Seventeenth Amendment gives citizens the ability to elect senators on their own. Perry writes that supporters of the amendment at the time were “mistakenly” propelled by “a fit of populist rage.”

“The American people mistakenly empowered the federal government during a fit of populist rage in the early twentieth century by giving it an unlimited source of income (the Sixteenth Amendment) and by changing the way senators are elected (the Seventeenth Amendment),” he writes.

5. Require the federal government to balance its budget every year.

Of all his proposed ideas, Perry calls this one “the most important,” and of all the plans, a balanced budget amendment likely has the best chance of passage.

“The most important thing we could do is amend the Constitution–now–to restrict federal spending,” Perry writes in his book. “There are generally thought to be two options: the traditional ‘balanced budget amendment’ or a straightforward ‘spending limit amendment,’ either of which would be a significant improvement. I prefer the latter . . . . Let’s use the people’s document–the Constitution–to put an actual spending limit in place to control the beast in Washington.”

A campaign to pass a balanced budget amendment through Congress fell short by just one vote in the Senate in the 1990s.

Last year, House Republicans proposed a spending-limit amendment that would limit federal spending to 20 percent of the economy. According to the amendment’s language, the restriction could be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both Houses of Congress or by a declaration of war.

6. The federal Constitution should define marriage as between one man and one woman in all 50 states.

Despite saying last month that he was “fine with” states like New York allowing gay marriage, Perry has now said he supports a constitutional amendment that would permanently ban gay marriage throughout the country and overturn any state laws that define marriage beyond a relationship between one man and one woman.

“I do respect a state’s right to have a different opinion and take a different tack if you will, California did that,” Perry told the Christian Broadcasting Network in August. “I respect that right, but our founding fathers also said, ‘Listen, if you all in the future think things are so important that you need to change the Constitution here’s the way you do it’.

In an interview with The Ticket earlier this month, Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said that even though it would overturn laws in several states, the amendment still fits into Perry’s broader philosophy because amendments require the ratification of three-fourths of the states to be added to the Constitution.

7. Abortion should be made illegal throughout the country.

Like the gay marriage issue, Perry at one time believed that abortion policy should be left to the states, as was the case before the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. But in the same Christian Broadcasting Network interview, Perry said that he would support a federal amendment outlawing abortion because it was “so important…to the soul of this country and to the traditional values [of] our founding fathers.”

Very, very scary; yes? But, what can you expect from sombody who barely managed a C avarage in a field that had nothing to do with politics or statesmanship.

Monday, September 5, 2011


I found the online article on the LA Times website. I'm including a link to the paper. It has some good comments and some suggested reading that looks good. LA Times link

I'm also linking to the Amazon page for her book. I found one of the publisher's critiques really interesting. Charlotte Allen's Amazon page.

This was in the editorial section of the Sunday paper. Hate to say it but the Guard is definitely going downhill. Decided it was worth it to post the text rather than the link. Some of what she says is true, sort of. BUT, RICK WARREN, JIM WALLIS, AND THE FOLKS AT TIKKUN OLAM ARE NOT RUNNING FOR OFFICE, RICK PERRY ET AL ARE.


An election year is just around the corner, and right on schedule, we're witnessing the return of the liberal obsession with conservative politicians' religious beliefs.
Every time a Republican candidate for high office surfaces who is also a dedicated Christian, the left warns in apocalyptic tones that if you vote for him, America will sink into a "theocracy." Long ago these fear-mongers warned us about Ronald Reagan. Then it was George W. Bush, and after that, Sarah Palin. Now it's Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. Elect Perry or Bachmann, this year's warnings go, and make way for "Jesusland" — a country in which adulterers will be stoned, creationism taught in the schools and gay people sent to reorientation therapy.
In a recent New Yorker profile of Bachmann, Ryan Lizza characterized the Minnesota congresswoman as "a politician with a history of pushing sectarian religious beliefs in government." Around the same time, Salon's Alex Pareene accused Perry of "purposefully evoking some of the most radical far-right movements and ideas of the last 200 years." A few days later, Michelle Goldberg, who in 2006 wrote a theocrats-under-the-bed book titled "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism," warned in the Daily Beast that both Bachmann, a Lutheran, and Perry, a lifelong Methodist, "are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism."
You might wonder what on Earth "dominionism" is. That's because the word wasn't coined by dominionists (partly because it's unclear whether there actually are any) but by writers who worry about dominionism. The word derives from a passage in Genesis in which God gives Adam and Eve "dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the Earth." It's a stretch from there to the idea that the Christian right has a secret plan to take over America, but plenty among the paranoid intelligentsia have been willing to make that stretch.
Sara Diamond, who wrote the 2002 book "Facing the Wrath: Confronting the Right in Dangerous Times," concluded that dominion theology — the notion that "Christians, and Christians alone, are biblically mandated to occupy all secular positions" — is ubiquitous in evangelical circles.
Her position was enthusiastically adopted by many of her fellow intellectuals, who already were freaked out by the Bible-reading George W. Bush. Books such as Goldberg's "Kingdom Coming," Chris Hedges' "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America," Kevin Phillips' "American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century" and James Rudin's "The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us" flowed feverishly from the presses. On the Internet, Andrew Sullivan coined the word "Christianist," and bloggers across the country echoed each others' daily alarms about the coming fundamentalist jihad.
Lately, the alarmist left has focused on Rousas John Rushdoony, a Presbyterian minister who died in 2001. Rushdoony, part of a Calvinist offshoot known as Christian Reconstructionism, believed that biblical law, including the eye-for-an-eye mandates of the Old Testament, should form the basis of government.
But linking Rushdoony to present-day evangelicals involves connecting a dubious series of dots. In the case of the New Yorker's Bachmann profile, the dots included the fact that she attended law school at Oral Roberts University, where professors taught her to seek "legal means and political means" to change laws that conflicted with biblical values. It also pointed to her admiration for the evangelical theologian and best-selling author Francis Schaeffer, who died in 1984. No matter that Schaeffer specifically condemned Rushdoony's proposal that Old Testament law should govern America.
As for Perry, well, um, he led a prayer rally Aug. 6 that was protested by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Oh, and he prayed with some Pentecostal preachers who have been accused by his critics of being closet dominionists. "Close to" and "associated with" are favorite phrases in the vocabulary of the religion-fearing left.
To listen to those warning of dominionism, you'd think there was a tidal wave of millions of theocrats poised to crash over American democracy.
Such groups as Campus Crusade for Christ, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Feminists for Life have been characterized as dominionist fronts.
Most recently — and hilariously — New York Times religion columnist Mark Oppenheimer postulated that Christian Reconstructionism might have been behind the recent anti-public union demonstrations in Wisconsin. After all, Gary North, Rushdoony's son-in-law, has argued that the Bible forbids public employees from organizing.
It is hard to figure out why no one in the liberal media seems to mind, say, that one of President Barack Obama's spiritual advisers, the progressive evangelical Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine, also has a political agenda — income redistribution and greater social spending — that he says is influenced by his Christian values.
Many Jews believe that the rabbinic concept of tikkun olam, or "repairing the world," is a mandate for bettering society at large. Yet when conservative-voting Christians seek to implement their values in the public square, using the language of their faith, they're feared like carriers of bubonic plague.
The opponents of the religious right would gain a bit more credibility if they didn't feel compelled to manufacture a vast conspiracy called dominionism and throw around words like "theocracy" every time the GOP threatens to win an election. You know what they sound like? Their opposite number from the 1950s: the John Birch Society.
Charlotte Allen is the author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus."

Well, there it is folks. Really over the top. She seems to overlook one thing. Those in office represent us all, in theory. That means we have the right to ask them what they believe and how those beliefs are going to affect the rest of us. Governor Perry evidently attended a meeting with fundagelical leaders to have his bona fides vetted and answer questions. Trouble is, everybody who attended agreed not to talk about what went on. This is not a good thing. Also some of these groups may be skating very close to the line when it comes to keeping their tax exemptions.

Labor Day 2011 - Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves...

I took Friday off, and for the first time in a long time, I really did take the day off, meaning that although I brought my laptop home, I didn't open it. This is a good thing, because no matter how much I work right now, I can never really be current. In a little over 3 years, my case load has doubled, in addition to which for the past 3 weeks I've been assigned a significant portion of the work of one of my colleagues who is out indefinitely with a broken wrist. Management offers only the stick, not the carrot, and all of us get the stick, no matter what.

I am deeply unhappy with my job. The atmosphere is grim, and getting grimmer. But looking for another job is depressing, because in this economy, there's not a lot out there, even for workaholics like myself, or maybe especially for workaholics like myself: I'll be 62 on September 11. So to take the day off on Friday was good; it was exactly what I needed. I worked on my flower beds out back, no small task in this summer, now officially Dallas' hottest summer on record, with 68 days over 100 degrees so far, 40 of them consecutive. All of the annual bedding plants I put in this spring were dead by the first week in July, as were many of my perennials, killed by the awful combination of horrendous, relentless heat and drought. I'd pulled them all up and the beds were empty, but it was too hot to work on them. Friday, I finally finished putting down landscaping fabric and then mulching the empty beds; Saturday I put in a new row of yellow mums, having found them for $1.25 per pot at Home Depot. I also splurged and spent $32 on 8 glorious hanging baskets of petunias. I transplanted all of those into my own baskets and pots, and for the first time since early spring, my patio is an inviting place, with pots of blooming petunias in red, pink, white, and purple. Today I repainted the deck outside my front door. For a little over a year, it's been a hideous sort of rust color, a bad calculation on my part after I bought a gallon of solid stain without bothering to try a sample can first. Today, after trying 4 different samples, I settled on a wonderful, understated, subdued taupe, which looks great; I've done 2 coats and now I'm just waiting for it to dry hard before I put my pots of flowers back on it.

I'd love to be retired, because I could get used to this. If I enjoyed what I were doing; if I felt that my job made any sort of difference whatsoever, I wouldn't mind working, but I know better and even if I didn't, all of us are regularly reminded of this fact by management (I'm not kidding). Personally, I'm in the position of the kid who makes good grades and doesn't get into trouble, but who is treated as if she's a juvenile delinquent because some of her classmates are juvenile delinquents. That's not a way to make me want to stay, not that I delude myself that management gives a damn whether I leave or stay. It's no good to whine about it; in the end, the choice is mine, to move forward or stay in this miserable situation. Well, it will probably take a while, but I've begun looking. There's something better out there; it's up to me to find it. To cheer myself on, I imagine giving my notice and holding exit interviews, in which I tell various men above me (the company has become a very big Old Boy network once again) what I really think of them and their so-called management techniques.

Happy Labor Day.

Cross posted on Talking to Myself